Friday, January 30, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Compile a Job Description - Part 2


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Compile a Job Description

Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Last week we had a look at the difference between an employee’s duties and the job description.

Here are some of (but not limited to) the things that you need to look at and take into account when you want to write a job description.

First of all you need to be accurate and realistic about the requirements of the job.

Let me tell you a story. Many years ago I was employed by an insurance company, to capture all their hand written client data onto their computer system and in so doing, drag them kicking and screaming into the 20th Century. They needed to get all of their client information into an electronic format, if they were to remain in business and have any sort of competitive edge. At the same time, their own business Administration was in a state of total chaos, and they needed proper procedures and controls put into place to bring some sort of order into their lives.

A few days after I started, I was asked to perform bookkeeping tasks. Now although I am an qualified bookkeeper, I have never done a full set of books for a client (other than my own, when I was young and stupid) and certainly never done a set of books in an accounting package. You see they had seen that I was a qualified bookkeeper (as this information was on my CV) and they thought that they could get two jobs done for the price of one.

Don’t do that – the one job has nothing to do with the other and in this instance actually required two different people.

Make sure that what you require is realistic.

Then there is the case of the domestic worker – here is another story of how things go pear shaped.
You cannot believe the number of small businesses who have hired their domestic worker as the cleaner/housekeeper/tea lady. This in itself is not a problem at all, in fact I have done this myself. What is the problem is that all of a sudden the domestic worker becomes the filing clerk and then the office administration clerk.

Now, giving someone the opportunity, if they are capable is absolutely fantastic. Promoting someone to a position that is outside of their capabilities and then holding them accountable when they cannot cope or mess something up, is just plain irresponsible. You cannot fit the Job Description to the person – the person must fit the Job Description. So be honest about what the job entails and what your requirements are for that particular job and then find the person that fits those requirements.

Next week we will continue with some more tips on how to write a Job Description.

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

Thursday, January 29, 2009

SALES - Selling in Tough Times - Part 1


Selling in Tough Times – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2009.

I keep hearing all around me that we are in the middle of an economic crisis and a credit crunch. I must say that I am really not convinced! I mean the interest rates have come down and the petrol price has come done – so I am not totally sold on the whole concept. That said, for those who have ‘bought into’ the whole ‘economic crisis’ scenario and also for those like me who want to make life really easy for themselves, here are some tips on the “how to” sell in tough times.

Existing Satisfied Customers.
I have no doubt that even at our worst, we have left some satisfied customers in our wake. Surely to goodness, logic must tell us that if we have satisfied them once, it cannot be that difficult to satisfy them again. Reconnect with them, rekindle the relationship that you once had with them and find out what it is they need/want/desire. If it is something that you can do for them – fabulous, if it isn’t , don’t stress, connect them with who they need out of your database. This still means that you are adding value to them and they will remember you all the more for it.

Ask for Referrals
What is it about the human race and South African’s in particular, that we find it so incredibly difficult to ask for help? We find it very easy to help, to assist – I mean, we are internationally known for our friendliness and generosity. Yet we cannot seem to ‘ask’ when we need the help.

It’s very easy you know, just do it – ask for what you want. Ask your friends, your relatives, your clients (past and present) to refer you to the people within their circle of influence. It will cost them a few minutes of their time and it will increase your sales exponentially. How cool is that? Even more cool is the number of references that you are likely to get out of the exercise.

Putting on the Pressure.
It is said that in the tough times, it is not a good idea to put pressure on a client in order to close the deal. I would take that one step further and say that it is never a good idea to push someone into a corner in order to close a sale!

Be warned – if you do push a client like this, in all likelihood you will never sign a deal with them ever – not just this one deal, but never another deal ever.

People like to take some time to think about what it is that they want to do. They like to think about the pro’s and con’s of what they need/want/desire – the more pressure you apply the more they will resist and the more desperate you will appear. You will not only lose the sale, you will lose the client too. Don’t do it!!

Next week we will look at some more tips on Selling in Tough Times.

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

Wednesday, January 28, 2009




By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is well documented and well known that the easiest way to increase your sales is to rope in and resurrect your existing and/or dormant clients.

The second easiest way to get new clients is from referral Networking. Let’s face it, the majority of us would rather make use of a supplier that someone has recommended than someone we have found out of the yellow pages. I know for sure, which one I would rather use.

So how do you go about getting referrals? Well for me it is a ‘no brainer’. I do it through Networking. I have been Networking for a number of years now and the relationships that I have built up as a result of those networking events, pays up big time – really big time!

In the last week alone, I have formed 3 different collaborations with people within my own database and the result is that I have now got 3 different projects on the go. How exciting is that.

How did I originally meet these people? Well two of them I met through two different Networking meetings and the other was referred to me. How easy is that? It sure as hell beats knocking on doors and doing cold calling.

Remember though, you have to build the relationships and maintain them and you have to recognise the opportunity and then act on it. Don’t be discouraged if things don’t happen immediately. Stay focused and keep going – pretty soon the business will just start flying in.

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - Causing a Cash Flow Crunch


Causing a Cash Flow Crunch

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2009.

We’ve all heard about the bad economy and how things are going to get worse before they get better. We’ve all heard about how this is a global recession and how everyone is going to feel the pinch.

The reality of what is happening today is people are losing their jobs. People are feeling the ‘credit crunch’ and feeling a bit squeezed and small businesses and closing down faster than they are starting up.

