Friday, February 27, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Have to Pay UIF


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Have to Pay UIF

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

It is said that there are three things in life that you can count on, they are:-
1) You will pay taxes;
2) Things will change; and
3) You will die.

Keeping this in mind, I am constantly amazed at the number of people who think that they don’t have to pay UIF for themselves and their staff members.

Here’s the thing, it is a legal requirement. If the Labour Department sends an Inspector to your place of business or even your home and they discover that you have staff members or that you have a gardener or that you have a Domestic worker or that you pay yourself a salary and you do not pay UIF, you will be fined. There is a penalty.

Don’t be thinking that because you have had the same gardener for the last 20 years and he only comes in once a week, that you don’t have to pay UIF on his behalf. You do and please don’t come with the ‘he’s a casual’ story either!

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act is very clear on this. A casual worker is someone that you pick up on the side of the road and who does something for you on a ‘once off’ basis. You never see him again, you probably don’t know his name and you certainly don’t welcome him into your home or your garden on a weekly basis.

In fact anyone who works for you for more than 24 hours a month (that 3 days people) is considered a permanent employee and is entitled to the benefits of a permanent employee irrespective of whether you have given them a letter of appointment or not!

So make sure that you have registered your business as an employee and make sure that you have registered yourselves as employees and register your gardener and your Domestic worker and then register yourself.

It’s really not a big deal and the amount of money that has to be paid every month is really quite insignificant in the grand scheme of things. That said, the irritation, the inconvenience and the size of the fine that you will get if you do not comply is far greater than making the payment every month and with the introduction of e-filing, paying this is an absolute pleasure.

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

Thursday, February 26, 2009

MARKETING - Targeting a Market you Can't Reach


Targeting a Market You Can’t Reach

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2008.

As much as we all like to think that our product and/or our particular service is something that everyone on the planet really, really needs – the reality of the situation is that there are really some people out there who don’t need the product or service, or who don’t want the product or service and in some cases don’t deserve the product or service, and in some extreme cases some who you don’t want to have the product or service. These people are very definitely not in our ‘target market’ and I am sure that you will agree, marketing to them would be a complete waste of time, energy and money. It’s just the way it is.

So logic must therefore tell us that there is a specific group or type of people and/or businesses that it would be ideal to market to – those specific people and/or businesses are commonly known as our ‘niche’ market and/or ‘target market’ and they are the ones most likely to purchase whatever it is that we are selling.

What we often do then is to market to people that are in our ‘niche’ or ‘target market’, but then going from one extreme to the other – instead of marketing to all and sundry (which as we have seen from the above is a complete waste of time, energy and money) we tend to go to the other extreme and narrow the target market down to such an extent that it only pertains to a handful of people and they live in Alaska. Now that is also not too clever is it, as it means that that particular market will not sustain your business. So clearly it is a good idea to be really sensible about this.

I find that writing stuff down helps me, so make of note of EXACTLY (the narrowest ideal person/company) who need your product and/or service. Then expand on that list to others that may have a need (but not necessarily understand that they need it yet) and then people who would love to have it (whether they need it or not) and of course people who have the money to purchase it. Your list will have grown somewhat by now I am sure. Then have a look at the things you can ‘add on’ or value add to what ever it is that you sell and go through the exercise again – you will be amazed now at how your list has grown. Finally see if you can partner with someone who does something similar or something that can fit in with your business (for example for me as an Internal Auditor to partner or JV with an Accountant is quite logical and now I have two data bases and two lots of target markets to look at) and then go through the exercise again – you will be pleasantly surprised at what you find. Each time you ‘partner’ or ‘collaborate’ with someone else, go through the exercise again – so if I now ‘collaborate’ with an attorney, I will be able to target a far greater number of people again, and so on.

So now you have created a customer profile and identified the characteristics or needs of your potential buyers and you have identified your ‘niche’ or ‘target market’. Now you need to have a look at whether they are long term clients or ‘once’ off. As much as it is really great to sell to ‘once’ off buyers – they are spending the money after all, it’s even nicer to be able to build up a data base of clients who come back time and time again – not because your product broke or because your service didn’t do the trick, but because of the quality of your product and/or service.

Finally, beware of targeting people who cannot afford your product and/or service. There are some people out there, who no matter how much they love your product and/or service, no matter how much they desire your product and/or service and no matter how much they need your product and/or service – just can’t afford it or don’t have the money. Don’t make the mistake of trying to sell your product and/or service to them – the sad reality of this is that either you will sell it to them and never see the money or you will be competing for their grocery money. Not a good idea all around.

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2009



PART 102

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

People are in such a hurry these days! With the advent of the internet and computerized everything, instead of slowing down (because the machines do everything for us) we seem to have speeded up (to keep up with the machines I suspect) and everyone can be seen rushing around like mad things. Networking seems to have caught the bug too.

One of the major reasons that people don’t see Networking as a benefit is because they don’t get instant gratification. They expect to write the big deal there and then. Well people, let me tell you this – that is very unlikely to happen!

Let me tell you a story. Those of you that know me, know that I come from farming stock. Yes, that’s right – my parents were farmers and I grew up on a huge 10 000 acre farm in the now Zimbabwe. We grew tobacco and maize and popcorn.

Spring for me, was one of the most exciting times on the farm. The very tiny tobacco seeds were mixed with water and liquid fertiliser in big watering cans with oversized sprinklers (to let the seeds out of course) attached to their nozzles and the workers walked up and down the rows of the newly prepared beds watering the soil (but in effect sowing the seeds), in the long seedling tunnels that were protected from the elements.

