Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Business Tips - Firing a Client - Part 4

Business Tips - Firing a Client – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

The next client has got to be of the worst kind.  They are the clients that are really stressful to work with.  In many ways they are the most fabulous clients to have – they pay on time, they don’t quibble about the price, there’s always work coming in and the work itself is exciting and it stretches your mind.  It’s challenging and a pleasure to do.  So what’s the problem, I hear you asking? Well for me it is when I don’t particularly like the client as a person.  They are usually unpleasant, difficult to work with, rude and over bearing.  They have no respect for what you do, yet would not be able to do it themselves, which is why they hired you in the first place.  They impose ridiculous deadlines and feel that they have the right to call you any time of the day and night and that you should be at their beck and call.  Quite simply put they are exhausting.

When you are caught up in this merry-go-round, you will need to think very carefully about whether or not you want to continue this relationship – if you do, you will need to set very firm ground rules.  One of my colleagues does it by charging double time for anything that she has to do after hours and that includes taking telephone calls.  They soon learnt not to call her after hours.

Whatever the reason – before you fire a client, you need to sit down and ask yourself some questions.  Are you ok about losing the client?  Would you be able to work with them again if you had some sort of break with them?  Would you consider doing any future work with them?

The answers that you give yourself would clearly make a difference on how you went about actually firing the client.

Here’s the thing – screaming and shouting, swearing and slamming the phone down, storming out of the office and saying things in the heat of the moment, is not  the way to do it – remember you are supposed to be a professional person.

Not returning messages, phone calls, e-mails and just ignoring them until they go away is just plain rude – also not the way to do it.

Then of course you are just too busy and you will be too busy for the rest of your natural life. For me this is also not the right way to go about it.  For me it’s about being upfront and honest about it. It’s about being professional and dealing with the problem in a mature manner.  Let’s be honest, often the client will not even know that they are being a royal pain in the butt.  If you show them and explain to them what the problem is, and they are equally mature about things, there may even be a way to salvage the relationship.

If you can’t, or if (as in the case of a friend who ended up being threatened by the client) they don’t want to or you realize that you don’t want to keep them either – then it’s time to walk away.  Don’t walk away angry – learn from the experience and just walk away.  Remember the Universe is a funny old place and as one door closes, somewhere another opens.

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, November 19, 2018

Inspiration - Changing your habits

Inspiration – Changing your habits?

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

It is said (am I am not sure who the author is, but it’s not me) that if you “change your habits you will change your life”.

I went on a T Harv Eker’s MMI (Millionaire Mind Intensive) seminar in March of 2014  and WOW, did I get a mind F&^$ or what!

It’s no secret that I challenge myself on a regular basis.  It’s no secret that I like to be challenged and have my mind stretched, and OMG was my mind stretched.  Not only was it stretched, it was buckled and bent and turned upside down, but in such a positive great way!

Turns out that all my life I have been “thinking” things wrong.  Now I am sure that I am not the only person who has gone through life like this.  Not that we are necessarily doing things wrong, but that we’re thinking things wrong!

Let me try and explain -  at the beginning of the 3 day seminar we were asked to write down whether we agreed with or not, a number of statements, all around how we think about money.  Now let me be clear on this, it wasn’t just a few statements, if memory serves me correctly there were around 80 or so of these statements.

Fast track to the end of the seminar, after many “Ah Ha” moments (as Oprah Winfrey calls them), we were given the instruction to go through another similar exercise to see if our answers and therefore out mindsets had changed in any way.

I diligently started going through the statements and logged my answers.  At around ¾ of the way through the exercise, I started getting the ‘déjà vu’ feeling that these were exactly the same statements that we had previously done. I went back to the beginning of the work book and wasn’t too surprised when I saw that the statements were, in fact the same.  What did surprise me however was that my answers were completely different.  What had changed was my mindset and it had actually changed without me being aware of the changes.

The challenge now of course is how to keep the momentum of what that mindset change has uncovered.  It’s about “how” you stop doing something the way you have always done it.

Well in the first instance, you have to make a decision to make the change and then you have to change the habit.