Part of the problem may very well be related to the ‘credit crunch’, however I suspect that the economy is getting blamed for a lot of bad cash flow management and how we as small business owners actually run our businesses and in some cases how big Corporate Companies and even the Government are the cause of small businesses going under.

Many businesses (especially the large corporate companies) seem to have the idea that they can just pay the smaller SMME if and when they feel like it – Government in particular is notorious for this.

The whole drive to assist small businesses, by both Government and the Private Sector is more often than not, negated by those self same companies when they don’t pay the SMME on time for the services and/or products rendered.

I have it on good authority that most of the big Corporate Companies only pay 60 or even 90 days and Government can be as long as 180 days (and that is with the SMME phoning and harassing them on a daily basis).

The National Credit Act (NCA) also doesn’t really protect the SMME from these hungry sharks either! You see as long as there is no additional ‘financial gain’ on the debt that is paid at 30, 60, 90 or 180 days, they are quite happy, and the SMME doesn’t have to become a registered credit provider despite the fact that the SMME’s are clearly giving credit!

Let me explain this in a little more detail – as individuals we are entitled to charge interest at prime plus two percent on outstanding bills. This is called ‘Incidental’ credit as it was not our ‘intention’ to give credit to the client, but rather a consequence of them not paying us on time.

If you however, charge interest on invoices that are paid 60, 90 days plus then you have to register as a credit provider. If you ‘load’ your rates, you will be undercut by someone else, so basically you are skewered either way.

The bottom line then is that big Corporate Companies and Government fund themselves using money that belongs to the SMME. Then they try and make themselves smell sweetly of rose petals by publically donating huge funds to get SMME’s up and running to boost the economy, whilst quietly destroying them by not paying them on time and thereby forcing them to close their doors.

So what is the point of these huge great big giants declaring that X percentage of their suppliers are from the SMME sector and this is how they are assisting the growth of the economy? How are they assisting? Personally I don’t see it and quite frankly this is one of the reasons that I (and thousands of small businesses across the country) would rather not do business with the Corporate and/or Government world.

In this instance, it really is a case of the “Cure is worse than the disease”.

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

Monday, January 26, 2009

MOTIVATION - Living Each Day

MOTIVATION – Living Each Day

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from an anonymous donor who says “Live each day as if it is your last, but start each day anew.”

Live each day as if it is your last! What a statement! What a mindset change! What a life style change!

I am of the opinion that we are all very guilty of becoming complacent. Of taking life and our lives for granted or for just going through the motions of living. In reflection this is very sad and such a waste.

Then there are those who often live each day as their last, but very seldom start each day as a ‘new’ day – they drag every hurt and perceived wrong doing through the dawn with them, making the burden of ‘living’ the day as if it were their last a very burdensome one. Thinking on it, logic must tell you that the lighter the load the easier it would be to live the life, so to speak.

So it is my recommendation that we try to recognize what needs to be done on a daily basis, deal with what can be dealt with, accept what can be accepted and discard the rest – just walk away, it will not serve you in any way to hang onto feelings and emotions or perceived slights and transgressions.

In fact, not only will they not serve you, they will drag you down and in dragging you down, they will prevent you from living each day to the full.

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

Friday, January 23, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Compile a Job Description


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Compile a Job Description

Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

In my experience, one of greatest challenge in any small businesses is getting the paperwork right, particularly in the HR arena.

Issues of paperwork seem to pale into insignificance, when the focus is on getting the sale of the product and/or service, in order to ensure that there is sufficient funds at the end of the month to pay the bills.

Ironically, it is the lack of proper ‘paperwork’ that usually becomes the downfall of the Company and this is especially true when it comes to the HR side of the business.

Landing up at the CCMA, with a difficult staff member, who has all the weight of the law behind them, because you – as the business owner – have not put all the requirements in place, could mean the demise of your business as fines paid eat into your hard earned cash flow. Some businesses and/or business owners never recover.

Ensuring that your staff have been notified, in writing of their job descriptions and their duties is a legal requirement. The law is there to actually protect the employer as well as the employee. That, perhaps is the first thing that we all need to understand.

The next thing that we all need to understand, is the difference between a “Job Description” and the “Duties” of the employee. Most people that I come into contact with seem to think that it is one and the same – beware – it isn’t.

A job description is exactly that – it describes the job.

Employee duties is exactly that, it describes the duties that the employee is expected to perform.

Let me simplify this a little more for you. In some Companies, particularly small businesses, an employee may be expected to perform several duties, for example Jane Doe, may be employed as the PA and the Bookkeeper and she may also be responsible for shipping and sales as well. So her duties (which is what goes onto the letter or contract of employment) are that of PA, Bookkeeper, Shipping clerk and sales assistant. Therefore Jane Doe actually should have four different Job Descriptions – one for each of the duties that she performs and despite the fact that there may be ‘overlaps’ on each one of them – in this instance for example, she may be required to liaise with clients for issues pertaining to each individual duty, the fact remains that they are four extremely different jobs and each one must have their own Job Description.

In a big Corporate, often there is one Job Description for several employees. Take for example a Company that has several hundred sales assistants. Each assistant would have the duties of a ‘Sales Assistant’ on his/her letter of appointment, but there would only be one Job Description involved and that would be the Job Description of a Sales Assistant.