Huge area’s of land were dug up with tractors dragging metal implements that cut rows of soil and workers walked behind with broomstick like poles that they pushed into the now soft soil with every pace that they took. Workers walking behind them dropped a single mielie pip or corn pip into the hole and workers behind them then covered the hole up, effectively planting the maize or corn that would become ‘pop corn’ as we know it.

Every morning I bounded out of bed long before the sun peeped over the horizon, and woke my father up as my excitement bubbled over – I could not wait to get to the fields or the seed tunnel to see if the tiny, tiny plants had pushed through the soil. I could hardly contain myself as my father ate his breakfast and drank his coffee and it seemed like hours before we were ready to leave for the fields.

Daily the workers tended the fields making sure that weeds were pulled and that the seeds were watered and that fertilizer was given to the soil in order to feed the newly forming plants and that the ‘bad’ bugs were kept at bay and the ‘good’ bugs were encouraged in order to keep the plants healthy and strong.

After what seemed like years, but in fact were mere days, the tiny plants peeped out of the soil and stood proud and every morning when we checked I could see that they had grown a little taller. Still the workers tended the fields and the tunnel to ensure that the plants were watered and fed and day by day the plants grew a little taller and a little stronger.

When the tobacco plants were about 3 to 4 inches tall, in the tunnel it was time to transplant them into the fields. They were carefully removed from the soil and once again, the tractors with the metal implements tilled the soil into long rows that the workers walked behind with their broomstick handle like poles that they pushed into the now soft soil with every pace that they took. Workers walking behind them put a single tobacco plant in the hole and workers behind them secured the plant into the soil. The plants were then hand watered every day that there wasn’t rain until they grew big enough and strong enough to withstand the water from the sprays.

On a daily basis the plants grew and the workers increased their efforts to keep the weeds and bugs at bay to assist the growth of the plants and ensure that they grew healthy and strong. Some of the mielie and corn pips did not germinate and a few gaps here and there bore evidence to this fact. Several of the transplanted tobacco seedlings did not survive their transplant and it was sad to see how they withered and died. Nothing could be done about them though and we concentrated on the living plants, making sure that they grew strong and tall to maximize on their sale potential.

Why am I telling you all of this? Interesting as it may be, what does it have to do with Networking? Well it’s like this you see – a farmer who planted a seed today and expected to sell the produce of that seed today would be considered quite daft – I am sure you would agree. Yet people who go to Networking meetings expect to reap those rewards on the same day. That’s an unrealistic expectation too.

Building relationships with people, takes time and those relationships need to be tended and nurtured, just like the plants on the farm. Taking the time and the trouble to build those relationships will result in an abundance of work coming in, as long as you understand it’s not a quick fix. It’s not instant gratification. It’s about building relationships.

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - Firing a Client - Part 2


Firing a Client – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting February 2009.

Here we are, pulling our hair out, having heart palpitations and generally feeling like we just cannot cope any more. The reason for us feeling like this is a difficult client. These are some of the reasons why you should be firing your client (or getting them to fire themselves.)

You have to continually chase after them, follow up for feedback, constantly remind them of things and literally baby them. This means that you are managing your client and usually the management of the client takes longer than it does to do the actual work. Now if you are not charging for the time that it takes you to manage the client, this means that you are actually running at a loss and no-one gets into the business of business to run at a loss. It’s like having a wayward child and one that you didn’t even give birth to – so here’s the thing, either charge them for the additional hours or get yourself a client that doesn’t need to be treated like a child.

What about the client who expects you to do illegal things? No I don’t mean the client who asks you to take someone out – nothing that serious, but the client that asks you to use photographs that neither of you have taken or download and use music that you haven’t paid any licenses for or material that neither of you have written. Either which way, it’s not legal and it’s not ethical and . . . well, it’s just not right. Walk away from them and you do the right thing.

Oh and don’t forget the client who constantly moans and groans about the costs of what it is that you doing – no matter how much ‘discount’ you give them, it’s never enough and from experience the more discount you give them, the more demanding they become, giving you work at the last minute and expecting you to drop everything in order to do it and then groaning about the cost again and haggling about the price again and expecting yet another discount. You will come out of this one mentally and physically exhausted and wondering if it is worth it all – no it isn’t. Cut your losses and walk away – rather find a client who understands and appreciates your worth.

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

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

Monday, February 23, 2009



By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Vince Lombardi says “It is time for us to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever and the one who recognizes the challenge and does something about it.”

I don’t know how you guys feel, but quite frankly I am sick to death of the whole debate (or even non-debate) around the state of the economy right now. I was at a client last week and his phone rang. Before he even asked the caller “how are you” he answered a question with “ja I know, this economy and the credit crunch is getting to all of us.”

I was gobsmacked! We are getting like the Capetonians and their weather! You cannot have a conversation without it coming up. Yet look around you, every single road you turn down is having some sort of construction being done to it or a building going up in it. Now what does that tell you? Well it tells me that the economy here in South Africa is not as bad as it might be else where. Every time you look at a newspaper there is another story of someone having stolen millions – now if there are ‘millions’ to steal, then there must be money somewhere.

Then of course there are the conspiracy theories, and I must admit I do enjoy these a whole lot more than the usual moaners and groaners. At least these have a story that you can relate to or even find so far fetched as to render them completely funny!

Personally I am of the opinion that if we spent as much time getting things done as we spend moaning and groaning about whatever it is that we can find to moan and groan about – we would be gazillionaires! All that hot air and energy that goes to waste all the time could be utilized for a far better purpose I am sure.

Then, not only do we moan and groan about the economy/weather/government/taxes (insert whatever else you would like to here), when we see someone else doing well, we moan about that too!

Instead of finding out why it is that they are being successful and trying to emulate their particular formula, we sit down and moan about how lucky they are and how unlucky we are and . . . . there we go again.

