Thursday, April 30, 2009

MARKETING - Focus On Sales


Focus on Sales

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting April 2009.

So how do you deal with your ‘Focus on Customers’? Do you focus more on getting new customers or do you focus on existing customers or what about ‘old’ or previous customers – do you ever revisit them?

Here’s the thing – it is always a good idea to bring in new business, it’s healthy for the Company to have new ‘blood’ from time to time. That said it takes time to build new relationships and it can be a costly exercise, although it must be done.

What is an alternative idea though, is to promote your business and/or new products/services to existing, current or even previous customers. The relationship is already built. Trust and credibility issues have already been dealt with and both you and the client know what to expect.

By reaching out to your existing data base, you will be able to significantly reduce your marketing costs whilst keeping your turnover on the up and up. These clients have ‘proved’ their willingness to purchase your products and/or services and you have them on hand, it’s not like you would have to prove yourself all over again.

I am sure that any marketing person anywhere, will tell your that one of the biggest assets that your company has is your data or customer base. So use it, all the time.

You need to understand that just because one sale has been finalized, it does not mean that the relationship is over – it’s just beginning. Remember that and your current customer base will forever be your ‘bread and butter’ whilst new customers will become the icing and the cherry on top of the cake.

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2009



PART 110

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2009

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

“Have a database of resources to help other people.”

What does this mean? Does it mean that you have to work your butt off to add people to your data base and then give your entire data base to anyone who’s looking for one? Of course not!

That said, the more different types of people and the different types of resources that they bring to your data base, means more people that you can refer and add value to.

I have a neuro-surgeon in my data base – forget for a minute how I happen to have this man’s contact details in my data base. I have often stood up at networking meetings and stated that if anyone needs anyone, chances are that I have one of whatever that they need in my database. At this point I usually tell them that I even have a brain surgeon and that usually brings about fits of nervous laughter.

Here’s the thing though – some time last year, a good friend of mine was diagnosed with a debilitating disease and what her doctor told her and the information that she got off the internet just didn’t always make any sense – she was, as I am sure you can imagine, in a highly emotional state. I was not only able to refer her to my brain surgeon, but because he (and his staff know me) I was able to get her an appointment within two weeks instead of the usual 2 months that everyone else had to wait.
Was he able to ‘makes things better’ – actually not, but what he was able to do was answer all of her questions, and put her at ease in terms of what she could do, versus what she should do and then of course what she shouldn’t do at all, and he was able to do this in a relatively short space of time.

I know that this is a case in the extreme, but think about it for a moment – if you need some sort of product and/or service or you are not even really sure about what it is that you need and I can be of assistance, it means that I add value to you as an individual and to the person that I am referring as well. Chances are, going forward, that if you hear of anyone who is requiring my services that you will pass them along to me.

It’s all about ‘giving’ in order to get and believe me it works very well.

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, April 28, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - Being Your Own Boss - Part 5


Being Your Own Boss – Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – April 2009

It is said that “There are none so blind as those who will not see”!

Ain’t that the truth! One of the most frustrating things for me is trying to convince people – especially about the work that I do. Most of the time people are stuck in the whole philosophy of “It won’t happen to me” and then of course it does. It’s Murphy’s law.

I have learnt over the years though, to just let them be and even when the brown smelly stuff hits the fan and splatters all over them, I bite my tongue (when I really want to tell them ‘I told you so’) and instead outline a plan of action to correct the problem and then prevent it from happening again.

Nowadays, I try and inspire them.

Many of the experts say that you should have a one page sales kind of brief. I find though, that people are skeptical of the salesperson who continuously tells everybody how ‘wonderful’ they are and how ‘wonderful’ their product and/or service is. Now I quote some of the more touching testimonials that my clients and colleagues have sent to me. Believe me, those testimonials have far more impact, in terms of trust, than any kind of sales spiel.

Do you love what you do? Are you passionate about what you do? If you are, chances are that it will change the way that you speak and it will change your body language and it will change the energy that you exude. Your passion, the love of what you do and the belief that you have in your product and/or service will be clearly evident for all to see. There is nothing more soul satisfying than to watch people becoming infected by and with your passion.

Don’t be shy to tell people who you are and where you come from. Describe your struggles and how you overcame them. People relate to struggles – we all go through them. People applaud success – even the very small ones.

Be sure to always include your contact details, make it as easy as possible for people to find you.

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

Friday, April 24, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHE. . . . Your Staff Member is Pregnant


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Member is Pregnant

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2009

First of all, for the record – you cannot dismiss an employee because they are pregnant. Dismissing an employee on the grounds that she is pregnant is viewed as “automatically unfair” and it comes at a cost.

Second of all, for the record – the full period of maternity leave is 4 months (unless otherwise agreed in writing for a longer period). If you shorten this period, even by mutual written consent, you could find yourself in the deep smelly brown stuff.

Thirdly, the employee’s right to ‘time off’ for the pregnancy does not end there – let me explain. Let’s return to our protagonists. Mike the owner of the retail outlet and Jane the cashier.

Jane is pregnant and she is due to give birth in November and as we all know, December is a really busy time in the retail environment. By mutual agreement (Jane does not want to lose out on her Christmas commissions), they agree that she will only take one month off, as pregnancy leave, instead of the laid down 4 months. Jane signs off on this giving her consent.