Writing Job Descriptions for me is not a difficult thing, but then that is because of the way that my brain is wired, however it has become increasingly evident that for others it is one of the most difficult and challenging things to write – especially if the person writing it has no knowledge of what the actual job entails. For example, George is an extremely talented designer and if asked could probably tell you to the nearest cm, how much fabric is required to make a particular garment. That said, George in all probability would have no clue how to run a set of books properly. Oh don’t get me wrong George would understand the basics of how to cost the garment and what have you, but the ‘nuts and bolts’ of bookkeeping would not only bore him to tears, it is something that he would not understand. Could you therefore imagine George writing a Job Description for the bookkeeper that he would need to employ?

In the big Corporate Companies, the person writing the job description is usually the Line Manager, and it would be written in conjunction with the HR Manager. The Line Manager would understand and have experience in every aspect of the job or position that he would like to be fulfilled and the HR Manager would have the experience of how to put those requirements into a Job description. In a small business, the business owner is usually the one who does everything that needs to be done, often without fully understanding all the requirements of the job as is evidenced by George the talented designer.

Next week, I will list some of the basic requirement.

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

Thursday, January 22, 2009

MARKETING - Special Offer


Firstly, compliments of the season – may we all prosper, beyond all expectations in 2009!

I am starting the New Year off with a “Special”!

During the holidays, I added a considerable number of Policies, Procedures and Templates to my ‘store’ and I am feeling so good about my achievement, I want to share with you.

So for all policies, procedures and templates purchased – and paid for - between now and the 31st January 2009, I will be giving a 15% discount.

Some of the new and really handy ones are:
1. A73 – Supplier Recruitment. This is really great for those who are VAT vendors and/or BEE compliant. It will assist VAT vendors in optimizing VAT output in order to increase the amount of VAT that they can claim and great for clients who are BEE compliant (or in the process of becoming compliant) to ensure that they can optimize the number of points they can score in terms of supplier procurement.
2. H56 – Disciplinary Code & Procedure Policy. This is for those who have staff and who are not sure what the guidelines are. So when can you issue a ‘verbal’ warning, or when is it appropriate to issue ‘written’ warnings and when can you skip to the front of the queue and dismiss without having to even issue a solitary warning.
3. H64 – Sexual Harassment Policy. I guess this one is self explanatory
4. H1 – Alcohol & substance Abuse Policy. Now I know that this one is self explanatory
5. O2 – HIV/Aids Policy. How many of you actually know the status of your employees and even if you did, do you know how to treat them?

Other’s that are also useful, but not quite so ‘heavy’,

6. Retrenchment templates
7. Certificates of service
8. Bookkeeping – monthly checklist and procedure
9. Electronic and paper – Filing procedure – how many of you have millions of files and still can’t find anything?
10. Prevention of Organised Crime Act – I’m pretty sure, a few of you didn’t even know that this exists.

Anyway – those are some of the Policies/Procedures and Templates that I have on hand – if you would like to have a look at the list and see what your Business could do with, drop me a mail on or give me a call on 083 702 8849 and I will forward it to you.

It’s really simple – send me a mail telling me which ones you want, I will send you an invoice, deposit the money into my account and as soon as it reflects I will forward the Policy/Template/Procedure straight to you.

Have a great day

Best regards

Nikki Viljoen
N Viljoen Consulting CC


Wednesday, January 21, 2009




By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Brand yourself. Find a way of making yourself memorable.”

I know that this is a subject that I have touched on many times before, but perhaps it is time to re-visit it.

You see, I have been going through my database, it’s something that I do on a regular basis, when I send mails out. This time though it has also been a clean up. So as I sent mails out, and they bounced back, I made a concerted effort of deciding whether I should contact the person and ascertain why it is that their mails are bouncing or if it was time to remove that particular person’s information from my database.

It’s a good thing you know to ‘clean’ out your database from time to time, to ensure that it is current and up to date.

Now here’s the thing, you see about 70% of the bounced mails belong to people who I have no recollection of. Looking at the information that I have on them, I can tell you where I met them and even the name of their business or who introduced them to me, but I cannot remember what they look like or even what they do.

That’s a problem – I know that I have a really bad memory for names and faces, which is why I always add in the additional information about them (where I met them, or who introduced them to me and so on), but not to remember what they do – well that for me is not good. I usually have even a vague idea what it is that people do, particularly if they have made a really great impression on my mind – which obviously in terms of the people who I cannot remember have not done.

To make a good impression on my mind (or anyone else for that matter) means that the branding has to be particularly strong, especially in the instances where the name of the Company does not give out any kind of clues as to what the person does. I mean if the name of the Company is ABC Plumbing, it’s pretty certain that the person is a plumber, but if the name of the Company is ABC Consulting, then I have a problem.

So make sure that your branding is very strong, that the way that you present yourself or what it is that you do, makes you stand out in the crowd and not just for a moment, but also for time to come. So that even people like me, who have a bad memory for names and faces, will not forget what it is that you do.

If I don’t remember what you do, then I cannot refer you or your services and having your name and contact details in my database actually serves no purpose what-so-ever.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - Storing Your E-mails


Storing Your E-mails

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2009.

I must admit, this is something that I have had to research on a personal level. When you get to the stage of getting in excess of 100 mails a day it can be a daunting exercise to try and manage and/or prioritize the mails.

The research that I did came up with the following suggestions:

I keep all mails that pertain to my clients and my service providers. I have a file for each client and/or each service provider and pretty much in the same way that I would file my paperwork, I use these files on the computer.

