Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Business Tips - Being Your Own Boss - Part 3

Business Tips - Being Your Own Boss – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd – April 2009

Big corporate companies with very deep pockets spend hundreds of thousands of Rands with professional market researchers because they want to find out ‘what people want’!

As small business owners, we certainly do not have deep pockets and quite frankly we don’t need to use professional market researches.  We can do it ourselves.

Here are some ideas on how to go about it.

- Take a field trip, ask questions of the people that you meet along the way.  Find out from them how your product or service would benefit them.  Will it satisfy their needs?  Will it make a difference to them?

- Change YOUR mindset.  Get out of YOUR comfort zone.  THINK out of the box.  Speak to people who have succeeded.  Find out how they did it, what they did and when they did it.  Learn from them.  It is not necessary for you to learn only through the mistakes that you make.

- Meet with other business owners, brainstorm with them.  Ask them what they have done, what they have learnt.  Ask them to tell you how to avoid the mistakes that they have perhaps made.

- Research!  And when you think you have finished researching – research some more!  Read reports, both old and new that pertain to whatever your industry is.  Look at what strategy is best for you.  Look at the latest trends and see how you could slot what it is that you do in there.

- Keep a record of your ideas, make notes, open a file and keep everything.  I promise you, you will go back to refresh your memory or add to your list on a very frequent basis.

Be prepared to be flexible – learn to adapt and change.

Above all – don’t forget to have fun!  Remember why you went into business for yourself in the first place.  Never lose sight of your goals!  Always, always, always recognize and reward your own achievements, no matter how small.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Monday, June 18, 2018

Motivation - Strong Desire

Motivation –  Strong Desire

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Napoleon Hill says “The starting point of achievement is desire.  Keep this constantly in mind.  Weak desires produce weak results, just as a small amount of fire produces a small amount of heat.”

I guess this means, more or less, the same as ‘you reap what you sow’ or ‘you get out what you put in’ and it certainly makes logical sense to me,  which is probably why I am often really surprised at the number of people who sit back and wait for stuff to happen for them and then when nothing happens they lament – loudly – about how unfair life is and that they didn’t get what they deserved.

My eyes roll upwards and my head shakes from side to side as I try and grasp at their logic. Strangely enough though, on some level, this victim ‘hard done by’ role that they choose to go through life with, does seem to resonate with many and they are commiserated with and empathized with and held up as shining examples of how unequal some are.

Now actually seeing those words in print before my eyes, brought a smile to my face and a giggle to my lips.  You see, for me going through life with that kind of attitude would not only be soul destroying it would also be exhausting!  I mean can you imagine forcing yourself to feel like that all the time?  Now that must be really hard work!

For me the level of motivation is directly attributable to the level of desire – if I really, really and I mean really, want something – I will do everything in my power to get it.  The less I desire something, the less motivated I am and therefore the less amount of effort I will put into getting it. Yip, it’s official – I am definitely driven by my desires.

Here’s a thought though – often those desires and the achievements that are realized as a result of those desires, mean nothing to anyone other than yourself and for me, those are the greatest achievements.  Let me explain – I write for my own enjoyment.  Sure I share the writing with anyone in the world who cares to read the words and yes I do believe that they can change the course of someone’s world but to be quite honest, I don’t really worry about whether anyone is reading my words or what they may or may not think about my words – I write so that I can see the words and often I write about things that I most need to hear or to see or to understand.  Every now and then I get a mail from a total stranger, in another country, on the opposite side of the world, who thanks me for the words that I have shared.

My achievement was writing an article, which was based on my desire to write. Once the article is written, I don’t give it much more thought.  That said however, the achievement is made all the more sweeter, when I do hear from someone who has been touched by my words.  That praise, that acknowledgement, those accolades just make my desire that much stronger and so the circle continues.

My desire is really strong and therefore my goals will be met and my challenges will be overcome and I will succeed.  What about you – do you even know what your desires are?

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Friday, June 15, 2018

HR – What to do When . . . . Staff Don’t Bring a Doctor’s Certificate

HR – What to do When . . . . Staff Don’t Bring a Doctor’s Certificate

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd 

Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practice requirements.

As entrepreneurs and small business owners, I am sure we have all experienced the same problems with our staff, particularly around the issue of doctor’s certificates, when staff are off ill or when staff with babies or small children are off ill.