In November Jane goes on leave a week before the due date and then Jane gives birth and becomes a proud mother to a healthy set of twin boys. So far, so good. Well the twins start off healthy, but soon they both develop colic and Jane understands that there is no way that she can go back to work as soon as she had planned, she needs to take care of the boys.

Jane contacts Mike, explains the situation to him and requests an additional one month maternity leave. Mike is furious – he has not put any kind of contingency plan into place as Jane assured him that she would be back after a month and it is too late to get someone else in to help as the store is already as busy as can be and he cannot ‘spare’ anyone to train someone new. Mike tries to be reasonable and tells Jane that she can have an additional two weeks leave. Jane refuses to accept this new arrangement and just doesn’t go back after the additional two week period is up. Mike dismisses her in Abstentia.

Jane takes Mike to the CCMA for unfair dismissal, stating that she had been dismissed for a reason that was directly related to pregnancy. Mike says that that is nonsense as the wording in the Labour Relations Act (LRA), sections 187(1)(e) “for a reason related to pregnancy” means that if a mother has any sort of complications as a result of the birth and that this does not extend to any illnesses experienced by the baby. Mike also says that Jane was not dismissed because of her pregnancy or because the babies were ill, but because she was absent from work without leave.

Well the CCMA saw things a little differently. Just as the price of democracy is very high, so too is the price of equality. The CCMA’s take on this was “Difficulties experienced by employers in keeping a woman’s job open while she is on maternity leave is the price that must be paid for recognizing the equal status of women in the workplace. The law protects women, not only while pregnant, but also while they are attending to the consequences of pregnancies.”

How’s that for a smack of reality?

Mike then pointed out that Jane had signed an agreement stating that she would only take one month’s maternity leave.

Well that didn’t work very well either – you see the BCEA (Basic Conditions of Employment Act) says that the employees are entitled to 4 months maternity leave. So the agreement that Mike had with Jane for the 1 month maternity leave is in fact unlawful, so it cannot be enforced as it contravened the BCEA.

In this instance, if Jane had been given her full four months maternity leave, this situation would not have arisen. The consequences of Mike’s action was very expensive – he had to pay out 20 months remuneration and also pick up the costs of both his attorney and Jane’s attorney to.

The bottom line is this – the BCEA are not just guidelines, they are the law – so if it stipulates something, that something means that it is the minimum that you can do – in this case the minimum amount of maternity leave that can be given is 4 months. Anything less than that could find you in hot water – anything more than that can be negotiated and agreed to.

Remember though, if you give one employee 6 months maternity leave, you have to give all the others the same amount.

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

Thursday, April 23, 2009

SALES - Ever the Student


Ever the Student

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting April 2009.

It is said that “the best way to become a master at what you do is to combine ‘study’ with ‘practice’ for the rest of your life.”

It is also said that “knowledge is power” although strictly speaking, I believe that it is what you ‘do’ with that knowledge that makes you all powerful!

When I graduated college in 19 . . . , oh hell, it was lifetime ago, I was this fresh faced kid that had been to hell and back, but was a survivor. I was also done with ‘study’, I was done with sour faced adults who always thought that they knew what was best for me. I had the world in my future and the future in the palm of my hand. I was going to conquer the world. Yeah right!

The first reality check came from my first real job, and by that I mean something other than tending bar, or being a ‘shampoo’ girl in a hairdressing salon, or being a sales assistant in a clothing shop (all of which I had done to put myself through college). You see my first ‘real’ job was in Rhobank in the now Zimbabwe and I was working in the import/export outsourced division of the bank, called Freight International. Ironically this was in the middle of the 70’s and the middle of sanctions by the world against the then Rhodesia. I don’t think we could have imported a paperclip if we tried and as for our ‘exports’ well the world wanted tobacco – badly, so we found a way and they turned a ‘blind eye’. Tobacco and believe it or not graphite. For those who don’t know, graphite becomes the ‘lead’ in your pencil – strange commodity, I am sure you would agree.

The point is however, that although I was ‘done’ with my perception of ‘study’, the ‘study’ was certainly not done with me. We don’t come equipped to handle every job or task that comes along and certainly school and/or college and or university doesn’t even begin to give us the fundamentals of what we need for ‘life’.

I found that the more I learnt, to do the work that I had signed up for, the more my natural curiosity got the better of me and the more I wanted to learn – and learn I did. Numbers held a fascination for me – not in the way that they did for Einstein, but certainly no less of a passion. Numbers are easy for me to memorize and they somehow just stick there. For example the Rand/Dollar rate in 1977 was 1/1.12 – (yes folks, believe it or the Rand in those days was more valuable than the dollar $1.12 = R1), my how the wheel turns.

How about if you are adding up a whole bunch of numbers and you don’t balance and you are out by a number that is divisible by 9, go through the 9 times table – you have transposed for example 27 to 72 or 36 to 63 (depending on the number that you are out by).

Then of course if you are adding up a whole bunch of numbers and you don’t balance and you are out by ‘3’ then you have transposed either a 5 for an 8 or visa versa, or if you are out by ‘5’ then usually you have transposed a 3 for an 8 or visa versa.

Now as I get older, I find myself devouring information, as if there is no tomorrow. I am ‘challenged’ by the fact that there is still so much more that I want to learn and too little time to not only take it all in, but also to apply it.

Those who know me, know that I consider myself a techno-phobe, yet I am an internationally recognized blogger, I have what I would consider one of the most amazing websites on the planet (thank you Meryl of and I have just learnt how to ‘tweet’ on twitter (which means of course that there are now even less hours in the day for me).

