Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Power of Networking - Part 130


PART 131

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. September 2009

I must confess, I am having a real hard time of it lately – getting people to actually listen to the whole sentence, that is, before they jump right in and answer the question that I did not ask or worse make an assumption on something I haven’t said or even make a statement regarding something that is not even on the table. It’s really quite challenging and even more annoying and the result, at the moment is that people who are actually wanting referrals and/or work from me are not getting it because of this. All because they won’t listen and are in such a hurry to say what it is that they perhaps think I want to hear.

Let me give you an example – I am currently running a whole bunch of workshops that are geared for the SMME and entrepreneur markets. There are about 9 of them that will be run as collaborations through several of the chambers and the result is that each workshop will need to be facilitated 5 times next year through each of the 3 chambers. That’s a total of 15 times for each of the 9 workshops, gives me 135 workshops to co-ordinate and plan before I even look at the other work that I have to do. Fortunately I will only be facilitating 30 of these myself. I was looking for someone to facilitate a specific workshop and received a call from a chap who is the brother of one of my colleagues, who works in the particular field that I was looking at.

His first question was ‘so how much will you pay me a day?’ Fair question – as I proceeded to tell him that because it was aimed at start-up businesses and entrepreneurs that I was looking to keep the cost of the workshop just below R1000 . . . . before I could say anything else he jumped in and said that I would not get anyone to work for that amount of money! Of course my sentence was not complete and the rest of it would have gone on . . . per delegate and we would like the numbers of delegates attending to around the 20 to 25 per workshop to keep it intimate and informal and that most of the other facilitators were being paid in the region of Rx and would that suit him? I took a big breath of air and asked him to please stop talking and just listen for a minute to let me finish my sentence. He didn’t of course and just carried on about the R1 000. After a few minutes of listening to how unreasonable I was, I just said that if and when he was prepared to actually listen to what I had to say he could call back and I put the phone down. Now, answer me honestly – would you give any work to this person? If he couldn’t even let me finish a sentence before jumping right in, how would I know if he actually would be listening to a) my requirements in terms of what I would need from him like ‘course material’, projectors etc., and even more scary, b) how would I know if he would actually listen to any questions that the delegates may ask? I mean the whole point of these workshops is to provide information to and for small business owners, entrepreneurs and start ups – what benefit would they get if their questions were not answered properly?

This often happens when I am at a Networking event too and it really becomes a conversation killer – I tend to just walk away these days! Oh yes, I know that we are supposed to ‘mellow’ with age, but I seem to have gone in the opposite direction – I have just become more cranky and cantankerous or maybe it’s just because I am fed up with people wanting access to my database and my intellectual property, but who are intent on wasting my time and as I am sure most of you will agree, the older we get the less time we seem to have.

So when Networking (in fact when having any kind of conversation) try listening for a change. It will open up a world of possibilities, not only in the information that we are going to be getting, but also in the number of ‘intelligent questions’ that we will get to ask. Further issues can be properly clarified and points raised that may never otherwise have seen the light of day.

As much as I understand that it would mean a ‘mind shift’ or even an ‘attitude adjustment’ in terms of our habits, it would be well worth the efforts and the returns would be greater. Actually, whilst I am on the subject of ‘attitude’, perhaps a regular check on what our attitudes are and whether they need a small tweak or a large kick up the rear end may well be to our advantage.

Take a good long, hard look in the mirror every morning and see whether your attitude needs to be changed – and if it does, do something about it there and then - it’s something we all need to do on a regular basis

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - Politics In The Workplace

BUSINESS TIPS – Politics In The Workplace

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009

Dr Renate Volpe, in her Nuggets on Political Intelligence says “Good politics advance the organizations agenda as a whole. They are appropriate and future oriented. Negative politics maintain the status quo, promote group think and advance the individual’s agenda, usually at the expense of others.”

Being an Internal Auditor in many ways was my saving grace. You see I had to remain objective, I had to put myself apart and in doing so I was fortunate enough not to get involved in the internal office politics. What I did do however was watch the political plays that were taking place and the various agendas that were played out, both transparent and hidden,

Very like the politics in any country, the politics in a company can actually make or break careers and if not controlled and managed properly, could ultimately result in the downfall of the company, particularly if there is a huge amount of in-house fighting and egos that are out of control.

In-house fighting and bad office politics usually has the employees taking sides as they battle for their place in the hierarchy and hold on tightly to the coat tails of the person that they have backed, and this usually results in a split in loyalties. Focus of the business and it’s requirements, is lost and quite frankly when your eye is ‘off the ball’, chaos reigns.

Politics that is good for business and positive and for the betterment of the employees as well as management and the clients, usually will result in better and greater achievements.

