Friday, October 30, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Out with the Old, In with the New - Part 4


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Out with the Old, In with the New – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009

So following on from last week – let’s have a look at some of the other changes that were made to the Act that received a typical ‘knee jerk’ reaction. They are (but not limited to).

“Where an employee accuses an employer in court or at the CCMA of having dismissed him unfairly and the existence of the dismissal is established, the employer is assumed guilty of unfair dismissal until it proves itself innocent.”

So what exactly does this mean? Here’s the story

Sally owns a pre-school, nursery school type establishment and George works there as the gardener/handyman. Sally has a very strict “Code of Conduct” in terms of what the staff can or can’t do and one of the issues is that staff may not drink any alcohol or partake of any illegal substances whilst on duty or come to work still under the influence of either alcohol or drugs of any sort.

One morning George came to work and it was evident that he was still inebriated from the previous evening. Clearly it is not a good idea for an adult to be drunk around small children and Sally was obviously not impressed. Sally followed all the procedures correctly. With his written permission, Sally did a sobriety test and George was found to be well over the legal limit. Sally sent George home to ‘sleep it off’ and when he returned the following day he was given notice to attend a disciplinary hearing.

George was found guilty and dismissed and the next thing that happened was Sally was presented with the paperwork as George had gone off to the CCMA.

On the day the CCMA agreed that George was in fact guilty of being intoxicated and that George’s dismissal was the correct thing to do, however (and here is where it gets ugly) the arbitrator still decided that the dismissal had been unfair because George had been given the change to cross-examine those who had raised the complaint.

You see, Sally, in her fury had neglected to bring every single person who has seen the state that George was in and who had actually reported his behaviour to her. Sally had taken it upon herself to just report what she had seen.

Herein lies much of the problem when it comes to disciplinary hearings – the more witnesses you have the better your case becomes. It doesn’t really make any difference whether they all say the same thing, what matters is that there is a ‘visual and physical’ component to the charges that have been made. Documentary evidence is good, but having witnesses corroborate the evidence that is set out in the documents is even better.

Knowing what the procedures are and following them is good, but understanding the law and applying it to those policies and procedures is even better.

It is also necessary for everyone to understand how important it is to get professional help when you are having HR issues, clearly trying to deal with this stuff by yourself becomes part of the problem.

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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SALES - Understand the Question, Before you Provide the Answer

SALES – Understand the Question, Before you Provide the Answer

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009.

Don’t you just hate it when sales people don’t listen to what it is that you are telling them and they just presume to know what it is that you want or need? It drives me nuts!

I mean, think about it for a moment – how would you react if you went to a doctor with symptoms relating to the flu and then before you even discuss anything with him, he whips out his prescription pad and prescribes medication for a heart problem. I can just imagine the look on your face, actually I can also just imagine the look on my face too! I would be absolutely appalled and extremely disgruntled and I would be very suspicious of anyone who did not share that sentiment with me.

So why is it that sales people often think that they know better, about what we want, than we do? It happens every day, we go into a store intending to purchase “X” and we often come out of the store with “Y”, which then often just shoved into a cupboard only to resurface months or years later when we move home and are getting rid of all the rubbish that we have accumulated. Oh and please believe me, I am just as guilty of this as everyone else!

I have got cupboards full of stuff that I have never used and will in all probability, never use and it has gotten to the stage now that I even avoid opening that cupboard. How crazy is that? In all honesty, I resent the cupboard, I resent the person who sold me the crap and actually I feel completely out of sorts with all sales people in general.

Lately I have been heard to say “You’re not listening to me”, when I deal with sales people and in extreme situations the words “What makes you think that you know what it is that I want, better than me”? are sure to come out. Sure I understand that I have become somewhat grumpy in my old age, but really, what’s with that?

I, for one am certainly going to make a concerted effort to stop doing things in the same manner! I, for one am not going to tolerate having useless bits of product and/or services thrust upon me because someone else thinks that they know what it is that I want in life.

I, for one am going to ensure that, for a change, my needs are met. So salespeople all over, you have been warned. Listen to what it is that your clients want and then give that to them – especially if that client is me – if you don’t, not only will you lose the sale, but you will lose me as a client as well.

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Power of Networking - Part 135


PART 135

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. October 2009

I must be quite honest here – I am often amused by people, who when I call them up to set up an appointment say something along the lines of “well I don’t think I need your services and I can’t see how you would need mine, so I’d rather not waste your time .. .”

You see, it’s not just about whether I have something to sell that you don’t necessarily want to buy or that you don’t need.

It’s not about whether I need or want to buy whatever service and/or product that you might be selling.

For me it’s about understanding more about what it is that you do, so that if I come across anyone that may require your services and/or products, I will be able to refer them to you.

It’s about you understanding more about my business, so that if you come across anyone who would need my services you could refer me.

It’s not necessarily about you, but it may become about who you know that I don’t know and who may want to do business with me.

It’s not necessarily about me, but it may become about who I know that you may want to get to know and do business with.

It’s not about what we know, it’s about who we know and more importantly, it’s also about who we know, who others don’t know and yet perhaps should know.

So when you get a call from me requesting a meeting to discuss “possible synergies and to explore mutually beneficial business opportunities”, understand that it is not only for my benefit or even your benefit but it could be for the benefit of both you and I, as well as everybody else that we know.

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - Preoccupations

BUSINESS TIPS – Preoccupations

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009

Dr Renate Volpe, in her Leadership Insight Nuggets says “The “new age” leader appreciates that preoccupation with living issues, affects our ability to perform at optimal potential”.

My obvious question (well to me it’s obvious) is – how could it not affect our ability to perform at optimal potential?

In my youth, I can clearly remember often being told (or hearing it being told to others), ‘don’t bring your problems to work!’ Whilst I do understand that we are employed or alternatively, we employ people to perform a specific task and/or function, the reality is that we are human beings. As human beings we have feelings and emotions and we are not programmed like a ‘light switch’ to be turned on and off. Quite frankly that’s like ripping the wings off an aircraft and expecting it to fly!

That said, there are often those employees that always seem to have something wrong. If it’s not one thing then it’s another. They seem to live their lives in some form of disaster area, and the constant emotion that this generates as they go from person to person looking for sympathy and attention can be very trying as well as exhausting.

So where and how do you draw the line? Realistically, as an employer you do need to have your productivity and the quality of your product and/or service, maintained. You do have to ensure that the work gets done because if you don’t, you will lose clients and losing clients will put your business, your staff and you at risk. It really is a fine line and different things work for different people.

Although I don’t really do the ‘emotional’ thing very often, when it comes to staff – I am aware that different people handle different things in different ways. Some people withdraw, some people act out – the bottom line is that as the employer, you have to know and understand your employee and then you have to deal with each employee based on who they are and how they react to any given situation.