Much of the aggravation can be avoided by having a proper Letter of Appointment in place.  Some of the issues that need to be documented are (but not limited to):

- During the first six months of employment you are entitled to 1 day sick leave for every 26 days worked.
- Thereafter you are entitled to 36 days (if you work a six day week) every 36 months or 30 days (if you work a five day week) every 36 months.
- Sick leave cannot be accumulated
- Sick leave cannot be paid out.
- Sick leave (or indeed any leave) can only be taken in accordance with Company Rules and regulations.  (This would include things like (but not be limited to, sick leave forms that would need to be completed and when doctor’s certificates are required etc.)
- If a staff member is off for two consecutive days or on a Friday (or Saturday) or Monday or before or after a public holiday, a certificate must be submitted together with the leave application form, from a registered practitioner.
- A Medical Certificate can also be requested by law and in compliance with the BCEA (Basic Conditions of Employment Act), if your staff member is absent for more that one day every 8 weeks.
- Medical appointments, unless in the case of an emergency, should be made first thing in the morning (and where applicable the staff member should then go to work) or last thing at the end of the day, so as to disrupt the work flow as little as possible.
- Failure to produce or submit a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner, where applicable may result in unpaid leave.
- As an employer you are not required to pay an employee if they don’t submit a doctors certificate where required.
- The certificate must be from a registered medical practitioner.  If the doctor/traditional healer/herbalist (insert whatever you like here) is not registered as a medical practitioner you are not obliged to accept the certificate.
- As an employer, you are entitled to verify the authenticity of the certificate by phoning the doctor to verify that the employee is/was in fact under treatment or that they did in fact visit the doctor for treatment.

Remember though – your staff are entitled to confidentiality so you are not entitled to know the details of what is actually wrong with them or the nature of the treatment.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Blogging 101 – The Content – Part 6

Blogging 101 – The Content – Part 6

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd - June  2010

Many of us read a huge number of blogs everyday.  In fact, many of us get all our information in an electronic format. I know I do – it’s easier to get the daily news that way – I get to read it when it’s convenient for me to do so.  I get IOL (Information on Line) as well as Mail and Guardian twice a day – that’s reading 4 newspapers a day (and I don’t kill any trees either) as well as several monthly and even weekly newsletters that I subscribe to.  That’s a huge amount of reading and a huge amount of information, don’t you think?

When you consider however that according to statistics over 900K posts are uploaded everyday, together, what you and I read is a drop in the ocean actually.  That said, I do have a day job and cannot (as much as I would like to) spend the whole day reading – so it is very important for me to choose newsletters or blogs that give me information that is relevant to me.

Catching my eye and getting me to subscribe to your blog is difficult at best but getting me to stick around and religiously read all of your articles or ‘wonder of wonders’ eagerly await the next one, is your greatest challenge.

Herein lies your personal challenge – you have worked hard to cultivate and grow your audience – you have to work even harder to keep them enthralled!

For me, staying true to my topic, is what will ensure that I bring my readers back time and time again.  The information that I provide and the fact that I share my knowledge, my experience, my expertise and my research, makes me a very empowered entity.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Networking 101 - Respect your Competition

Networking 101 - Respect your Competition

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“Be respectful of the competition. Give credit, where it is due.”

Apart from anything else, this is just good manners! That said, let’s examine why Renate says this.

So, here I am – an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist, working in the SMME arena.  Since I am the only one that I know of in this field, doing this particular work – life is a bowel of cherries – I don’t have any competition, my diary is pretty full and life is great.

Then one day as I am going along on my merry way, I meet Jane Doe, who does (yes you’ve guessed it) Internal Auditing and Business Administration!  So now I find myself a little corner that I hurriedly rush into to hide from my mortal enemy, who is going to steal all of my business from right under my nose, or I go out on a hell bent type mission to discredit her, trash her name, doing any and all that may be necessary to get her out of business!

Well I guess that there are some folk out there that would do exactly that, but that just seems like too much hard work to me – besides which, whilst I was busy doing all of that, Jane Doe would be working her butt off and getting business and doing really well – so what would I have achieved at the end of the day?

Knowing me, I would probably give her a call and set up a ‘one on one’ meeting.  Find out where her strengths and weaknesses are and set about exchanging ideas, material and even clients. 

You see, chances are that my weaknesses are her strengths and visa versa, and she has material (like policies, procedures and templates) that I don’t have and visa versa. I may have clients that want a ‘quick’ turnaround and I am strapped for time which means that instead of working through the night every second night, like I did in December, I can actually share the load.  Then of course when I want to go on holiday, instead of everything coming to a grinding halt – she could actually keep everything running and I could do the same when she wanted a break!

For me this is a win, win situation and instead of getting myself into a real tizz about nothing, I could turn the whole thing around and work it to my advantage – a far better outcome don’t you think?

Think about it for a moment, exactly where would I have been if I had been disrespectful or bad mouthed her – pretty much in a really horrible place.  Competition doesn’t have to be a nasty experience – it can be a real keeper!

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at http://www.drrenatevolpe.co.za

Nikki Viljoen is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist and she can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or https://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Business Tips - Being Your Own Boss - Part 2

Business Tips - Being Your Own Boss – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Getting your message out there will probably be your next huge challenge and in order to resolve that you need to create a message that has a fast, hard hitting, instant impact.

