Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Networking 101 - Cultivate reciprocal relationships

Networking 101 - Cultivate reciprocal relationships

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

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

“Networking is about having a reciprocal relationship which evolves over time in a mutually beneficial manner.”

The words “reciprocal, relationship and mutually beneficial” are the ones that stand out the most for me here.

Let’s have a look at what the dictionary says:

‘Reciprocal’ – “In return; mutual; inversely correspondent, complementary; expressing mutual action or relation.”

‘Relationship’ – “State if being related; condition or character due to being related; kinship.”
‘Relation’ – “What one person or thing has to do with another, way in which one stands or is related to another, kind of connection or correspondence or contrast or feeling that prevails between persons or things.”

‘Mutually’- “Common to two or more persons”

‘Beneficial’ – “Advantageous; of having the use of or benefit of property etc.;”

Well that is all very clear isn’t it?  For me it means that there are two or more people who have formed a bond, that is a connection between them for the purpose of all people receiving something that is of benefit to them, in return for their participation.

Yet so many people seem to struggle really badly with this whole concept of everyone getting something out of the relationship – why?  I certainly cannot understand it. 

It doesn’t mean that because I give you a qualified lead here and now today, that you have to go home and search through your entire data base to find someone who may or may not, need my services (in your opinion) and then refer them to me!  That’s just crazy.

What it does mean though is that during your travels in life and as and when you meet people and engage with them and learn more about them and start building a relationship with them, should you hear that they need the kind of services that I offer, you will refer me.

It means that when to talk to prospective clients about what they need from you, you also listen to what they need in general, from other people too – it might just mean that they need your services too.

Listening to what people want, rather than giving them what you think they need, is fundamental to the well being of your business.  Giving people what they want, means adding value to your business and it means adding value to the people that you have relationships with in your data base or your circle of influence.  It mean being reciprocal, it means giving benefit to your clients and your relationships.  It means bringing benefit to your client, your data base and yes, bringing benefit even to yourself.

So when you Network, remember to listen carefully . . .
Listen and then react!

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Business Tips – How to Manage Your Cash Flow Crisis – Part 1

Business Tips – How to Manage Your Cash Flow Crisis – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Brian Walsh of Entrepreneur and lately the “Real Success Club” always says “get clarity!” I say “If cash is King, then clarity must be Queen!”

So, let’s start off by getting ourselves very clear on what is and what isn’t.

Cash flow is the measurement between money coming in and then going out of your business.  If you have more money coming into your business than going out -  that’s a good thing because is profit. If you have more money going out of your business than coming in then you obviously have a cash flow problem!

There are only three (3) types of issues that cause cash flow problems and these are:-

1. You’re not making enough money.  This usually means that you have to increase the number of sales that you are making or alternatively it may mean that your margins are incorrect, which means that your profits are too small or even non-existent.  Either way you are not making enough money.

2. You are not getting your debtors to pay you.  That means that your money coming in is insufficient to meet the needs of your money going out.

3. You are spending too much money!

Let’s unpack these individually.

You’re not making enough money.
As can be clearly seen from the above, this can be broken down further into two parts.

The first part is about sales. You are not selling enough product or service and you need to get yourself out there and sell! If that is not your strength, then you need to hire someone whose strength it is and get them to sell.  If  your marketing or branding needs to be improved or your product or service that needs to be updated or improved, that needs to get done sooner rather than later.  Whatever must happen, must happen and then you need to sell, sell, sell!

Test and measure and then test again along the way so that you can see where things are going awry and then “tweak” them and test again.  Throw away what doesn’t work and move on.  Replicate what does work, it’s really as simple as that.

The second part being your margins is a little more complicated.  In order to calculate your margins correctly you need to know exactly what your cost of product is and what your cost of sale is.  There is obviously a huge difference between whether you are selling a product or a service but irrespective of which you sell, the issue is the same but from different perspectives and I will deal with each of these issues more comprehensively next time.

Struggling to collect your money.
Again there are two avenues here and again I will deal with them in more depth in a future article.

Basically they are:-
- Being a registered credit provider and carrying a ‘book’ and
- Being a regular, no credit offered type business.