Let’s change our mindsets shall we, let’s find at least one person everyday that we can say “Well done! You’ve done a great job!” to. Let’s find one person a day – I mean how difficult can that be – to congratulate on achieving something and really be pleased for them. Let’s find one person who has had a thought about doing something differently and pat them on the back and give them encouragement to go forward.

And then, whilst we doing that – how about we give ourselves encouragement and congratulations and even a pat on the back for finding something right with our day and not always focusing on the bad.

Just one thing, one person, one day! We can do it!

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

Friday, February 20, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Compile a Job Description - Part 5


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

Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Finally, let’s have a look at some of the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of writing a Job Description.

· Do ensure that the questions “what”, “why”, “how” and “how often” are answered, clearly and concisely. Remember to use words that are easily understood so that there can be no confusion.
· Do make sure that there is sufficient detail for each task. Again, you don’t want to confuse the issue – make sure that it is simple and to the point.
· Do use examples in order to highlight or explain tasks, especially where a task is described in general terms.
· Do use short and concise sentences.
· Do begin all sentences with an action verb (for example use words like assists, advises, controls, approves or authorizes.)
· Do use precise numbers (for example – reports into two directors rather than reports into a number of directors.) It is better to be specific.
· Do number the task.

- Don’t use an individual’s name in preference to job titles (for example – reports into Operation’s Manager rather than report into Joe Soap – Joe Soap may leave the Company in the next few weeks and then who do they report into?)
- Don’t include duties and/or responsibilities of others where these don’t directly affect the job that is being described.
- Don’t include incidental activities which occur once only and are never likely to be repeated.
- Don’t lose the basic’s of the task by putting in data that is totally irrelevant.
- Don’t describe attitudes and opinions – stick with the facts.
- Don’t start sentences with “if” and “when”.
- Don’t pad the job description to make it look more important than what it is. Some times things just what they are – leave it simple clear and concise.

Remember always, the Job Description must fit the job not the person or the person must always fit in with the Job Description.

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

Thursday, February 19, 2009

SALES - Selling in Tough Times - Part 4


Selling in Tough Times – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting February 2009.

For the final part in this particular series, I think it would be fitting to discuss the “Let’s look busy” syndrome.

Let’s face it folks, when times get tough and jobs are on the line, most people, including sales people feel the need to ‘look busy’, so they generally up their activity rate. This means that they will look for more prospects, book more appointments, phone more. Don’t get me wrong, doing all of these things, in itself is not a bad thing as long as all of this added activity is adding to the bottom line. If these phone calls are turning into sales or the booking of appointments are turning into signed and confirmed deals or the prospecting is turning up gold – then of course it is a really good thing. However, making appointments just to make yourself look busy is never a good idea. Not only will the bosses cotton on at some stage, but it will also result in a false sense of achievement which will really knock you flat when the commissions and/or the business doesn’t come pouring in. So be realistic in what you are doing. Be honest about what you are doing – especially to yourself. Don’t keep names of ‘potential’ prospects just because they make your list look longer – get rid of all the dead wood and work on the living instead.

Finally always believe in yourself. Tough times are like most things in life – they will pass at some stage. I have no doubt that you have been there before, I certainly have and one thing you can be sure of, we will both be there again. It is the circle of life. So understand that once they are over we will both be top of the heap again and we will prosper again. How you choose to deal with and manage yourself during the bad times will determine the level of your success. Think about all the positive aspects in your life rather than dwell on the negative. Be selective about what you watch or read in the news – makes sure that you surround yourself with the good things, the positive things and positive people.

Stay focused, be disciplined in all that you do, retain your optimism and you will get through this. Above all, remember to have fun. Life is about living.

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2009



PART 101

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Work at finding a balance between serious and lighter conversational topics.”

I am quite guilty of not doing this. In all honesty, I get so fired up and excited about what it is that I do that that tends to be the only thing that I talk about.

Getting a conversation going however, is also of vital importance and most of us would rather ease into what it is that we do rather than jump right in feet first.

Having an idea of what is happening in the world around us, is always a great ice breaker, especially if it is something light hearted and amusing. Steer clear of politics and religion though as these can usually end up as heated debates and all thought of discussing business opportunities will fly out of the window.

I subscribe to several ‘news’ type newsletters that arrive in my inbox once or even twice a day that cover not only issues happening in South Africa, but also the world, sport, entertainment (including the latest gossip in Hollywood) and Business. They have the usual array of ‘funnies’ like Zapiro or Madam and Eve or Taxi and whole host of others too. Two of these that spring to mind are or – the signup to the newsletters are free and it gives me the opportunity of keeping up to date with most of what is going on without cutting down several trees into the bargin.

There are also a host of Myzines that I belong to that also have incredibly solid information, again on a host of topic, but geared mainly for the ladies (sorry guys, but you can also read them), such as or Both of these have got so much great stuff, that I suggest you actually limit yourself in terms of the time that you spend in the forums and the pages because if you don’t you may very well find yourself spending the whole day there and not getting any work done.

Remember though, always have fun, don’t put yourself under such tremendous pressure that you are too nervous to even utter a word in case you make a mistake with the facts. This is not a test and you don’t have to learn everything off by heart. Even if you only remember one line of the story, I am sure that it will spark some conversation and then you can just sit back and listen. Sooner or later someone will bring the conversation back to the issue of business or Networking.

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, February 17, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - Firing a Client - Part 1


Firing a Client – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting February 2009.

Firing a client! To many small business owners out there this may sound like attempting suicide. That said, it is often in our own best interests to get rid of problem clients.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to define what the word ‘client’ means. The Concise Oxford Dictionary says “Person using services of professional man (lawyer, architect, social worker etc).” The Wiki says “A customer a buyer or receiver of goods or services” Surely that would mean that if the client is a ‘buyer’ that the goods or services that they had received would actually need to be paid for.