The bottom line – happy employees and happy customers make good business sense.

For further information regarding Renate please go to her web address at

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

Monday, September 28, 2009

MOTIVATION - Don't Forget To Play

MOTIVATION – Don’t Forget To Play

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC - September 2009

One of my biggest challenges as an adult, was to remember, and even on occasion, find the child in me. Don’t think for one minute that I don’t laugh or don’t have a sense of humour – of course I do and those who know me can attest to this fact. My problem is though, that I am not really a ‘playful’ person, and that is what is very bad.

I first became aware of this when Vanessa, my friend, my mentor and my guide though life said to me “Play with your child!” I remember how confused I was as I do not have children except of the feline variety and Vanessa knows this very well. I am a very literal person you see, and thinking about a little child in the adult me is really very foreign.

It was quite a challenge I must tell you and one that I am quite sure that I have not yet mastered (despite my best efforts), but it meant me going back to my childhood and remembering the things that I enjoyed doing as a child. It meant not only remembering those things but also remembering how I felt when I was engaged in those activities and then of course it meant recreating those activities and feelings in the here and now.

Therein lay my own personal challenge. You see as a child I was without boundaries when I played. I did not think about how silly I might look, or whether people were looking at me or judging me or judging what I was doing, I reveled in my childish play and I had fun, unashamed fun. Whether adults joined in my childish laugher made absolutely no difference to me and in fact I was most happy when there were no adults around to put boundaries around my play. I did not have to play in the ‘reality’ type world, but could do so in the imagination and in the abstract and believe me, I had imagination enough to support anything and everything!

Where and when had I lost the ability to let myself go completely, in wild abandon and just enjoy the feeling of absolute freedom to be myself, of just being me? Where and when had I lost the reality of not caring about what others thought or whether they participated or not? Where and when had I lost the ability to live in the ‘now’ rather than worry about the consequences of yesterdays actions or the planning of tomorrow? Where and when had I lost the confidence in myself to just be me?

I cannot answer any of these and indeed it doesn’t really matter where and when it was lost. What matters now is that I return back to those moments from time to time.

What is important now is that I am able to disengage from the adult world and for a short time, play and feel like a child again.

What is important now is that I am able to engage with the child in me to feel the unencumbered joy of not being an adult, of not having the responsibility of my every day world, but the unrestricted freedom of my childhood.

What about you? Do you ever “play” with the child in you?

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

Friday, September 25, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Have Contractors Working On Your Premises - Part 2


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Have Contractors Working on your Premises – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009

Moving along from last week, when we saw Philip, George the Contractor’s employee fall from a ladder when it’s one leg shattered, and hurt himself quite badly. Mike who owns the retail outlet where Philip had his accident may very well be liable for all Philips medical and recovery bill and we are taking a look at how he can protect himself from this.

Apparently there are six ways to ensure that Mike is covered from every possibility and it is these that we are going to have a look at in greater detail today.

First and most obvious is to ensure that your contractors have signed a contract with yourself (have a look at This contract must include (but not be limited to) the section 37(2) agreement, as we discussed last week, which states that the contractor will comply with all the health and safety laws and your own company rules.

The contract should also document that it is incumbent upon the contractor to supply you with a copy of their ‘Certificate of Good Standing’ from the Compensation Commissioner which is his proof that he is registered with Workmen’s Compensation.

Make sure that your contractors employees have been properly trained in the task that you are hiring them for. Make sure that they are included in any Health & Safety training that you may be doing with your own staff and that they are aware of your Company safety and health rules.

Make sure that your contractors are compliant in terms of the law. This includes (but is not limited to) things like First Aid kits and how to use them, fire drills, protective clothing and so on.

Make sure that the contractor that you have hired is fully aware of what his/her obligation are in terms of his responsibilities to his employees and his responsibility if one of your employees are hurt during the course of his employees activities.

If necessary make yourself a checklist of is required on your site (in Mike’s case his new store) in order to ensure that you are in compliance with the Health and Safety Act.

Failure to do this could result in some very heavy medical bills, rehabilitation bills and additional salary bills that have not been budgeted for.

Remember that although getting all your policies, procedures and templates in place is usually far more cost effective than paying the reactive bill.

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Power of Networking - Part 130


PART 130

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. September 2009

In a democratic society, the majority rules. Networking is no different and in Networking the majority of people are extroverts, so it stands to reason that Networking rules are made by the extroverts and it is therefore incumbent on introverts to just fit in.

There is no doubt in my mind at all, that Networking is not only the key to unlocking opportunities, it is fundamental to the well being of any small company.