How do you change a habit?  Well how did you get into the habit in the first place? By consciously doing something repetitively until you did it without thinking.  So for me it’s about firstly being aware of what I am doing at all times and as I find myself performing the old habit, to stop immediately and then straight away perform the new habit!  A word of caution here – don’t beat yourself up when you find yourself performing the “old” habit – rather give yourself recognition for the fact that you have noticed that you were doing the wrong thing and “kudo’s” for changing it to the ‘new’ habit!

You see you need to understand and recognize the fact that that habit took time to establish itself and that no matter how greatly you desire instant gratification, the reality is that you are not going to change your habit overnight.

Understanding that and encouraging yourself in a positive way will be far more helpful than beating yourself up for occasionally slipping up.

Has my habit changed?  I’m pleased to say, Yes it has!  Do I still slip up – of course I do, I am after all human.

Has my life changed – absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt and all for the better.

So as your mindset changes, so too must your habits and as your habits change to accommodate your new mindset, so too your life will change.

You still have to take that first step though and that is to change your mindset and the next course then, is to change your habit – your life will then change all by itself!

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, November 16, 2018

HR 101 – What to do When . . . You Have Contractors Working on your Premises – Part 1

HR 101 – What to do When . . . You Have Contractors Working on your Premises – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

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

According to the law, if you have contractors working on your premises you are liable for their health and safety.

Here’s the story

Mike owns a retail store in a busy mall.  Mike’s business is doing really well and the store next to his has become available and Mike decides that he needs to expand his operation into that space.

So Mike hires George, the contractor and soon work begins.  Mike is really impressed at the way George and his team go about getting the work done.

Within hours there are ladders all over the place and workers are going about their specific tasks.  All of a sudden, there is a loud CRACK/SNAP and a ladder collapses as one of its legs shatters.  Phillip, who is on the top of the ladder, doing something in the ceiling, falls some three meters and lands on the concrete floor with a loud THUD.  Phillip’s one leg is lying at a very odd angle beneath the rest of his body and it is clearly broken and it is also clear that he is hurt badly.  The ambulance is summoned and Phillip is rushed off to hospital.

Now we get to the serious bit – the money.  Who is responsible for what?  Here’s the thing, if George, the contractor is not compliant in terms of the Health and Safety Act, then Mike is liable and responsible for all the costs including but not limited to, the cost of the accident, medical costs, rehabilitation costs and even 75% of employees wages.

Let’s see what Mike has to do in order to ensure that he will not be held financially accountable or liable for the safety and health of the contractors working in his store.

One of the things that Mike should have included in his procurement policy is that the contractor (in this case George), would need to sign a Section 37(2) agreement.  The agreement would need to state (but not be limited to) that the contractor will comply with all health and safety laws and company rules (in this case Mike’s Company).  Mike should also insist in obtaining a certified copy of George’s “Certificate of Good Standing” from the Compensation Commissioner, which will evidence that the contractor (in this case George) is in fact registered and compliant with the Workmen’s Compensation fund Act.

Next time we will have a look at some of the other issues that Mike should include in his Contractor Procurement Policy to ensure that everything is managed correctly and that Mike is in no way liable for anything other than the Contractors invoice.

 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, November 15, 2018

Blogging 101 – Where Else to look for Ideas – Part 2

Blogging 101 – Where Else to look for Ideas – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Last time we looked at using Celebrities and their causes or keeping a journal for inspiration for ideas for articles of interest that pertain to your particular passion.  Today we will have a look one more.

How about that for a common daily occurrence?  We all use gestures in our daily communication.  Usually we use them in conjunction with our speech, but often gestures are an alternative form of communication – when you can’t find the right words.  More often than not, when you are a visual person like I am, the gesture can make more of an impact that the written or spoken words themselves.

Let me explain.  I mentor several individuals, one of them is quite an artistic person who operates in the entertainment arena.  Let’s call her Susan.

Susan is looking to embark on a journey of her own into the world of business.  She is bright, articulate and open to ideas and absorbs information at a rapid rate.  At the moment, Susan’s greatest challenge is taking all the ideas and discarding what she doesn’t need and ‘parking’ what she does.  Her greatest fear is that she doesn’t have enough time and enough of ‘her’ as a resource to accomplish all that she perceives she needs to get done.