Obviously that does not mean that you have to allow yourself to be abused by your employee and no, showing your ‘soft side’ does not make you a softie, but you do need to be able to show empathy and support.

How you do that of course, is up to you.

If you would like to know more about Renate, please visit her website on

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

Monday, October 26, 2009

MOTIVATION - Playing the Victim

MOTIVATION – Playing The Victim

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – October 2009

Stedman Graham says “People who consider themselves victims of their circumstances, will always remain victims unless they develop a greater vision for their lives.”

That just hits the spot! I am so tired of hearing about people being ‘previously disadvantaged’ and the ‘suffering’ and the rest that goes with it. The racist card is played at every opportunity and the ‘poor me’ card brought out at the drop of a hat and yet we don’t seem to do anything about it.

A couple of months ago I wrote an article for the Business Report in the STAR Newspaper on “Intimate Relationships in the Workplace”. You can just imagine the responses that I received!

One woman phoned me to tell me that her husband is having an affair at work and then asked me what to do. Well I am no ‘agony aunt’ and I am certainly not a medical person who is qualified to hand out this kind of advice, but what I can do is voice an opinion on what I would do if I were in the same circumstances. This woman, (lets call her Jane) was quite indignant about the fact that her husband was ‘lying to his children, imagine’ and yet . . . here she was telling a total stranger intimate details of her personal life. She laid it on thick, telling me ‘when and where’ he met up with his illicit romantic partner and that ‘everybody’ at his work knew about it and yet they did nothing. The truth is of course, that it’s not their job to do anything, it’s hers.

You see Jane really got off by playing the victim and the martyr, she could gain everybody’s sympathy and this made her feel like a worthwhile person, it also was the only kind of attention that she seemed to be getting. When she paused for a breath, to tell me some other despicable thing that he had been doing, I asked her why she had not turfed all his stuff out onto the street and changed the lock on the door. She seemed quite taken aback by the very mention of that. Then I told her that she had given him permission to act the way he was acting because of her inaction. By not doing anything when she found out about the affair, she was telling him that it is ok for him to treat her in this manner – so of course he does, constantly. Furthermore, she was also lying to the children, every time she made an excuse about where he was at night.

Jane was gobsmacked for a few seconds and could not get the words out to say anything. I suspect that I had just taken the wind out of her sails and she was taking a good hard look at what she was doing too. Finally she agreed with me saying that she had never looked at it like this before.

Is Jane still with the wondering husband – I have absolutely no idea. What I do know though is that Jane stopped in her tracks and probably for the first time in her life understood that she could change her circumstances by changing the way the she responded to things. Whether she has made the changes in herself and her circumstances or not, is a whole different ball game, but I do know that she is now aware of what she is doing and hopefully she will make the changes that she needs to make.

Going back to apartheid and the ‘previously disadvantaged’ – quite honestly, right now I don’t even have much empathy left, let alone sympathy! Oh and I know that I am going to upset a huge number of people too and so be it.

For every one person who is still flying the ‘previously disadvantaged’ banner, there are probably two or more who have done something to change their circumstances. I would rather help these folk and have oodles of time and respect for them.

There are those that have done things for themselves instead of standing around, begging bowl in hand, waiting for someone to do something for them. I would rather help them turn their lives around and respect them for the changes that they are not only willing to make but are also making.

There are also those who have perfected the art of playing the victim and for them, ‘being the victim’, is their full time employment, it’s their right and quite frankly, it’s probably exactly what they deserve.

So today, I challenge you – if you truly want something to change, then get up off your rear end and make it happen. If you’re not prepared to make the changes or do something for yourself, then quite honestly – please don’t tell me, I really don’t want to hear it, because my time is better served making things happen and changing the aspects in my own life that I don’t want to stay the same.

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

Friday, October 23, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Out with the Old, In with the New - Part 3


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Out with the Old, In with the New – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009

So following on from last week – let’s have a look at some of the other changes that were made to the Act that received a typical ‘knee jerk’ reaction. They are (but not limited to).

“Employees are entitled to a disciplinary hearing even where they are accused of being on an unprotected (illegal) strike.”

For me this is just logical – I mean how can you discipline anyone for anything without a proper disciplinary hearing. The whole deal about this however is that as the employer, you have to prove that the strike was unprotected (which usually is not very difficult at all) and then you have to ensure that the staff member was actually on strike and not on ‘sick’ leave or even ‘annual’ leave.

In the apartheid era, this was often used as an excuse to ‘get rid’ of staff that you no longer wanted around. Nowadays the rule of “innocent until proven guilty” applies.

In fact whilst I am on the subject of disciplinary hearings – remember this. If your employee is caught say, stealing and you have them arrested, or they are arrested and end up going to jail. That’s not the end of the story – you still have to go through the motions of having a disciplinary (in abstentia), where they need to be found ‘guilty’ and then dismissed. This would also apply to someone who has gone AWOL (absent without leave) and who never ever comes back to work.

The reason for this is, if you don’t hold a disciplinary, find them guilty, and summarily dismiss them, the reality of the situation is that you could be forced to re-employ (and pay all the back pay) when they are released from jail and want to come back to work or they suddenly remember that they have to come back to work after being AWOL.

So, go through the motions, I know it is a pain in the rear end, but it certainly is less than the pain that you will feel if you don’t follow the correct procedures and then they come back and demand their jobs back.

Next week we will have a look at some of the other changes that were made to the law.

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

MARKETING - Doing Your Own PR


Doing Your Own PR

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009.

Once again, let me be really up front and tell you that I am not a Marketing guru. Any articles that appear here on Marketing are from a totally logical point of view and are tips that have worked for me as a small business owner without a budget for Marketing.

As small business owners we all think that we have the greatest product and/or service in the world. We are really passionate about what we do and we know, deep down inside of ourselves that ‘if only’ people knew about out product/service we would be so busy we would not know what to do with ourselves and we would have pots and pots and oodles and oodles of money just flying into out bank accounts.

Now here’s the kicker. It’s the ‘if only’ part. You see the bottom line is that no matter how great our stock is or how fabulous our service is, if no-one knows about it or how it will make a difference in their lives, no-one is going to buy it and well . . . . our bank accounts will remain empty.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs can often be heard lamenting about the lack of . . . . the lack of finance to put a really good marketing strategy together, the lack of finance to use a really good PR agency, the lack of . . well I’m sure you get the picture.

Truth be told though, we are all capable of doing the whole thing ourselves and even, in some cases getting better results for ourselves than we might have gotten by hiring someone to do it for us. You see good PR can be the greatest asset in a business but a bad publicist who fails to deliver can really do a great deal of harm.

So let’s have a look at some of the simple things that you can do as PR in your own company.