As I write these words I am reminded of the voice mail message of one of my clients – Charrise from “Kinky Knickers”, who supplies an array of lingerie and underwear.  She was obviously busy with something and could not take the call and I needed to leave a message.  Her recorded intro had the usual “I’m not available . . . please leave a message”, type wording, but she concluded by saying “And remember . . we supply the knickers that someone is always trying to get into.”  Needless to say, I was laughing so much, I could not leave a message!  How brilliant was that!  How totally unexpected and refreshingly different.  Believe me, even if she was not my client – I would always remember where to purchase my lingerie and underwear going forward.

The point that I am trying to make here is that her message was powerful and had an instant impact and that message would last for ever.  I doubt that I will ever look at lingerie or underwear and not think of that message and have a good giggle.  From that message I know exactly what she does and I know the benefit and even though I could probably get what she sells at several different outlets, the ‘way’ she told me ‘what she does’, in her message will ensure that I buy from her.

As I tell the story, (and this article attests to that fact), I am spreading the news of what she does, which means that I am actually marketing her and her products (and she doesn’t even pay me a salary) and you can be sure that everyone else who hears that message will be doing the same.  This means that essentially it is easy for people to remember her and what she does and because of that, they will share that information readily about her business.  How cool is that?  She has a whole team of people marketing for her and they don’t even know it, much less expect a salary!

So how do you create one of those award winning messages?  It’s quite simple actually – so don’t panic.

Firstly, write down how your business helps your customers – this works for both products and services.

Secondly, underline or circle any of the descriptive  words that ‘stand out’ and make a statement about what you do or that describes your business.

Thirdly, take all of those words and make a single sentence which will make up your final message.  For example my message is: “Viljoen Consulting – I prevent loss by assisting and empowering small business owners to start up, grow and maintain sustainable businesses.

Finally, use your message as much as possible and where ever you go – at networking events, at business functions, on your card, your letterheads, as part of your signature on e-mails, on your voicemail messages, your blogs and even when you ‘tweet on twitter’.

The more people who hear your message, the more business you will generate and the more ‘ideas’ will come your way.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Monday, June 11, 2018

MOTIVATION – Be Willing to Improve Yourself

MOTIVATION –  Be Willing to Improve Yourself

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

James Allen says “People are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves.  They therefore remain bound.”

This particular human trait was made quite prevalent during my holiday this year.  Here’s the story – I met this older man (let’s call him George), who has a real problem with acidity in his system. It’s really bad.  Not only does the poor old man suffer with arthritis but his legs are full of open sores that he then scratches badly in an attempt to stop the itching.  From what I can gather, he has been to several doctors and none can assist – I now know why.

You see George loves to drink wine – in particular dry white wine, but if there is no white wine open, he will gladly accept a glass (or three) of red wine or anything else alcoholic that is going.  George is also partial to tomatoes and granadilla’s and . . . . . .  I’m sure you get the picture.

I have suggested that George take some ‘base powder’, which is an alkaline type powder that will assist with neutralizing the acid in his body, but that of course won’t help on a long term basis because George puts more acid into his body than anything can neutralize.  The result of course is, that according to George – ‘the doctors don’t know what they are doing and he doesn’t believe a word that they are saying.”

I carefully explained to George that he would need to cut down on his alcohol intake as well as the acidic fruit and vegetables that he favors and that together with the intake of ‘base powder’ would help to reduce the level of acid in his body. George declined to reduce his alcohol intake, but he will “try” the base powder.

The reality of the situation is that George’s body will continue, unsuccessfully, to battle to remove the acid from his system.  He will continue to suffer from arthritis and he will of course, continue to experience open sores on his legs.  More importantly he will continue to increase his acid intake as he drinks more and more white wine or red wine or anything else alcoholic that he can lay his hands on.  Sadly, I will be the villain in the story as I will be the one who told him to take ‘base powder’ of course it doesn’t work.

As you can see from the story, George wants his circumstances to change but he is unwilling to change his own lifestyle in order for that to occur.

Many of us, both in our personal lives and our business lives, lament things that we would like to change.  Whether it is to do with our health or our finances or our clients (or lack thereof) or anything for that matter that makes us sad or makes life difficult for us, yet we seem unable or unwilling to change what we are doing.

I think it was Einstein who said something along the  lines of “Stupidity is doing something over and over in exactly the same manner and then expecting the outcome to differ!”

When things are not going the way that you want them to in life, something has to change.  The quicker we realize that and make the change(s), the quicker (and easier) it will be for us to get on with life.  Holding onto something and hoping that it will change, without us making any kind of change within ourselves, is just a waste of time.  The problem of course is that not only is it just a waste of time, but it is also a very negative and destructive course to take.

So I’m off to make a list of all the things that are not working for me and part of my goals for this year is to do things differently, make the changes and so ensure that my life going forward is easier, mellower and more rewarding.

What changes are you going to make?

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za