So for example if I have a client ABC Consulting – I would have a folder (under clients) called ABC. In the folder ABC, I would have sub folders such as invoices, quotes, payments etc – but for the e-mails I would also have sub folders for incoming mail and another for outgoing mail. It just makes it easier if I am looking for something that I sent to the client or something that I received from the client.

The rest of the mails that pertain to anything other than clients and/or suppliers, that I want to keep go into sub-folders of my Inbox. This means that I can search though all my messages (particularly if I am researching something) all in the same place.

I have also discovered that you can have replies that you send out, sent to a sub-folder too. How neat is that? You can write a rule to have messages sent to various folders on receipt or on sending the message, depending on what it is that you want to do. Click on the Tools tab and then select Rules and Alerts. Remember though that if you have more than one ‘rule’ that applies to incoming e-mail, the rule that was placed first is the one that takes precedence.

Keeping a handle on your e-mails will make it easier to handle all the information overload that most of us experience on a daily basis.
Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Monday, January 19, 2009

MOTIVATION - Becoming More Conscious

MOTIVATION – Becoming More Conscious

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

You know, I grew up on a farm in the late 50’s and 60’s and for the people of my generation, using the “K” word was pretty much the norm. Was that right? Of course not! My point though is that nowadays when I hear that word (although it is very rare to hear it these days, thank goodness), apart from the fact I find it offensive, I am also reminded how things were.

So how did we get from there to here? How did a whole nation of people go from using words that were the ‘norm’ for that period of time – to something that now, the majority of us find absolutely reprehensible?

Well I think it is because we have become more conscious about what we say. It’s like the ‘volume’ control on kids – as they grow, so they become more aware of what they sound like and then instead of every word being said as loud as they possibly can, it becomes softer and more manageable.

Now here’s the thing – if we become more aware of what we say to ourselves softly and quietly, on a daily basis and stop all the negative thoughts that run wild in our heads, chances are that those negative thoughts will become positive thoughts and pretty soon instead of a sad, depressed and frightened individual, we’ll be a happy, upbeat confident person.

So how do we go about this? Well as with most things in life, it would be one word at a time, one day at a time. Be aware of what your thoughts are – each time something negative pops into you mind, mentally shake it loose – get rid of it and then replace it with a word with the opposite meaning. Actively think of the good things around you, be aware of your surroundings, take time out of your day to enjoy the simple things in life, the magnificent sunrise, the glorious sunset, the smell of freshly brewed coffee or freshly baked bread.

Allow your mind to wonder back to the memories of child hood where you were responsible for nothing more than being a kid and having a good time. Remember the laughter and the sunshine.

Watch children at play, see the delight upon a child’s face as they see their first butterfly or soapy bubbles as they float in the air and remember the thoughts that you had when you first experienced things. It will lighten the load in your heart and put a spring in your step.

Fill your head with pleasant positive thoughts and the burdens of your day will melt away.

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

Friday, January 16, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Conduct a Disciplinary


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Conduct a Disciplinary

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

The mindset of most individuals is that the conducting of a Disciplinary hearing is a ‘waste of time”. Whilst that may be the perception – it is really the only way that both parties, the Employer and the Employee, get to do battle in a way that is completely fair and without any emotion.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act is very clear on the subject.

Staff can no longer just be summarily dismissed – the staff member is thereby protected from an employee hell bent on dismissal. Staff members, no longer get to do as they please and then get away with it – the employee is thereby protected.

There are now rules and regulations governing how things get done – this is called the Disciplinary Procedure.

Many cases that have landed up in the CCMA, and been lost by either of the parties because the correct procedures were not followed.

They are not difficult, they are completely fair and they can ensure a fair outcome. If the employee is dismissed and feels that justice has not been served – they can firstly ‘appeal’ the decision and if they still do not feel that justice has been served they can then take the whole issue to the CCMA.

Let’s step back a moment and see what the procedures are:

· The staff member must be served with a Notice to Attend a Disciplinary Hearing.
· The charges must be clear and concise.
· The staff member must be given a minimum of 48 hours to prepare his/her case from the time that the Notice is served to the time that the hearing takes place.
· The staff member has the right to have representation (this means someone inside of the company – no lawyers at this point)
· The staff member has the right to have an interpreter if there is a need.
· The staff member has the right to call any witnesses, if there is a need.

And guess what – the Employer has the same rights.

The Disciplinary must be chaired by an impartial person, who has not been involved with any of the issues leading up to the hearing being called for. This way, both cases get to be heard without any pre-conceived perceptions.

The Chairperson must hear both sides of the story, before making a ruling. The chairperson can ask as many questions as they feel the need to, in order to reach a decision.

The penalty must fit the crime.

Next week we tackle a new issue.

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

Thursday, January 15, 2009

MARKETING - Who is Your Target Market


Who Is Your Target Market?

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2009.

Do you know who your target market is? Do you believe that your market is “everybody”?

I know that when I started out, I believed that ‘everybody on the planet’ was my target market – wrong, wrong, wrong! You see, whilst most people could certainly benefit from having and using my services and my products – many just didn’t want to or don’t see the value add, or didn’t think that they needed it because they could fly below the radar, or they can do it themselves. So invariably the more I pushed for these people to buy into what I do and what I have for sale, the more they resisted and the more I struggled to sell.

This, for me, was a huge problem! I find it really difficult to understand why someone would not buy something that would actually assist them in saving money and headaches and time in the long run. Doesn’t make any kind of logical sense does it? Well it doesn’t to me and I have no doubt that on some levels you would be the first to agree with me.