Not bad for someone who was determined not to do any more ‘study’ don’t you think?

I consider myself an expert in my field, I have more than adequate knowledge on some topics and an opinion on most. I continue to grow, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually on a daily basis and I use the knowledge that I have so painstakingly gathered over all these years, every day.

Through my writing, I know (judging from the testimonials on my website) that I have touched the minds and lives of many and in doing so, I have made a difference in the way that people do business and how they sell themselves and their products.
So, remember that ‘study’ is similar, but quite different to learning. Learn your craft and apply all that you have learnt in order to improve yourself and enrich the lives of others.

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

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - Being Your Own Boss - Part 4


Being Your Own Boss – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – April 2009

As much as we would like to think that the world is a great place, the reality is that it isn’t. People will steal your ideas and your dreams and pass them off as their own.

You need to protect your ideas and yourself from the charlatans out there.

It is not really necessary to register your business name or get copyright protections for your logo or your ‘by line’ because there are laws in place that protect you. Basically what that means is that whoever used a name or a slogan first is then the owner of that name or slogan. The problem with this though is that if someone else then uses what you consider to be yours, the only way then to stop them using it again is to take legal action and go to court to enforce the law.

One of the ways to ‘prove’ that it was your idea or theme or that it was used by your first is to document everything. Use a daily planner or your diary to make notes and keep track of who your met and what was discussed. This will provide you with a ‘paper trail’ which could be used as evidence should you ever need to go to court.

Although many will tell you to continue your business as a ‘sole proprietor’ for as long as possible before you register as a ‘close corporation’ or a (Pty) Ltd, be aware of the fact that this has tax implications both to you as an individual and also for your business. Make sure that you understand the why’s and wherefore’s of registering your business before taking the plunge.

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

Monday, April 20, 2009

MOTIVATION - Be True To Yourself

MOTIVATION – Be True to Yourself

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2009

It is said that until you respect yourself, you cannot respect others.

It is said that until you love yourself, you cannot love others.

It is said that until you are honest with yourself, you cannot be honest to others.

It is said that until you are true to yourself, you cannot be true to others.

You need to understand that you are the centre of your own universe. It is you life and you are the only one that should be ‘living’ it.

My friend, colleague and mentor Vanessa, always tells me “This life of yours – it is your movie. You have to write the script, you have the lead role, you are the director and the producer and you own the rights to the movie.”

How true is that? So why on earth would I give the starring role to someone else?

The bottom line is that it is my life, I need to own it. No-one else can live it for me and at the end of it, I am the only one that will be accountable for the manner in which I have lived it.

Here’s the thing though – many of us give up our own power, by allowing others to use and abuse us or live out the fantasies of their lives by dictating how we should live our lives. That’s just crazy! We need to take back what is ours – we need to own our power and we need to reclaim our lives.

We need to find our own passions.

We need to get excited about our own dreams.

Once we own our own power and we are passionate about our lives, we will begin to realize our dreams and in so doing, we will live our own lives with integrity and dignity.

Once we have learnt how to respect ourselves, we will recognize and respect the fact that everyone has the right to be doing the same in their lives.

Don’t be fooled though into thinking that you now have the right to be selfish and think only of yourself to the exclusion of all others. That too is just crazy and it is also very destructive.

Yes we are all unique.

Yes we need to be true to ourselves

Yes we need to respect ourselves, but we also need to treat others with the same respect that we give ourselves and we also need to expect others to treat us with respect as well.

It’s a great big loop tape and grows ever wider and stronger the more we ‘buy into’ it. So respect yourself and you will be true to yourself.

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

Sunday, April 19, 2009

TODAY'S Funnies

1. Try everything twice. On Madams tombstone (of Whelan's and Madam) she said she wanted this epitaph: Tried everything twice...loved it both times!

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down. (Keep this in mind if you are one of those grouches)

3. Keep learning: Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain get idle. "An idle mind is the devil's workshop." And the devil's name is Alzheimer's!

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. And if you have a friend who makes you laugh, spend lots and lots of time with HIM/HER.

6. The tears happen: Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. LIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love: Whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county, to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

11. Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second time.And if you don't send this to at least 4 people - who cares?

If you're going through hell - keep going. -- Winston Churchill and from me for whatever is happening - this too will pass

Friday, April 17, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Manangers Abuse Their Staff


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Managers Abuse Their Staff

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2009

Sexual harassment is not the only ‘harassment’ that occurs in the workplace. There are many bosses out there who are nothing more than bullies or predators and who use the power of their positions to manipulate and intimidate staff, in order to feed their own inadequacies or fantasies.

For those who do that, and you know who you are – be warned, you can and will, more often that not, pay dearly for your transgressions. If and when an employee resigns because of the behaviour of the employer/manager/supervisor, there is a consequence. The term for this type of resignation is called ‘Constructive Dismissal’ and believe me when I tell you that this is viewed in a very serious light by the CCMA.

Constructive dismissal is built around the fact that (as it is phrased in UK laws) “An employer must not, without reasonable or proper cause, conduct himself in a manner calculated or likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of trust and confidence between the employer and the employee”.

Managers/supervisors/employer’s who consistently harass staff on a psychological and/or emotional level may push their staff into resigning and this could result in the CCMA getting involved.

Here are some tips on how to avoid the perception of harassment.