Take a good hard look at what happens in your company. Remember, your company is unique. What about your company is unique? What about your company is newsworthy? Do you have a monthly newsletter that goes out, do you have an anniversary of your business coming up or is there a special holiday coming up such as (but not limited to) ‘Workers Day’ or ‘Women’s Day’. If you are not someone who looks at special promotions then perhaps it is time to start looking at something right now. It can be linked to a public holiday or to an event or even to a group of people (e.g. all members of Women In Finance will be eligible for a discount of 10% for the duration of the promotion). You see the thing is that you can only pitch a concept to the media if you have something interesting to promote.

Make sure that you have some really great photographs of your store and/or product and/or yourself (if you are selling your service) because some of the smaller publications of newspapers and/or magazines may not have the financial means to have a photographer running around all over the country side to take photos and photos always, always, always can make a difference to whether your pitch is successful or not. Be prepared.

In fact, it is quite a good idea to have a Business Profile and/or Personal Profile written up and ready for distribution. It’s good to have your profile include whatever is being promoted together with a bit of the history of the business and/or yourself and of course it must include (but not be limited to) things like your contact details, address, web address etc., and it must be presented in a professional manner on your letterhead. This is something that you can write yourself or if you are really not comfortable doing this hire a wordsmith on a ‘per word’ basis to do it for you. Most freelance journalists will be able to assist you in this regard.

Once the profile is done, write a letter that is to the point that can be mailed or e-mailed to editors and/or producers with your profile attached, or better yet – see if you can get in to see them.

The letter must be as short and as simple as possible, but it must include all of the promotions that are on offer.

All the Editors and/or Producers want to know is ‘what’s going on’ and they are often looking for something different to report on. Once they have this information they can make their own decision as to whether or not they want to cover.

Simple hey? Simple and very effective! So go on, I dare you – try doing something like this for yourself and see how well it turns out.

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Power of Networking - Part 134


PART 133

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. October 2009

Everybody is looking for ‘that job’!

Irrespective of whether you are working for a boss or self employed or in your own business, we are all looking for ‘that job’! You know the one that I mean – that elusive cushie job that has the money all flowing in, be it money or because it’s easy, or full of challenges or even just because it is something that you really love doing and you’re in a constant state of euphoria. Doesn’t really matter what the reason behind it is, the reality is that we all want it.

Do we ever get it? Well I’m not too sure about you guys, but I certainly do, quite often in fact and even when I was in the Corporate world, there were moments when I got ‘that job’, so I am pretty sure that it must be the same for most folk.

Thing is though, the more often I get it, the more I want it! Now that’s the beauty of Network – the more I Network, the more often I get to get ‘that job’. How cool is that?

Let’s take the Corporate world for a moment. The Corporate world and the so called global economic meltdown (nope, I still haven’t bought into it and the results of this can be clearly seen in the growth spurt in my financials) are not really a good mix. Millions of people worldwide have been retrenched, major projects have been stopped midway or abandoned altogether (and I have engaged the services of a ‘virtual PA’ to assist me) and even, what was considered the most secure position in the Corporate world, could very well be non existent tomorrow (fear will do that to you every time). Now think about it for a minute, could you imagine the thoughts going through the head of a Corporate somebody, who has been retrenched and who is desperate for work and who has never done Networking of any kind? That’s got to be a really scary place to be.

Yet here we are as small business owners and/or entrepreneurs, with the world at our feet, with opportunities that abound and the majority of us don’t Network properly either. What a shame!

Successful Networkers, ensure that the networking never stops. It doesn’t stop because you’ve landed the perfect job/project/client (insert what you would like here), it’s in your blood and when you are not Networking, you are thinking about Networking – well at least it’s like that for me. I am constantly out and about, meeting new people, building relationships, connecting people, referring people.

Is it not logical then, that I get to meet and/or engage with people who need a specific service that I can provide? Is it not logical then, that I get to land ‘that job’ on a far more frequent basis than someone who doesn’t Network?

Is it not logical then, that we should all be out there Networking, engaging with others and connecting others in order for us also to be connected to others and referred to others and in so doing growing our businesses and landing ‘that job’?

It is to me!

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - Opportunity - Buying a Franchise

BUSINESS TIPS – Opportunity – Buying a Franchise

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009

Well let me say this – there are franchises and then there are franchises!

As with most things in life, you need to be careful about what you purchase – do the research, check the numbers – better yet get an Accountant (not a bookkeeper mind you) to check that the numbers are correct, insist on a Tax Certificate, if need be, get a Business Broker involved to ensure that the business is all that it is made out to be.

That said, there is a newly promulgated Bill that has just gone through called “The Consumer Protection Bill” (CPB). This Bill was put into place in order to “promote and advance the social and economic welfare of consumers in South Africa.”

So what does this actually mean?

Well, years ago when the whole Franchise thing started, many people got their fingers seriously burnt. The support that was promised never materialized. The Franchise business was never what it was made out to be and many people went out of business and lost everything. Make no mistake, there are still Franchises that are still exactly like that! With the new Bill however, because all Franchise agreements will have to comply with the Bill, this will clearly give the Franchisee a lot more protection and they will also have some sort of recourse to the Franchisor.

An added protection is if the Franchisor is registered with the Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA). As a member of FASA the Franchisor would be obliged to meet the Franchising standards as set out by the Association. FASA makes sure that everyone follows and is compliant in terms of the internationally accepted Franchise principals.

Quite frankly if for no other reason, I would ensure that the Franchise business that I was intending to purchase, is registered with FASA – that in itself would give me a lot more peace of mind.

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

Monday, October 19, 2009

MOTIVATION - It's A Matter of Choice

MOTIVATION – It’s A Matter of Choice

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – October 2009

Jeremy Kitson says “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

Oh my, that certainly has brought a huge smile to my face! You see I am of the opinion that not only do most of us do not achieve all that we can, but we do this because of the choices that we make (or don’t make for that matter).

Since working with my mentor and friend Vanessa and meeting Donna McCallum the Fairy Godmother ( , I have become a huge deal more aware of the choices that I make. In fact, often as I make the choice I realize that it’s the wrong one and then I have to run around un-doing what I have just done. Note to self – stop, think and then make the choice!

It is imperative though, that once the choice has been made that it is followed by an action, without the action there may very well be a result, but it’s probably not the result you were hoping for.

So often we work really hard at what we are doing and we seem to be going backwards or round in circles, so we work harder still. Sweat pouring down our faces, we put our shoulders to the grindstone and we push ourselves even harder until we fall down in this little heap of exhaustion. That was our choice.

The choice however was based on an antique belief system that has been passed down from generation to generation and that is (but not limited to) that we have to work hard to be successful. Notice the ‘hard’ part. Think about residual income – that is money working ‘hard’ for you – not you working hard, but rather you working smart. Now that’s the kind of work that I love to do.