Look I’m not saying that every time you have a difficult client you need to get rid of them, I am talking about the client who consistently gives takes up 80% of your time and energy but only contribute to 20% of your income. It’s the client who never listens when you tell them things, who never takes your advice but when the smelly brown stuff hits the fan, expects you to drop whatever you are doing and sort out their mess . . . at a discount!

It’s the client who you constantly battle to get money out of, in fact it takes you longer to get the money out of them than it did to do the job in the first place. I have some of these clients and my 2009 policy for them is that they actually need to pay me up front and then I will do the work for the amount of money that they have paid me. That way they get the work done that they want and need and I get paid on time – a win/win I am sure that you would agree. Alternatively, get a deposit up front, especially if what you are selling is a product. I sell a service you see and quite honestly, I cannot un-write a policy or procedure or un-teach something that has already been taught, so there is nothing that I can actually take back from them.

Another way to deal with clients who don’t pay on time and then cancel everything out of the blue (when you have already done the work) is to put a substantial cancellation fee into your Terms and Conditions. Don’t be shy or scared to phone them for money, it is after all your money and I have no doubt that they did not blink an eye when they contacted you at all hours of the day and night demanding your attention.

It really isn’t worth the aggravation and irritation! They will cost you more in time and effort and energy than what you will make off them in the long run.

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

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

Monday, February 16, 2009

MOTIVATION - Understanding That We Are All Role Models

MOTIVATION – Understanding That We are All Role Models

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

For the record, whilst I do understand that we are all role models in our own right – this particular subject makes me extremely nervous on a personal level.

Let me explain why, so that you too can be aware of it and then we will move forward on to the ‘understanding that we are all role models’.

Being a role model is not a difficult thing at all. We have all ‘looked up’ to people in our lives. We have all, at some point or another followed someone’s way of thinking or doing or looking. That in itself is a healthy thing and not bad at all. It’s when someone ‘hangs’ onto your every word and actually almost (if not in fact) ‘hero worships’ you or puts you onto the proverbial pedestal. This is where it actually goes pear shaped! You see at some point you are going to fall off that pedestal and when that happens there is usually a great deal of hurt and anger and animosity. You didn’t put yourself onto the pedestal and yet you are the person who gets blamed for falling off the damn thing! So now you know why I get very nervous when people want me to ‘mentor’ them, it actually makes me want to run in the other direction. For the South Africans amongst us – remember Hansie and all the emotion, disbelief and anger that came out of that one (myself included). Putting people onto a pedestal is not a good thing at all – they are after all . . . just people.

So now, let’s have a look at ‘Understanding That We are All Role Models’.

It’s often a really frightening thing to know that someone out there looks up to us as a role model. Can you imagine someone really wanting to be us, or wanting to live the life that we have. I often hear people saying things like “Nikki, I would love to have your energy” or “Nikki I would love to be able to Network the way you do.” My usual response is to either growl at them or if I am in a really good mood, explain that it is all in the choices that they make.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t think that I am good enough for someone to want to emulate, or that I am not proud of my achievements. I also understand on some level that I do make a difference in the lives of many people – that’s a choice that I made many years ago – to make a difference, and for me that is very exciting as it opens up all sorts of opportunities for me. What scares me the most is that I consider myself a ‘work in progress’ and I am continually working on the person who I am and who I want to be. I cannot control how quickly (or slowly for that matter) I change or evolve and now I have to consider the people who are trying to keep up with me. The mind boggles!

What is equally if not more scary is that this is how people, supposedly intelligent people, follow other people into all sorts of disgusting, horrible and often even purely evil, avenues of life. Think about all the gangs, rip off artists and scammers, or cults and then what about the leaders of this world – people like Hitler and Robert Mugabe and Idi Amin. Believe it or not there are still those amongst us, yes they walk amongst us, who still think that these people are heroes.

On the flip side of the coin, this is also the avenue that we can make the most difference and how exciting is that. It also, in my opinion, makes us responsible for the way that some people see the world and how they will ultimately act in the world and how they will behave in the world and quite honestly that makes me feel really proud, especially because it is as a direct result of me . . . well just being me.

How incredible is that? It means that I, little old me, will have either a positive or a negative effect on someone in the world today. It makes me responsible for the way that I interact with people (oh dear, now that means I have just kicked my own rear end), it means that I have to be careful of the choices that I make today because someone else is watching what I am doing because what I do will influence what they say, or think or do.

Just writing this piece has made me realize just how much more aware I need to be, on the daily choices that I often make without even thinking.

This knowledge and awareness makes me understand that I can literally change the world, one person at a time, and that’s really cool. It’s a big responsibility and I still have no desire to step onto the pedestal, but it’s also really mind blowing to understand the power that I have and that you have too.

The question remains however – what are you going to do with your power today?

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

Friday, February 13, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Compile a Job Description - Part 4


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

Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

So far we have covered that the Job Description needs to be accurate and realistic. It has to outline the location of the job within the organization, the purpose of the job, the content, the relationships, authority, controls and checks. Both the supervisor and the staff member must understand and interpret it the same way.

Today we will examine some more of what must be in the Job Description and the first thing that we need to understand here is that the Job Description MUST be used as an interview guide. The candidate must match the basis requirements of what is expected in the Job Description. Remember, it must always be the ‘person’ who matched the Job Description and not the other way around. So if the Job Description requires someone who has Matric, then interviewing someone who never finished school is not a good idea. You wouldn’t hire a medical student as the Chief of Surgery, so you shouldn’t hire someone who doesn’t have the right qualifications to do the Job.