It’s all about how you Network and how ell you play the game. It’s about being the best that you can be and about the sharing of ideas and experience.

It’s about building relationships and being reciprocal. It’s about getting up off your rear end and getting things done, rather than waiting for someone else to do it for you or worse, wondering what the hell happened.

So get out there, Network, Network, Network and then Network some more. Done correctly it will take your business to greater heights.

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

Friday, September 18, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Have Contractors Working On Your Premises - Part 1

There will be no article on Monday or Tuesday next week - I will be out of town.


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Have Contractors Working on your Premises – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009

According to the law, if you have contractors working on your premises you are liable for their health and safety.

Here’s the story

Mike owns a retail store in a busy mall. Mike’s business is doing really well and the store next to his has become available and Mike decides that he needs to expand his operation into that space.

So Mike hires George, the contractor and soon work begins. Mike is really impressed at the way George and his team go about getting the work done.

Within hours there are ladders all over the place and workers are going about their specific tasks. All of a sudden, there is a loud CRACK/SNAP and a ladder collapses as one of it’s legs shatters. Phillip, who is on the top of the ladder, doing something in the ceiling, falls some three meters and lands on the concrete floor with a loud THUD. Phillip’s one leg is lying at a very odd angle beneath the rest of his body and it is clearly broken and it is also clear that he is hurt badly. The ambulance is summoned and Phillip is rushed off to hospital.

Now we get to the serious bit – the money. Who is responsible for what? Here’s the thing, if George, the contractor is not compliant in terms of the Health and Safety Act, then Mike is liable and responsible for all the costs including but not limited to, the cost of the accident, medical costs, rehabilitation costs and even 75% of employees wages.

Let’s see what Mike has to do in order to ensure that he will not be held financially accountable and/or liable for the safety and health of the contractors working in his store.

One of the things that Mike should have included in this procurement policy is that the contractor (in this case George), would need to sign a Section 37(2) agreement. The agreement would need to state (but not be limited to) that the contractor will comply with all health and safety laws and company rules (in this case Mike’s Company). Mike should also insist in obtaining a certified copy of George’s “Certificate of Good Standing” from the Compensation Commissioner, which will evidence that the contractor (in this case George) is in fact registered and complaint with the Workmen’s Compensation fund.

Next week we will have a look at some of the other issues that Mile should include in his Contractor Procurement Policy to ensure that everything is managed correctly and that Mike is in no way liable for anything other than the Contractors invoice.

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

Thursday, September 17, 2009

SALES -Time Wasters & Ideal Clients


Time Wasters and Ideal Clients

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009.

Boy oh boy, did I learn the hard way about time wasters! Look we all get enthusiastic about meeting someone who clearly understands what it is that we are trying to sell them (be it widget or service), and I am sure that we also understand about the building of relationships and how that can also take time, that said I am sure we have also come across time wasters. You know them, they are the people who love to have meetings, they love to set up meetings and you have to juggle all of your appointments to fit them in and then at the last minute, when you are on your way to meeting you (if you’re very lucky), they contact you and cancel. Or if they actually make the meeting, it’s more of a social discussion than anything to do with work and then suddenly they have to dash off somewhere and they schedule another meeting with you and it has to be on a specific date and time that is good for them and you have to move all your appointments to accommodate them and then the same thing happens and so it continues and months down the line you find that they are not authorized to make the decision or as much as they want/need/desire to have what it is that they are selling, they just don’t have the money right now because they have a cash flow problem that they don’t think will sort itself out in the foreseeable future – yes time wasters, I sure have had a few of them!

So how do you tell the difference between the typical time waster and an ideal client?

From what I understand this is the eighty five million dollar question.

On the other side of the spectrum, an ideal client is one that understands exactly what you are wanting to sell (be it widget or service), they understand how whatever it is that you are wanting to sell will benefit them, they have the means to pay for said service and/or widget and they want it now! They are professional people who are also busy and don’t want their time wasted and have no desire to waste yours either.

Quite frankly, it is extremely difficult to tell the one apart from the other and let’s be honest, how do you know if you are wasting your time or letting the opportunity of a life time slip through your fingers?

Perhaps we should be looking at it in a different way. If you had a huge number of leads, which ones would you go after and which ones would you let go? How do you tell of the lead is a good one or not.

I know that I for one, more often than not leaves it more up to chance. If I get a card, then that for me is a lead, if I can’t get hold of the person (after several tries), well I put it aside for another time. When someone physically gives me a lead, I will try and call – if I cannot get hold of them (after several tries), I advise the person who gave me the lead and I put it aside for another time.