- If the employer has a problem with a staff member’s performance, clearly it is in the best interests of the business for the issue of lack of and/or poor performance to be resolved. When criticizing a staff member’s performance it is a good idea, not only to tell them what they are doing wrong, but also give them suggestions, and if necessary the tools with which to improve themselves. Ultimately this will benefit the business too.
- Be consistent and make sure that you follow the precedents that have already been set. Be sure to treat all the staff in the same manner. If you discipline one staff member for an infraction, any other staff member that has a similar and/or the same infraction against them, must face the same disciplinary action and the same result. Run a ‘tight ship’ by all means, but make sure that you are always fair.
- The level of performance that you expect from one employee, must be the same level of performance that you expect from all of your staff.
- Never humiliate staff members, especially in front of other staff members. Treat your staff with dignity and respect. Be sensitive to their culture and religion. You can get your point across without having to resort to disparaging remarks.
- Managers/supervisors/employers need to understand that psychological and/or emotional harassment of staff is not acceptable and that training managers/supervisors/employers in the correct manner of dealing with staff is an investment in the business.

Handling staff correctly will result in greater productivity, which will result in greater profitability.

A happy workforce with a healthy relationship between management and staff usually results in a successful business.

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

Thursday, April 16, 2009



As We Know It

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting April 2009.

I am no expert on marketing – that said, common sense and logic must tell you that most marketing techniques have already been tried and tested through time.

I seem to remember in the recesses of my mind, something about the four “P’s”, and that if you don’t advertise or do some sort of direct marketing exercise, that your business will most certainly fail. Well I for one think that this is a bunch of hooey!

You see, as far as I am concerned business is about making a profit, making money is relatively easy, but making a profit – well now that is a whole different ball game altogether. Ok, getting back to the point – in order to make a profit (or money for that matter) you need to sell something, irrespective of whether that something is a product or a service. So you need to have sales – lots and lots of sales.

Now as a small business owner, I don’t have deep pockets. That means essentially that I don’t have the financial resources to do huge amounts of advertising or ad campaigns – I am sure that many of you are also in the same predicament. So what do I (read we) do.

Well for me it is easy – you see I ‘cross pollinate’ or collaborate or Network – whatever you like to call it.

Let me explain – about a week or so ago, I met (let’s call her Anne) at a Networking meeting – she is a secretary or PA by profession and due to the economy and cuts in jobs in several of the huge Corporate companies, she found herself doing her own thing from home. Anne has a huge amount of experience dealing with ‘red tape’ in terms of presenting for tenders and the like and clearly is great with keeping diaries sorted and meeting deadlines and all of this from home.

Anne has been in business for herself for about 4 months now and although she is connected in terms of the Corporate world, her clients are now people from the SMME market. So how does she get business?

Well you see, I also have this client (let’s call her Jane) who owns or co-owns several businesses. Being a bit of a control freak, she tries to do everything herself and the result is often chaos! As I write this, she is opening her brand new restaurant tomorrow. The guest list features several political dignitaries and about 200 odd guests. She also had a deadline to present for a tender worth millions, by close of business today. I’m sure you can see the dilemma and the incredible stress that she has put herself under.

I have now connected Anne and Jane and so their journey begins. Anne has sorted out the tender presentation and all Anne has to do is stand there as power presentation does it’s thing and hand out the neatly and professionally produced documentation as and when it is required.

Now Jane, who is connected to thousands of SMME’s will refer Anne to everyone who needs her services. Anne who is connected to thousands of Corporate players will connect Jane to all the power players that will enhance her several businesses.

Both Anne and Jane have learnt some valuable lessons – you can market your business through the power of referrals, you can grow your data base by connecting with people (even if they don’t necessarily have anything to do with the business that you are in) and you can’t do everything yourself – sometimes it is easier, cheaper and more professional to get professionals in to do what they do best, while you do what you do best.

The bottom line however, is that this form of Marketing is not even done by you – it is done for you by all the small business owners or individuals in your data base. It is done on your behalf and often you are not even aware of it being done – now that’s what I call the marketing of the future!

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2009



PART 109

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. April 2009

Most of us like to get stuff. “Freebies” are the order of the day and I doubt that there are many of us, who would actually turn a ‘freebie’ down.

But why do people hand out freebies? It’s certainly not because they have a great love for us – how many of us, as individuals, actually even know the person who funded or ‘foot the bill’ for the freebie that we so enthusiastically receive? Not many I suspect.

Actually they have an expectation – and that expectation is that they hope that we will enjoy the freebie and then because we have enjoyed it, we will begin to start purchasing it (as apposed to our usual brand).

Then of course there are the freebies that are used for advertising purposes. The reality of course is that they give you something for free and in using that item you are in reality advertising for them (think about every time you wear the t-shirt with the designer logo), and of course this means that you are endorsing them too.

So what makes you think that networking is any different? Actually it isn’t. As much as some people will send referrals your way, the expectation is that you will reciprocate and if you don’t, you need to understand that the referrals will just simply dry up altogether.

Successful Networkers usually believe in the ‘give to get’ type of philosophy.

On a personal level, I have found that the more I give, in terms of ideas and referrals, the more people give to me – not necessarily the people that I have given to, but the Universe always gives back and there are many ways in which to give back that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

As you go about your business, listen to what people want. As you Network more and more, you will find that you will build up a data base, full of people who supply all sorts of products and/or services and when hearing what people need, you will be able to add value to yourself, the person who you are referring to and the person you have referred – that’s a serious win/win/win situation!