Of course it doesn’t just happen though. You have to make it happen, by the choices that you make. By the way that you set it up. By following the natural flow that your life takes instead of trying to swim upstream like a salmon! The action still has to take place in order for the result to be the one that you want.

I guess, what I am trying to say is that we need to decide what we want to achieve and then we need to look around and see how best to achieve that result and when I say ‘how best’ I mean the most simple, the easiest, the most gratifying and the most fun – don’t forget the fun! Then of course we need to take the action, even if that means inaction – like sitting still whilst we ascertain in which direction ‘the flow’ is going or resting to ensure that we are fit and healthy to take on the challenge.

Yip, it’s all in the choices and like most things in life, the more you practice the better you get at it. So go on, make the choice! Make as many choices as you want, and then just for the hell of it, make some more. The more choices you make towards achieving your goals, your dreams and your aspirations, the more opportunities will arrive in your life to encourage you to make . . . still more choices.

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

Friday, October 16, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Out with the Old, In with the New - Part 2


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Out with the Old, In with the New – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009

So following on from last week – let’s have a look at some of the other changes that were made to the Act that received a typical ‘knee jerk’ reaction. They are (but not limited to).

Employees are entitled to refuse to do the work of colleagues who are on strike.

This, quite frankly is another favourite of mine and it honestly takes me back a few decades to my Corporate life, in the bank and the again in the retail sector.

Here are the stories:

During the late 70’s and early 80’s, I worked in one of the ‘lesser’ known banks in Cape Town. Those of you who were around at the time, will remember that here in South Africa we were in the middle of the apartheid era and life certainly was very different to what it is now.

Strikes and protests, although not quite the order of the day yet, were still fairly frequent and of course very disruptive. Imagine working in a job that is quite pressurized (I was a clerk in the foreign exchange department at the time and the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station was in the throes of being built) and then having to take on a share of the work of the 5 or 6 employees who went on strike at every opportunity.

Working even longer than usual on a indefinite basis (who knew when the strike would end) doing work that was not mine and that I often did not even fully understand, often brought out huge resentment which would then be directed both at management, for putting me under this added pressure and for making me do work that was not mine and that I did not enjoy and my agitation was also directed at my striking colleagues, who by their striking actions, had put me in this position.

As you can imagine, inter office relationships deteriorated, both between colleagues and then also between management and employees and it actually resulted in many of the staff resigning (ironically, never the striking ones) and they were replaced by more staff who would also go on strike. It was an absolute relief when I was offered another position in another ‘lesser’ known bank in Johannesburg.

The second story is about when I was in the wholesale retail sector in the early 90’s. The apartheid era was coming to a close, but it was during the time when strikes and protests were the order of the day. I was, at the time a Senior Manager with around 50 employees working for me and more than half of these belonged to the unions and went on strike on a regular basis.

We were instructed to ‘share’ the work amongst the remaining staff and it pretty much also cause the same sort of problems that were caused in the previous story, but it gets worse.

You see, I still take pride in the work that I produce, irrespective of whether it is my work to produce or not, in the first place. Unfortunately, that cannot be said about the rest of the general workforce out there and the result of that was that most of the work had to be re-done, which caused even more delays and producing even more hostility.

Clearly forcing employees to do the work of striking colleagues is not good for morale and it is not good for the business.

So how do we turn this around and make it work for us. Well here’s the thing – when employees strike it’s a ‘no work, no pay’ kind of situation. Doesn’t it then make sense to hire a bunch of temps and/or casuals to do the absolute necessary of what needs to be done.

Here’s the deal then – getting other people in also provides the employer with a unique opportunity to observe prospective future employees at work and also in unusual circumstances. How cool is that?

Next week we will have a look at some of the other changes that were made to the law.

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

Thursday, October 15, 2009

SALES - Making Use of Everything


Making Use of Everything

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009.

I was asked a question the other day – it went along the lines of, “if a big company has a huge sales force, why would they need a web site”?

Well actually why would they? There are some Corporate Companies out there that have spent hundreds and thousands of Rand on the training of their highly professional sales team. Why would they then go and spend thousands more on getting a web site up and running and then the cost of maintaining that etc.

Well I guess that answer would be for the same reason that I got to Networking events, why I use my web site, why I use FaceBook as a marketing tool and why I use Twitter as a marketing tool.

I doubt that any of us actually know all of our potential clients and I doubt that even if we did know them all that we could actually get to them all – a functional website does.

Then of course there is the fact that the Internet is not going to go away. With an efficient website, you reach not only the potential customers in your immediate vicinity but you get to reach potential customers all over the world,

For me it’s about using every single tool that you can afford that is available to get your product/service out there. That means irrespective of whether you have the most proactive sales force on the planet you should still have a presence on the internet. It means that you should be tweeting on twitter and it means that you should still be going to Networking events and any other Marketing that you are able to afford.

It means quite simply, that you use everything!

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

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Power of Networking - Part 133


PART 133

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. October 2009

One of my absolute pet hates, in Networking, is the person that I take the time to give referrals to and who doesn’t do anything with them! I swear, it drives me absolutely crazy!

One of my colleagues, no actually she has become a friend over the years, does this to me and I often want to take her and shake her – hard!

Here’s the story:

I met (let’s call her Jane) about two years ago at a Networking event. She is one of those people who has great energy and attracts all manner and means of people to her. She gave me her card and I promised to contact her – two months later I was still trying to contact her. She never, never answers her cell and the same goes for the landline. How she gets and keeps clients is beyond me, but that is another story for another day.

I bumped into Jane at another Networking event and she gave me a hard time because ‘you promised to call and I haven’t heard from you’ – I suggested that it might be a good idea to check all her voice mail messages both on her cell phone and her land line. The next day she called me, apologizing profusely for not returning any of my calls – clearly she had not listened to her voice mail messages for some time.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, we got together at her establishment. Now I understand why she never answers the phone or returns messages. A meeting that would normally take an hour, took all of four hours. This woman runs all day, round and round and up and down and this way and that way and quite honestly she achieves very little of anything and a huge deal of nothing! She has boundless energy and my goodness, she sure does use it all – doing nothing but running around – but I digress.

I gave Jane probably about 15 to 20 referrals. People who could assist her in the running of her business. Suppliers that would be able to give her better rates than the ones that she was currently using. Investors that would love to get their teeth into just one of her various projects. Even people that she should Joint Venture or collaborate with, to get her product out there. Finally I gave her my very long list of Networking opportunities – all of which I make use of on a very regular basis.

Eagerly I waited to hear what was happening. Day after day went by and I did not hear a thing from anybody! No-one phoned me up to tell me that she had contacted them, she didn’t let me know if she had set meetings up with anyone. Nothing, not a peep from anyone!

