Friday, November 28, 2008

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want To Strike - Part 2

ARTICLE 16

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

So what we now know is when the staff cannot strike – let’s take a step backwards though and define exactly what a strike is:

Section 213 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) says “The partial or complete concerted refusal to work or the retardation or obstruction of work, by persons who are or have been employed by the same employer or by different employers, for the purpose of remedying a grievance or resolving a dispute in respect of any matter of mutual interest between an employer and an employee, and reference to ‘work’ in this definition includes overtime work, whether it is voluntary or compulsory.”

What does all of this actually mean?

This means that in order for it to be termed ‘a strike’ there have to be three definite components.

The first one of course has several parts to it and it revolves around the issue of work. It is but not limited to:

· “Refusal to work”. This means that any refusal to work, whether it is a ‘go slow’ or work relating to overtime or even if the employee refuses to ‘clock in/out’ and so on. So let’s take the example of George, who is in a production line at a factory. George’s job is to pack the finished product into tissue paper, place it back onto the conveyer belt and from there it goes to the next person who packs the wrapped product into a box. George abandons his station at the conveyer belt and refuses to wrap any of the product thereby refusing to perform any of his duties.
· “Partial refusal to work”. In this instance George stands at the conveyer belt and wraps only some of the product into the tissue paper and then also refuses to place the wrapped items onto the conveyer belt. In this instance he is only refusing to perform some of is duties but not all.
· “Retardation of work.” In this example, George continues to perform his duties but at a rate that is as slow as possible, without coming to a dead stop. This is commonly known as ‘a go slow’. George’s manager asks George to assist with the packing of the product into boxes, but George refuses as his contract does not specifically state that he must pack product into boxes. This is known as ‘work to rule.”
· “Obstruction of work”. In this instance George does not wrap the product at all but does put the unwrapped product onto the conveyor belt which means the product cannot be packed but must be removed from the packing area and taken back up to the point where it should be wrapped by George, before any packing of boxes can continue.

The second component in terms of a strike, is that a single employee cannot strike and it therefore has to be two or more employees that refuse to work before it can be considered a strike.

The final component in a strike is that there has to be purpose to the strike which is usually to resolve a dispute or to remedy a grievance. To resolve a dispute is usually around the issue of salary increases and/or benefits and a grievance is usually around issues of perceptions of unfair dismissal. In this instance George is dismissed for dishonesty in that some of the wrapped product ended up in his pockets or in his home without any of it being paid for. George is disciplined, found guilty of misconduct and dismissed and his colleagues feel that he has been dismissed unfairly and go on a strike in an effort to force management to give George his job back.

Please remember that a grievance of any nature can be and is anything that is between the employer and the employee whether there has been a collection bargaining process or not.

Next week we will look at protected and unprotected strikes.

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

Thursday, November 27, 2008

MARKETING - Why Do What Your Competitors Do?

MARKETING

Why Do What Your Competitors Do?

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting November 2008.

From an information point of view, it is of the utmost importance to know and understand what your competition is up to. The saying “Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer”, really applies in this case. You need to see what kind of prices they are charging and what products and/or services that are offering or even how they are packaging and/or promoting their offerings.

Whilst it is important to know what the competition are doing, it is equally important not to follow exactly in their footsteps. You need to be unique in what you do and you need to develop your own strategy.

So if your competitor puts everything on sale at less 50%, it is not necessary for you to put everything on sale less 55%. This can only result in a really ugly price war.

Rather think of, or come up with innovative ideas on how to give better value. Most people know that the best is not necessarily the cheapest and that the most expensive is not always the best. So find ways of adding value, best value.

Do some research on your target market – find some need that has not been met or something that your competitor doesn’t have and add it to what you offer. Make what you do or the way that you do it, not only different but also irresistible.

Make your client conscientiously choose you, your products, your services before they go anywhere else!

Set you apart from the rest.

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

THE POWER OF NETWORKING - PART 89

THE POWER OF NETWORKING

PART 89

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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 connection 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 nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS FOR SALE - Competitor Analysis

PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS FOR SALE

Competitor Analysis by Mark Corke

Good Morning Bloggers

For a while, with his permission, I will be posting articles from Mark Corke of Suitegum.

Mark is a Business Broker, who writes articles on, and runs seminars on “Preparing you Business for Sale”. Should you wish to register for some of Mark’s free articles and tips, Here is the link.

Both Mark and I are of the opinion that ensuring that your Business is Prepared for Sale at all times will ensure that your business always commands the highest value. It actually increases the value of your Business quite considerably.


Knowing the opposition is as important as knowing your customers. Even more important is knowing what your opposition is thinking and doing. This can be established through the use of competitor analysis studies.

"Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." Sun-tzu
So how do South African small and medium sized businesses go about gathering information about their competitors? Well frankly we simply do not know. There are some methods shared with delegates in the Prepare Your Business For Sale seminar series, but we don't really know how many businesses do what, or whether they do anything at all.
What we do know, is that selling prices increase if it is clear that the business owner knows with some accuracy where he stands amongst his competitors. Certainly this kind of intelligence means that savvy businesses are more profitable than those without the knowledge, and when it comes time to sell the business, the quality buyer will make his own study as part of a due diligence. So why not have the information at hand for verification, within your own knowledge rather than finding out at the end of long negotiations that there is an unpleasant odour in the house, which you could have addressed some time back?
Rob Severin is a broker with Suitegum. You know, the guys who sell businesses in South Africa. He is completing his MBA at Wits Business School, and part of his research is understanding competitor analysis practices in South Africa: What information are businesses interested in, how much they are managing to gather, and how?
Please do me a great favour, and download the little file, open it and run through the questions as accurately and honestly as you can. You will notice two things; first the file requires you to enable macros, which is fine because I have scanned it for viruses, and second that there is no place in the exercise for any identifying data. Your confidential information will be protected.
Completing the survey is going to take you about fifteen minutes, and you will have to do a bit of head scratching. So I cannot promise you that it will be altogether pain free. But I can promise that it will be rewarding. Every respondent will get an electronic copy of the results of the survey results which will be extremely useful in improving or setting up your own competitor analysis monitoring system. And if you want to thwart the enemy, it may help you to defend your own intelligence through a counter intelligence strategy.
Thank you so much for your help in this. We really appreciate the response we get from these newsletters.
I am running a new seminar series in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Have a look on the Website at http://www.suitegum.co.za for the dates in question. Please join me to learn how to Prepare your Business For Sale and Present Your Business For Transfer.
I hope to meet up with you there.
CheersMark Corke

Monday, November 24, 2008

MOTIVATION - Creating Yourself

MOTIVATION – Creating yourself


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from George Bernard Shaw who says “Life isn’t about ‘finding’ yourself. Life is about ‘creating’ yourself.”

I am often reminded how I needed to ‘find’ myself in my early twenties. The problem of course is that when I ‘found’ myself, I didn’t much like who I was and promptly set about changing myself into the kind of person that I wanted to be – thereby ‘creating’ the person that I am today.

As adults, there are very few who can say that they aren’t changing themselves on a daily basis. We all tend to strive to be the best of who we can be, and in doing this we morph into someone quite different to the person who we started out as.

The challenge, as I understand it, is to accept that we are continually creating or even re-creating ourselves as we slowly but surely change, as we grow as individuals.

We often comment, unkindly about superstars such as Madonna, who is continuously re-creating herself, yet this is exactly what it is that we do ourselves.

Perhaps it is time for us to understand and also accept the fact that we are exactly who we created ourselves to be and any change that we make to ourselves is made, by recreating ourselves.

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

Friday, November 21, 2008

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want To Strike - Part 1

ARTICLE 17

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to STrike – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

How much do we actually know about when the employee can strike and when they can’t?

Let’s explore this situation together. Firstly let’s have a look at when employees can’t strike.

According to the Department of Labour and the Labour Relations Act (LRA), employees cannot strike if (but not limited to)

1. the employees have entered into an agreement that they have collectively entered into that then prevents them to strike because of the reason why they want to strike. Ok that sounds very confusing, let’s give an example. Let’s say that the workers and management have all agreed to an incentive bonus at the end of the year based on performance and turnover and profit. The first year that this is happening, the performance of the employees has not been great and this has resulted in the company not making targets because the turnover was not great and then because of huge theft in the warehouse, the profits are really bad. The union cannot now call for the company to present 13th cheques as a bonus. In this instance if the workers went on strike it would be deemed illegal.

2. the employees have entered into an agreement where any disputes have to be referred to arbitration. What does this mean, let’s have another example. The employees (and/or the Union) have signed a document stating that they will not strike and/or call for strike action until an issue (whatever that issue and/or disagreement may be) has been referred to arbitration. If the matter is still at a deadlock, with neither side being able to move, then under certain conditions (and they then have to list these), strike action may be called for. So the employer offers an increase of 8%, the employees decide that that is not good enough, they want an increase of 20%. Neither side backs down and the union now calls for strike action. In this instance if the workers went on strike it would be deemed illegal because they have not gone through the arbitration process.

3. ‘the issue in dispute is one that a party has the right to refer to arbitration or the Labour Court in terms of the Act.’ Again – what does this mean. Let’s assume that one of the employees was caught with his hands in the cookie jar so to speak. He has stolen large quantities of money and he has been disciplined and found guilty of misconduct and he has been dismissed. His fellow workers are really angry about his dismissal because they pretty much like the guy and well stealing from your employee is actually not a bad thing, so they go on strike demanding that he be re-instated. This would be considered an illegal strike as the dismissed employee has not (yet) gone to the CCMA for arbitration.

4. the employee works in what is considered an essential service or a maintenance service. So this would be people like nurses and/or the refuse removal guys and so on.

Next week let’s look at exactly what a strike is and when a strike can happen.




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

Thursday, November 20, 2008

MARKETING - Relying On Networking to Generate Sales Leads

MARKETING

RELYING ON NETWORKING TO GENERATE SALES LEADS

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting November 2008.

Now what I am about to say is probably going to sound like a huge contradiction in terms. You see I always carry on about the fact that I get all of my work through Networking and now I am telling you that relying on Networking to generate sales leads is not a good idea. I can just see all the eyes raising heavenwards and groans of ‘well make up you mind!’

Well it’s like this, I am a natural Networker and a natural connector – so it works for me as an individual. For those of you who find Networking hard work or in any way difficult or you actually just don’t ‘get it’, relying on Networking to generate your sales leads is a really bad mistake.