Pretty soon you will be forming strategic alliances and collaborations or joint ventures and partnerships and with each person that you form this kind of relationship with, you strengthen, not only your own business and their business, but you also strengthen the business of every person in your team and/or your database.

So go on – give a little – give a ‘freebie’, you will be on the road to getting a lot back in return.

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - Being Your Own Boss - Part 3


Being Your Own Boss – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – April 2009

Big corporate companies with very deep pockets spend hundreds of thousands of Rands with professional market researchers to find out ‘what people want’!

As small business owners, we certainly do not have deep pockets and quite frankly we don’t need to use professional market researches. We can do it ourselves.

Here are some ideas on how to go about it.

- Take a field trip, ask questions of the people that you meet along the way. Find out from them how your product and/or service would benefit them. Will it satisfy their needs? Will it make a difference to them?

- Change YOUR mindset. Get out of YOUR comfort zone. THINK out of the box. Speak to people who have succeeded. Find out how they did it, what they did and when they did it. Learn from them. It is not necessary for you to learn only through the mistakes that you make.

- Meet with other business owners, brainstorm with them. Ask them what they have done, what they have learnt. Ask them to tell you how to avoid the mistakes that they have perhaps made.

- Research! And when you think you have finished researching – research some more! Read reports, both old and new that pertain to whatever your industry is. Look at what strategy is best for you. Look at the latest trends and see how you could slot what it is that you do in there.

- Keep a record of your ideas, make notes, open a file and keep everything. I promise you, you will go back to refresh your memory or add to your list on a very frequent basis.

Be prepared to be flexible – learn to adapt and change.

Above all – don’t forget to have fun! Remember why you went into business for yourself in the first place. Never lose sight of your goals! Always, always, always recognize and reward your own achievements, no matter how small.

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

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Sunday Funnies

I haven't done this for ages - here they are!

The Silent Treatment
A man and his wife were having some problems at home and were giving eachother the silent treatment. Suddenly, the man realized that the next day, he would need his wife to wake him at 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight.Not wanting to be the first to break the silence (and LOSE), he wrote on a piece of paper,"Please wake me at 5:00 AM " He left it where he knew she would find it.The next morning, the man woke up, only to discover it was 9:00 AMand he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife hadn't wakened him, when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed. The paper said, "It is 5:00 AM. Wake up."
Men are not equipped for these kinds of contests.
A couple drove down a country road for several miles, not saying a word. An earlier discussion had led to an argument and neither of them wanted to concede their position. As they passed a barnyard of mules, goats, and pigs,the husband asked sarcastically, "Relatives of yours?""Yep," the wife replied , "in-laws
Cash, check or charge?" I asked, after folding items the woman wished to purchase. As she fumbled for her wallet I noticed a remote control for a television set in her purse."So, do you always carry your TV remote?" I asked."No," she replied, " but my husband refused to come shopping with me,and I figured this was the most evil thing I could do to him legally."
I know I'm not going to understand women. I'll never understand how you can take boiling hot wax,pour it onto your upper thigh, rip the hair out by the root,and still be afraid of a spider.
A husband read an article to his wife about how many words women use a day...30,000 to a man's 15,000.The wife replied, "The reason has to be because we have to repeat everything to men...The husband then turned to his wife and asked, "What?"
A man said t o his wife one day, "I don't know how you can beso stupid and so beautiful all at the same time." The wife responded, "Allow me to explain. God made me beautiful so you would be attracted to me; God made me stupid so I would be attracted to you!
A man and his wife were having an argument about who should brew the coffee each morning. The wife said, "You should do it, because you get up first,and then we don't have to wait as long to get our coffee."The husband said, " You are in charge of cooking around here and you should do it, because that is your job, and I can just wait for my coffee."Wife replies, "No, you should do it, and besides, it is in the Bible that the man should do the coffee."Husband replies, "I can't believe that, show me."So she fetched the Bible, and opened the New Testamentand showed him at the top of several pages, that it indeed says.........."HEBREWS"
God may have created man before woman, but there is always a rough draft before the masterpiece

Thursday, April 09, 2009

EARLY WARNING - MTN Service Fails Again


MTN Service Fails Again.

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting April 2009.

In late 1997, I got brave and got my first cell phone, and in doing so dragged myself kicking and screaming into the 20th Century. Then I entered into a contract with MTN. I am still with them. It must be noted however, that I am still with them as it is my opinion that all the cell phone service providers are the same, each one is as bad as the other, so it would not serve any purpose to move to another one at all.

Here’s the thing – we are now in 2009 and in the last 12 years that I have been an MTN client, their shop in Cresta has scored 100% failure rate with me. Yes indeed folks – that is 100% failure rate over a period of 12 years. This means that there has not been a single instance when I have walked into the store with a query or a problem and walked out as a happy and content customer. Not once have they ever been able to assist me when I have asked a question, or asked for information on the products that they sell, or when I have had some sort of problem and needed help. Nada! Nothing – from the sales person upwards, including the Manager/owner.

I am sure that no-body can actually beat that – a consistently achieved 100% failure rate.

Let me share my most recent escapade. On Saturday morning I happened to be in the Northgate mall and I purchased a ‘SamSung’ Blue Tooth thingy type headset that fits on your ear. Too many near misses with the traffic police and talking on the phone . . .

