Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Good Morning bloggers - don't forget, if you would like to sign up for Mark's 'free' seminar tips please sign up. Here is the link.


Former employees

Popular business thought has it, that once a business is disposed of, it has been expunged from the previous owner’s list of assets and liabilities; reduced to an asset in the form of money, and available to be turned into a holiday home, fast car or new business.

This is not necessarily so, and South African business owners, who would be sellers, are well advised to look to the quality of the eventual purchaser of their business if they themselves are to stay out of the proverbial poor house, possibly three years after the deal has been finalised.

Staff: Your greatest asset or a retirement - sinking liability?

In time gone by, it was not unusual for a business owner to dispose of the staff "thorn in his side" by simply selling the business. In the process, he would retrench all staff. The new owner, usually in discussion with the seller, would rehire those he was advised would work hard, and give him no trouble. This resulted in a sword being held over the heads of workers in any business: “If you bunch of idiots are not careful, I will retrench the lot of you, and sell the business”.

With a revision of section 197 of the Labour Relations Act in 2002, this was all changed. It may sound terribly complicated - all those numbers and “sections” and “acts”. But it really is very simple, and you should download the Act, and read it. You will find it on Suitegum’s web site here, if you don’t have a copy. Look out for “197” down the left hand side, and read the section.

Here’s the good news: It is only about 3 pages long, and if you read it slowly, and with a pencil, it will all make perfect sense, no matter how thick you may think you are! But that having been said, the nexus of this section of the Act is the protection of workers in the transfer of a business from one business owner to another. And the point is, in brief, that your employees cannot be compromised through the change of ownership, unless of course you get their agreement to be hard done by.

We all know that this isn’t about to happen, don't we? But, as they say in those very long advertisements: That’s not all! Once you have sold your business, the transfer has gone through, and the employees are all ecstatic in their knowledge that life goes on as usual; you, the seller, will be held jointly and severally liable, with the purchaser, for the next twelve months, should any retrenchments or actions to the detriment of the employees, take place in your old business (which is no longer under your control!) And practically, here is the reality: Your buyer has just hocked himself to the hilt, given his life to the banks, and has no means of raising more money. He is as closely allied to technically insolvent as he is allowed to be, without becoming criminally liable. You, on the other hand have the, not unsubstantial, proceeds of the sale of your business languishing in your various investments.

So who’s going to be paying when your purchaser feels that he simply has to get rid of some workers so that he can pay himself enough to survive the Christmas downturn? Of course this can be dealt with in your agreement of sale tailored for your particular business. This is one of the best reasons to use an agreement drawn up specifically for your business transaction.

My advice is to avoid those standard documents which may be tweaked slightly by an unqualified broker. Decent intermediaries will employ the services of a commercial attorney to ensure that the deal stays stuck and the seller is protected against the possible ravages of post deal ineptitude of buyers. Hell, you're paying them enough!

In an agreement of sale of your business, these are some of the things that you should make sure are included in a clause to ensure that the new owner agrees not to sink you for at least the first twelve months of his ownership of the business. These would include at least the agreement to not retrench, nor change the conditions of employment, without the written agreement of the workers. In addition to this, it may be prudent to retrench dead wood yourself, in the run up to the sale of your business. But make sure that you can justify this operationally.

You cannot retrench to make your business more attractive to a buyer.

Mark Corke

Monday, September 29, 2008



By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that “heroes are the people who do what has to be done, when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.”

Well ain’t that the truth! That’s probably why heroes are usually leaders too, I am sure! They get things done and not only do they get them done, but they also take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

For me it is just easier to get the thing done, than it is to sit around, looking at everybody, waiting . . . Life is far to busy for me to mess around with that nonsense!

I recently had a situation, where doing some work for one of my clients necessitated that I contact one of their clients – let’s call her Sally. Now Sally is in her mid 30’s. She and her husband have recently split and she has gone back to Durban to be with her family. So far so good. The problem now is that she owes my client a heap of money for a service that was performed almost a year ago. Sally is now unemployed and she is living off her family, and has been doing this for the past 3 months. Now that just does sit right with me - she should really get up off her rear end and find something to do. That is not where the story ends though – her soon to be ex husband has promised to send her some money to sort out her debts, so now she is just sitting and waiting, waiting for money that may never arrive, waiting for her life to begin, waiting for who knows what!

Sally is the type of person who will spend the rest of her life waiting for something to happen! She is the person who constantly says “if I did . . . “ or “if only . . . “! Her whole life is one big IF and one big wait.

If you don’t ‘step up to the plate’ and do what needs to be done, life will pass you by. Life is for living, for doing, for achieving – not for waiting.

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

Friday, September 26, 2008

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want to Retire Staff


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want To Retire Staff?

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) stipulates that each employment contract should stipulate the age of retirement.

The problem of course arises when employers have not given employees Letters of Employment, or worse – they have issued Letters of Employment, but the letter does not stipulate the retirement age.

This of course is where things usually go pear shaped! You see the generally accepted age is 60 or 65 years and if nothing is stipulated in the Letter of Appointment you cannot suddenly retire someone at, say aged 55.

Once your Letters of Appointment have gone out to staff (with or without the relevant retirement age), you now cannot all of a sudden decide that you want to make the retirement age 57.

This now has to become a negotiation or at the very least, a consultation with your staff in order to reach a consensus .

Should you decide on your own, what age you wish for them to retire, this will be considered a ‘unilateral amendment of employment conditions’ and your employees then would have the right to refuse the age or comply with forced retirement at the age that you have decided upon.

That said, as an employer you do have the right to enforce a formal retirement age, at a certain stage, even if this has not been done consistently in the past, as long as you go the necessary consultation or negotiation course with your staff.

If, for example the employer has not indicated the retirement age at say 60, then after a negotiation process the retirement age is fixed at 60, the employer now cannot go and ‘retire’ all of those employees who are already 60 and over. This would be seen as ‘unfair’ dismissal. What would need to occur is that the retirement age of 60 would need to be phased in over a period of say two years. This would give the affected employees time to sort their lives out and plan for their retirement.

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

Thursday, September 25, 2008



Word of Mouth

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

“Word of Mouth” is the most powerful form of advertising known to man. That said with the internet, e-mail, blogs, twitters and the like – the world has become a very small place and the hint of something wrong using one of these mediums could break a company before it has even started to think about growing.

Think about it – Facebook and MySpace have a readership of millions of people throughout the whole world. Irrespective of what the problem is, mention of it on either of these mediums, will ensure that at the very least an investigation takes place.