You see most people will join a Chamber of Commerce and go to one or other of the meetings and shuffle around meeting one or two other people who are doing exactly the same thing. You may or may not meet someone with whom you can form a joint venture or strategic alliance with, sometime in the future and it may give you a few brownie points for being visible as a supporter of your community, but in all probability it will not generate you any kind of sustainable sales leads. That is because you will not ‘work’ it.

One-on-one networking is time consuming and it is hard work and if you don’t work at it properly, there is no guarantee that you will get any work out of it. So be sure that you are aware of what it is that you are doing and why you are doing it. It can become a very costly exercise both financially and also with your time.

So for those of you who are uncomfortable (or perhaps that should be not as comfortable as I am) in the Networking environment, you should use Networking as any other of your marketing strategies – measure them and determine the cost to you versus your payback.

Don’t be too quick to blame Networking for your lack of sales leads though, it is probably your lack of knowledge and/or your failure to understand how to Network correctly that will result in zero sales leads.

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

THE POWER OF NETWORKING - PART 88

THE POWER OF NETWORKING

PART 88

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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 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, November 18, 2008

PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS FOR SALE - The Business owner's Life Raft

PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS FOR SALE

The Business Owner’s Life Raft – by Mark Corke


Good Morning Bloggers

For a while, with his permission, I will be posting articles from Mark Corke of Suitegum.

Mark is a Business Broker, who writes articles on, and runs seminars on “Preparing you Business for Sale”. Should you wish to register for some of Mark’s free articles and tips, Here is the link.

Both Mark and I are of the opinion that ensuring that your Business is Prepared for Sale at all times will ensure that your business always commands the highest value. It actually increases the value of your Business quite considerably.

Now consider this

Whenever I meet with another seller of a business I am asked the same questions:
How long will it take to find a buyer?
How will you avoid letting my customers, staff and / or suppliers finding out that the business is for sale?
What will happen if the buyer doesn't pay me?
How much will it cost me?
How do I stop the competition from finding out I am for sale?
What risk am I running with respect to SARS?
What do I do if I don't trust the buyer
How do I cancel my sureties?
Straight forward important questions; right? Well of course they are, and they all have good easy answers. But when I start asking the questions, and looking for essential documents always needed to Prepare your business for sale, there is almost always an embarrassed shuffle as the excuses are wheeled out. Sometimes it takes months to get the stuff. And all this while the owner is available to talk to any buyer who may be interested.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked to sell a business in a hurry.
"I will take any reasonable offer."
"I don't know how to run my wife's business, and I don't have the time."
"I'm getting divorced, and my wife wants the business."
"We've had enough, and we're going to emigrate. I need my money by December."
Why condemn yourself to this unhappiness? There is an easy solution, you know. What's more, it is so easy if you are already running your business in a slightly better than basic fashion.
Whenever I meet with buyers of businesses, they ask me the same questions: ·
How will the seller prove his turnover?
How does he arrive at that selling price?
What will happen if he loses his biggest customer?
Where is the value?
What are the opportunities?
How do I know that he's not a con artist?
Why is he really selling?
How do I determine the real fixed costs?
How do I deal with his staff?
How am I going to learn to run the business?
I'm not sure I trust the seller. How do I deal with this?
What other information can you give me besides all these numbers?
Why do I have to take so much stock?
The vehicles are all shot – do I need to take them?
What you really need to do in order to pump up your shareholders' life raft is start inflating it with tools you already have. Your raft will have all the answers any potential purchaser of your business is looking for.
And this is exactly what "Prepare your business for sale" will show you. Not only will it give you the tools to pump, but it will stock the raft with all the life surviving necessities, plus a few humble luxuries.
There is no substitute for building a relationship. Selling a business is not akin to selling second hand cars. We are changing people's lives here. Let's do it with some empathy and understanding. We are the experts, we do it every day. It is our duty to look after both seller and purchaser.
"From the signing and acceptance of the offer, until the final payment, Mark was constantly involved, and did not take the attitude that he had received his commission, and it was no longer his problem. Mark I salute you for the work that you did, and the friendship that we established." Len Birger
You know, sellers give us their all in order to make these sales work. We must give everything we have to make the deal go through as efficiently as possible, so that's what we do.
"I wish to express my gratitude to you for the for the efficient, honest and professional manner in which you brokered the sale of Jardine Foods. I will be recommending your services to friends and associates" Doug Jardine
I've been doing this for 17 years. I've made a point of learning more each year, so that we have 17 individual years of experience, and not the same year 17 times.
"If you are looking for a professional, Mark Corke from Suitegum is your man" Renier Richter
By following our techniques, nobody need ever know that your business is being sold, or in fact that you have prepared your business for sale, if this is an issue for you.
Great news for business owners who think their businesses will never be sold: Not only will your business be sold, but you will use the proceeds from that sale to improve your life and leapfrog your dreams to a higher level.
Join me for some good advice and solid pointers as to how you will create a life raft of opportunity in your business, ready to be launched at short notice.
"He is focused on the interests of both seller and buyer and is not hesitant to voice his opinion and offer sound advice. He is approachable and patient and it has been a pleasure dealing with him" Zoƫ Cohen
A while back a lady called me because she needed to sell her husband's business in a hurry. "Well then I need to talk to your husband", I told her.
Unfortunately, that wasn't going to be possible because he was lying in intensive care, having suffered a stroke, I was informed by a tearful and panicky wife.
It transpired that she did not know where the financial records were kept, had no idea of the contracts that were in place, and that was just the beginning of the nightmare.
Another business ended up, itself in intensive care, when the new owners eventually took it over because of the way it suffered after the old owner was diagnosed with cancer.
The shock and horror at the diagnosis, the mounting medical bills and the quickly deteriorating health of the owner had all conspired to leave his widow with a business worth little more than the auction value of the tools and equipment.
Sadly, less than six months before this calamitous event, the business would have been worth R3,000,000 to a buyer. But because the business was not ready for sale when the diagnosis was made, the owner had no choice but to place an ill prepared business on the market.
By the time the chemo and radiation treatment had taken its toll, there was nothing he could do, and when he died, there was nothing his wife could do.
Contrast these two events to the following: Last year a widow came to see me with her son. Her husband had died unexpectedly, leaving her with a flourishing business in a niche market. The business had been running for only eight years, but had always been kept in a state of readiness for sale.
The management team, although loyal, hard working and honest found themselves with a possible windfall at the expense of the widow, and offered her a price of R2M for the business. This would have solved many of her day to day problems of keeping tabs on a business which she did not really understand. Together with the life insurance settlement she would have been able to survive.
She came to see me to get some clarity on the deal. I went through some pointers on the business, and showed her how she could get R7,000,000 on the open market for her business, so well prepared had her husband kept the sale readiness file.
She settled on R6,000,000 with the management team who had a good empowerment element to their ranks, and are subsequently taking the business to even greater heights. Everyone has won, and she will never have to worry about her future.
Which scenario would you rather be part of? By subscribing to "Prepare your business for sale" you will be set to have a life raft able to give your family the same or better results in the case of your untimely demise.
A business we sold a few years ago had been on the market for a year. The owners and several brokers had been marketing it at R1,7M for a 50% share in the business. Using the techniques I am going to show you in "Prepare your business for sale" we made some small changes to the business, introduced an entirely new bracket of interested investor, and sold the whole business for R10,5M, only three months later.
The emigrating partner who had been relying on the proceeds of the sale to finance his emigration, found that he could leave some of his money behind in South Africa!
It is surprising how few businesses are prepared for sale, and it is sad to report that as a result, so many businesses are sold below par.