I was assured by the sales person that although my phone is a Nokia, the SamSung device would work. Now this makes perfect sense to me despite the fact that I consider myself a technophobe. You see, I ‘blue tooth’ stuff between my phone and my laptop all the time and my laptop is not a Nokia.

So off I went home, happy as Larry, with my new purchase that needed to be charged for a minimum of 8 hours. So far so good – Ja Right!

The technophobe ‘that’s me’, trying to set up the gadget so that the headset talks to the phone – a disaster waiting for a place to happen. “Not to worry” I thought, “I will get it done at Cresta”. What a bad idea that was!

I walked into the store, explained the problem to a very bored looking sales assistant. Her first response was that the gadget is SamSung and the phone is Nokia. I explained that. She took my phone, played around on it for a few seconds and then asked me ‘how to get connectivity’? I told her that if I knew how to connect everything, I would not be in the store. She glared at me and then informed me that she is ‘not a technician, she is a sales person’! My next question is ‘shouldn’t a sales person know the functionality of their products’?

I asked for the Manager/Owner (the next mistake) – repeated the request for assistance as above and got the same answer regarding the gadget. The Manager/Owner played around on the phone for a few seconds and then told me to ‘try it now and if it doesn’t work then I can’t help you’. Then he walked away.

Great service hey!

I drove all the way back to Northgate to the chap who sold me the gadget and watched in absolute amazement while he connected the gadget to the phone and then tested the connection in all of 30 seconds! Now that’s brilliant service!

To add to this wonderful MTN service, I called MTN to obtain the contact name and details of the Manager or person in charge of the Complaints department, as I wanted to send this particular article to them before I post it on the blog – Thami could not tell me who that was, but took my details, gave me a reference number (47019212) and assured me that he would get back to me. Of course he didn’t!

Phoned again and got Pacama (the spelling here is definitely wrong), who advised that ‘we cannot give out the Managers details’. She also told me that the complaint e-mail address that I was given by Thami ( is incorrect (why am I not surprised) and that I should use – let’s see if that one works.

I am curious to see, what if any response I get from both the e-mail addresses.

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

Wednesday, April 08, 2009



PART 108

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2009

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

“Identify specific events such as industry association gatherings, ward or academic evening which you can attend.”

In 2005, after I attended my first networking meeting I was so wound up and amazed by the number of opportunities that, that one meeting opened up for me that I ended up running around like a Dura-cell bunny!

I went to every single meeting I could find, I pestered people into setting up meetings with me and was devastated when they did not pitch. In short, I ran myself ragged, running here and there and all over the place without any sort of plan in my mind except that I had to network and connect with people. Not a good idea hey?

Once I calmed down though, I realized that I needed to be more selective. So instead of going to everything that was happening, I started attending functions and meetings that were attended by like minded individuals who were closer to home. So that meant small business owners in the Cresta area. I further curtailed my ‘30 meter dash to the middle of whatever is happening’ by also slowing down on the number of meetings that I went to. I started having a ‘meeting day’ so that I was left with time and space in which to do my work and not be interrupted every two hours to dash off to a meeting.

I found that I could comfortably cope with four meetings a month, anymore than that I couldn’t cope with the number of ‘one-on-one’ meetings after the event, that I insist on to start building the relationships needed before any business was conducted.

As I experimented and found my feet, I targeted more and more events that would encourage the type of person that I wanted to do business with and only met with individuals who truly wanted to meet and do business with me.

Slowly, but surely I have built up a huge network that continues to grow on a daily basis. I have met some incredible people, some of whom are extremely influential and well connected, but who remain people who want to make a difference. I have referred many, many people who have ended up doing great business as a direct result of those referrals and yes, I have also met a few sharks along the way. In life those are to be expected from time to time.

So, start at the beginning – go to events that are likely to attract, like minded individuals and grow from there.

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, April 07, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - Being Your Own Boss - Part 2


Being Your Own Boss – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – April 2009

Getting your message out there will probably be your next huge challenge and in order to resolve that you need to create a message that has a fast, hard hitting, instant impact.

As I write these words I am reminded of the voice mail message of one of my clients – Charrise from “Kinky Knickers”, who supplies an array of lingerie and underwear, (I know her website is in the process of being developed, but have a look at – done by my brilliant web design friend Meryl of She was obviously busy with something and could not take the call and I needed to leave a message. Her recorded intro had the usual “I’m not available . . . please leave a message”, type wording, but she concluded by saying “And remember . . we supply the knickers that someone is always trying to get into.” Needless to say, I was laughing so much, I could not leave a message! How brilliant was that! How totally unexpected and refreshingly different. Believe me, even if she was not my client – I would always remember where to purchase my lingerie and underwear going forward.

The point that I am trying to make here is that her message was powerful and had an instant impact and that message would last for ever. I doubt that I will ever look at lingerie or underwear and not think of that message and have a good giggle. From that message I know exactly what she does and I know the benefit and even though I could probably get what she sells at several different outlets, the ‘way’ she told me ‘what she does’, in her message will ensure that I buy from her.

As I tell the story, (and this article attests to that fact), I am spreading the news of what she does, which means that I am actually marketing her and her products (and she doesn’t even pay me a salary) and you can be sure that everyone else who hears that message will be doing the same. This means that essentially it is easy for people to remember her and what she does and because of that, they will share that information readily about her business. How cool is that? She has a whole team of people marketing for her and they don’t even know it, much less expect a salary!