This means that the average consumer has more power than ever before and it would be foolish indeed for a Company not to take it’s customer complaints very seriously. Poor service is no longer something that should be tolerated and every complaint should be investigated and resolved as a matter of urgency.

Good ‘Word of Mouth’ is just as important as the bad kind, again because of the power of the internet. Talk about a great product or service can spread just as fast – although I am told that statistics indicated, not as often as bad service. Humans tend to lean to the ‘dark’ side I’m afraid and that means that bad service or a bad product is spoken about much more often than good service or a good product.

So in the interests of your own company, your service and your product – make sure that all complaints are dealt with as soon as they come to your attention. Make sure that the customer knows this and is given reasonable feedback regarding the kind of experience they can expect the next time they come to your company to purchase a product or a service.

Remember though, if you lift their perception, you will have to deliver that much more.

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




By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Tell people what it is that you are good at or have done well. Don’t confuse the communication of factual business information with false modesty.”

Oh I am absolutely for this one! Look, I understand that no-one wants to go around telling everyone how fantastic they are and the list of their achievements. It’s not the best thing to do, if you are socializing – however, if you are networking it is essential.

People need to know what you have achieved. It all goes to who you are and what you have done. It goes to your credibility. It goes to your deliverables. It tells people that you do deliver, that you do achieve and that you can be trusted. It lets people know that others have used your services or bought your products and they have been well please with what you did for them.

In short it tells them that you are trustworthy and they will be more willing to part with their hard earned moola.

So don’t hide your achievements under the blankets as if you are ashamed of them. Tell everyone what you have done with your life and tell it proudly. I am sure you worked very hard to achieve it, be proud that you have and show it.

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

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Good Morning Bloggers

Here is another great article from Mark Corke of Suitegum. Remember if you would like to sign up for his free 'tips' and parts of his seminar, Here is the link.


Mark Corke & The Wonky ROA
21 February 2008

Your business' value is the sum of all the decisions you have made - the good and the bad ones. Add to that the consequences of decisions and attitudes related to the payers and non payers, the excellent products and the dogs, the attention given to and the ignoring of customers, the opportunities taken and the opportunities squandered, good luck & bad luck...

Calculating the value in your business revolves around many variables; income statement, balance sheet, history, future prospects and staffing issues immediately spring to mind. Of course there are many other less quantifiable elements, one of which is the redundancy built into a business - you know, the ability of a business to recover when a system fails.

In my seminars, I use the example of the griller in a restaurant not pitching for work. Somehow, somewhere the restaurant needs to have a backup for this very important, talented guy.
For me the question of redundancy became particularly relevant in the last week when my laptop suffered a fairly fatal hard disk crash. Never have I been so grateful for a backup system that (mostly) works.

Knee Jerk Retail Therapy

More pertinent to the rest of us right now is the question of energy supply in South Africa, and there cannot be many of us who do not know the cost of an appropriate generator or UPS to keep things cruising when Eskom grinds to a halt.

Around braais, at clubs, in the office, on various online forums, and for us around the negotiating table, the discussion has centred on that new status symbol - the diesel generator. "Protect your Business" is the new buzz.

You know the scenario: You and your staff are working away on a project, closing in on the deadline; or you're about to start the final print run on that tender which closes in 3 hours time; or you have a shop full of customers; or the melted plastic has just been forced into the extruder; or the dough has just finished proving; or... Well you get the idea - we all have our instances - when the electricity delivery for which we have paid a basic service fee, at least, fails.

"Get a generator" they'll yell at you. At the very least that tight feeling in your chest suggests that you should be more than a casual reader of the Yellow Pages, or clicker on Google.
But is that really the solution, when it comes to defending the value of your business? It may be, but I would suggest that perhaps you should take a moment to do some sums. Bear with me for a while, as there are so many permutations to the problem, and as a relatively inexperienced and scared business community enters the generator market, it is in danger of becoming a bit of a pissing contest to see who has the biggest generator. The largest I have come across so far is in a business which is awaiting delivery of a 650kVA monster to run the factory, and which the directors believe will be cheaper to run than using Eskom power. I find that hard to believe, but then I am no electrical engineer.

For sake of this illustration, we shall limit ourselves to a fairly humble 25kVA generator which will cost in the region of R65,000, or R2,500 per month on a suitable finance option. This generator will give you about 4kWh of power per litre of diesel, which works out to about R2 per kWh. Given that Eskom power is costing us about 40c per kWh, we can easily understand where this article is headed, but let's refine it some more.

How much are you going to use this generator each month? Truth is, we don't really know at this point. In the recent failures of January, some areas were suffering up to 3 hours per day, five days a week, while others were down for very short periods, and only a few times. I know of some industrial areas which have yet to suffer a failure in 2008.

I think though, that it would be fair to suggest that this humble generator of ours, with capital costs and running costs included will be in the region of R4,500 per month.

The only place you will be able to get this money, is from your bottom line. You cannot justify it by suggesting that it will generate you extra income, because the best it will do is preserve your income. So getting a generator will result in preserved income, at a higher cost, resulting in a lower profit. And that is the best case scenario, apart from the one man operator who simply takes out a book, puts his feet up, and then catches up when the power comes back on.

What is the alternative to the generator or other energy source? To not get a generator in some business may result in upset customers going elsewhere, where your competitor does have one. On the other hand your business may be such that your customers don't physically shop or wait for service, and you're able to work in the hours to get the work done. In this instance your expenses will go up, while your income remains stable, resulting in a lower profit.

The point here really is that unless you are in the generator business, if we have protracted energy delivery failures, you are almost certainly going to have a lower profit in the years ahead. Lower profits lead to lower values of businesses, and these values might suffer even more if you buy a generator.

How so? The best business buyers in town - the guys who are successful at what they do, and who pay the price, do more than just look at your income statement. For them key asset management ratios are important.

Return on assets is (Net Income) divided by (Total Assets) So, if you have a generator, you may have preserved your income, but your asset level has gone up, and so this ratio suffers. On the other hand, if you did not get your generator, your income suffers, but your asset list remains the same, and so your ROA ratio suffers again!

Is there no winner? Well, of course there is. The business owner who does his sums carefully before making the decision to buy a particular generator, if he does so at all, will retreat the least. He will optimise his decision around calculated consequences. His ROA ratio will suffer less than that of his competitor who blundered in without a moment's thought in an effort to pee further than the big lad down the road.

So while it may feel good and comfortable to be able to push the starter and gloat at your neighbours while they complain about the gentle chug-chug of your diesel, perhaps they are better off in their long term financial planning.