Do you feel under threat from the BEE revolution? Perhaps you're one of the rare breed of South African entrepreneurs who sees great potential for your business in BEE. Like most business owners, you don't know where to start, vacillating between two extremes: fear and optimism. You may have been able to avoid the issue up to now, but suddenly find your business has grown into the next bracket. Suddenly you have survival issues at stake. How do you grow and survive? I'll show you.

The BEE revolution is driving the values of most businesses down at a steady rate. In the face of this destruction of small business value, however, there are businesses being sold successfully at premium prices, either in part or in their entirety. Why does such a difference exist often between businesses of very similar characteristics, profitability, and prospects?
The answer lies in the way in which these businesses are prepared and presented for sale. And just as any product on a store shelf can be promoted better with some professional help, so can a business be well or badly prepared.

The fault lies in the hands of business owners, most of whom never consider selling their businesses until a few months before the event. In some instances business owners or their surviving spouses are forced to sell totally unprepared businesses in an environment of grief and total ignorance of the business itself because the late owner has failed to keep the business disposal preparation up to date.

All businesses should be in a constant state of readiness for sale. We live and work in an uncertain environment with new challenges being thrown our way constantly.

Monday, November 17, 2008

MOTIVATION - DREAM TO REACH YOUR GOALS

MOTIVATION – DREAM TO REACH YOUR GOALS


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Like most people who own their own businesses, I a very "goal orientated" and again like most people who own their own businesses, those goals can and have changed on a daily basis.

The below advice to put the goals into some sort of order of priority is something that, quite frankly needs to be done! The way that I find easier to do this type of thing is to have a 10 year, 5 year and then 1 year plan, and at this time I am referring specifically to the work arena.

Looking forward into my life and into the future for me, makes what I do and how I achieve those goals very important. So I take the most difficult of all and ask the question - what would I like to be doing in 10 years time. Where would I like to be in terms of my business and what would I have liked to achieve. For me these are the 3 most important questions and they are listed separately, with all the bits and pieces going on in rows beneath them.

Once that is complete, I tend to break it down and so here comes the 5 year plan. Looking at the 10 year plan, many of them are automatically achievable if certain of the other goals are met and brought to fruition, those do not get transferred to the 5 year list, but remain on the 10 year list. Again what is on the list is broken down into easier to achieve "bite size portions".

Again, once that is complete, I break things down and out of this the 1 year plan is born. As with the 10 year plan, many of the points on the 5 year plan are automatically achievable if certain goals are met and brought to fruition, those do not get transferred to the 1 year list but remain on the 5 year list.