Thing is though, most people have a mind of their own and well ‘you can take a horse to water . . .’! On most levels I understand this, but the fear of losing someone who really should be a customer, drove me ever onwards to get them to buy! The result, well I lost them as potential customers – although in all honesty, when the brown smelly stuff hit the fan, there have been those that have come to me for help – to late to prevent the loss you understand, but well that was their choice now, wasn’t it?

So it took a while, but now I do understand that marketing to my clients is not exclusive, but inclusive.

So what does that mean exactly?

Well for me it means that instead of thinking that everybody needs a support group and I offer support and therefore they need me, I take it just a little bit further. I look at ‘why’ they need me. I look at what their ‘specific’ needs are as apposed to just their ‘general or generic’ needs.

Although most people have the same needs on many levels, they don’t want to ‘think’ that they are the same as everybody else – they are unique and therefore their problems and requirements are unique.

Get to know them, build relationships with them and find out what it is that they need and then you will be able to sell them what you have that they need or want.

Give them what they want/need/desire rather than want you want/need/desire to give them.

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

Wednesday, January 14, 2009




By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

For the longest time, networking has been about handing out cards. Think about it for a moment, if you went to a Networking event, it was usually at one of the Chambers, you were usually encouraged to wander around with a cup of tea in one hand and a sticky bun/cake/sandwich in the other and off you went to engage with some poor unsuspecting person, who was usually caught on the back foot, or you were caught on the back foot. Networking, these days is just so much more! Don’t get me wrong, there are still some of the ‘old’ traditional way of Networking, but as in most other aspects of our lives, Networking has also moved forward.

So what other options are there? Well, apart from the ‘Chamber’ type networking, there are several different types of meetings that you can go to – some are dinners, some are breakfasts, some are during the day. Some have themes with guest speakers or presentations, some have a combination of a whole lot of different things – you need to find what you are comfortable with. On a personal level, I prefer meetings that are semi facilitated. As a introvert, I find it difficult to just walk up to strangers and just start talking – I guess that is why I am not too fond of ‘cold calling’ either.

Then there are the social networks such as ‘facebook’ and ‘myspace’. These are essentially fun networks, where people who are passionate about Networking can and often do, do a lot of business.

Actually, if the truth be told, people who are passionate about Networking can actually network anywhere.

Where ever you Network though, remember that building and maintaining networks is all about building relationships. So stay in touch, send out newsletters, or interesting titbits of information to do with your business that would make people want to know more, invite people to the new places that you discover and share with your database.

Share your knowledge, share your experiences, share what you have to offer, who you are and what it is that you do – you’ll be surprised at just how much fun you can have.

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - VAT (Value Added Tax) Claims for Fuel


VAT (Value Added Tax) Claims for Fuel

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2009.

I am doing quite a bit of research on what can be claimed for VAT, not only for my own Business purposes, but in general as I seem to be on a mission of late. I am trying to change people’s mindset and how they view the VAT man – you see, I have a rather special relationship with the VAT man.

It appears that I am the only one of the planet who actually LOVES him! Yes I do! I love the VAT man – you see, unlike most people my VAT man appears to ‘pay’ me to be a VAT vendor – it does require a little effort on my part too though.

I have to be VAT registered, I have to complete my VAT returns every second month, I have to make sure that I pay those funds across – on time, or I will be liable to pay penalties and interest. So you see it means that I have to manage my VAT. In return, the VAT man allows me to claim for all sorts of things.

Now I know that I have a brilliant accountant – his name is Nico Labuschagne and he can be contacted on 084 606 0075 or – I know that he is up to date with all the bits and pieces that we can claim from the VAT man (so as to increase the amount of money that the VAT man pays me), but I am a bit of a control freak, so I also need to know what I can and cannot claim.

I have come across this useful piece of information and being a sharing girl, I am sharing this with all of you.

Consulting to my clients, means that I often have to travel to them and if they are far enough away, I charge them for my fuel and running costs at the AA rate. Now the question is – am I correct in charging VAT on top of this – fuel per se, you see does not attract VAT.

The answer is – of course you do. The bottom line is that you are not actually charging the VAT on the fuel, but rather that you are using the charge of the fuel and the running costs as a tool to calculate the value of your services to your client – so it is subject to VAT.

Best I go and find some more ‘far-a-way’ clients then.

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

Monday, January 12, 2009

MOTIVATION - Our Own Minds

MOTIVATION – Our Own Minds

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Jameson frank says “Our Greatest battles are those that are fought in our own minds.”

Ain’t that the truth and wouldn’t the world be a much better place if that were the only place battles were fought?

I know, that for me on a personal level, the time I took out from my clients between the 19th of December 2008 and the 4th January 2009, served not only as a rest period, but also gave me a chance to finish off some of the battles in my mind that started during the course of 2008.

I know that for many (myself included) 2008 was a challenging year. I certainly had one, not only from a business point of view, but also from a personal perspective.

My business has morphed in so many ways and become so much more than what I first envisioned. I have started a second business, that is so completely different to what I do and have done in the past, I have walked away from some pretty long term friendships and I have grown so much as a person.

Most of these changes meant that great battles had to be fought in my mind.

All of these changes came about as a direct result of battles that had already been fought . . . and won.

You see for me, although I am not scared of change and once the decision has been made, I usually embrace change – in many of these instances the actual decision to make the change, was extremely difficult and painful, but I knew deep down inside that they had to be made in order for me to move on or move forward.