Mark Corke

Monday, September 22, 2008



By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from Grace Hansen, who says “Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.”

That surely brought a smile to my face, when I think about all the millions and billions of currency that have been spent to keep us young, take away the wrinkles and stop the ageing process. Imagine if you will, if that money had been spent on ensuring that life was lived?

I am often amused at the idle conversation at a dinner party – where the discussion is usually centered around who has had what work done. Quite frankly I can’t see the attraction, but then I guess I have more important things to think about, like the content of the next article or how I am going to assist a client with getting BEE compliant or assist them with getting the most benefit out of being a VAT vendor.

Perhaps that is because I have gotten to that place in my life where it’s not the “what I look like” that is important, but rather “who I have become” and what I want to achieve that takes precedence.

I have made peace with my bulging midriff, and my breasts that have lost the battle to gravity, and my ‘crock’ knee that was abused during my youth when I played a lot of sport. So what if I can’t (or perhaps won’t even attempt) to run the four minute mile, or that I have grey streaks in my hair or that I have laughter lines around my eyes – they are all earned and deserved!

Rather think about the battles that I have fought and won! Things like making a difference in the lives of individuals, playing it forward and giving back. Think about the journey that I have taken where I have grown as an individual and a person (yes and around the midriff too). Think about the person who has challenged the universe and come out the other end – positive and with a purpose in life.

So before life passes you by, and believe me it will – think about doing something worthwhile with it rather than running around frenetically looking for ways to prolong it. No matter how much you stretch it, if you do nothing with it, nothing will have been gained.

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

Friday, September 19, 2008

WHAT TO DO WHEN. . . . You Want to Dismiss Staff - Part 9


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want To Dismiss Staff?

Part 9

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

So the final piece in this particular saga is that of dismissal due to incapacity, ill health or injury.

The first thing that we need to understand is that the employer is not obliged to keep someone on because they are ill or have been injured. The employer also has rights and as long as the proper procedures are followed, these employees can be dismissed.

The employer would need to ascertain whether or not the incapacity of the employee on the grounds of ill health or injury is temporary or permanent.

If the employee is unable to work for a while, which would make it temporary, the employer would have to investigate all the different possibilities before considering dismissal.

When checking out what other measures may be taken into consideration, it would be a good idea to have a look at factors such as, but not limited to:
a. the nature of the job;
b. the period of absence;
c. the seriousness of the illness and/or injury; and
d. the possibility of getting a temporary replacement to take the place of the ill and/or injured staff member.

When the disability or injury is of a permanent nature, the employer would need to decide if there was any possibility of securing alternative employment within the company or if the work could be adapted to fit the capabilities of the employee.

Remember that in all instances the employee must be allowed to state their case or respond to any suggestions put forward or be assisted by a colleague or a union member. The employee also has the right to request assistance from the HR department.

The extent of the injury and/or nature of the illness also needs to be taken into account and this to must be taken into consideration when deciding on whether the dismissal is fair or not.

Injuries that are sustained in the workplace are more difficult to process in terms of being fair and/or unfair as the courts appear to have more sympathy with the employee in these circumstances.

The guidelines for dismissal for incapacity due to ill health and/or injury are:

As usual there is always a recommended process or procedure to follow.

In order for the dismissal not to be considered unfair, the employer needs to decide whether or not the employee is capable of doing the work. If the employee is not capable, the following needs to ascertained;
i) The extent to which the employee is able to perform the work – for example, John works in the warehouse. His job is to pack stock onto the pallets. Some of the bags or boxes weigh in excess of 40 kilos. John lost his leg in an accident that occurred in the warehouse, when a number of pallets were not correctly stacked and they fell over, pinning him underneath and severing his leg. There is an opening in the administration department for a filing clerk. If John is dismissed in this instance you will be inviting trouble in through the door.
ii) The extend to which the employee’s work circumstances might be adapted to accommodate disability, or where this is not possible, the extent to which the employee’s duties might be adapted – for example Jane is the tea lady, who has suffered a stroke and as a result she is semi paralyzed down her right side. She is no longer able to carry trays of tea and/or refreshments and the company refused to buy a trolley that she can push around. If Jane is dismissed in this instance you will be inviting trouble in through the door.
iii) The availability of suitable work – for example, Alex is an Accounts Manager and he has had a heart attack and can no longer work under stressful circumstances. There is an opening for an accounts researcher. The hours are fixed, there are no deadlines and no interaction with clients, however, it is a junior position. Alex is willing to take a reasonable cut in pay but the employer feels that he is far too qualified for the position and even with a reasonable cut in pay it will be more that they wanted to pay. If Alex is dismissed in this instance you will be inviting trouble in through the door.

This concludes the series on Fair Dismissals. Next week we will be starting a new topic.

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2008




By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that you should ‘start with the end in mind’. Whilst I agree with this statement in terms of “Networking” I am not sure that it is true of either life or business (however that would be another discussion for another time).

Going to a networking meeting or attempting to do any kind of networking without having the end in mind, would be going there to achieve absolutely – nothing!

Your objective, or end, in networking is clearly to do business – whether that business is to buy (or find suppliers) or to sell (either your product and/or services) or perhaps it is to do a combination of the two. The bottom line is that it is to do the business.

In order to do the business, I am of the opinion, that a relationship needs to be built. If people don’t know you or don’t know what it is that you do, you cannot start building the relationship so you need to tell them who you are and what it is that you do.

Some networking events allow only a very short time for you to explain what it is that you do and who you are. So it is imperative that you have a really good “elevator speech”.

You need to have your elevator speech written and rehearsed. Practice on your friends and /or relatives – make sure that it illustrates clearly what it is that you do.

If possible your elevator speech should highlight what it is that makes your different to and/or better than all of your competitors. Think about what it is that you are saying – if you are a “hairdresser” for example, why should people come to you rather than any other hairdresser? Remember that you know what it is that you do better than anyone else, so it stands to reason that you need to tell them and explain it to them. They cannot read your mind, so they will not know if you don’t tell them.

Then of course you also need ‘to listen’. It’s no good giving people what you think they want or need. You have to give them what they want and in order to find out what that is you need to listen to what they say. Many people don’t actually know how to say the words about what it is that they want, so you need to listen carefully to the words that they are saying in order to determine what they want.

You love to get referrals I am sure. I know that I do. I also know that there is no way that I am going to refer anyone because they were at the same meeting, venue, pub, party (insert where you met them here) as I was, so I make an appointment with them in order to set up a meeting for a one-on-one discussion, to find out what is that they do, to ascertain if there are any synergies and find out if there is any mutually beneficial way that we can add value to each others businesses. This is how the relationship can start to develop. Once the relationship is in this stage it is easier for me to refer or collaborate with or form strategic alliances with these individuals.