I now have a list that is 'doable', even if it is somewhat daunting! Now for me, here comes the challenge. There may still be goals that are automatically achievable if other goals are met - these are split out from the others and listed to one side. The remainder of goals are then taken one at a time and what needs to be done to achieve each one is listed as a sub-heading under the goal to be achieved. These are then given a 'due date' by which they are to be completed - those due dates are diarized, and also put down into my year planner so that they can be seen at a glance. By checking my year planner on a weekly basis the task can be planned out into daily expectations and what I like to call "mini targets".

I now have a workable solution to something that at the beginning of the exercise, was a hugely daunting, frightening and quite frankly an over whelming task.

On a daily basis, use your diary, or a journal to record what you have done and what you have achieved or have not achieved and why. Apart from documenting your life, you are also cleansing your mind and settling emotions!

So what am I saying here . . . . Well basically it is this - If you want to be a success in life and/or in business, you have to have a plan! Issues need to be put into perspective. You need to achieve your goals, one little step at a time - remember the statement (I forget now who wrote it, but it is very true) that the greatest of journey's begin with a single step. Note it says step - not leap, or sprint or anything else that you may want to conjure up in your mind's eye.

At the end of the year, take your lists and look at what you have achieved. Now is also not the time to beat yourself up over what hasn't been achieved! I have no doubt that you have done this sufficiently during the course of the year. Remember daily goals have changed to accommodate ever changing needs and there are goals that have been achieved that were not even recorded or considered. Because of the changes there are also many goals that are now obsolete, so they now no longer feature.

Adjust your goals for the coming year. Take time out - I mean quality time with yourself, turnaround and have a look at where you were 12 months ago, what you have achieved and the journey that you have walked. Pat yourself on the back and give yourself credit for what you have done! Too often we are too busy bashing our own selves on the head because of what we haven't done, instead of congratulating ourselves and patting ourselves on the back for what we have achieved . . . more often than not with more tasks that had not been on the list than what were.

And remember . . . focus on the goal that is in front of you - don't gaze into the future and try and complete the 10 year plan in the 1 year space.

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

Friday, November 14, 2008

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want to Avoid Clashes with Emplyees

ARTICLE 15

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want to Avoid Clashes with Employees

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

For me prevention is always much better than a cure.

Here are a few tips that will assist in ensuring that there are a few less ‘clashes’ between employees and employers.

· Make sure that the employees that are in charge of ‘procurement’ of any kind, do not have private relationships with your suppliers.

This means that you should not have a staff member in charge of purchasing all of the stationary for the Company, who is married to someone who owns a stationary store. This is clearly a conflict of interest and could result in illegal ‘kick backs’ and the earning of unearned commissions. It could also end up meaning that your Company is paying bigger fees for purchases than you should be.

· Make sure that your staff members have written permission to carry business that is in competition to your own.

Now this is just common sense don’t you think? Staff members shouldn’t be doing anything on the side without your written consent. Make sure that whatever it is that they are going to be doing to earn extra cash, is not in competition with you and make sure that it is not going to interfere with their duties at the office.

· Employers cannot expect employees to perform illegal duties.

Be careful here. If you instruct the bookkeeper not to pay SARS for any reason, you are instructing said bookkeeper to break the law! Although the bookkeeper works for you and should be loyal to you and your company, you cannot expect the employee to break the law on your behalf. Make sure instructions that you give to your employee are within the boundaries of the law.

· Employers cannot expect employees to ignore their own legal rights in order to satisfy the interests of the employer.

Again, be fair – it’s your business and you can work as much ‘overtime’ as you like, but you cannot expect your employees to work excessive overtime. It’s not good for their well being and ultimately it’s not good for your Company. Overly tired employees make mistakes that could cost the Company dearly.

· An employee who is involved with a Trade Union’s first loyalty is to the Trade Union and not the employer, particularly where the law is protecting the employees rights and not the employers interests.

As much as this is a difficult one to swallow, it is the law! An employee, who is a Manager for example and who is also a member of the Trade Union, cannot be expected to inform on issues that were discussed in the Trade Union meetings. It is also illegal for the Employer to prevent someone in a managerial position to become a Union member. That said, Managers who are Union members can be disciplined in certain instances. For example if a manager was discovered, not disciplining his/her subordinates because they were fellow Union members, said manager could be disciplined themselves for not performing their own functions.

This is a very difficult one to constrict though, therefore if you have a situation where you feel that a Manager is not performing his/her duties because of Union issues, I would suggest that you contact an accredited Labour Attorney who will advise you on the case in question.

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

Thursday, November 13, 2008

MARKETING - Losing the Plot

MARKETING

Losing the Plot

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting November 2008.

I am sure that at one time or another we have all sat in front of the TV, having watched the same ad, for what seems like the 100th time in the same hour and thought or even said “I’m sick to death of this Ad!”?

More often than not, the first time we saw the ad, it captured our imagination and if you are anything like me, you will have even, on occasion looked forward to, or even actively sought to watch it again and again – especially if it has had me in fits of laugher. But pretty much like a song that I went from wanting to listen to over and over again, I soon got tired of it.

Does this mean that the ad must be pulled or taken off to be replaced by another? Good heavens no!

The Company who owns that particular ad may have heaps of spare cash to indulge themselves in producing a new ad campaign, but the average small business owner does not and the old saying of “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” certainly applies here. If the ad or the promotion or the marketing campaign is making you money – for heavens sake don’t stop it or swap it for something else – that’s just losing the plot!