Eventually on one of our get togethers I asked her what, if anything was happening with all the referrals that I had given her. To give Jane her due though, she did manage to look quite sheepish when she told me that she hadn’t done anything.

Now that on it’s own is bad enough. Thing is though, when I refer someone I always copy them on the mail and then physically introduce the two to each other on an e-mail. This meant of course that there were 15 to 20 people who were waiting for Jane to contact them. Six weeks to two months had gone by since I had sent the mails (at great expense of time to myself I might add) and even if Jane contacted them at this late stage they would think her highly unreliable, due to her tardiness in getting back to them, and they would in all probability not really want to do any kind of business with her. Who could blame them – certainly not me.

From time to time Jane asks me to forward any invitations that I get to attend a Networking event and from time to time she asks me if I know of someone that does one thing or another. So now, now what – well one thing is for certain, Jane will not be getting any more referrals from me. When she asks the question nowadays, I just change the subject and move the conversation in another direction.

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - An Amazing Journey

BUSINESS TIPS – An Amazing Journey

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009

If you had told me years ago that this lifetime is made up of several journeys, I probably would have laughed you out of the ball park.

Thing is though, we do go on several journeys. Some of these journeys that we go on are personal and some are business or even work and/or professional. Some we take on our own and others we share with husbands, wives, lovers, children, friends, clients, colleagues and even business partners.

There are journeys that are long and arduous or lifetime journeys and others that are short term, perhaps for a specific period, for a specific project or customer or even a special friend. Each journey has its own starting place and its own ending place. Some you may even start alone and then pick up some passengers along the way. Some you may start with a whole bunch of people but end on your own.

Each journey is its own unique experience. Each experience may be similar but all are quite different. Some are pleasant and fun and some are just disgusting and we can’t wait for them to end.

Think about it for a moment – we would all like to think that we give all our customers great service and perhaps we do, but there is always a client that will get a little extra. A little extra care and attention, or a little extra effort or extra time that we don’t charge for.

Let’s face it, the way we treat our customers is not always dependent upon the quality of the journey that we are taking with them. Customers who always pay on time and who don’t give us a hard time, may actually not be the customers that we ‘give’ more to and we need to be seriously very careful about this because they should be the customers that we treat as VIP guests. Difficult customers who are yelling and shouting at us all the time, who are never satisfied and who we have to battle to get money out of, are traditionally the customers that we bend over backwards for and quite frankly that’s just not right! In fact those are the customers that we should be firing, not pandering to.

I know that after writing this article I am going to do some serious evaluations on my clients. Going forward, the customers that do what I tell them, who pay on time and who give me very little hassle are going to be treated like the Kings and Queens that they surely are and those who give me as much grief as they are able, who don’t pay on time and who are just generally unpleasant to deal with are a) going to be charged an additional tax which I am going to call AST (Aggravation Surcharge Tax) and that is going to be dependant on how much hassle they give me and b) I am going to keep records of who pissed me off the most and give them points for bad behaviour, bad attitude and bad payments and c) I am going to set a limit on what I am prepared to put up with and when they reach their limit, I am going to fire their arses and get myself some more decent clients!

The journey that I want to take with my clients must be one of mutual respect. It must be an amazing journey where we both profit from each other. I can think of nothing worse than having to bend over backwards for clients who do not respect me, who do not respect what I do for them and who keep demanding more and more from me and at the same time they disrespect me, by not paying me on time or always wanting more and more of a discount.

Yip – that’s what I am going to do in future! Work with ‘like minded’ people. People who respect what I do, who respect me and who value what I do for them. What about you? What kind of journey do you want to travel and have with your clients?

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

Monday, October 12, 2009

WORKSHOP: A Basic Practical Guide to Starting A Business

The Southern African – German Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Women in Finance, together with Viljoen Consulting C.C. can give you the solutions to many of the challenging procedures of starting and running a new business.

Come and join us at the workshop entitled “A basic practical guide to starting a business.”

The workshop deals with the everyday issues that arise when starting a new business. Here you will learn how to save time and energy as well as money. Time that you do not have to spend time in queue’s trying to get the correct documentation, doing research on the internet, or trying to find out what you have to do and where you have to go in order to do it.

The workshop begins with an introduction of the difference various classes of entities such as a Sole Proprietor, Close Corporation and a Company and how to register each of these.

Thereafter we focus on the following main titles, with their respective sub-titles as listed below:

Accounting Records & General

1. Contracts between you and the client
2. Contracts between you and a partner
3. Written Procedures
4. Archiving
5. Accounting
6. Staffing
7. Asset Register
8. E-mail Addresses/Internet Domains/Cell phone/Voice mail
9. Insurance
10. Software
11. VAT compliance and supplier procurement
12. BEE compliance and supplier procurement

Bank Accounts

Receipts and Banking

Cheque Payments and/or Internet Payments

1. Cheque Preparation
2. Cheque Signing


Credit Notes

Bank Reconciliations

Petty Cash

Control of Numbered Stationary

Computerised Accounting

1. Data Capture
2. Security over data access
3. Back ups

Staff & HR Issues


Money Laundering


Stock Control

Please remember that the workshop is a “living” document, that will be changed from time to time, updated and expanded upon as and when new information comes to light and/or when legislation changes.

Date: Tuesday, 27th of October 2009
Venue: Boardroom
at the SA-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry
47 Oxford Road (Entrance Waltham Road)
Forest Town

Cost: R850.00

(includes breakfast/lunch/refreshments and course material, exclusive of VAT)

Time: 09.30 to 3.00 pm. (Registration from 09.00 onwards). Please allow additional travelling time to combat traffic.

RSVP: no later than 23rd of October 2009. Space is limited therefore bookings will be accepted on a first come first serve basis.

Please contact:-
Women in Finance delegates please contact or 084-353-9865.

SA-German Chamber delegates please contact or 011 486 2775

Everyone else please contact Nikki Viljoen on or 083 702 8849 for booking details.

N Viljoen Consulting CC
Internal Auditor & Business Administration Specialist

Keeping You Compliant

Cell: 083 702 8849
Fax: 086 501 2795
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MOTIVATION - Changing Conditions

MOTIVATION – Changing Conditions

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – October 2009

Denis Waitley says “There are two primary choices in life: To accept conditions as they exist, or to accept the responsibility for changing them.”

My blogs and the writing that I started doing about three years ago, started purely because I absolutely, categorically, emphatically refused to accept conditions are they existed. Uh-Uh – not in this life time!

I need to move forward, I need to grow, I need to evolve and in order for me to achieve this, I cannot live in an environment that is stagnant, that doesn’t move, that doesn’t grow, that doesn’t change and evolve.