Is that the right way to handle it – I have absolutely no idea. What I do know though, is that while I am wasting time trying to get hold of and leaving countless messages for, people who don’t come back to me (even though I know that they need my assistance), there are others who also need my assistance who do come back to me and those are the people that I will work with in the first instance. If I have time afterwards and I can get hold of the others at some point, then yes - I will assist them, of course I will, but it will be done in my time.

If I find myself going backwards and forwards to the same clients who continually have nothing to say, the I make polite goodbyes and ask them to call me when they need me – I do follow up with them from time to time, but for the most part – I move on.

My time is very precious and quite frankly, I can waste it all by myself, I don’t need help from anyone else.

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Power of Networking - Part 129


PART 129

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. September 2009

I know that I am harping on about being an introvert and Networking at the same time, it’s just that I understand the reluctance of an introvert to do any kind of Networking.

The hardest part for me, especially the first few events, was meeting new people. I took a friend along with me, even though he was a Financial Director of a Corporate Company and he did not really need to do any kind of Networking, I needed the moral support. I had no idea what to expect and as the evening progressed and people stood up and said who they were and what it is that they did, my stomach was doing somersaults and my first reaction was to flee. Thank goodness I didn’t.

Soon it was my turn to stand up and be counted. It felt as though my heart was in my mouth and I really couldn’t get the words out. I stuttered and stammered and there were several times, amidst cries of “speak up we can’t hear you”, that I had to take a deep breath and try again. Thank goodness I did.

My friend Philip had to leave early because of some crisis or another at home and there I was, all by myself, in the middle of this crowd of about 30 people, none of whom I knew, scared as hell, petrified in fact, but determined to stand my ground. I stood there like an idiot, glued to the spot, not knowing what to say to anyone and just hoping that someone would start a conversation with me. Someone did and pretty soon we were chatting away. Make no mistake I was still very nervous, still completely out of my depth but I was fine.

The next meeting was a little better and each subsequent meeting after that was a little better each time. I started reading magazines like “Heat” and “People”, just to get some useless information to make small talk and so that I could have something light to chat about or open a conversation with.

Month after month, I continued to go to the Networking meetings and slowly I started building relationships. Slowly but surely I found my confidence and now I am quite comfortable walking into a Networking event on my own because nowadays, there will always be someone that I have met somewhere at a Networking event.

I must say, it has become a lot easier. Is it still difficult for me? Of course it is – I am still an introvert – that has not changed and so the ‘nature of the beast’ remains. Nowadays it is still a conscious decision for me to go to an event – the fact that I am an introvert and conscious of the decision, means that I am more focused on what I am doing and why.

Semi facilitated or facilitated Networking for me, is still the best way to go and it is the best way for me to build relationships and in building relationships I do good business.

So, take a deep breath, hold your head high and focus!

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - Customers, Our Invited Guests

BUSINESS TIPS – Customers, Our Invited Guests

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009

Jeff Bezos says “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”

Actually, if the truth be told, I really don’t think that we see our customers as anything like invited guests. Certainly not the way that I have been treated lately (although in all fairness I have to be the world’s worst customer).

I think we have panic attacks when we perceive that there is a lack of clients, but the minute we have them they become an irritation and I know I feel that some of my services providers feel that they are doing me a favour just to give me any type of service. In fact in the last couple of days, I have stated on several occasions that if I were to treat my clients the way that I was being treated there would be no clients!

Think about it for a moment – when you invite guests into your home, there are those that you feel comfortable around, that you have perhaps had as friends for many years. These guests have a great deal more freedom than say new guests. They are encouraged to make themselves at home, they potter around your home, perhaps follow you into the kitchen and help with the cooking or keep you company whilst you cook. The conversation may become playful and the feeling is one of easy wellbeing. So too should it be with your customers that have been with you for some time. Relationships have been built and the feeling is one of mutual respect and well being. Still, even these guests you would not expect to wash the dishes (even if they offered – they are guests after all, not family or extended family or even good friends). You would not go to bed and leave them wandering around your home unattended.

What about your new clients or guests that you have only just met? Whilst you are not strictly formal with them, the atmosphere is still a lot more formal than with your guests that you have known for some time. I mean, I am sure that you would not let them get their own drinks, you would serve them. They would not be in the kitchen with you as you cooked or prepared the meal and they certainly would not be encouraged to wonder around your home on their own. Yes you would try and make them feel comfortable but there would be limits. Isn’t that exactly the way that it is with your new clients – are you not a whole lot more wary around them, trying to put your best foot forward, trying to give them exactly what it is that they ask for?

Actually, perhaps the question should be, isn’t that the way that it is supposed to be happening, rather than the constant irritation that I have been experiencing of late. The sullen faces, the less than interested attitude and the glances and sighs that make me feel that they are actually doing me a huge big favour and I had better just accept what it is that they give me and I had better not say anything about the manner in which I have been treated or that they have given me inferior service and useless product.