Sure if it is not working anymore, then by all means step up to the plate, but if the money is still rolling in, then you being bored with the ad, or the promotion or the marketing campaign is not a good enough reason to switch to something else.

Remember that what is old and boring to you is still shiny and new to your untapped target market. If it’s making you money, stick with it. When the results show that the money is no longer coming in, then it is time to change, but don’t change before the results are in.

One way to appease your growing boredom is to test the market with a new promotion and then tract these results. That way when your ‘old’ promotion shows in the results that it is no longer working and it is time to make a change – you have a brand new promotion to take its place.

So be clear about why you want to swap a promotion, make sure that it is about the results and not just your boredom.

Make sure you don’t lose the plot!

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

THE POWER OF NETWORKING - PART 87

THE POWER OF NETWORKING

PART 87

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

I have often been told that I am a ‘connector’. Now logic must tell you that in order for me to connect people there have to be a minimum of three people. You see, I have to connect one person to the other.

Stephen Covey says that we should “Synergise principals of creative communication.”

Scott Cundill says that this means “Business is very three dimensional and there will often be alternatives to a situation that are not very clear at first. If it looks like there are only two options, keep looking – it’s amazing how often a third option manifests itself to a dedicated mind.”

For me, this is often what makes Networking such an exciting adventure. You see, I have no idea who I am going to meet and who I can connect them with. More importantly, I also have no idea who I am going to meet and who I don’t know, and who they are going to connect me with.

To make use of Oprah Winfrey’s “What I do know for sure” is that when I go to a Networking event, I will meet people, like minded people who are as serious as I am about doing the right kind of business and making a difference.

Why do you go to Networking events?

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

Monday, November 10, 2008

MOTIVATION - Forgiving Yourself

MOTIVATION – FORGIVING YOURSELF


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said ‘that it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others. . . . sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.’

This for me, in my personal capacity has to be one of my greatest challenges, and what often makes the challenge even greater is that often my transgression, is something that is only my perception!

In my experience, people are far harder on themselves than anyone could actually be on them. It is for this very reason that I tell most of my clients to let their staff perform their own Performance Appraisals – basically what that means is that they rate themselves.

I have yet to see a staff member rate themselves higher than what their bosses rate them and this is because the actual physical action of performing the appraisal makes them think about what they do and how they perform their duties. It makes them look at who they are and what they do, from a totally different perspective.

The outcome usually, is that they rate themselves far lower that what their employers rate them, and with the higher ranking from the boss, comes a different appreciation and respect for their bosses, which usually means a half way decent relationship between the employer and the employee – at least for a little while.

What is also very important to remember though, is that the employer now needs to work on taking that staff member’s lack of self esteem and turning that into something that is positive and that becomes a win/win situation for both parties.

It does highlight however, that as individual we are really very hard on ourselves – harder on ourselves than any other person and that most of our transgressions are perceptions in our own minds.

That said, I am still challenged by looking at my own demons and finding forgiveness for myself, by myself. I have discovered though that my demons are often quieted when I give myself credit for the things that I have accomplished and the good things that I have achieved.

So perhaps, therein lies the solution.

Remember to heap accolades and praise upon your head, for each and everything that you achieve or do well. Not just the big things, but the little things too. Things like every appointment that you make on time, each telephone call that you return when you say you will, each deadline that you meet and each and every person, in whose life, you make a difference.

Remember, you are the architect of your own life. Let that life be full of laughter and joy and yes . . . . even your own forgiveness.

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

Friday, November 07, 2008

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Are Not Sure About Workmen's Compensation? - Part 4

ARTICLE 14

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Are Not Sure About Workmen’s Compensation? – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Well, here we are and it is crunch time. The registration is complete, the documents all sent in, the business assessed and it is all over – bar for the paying of course. Well you didn’t think that this was all going to happen for free, did you?

So here’s what happens next:

You pay within the required 30 days – no problem, except that you get to repeat the whole exercise all over again next year, but at least you can relax for a whole year.

You don’t have the money to pay: Well here, as in most aspects of life, there is a consequence or two or even several. This is what can, but is not limited to what will, happen:-

· The Commission may impose a fine on you (the employer)
· In the instance that an employee has an accident and the assessment has not been paid, the Commission may, in addition to the original fine, impose an additional fine that is equal to the payment that would have been payable to the employee.

If the you (the employer) still do not pay the assessment and/or the subsequent fines, the Commission is entitled to take legal action against you by approaching the Magistrates Court in order obtain the monies due. The Magistrate has the power to impose an additional fine as well as a prison sentence not exceeding one year.

As you can see from the above, this is serious business. Therefore, if for whatever reason you cannot pay it all up front, it is in your best interests to obtain permission to pay the money off in installments.

Should you have any additional queries, it may be a good idea to contact the Commission directly and/or seek assistance from a Labour Attorney.
Next week we tackle a brand new subject.

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

Thursday, November 06, 2008

MARKETING - Preparation and then . . . . Nothing!

MARKETING

Preparation and then . . . . Nothing!

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2008.

I was reading an article (and yes I do read, I don’t just write articles) by Martha Beck in which she said “To fail is divine she (Martha Beck) has repeatedly, and she has nothing to show for it except freedom, serenity, and a sure –fire recipe for success.”