The majority of people on the planet, seem to want to stay where they are – they are comfortable where they are or don’t like change. Many don’t like the situation that they find themselves in but are reluctant to make their own changes, or even accept the changes that others make, preferring instead to moan and groan about any changes that are made by others. I prefer to be a part of the solution than a part of the problem.

That said, as an Internal Auditor, one of the first things I had to learn and acknowledge is that everything that you do (or even when you don’t do anything) has a consequence.

Now here’s the thing – it’s all very well to be a part of the solution or to make the changes yourself, but there is a consequence and you need to be sure within yourself that you are prepared to accept the responsibility of the consequences to the actions and/or inaction that you created.

Take a look at democracy – there are millions of people in South Africa, who are truly pleased at the fact that South Africa is now a democracy (and I am proudly one of those), but look at the cost! Some of those costs are (but not limited to), several generations of people who have no education, no skills and have no opportunity to work for themselves, who’s sole purpose during the apartheid years, was to create dissention by violent protests and by burning their schools or bombing buildings – the cost is in the money that it takes to keep them clothed and fed and the replacements of such items that were damaged.

Our taxes go to that now – they go to providing low cost housing, food, shelter and even, on occasion to training through social enterprise, to try and give those lost generations the life skills that they need to survive.

Yes indeed, the cost of democracy is huge amounts of cash, to make life livable for everyone, not even enjoyable, mind you – just livable.

Would I have elected not to be a part of the change to democracy if I knew beforehand, exactly that the cost would be? Absolutely, definitely and without a doubt.

But then, I am always prepared to take responsibility for my actions and the changes that I make. Question then is . . . are you?

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

Friday, October 09, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Out with the Old, In with the New - Part 1


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Out with the Old, In with the New – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009

One of the most incorrect perceptions and the one that is most often uttered is that the Labour Relations Act (LRA) favours the employee.

In 1995, the old Labour Relations Act that was created in 1956 was scrapped by the new ANC government and a new act was put into place. The new act is the Labour Relations Act of 1995. Yes the act does more to protect the employee from unscrupulous employers, but the new LRA also protects the employer – now how is that for a mind shift?

Granted the new law also meets the Labour Movements Agenda, but that said, if the employer follows the basic rules, the employer is also protected from the employee.

Here’s the way that I see it: -
The law, the way it was, was fundamentally flawed and very lopsided and very much in favour of the employer. The law today is a lot fairer to both the employer and the employee.

Yes it is different! The biggest difference is the fact that employers now have to know the law and they have to follow the procedures. Here’s a thought – if people spent as much time learning the basics of the law and implementing policies and procedures in order to implement that law, as they do moaning about the fact that the law has changed, they would find themselves in an incredibly strong and empowered position.

Some of the protection for employees is (but not limited to):

“Employees are entitled to join and participate in legitimate trade union activity without fear of being fired for this.”

Now most of us look at the unions as a bad thing. Me, I think that they are fabulous! I can just see everybody looking at me as though I have lost the plot! The truth is though, that as much as the unions can cause a lot of perhaps uncomfortable moments for the employer and that they are most definitely on the side of the employee, they also have a responsibility to the employer. Employers can hold the trade union responsible for the behaviour of the employees. How’s that for a thought?

If you as an employer have staff, who are members of a trade union – use the trade unions to get your message across to your staff. Staff, who are not performing put themselves at risk in terms of their employment contracts. Employers have the right to have employees that perform in terms of the requirements of the job and it is incumbent upon the trade unions to ensure that their members meet these requirements.

So once again, instead of moaning and griping about how bad the trade unions are, turn it around, use the trade unions to make your staff aware of your requirements and also, that these requirements if not met, have serious consequences.

Next week we will have a look at some of the other changes that were made to the law.

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

Thursday, October 08, 2009

SALES - Understanding the Client's Request


Understanding the Client’s Requests

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009.

Perception, or perhaps I should say the wrong perception often results in a client’s or prospective client’s unfulfilled expectation and that I’m afraid to say will result in either the loss of the sale and in the extreme – the loss of the client. Neither of these instances will any kind of purpose for you.

So it makes sense for you to take the time and the trouble to ensure that you know and understand the basics and essence of your client or prospective client’s expectation.

It is often a good idea to have a standard set of responses to normal questions that may be asked. This will help you to respond instinctively, naturally and with conviction and which will also give your client or prospective client assurance that you do indeed know what it is that you are talking about.

For example, should your client ask you to ‘send some information’ you may very well respond by saying something like ‘there is a huge amount of information – is there something specific that you are wanting to know or could I give you a breakdown of each area/division/subject/product and then you can tell me which one you are interested in?”

Having all the information pertaining to all the different aspects of your business, close at hand is great, but being able to relay that information eloquently, smoothly and without any hesitation, will not only boost your own confidence, it will also boost the confidence of the client and/or the prospective client that may be wanting to do business with you.

You come across confident, your responses are quick and to the point and easy to understand, it sounds like you know exactly what it is that you are talking about and this will usually translate into ‘You know what it is that you are doing’ or ‘You are passionate about your business and your are competent in what you do.” That usually translates into a sale and probably a client for life!

Understanding your client’s expectation certainly goes a long way in the right direction when building a relationship with a client and/or prospective client. Meeting that expectation will elevate your credibility on a personal level and the credibility of your company.

So clearly it is in your own best interests, not only to take the time and trouble to understand exactly what your client wants and what your client expects, but then to deliver that expectation, on time, in the manner in which you promised and in a professional manner. Not only will your client come back time after time, but they will usually bring more business to you as well.

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

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Power of Networking - Part 132


PART 132

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. October 2009

How does that saying go? Something along the lines of “If you don’t measure it, it doesn’t mean anything.” I forget now, but I am sure you understand my meaning.

Networking is exactly the same – why should it be any different.

I am often told by people that ‘Networking doesn’t work for me’! Statement of fact, I am sure you will agree. However when I ask them all the different “why’s”, the story really does change quite considerably.

There’s the ‘why – how many events did you go to’ that usually gets me a response of one – ‘one’ – I mean, how realistically can you do something once and then say it didn’t work? I don’t get it?

So the next logical question is then “how many people did you meet”? Well this one can vary between 5 and 50 people. Now this is where it gets interesting because if you met (let’s split the difference here) say 25 people at the event, and of course my next question is “How many people did you follow up with?” The majority of folk that I speak to will tell me at this point that ‘no-one’ followed up with them or contacted them and therefore Networking just does not work for them.

Well, I guess that Networking will ever work for anyone if everyone is waiting for everyone else to make the first move! By going through the measurement exercise we have established the facts and that is that if you don’t do something with the contacts/cards/telephone numbers that you have collected at a networking event, you will reap exactly what you so – in this instance (and in so many that I encounter), exactly nothing.