So how do you create one of those award winning messages? It’s quite simple actually – so don’t panic.

Firstly, write down how your business helps your customers – this works for both products and services.

Secondly, underline or circle any of the descriptive words that ‘stand out’ and make a statement about what you do or that describes your business.

Thirdly, take all of those words and make a single sentence which will make up your final message. For example my message is: “Viljoen Consulting – I prevent loss by assisting and empowering small business owners to start up, grow and maintain sustainable businesses.

Finally, use your message as much as possible and where ever you go – at networking events, at business functions, on your card, your letterheads, as part of your signature on e-mails, on your voicemail messages, your blogs and even when you ‘tweet on twitter’.

The more people who hear your message, the more business you will generate and the more ‘ideas’ will come your way.

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

Monday, April 06, 2009

MOTIVATION - Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

MOTIVATION – Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2009

I’m not sure who penned this, but it says “Today is the tomorrow we were worried about yesterday.”

I have a friend (let’s call her Susan) who has a 7 year old daughter (let’s call her Jane) who has a slight problem. She worries about everything! Susan often has to go out of town on business and then Jane is left with her 28 year old brother – so it’s not like she is neglected in any way, but Jane worries all the time. Susan now only tells Jane that she is leaving the day before she goes to minimize Jane’s worrying. Had Susan told Jane that she was leaving when the decision was made or when the travel booking was made, Jane would start worrying from that time.

The problem here of course is, that Jane would be so busy worrying about the fact that her mother was going away (not that anything has gone wrong for her to worry about this), that she hasn’t enjoyed any of the ‘now’. All the fun things that they have done together, since the time that Jane got to know that her mother was leaving, have been negated because Jane was worried.

What a way to go through life – not enjoying things as they happen, because she is worried about what might happen in the future. Yet, most of us are guilty of this very same thing. Worrying about the future before the present even happens.

I know I do it! I often stress about things, like if I am called into a meeting by one of the clients and in my mind there is no need for that meeting to take place – I stress about it, dream about it agonize over it and then when it happens, it is usually something totally without any kind of merit and I could kick my own rear end for being such a baby – yet the next time it happens, there I push the panic button all over again. In retrospect – what a waste of time!

Retrospect is a wonderful thing, don’t you think? Looking back on what you did and how to change it – it’s in the ‘changing’, that we all need to do the most work – me included, actually it should be ‘me especially’ if the truth must be told. I am a lot better though I must admit, but still not quite where I know I should be, because the panic button is still the first thing that gets pressed.

Logic tells me though, that worrying about something will not change the outcome. What is to happen, will happen irrespective of whether we worry about it or not – so what’s the point of worrying?

Looks like I need to work on this a bit more – what about you? Are you also a worry wart?

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

Friday, April 03, 2009

A Job is Just a Way to Pay the Bills


A Job is Just A Way to Pay the Bills

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2009

Would you believe me if I told you that for millions of employees out there, not only in South Africa but also all over the world, think that ‘a job is just a way to pay the bills’.

How sad is that – and I am saying that from experience! There have been moments in my life when I felt trapped in a job that I did not particularly enjoy but, hell it paid the bills, and I was too scared to walk away from it because to some extent, it was a comfort zone.

What about your staff – are they passionate about what they do or is it for them, ‘just a way to pay the bills’.

Wait a minute, lets look at this from a different perspective – as employers, are you hiring people ‘just to get the work done, or fill a gap’ or are you hiring people who have every intention of becoming skilled in whatever job they are in, in order to make it into a career? Do you encourage your staff to move in the direction of making, whatever it is that they do, a career?

Again, I speak from experience when I tell you, you need to hire someone who wants to make something of their lives, people who are passionate about being the best that they can be in whatever field that they are passionate about – be it as the tea lady or the cleaner or the warehouse worker or the Accountant or the Salesperson. If you want them to do whatever the job requirements are to the best of their ability, with passion, with thought and with love – then don’t be hiring someone just because they look good or because at a push you can ‘squeeze’ them into whatever you think the job you have on offer is. I promise you all that you will bring upon yourself is irritation, challenges and often loss of sales, stock, clients and even money, never mind respect.

Your staff need to see the opportunities the job you have on offer has, they need to see that they will grow as individuals and they need to see that you will train them properly (or help them get trained properly) and in return they will, more often than not, serve you well.

Staff who are not passionate about what they do, won’t be passionate about your business, which means they will not perform well, which means that productivity will be shot to hell and the quality of their work will be ‘just enough to get by’ and all of this will impact on your business, your sales figures, your clients.

So think carefully when you hire staff – think about what they can do to your business or for your business. Choose wisely – the success of your business may actually depend on it.

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

Thursday, April 02, 2009

SALES - How to Prepare Yourself - Part 1


How to Prepare Yourself – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting April 2009.

There is nothing more irritating than a sales person who treats me like he is doing me a favour, or who doesn’t know his product, or who doesn’t engage with me (either looking at me or smiling at me) and grumpy as I am when I am shopping, this just makes me worse.

Last weekend, I went shopping for one of those Blue Tooth thingies that fit in your ear, so that you can talk comfortably when you are driving. I had breakfast with a friend and off we went in search of what I would have thought was a really easy buy.