Perhaps it is time that we have another look at who and what our customers are and why they are in our lives. Perhaps if we treat them a little better, they will stick around a little longer and give us some more work.

Perhaps . . . .

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

Monday, September 14, 2009

MOTIVATION - Postage Stamps

MOTIVATION – Postage Stamps

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009

Bob Proctor says “Be like a postage stamp. Stick until your get there.”

Quotes like this always reminds me of the story that goes something along the lines of ‘there was this chap who went mountain climbing. He went on his own as he enjoyed the solitude and it was his ‘me time’. It was the time that he used to reflect upon his life, to look at the memories of where he had been and where he wanted to go. It was the time that he could empty his head of everything and live in the moment.

Whilst climbing down a particularly steep and dangerous mountain face, a storm arose and before he could get to the bottom or take any kind of shelter (remember he was on a sheer rock face), the mist came in and he could not see anything. He tried as best as he could to climb down very carefully, but after several hours he slipped and fell, holding onto the piece of rope that was attached to a piece of rock somewhere high above. There he was dangling at the end of the rope in the mist and the rain and then to add to his woes, night fell. The man hung on for dear life, he had no way of telling how far down he was, how close to the bottom of the climb he was – disorientated, alone, cold, afraid he faced his biggest fears.

He decided that it was time to Pray “Oh God”, he prayed “Please help me, please don’t let me fall, please tell me what to do”. “Oh God, please don’t let me die, tell me what to do”. Over and over he said the words and over and over a voice inside of his head said – “let go of the rope!” The more he asked what to do, the more the voice told him to let go of the rope and the more he held on. His shoulders locked, his hands locked and he dozed from time to time.

Morning arrived and with it a glorious dawn and clear skies. “Thank you God” the man breathed and as he shrugged his cramped shoulders and hand, he looked down to see how far he still had to go to get to the bottom and found that his feet were dangling about six inches from the ground!”

For me the moral of the story is two fold – stick as the postage stamp until you get there and . . . know when you get there and it is time to let go!

Often we hold on for too long, we get all emotional about the little space that we are occupying, instead of taking the leap of faith and putting our feet forward and taking the next step. As SMME’s and/or entrepreneurs we have already taken that first step or leap of faith. We have all gone in a totally new direction, trusting in ourselves, in our intuition and in our capabilities – we have faced our fears and we have come out the other end triumphant – now is not the time to quit – now is the time to take the next step!

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

Friday, September 11, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . It's How You Play The Game - Part 2


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . It’s How You Play The Game – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009

Following on from last week – the decision on the part of the Arbitrator and/or Commissioner is particularly unfair and in this instance it is incumbent upon the ‘wronged’ party (be it the employer or the employee) to challenge the decision via a review at the Labour Court.

What does this mean?

Well for starters the challenge can be made on the grounds that the Arbitrator took a bribe, or was biased, or that there was important information and/or evidence that was ignored and/or that he/she failed to arrive at a reasonable or proper award. You see the CCMA Arbitrator has to ‘weigh up and consider all the evidence, both oral and documentary, prior to embarking upon the process of making factual findings”.


· The Arbitrator cannot be about his/her own opinion, but rather based on the facts presented.
· The decision must be made by following reason and not based on fantasy, guesswork, ‘hallucination’ or speculation of any kind.
· The Arbitrator must have applied his/her mind seriously to the issues at hand and not treat them or the charges as some sort of joke.
· The Arbitrator is required to justify his/her findings in a defensible and logical manner. He/she must be able to give solid reasons for the decision that he/she has come to and why.
· The decisions must comply with the law
· The decisions must be rational

Now here’s the kicker – the Arbitrator’s reasons for giving all of these decisions must be given at the time that he/she renders the decision, otherwise it can be assumed that he/she did not actually have a good reason.

The bottom line is that the both parties have the right to know why/how the Arbitrator came to his/her decision against them so that they can decide whether or not and/or how to challenge the decision that has been reached.

This is one of the controls that have been put into place to try and ensure that Arbitrators don’t make ‘faulty’ decisions. The thinking is that if the Arbitrator has to explain his/her actions he/she will be less likely to ignore or misrepresent the facts and evidence that was put before them and ensure that a fair decision is reached.

So the Arbitrator has to have considered all the serious objections and all the alternatives to the decision that they have made. They have to provide a rational connection between the facts that were presented and their ruling.

This also places a requirement on employers and that is that they too must have good reason when acting against employees and they too must be able to provide these reasons clearly and comprehensively to the Arbitrator.