This is the end that I always have in mind when I network. Do you really know why it is that you network?

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Here's Mark's suggestions for this week.

If anyone would like to sign up for his free tips and/or useful information on Preparing you Business for sale - Here is the link.


Mark Corke & Challenging positions
4 September 2008

In the book "Getting to Yes" by Fisher, Uri & Patton, one of the underlying themes is the value in not taking positions when negotiating. Their reasoning is that once a position has been taken, it is very difficult to move away from it without losing. For me this was illustrated so well during the last week.

Our whole existence is about negotiating: From negotiating with our kids about getting into the bath, eating their vegetables, getting into bed on time, coming home on time, to arguing about where they are going to sleep, and with whom! Negotiating prices with plumbers, salaries with bosses or employees, leave entitlements with staff and even Christmas party budgets with the whole company. We all negotiate all the time.

"Start out with an ideal and end up with a deal." Karl Albrecht

I am regularly tasked with effectively negotiating a person's pension as part of his exit plan from a business. I do this by negotiating the best price for my client; the seller of a business. It is a heavy responsibility, and we are rewarded handsomely, I think. In doing so, I tend to live the deal somewhat, and as a result all this, negotiating becomes somewhat second nature. And so when the phone rings, I am very careful to understand what the other person is saying before make a potentially deal breaking or deal limiting statement.

At the beginning of the year Suitegum conducted a business valuation on a very nice business for a sprightly owner who is intent on retiring in his fifties. The business is an excellent one with good cash flows and in an industry which is witnessing the floundering of one its stalwarts. Our hero is picking up customers left right and centre from the ensuing disappointments created by the struggling competitor.

I should point out at this juncture that before we take on the task of selling any business, we always conduct a proper well thought out market related valuation. This does not mean that every business for which we do the valuation exercise ends up being sold by us, or at all. In fact we have several clients who have their businesses valued on an annual basis so that they know where their retirement plans are headed. So it is normal to not hear from a business owner for some time after a valuation is complete. We certainly don't hound them to sell to a "confirmed and qualified buyer"!

Anyway, some time after the valuation had been completed, we were called by the owner of the business to say that he did not realise the complexity, and the time required away from his core activity in selling a business. Would we step in to help? He had taken it upon himself, in addition to all his other duties, to sell his business - a once off transaction for him, but an almost every day occurrence for his target market.

We agreed the terms of Suitegum acting as his negotiator, and he gave us the list of suppliers and customers to whom he had spoken about selling, and who are interested in acquiring.

When we went to see the first of the potential buyers on the list, I became very concerned when the person told us that he had seen our valuation, and disagreed with it. Not so much with the fact that he disagreed with it - that is normal - but that he had seen it at all. Effectively the seller had drawn a line in the sand, which had magically transformed into a price ceiling which would now never be achieved with this buyer. Forgive me for mixing so many metaphors into one paragraph.

Of course the counter offer is well below the valuation, and backed up by as much bluster and hot air as you’re ever likely to see. I politely asked the financial advisor of the interested party (I call him an “interested party” because he is no longer a “buyer”) to walk me through his reasoning. There is no logic of any merit, but there was no point in entering into any debate. Nor is there any point in calling this “buyer” to argue up the price.

Instead I concentrated on connecting with him on a social level, and will not make the promised call next week. When he calls me eventually, I will inform him regretfully that we feel that we are able to achieve a much higher price in the open market amongst our 150 odd serious, well qualified investors. This last bit is true, fortunately.

I hope that his greed and knowledge of the industry will cause him to reconsider his own position. Remember our position is simply a higher one. How high? He does not know, and the pressure will be on him to make an offer.

It is unfortunate though that every potential buyer on the seller’s list has had exposure to our valuation. They all have the same ceiling. Our seller has taken a position, from which we are going to be hard pressed to move as the buyers all sharpen their pencils which are increasingly resembling swords.

I am confident that we will be able to find a buyer at the best price possible, even if it is after a bit of a fight. The South African testosterone filled negotiation has a weakness - how do you back down? How do you find reason to force a price upwards?

Compare this deal to another for which we never mentioned a price, but rather suggested a guideline value at which bidders should enter the market. As the seller has become more and more cooperative and excited about the deal, and as buyers are gently allowed to discover that other buyers exist, we have forced that price up from an initial asking price of 40M to 60M. Why?

Because the business is worth every penny, future prospects are brilliant, and the buyers know that they would be getting more than a fair deal. And of course we are interested in maximising our commission.

Mark Corke

Monday, September 15, 2008



By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that “two people can look at the same thing and see something totally different.”

I believe that it is all in the perception of the individual – why else would some people see the glass as ‘half full’ and others see it as ‘half empty’?

I also believe that our perception is influenced by our mindsets and the choices that we make about things – why else would some people cry ‘the end of the world is at hand’ and others see it as ‘huge opportunities presenting themselves’?

I believe that many people sit back and wait for others to do things for them and on their behalf and then have a huge amount to say when things are not done to their satisfaction, whilst many others just make things happen by just getting on with the business of ‘doing’ as apposed to waiting and watching and hoping that something will happen and then of course there are those again that go through life in a bit of a daze and who are constantly wondering “what the hell happened”?

I believe that there are those who choose to go through life, walking on the dark side and who are content to wallow in the doom and gloom, whilst others prefer to live in the sunshine and smile at the rain. I know which ones company I would prefer to be in.

I believe that no matter which path you choose to walk down, and no matter how different people are to you – you have the right to choose your own path, you have the right to be accepted and you have the right to be ‘different’.

Remember though, that although you have all of these rights, so to do the people who see things differently from you and you need to respect their views and accept that they have the right to be different to you too.

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

Friday, September 12, 2008

WHAT TO DO WHEN. . . . You Want to Dismiss Staff - Part 8


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want To Dismiss Staff?

Part 8

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Today we are going to look at Incapacity and Poor work performance and the guidelines for dismissing someone therefore:

To ensure that the staff member is given every opportunity to improve the following must take place where appropriate:

- the staff member’s work performance should be evaluated on a regular basis
- staff should be given instruction that is in a clear and concise language that is easily understood, so as to avoid miscommunication
- staff should be given training that pertains to the position that they work in.
- staff should be encouraged to have mentors within the organization who would be able to guide them and steer them in the right direction
- should the employer still find that the employee is struggling to meet laid down requirements and/or criteria, counseling sessions should take place in an endeavor to get the staff member to render satisfactory service.