In both cases you need to be in control of the money that is owed to you and the payment thereof.

In both cases you need to ensure that an aging analysis is generated on a regular basis to ensure that you collect your funds timeously.

Do NOT become emotionally attached to your wayward clients.  Decide on the rules e.g. if they haven’t paid in 30 days they get a lawyers letter and if they haven’t paid in 60 days they get handed over to the lawyers. Stick to whatever it is that you have decided upon – no exceptions!

You are spending too much money.
Systematically go through your General Ledger and look at each and every expense and see how you can cut it.

Again, check your emotions at the door, if your staff are no longer productive for a full day, chances are that your cash-flow will no longer sustains them.  Start a retrenchment process.

Next time we will delve a little deeper into the mystery that is cash-flow to get a little more clarity

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Monday, January 14, 2019

Inspiration – What are You Creating Today?

Inspiration – What are You Creating Today?

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Firstly, a happy New Year to all reading this, may 2019 fulfil your hopes and dreams and aspirations in great abundance.

Tony Robbins says “Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy.  Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.”

When I first read this statement, it kind of took me by surprise and in a way it actually challenged me.

I sat back for a few moments and thought about it.  I looked at several occurrences in my life that have had a profound impact on me -  one way or another, and then I looked at what ‘could’ have happened had I not made the choices that I did make.

Make no mistake, not all of the choices that I made were the right ones and even with those I was able to avoid complete disaster, again by the choices that I then made.

So the reality, well my reality at any rate, is that I had the ability to become completely ‘disempowered’ or completely inspired.

In the instances where I made the right choice for me, and I became inspired, I have remained inspired, clear in what my ‘end goals’ are and comfortable in the knowledge that I have made the correct choice, in order for me to fulfil and live my purpose.

In the instances where the choice that I made was not necessarily in my own best interests, this was quickly highlighted in the difficulties that I began to experience.  The more I made the wrong choices, the greater the difficulty and the harder the lesson.

As I started to make the right decision, the easier my life became again.

That said, with my ‘end goal’ in mind, I am presented with many opportunities as well as many challenges along the way.  The choices I make are intrinsically linked to the quality of my life.

Irrespective of all the internal and external issues that affect us all on a daily basis, I am responsible and therefore accountable for me, for my well-being and my happiness and whilst there may be many individuals who share the journey of my life with me, they are not and can never be, responsible for who I am or who I may become.

That alone is my choice, my decision, my action, my responsibility.

I have made my decision and continue to make the choices daily that move me closer to my goals. I am fully aware of them and engaged in them and although there are times that my choice is made without thought or deliberation and may in all probability need correcting along the way – I do know that I am, at the very least, going in the right direction.  Right for me that is . . 

What about you?  Are you going in the direction that is right for you?

Are you conscious of the choices that you make and the consequences of those choices or are you wandering through life without purpose or direction?

Only you will know . . . 

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Friday, December 14, 2018

HR 101 - Out with the Old, In with the New – Part 3

HR 101 - Out with the Old, In with the New – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd -  October 2009

This is my last blog post for the year as I close the office until the 14th January 2019.  I wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperour New Year.  Travel safely and I'll see you all in the New Year.

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

So following on from last time – let’s have a look at some of the other changes that were made to the Act that received a typical ‘knee jerk’ reaction.  They are (but not limited to).

“Employees are entitled to a disciplinary hearing even where they are accused of being on an unprotected (illegal) strike.”

For me this is just logical – I mean how can you discipline anyone for anything without a proper disciplinary hearing.  The whole deal about this however is that as the employer, you have to prove that the strike was unprotected (which usually is not very difficult at all) and then you have to ensure that the staff member was actually on strike and not on ‘sick’ leave or even ‘annual’ leave.

During the apartheid era, this was often used as an excuse to ‘get rid’ of staff that you no longer wanted around.  Nowadays the rule of “innocent until proven guilty” applies.

In fact whilst I am on the subject of disciplinary hearings – remember this.  If your employee is caught say, stealing and you have them arrested, or they are arrested and end up going to jail.  That’s not the end of the story – you still have to go through the motions of having a disciplinary (in abstentia), where they need to be found ‘guilty’ and then dismissed.  This would also apply to someone who has gone AWOL (absent without leave) and who never ever comes back to work.