For the employer, this means having all their ducks in a row, facts and evidence readily and professionally at hand and good presentation skills. Emotion does not play any part here – simply state the facts and back them up with the evidence, witnesses and whatever else that you have at hand. This will show the Arbitrator that you have followed the procedures correctly and your reasoning for instituting disciplinary measures and he/she, will in all probability will have to follow the your line of reasoning.

In this way, you as the employer helps the arbitrator find in your favour.

Of course, this does mean that the employer has to ensure that all management decisions are made unemotionally and in line with the law and all the requirements in terms of policies and procedures.

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

Thursday, September 10, 2009

SALES - Getting Into The Mood


Getting into the Mood

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009.

Now those of you who know me, know that I am not a fan of ‘cold calls’. That said there comes a time in all of our lives when we have to make them and quite frankly if I am going to make the call then I might as well do it correctly, so that it is a successful call.

For me as an introvert, it means that I have to be in the correct frame of mind – I have to get “into the mood” and that takes a whole bunch of preparation.

Like most things in life, it’s a process. Thinking about the call can often be worse than actually make the call. What to say? What if I leave something out? What, if in my nervousness I forget what I want to say? What if . . . .

Once I have made the decision to make the call, I find that that is half of the battle won. Then it is just a case of getting myself into gear. I have to make a list of all the things that I need to say – I go through the list several times, making sure that I have them in the right order or sequence. I make sure that I am familiar with what it is that I am going to talk about/ask and I make sure that I have a ‘smile’ in my voice.

I usually have soft music playing in the background and I find this also helps to calm and centre me. Taking a couple of deep breaths from my stomach also helps to settle the nerves and if all of this fails there’s always a glug of Rescue Remedy at hand!

Making the call then almost becomes automatic and once I have managed the first one and realize for the 150th time that it is not such a bad thing, I find that I am able to keep going and my confidence improves with each call and each successful appointment made.

Should I have a problem with booking calls and sometimes things just are what they are – people are not in the office, you get their voice mail, the secretary has to check the diary and so on – I stop calling and schedule the calls in my diary for later on the same day or on the following day depending on my availability. Don’t push yourself too hard you will do more damage than you do good.

Whilst you are phoning and waiting for a response, or just after you have made the call – make notes on how you are feeling.

The best piece of advice that I ever got though was along the lines of when you act confident (even if your knees are shaking), you will look, sound and even feel confident.

Most of all – never give up! Take a break, schedule the calls for another time, but never give up!

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

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Power of Networking - Part 128


PART 128

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. September 2009

When I first embarked on my Networking journey, a mere four years ago, I was so hyped up by my very first meeting and all the wonderful opportunities that I could see opening up before me, that I rushed off to every single meeting that I could find. In fact it became so bad that on some days I attended a breakfast meeting, a lunch meeting and a late afternoon meeting.

That wasn’t the worst of it either! I would rush around frenetically after the meeting collecting as many business cards as I could possibly get hold of. During the next couple of days I would frantically call every everyone and book appointments to meet with people and have a ‘one-on-one’ to ascertain where I could be of assistance to them. I knew instinctively that I had to meet with people individually to make the whole networking thing work – but I wasn’t satisfied until every single available spot in my diary was full. Hell, I was busy and if I could have charged for every single hour that I was booked to meet with people I would have made an absolute fortune – if the truth be told, if I had charged for every single hour that people did not pitch I would have made a decent living!

I learnt very quickly though, that having a full diary does not mean that you will have a full bank account.

Having a full diary also means that there is no time to get on with the work that you have painfully secured for paying clients – it means that you have to pull all nighters and you have to work weekends and it also means that you mess with your ability to deliver!

Having a full diary, for an introvert is also really scary and not a good thing and pretty soon, I was absolutely frazzled. I felt like the planet needed to be stopped and I needed to get off – for a very long time.

What needed to stop though, was me Networking for the sake of Networking. I needed to plan things properly in order to give me time to get my work done for paying clients and also have enough time left over for me to be quietly on my own in order for me to charge my own batteries.

Nowadays, my networking habits are a lot different. Although I belong to many different Networking groups, I try not to attend more than one a week on average. I don’t ask for cards unless the synergy is immediate and clearly apparent (not only for me to do business with them but also for me to connect them up with someone who may need their services). If someone gives me a card, I will always accept it – after all, the Universe knows a lot more than what I do and there is always a reason for me to receive that card.

I now also only book meeting one day a week. I try and book them so that we meet in the same place. This means that I am not running around in between meetings and I am now optimizing my time more effectively. I schedule time for clients and I schedule time for me.

Make no mistake, my diary still looks full – the difference now is that it is a more ‘balanced’ full.