In the event that a new employee fails to meet the criteria in terms of work performance, the employer should not dismiss the employee until the employee has had an opportunity to state their case or to respond to the allegations. In other words the employer would need to follow the usual disciplinary procedures.

A new employee should also not be dismissed unless the previous requirements in terms of evaluation, instruction, training, guidance counseling etc., had been met. Should the staff member still continuously fail to perform in a satisfactory manner, disciplinary procedures must be followed prior to the dismissal.

As always the procedure leading to the dismissal must include an investigation to establish the reasons for the unsatisfactory performance. Both the employer and the employee should try to think of other ways to remedy the matter – other than dismissal. Dismissal should always be a last resort.

The employee also has the right to be heard and has the right to be assisted by another employee, colleague or union member. The employee also has the right to seek assistance and guidance from the HR department.

The guidelines for dismissal for poor work performance should also include but not be limited to:

a. whether or not the employee failed to meet the performance standard and/or criteria for the position that they fill
b. if the employee did not meet the required standard and/or criteria whether or not this was not met because
i. the employee was aware, or could reasonably be expected to be aware of the required performance standard – for example, Joe used to be a waiter at the Wimpy where the cutlery was wrapped up in a paper serviette and placed on the table for patrons to help themselves. Joe now works in a 5 star hotel restaurant, where the waiters are expected to lay the cutlery out in a specific manner for specific courses. Joe has no clue what the difference is between the cutlery and what it is supposed to be used for. If Joe is dismissed at this point you will be inviting trouble in through the door.
ii. the employee was given a fair opportunity to meet the required performance standard – for example, Jane has never worked an electronic touch till before and the sales person who installed it, showed all the staff members how to operate it in a 15 minute demonstration. There are no operator manuals with instructions and Jane is completely out of her depth. If Jane is dismissed at this point you are inviting trouble in through the door.
iii. dismissal was an appropriate sanction for not meeting the required performance standard – for example, Alex started as a data capturer in the financial department in a large corporate. Alex has only done data capturing on Pastel and can capture 150 units a minute with consistent accuracy. This company uses SAP and after the first month Alex’s speed is only at 50 units a minute. If Alex is dismissed at this point you are inviting trouble in through the door.

Clearly from the above, it can be seen that dismissing someone for poor work performance can be done and it is not that difficult, providing of course that you follow the correct procedures consistently.

Next week we will have a look at Dismissal due to Incapacity and Ill Health.

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

Thursday, September 11, 2008

CUSTOMER SERVICE - The Customer is always right


The Customer is always right

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

We’ve all heard the phrase “The customer is always right”. The phrase was apparently first coined in 1909 by the founder of Selridge’s Department Store in London. It was used to instil a greater sense of awareness amongst the employees, of their attitude towards customers and how they interacted with them. It is used today, rightly or wrongly, by business to indicate or give the impression of providing good service.

In many businesses today, particularly where there are call centres in place, this has become merely lip service. Nowadays though, with the internet, e-mails and logs, the networks and people who are linked with working networks, when a client chooses to complain, very few companies can afford not to listen. With the introduction of industry ombudsmen there are even more complaint channels available to people who wish to voice their complaints.

This makes consumer power bigger and better than it has ever been. The question of course is do we, as consumers, complain enough, or do we just put up with bad service, poor quality and indifferent sales people for the sake of a quiet life?

If a client takes the time and/or trouble to voice a complaint it should be seen as an opportunity, by the business, to right a wrong, or as a second chance. The fact is that customers who complain give business the opportunity to improve their service and thereby retain the patronage of their clientele.

Ironically, the reality of the situation is that very few of us take the time and trouble to complain or express our dissatisfaction directly to a company usually because the perception is that it is not really worth the effort. Many South Africans just tolerate bad service. What we usually do is ‘vote with our feet’ and of course our voices, when we tell all of our friends, family and colleagues or in fact anyone who will listen about the bad experience that we had. This does not help the situation at all, as we have not dealt with the root of the problem.

Human nature being what it is though, means that we usually complain a lot more that we praise. So when we moan and groan quite liberally to all and sundry we very rarely spread the news when service or quality is exceptional. The result of this of course that we as consumers have the ability and potential to make or break a small business.

Clearly it is of the utmost importance to deal with customer complaints effectively and efficiently.

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

Wednesday, September 10, 2008




By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Always remember, to acknowledge peoples’ contributions, thank them, compliment them sincerely, and return favours where possible.”

Isn’t this just common courtesy ? Think about it for a moment – here I use Dr Renate Volpe’s nugget cards on a regular basis as a theme on whatever it is that I am writing. How pleased do you think she would be if I had not asked permission? How pleased do you think she would be if I did not give her the credit for the ‘tip’ that she has written? How pleased do you think she would be if I didn’t acknowledge that it is her writing and therefore her IP (intellectual property)?

Quite frankly, I don’t think she would be very pleased with me at all. In fact for the record, whenever I use one of Renate’s nuggets, I mail her a copy of what I have written, because without her nugget, her ‘tip’ or her statement, I would not have had anything to write about.

Now, ask yourself this question, how would you feel if someone consistently took your contributions, your writings and muses and used them to promote whatever it was that they were doing, without asking your permission to do so, or without even giving you the credit of having contributed it in the first place. I am sure you would not be very happy about it at all.

So make sure that whenever you use something of someone else’s, where possible ask permission first. Make sure that you thank them and give them credit for their good work. Let’s face it, if the work wasn’t good you would not be using it in the first place! Always, always reciprocate if you can.

Just treat them and their work, the way that you would want to be treated.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at www.hirs.co.za

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

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Good Morning Bloggers

Here is some more useful information regarding what you need to do in order to optimize the sale of your business.

Should you want to sign up for Mark Corke's weekly/monthly tips or free seminar notes, Here is the link.


Alienation of Assets23 August 2007

Selling the shares of your company may be the first step to your financial ruin. Not initially, you'll appreciate, but more likely about two years after the sale of the shares. First of all, it is important to know that there are two ways of selling your business; either as the obvious sale of the shares or interest in the company or close corporation, or as a sale of the business as an asset of the company or close corporation. With that in mind, let me tell you a story of a factory owner who was fooled into letting a buyer into his company via the share trade route:

Make a small fortune - start with a big oneIt was important for the purchaser of the business that he retain the supplier contracts, obviously. In this case both the seller and the purchaser assumed that the best way of achieving this would be by way of a transfer of shares. After all, the contracts were with the legal entity - the company, not the owner of the company, and as they conspired; why should the management of the supplier be made aware of the new ownership, anyway?