Shop # 1. Three sales assistants and a queue (ok I know it was Saturday so I swallowed that irritation). In between collecting one product for a customer, one of the sales assistants (in passing I might add) asked me what I wanted, I explained, he tried to sell me something else. I asked the price – the thing that he wanted to sell me (that fits on the sun visor of the car) cost R999.00, the item I wanted cost R285.00. After delivering the prices, he completely ignored me and went back to the client that he was busy with in the first place. Quite frankly, had I been that customer, I would have been spitting mad. I was fuming! For me, who shopping is not a pleasure at the best of times, to be treated like this is totally unacceptable – I knew what I wanted and instead of listening to me the sales assistant tried to sell me a completely over priced gadget that I had not asked for and did not want. Verdict – loss of sale and loss of customer – I will never go to that shop again!

Shop # 2. One sales assistant and a queue (again, it’s still Saturday, surely there should be more than one sales person in a store on a Saturday?). After waiting for 15 minutes I finally get served and the sales assistant brings me this huge box – remember it is a gadget that fits on the ear, not something that needs something the size of a shoe box! I asked the price – R399.00 (remember the last one was R285.00), again I get the feeling of hungry little fingers trying to pry my wallet open! I growl at her and leave.

Shop # 3. Many sales assistants, the shop is full but there is no queue. As I enter the store a young man approaches and asks if I know what I want or if I would like some assistance (nicely done, I start to relax immediately). I pose my question again , his face lights up as he tells me they have a special on at the moment and there are two items left. I scowl as I ask the price – R199.00. I smile with relief and purchase the gadget. Once the sale is concluded, he opens the box, takes out the gadget and briefly explains how to use it – my hero! Now that’s a great sales person – you can be sure that I will shop there again.

So what is the moral of this story – well first of all, when a customer walks into your store, smile – come up to them, maintain eye contact and ask how it is that you can be of assistance to them. A sales person who has shifty eyes doesn’t do it for me at all and it makes me wonder what it is that they are trying to hide.

Secondly, don’t try and make me buy something that I don’t want at an inflated price. I know that everyone thinks that the economy is in a bad state, but that doesn’t excuse this kind of behavior. The chap in Shop 1’s parting shot to me (and remember the store was full) was that the gadget that he wanted to sell me was ‘a better quality’. So what! It’s not what I wanted in the first place and further more to say that out loud to me in front of a store full of people is just rude. It implies that I don’t purchase quality product and if it was any other person, it could have been humiliating. Why on earth would he think that humiliating a potential client is a good thing! To be quite honest, when I left so did several other people. Now it could have been because they were tired of waiting in the queue or it could have been because they didn’t want the same treatment that I got. Don’t do that!

Thirdly, okay I concede – the different price has nothing to do with the sales person as he has no control over that. However, that said surely the store owner should make sure that his products (and remember it’s the Blue Tooth thingy, so they are the same product in each store) are more or less the same price in each store (we are also talking about the same mall here). I doubt that anyone would complain about a few Rand’s here and there, but to have such a large gap is not a good idea.

Fourthly – make sure you have sufficient staff on a Saturday morning. For goodness sake, this is a busy mall and having one sales person in the store is just not a good idea, phones ringing, people standing in queues, using their precious ‘off time’ to purchase your product. Really bad planning all round!

Finally, the chap in the 3rd store, had it spot on. He was friendly, he knew his products and he got excited about selling them. He didn’t pressure me and he didn’t just ‘sell’ the product to me, he took it a step further and explained how it worked (he listened and realized that I am probably not techno savy, when I asked for the ‘Blue Tooth Thingy that fits over your ear’ – this told him something), he didn’t try to embarrass me, he made it part of his sales speech. He gets full marks in my book.

Remember, your clients pay the salaries of your sales staff, so make sure that your sales staff treat your clients properly and with dignity and respect!

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

Wednesday, April 01, 2009



PART 107

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. April 2009

Here’s a question – how about adding diversity to your networking as a business person?

Now that got your attention going didn’t it? Many of you have heard me say “Mix with like minded persons or people in the same kind of line or if you are a start up, network with other start ups”, and now I am going to completely rock the boat and say . . . .

For a deeper and more profound networking experience, mix with people who are completely different from yourself. Connect with individuals who are definitely opposite to you. People who don’t look or dress like you, who certainly sound nothing like you. People who come from different cultures, different ethnic backgrounds, different education and different walks of life.

Ok, let me explain why. Networking is not only about people who are similar and/or people who are diverse from you – it’s actually about both!

You see, when you started your networking journey – to mix with those that walked the same path as you, or who experienced the same problems as you and so on, made it easier and less stressful for you to interact with them. You had things in common, so it felt comfortable and familiar.

So then, why should a brain surgeon meet and interact with someone who owns a construction company? What could they possibly have in common? Well the answer is both ‘nothing’ and ‘everything’!

What we often lose sight of as we are networking is that that it is very seldom about ‘instant gratification’ and in view of that, can you just imagine the opportunities that would be uncovered if those two individuals were connectors?

Whilst you are thinking about that, think also about the number of and kind of opportunities that you have probably missed along the way because your mindset was one of ‘how can Jane Doe possibly be of help to me and I certainly don’t want anything from her!’

In retrospect, how short sighted is that? Look at how you are limiting yourself! Look at the constraints that you have inflicted upon yourself. Look at all the opportunities you have lost!

Take heart though and don’t beat yourself up too badly. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You see, opportunities are never lost – if you don’t take them up they just become someone else’s and believe me some more will come along that are tailor made for you.

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