When your staff members are appraised, the Job Description should also be used as a tool to assess their performance. If the perception is that they are not fulfilling their obligations in any way, this could be established by checking to see what their requirements are and if the particular task, in question is listed, then you have a case. So make sure that all the tasks that are required to be performed are listed.

It also makes sense to list the tasks in order of importance or alternatively in some sort of logical sequence. Each task should have enough information with them to ensure that the incumbent (and the supervisor) understands the WHAT and the HOW of the job. When this is stated correctly, it becomes a measurable entity and it makes the requirement clear, concise and to the point.

Next week we will continue with some Do’s and Don’t, tips when writing a Job Description.

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

Thursday, February 12, 2009

SALES - Selling in Tough Times - Part 3


Selling in Tough Times – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting February 2009.

Following on from last week, here are some more tips on Selling in Tough Times.

Be Prepared
This one I am seriously found wanting on! You see, since all of my leads come out of Networking, I have already, very briefly met the person that I am having a meeting with (except of course when it is a referral), so I do know a little bit about them, presuming of course that I remember who they are.

The problem is that I have a very bad memory with names and faces and the fact of the matter is that I am usually meeting them for the second time, for an in depth meeting, several months down the line. What I should perhaps (in fact very definitely) be doing is googling them and finding out as much as I can about them and what it is that they do so that I am not going into the meeting blind.

What this tells the person that you are meeting, when you know a bit about them and what it is that they do or what their company is all about, is that you are serious about what it is that you do. It creates a tremendous amount of credibility for you as it shows that you were interested enough in what is to come out of the meeting, to find out more about them and then be able to discuss or ask questions that make sense.

Sell reliability.
Well now, this one certainly pertains to me. I often start off amused and then slowly (actually it quite quickly) become quite irritated with a sales person, what waxes lyrical about the technical stuff that happens with a product.

I am not a techno person, so I don’t understand the stuff and when I don’t understand it, throwing all the technical jargon at me, just makes me realize how many things can go wrong with the product.
Tell me the bottom line in easy to understand English. Tell me in easy to understand English if there is a guarantee and what brings it into effect.

Two of my favorite sales (and they both happened over a year ago) are: It was time to upgrade my cell phone, something that can normally be extremely frustrating for me. I walked into MTN at Rosebank and spoke to the young chap behind the counter. I said something along the lines of “I am a Nokia girl, this is what I have – I want the same or better and I don’t want to have to pay in.” Five minutes later I walked out with my new phone, all the paperwork done and dusted.

The second one was the purchase of my digital camera. Now I am not one to rush around like a mad thing taking happy snaps all the time, but I do take photos from time to time and it was time to drag myself kicking and screaming into the 21st century. I walked into the camera shop in Cresta and spoke to the young chap who always sorted the printing of my photo’s out. I said something along the lines of “I have no idea of the brand that I want, I want something simple that I can point at the general direction and it takes a reasonable photo. I don’t want to have to decide weather it is dark or light, the camera must do that for me, and it must not cost more that R2.50 (that’s always said with a huge grin on my face, but they understand what it is that I am saying.” Fifteen minutes later I walked out of shop with a new camera, camera bag and several other accessories. The camera had been programmed for me and all I have to do is press the two buttons – one to switch the thing on and the other to take the picture. Perfect!

In both of these instances, the sales person listened to me. They listened to what it was that I wanted and they gave it to me. In most of my other disastrous shopping experiences the sales person doesn’t listen to what it is that I want, instead they try to give me what they think I should have. Half the time I don’t understand what they are trying to say because I am not a technical person and I have no interest in hearing all that waffle.

Most people will tell you that I am extremely difficult – I disagree. If you give me exactly what it is that I want I am the easiest person on the planet. I am sure that if you tell these two salesmen that I am difficult they will disagree and tell you that it was the easiest and quickest sale that they have ever made.

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, February 11, 2009



PART 100

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

For me, part of becoming a more skilled Networker or Networking more effectively, is not just about me doing things better, but it is also about me teaching others what I have learnt about how to Network. You see, if I am the most effective Networker around and no-one else around me knows how to Network effectively, I am not going to get what I want out of Networking. For me to effectively ‘work’ my Network, I have to have a network, that effectively ‘works’ their Network too.

So it is very important, not only for me to know and do the right things when I am Networking, but it is in my own best interests for the people that I Network with to know and do the right things when they are Networking to.

It is also very important that we start thinking the right way to and if we are to make our Networking endeavours as successful and as magnetic as they can be may involve us changing our mindsets. It’s means opening up our eyes and taking off out blinkers and having a look at absolutely everywhere – not just the usual spots.

How about looking at individuals and/or groups of individuals that never think about Networking or who don’t look at your particular Networking type groups because your profession or the size of your business is not where they look for what it is that they do.

I know from experience that ‘employees’ in a Corporate environment don’t feel the need to network because well, it’s like this . . . they have a comfortable job that gives them a steady income and they have a marketing department that markets and brand the company and they have a sales department that goes out and sells and brings the business in and therefore they don’t need to meet people and Network. The people that they usually meet are ‘needy’ small business owners who only want something from them and they don’t need anything those small ‘needy’ business owners have to offer. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

We all need to interact with people and when we meet with someone, whether it is at Networking type meeting or a social dinner or a beer in the pub down the road, we need to exchange ideas, exchange information learn new things – it’s a natural phenomena that is built into every single one of us. Think about it people, whenever you meet someone you always ask what they do and you invariably tell them what you do. It’s exchanging information about one another. The next step is exchanging ideas and most of us even exchange opinions. We try and understand the other person point of view (well most of us do) and we try and get them to understand ours.