The reason for this is, if you don’t hold a disciplinary, find them guilty, and summarily dismiss them, the reality of the situation is that you could be forced to re-employ (and pay all the back pay) when they are released from jail and want to come back to work or they suddenly remember that they have to come back to work after being AWOL. 

So, go through the motions, I know it is a pain in the rear end, but it certainly is less than the pain that you will feel if you don’t follow the correct procedures and then they come back and demand their jobs back.

Next time we will have a look at some of the other changes that were made to the law.

 Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Blogging 101 – Where Else to look for Ideas – Part 6

Blogging 101 – Where Else to look for Ideas – Part 6

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Last time we looked at the opportunities around Television, being Angry or Upset and Victory and Defeat, for inspiration or ideas for articles of interest that pertain to your particular passion.  Today we will have a look at a few more.

Share the lessons that you have learnt during the course of the past year and maybe some of what you consider to be your greatest achievements.

In terms of ‘lessons learnt’, if you have had to learn the lesson the hard way, I am sure that there are many individuals out there who would really appreciate not having to go through the angst and  anxiety themselves.

When you share your achievements it might be a good idea to take your readers on the journey as you experienced it as there may be someone who is on a similar journey who will be motivated and inspired by your achievements.

Everyday Activities
For me the ‘everyday activities’ are about the routine things that I have tasked myself to do every day, like for example the writing of my blog. It might be a good idea to explain ‘why’ you have chosen to perform these tasks on a daily basis and how you feel once the task has been completed.  Again for me, writing is extremely important as it is part of the ‘creative’ side of me.  If I don’t write something every day, then I am not ‘balanced’ and that causes its own set of complications. So once my blog for the day is written I feel that I have released my creative energy for the day and that brings about a sense of peace and well-being – clearly a great way to start the day.

Believe me when I tell you that you can literally write something to death!  I know I did.  When I first started on my ‘blogging’ journey, all I wrote about was “The Power of Networking” – 170 odd blogs on Networking later, I found myself procrastinating every time I had to write another article and realized that I was all blogged out on the subject.  So I stopped writing about Networking and found something else to write about.  Am I still passionate about Networking – of course I am, but I can find no more to write on the subject and it is still all there for anyone to read.

Also, sometimes the creative juices are just not there – don’t force it, give yourself a break for the day or several days for that matter – you can always come back to it and re-kindle your passion for writing.

Remember though, if you do not enjoy what you are doing, then what is the point!  Always have fun!

Next time we will have a look at some more ideas to keep those blogs flowing. Until then “Happy Writing” and don’t forget to have fun!

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Networking 101 - Don’t Manipulate

Networking 101 - Don’t Manipulate

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

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

“Don’t subtly manipulate relationships with exclusionary tactics.  This does you no favours in the long term.”

Wow!  Renate certainly doesn’t pull the punches, does she?  Quite frankly she shouldn’t.  As far as I am concerned manipulation of any sort, for any reason at any time, is not a good thing!

Come on folks, let’s be honest about this – we don’t like to be manipulated, well I certainly don’t, so why on earth would anyone else like to be manipulated?  Stands to reason, doesn’t it?

The other thing of course is that manipulation, like dishonestly always comes back to you and generally bites you on the rear end.  It destroys friendships and carefully built up relationships in a matter of moments.  It is a destructive force and in my opinion should be avoided at all costs.

It is far better to lay all of your cards on the table, be transparent and have no hidden agenda’s.  Let’s face it, we all have a ‘what’s in it for me’ aspect to what we do and why we do it, let’s just be honest about it and move forward from there.  That way, when the chips are down we all know where we stand.

So for my part avoid manipulation of any kind.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Networking 101 - Be Prepared to Continue Learning

Networking 101 - Be Prepared to Continue Learning

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

I might be a natural Networker and a natural connector, but I am far from being an expert.  I am sure to learn something at every meeting that I attend and I take something away with me from every encounter.  I understand that in order for me to continue moving forward I have to continue learning – I have to keep striving to grow to get better.