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

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

VAT - Relocation Costs

VAT – Relocation Costs

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009.

The economic downturn has forced and even been the excuse of, many businesses downscaling, by finding cheaper premises or even relocating to another town or city.

In instances where the relocation is to another location in the same town and/or city, it is usually not necessary for the employer to pay for relocation costs for the staff. In the instances where the relocation is to another city or town however, it is the norm for employers to pay a percentage of the costs (it’s a good idea to have a relocation policy in place before you start the process though).

This would also apply in the instances where, say a branch was being opened in another city or town and staff were being relocated and/or transferred in order to meet the staffing requirements at the new branch or indeed, if an employee was being relocated as part of a promotion. In fact it would apply in any and all instances where it was the Company’s requirement that the employee relocate.

The question is, whether the VAT charged or paid to the removal company can be claimed and the answer is ‘Yes it can’.

The relocation of a staff member to another branch of the company or to another location because that is where the company is going to be operating from, is a cost that raised in the ‘course of enterprise’ which means it is an operating cost. Therefore the input VAT can be claimed on all relocation costs.

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

Monday, September 07, 2009

MOTIVATION - Overcoming Our Own Egos

MOTIVATION – Overcoming Our Own Egos

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009

Nowadays our lives are lived at such a break neck speed that we often don’t have time to draw a breath, much less have time to reflect.

We suppress our emotions, we manipulate others around us into doing what we want them to do, we play the political games in the office with out peers and our managers and even on occasion, with our subordinates.

All this is done in an attempt to get our own way and whether we win or lose is usually as a direct result of how much we believe in ourselves or don’t. I guess it would be easy to say that much of our lives is governed by how much ego we have. Too little and we are plagued by issues of self esteem and too much and we strut our stuff like we are ‘cock of the coop’.

So how do we get real? How do we get in touch with ourselves? How do we get beyond that ego?

Well as I understand it, we ‘speak’ from the heart. Whether we speak to ourselves, or our colleagues, or to our peers and our clients, it all boils down to the same thing.

It means that we have dropped down from our self imposed pedestals and our egos and that what we are say or talking about is ‘what is’ rather than what we would like it to be.

It means that we have stripped ourselves down to the core of us, our souls our unconditional selves and that what we are saying is what we really believe deep down inside of ourselves, rather than what we have been conditioned to believe, or what we have been taught to believe or what we think we should believe.

I also believe that there is a place down deep inside of ourselves that knows the truth. Some call it the core, some the soul – whatever you would like to name it, it is the place that we all have that knows the truth when we hear it.

So it stands to reason then, that when we speak from our hearts, from that place down deep inside of us and those words are heard by people, in that place down deep inside of them that knows that truth when it hears it, that that is when we have made and make the most impact.

Doesn’t it make sense then to always speak like this – whether you are dealing with your spouse, your children, you colleagues, your bosses, your subordinates, your clients (insert whomever you would like to here)?

It makes the most sense to me . . . .

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

Friday, September 04, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . It's How You Play The Game - Part 1


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . It’s How You Play The Game – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009

There are often times that you will end up at the CCMA no matter how closely you follow the rules. Now I know that that sounds a bit harsh, but following the rules doesn’t mean that you will not end up at the CCMA, but what it does mean is that if you do end up at the CCMA, there is less chance of you losing your case.

Sadly there are also many cases where the ‘loser’ at the CCMA is not only disappointed at the verdict but that they also appear to be quite shell shocked! Most of the time these individuals were extremely confident of success only to have that confidence lying shattered at their feet.

The reality is that often it is not about right and wrong – it’s about how you play the game. I just heard all the pins drop, the chins drop and the sharp intake of breath being rapidly inhaled and resulting in a shocked gasp!

You see in the majority of cases are lost as a direct result of procedures not being followed, so you lose the case on those grounds.

But what about where you have followed every single rule, I hear you say? Well here are some of (but not limited to) the main reasons people (both employers and employees) lose their cases.

· The case was weak without you realizing it or despite the fact that you thought it was a strong case. Often this is because you did not have your case properly prepared, no documents and/or witnesses to give or confirm your evidence. Your sense of outrage and your emotion here was actually stronger than the facts in the case.

· The of course you have the situation where you actually do have an extremely strong case, the problem is that again you are inadequately prepared. You don’t have the correct documentation or you failed to present your case in an understandable and/or convincing manner. Pretty much like representing yourself in a court murder case. If you don’t know what you are doing, chances are you will make a mess – so get some help!