So why is Networking any different? It’s our mindset that needs some serious work.

At a Networking event, we exchange information about one another, we exchange ideas (this is how you can be of assistance to my business and this is how I can be of assistance to yours) and we exchange opinions.

So whether you are a small business owner or an employee in a large Corporate – you need to Network and there is no reason what-so-ever, for the experience not to be a mutually beneficial one.

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

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - Holding Directors Personally Liable for Company Debts


Holding Directors Personally Liable for Company Debts.

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting February 2009.

Today’s article should perhaps, come with a warning – this is going to hurt someone, somewhere and at sometime and it is going to hurt badly!

It’s all about if you run your business recklessly or fraudulently and I am very serious people, when I tell you that it does carry a jail sentence and you will do jail time.

Have a look at the facts. There have been some pretty well known big Corporate companies that have gone for a ‘ball of chalk’ in the last couple of years. Names like Tollgate, Leisurenet and Fidentia spring to mind. In all of these cases, the directors and/or officials of the company have been handed hefty jail time sentences. In all cases, the business has been run recklessly and/or fraudulently. In all cases the media have had plenty to say and you must admit, they have kept us pretty up to date with what has been happening.

Now here’s the crunch. Don’t for a minute think, that because you are a very small company, and that most people have never heard of you, and therefore you will fly happily under the radar. That would be silly in the extreme. If you are a Business owner and you are deliberately running your business in a reckless or fraudulent manner, you could well be the next guest of the Department of Correctional Services.

Think about this though, if you are an unpaid supplier of someone who is running their business in a reckless or fraudulent manner, it may very well make you feel heaps better when they end up as a guest of the Department of Correctional Services, but that does not necessarily mean that you will get your money at the end of the day – you could still be ‘out of pocket’.

The problem here is that although the Companies Act allows the courts to declare that the Directors of a Company are personally liable for debts and losses incurred, specifically in the instances where those Directors have carried out the business of the Company in a reckless or fraudulent manner, the courts themselves do not enforce this easily. Again be warned, just because the courts don’t award or enforce this easily, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.

So be careful about how you run the affairs of your Company. Be honest, be upfront and for goodness sake do not engage in fraudulent dealings. You will be held accountable at some point.

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

Monday, February 09, 2009

MOTIVATION - Problems & Challenges

MOTIVATION – Problems & Challenges

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

This was submitted to Thought for the Day by Juanita Welgemoed. “Now is the time to change all your problems into challenges.”

I am sure that I was not the only one, to take some time out over the holidays, to reflect on what has gone right in my business over the last year and what has gone wrong and why. Now the things that have gone right and why they have gone right is aways a good thing and it is usually quite easy to replicate what you did before in order for it happen that way again.

It’s the issues of what went wrong and how to resolve those issues that is always a tad more difficult.

But what if . . . what if, instead of seeing these issues as problems that have to be agonized over, or beating ourselves up over problems that we don’t seem to be able to resolve, what if we turn them into challenges. Challenges that can provide us with alternative income streams, or where we collaborate or joint venture with others in order to use the problem in it’s alternative form and turn it into a positive.

Think about it for a moment. Take crime for example – 30 or so years ago, we did not have hi-jackings or armed robberies (well not if you weren’t a bank). There were very few walls, let alone gates and electric fencing and the like around residential areas and homes. As the problem of crime became progressively worse (for whatever reason), instead of moaning and griping about how bad the crime was, people started doing things to help themselves and so a problem was turned into a challenge and an opportunity.

Can you imagine the challenges that the first ‘armed response’ company had to face, with no infrastructure in place. The vehicles, the training of the guards, the control rooms that operate 24/7 and so on – today I am sure that you would agree that it must have been quite a daunting task, but they took the challenge on and they turned it into a positive.

Does that make crime right? Of course it doesn’t. Has crime gone away? Of course it hasn’t and the challenges that they fact have today, I am sure are of a completely different nature. Today, 30 years later, the people who chose to bemoan the problem of crime, are probably still moaning and groaning. Yes they have the car alarm, the armed response and alarm contract, the electric fence and everything that goes with it, but it has ‘cost’ them financially ad they are still moaning. Those that turned the problem into a challenge have made money out of it and will continue to do so as they change newly acquired problems into challenges.

The bottom line of course, is that we can choose to take a problem and look at it, cry about, talk about, bang our head against it and perhaps even try and solve it – or we can choose to take that problem and turn it into a challenge or an opportunity.

The choice is entirely ours.

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

Friday, February 06, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Compile a Job Description - Part 3


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

Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

The one tip that we discussed last week was that the description of what the staff member needs to do has to be accurate and realistic.

The next tip is that the Job Description has to outline the job’s location, job purpose and content. It also has to document the relationships involved, the authority involved and the controls and checks.

Let’s examine what this means. Let’s take an Operations Manager’s position in a retail chain. Now clearly in this type of scenario, there are many different types of Managers. There would be store managers, Area or Regional Managers, Procurement Managers, Administration Managers, (and that’s just for the stores, never mind what happens at Head Office.) and so on. So if you were looking for an Operations Manager for the ‘stores’ as apposed to an Operations Manager for Head Office and/or the Warehouse/Factory, this would need to be specified and the fact that it is a Manager that is required and not an operations assistant or an operation’s clerk is of vital importance. This would highlight that the “job’s location in the organization” is one of Operations Manager of the stores. It stands to reason that that all the Operations Managers in the company would have similar, but not necessarily the same tasks to fulfill, so these need to be itemized carefully.