I made a choice to move forward in my life and in order for me to do that, changes had to be made – some of those changes cost me dearly, but had I not paid the price – I could have been stuck there for a long time and that price was one that I was not prepared to pay.

So now I am rested and ready and excited and rearing to go, into 2009, where I will reap the benefits of winning those battles and paying those prices!

What about you – how have your battles gone? Are you ready to make history in 2009? I know I am!

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

Friday, January 09, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want To Strike - Part 8


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 8

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Here we are again, at the dismissals. Your staff have embarked on an ‘Unprotected and/or illegal’ strike, you have issued an ultimatum and they have not returned to work. The ball is now in your court.

Remember though that you still have to decide whether dismissing them would be considered ‘fair’ before you dismiss. The Code of Good Practice (which we have already looked at in a previous discussion) on dismissals deals with three components which much be taken into account when deciding on the fairness of the dismissal. To re-iterate, these are:
1. the seriousness of the contravention of the Act;
2. attempts made to comply with the Act, and
3. whether or not the strike was in response to unjustified conduct on the part of the employer.

Please note that although these are the three issues that the employer has to look at, the court is not limited to these only.

So, let’s have a look at the ‘seriousness of the contravention of the Act’. If the employees have not followed any of the procedures as laid down by the Labour Relations Act, in all probability the Labour court, will have very little, if any sympathy for the employees who embark on an Unprotected and/or illegal strike.

What about ‘attempts make to comply with the Act’? Again, if the strike is unprotected and/or illegal because the striking employees have not followed laid down procedures or the followed the requirements of the Act, the court may have a little more sympathy, depending on the nature of the ‘failure’ to comply. Let’s have a look at this in a little more depth. Let’s say for example the striking employees really believe that the strike was protected – the court may have more sympathy for the employees – this is one instance where ‘ignorance of the law is bliss’! Here’s the deal – the employees did not, for example, give management the required 48 hours ‘notice of intention to strike’ it was only 40 hours. The employees, have in their ignorance, thought that they had complied with the requirements, but technically they hadn’t – so the strike is unprotected. The court will have sympathy with the employee – so be careful on this issue.

And finally, ‘whether the strike was in response to the employer’s unjustified conduct’. If the strike is in direct response to a perceived something that the employer has done, I would suggest that you call in a Labour Attorney as each of these needs to be judged on their own merit.

A word of caution here though - if the employer provokes a strike or if there is ‘bad faith’ during negotiations before the strike takes place, the court will come to the assistance of the employees. So make very sure that your reasons, as the employer, of doing what you did are very clear and transparent.

One of the other issues that the court will look at is the duration of the strike. If the employees are dismissed as soon as the strike starts, the court will in all likelihood rule the dismissals as ‘unfair’. If the strike has been going on for a long time, and this results in irreparable financial harm to the company (and this must be able to be proved) then the dismissal of the strikers would be considered fair.

Here’s the thing though, there are also consequences to a protected strike. The Labour Relations Act does control and regulate these consequences though.

Firstly you cannot institute civil proceedings against an employee for participating in a protected strike, however the employee is not entitled to receive any pay during the period of the strike – the ‘no work, no pay’ rule applies. Please note though, that if the employee’s package includes payment for accommodation or food etc, these have to continue. What you also can do though is recover the ‘payments in kind’ by instituting civil procedures in the Labour Court.

Secondly and more importantly, although you cannot dismiss a staff member for participating in a protected strike, but you can (in certain circumstances) dismiss the employee for ‘operational reasons’. Beware though, that this can only be done if there are genuine operational reasons and as long as you comply with the requirements of Section 189 or 189A of the Labour Relations Act. The bottom line is that if, as a consequence of the strike, the employer loses business and/or production to such an extent that the financial wellness of the company has been put or is at risk, then you will have good and valid reasons to consider retrenchment.

Just be careful that you don’t use ‘operation requirements’ as an excuse to dismiss striking employees. The reason for the retrenchment must be genuine and you must be able to show that they are linked to the operational requirements of the business. The Labour Appeal Court has ruled that employees can be dismissed if the ‘operational reason’ for retrenchment is as a direct result of the employees going on strike.

Again, please also remember that irrespective of whether the strike is protected and/or unprotected, employees can be dismissed for misconduct during the strike. These would pertain to issues such as intimidation, violence (both physical and/or verbal) and damage to property.

Next week we tackle a new issue.

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

Thursday, January 08, 2009

SALES - How to Increase Yours Sales Income - Part 5


How to Increase Your Sales Income – Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2009.

How about your attitude and mindset? Quite frankly, I am sick to death of sales people who make me feel like they are doing me a favour, or how about the sales person who you ask directions to a specific item and they send their eyes heavenwards, let out a huge sigh and then ever so slowly start walking in the direction of . . . well who knows where because I never stick around long enough to find out.

Prospective clients do not come into the store or office, specifically to listen to your trials and tribulations – they come in to buy. Your personal life is, well exactly that, your personal life and it has nothing to do with the client.

Sitting or standing there with a long face is not going to help your personal situation and it is surely not going to help your professional situation either. Leave your troubles at home, don’t bring them to work.

Make each prospective client feel like they are the only reason that you have come to work today. Their wish is your command. Show them what they need to see, tell them what they need to know about the service and/or product and do it with a smile and then watch what happens.