This is a ploy often used where the purchaser has a checkered past, and feels that he may not pass the credit vetting process of the suppliers' credit departments. Far too often, this subterfuge is perpetrated in collusion with a desperate seller, thinking only of the immediate payment for his shares, as was the fact in this case study. The purchaser had approached the seller with an offer which was never tested on the open market or through a market related valuation. The spectre of several million Rands in the hands of the owner of a growing business, battling with cash flow, was too much for the owner to resist.

All the legal documentation had been drafted at the purchaser's expense, the lump sum was attractive and the purchaser wanted to do the deal in the next month. No time was afforded to the seller to consider his options, prospects or safety. Certainly no guidance was offered either. No war stories and warnings were related by any transfer intermediary. And there was definitely no opportunity to compare the virtues of several prospective purchasers. The final nail in the coffin of the seller was his panic when the purchaser hinted that he was looking at another, similar business.

Initially the seller had no need to worry. He was paid in full, in cash, and on time. There was no quibble about the stock value, and the purchaser was happy for him to stay in the business for no more than 3 months. The dream deal? So it at first seemed, and it was this phrase which the seller used as he boasted over beers with mates.

Two years later, the seller had spent a large portion of his selling price on the financing of a block of residential flats which were about to break even in their monthly cash flows. He'd purchased a nice holiday home on the coast, and his youngest son was in his last year at a rather expensive private school in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands. Money was beginning to tighten up a bit, but he was unconcerned because the net cash flow from his flats would soon turn positive.Then the sheriff arrived.

While the seller had been blissfully getting on with a less stressed life, the new owners of the business had continued to run the business. The business continued to grow. And as growing businesses do, it sucked up all profits into its cash flow. Then two big deals were clinched. Unable to raise further financing from their bank, they had started to run their accounts to the limit, and then beyond. Payment periods had been extended into new months. With evidence of their new orders in hand, they managed to convince their suppliers to make those big deliveries so that they could get the big orders out, enabling them to normalize their accounts once more. As the majority of their raw product arrived, a strike matured at the fuel depot, which slowed down one of their suppliers, causing the delivery deadline to their customer to be missed.

The new managing director, a fit and apparently healthy man, suffered a minor heart attack on a Sunday evening. An absolute catastrophe for the business. Through a superhuman effort, his colleagues were able to deliver, eventually. The penalty clauses for late delivery meant that their gross profit warranties were squeezed, and consequently they were unable to make good on their promises to normalize their accounts. Suppliers lost patience and insisted on dealing with the business on a cash only basis until all outstandings were paid.

It was only a matter of time, and as the business crashed, the owners withdrew as much cash as possible from their turnover to help keep their own private heads above water. In the liquidation that followed, personal sureties of the directors were dusted off by suppliers.

This is where our seller's destiny started to turn south. Because of the secrecy surrounding the deal, his suretyships had never been replaced with suretyships from the new owners and directors. In fact he had long forgotten that as he applied for credit facilities all those years ago, he had signed an automatic suretyship embodied in the application forms. Haven't we all? In the absence of recourse to the current owners, the lack of proceeds from the liquidation, and the juicy assets owned by the only suretyship they had recourse to, creditors went with due process. Our hero today sits in sadder and more humble circumstances. His son, unable to secure a bursary or scholarship for university studies, started his own business running tourists between ORTI and the game lodges of Mpumalanga. He signs no sureties, and asks an attorney to comment on all agreements he signs. His mom died last year at the young age of 61.So what's the alternative?

There's a difference between selling your shares in a company and selling the business as an asset of your company or close corporation. My advice on the matter: Think long and hard about selling the shares of your company, rather than the business as an asset of your company, and when you have considered all the angles; do the latter, almost without exception. In fact I cannot think of a single good reason for the sale of a company's shares. I'd be interested to know if you have any ideas on the matter. Email me if you have any comments.

CheersMark Corke

Monday, September 08, 2008



By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from Johann Wolfgan Von Goethe who said “The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.”

Well I don’t know about any of you, but I certainly would like to be moving in a forwardly direction!

On a personal level though, I think that we as individuals don’t take enough time and trouble to stop – turn around and see just how far we have come. I mean think about it for a moment, how on earth would be know if it is the greatest thing in the world or not, if we don’t even acknowledge that we are moving forward and not sideways or backwards, although I am sure we are very conscious of that fact when it occurs!

For me it is not just ‘moving’ forward and achieving that is important, but also acknowledging to myself that I am moving forward and that I am in fact achieving – otherwise what would be the point?

I know that I am certainly very guilty of this oversight. Once a year though, on New Years eve in fact, (I don’t celebrate New Year, in the traditional sense – but that is another story for another time), I discourage visitors and switch the phone off, light the fire – a huge big fire, open up a bottle of particularly good red wine and have a braai (or barbeque for those who are not “African”) for one.

Now I know that that may sound frightfully morbid or sad, but for me it is extremely self satisfying. You see, it is the time of the year that I take out the goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the year, I ‘tick off’ and acknowledge each one of the goals I have achieved that were on the list, and add all the goals that were not on the list but that I have achieved anyway - and the ones that I haven’t – well they couldn’t have been that important anyway (and if they were – then I add them onto the new list).

I think that we as individuals are so busy chasing after the goals that we have set and beating ourselves up about the ones that we did not achieve, that we forget about the ones that were not on the list, but that we have achieved anyway. Situations change, perceptions change, new opportunities present themselves and yet we somehow feel the need to rigidly stick to something that was written down on paper. Why? My answer to that is this, once I have ticked off all that I have achieved, added all the ones that weren’t there – I drink a toast (well several actually) to myself, pat myself on the back and burn the list with the goals on it! Why you may ask? Well it’s quite simple, I don’t want a constant reminder of what I did not get to, glaring at me all the time, so I erase it!

Then I make a new list for the new year – a clean slate with new exciting visions and attainable goals – well attainable as I write them down on New Years eve. But hey, guess what? Situations change, perceptions change and new opportunities present themselves, so nothing that I write down on my piece of paper is carved in stone and it’s not the end of the world if I don’t achieve them because, well, next New Year’s eve, they too will be celebrated and then burnt.