The job purpose and content would of course be to Manage the Operational requirements of all the stores country wide and take responsibility for how well the stores run. This would include but not be limited to the responsibility of the staff, the sales of the stores and the reaching of targets. The projection of the company image to the public is also something that should be taken into account. It would include things like staff training on product and sales training, setting of budgets and targets, the responsibility of ensuring that Government legislation is complied with and that HR and Labour issues are met and controlled. Issues of safety and health would also need to be controlled, not only for the staff, but also for clients. Merchandising of stock and procurement of supplies would also fall under the responsibility of the Operations Manager. So be sure to list everything that needs to be done.

The relationships involved would include the staff who would report into the Operations Manager as well as who the Operations Manager would report into as well as what controls and checks would be in place to measure the Operations Manager performance. This would include, but not be limited to targets and budgets being met and so on. It would also be necessary to include things like the minimum requirements of the job, you would not employ someone straight out of school to perform this task, now would you? – what are the minimum educational requirements (for example, a minimum of matric and a Management diploma and/or degree or a minimum of x number of years working experience in an Operational Environment and/or Managerial position) and so on.

Clearly the expectation of both the holder of the job (in this case the Operations Manager) and his/her supervisor must be the same or similar. They must equally understand, exactly what is required, when it is required and how the job must be done. Often issues of ‘expectation’ and ‘perception’ not meeting in the middle is what causes the most headaches and conflict within an organization.

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, February 05, 2009

SALES - Selling in Tough Times - Part 2


Selling in Tough Times – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting February 2009.

Following on from last week, here are some more tips on Selling in Tough Times.

The next one is Keeping your Pipeline full

This is definitely something that you should be doing all the time – not only when times are tough. It’s a good idea to put at least one new prospect and/or opportunity into your pipeline on a daily basis. Look around you, be aware of the people around you, be even more of all the opportunities that are in great abundance all around us all. Remember though, recognizing an opportunity is great, but it is really not enough, you have to do something about it – it requires an action on your part for that opportunity to be turned into a reality.


Oh this is one that I really like – Network, Network, Network! Always, always, always have your business cards with you – don’t leave home without them. Set a goal or a target of new people to meet on a daily basis – four or five new people a day is a good start. Exchange business cards with them. Find out who they are and what it is that they do. Tell them who you are and what it is that you do. Work the synergies between you and if there aren’t any, don’t stress it – connect them with the people in your database or your circle of influence that they may need to be in touch with. Understand that this may not bring you any kind of business immediately, but what it will do is set you up for the future and future business.

Ask Questions

Most sales people don’t ask the right questions and very seldom listen. The usual for them is to launch into this huge explanation about their product and/or their service and long explanations about how their product and/or service will revolutionize your life. Stop! Instead of waxing lyrical about how wonderful your product and/or service is, ask your prospect what they need and want and the just shut up and listen - I mean really listen. People feel more comfortable about buying something that they know they need rather than something that they are told that they need. If their needs have been met, because you have listened to what it is that they need or want, the sale will be much easier.

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, February 04, 2009




By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Be inclusive and collaborative”.

Over the holiday period, I did not travel anywhere, or take a significant break. That said, I spent my time – quietly at home, examining what I had done in 2008 and what needed to be done in 2009. With the economy (supposedly) in a mess and the credit crunch (supposedly) really hurting everyone concerned (as you can see I don’t really buy into either – but the rest of the world does, so I have adjust my the way I respond to them accordingly), I realized that I have to do things completely differently for 2009.

At the recent launch of the Soweto 5 year project that I attended at the Ubuntu Kraal in Soweto, the speaker Parks Tau, who is the Financial Director of the Economic Development of the City of Johannesburg, kept referring to the fact that there has to be a collaboration between Government, the Private Sector and the people of Soweto, in order for the roll out of this initiative to actually work. As I listened to him speak, several of the people there kept saying “We are tired of the talk shows, now we want things to happen.” Parks kept on patiently explaining that that is one of the reasons that there had to be the collaboration.

Several times since then, I have been in a networking environment, where the people have used words like ‘Joint Venture’ and ‘Strategic Alliance’ and even ‘Partnerships’ and my brain just kept going back to the word “Collaboration”.

My 2009 has really started with a bang! Work is pouring in from all kinds of different avenues, clients that were dormant, new clients, referrals and the like from friends and colleagues from all over the country. Here’s the thing though – the majority of opportunities that are coming my way are of a collaborative nature! Particularly for my Workshop “A Basic Practical Guide to Starting a Business.” You see many of the Skills Development companies and NGO’s such as Women In Finance, British Chamber of Business and so on are needing to train everyday people who want to start their own businesses in the basic aspects of running a sustainable business. They not only need me to facilitate the training of my workshop, but they also need access to my extensive data base that is packed full of people – not only people who can facilitate training of a whole plethora of different Skills Development topics but also people who may need to be trained on those particular skills.

So guess who is getting the old Memorandum of Understanding out, dusting it off and Collaborating like there is no tomorrow?

Me of course! Guess what? So can you – Collaborate with me, or with others – just get out there and do it now!

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, February 03, 2009

TAX - Does the Small Business Rates Apply to Sole Proprietors


Does the Small Business Rates Apply to Sole Proprietors

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting February 2009.

Now here is one for the history books – me writing about tax!

Firstly let it be understood, I am no expert on Tax and I am not a Tax consultant. That said, there are issues that even I understand on how we as SMME’s (small, medium, micro enterprises) can save ourselves some money.

Where ever we go, we hear people talking about how the tax man is messing with us, how our businesses are being ‘strangled’ by the tax man. How difficult it is for the small business owner to survive because of the taxes and how Government should assist the SMME.