I explained to Susan how to ‘unpack’ things so that they become ‘bite sized’ chunks that can be easily dealt with and we also chatted about the art of delegation and outsourcing.  You see Susan doesn’t have to do anything other than give the project her name and put in an occasional appearance.

As Susan ‘got it’ and realized that she had been focusing on the wrong issues, she lifted her hands to the center of her forehead and made a motion like someone, whose face has been pressed up close to a curtain and who was now opening that curtain, curiously, to peek out into the wild world beyond.  This simple gesture had a profound effect on me and the visual had far more punch than any written or verbal explanation.  You see I had opened her mind to other possibilities.
Think about the gestures that you make to add value to your words and be aware of the gestures of those that you talk to – all could be used as or in the topic of your next blog.

Next time we have a look at some more ideas to keep those blogs flowing.

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, November 14, 2018

Networking101 – Networking for the right reasons

Networking101 – Networking for the right reasons

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Strange as it may seem – well to me anyway, many people who go to Networking events, really don’t understand how to Network or even what their objective is.

Most people usually join or attend a networking event in total desperation.  It’s often the ‘last ditch’ effort to keep their businesses alive.

That is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as they then Network effectively.

The problem arises of course, when they come purely to sell their widget or service and that is all that they are focused on.

Sadly at this point all that happens is that they foist their attentions on everybody at the meeting or event, telling those that are polite enough to listen, how wonderful said widget or service is.

Please believe me when I tell you that this is not going to work and they will leave, sadly disillusioned about Networking and Business and probably life in general too.

Networking is not just telling people what you have to offer – it is also about listening to what other people have to offer.  It’s about asking questions in order to understand what the other person does so that you can see who to refer them to.  It’s about answering questions, openly and honestly so that the other person can understand what you do in order for them to refer you to others.

It’s about building relationships.

If you go to a Networking event purely to sell – you will fail!

I go to Networking events to meet people who are like minded and who are serious about business, and who want to form collaborations or engage in dialogue to explore opportunities that are mutually beneficial.

I go to Networking events to develop relationships that I know will bring about a lot of work for me and for everyone else in my ‘circle of influence’.

Why do you go to Networking events?

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Business Tips - Firing a Client - Part 3

Business Tips – Firing a Client – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

We all agree, at some point in our lives, that there are clients that we just have to get rid of or we ourselves will suffer a slow and agonizing death.  Here are a few more reasons for you to look at, to know and understand, that now is the time to fire these clients.

At some point in our lives, we have all done work that has been boring to the point of screaming inside ourselves, ‘if I have to do this one more time I am going to kill myself’!  Often we hold onto it because of the financial implications – it puts food on the table. The problem is, what it does to our ‘souls’.  It can go a long way to destroying the entrepreneurial spirit, or it  often crushes our self- confidence.  Sometimes we do it to ‘add’ to our portfolio’s or so that we can show that we have worked for a plethora of interesting clients – my suggestion to you though, is get rid of them as soon and then as fast as you can.  They will rob you of the essence of who you are faster than you can blink!

Then of course there is the client that you have had since before ‘pa fell off the bus’!  Let me tell you a story.  When I first started my business in 2003, one of my first clients was also in the retail game.  They had little in the way of policies and procedures and they also had a host of hungry shark type suppliers following them around.  Several months into our relationship I discovered suppliers stealing from them and I mean stealing goods – actual goods going missing and stealing money in over charges and the like and then the fun started.  To cut a long story short the claims and the court cases amounted to several million rand – nothing to be sneezed at.

Once the main hurdles had been jumped, although there was still a lot of work to be done and policies and procedures to be implemented – my weekly obligation was suddenly cut from 3 days a week to 1 and then just as suddenly, only when they needed me.  I weathered the storm understanding the lessons that I had to learn and got on with my life.  Almost a year went by and suddenly, out of the blue, I received a call to please come and assist them with their shipping documents – it appeared that the new supplier was also over charging them.  It was the 2nd week in December, my diary was full and I was handed the shipping documents for the entire year to check and go through.  I ended up working through the night every second night and at the end of the exercise I even gave them a 15% discount – they’re “old” clients after all.