So once you get home from a Networking event, don’t just toss the cards into a drawer somewhere and wait for something to happen, chances are – nothing will happen. Phone the people that you have met, make appointments to meet with them, start building relationships, start engaging in Joint Ventures and Collaborations. Make Networking work for you by working on your Networking.

Measure what you have done against your results and I promise you, you will be very pleasantly surprised.

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

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

BUSINESS TIPS - Intellectual Property

BUSINESS TIPS – Intellectual Property

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009

Let’s start at the very beginning – what exactly is Intellectual Property? Is it something to do with an ‘Invention’ or perhaps something that is associated with a particular product (look at what’s going to happen in 2010 with respect to all the FIFA happenings and the soccer world), then don’t leave out things like designs or even copyright? Would you consider any of these IP (Intellectual Property)? The reality is that it is all of these and still so much more. It’s also about all the information that you have in your head and how you use it. Think about it for a minute – if you go to the doctor, you would not even think twice about the fact that you would need to pay him/her – you would automatically expect to pay them. Yet people think that they can phone me up (whether they actually know me or not) or mail me and ask for all sorts of advice on whatever topic they think that I might be versed in and expect to get that information for free. Why is that do you suppose? Is it because I don’t have an “MD” or a “PHD” behind my name? Here’s the thing though, just because I don’t have a degree behind my name, doesn’t mean that I haven’t paid my dues, one way or another!

The reality of the situation is that I have the information and I have in it my head, I don’t have to do the research. Much of the information that is in my head had been gathered over a period of almost 40 years. It’s information that I have paid dearly for, with my time, with my sweat and with my insatiable curiosity. I have done without, in many instances, to get my hands on the information. I have struggled and been tenacious in my quest to get there and do it. That’s not to say that you could not go that route yourself – much of the information is freely available – what it will cost you is your time, your ability to understand the information and often the price is the cost of your experience.

The problem here, as I see it, is that you want the information now. It’s instant gratification that you want. You don’t have to want to go and look it up on the internet or spend some time in a library or even experience the thrill, the taste or the pleasure of it. You just want the answer and if I am the only one to be in a position to give it to you right here and now, well then my dear, that makes it my Intellectual Property and that gives me the right to charge you either the time that it takes for me to give it to you and/or for the actual information and/or both. Of course whether you are prepared to pay for it would also come into play, but make no mistake – it’s mine to give or withhold as I see fit.

Mentoring is something that I am very passionate about and it is something I really believe in. I have a mentor and there have been several people over the years that I have mentored. That said, I don’t necessarily believe that it is your God given right to demand a mentor or even expect a mentor to give you anything for nothing – even mentor’s need to put food on the table and what kind of mentor would I be if I gave you everything of me and in me and then starved to death – not a very good example I’m afraid! So where is the line between what I am prepared to give out for nothing, nada and with love and no expectation and where I get to a point where I say ‘enough now – you have to start paying, or reciprocating in some way’?

I recently had an experience whereby I was asked by a colleague to mentor someone (lets call her Jane). Jane got half way through a university degree, she then dropped out because of financial constraints and now Jane works as a clerk for a corporate company. Jane now wants to become an Internal Auditor and wanted my help. Let me be clear on that Jane wanted my help, I didn’t particularly want Jane in my life!

It was pretty clear from the get go that as much as Jane wanted the help, she didn’t want to pay for it and certainly she did not want to be inconvenienced in any way. In other words, Jane wanted my help but Jane wanted help in her time and on her terms. Jane never phoned when she said that she would, she didn’t get back to me when she said that she would and when we eventually did commit to a meeting, she didn’t pitch – not only did she not pitch but she also did not even have the good manners to contact me and tell me that she couldn’t make it.

How rude!
How absolutely disrespectful!

When I reacted and charged Jane for wasting my time, not the consultation you understand and not the mentoring – but for wasting my time, Jane had a conniption fit!

Poor Jane – you see, she may not pay me, but I will still have the knowledge that she wants and now will not get and quite honestly money is something that is very easy to generate.

Me, what don’t I have - well thankfully I don’t have Jane!

You, what do you have? Do you have a mentor with the Intellectual Property that you would love to have and do you treat them with respect or do you ‘trash’ them, much in the same way that Jane tried to ‘teach me a lesson’ by refusing to respect me, by refusing to understand the value of what I could have given and shared with her?

I wonder, what is my Intellectual Property worth to you?

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

Monday, October 05, 2009

MOTIVATION - Today, Tomorrow & Yesterday

MOTIVATION – Today, Tomorrow & Yesterday

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – October 2009

Today’s quote comes from an anonymous person who say “Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.”

Ooh, ooh, ooh that’s me! My hand should be up first in the class for this one! The worse thing about it though is that it drives me nuts! Fortunately I do recognize the fact that I am a work in progress, so I do know that I am constantly trying to work on it and one day, I’m sure I’ll actually ‘crack the code’ and put it behind me – it’s such a useless waste of energy!

The thing for me though is that I have a very active brain. So when I am presented with something or if I have done something that I know is going to have a nasty consequence or even entered into an argument with someone, it all spins around inside of my head and often it spins around hard and long and fast enough to give me a headache!

I take a careful look at what was said and then look at the various consequences that could arise, then I take a careful look at what wasn’t said and then look at the various consequences that could arise, then I look at the various possibilities of what could have been said and then should have been said and by now I am sure you have a very clear picture in your own head of what is happening in mine – or perhaps not! Pretty soon I’m all riled up and worked up. My blood pressure is through the roof, I am angry all over again and literally quite cranky with the world in general.

Here’s the thing though, ultimately I cannot change what has already been done and whatever the consequences, I will have to accept them. No amount of playing anything over and over in my head, in all the different scenarios and all the different consequences is going to change in any way what was done or said. The only thing that can change is the way that I choose to look at it or accept that what is done is done.

Usually I am left exhausted from lack of sleep. Wound up tighter than an elastic band and generally speaking not fit for human consumption for at least a few days. Angry, dejected and alone – a punishment of my own making (it’s really not a good idea for me to be around people as I irritate myself) I might add, I usually feel beaten up and thrown away. I am completely drained!

Ironically, the reality of the actual consequence usually has far less impact than the one I’ve conjured up in my mind. How’s that for a mind *&^+?

The bottom line, what have I actually achieved at the end of the day – well not much on the positive side, but I sure as hell have made a real dent in the negative aspect. I wasted precious time, used oodles of energy that could have been put to much better use. Beaten myself senseless, irritated myself into a coma and all for something that is a perception that is inside of me and that more often than not, no-one else on the planet will ever even know about.

Talk about worrying over nothing – I have to be the worlds champion at this. What about you? Do you do silly stuff like this too? If so, are you also trying to stop?