It is also important for me to read more motivational business books.  I have to engage more with people who are like minded.  Now that may sound like I am stating the obvious, but you would be absolutely amazed at the number of people who don’t seem to have the drive, let alone the energy to move forward.

I need to keep my promises and in so doing strengthen my credibility.

I have to remember who I am, where I am, where I have come from and where I want to get to.

I have to nurture and try to understand all of my business relationships and one of the ways that I can do this is to continually add value and substance to the relationship.

I have to remember that although it is a service that I offer as apposed to a product – that in order for my business to flourish and be successful, I have to be the best salesperson in the company.

I have to understand that there will be times when I lose, but that in losing I will grow as an individual.  I cannot lose too much though so I must only be willing to put out what I am comfortable with, to learn the lesson.

Not only must I learn, but I also need to teach.  I need to teach people the lessons that I have learnt – to be successful and in the teaching, I am also connecting with people.  Without people there can be no communication and communication is very important not only to my business but also to every micro enterprise or small business out there.

I have to understand that the first thought or perception isn’t always the best – that I can be creative and think outside of the box and in the words of the popular ad ‘throw the box away.”

I have to understand that if I don’t see synergy with someone the first time I look, I need to look harder and longer – it is in there somewhere.

I need to remember that I do not have any competition in my business but rather I have more opportunity for collaboration.

As a closing thought I also need to remember that opportunities are never ‘lost’ they just go to someone else who is perhaps more suited and that it is in the ‘letting go’ of the opportunity, that I open myself up to receive yet more opportunities that are best suited to me.

This is why I network.  Why do you network?

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Business Tips - it's a Sign of the Times

Business Tips – It’s a Sign of the Times

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

As Business Owners and Entrepreneurs, we all need to look for new opportunities – if the 2008 ‘so called’ recession did not teach you this and if you are still in business, then I am really surprised.  We all need to find the ‘edge’ over our competitors.  We all need to do things differently.  We all need to ‘think out of the box’ (well those who still live in a box need to – that’s for sure).  We all need to look at doing things differently or finding new ways in which to ‘work it’.

I have, for several years now been using my blog as a marketing tool and quite honestly it has worked fantastically for me.  Early in 2009 I started using Twitter – just playing around with it, ‘tweeting’ and having fun – it was, quite frankly addictive!  I had to limit the amount of time that I sat playing on it.  It opened up a huge new world for me.  I found interesting articles that I would never have even dreamed of ‘googling’ for and it put me in touch with people that I would never have ordinarily met.  It actually made me look at life in an altogether different way – a great way.  Slowly, but surely I have started building relationships with these people – virtual relationships.  Will I even meet them in person, who knows!  What I do know though is that there are some of them that I follow religiously because I enjoy the type of information that they hook me into.  I like the way that they think and I also like the way that they share.

I have also been on facebook for a number of years now – I never looked at it other than in an absolutely ‘social’ type of way and it has been great to catch up with friends, all over the world that I had lost contact with.  What’s also great is that thanks to my web designer Meryl Rosenberg of Pixel Magic, I now also have my own ‘page’ on Facebook, which means that I can set up events, such as my workshops and as a result of that I now also have connected with other people all over the world.  Complete strangers, who I interact with on a daily basis.

Now here’s the thing, I have started using both Twitter and Facebook to link to my website and thereby to my blog articles and the response has been absolutely fantastic.  On Twitter, the number of people who want to follow me has increased quite dramatically – clearly there are people out there that want to read or hear what I have to say.  The number of hits to my website has increased, more than tripling and in the space of 5 months I had more visitors to my website than I have had from the day that the website was launched to the end of September 2008.  How absolutely cool is that? 

The average time spent, by visitors, at the moment is around 5 ½ minutes and I am told that that is really good and it is because my website is so ‘content rich’.  Apart from that, I got my first ‘twitter’ client in January 2010 and that makes the whole deal the sweeter!

Will I stop using traditional methods of Networking – not at all, but what it does do is show me that ‘new’ is not always bad and even if I don’t really understand the technical aspects of what it is that I am doing, I need to move with the times.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or