This is where it gets interesting – they paid, but asked me to reduce my fees even further as they could not afford me.  Here they are, both partners driving in the latest Merc’s, wearing the height of fashion, going overseas on holiday several times a year – money seemed to be of no consequence, yet here they were asking me for a ‘better rate’ – never mind that they had not given me any work for an entire year, never mind that I had to work through the night every second night for almost 3 weeks – none of that seemed to matter in the slightest.  You see they had given me one of my ‘first breaks’!  Here’s the thing though – I had worked like a dog for every cent that they had given me and it wasn’t as if I had not delivered.

My reply – well it went something along the lines of “my hourly rate is RXXXX.  If you are willing to guarantee me, in writing a minimum of Y hours a month, I am prepared to give you a 5% discount, on anything over the Y number of hours that I work.” 

Did I get any more work from them?  Of course not. Was it sad to see them go?  Of course it was, my relationship with one of the partners spanned more than 15 years and we have now seemed to have gone our separate ways. Has it made any difference in my life?  Of course it has – I found a bunch of other clients who are willing to pay the full price and who don’t dump things on me at the last minute and who don’t expect me to work all hours of the night and day because they are not organised. 

Don’t be scared to walk away from something that does nothing but build up resentment in your heart – it’s just not worth it.  By walking away from something that is harmful, you are opening up the door for something a lot more worthwhile.

Next week we will have a look at some additional reasons on why to get rid of some of your clients.

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, November 12, 2018

Inspiration - The Most Important Relationship

Inspiration – The Most Important Relationship.

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Robin Good says “The most important relationship is the one that you have with yourself.”

I must confess that whilst I absolutely, emphatically agree with this statement, when I sat down to write my musings  today, my thoughts on the subject were strangely ‘missing in action’!

I suspect that it is because I have undergone some huge changes in my life over the last year or so.

You see, someone came into my life last year and I have learnt some very big, very personal lessons from them.  One of the biggest of these life lessons is around how I value myself and my self-worth, what I think of myself and how much of this is evidenced by how I allow others to treat me.

The reality of course is that I did allow others to treat me with disrespect and disdain and even on occasion complete disparagement. How utterly ridiculous is that! 

This person gently pointed out what was happening and quite frankly I was horrified at the extent to which I had allowed this to happen.  For years now I have allowed myself to be belittled and slowly but surely this has eaten away at my self-respect, which of course has eroded my self-esteem and my self-worth. How utterly sad is that?

Believe me when I tell you that I have done an about turn and am living life with my eyes wide open.  Those who have gotten away with treating me so badly for so long have had a rude awakening and know that they can no longer do this -  the choice of course is theirs, they can have me in their lives . . . or not.  Some have chosen to continue to walk with me on the path of this journey through life, some have chosen not to, not necessarily because they have walked away, but because they have continued to treat me badly, and I have walked away.

For the first time in a very long time I feel alive!  It is as though every nerve ending in my body is awake and alert and waiting in anticipation for what is about to happen next.  The Universe has also responded and so many doors and opportunities are presenting themselves and I know it is because “I am different”!  I look the same and I sound the same, but I am different.  My demeanor is different, the way that I think is different and therefore the way that I engage with people is different. The way that I look at things and people and how they respond and react to me and with me is different and this change in me is what is making things happen differently.

How fabulous is this – a mindset change is responsible for the way I see myself, the way that I deal with myself and therefore the way that I deal with others. 
My relationship with me is different and it’s wonderful!  I have discovered that I am a worthwhile person and I am now going to invest in me, be gentle and nurturing with me and have fun with me!

Perhaps it is time for you to also look at yourself, inwardly, openly, honestly and unashamedly and see how your relationship is with yourself. If like me, you wouldn’t be friends with you, then maybe it is time to make the changes that you need to make.

Today, I am my own best friend and quite honestly, I like it like this!

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