Yet we all have a frighteningly huge fear of failure. The really crazy thing is that we fail on a daily basis, no matter how successful we are, we still experience failure on a daily basis. The missed or late arrival for an appointment. The missed or late deadline. The closed bank teller. They are all failures on our part, in one way or another. Even though we all fail on a daily basis, our fear of failure is so great that it often overpowers us and we go to great lengths to avoid it.

How do we try and avoid failure, well we prepare and organize and research and then we prepare some more, and we organize some more and then we do some more research and so it goes on! Pretty soon we are so busy preparing and organizing and researching and running around like lunatics, to prevent failure that we don’t ever get to the point of actually marketing. How sorry is that?

Think about a baby who is learning how to walk. No child that I have ever seen, got up onto his/her feet and walked after doing only the crawl for the better part of their lives. They all fall down and then with immense cheering and motivation and yes, even a little bribery I suspect, they get up again, only to fall down again. Along the way however, their tenacity pays off and they start to walk.

Starting a new business is the same, we all fail a little, adjust our thinking, pick ourselves up and get going again. Remember tenacity will pay off, but you still have to take that first step.

It is a good idea to remember two basic points, I would actually write them down somewhere where you can see them every day. They are:-
· Just because you are running around frenetically all the time, doesn’t mean that you are actually achieving anything. So Activity is not productivity!
· Just because you have this brilliant idea for a product or a service that you think you can sell one to every individual on the planet – you still have to sell the first one, before you can sell the rest! So make the first sale!

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

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

THE POWER OF NETWORKING - PART 86

THE POWER OF NETWORKING

PART 86

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Introverts can network successfully too. They simply need to be more selective about where, when and with whom they associate.”

Quite frankly, I am always amazed when people look at me in absolute disbelief when I tell them this. Actually if the truth be told its then next bit of information that always gets them – you see I am an introvert! So now that everyone who fell down to the floor laughing has picked themselves up and dusted themselves off – the truth of the matter is that – I am an introvert! Ask my shrink if you don’t believe me.

I am really not comfortable with most people, I dislike crowds intensely, I am actually quite shy and given half a chance I would become quite a recluse.

I know that I have said, on more than one occasion that I am a natural Networker and on most levels that is absolutely true – here’s the thing though. Every morning when I get up, and I have to meet with people, I have to make a conscious decision about that. I have to have this chat to myself about how it is in the best interests of my business and therefore myself. It’s a motivational chat of great proportion and it is what gets me going and keeps me going for the rest of the day.

Absolute bliss, for me are the days, when I don’t have to meet with anyone and I can sit quietly at home and get on with my work or write what needs to be written and I can deal with people on the phone – if I have to. That really works for me in a ‘natural’ sort of way, I can just relax.

So, as an introvert, if I can get Networking to work for me in the way in which I have, what on earth is stopping you? Find a way that allows you to be comfortable in a Networking environment and get going – it will make a world of difference to your business and ultimately to yourself.

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, November 04, 2008

PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS FOR SALE - More Questions than Answers

PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS FOR SALE

More Questions Than Answers

For a while, with his permission, I will be posting articles from Mark Corke of Suitegum.

Mark is a Business Broker, who writes articles on, and runs seminars on “Preparing you Business for Sale”. Should you wish to register for some of Mark’s free articles and tips, Here is the
link.

Both Mark and I are of the opinion that ensuring that your Business is Prepared for Sale at all times will ensure that your business always commands the highest value. It actually increases the value of your Business quite considerably.

Most businesses don't sell for anything close to the value they should, and frankly... THAT'S JUST WRONG. Particularly when the owner isn't around to defend the value.

If you were to sell your business today, would you get true value for it? And if you were not around, would your loved ones be able to sell it for what it's worth? Do you really think they could? Do you even know what the real value of your business is? The simple truth is that businesses are often sold unprepared under unforeseen circumstances.

The unfortunate answers to these questions lie in the fact that most business owners never consider preparing their businesses for sale before a purchaser asks them to supply the financial statements, management accounts and VAT returns. No sooner are these supplied, than the prospective purchaser asks about the customer mix and debtor analysis. Another challenge all together…

At no financial cost to you at all, you can learn to prepare your business for sale so that at the drop of a hat you are ready to sell for 209% more than you believe it is worth today. An impossibly silly claim? Not at all! Businesses that are properly prepared for sale, well in advance of the event, and then kept prepared through a simple maintenance program, usually over a period of years, always sell for higher values, in quicker, cleaner deals, than if the business had not been prepared properly, or at all.

So why don't we prepare our businesses for sale?

Most sellers simply don't know where to begin. They know they need to present a profit figure, and they know that VAT returns will be used to prove the turnover. They hastily sketch out some cash flow forecasts based on improving “this” and implementing “that”. They are scared that their staff will up and go if they discover the business is for sale. They don't want their suppliers and customers to find out.

Any of this sound familiar to you? Do you fit the bill?

And so you do nothing until the buyer is sitting in the office asking awkward questions. At that point, of course, it becomes a bit of a mess, as the bookkeeper is called in, sworn to secrecy, and has all the pressure transferred to his shoulders. By the next morning even the cleaners and drivers know there is something afoot.