Do I ever have any regrets? Sure I do – one of them is that I only perform this ritual once a year. It doesn’t seem like it is often enough. Perhaps I will put it on my list this year, that I will perform this ritual twice a year! Yip, that’s what I will do and if I manage to achieve that, then I will drink a toast (or maybe several) and if I don’t – well, it’s not the end of the world – you see, I will have achieved other goals, I will have acknowledged that I am moving forward in the right direction, I will have recognized and done something with the new opportunities that presented themselves and I will have celebrated all of that.

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

Sunday, September 07, 2008


I hope you enjoy the funnies today - some of them are hilarious!

The lighter side of 2006
Paris, France
21 December 2006 11:59

Botched burglaries, ancient skeletons, saxophone rage, transparent police uniforms and fish raining down on an Indian village: we present a selection of zany events from 2006.

In a new twist on the influx of Polish workers to Britain, an ad appeared in newspapers serving Muslim communities in the East European nation asking for Polish halal butchers to work in Britain.

An 82-year-old Australian cartoonist who was expert at doing high-speed sketches of sports participants was able to do a quick drawing of a man who robbed his home. Police used it to arrest the burglar.

The authorities in a Czech town on the border with Austria ordered an Austrian hotel to trim its roof, which was protruding a few centimetres across the boundary.

Ziggy Stardust, an indiscreet parrot in England, blew the cover on its mistress's love affair by repeating her amorous exchanges in front of her companion. The latter, named Chris, realised something was up when the bird started squawking "Gary, I love you."

A woman's handbag containing jewellery and cash worth about $110 000 was returned intact to its owner in Melbourne, Australia, after she absent-mindedly left it hanging on a shopping trolley. The extremely honest finder wished to remain anonymous.

Police thought they were on to a terrible crime when a woman's skeleton turned up in the sea off western France with a gash in the skull. Carbon dating later revealed that it was in fact more than 500 years old.

A pair of 17th-century cannons left outside a workshop where they were being restored on the Greek island of Crete narrowly escaped being melted down when a firm of scrap merchants hauled them off by mistake.

A Frenchman who had braved lawsuits to deep freeze his dead parents' bodies gave up when his freezer system broke down. He had hoped to one day bring them back to life thanks to medical progress.

Drivers venturing to use their satellite navigation system in an English village called Crackpot found themselves being erroneously directed to the top of a steep cliff.

A talentless street musician in the Dutch town of Leiden got local people so upset by his awful saxophone playing that they got police to confiscate his instrument.

New Yorkers were gripped by the story of a cat called Molly, which got stuck between the double walls of an old building in Greenwich Village. It took 40 firefighters and two weeks of work to get her out, safe and sound.

Drinkers had to be evacuated from a Welsh pub when somebody realised that a tubular object that the landlord's wife had long used as a rolling-pin was in fact a World War II shell.

Policewomen in The Netherlands were furious when they were issued with new uniforms including blouses that turned out to be transparent.

A British taxi driver who showed up at BBC headquarters in London to pick up a fare was mistaken for a computer expert, and bustled into a studio and given a microphone to be interviewed.

A Christian missionary group in the United States toured pornography conventions to hand out literature affirming that "Jesus loves porn stars".

Vietnamese police broke up a network that was helping students to cheat in exams via cellphones hidden under long wigs.

A canny Canadian internet user showed the potential of online trading systems by gradually bartering a paperclip into a three-bedroomed house. The clip was first exchanged for a wooden pen, which was traded for a ceramic doorknob, and the process continued right up to the house.

In a real-life version of a scene from countless cartoons, a 45-year-old woman fell over a precipice in the French Alps but was caught on a tree root that snagged her foot. She was rescued, shocked but unhurt, two-and-a-half hours later.

Small fish rained down on a village in southern India. A scientist said they were probably picked up by a waterspout or mini tornado out at sea.

The US fast-food giant McDonald's agreed to change the shape of the cups used for one of its desserts after English animal lovers complained that hedgehogs -- a threatened species -- were getting their snouts stuck in them and dying.

An animal rights group in Northern Ireland complained after a video of a man biting the head off a live mouse at a party in the province was displayed on a website.

A 68-year-old man in northern Nigeria told reporters that after having married a total of 201 women in 48 years, he had resolved to make do with the four wives he still had. His main complaint: older wives had an unfortunate tendency to turn the younger ones against him.

To greet the annual Nobel prizes, tongue-in-cheek scientists in the US handed out their own "Ignobel" awards. They included rewards for boffins who had researched into why woodpeckers don't get headaches from all that tapping, and whether dung beetles really enjoy their diet of faeces.

Kazakhstan reacted first with irritation then with resigned humour to a filmed spoof by the British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. The jokes in the film, Borat, in fact turned out to be mostly at the expense of Americans, who nevertheless lapped it up at the box office.

In the real-world Kazakhstan, meanwhile, national mint officials were red-faced when it emerged that they had misspelled the word "bank" on their newly issued notes.

The Marine Corps in the US said it had finally decided to accept a gift of 4 000 Jesus dolls that recited the scriptures, and were destined to be given to needy children for Christmas. The group that had donated them had complained vocally when officials tried to refuse the gift.

Friday, September 05, 2008

WHAT TO DO WHEN. . . . You Want to Dismiss Staff - Part 7


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want To Dismiss Staff?

Part 7

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Today we are going to look at what the guidelines are if you want to dismiss for misconduct.

Employers should consider the following before dismissing a staff member for misconduct:

Whether or not the employee failed to comply with a Company rule or Company standards governing conduct in the workplace or whilst they were representing the Company and

If the rule or standard was broken and/or not met, whether or not
i) the rule or standard that was broken was a valid or reasonable one – for example – the Company is a nursery and they have a standard rule that employees dress up around a theme for spring day. This year the theme is ‘pot plants’ and George refused to dress up as a pansy. Dismissing George for misconduct would be inviting trouble through the door.
ii) the employer was aware, or could reasonably be expected to be aware of the rule or standard – for example – Jane has been on maternity leave for 3 months. During the time that she was away the Company took a stand regarding “Facebook” and a memorandum was issued stating that staff could no longer access “Facebook” during working hours as it affected productivity. The first thing that Jane did when she got back to work was log onto “Facebook” to catch up with all of her friends. Dismissing Jane on the grounds of misconduct would be inviting trouble through the door.
iii) the rule or standard has been consistently been enforced by the employer – for example, George and James are both store managers in a retail chain. George was caught “borrowing” money out of the till for taxi fare. It was George’s first offence of this nature. George is the top salesman in the Company and his store consistently over performs. George is counseled and is given a written warning. A month later James is also caught “borrowing” money out of the till for taxi fare. It is also James’ first offence of this nature. James, on the other hand, is a trouble maker. He is always stirring up trouble with the unions and the staff. His sales are very poor and his store’s turnover is always below target. If James is dismissed for misconduct at this point, it would be inviting trouble in through the door.
iv) dismissing the staff member for misconduct, the punishment must ‘fit the crime’ for the rule or standard that was broken – for example, let’s use the retail environment again. The till float in James’ store, very seldom balances. It is usually out of balance by a minimum of R1.00 or less. Dismissing the cashier for misconduct in this instance would be inviting trouble in through the door.