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

Friday, October 02, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You're Not Sure of EEA Legislation


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You’re Not Sure Of EEA Legislation

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009

First of all. Let’s get ourselves clear on what EEA is – it stands for Employment Equity Act. The EEA is a law that was passed by the ANC government after they scrapped all the old laws. The law makes it compulsory for specific employers (who meet the minimum requirements) to implement AA (affirmative action).

When this law was originally promulgated into law, several things happened, the most profound being the ‘knee jerk’ type of reaction that most people had. You see most people, without actually understanding what the law meant decided that it meant that everyone had to comply and small businesses would have the same rules and regulations governing them as the large corporations had governing them. Quite honestly, if you think about it logically that would just be crazy – it would never work.

Here’s the deal:

There are certain requirements that a company has to meet before they are even eligible to find themselves in a position where they are compelled to implement AA. For example turnover of less than R5 000 000 gives one set of rules and regulations, R5 000 001 to R35 000 000 another and anything upwards from R35 000 001 an entirely different set. There are also different ways of becoming compliant. It works on a number of points that you earn for doing various things.

The companies that meet the various requirements are required by law to employ and train people who belonged to, what is now knowen as the “previously disadvantaged groups” during the apartheid years. These groups are (but may not be limited to) black, female and the disabled. The ‘black’ people are considered to include Africans, Coloured, Indians and Chinese.

So for example, if you have a company that meets the R35 000 000 turnover requirements you would be required if you traded out of Johannesburg where the population is say 75% black, to employ 75 black people out of every 100 that you employ. This would include every level within your organisation as well. So if you have 10 directors, at least 8 of them should be black, if you have 200 senior managers at least 150 of them should be black and so on.

This is where the logic comes in – if you are an SMME, with your turnover at less than R5 000 000 per annum, it is highly unlikely that you would have more than say a few members of staff. In all probability you would (as in my case) be the only employee in your company and outsource the rest of your requirements. Since I don’t employ anyone else, it stands to reason that I cannot be ¾ black and the rest white. Therefore SMME’s that trade below the R5 000 000 are exempt. It is still a good idea however, just to get yourself into the habit, to uses suppliers, where possible, who are BEE compliant as this will give you points that will go to your score on the next level. Large corporations, who use SMME’s as their suppliers also score points for this. This is yet another way that Government has committed to supporting and encouraging the SMME and entrepreneurs to start up their own enterprises. Another good thing to do is to get yourself a BEE certificate, even though you are automatically exempt.

This of course does not mean that all the white males have to now be dismissed from their positions in order for the company to replace them with the required number of blacks, women and disabled people. What it does mean though is that as employees resign, as in the natural order of things, blacks, women and disabled people should be considered first when replacing a person for that position. It also does not mean that you have to employ someone who is clearly not capable of doing the job and/or who do not have the necessary skills to do the job – that too would not be a good thing as it would clearly have a negative effect on the company and in the long run the government would also suffer as turnover would drop, SARS collections would drop and the economy of the country would also drop.

Unfortunately whenever a law is introduced that has the potential to have a big impact on what is currently seen as the norm, people react without finding out all the facts and/or even really understanding what the law is all about and the result is usually one that ends up in ‘short cuts’ being taken or even in some cases a flagrant disregard of the law. This could very well end up costing you in fines and/or in a situation where your company loses credibility or worse, where your company loses contracts because you have failed to uphold the law.

Like it or not, the law is here and from what I understand it is here to stay, so instead of enticing all manner of negative aspects into your space, if you are not sure of the requirements of the law or what you have to do, find yourself an registered, accredited BEE consultant and let them guide you in the right direction – you’ll find that the road you travel down will not be nearly as full of rocks and potholes that you thought it would be.

Being responsible and proactive in the running of your business and in the meeting of all the compliance issues is always cheaper in the long run.

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

Thursday, October 01, 2009

SALES - Taking The Pain For Gain


Taking the Pain For Gain

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009.

One of my biggest challenges, when I am selling, is getting people to think proactively. It’s a real problem I can tell you. Most people, especially those who are small business owners and/or entrepreneurs are so busy guarding every cent, that they very seldom see the woods for the trees. Quite frankly, therein lies most of the problem – that and the fact that they usually treat their staff like members of their families.

These are the very people who should be buying my policies and procedures to be implemented to cut down the risk of fraud or theft. I am often saddened when I see their pain and total lack of understanding of what has just happened to them. You see, they don’t expect the worst and they are therefore often totally unprepared for what comes their way.

The result is of course, that I usually am only called in when there is problem. When theft has already occurred, I get called in to do the disciplinary, or do the audit on the stock to ascertain exactly how much stock and/or money has gone missing and then implement policies and procedures to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Talk about closing the stable door once the horse has immigrated! My problem of course is that when the smelly brown stuff hits the fan, I am then expected to sort the whole problem out and I am supposed to do that immediately! Suddenly when the client feels the pain, they want something done about it, but until they feel that pain they have no concept of pain. It’s the same as realizing you have completely run out of toilet paper when you’re already seated on the pot!

Sometimes, it is really difficult for me to understand why people don’t want to listen or refuse to understand that failure to implement procedures and controls, will in all probability end up in pain especially when these people plan everything else so meticulously in their lives. The have worked out to 3 decimal points exactly how much it costs them to print a page but they have no, say supplier procurement policy in place that could save them thousands of rand in VAT claims or staff members don’t have to sign an attendance register and they end up at the CCMA having to pay out thousands of rand to a disgruntled employee whose perception it is that they are hard done by.

Yep, sometimes people just have to feel the pain before they believe that the experience could be a painful one.

I really have to start thinking of myself as a ‘pain hunter’. I have to ensure that my prospects understand just how painful it can become if they do not have proper policies and procedures in place, then I have to convince them that I can take that pain way, irrespective of whether that pain is perceived or real – I am the one who will take the pain away. I have to make them really grateful that they have me there to take the pain away. I have to pay special attention to understanding all the different aspects of the client’s situation, to their fears, perceived or otherwise. I have to understand just what will make them react in a proactive way and thereby save them a whole lot of unnecessary pain (and then of course the additional expense that goes with that).

But you know what, perhaps I should just leave them to experience the pain that I know is going to come – I get more money that way! Perhaps I am just that little bit tired of explaining things to people who clearly don’t want to listen or take actions because “well, it won’t/can’t/shouldn’t happen” to them. Perhaps that is why I have two prices – a ‘proactive’ price for putting things into place when I suggest them and then of course my ‘reactive’ price when I have to run around like a mad person to fix up and sort out the mess when it happens.

Yep, perhaps I should just sit back and wait for the smelly brown stuff to hit the fan, splatter and splash all over the place, then arrive with my sunny smile and pleasant disposition and sort it all out for them and then sit back and watch my bank balance grow.

I think I know what I am going to do . . . . as a small business owner or entrepreneur, do you know what you are going to do?

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