Think about how you react in a restaurant. There you are waiting to try and catch the waiter’s eye because you want to order, but the waiter is so busy chatting to his friends, that you and your needs are totally forgotten – except of course when it is time to leave a tip, then of course you are not forgotten at all. Focus on the needs of the client, don’t be distracted by the other staff, take care of your clients and they will take care of you in the form of a sale that will in all probability result in a commission, a tip or even a well earned testimonial to the boss.

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

Wednesday, January 07, 2009




By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“ Be strategic and determine what your goals are. Assess your current network and plan your future networking accordingly.”

Wow! So this pretty much fits in with what I have been saying over the last 4 weeks or so.

Let’s re-iterate! What is it that you want to accomplish when you go to a networking event? Do you want to ‘sell’ you product and/or service or do you want to ‘buy’ someone else’s product and/or service or do you want to meet up with ‘like minded’ individuals who you want to build relationships with?

If you are wanting to build relationships with ‘like minded’ individuals, they then become your networking partners or, if you like ‘are in your circle of influence’.

How do you go about educating the people in your ‘circle of influence’ or your networking partners about the type of clients that you wish to do business with? Do you actually know what kind of clients it is that you want?

What about subsequent meetings with your networking partners or circle of influence? How do you engage with them in terms of reciprocal networking?

Do you have any kind of plan of action?

You see, like most things in life, if you don’t plan . . well you have exactly . . . nothing!

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

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

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - Improving Your Business Website


Improving Your Business Website

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2009.

Before we go any further, and before all who know me fall about with laughter – I am a bit of (hell let’s be honest – a helleva) a technophobe. So what I am putting down here is what I have found on the web (a little common sense and logic) and because, no matter what I tell you or write here, my web is looked after by Meryl of Pixelmagic (, so no matter how much I ‘break stuff’ she assures me she can fix it! How cool is that? Anyway, back to the subject at hand. The bottom line of course, is that if you are going to try these things yourself, it’s a good idea for you to have a “Meryl” of your own, or I am quite happy to share mine with you.

Here goes!

It really does not matter if you use your website for fun, family connections (when your family is scattered to the four corners of the world, like mine is) or for Business purposes, the fact is that around 70% of Businesses have websites. No wonder we are spoilt for choice! The problem however is that the majority (some home made and even some that have been professionally done) are really crappy!

The problem is that even the really crappy ones are competing in the market and trying to sell their products are or services – how scary is that!

So – let’s have a look at what the internet says are the top 10 tips for improving your Business Website.

1. You have to have a plan!
As is most things in life, if you don’t have a plan, you have exactly . . . nothing! Write it down – what is the purpose of your website, what do you hope to achieve. Write down your goals, short term, medium term, long term and then brainstorm them – how are you going to achieve them. What do you need to do in order to fulfill them. Be realistic, we all have budgets. Match your immediate goals to your wallet – you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve!

2. Measure.
Again – if you can’t measure it you have a problem. How would you know if your website is being effective, or if you are just wasting your time, money and effort. You need to measure, how many people visit your website, how many sales result from your website, how many connections are made out of your website? Is enough traffic being driven to the website and how can you improve on these numbers?

3. Promote yourself?
I keep telling people – if you don’t tell people who you are, how will they know? So, use your website. Keep your customers updated on what is happening in your life – actually they are interested. Tell them about your successes, post your testimonials, tell them what plans are in the pipeline (they may want to partner up with you). Now is not the time to hide your light under the bushel – let it shine out brightly!

4. Branding
Remember your brand will always be associated with you – so make sure that it is special! Your brand, logo and by line should be unique to you and your product and/or service. It has to stand out to the world and especially your target market. Keep it simple though – complicated branding looks messy and cluttered on a website.

5. Content
You are the expert on what it is that you do – aren’t you? So write down what it is that you do, give out tips or teasers. Keep your content updated and interesting. Like it or not, we are all looking for information (yes even in this world of information overload) – make sure your information is new, fresh and current – it will keep people coming to your site on a regular basis.

6. Navigation
This is one of my pet hates – getting myself lost on a website or having to ‘go back’ all of the time to get myself to the home page or where-ever it is that I want to go, is really just a pain in the rear end. Let me tell you from experience – the easier it is for me to get around your site the longer I will stay and browse. So keep it simple.

7. Sales
Statistics tell us that Product and/or Services sold over the internet increased by 100% between 2002 and 2005. How fabulous is that? This means that your website should make it easy for your clients to purchase what they want/need/desire online.

8. Database
Your database on you website should not only have all your business and personal contacts on it, but it should surpass anything that you may have in your ‘little black book’ or your customer base. This is because as people visit your website, they should be encouraged to leave their contact details behind. This gives you a huge opportunity to entice them to spend some money with you by sending out regular communications to them, in the form of newsletters, specials and useful tips and information.

9. Promotion
Make sure that everybody gets to know about your website. Put the address on every single piece of literature that you have, your Business Cards, your Letter Heads, in the signature on your e-mail – everywhere!

And finally

10. Overloading your website
It is said that often ‘less is more’ – keep everything short, simple and to the point. Don’t waffle on and on about something. Say what you have to and then move forward.

Now – let’s have a look at an additional 3 tips as recommended by Meryl. Meryl says:

a. Know what you want your website to do for you
Yes, generate more income, but how? Do you want to be talking about your past successes and showing testimonials from other clients? Do you want your site pointed towards getting the visitor to contact you?

b. Know what you want your website to ‘feel’ like
The ‘feel’ of a website selling kids’ toys is going to be very different from one selling financial services to big corporates. Draw up a list of 20 or so emotive words that describe the tone of your site: fun, funky, young, colourful or corporate, serious trustworthy etc.

c. Copywrite
Also, asking your designer to get you a good copywriter is a very valuable option. Copywriters ensure that Search Engines love reading your site as much as humans do, as well as getting the feel you’ve chosen to carry across into the words!