As you can see from the above, it is very important to dismiss someone for misconduct for the right reasons as apposed to jus seeing an opportunity for getting rid of someone and using that.

It certainly is not difficult to dismiss anyone, but the correct procedures must be followed.

Next week we will look at dismissing someone for Incapacity: Poor work performance.

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

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Good morning all bloggers

On 22nd July I was the guest speaker at a Women In Finance dinner in Johannesburg.

I was subsequently interviewed on Networking by Catherine Gargan of CNBC.

Here's the YouTube link:

Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MFf06rAx-E

Wednesday, September 03, 2008




By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Now I know that being a small business owner means that you are all over the place. You’re the salesman, the administration manager, the operations manager, the HR manager and even, amongst other things, the tea lady on occasion!

Believe me, I really get it when you tell me that you are so busy doing all that needs to be done, in your business – what with trying to hold your head above water, and trying to make good on the promises that you have made to your clients, that there just is no time (or inclination for that matter) to go beyond what you are already doing to be proactive.

Some would say that “as a micro business owner you don’t actually want or need to be proactive, you want to be reactive”! It seems that “being proactive requires far more work than being reactive and it is therefore both impossible and completely unnecessary to do anything more than meticulously deliver on your promises.”

Well maybe, but then I wonder what excuse you will give to the tax man when he comes a-calling and you are not properly registered, or the Department of Labour, when you have not submitted what needs to be done? I can assure you neither could give a damn whether you want to be proactive or reactive.

How about new clients – would you rather be proactive or reactive when you are looking for new clients? I tell you what, why don’t you just sit and look at the telephone and hope that it will ring and then you can snatch it up and answer it – well that’s being reactive isn’t it?

Or you could go out and network, build up a data base, build relationships with the people you connect with at the meetings, whether they need your services or not, and then when they refer you to someone in their data base, who has a huge amount of work for you, you can smile about exactly how proactive you were.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly think that the extra effort and work is worthwhile in the end, especially when I look at my bank balance.

What about you? Are you ‘reactive’ or ‘proactive’? Which one works best for you?

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



For those who would like to sign on for Mark’s weekly tips and seminar – Here is the link.

Over the last two weeks I have written about the different business leagues that SMEs must traverse on their way to greatness and the resulting rewards their owners receive en route, initially, and then in the final sale of their businesses. Those writings certainly caused a response, and we have been busy on the phones as a result. Much of the response centered around how much more expensive it is to run a company than a close corporation. Those people all missed the point: You want to maximize the selling price of your business, and if investing a bit of money helps achieve this, then all the better.

Don't Go for Broke

It is important, when one considers the possibility of one day selling a business, that one understands that there must always be an upside in the sale of a business. In order for a purchaser to put pen to agreement, he must believe that he is going to take this "money spinner" which the broker and seller have been raving about, and turn it into something really exciting. If the buyer sees more upside than risk, the seller will close a deal. Most serious buyers live by a simple maxim of "when in doubt, look about". They look about until they find a reason to move on. It is a frustrating time for all concerned.

It will never help the seller's cause if he waits until he has sucked the business dry of any immediate growth, leaving possibilities only for the most enterprising buyers with great big steel dangly things. Last week we saw how the perception of "onerous" can be a deterrent to real value realization. Moving one's business into the league of real value requires "onerous" to be tackled and dealt with. Not so long ago the Boks were dealing with "onerous" as they dealt with all manner of stumbling blocks and difficulties, not all physical and psychological, but political as well. Thank goodness they prevailed, moving from a losing side with very little public support to the glorious team that no South African will ignore today. Planning for the final event was onerous. Implementing the plan was both meticulous and onerous. A simple self belief and excellent leadership (gratefully away from home interference) made it all happen.

When my father died just prior to Christmas, two years ago, the important people whom he would have wanted to deliver the eulogy were on holiday abroad. As the oldest of my siblings, I volunteered to do the job. I locked myself away for a day, and worked hard to prepare the address. It went off without a hitch, and the copy was published in several newspapers nationally. A difficult and onerous job, well prepared, turned into something Dad would have been proud of.

Planning for one's demise may seem a bit dark, but the prudent amongst us do it all the time - wills, life assurance, dread disease cover, key man insurance etc.
If you're a prudent person, you have those things. And yet; is your business prepared for sale? If you are incapacitated, unable to work, knowing your business is going downhill, wouldn't you be just that little bit happier knowing that you can call your local business broker, and provide him with something meaningful to sell, prepared when you were not as desperate as you feel in your hospital bed.

Many businesses reach a value in excess of the value of the owners' homes. Lying incapacitated, they watch their businesses die, and sell their homes to keep the wolf from the door. Once recovered, they have neither a home nor a business. Try another approach: Incapacitated; sell the business you cannot run anyway, settle your bond, recuperate without the financial stress. Then once recovered, use your debt free home to finance your new start in life. I have seen it happen, and it works a dream.

We are in contact with about 80 private equity funds. Collectively, they have access to more than R20 billion Rands. They buy businesses which are well prepared for sale. The others... well let's just say the people with money ignore them.

CheersMark Corke



By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that ‘no matter the consequences, those who are honest with themselves, get farther in life.”

I am sure that you will have noticed that it says “who are honest with themselves.” – that’s not to say that should then feel the need to be dishonest with those around you. I think that it means that you have to be honest with yourself before you really expect others to be honest with you.

Before you can reach your full potential you have to understand and therefore be honest with yourself regarding your driving factors, such as but not limited to:

What is my passion?
What’s in it for me?
What are my goals?
What do I hope to achieve?
Why am I doing this?

These questions cannot be answered untruthfully if you are hoping to achieve anything of significance.

Strategies and plans will not achieve any level of sustainability and goals will not be met if the very foundations that they are built upon are one of deceit. Perceptions and expectations will not be met and even if you did achieve some sort of success the taste of victory will be somewhat hollow.

What you achieve as an individual and the level of success is determined by the person that you are. The kind of person that you are is determined by the values and morals that you have in your life.

So – tell me, actually better yet – tell yourself. Are you honest with yourself?

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