· The worst of the lot is when it is genuinely unfair to the loser. This is when you have a strong case, you have followed all of the procedures correctly, you have presented it in the proper manner, you are properly prepared with all of the correct documents, you have witnesses who have corroborated your evidence, in fact you have done everything correctly, but the arbitrator has failed to appreciate your case and you lose.

This is the one that you really want to challenge and this is the one that you absolutely have the right to challenge via review at the Labour court.

Next week we will have a look at how to do this.

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

Thursday, September 03, 2009

MARKETING - Follow Up On Leads


Follow Up On Leads

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009.

I am often frustrated beyond measure and to the point where I lose my sense of humour when I receive a flyer in the mail advertising the services of a handyman and I call him, ready with my very long list of bits and pieces that I need done around the house, only to sit and wait for someone who never actually arrives, despite the fact that the appointment has been booked and confirmed. I mean, what’s with that?

As the handyman in question, you have marketed yourself, advertised your services and then you don’t pitch to give me a quote or you come and quote and then I never hear from you again. Why have you gone to the trouble and cost of marketing and advertising, but you don’t follow up on leads?

People, this is a biggie! One of the biggest mistakes you can make is becoming obsessed with sourcing leads. What happens then is that you have an abundance of leads and you don’t have the infrastructure or spare capacity to actually respond to what you already have and you are already out and about trying to source more leads.

Remember that the most expensive cost to a sale is generating the lead – not following up on that lead is like throwing money away. Putting a practical, simple procedure in place to ensure that you follow up on all of your leads would be hugely beneficial in ensuring that you meet all of your delivery promises.

A happy client who has had all of their needs and expectations met, is a returning customer and a referring customer.

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

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Power of Networking - Part 127


PART 127

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. September 2009

It is common knowledge that the most successful entrepreneurs network well.

We’ve all come across the “Old Boy’s Club” at one time or another and more often than not, we feel completely frustrated by the perception that we have been ‘locked out’ from an opportunity.

We’ve all also come across the statement “It’s not what you know, but who you know” and those of you who know me, know that I take that one step further and say that it’s also about ‘who you don’t know that know the people that you do know!” Little wonder then that others are often quite resentful about what they consider as my ‘unfair advantage’, particular if they think that their product and/or service is better or cheaper than mine.

For many others my ‘unfair advantage’ is often seen in a negative light. Some think that I am receiving ‘backhanders’ or that I have a lack of ethics and/or integrity – the reality is that I am not engaged in anything sinister – I am however actively engaged in Networking and this means that I am doing business the ‘easy’ way and by me doing business the ‘easy’ way, means that someone else may not have the same opportunity of doing the business the ‘easy’ way and this is often a bitter pill to swallow.

Although the perception is that the concept of Networking is that it is all the rage in business circles and that business decision makers and directors are meeting everywhere, the sad reality is that very few people actually network effectively. The perception because of this, is that Networking is a waste of time and I promise you, it isn’t.

In order to Network effectively, you need to make a commitment. The commitment that you need to make is to your data base. Your database needs to be built for mutual, profitable, long terms business relationships.

You need to know and understand what you want to achieve from each member of your data base. In fact you are either a buyer or a seller or an information gatherer or a connector.

Listen out for opportunities – not only for yourself, but also for the members of your database. Always, always, always add value to your database – you will be amazed at the value and the business that you will get out of it.

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

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

VAT - Claiming VAT Back On An Employee's Telkom Account

VAT – Claiming VAT Back On An Employee’s Telkom Account

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC - September 2009.

There are instances where employees are obliged to use their own resources on behalf of their employers. The VAT that has been charged in these instances can also be claimed back.

Here is the story.

Mike owns a chain of retail stores throughout South Africa. Mike employs a team of individuals who are area or regional Managers, whose function it is to spend most of their time in the stores to ensure that they are compliant in terms of the Company’s policies and procedures, that staff are trained and informed on new products and motivated to sell and that targets are achieved. George is one of these regional Managers.

Part of George’s duties is to compile and file reports to Head Office on each store that he visits. Due to the number stores that fall under George’s responsibility, time is of the essence and in short supply and there are often many weeks that George does not have time to physically get to the office and he must communicate with Head Office and his stores via e-mail from home.

Obviously in this instance, George is entitled to claim these Telkom calls and Internet expenditure back from Mike’s Company. These claims would also include the VAT portion of the amounts to be claimed back.

In fact, if the truth be told, any expenses that are incurred by an employee, on behalf of the employer must be reimbursed to the employee, inclusive of VAT (of course this only applies where VAT has been charged).

The employer then would be entitled to claim (where applicable) the VAT portion of these reimbursements when they calculate their VAT from the offset between the input and output VAT.

If you are not sure about what can and can’t be claimed contact your nearest SARS office.

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