If I can show you how to pre-empt this entire debacle, and add value to your business, would you be interested in “Preparing your business for sale”? Well, of course you would. For no cost at all, I will help you to prepare a complete prospectus on your business, to be easily updated every month in less than an hour. You will learn exactly how to add value to your business so that both you and your buyer benefit from the improvements. You will be able to identify the elements in your business that savvy buyers are after, and show those elements to your best advantage.

You will gain... oh never mind; I promise you that you will get so much value ...without paying me a penny!

Retaining the shareholding and a directorship provides the investor with a stable platform going forward. A dedicated part owner employee, if you want. But not any run of the mill employee; rather one who shares a common goal with the investor – maximize profits to grow the underlying value of the business as a whole.

And so they will become partners in a business, one who understands the intricacies of the industry, based on decades of experience, and another who is able to bring professional systems, cash flow, and door opening contacts in other markets. In addition the business will have a war chest which it will be able to use to make strategic acquisitions from amongst its suppliers, customers or even competitors.

“I will take any reasonable offer.”

“I don't know how to run my wife's business, and I don't have the time.”

“I'm getting divorced, and my wife wants the business.”

“We've had enough, and we're going to emigrate. I need my money by December.”

"My husband has had an accident. He says I must sell his business because it is going out of business. "

Why condemn yourself to this unhappiness?

There is an easy solution, you know. What's more, it is so easy if you are already running your business in a slightly better than basic fashion. By following our techniques, nobody need ever know that your business is being sold, or in fact that you have prepared your business for sale, if this is an issue for you.

Great news for business owners who think their businesses will never be sold: Not only will your business be sold, but you will use the proceeds from that sale to improve your life and leapfrog your dreams to a higher level.

Join me for a few minutes of good advice and solid pointers each week as I show you how you will create a life raft of opportunity in your business, ready to be launched at short notice.

Do not be caught unaware.

Do not be caught investing most of your life’s time in a business to keep the wolves from the door today, and to provide for your future tomorrow, when you have no idea of what a buyer would be looking for in a business today.

Do not be caught flat footed when circumstances such as illness or death dictate that you have to sell at short notice.

Wouldn’t that be sad?

All businesses should be in a constant state of readiness for sale. We live and work in an uncertain environment with new challenges being thrown our way constantly.

Instead of the formal presentation seminars, I have made the entire seminar available in a structured format through a no cost subscription base which will release seminar lessons on a weekly base to all subscribers. This means that if you wish to receive the seminar, you will have to register with your details, and then confirm them so that you can receive the lessons.

For subscribers who sign up now, there will be no charge. Simply follow the link to the Prepare your Business For Sale registration form.

I hope you get the most out of the series which is aimed at business owners who will sell their businesses some day in the future, as profitably as possible. Let me show you how in a series of easy to follow steps.

Cheers
Mark Corke

Monday, November 03, 2008

MOTIVATION - Responsibility

MOTIVATION – RESPONSIBILITY


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from Abraham Lincoln who said : “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow, by evading it today!”

Actually this very topic came up with one of my colleagues yesterday. He is an entrepreneur – ‘a visionary’ he calls himself. His usual take on things to do with business is to get the business going – get it up off the ground and running and then look at things like registering it as a company or for VAT or PAYE or even get the books done or the policies and procedures put into place.

Personally, I really think that that is a stupid idea! I can just see everyone’s eyebrows raising and throats being cleared.

Ok, let me explain myself – so you’ve started business with this really brilliant product, that is unique to you. You’ve started on your own and pretty soon you have to employ someone because you just can’t keep up with demand. Before you know it, you’ve had to employ 10 people, you’ve moved premises three times and you now have to rent a warehouse to distribute from and you want to go national. Orders are pouring in and you really don’t have the capital to meet the demand of this growth spurt.

You go to the bank for a loan and here is where the whole thing begins to go pear shaped. You see you are still trading as a Sole Proprietor, so there is no Financial History on your Company, you don’t have a business plan never mind financials or projected sales or anything for that matter. No bank, or in fact an investor of any kind will lend you money without the right information.

To make matters worse, you seem to have employed a ‘rotten apple’ type individual who is hell bent on stirring up trouble and at this point you can’t do anything as you have not issued anyone with a Letter of Appointment and you are not registered with PAYE, UIF or Workmen’s compensation. Said individual keeps threatening to go to SARS and/or Department of Labour to report you, which would probably result in a SARS audit, which could become hugely costly for you as you are way over the minimum for VAT and you’re not registered for that either!

Pretty much a disaster, I am sure you will agree. So now it becomes a race against time trying to get all the documentation done and registered and you’re running around like a mad person trying to put out some fires (in terms of SARS and the Department of Labour), whilst simultaneously trying to light other fires (under the rear ends of the red tape bureaucrats in said financial institutions who grant loans) and still trying to meet your deliverables and manage your company.

Not a good place to be. Now if you had started in the correct manner by registering your company, then getting your financial stuff in order with a proper bookkeeper/accountant in place to give you monthly management reports, your bank accounts – just by themselves would have given you financial history that would be working in your benefit right from the beginning.

Then issuing Letters of Appointment to staff as you employed them and putting policies, procedures and templates in place to protect yourself from ‘rotten apple’ type employees who try and hold you over a barrel, would all have resulted in a completely different type of scenario.

Which situation do you think would have been easier?

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