Well to be quite honest, every year I see evidence of just that! Government relaxing criteria on the SMME, Trevor Manual relaxing tax for the SMME. What I don’t see, is the SMME taking advantage of what has been offered. Perhaps it is just easier to moan and groan and blame someone else for our misfortune or the fact that we often don’t think about what we are doing.

Small businesses have preferential rates that are applicable, but one of the requirements is that the business must trade either as a private company or as a close corporation in order to qualify.

Now already I can see the eyes moving heaven ward. Think about it for a moment. If your company is not registered as a company, how is SARS expected to know if your personal account is being used for a legitimate business or if on the face of it you have ‘created’ a business – which runs through your personal account, in order to claim the preferential rates? Come on now be fair – registering your business, tells SARS that yours is a legitimate business.

As a registered business, SARS is now able to award you the preferential rates. This means that instead of paying maximum of 40% as an individual or Sole Proprietor, as a registered Close Corporation or Private Company you get to pay a maximum of 28%. The reality of this is a saving of 12% on your bottom line and I am sure that you will agree with me that that is not to be sniffed at.

Now I can hear all of you saying, “yes, but now I am paying 40% as an individual and 28% as a business!” Well not really hey, especially if you are doing your books correctly!

Firstly, you should be claiming all of the expenses and allowances that you are entitled to, through your business. This should leave you in your personal capacity, with only the personal expenses and incidentals that you cannot claim through your business and then this should form the ‘salary’ that your business pays you on a monthly basis. Now here comes the interesting part – if your ‘salary’ is less than the minimum, then you don’t pay tax as an individual at all.

So I urge you as SMME’s to go and register your business, then register your business as an employer and employ yourself. Following the rules and the guidelines, will mean huge savings in taxes.

Huge savings in taxes will also increase your productivity too! Why increased productivity you may ask? Well that’s a simple one to answer – you see all the time that you used to spend moaning and groaning about how badly the tax man is treating you can now be used to sell more product and/or your services.

The bottom line of course is that you – yes you – need to change your mindset and work with the system. You will find it far more rewarding than the constant butting you head against a brick wall that you all seem hell bent on doing.

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

Monday, February 02, 2009

MOTIVATION - A Mission Statement

MOTIVATION – A Mission Statement

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The majority of big Corporate Companies all have their own Mission Statement. Usually they are placed strategically for the world to see, at reception, or on a wall that you would look at as you enter the building or the office. Why do you think that is? I’ve always thought that it is to tell all their customers, even the really unhappy ones that are about to blow the place to hell, exactly what it is that they promise to do or to achieve, whether they actually do and/or achieve what they say they are going to is of course a whole different discussion for another day.

So anyway, do we as Small Business owners have our own mission statements, hanging up for all to see? Or let’s take it one step further, how about a personal mission statement? Have any of you thought about putting a personal Mission Statement down on paper? I certainly haven’t, but you know what - I think it is a brilliant idea.

Now here’s the thing though – a Mission Statement is not something that you can just jot down in a few minutes. It’s something that needs to be thought about . . . carefully.

It will mean of course that we have to carefully consider our desires. Not just the ones that cause us to scratch, but the ones that are deep down in the core of our beings. We would have examine all the things that we are passionate about, not just the cute, sexy little number down the road, but the passion for what you do, what you want to achieve, for life itself – passion that comes from within. Passion that you cannot explain because the words have never been invented, but that bubbles up inside of you until you want to explode with excitement and joy whenever you think about being all that you can be and achieving all that you can achieve. Yes a lot of careful thought and deliberation would be required to capture the essence of a personal Mission Statement.

Then of course we need to be aware of what is written on there – always. A Mission Statement is not only for the here and now. It’s not for when we feel like it or when we have time. It’s not for when we are fighting with our significant other or (since I don’t have children) shouting at the cats. It’s something that we would have to live, breathe, eat, sleep and think. It’s something that we would have to not only bring to our conscious world but also have simmering and shining in our sub-conscious minds. It would have to be so constant and present in our lives and in our worlds that everyone around us would also be conscious and aware of it.

The contents of our own personal Mission Statement would be considered and reflected in every decision that we make, on every thought that we have and every deed that we do. It would form the foundation of all of our principles, our morals and every commitment that we make.

It would be like . . . well think of you married folk, before you make or accept a social engagement you usually (if there is any kind of respect in the relationship) check with your spouse first to see if they are available/willing to attend the engagement. So now before you did, said or even thought anything you would ‘run it by’ your Mission Statement to see if it fitted the criteria.

Whether you accepted a challenge or not would depend entirely on how well it fitted in with your Mission Statement and any kind of conflict meant that the challenge would be discarded.

A Mission Statement is what we should live by, it should be our conscience, the essence of who we are. It should have our dreams, not just the ones for tomorrow and next week, but all of our dreams of all that we hope to achieve and even a little bit about how we are going to get there.

Now you’re thinking – wow! Would I be able to confine myself to such a ‘small’ space within my own mind, where I would lack the freedom of choice that I so enjoy now? I honestly don’t know because that is a decision that you yourself would have to make.

What I do know for sure though (to coin a phrase from Oprah Winfrey) is this – if my Mission Statement was absolutely sincere in its intention, if it is true to my beliefs and my aspirations. If it suited me as the individual that I am and the individual that I want to become. If it encapsulates my dreams, my hopes and drives away my fears. If it is honest and meets my expectations, then I believe that it will assist me in making better choices in my life and in making the right decisions. But, if I have, in any way compromised with my Mission Statement and it is not a true reflection or lacks sincerity in any way, then I also believe that it will not work and that my life may even become sad and without direction and that no matter how much I achieve there will always be something lacking, an element of something missing.

Now, where’s my journal? I have to start making notes. Notes for my personal Mission Statement. That is my choice. I wonder – what will yours be?

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