Oh, and a – don’t have a look at my website just yet – Meryl and I will be doing some changes right now!

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

Monday, January 05, 2009

MOTIVATION - Acceptance or Change

MOTIVATION – Acceptance or Change

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from an anonymous wise person who says “Life can either be accepted or changed. If it is not accepted, it must be changed. If it cannot be changed, then it must be accepted.”

Man, oh man! I can just see all the heads a nodding in agreement. Well here’s the kicker – the next time I hear any of you complain about something, I am going to remind you of this message!

Instead of complaining and moaning and groaning about the economy, the interest rates, the government, the tax man (insert anything you like here), find a way to change it.

If it is the economy – look for innovative ways to do business – notice, I did not say look for illegal ways to do business! There are a million and one opportunities out there – find one the suits you and change you mind set to make it work for you.

How about the interest rates – well it is my understanding (and I am no economist here) that the rates are put up to combat inflation. The reasons that we have inflation are many – one I know is because we here in South Africa, live on credit. So spend less on credit, try and pay off more of your debt so that you can become debt free and find a way to start a savings account. If we all did this we would certainly be a lot better.

The government – well here’s a fun one! Certainly here in South Africa we live in very interesting times in terms of what is going to happen come May 2009. Make the effort – find out who is offering what, back a party and actually go and vote. How can you complain about the government and what it has and hasn’t done, if you didn’t vote?

The tax man – this is one of my favorite’s! You see the tax man makes money for me! Yes he does, because I have learnt how to manage my VAT – so instead of me groaning and moaning every second month because I can’t find the money to pay the VAT man, I now celebrate because of how much the VAT man has ‘paid’ me to be a VAT vendor.

So come on people, I challenge you – find a way to make a change and in making a change, make a difference and if you seriously cannot do anything to change the situation, have the grace to accept it, make your peace with it and get on with the business of life!

Don’t let situations or issues control your life – take ownership of your life and make sure that you control the situations and issues in your own life.

Let’s start 2009 on the right foot, going in the right direction – find a way to change something or make a difference every day of your life, even if that difference is to you. You’ll find that it is not that difficult to do.

Wishing you all the very best for 2009 – let’s make a difference!

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

Friday, January 02, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want To Strike - Part 7


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 7

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

What exactly is an “Unprotected or Prohibited” Strike? Well it’s really quite simple and literally means what it says – if the employees and/or union have not followed the correct procedures and/or if they are striking over anything that is not ‘protected’ (see previous articles on this subject), then the strike is not protected, which basically means that they are not protected, in any way from being dismissed (of course, as usual there are procedures that would still need to be followed).

Should the employees embark on an Unprotected or Prohibited strike, the employer can go to the Labour Court of an urgent interdict to stop the employees from continuing the strike.

If the employees continue to strike, the employer can start thinking about dismissal. Actually you don’t need to wait until you get an interdict, which they then ignore, but it is a good idea to wait as it puts the employer in a much stronger position should there be a question of ‘fair dismissal’.

To re-iterate, in terms of the dismissal, the employee still needs to follow the correct procedures, which would include:

· issuing a written ultimatum to the employees stating that they should return to work or face possible dismissal – please note that the ultimatum must be very clear. The employer must ensure that the staff understand, in simple clear terms, that if they do not come back to work they will face a disciplinary hearing that may result in dismissal. If the ultimatum is not clear, then the employer may end up having to face charges of ‘unfair’ dismissal at a subsequent CCMA hearing. If your workforce are not proficient in English (or whatever language you ‘work’ in), get the ultimatum translated into what the language is that they use – this will ensure that they do understand the meaning of what it is that you are trying to convey. Don’t, whatever you do ‘threaten’ that they may be a disciplinary – make sure that they understand that if they don’t come back to work within 24 hours (or whatever time frame you set like . . . by tomorrow the 22nd January 2009) disciplinary action WILL be taken that may result in dismissal (be careful not to say ‘will result in dismissal because that indicates that the verdict has already been handed down before the disciplinary has even taken place). Also be careful about attaching any further terms and conditions – make sure that they are legal. Make sure that the employees have sufficient time to consider the ultimatum – don’t for example say that they have to be back at work within the hour – that’s just unreasonable. If there is a union, get the union involved and get them to intervene. Unions, generally speaking, do not want their members going off on an unprotected and/or prohibited strike and they will usually try and persuade the employees to get back to work.
· The Labour Appeal Court, has in the past indicated that it is not enough just to issue an ultimatum to get the employees back to work and then if they don’t you can dismiss them – they still need to have the chance to be heard. It is not necessary to have a formal hearing, but what the employer does need to do, is ensure that staff are dismissed on charges that are ‘fair and reasonable’. Depending on the number of staff involved, it is suggested however, that a formal disciplinary hearing take place. In the instances where it is not practical to have a formal hearing for each staff member (imagine doing disciplinary hearings for say 100+ staff members), employers should write to the union advising them that in view of the fact that the employees have not adhered to the ultimatum, you (the employer) are now considering dismissal and that the union now has 24 hours within to give explanations and/or make representations as to why you (the employer) should not dismiss the striking employees.

Next week we will have a look at ‘how’ the employer actually goes about the dismissal process.

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