Thursday, April 28, 2011

EARLY WARNING - Cell Phones and Hackers

EARLY WARNING – Cell Phones & Hackers

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting April 2011.

When I saw the title of an article that said “More than 3 billion mobile phones could soon be hacked”, I must admit, my heart sank. Not because my conversations are about anything illegal, you understand, it’s just that it’s one more way in which my privacy can be compromised.

Apparently “voice calls via mobile phones use a kind of encryption that is 15 years old and a way to crack the code has been found” says one hacker.

Now that statement really made me see red . . . in all its different shades! The implication of course that in 15 years the technology has not been improved and given what we pay for cell phones that are supposed to be ‘state of the art’, in terms of technology – this is just not acceptable at all!

Although none of my conversations are of an illegal nature, many of them are of a confidential nature and in view of the fact that I sign a confidentiality agreement with many of my clients’, this news really puts me at risk, especially if someone is listening in when I discuss confidential issues with my clients.

According to Thomas Jonsson, a Vice President at Nokia “Hacks have been alleged before and have proven to be incorrect. The history and wide usage of GSM shows that there’s good reason to have confidence in its security.”

Well I’m very pleased that Thomas Jonsson feels secure because in the same article, the very same GSM Association stated that “Academics have already set out how to crack the A5/1 logarithm but none has led to a ‘practical attack’ that can be used on live commercial GSM networks”.

This, to me means “watch this space”! It’s not the academics that I am worried about!

The fact of the matter is this – if the code has been cracked by the academics (who are usually perceived as being the good guys), then it is only a matter of time before it gets cracked by the bad guys, which will put me and billions of people just like me at risk!

Come on GDM – get it together!

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

WORKSHOP : JOHANNESBURG : A Basic Practical Guide to Starting a Business

A Basic Practical Guide To Starting A Business – 11 May 2011

Hosted by Sisibukula, Viljoen Consulting, German Chamber, Randburg Chamber and WIF.
The workshop deals with the everyday issues that arise when starting a new business. It saves time and energy as well as money. Time in that you don’t have to spend time in queue’s trying to get the correct documentation, or doing research on the Internet or anywhere else for that matter, trying to find out what you have to do and where you have to go in order to do it.

A Basic Practical Guide To Starting A Business is broken up into the following main titles below and starts off with the difference between a Sole Proprietor, a Close Corporation and a Company and how to register each of these entities.

- Accounting Records & General
- Banking Accounts
- Receipts and Banking
- Cheque Payments and/or Internet Payments
- Invoices
- Credit Notes
- Bank Reconciliations
- Petty Cash
- Control of Numbered Stationery
- Computerised Accounting
- Staff & HR Issues
- Security/Safety
- Money Laundering
- Filing
- Stock Control

No prior knowledge of Starting A Business is necessary for this highly effective but simple to understand workshop that promises to equip you with powerful tools to register and manage your business on a practical level.

About the Facilitator – Nikki Viljoen
Nikki Viljoen is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who has her own company called Viljoen Consulting.

Nikki has in excess of 30 years experience in this field both from a banking perspective as well as from a Corporate perspective.

Having seen a huge gap in the SMME market, Nikki started Viljoen Consulting to assist SMME’s to become compliant and to establish controls and processes and to implement structure into the smaller companies to give them greater stability, and to encourage sustainability.

Nikki’s business blog or was recently internationally rated at 8.9 out of a possible 10. This places Nikki 5th in the world in her category. With her blog Nikki shares useful Business and Personal tips with anyone who cares to read it.

Date: Wednesday 11th May 2011

Price: R950.00 per delegate (includes breakfast/lunch/refreshments and course material)

Venue: German Chamber
47 Oxford Road
Forrest Town

Time: 08.30 to 3.30/4.00 pm. (Registration from 08.00 onwards). Please allow additional travelling time to combat traffic.

RSVP: no later than Monday 9th 2011 . Space is limited therefore bookings will be accepted on a first come first serve basis.

Please contact:-

German Chamber delegates please contact or 011 486

Randburg Chamber delegates please contact Nobuhle Mhlanga on or 086 101 9218
Women in Finance delegates please contact or 084-353-9865.
Everyone else please contact Nikki Viljoen on or 083 702 8849 for booking details.

BUSINESS TIPS - Bookkeepers & Financial Year End - Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Bookkeepers & Financial Year End – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2011

I’m really getting to the point where I am beginning to feel like I am ‘sounding like a broken record’! Problem is that many SME’s don’t seem to be listening and that is really sad.

Every day I meet people who haven’t listened and who are now paying the price and I mean “paying” in every sense of the word. People who are trying to negotiate payment plans with SARS and people who are trying to hide from the Sherriff of the court, who has arrived to attach their possessions and even people who have had to liquidate their businesses and their stories are all the same – they didn’t understand or know how to do the finances of their businesses.

If only they had listened!

Sure a good bookkeeper/accountant will cost you money. Sure there will be administration that you will need to do on a daily/weekly/monthly and annual basis, but look at what you have to gain from than – a business where you actually know what’s going on! For me there’s actually nothing worse than not knowing where I am financially.

Here are some of the things that a good bookkeeper/accountant should be doing for you (so NO, it’s not just about the numbers, it’s also about delivering a good service and understanding your business too).

Your bookkeeper/accountant should ensure that you are properly registered – not only as a company but with all the different legislative bodies that you need to be registered with. You don’t automatically have to be registered with all of them as some of them are industry specific. For example if you run a pub or bar or restaurant, you would need to have a liquor license but if you run a book store you wouldn’t. If you have staff, you need to be registered as an employer both with SARS and the Department of Labour, and so on. Your bookkeeper/accountant would need to ensure that you are properly registered and that your annual fees (where applicable) are paid and up to date.

The bookkeeper/accountant should also ensure that your books are maintained on a monthly basis and that they are accurate and calculated and recorded and documented in compliance with the GAAP (Generally accepted accounting principles) requirements.

It is the responsibility of the bookkeeper/accountant to ensure that the monthly/bi-monthly and annual statutory requirements are met on or before the deadlines, so that penalties and interest claims can be avoided.

As most of you know by now, there have been many changes to legislation over the last few months, but here’s the thing – legislation changes all the time. Your bookkeeper/accountant needs to keep up to date with, not only all the changes that have taken place, but also the changes that are being proposed for the future. The bookkeeper/accountant should be keeping you up to date with all of the changes, especially in terms of SARS (VAT and Tax). Changes in these two elements could have a financial implication on your company if they are not correctly and timeously implemented.

Next time we will look at some additional issues that your bookkeeper/accountant should keep your informed about.

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

Thursday, April 21, 2011

EARLY WARNING - Is Your Identity Safe


Is Your Identity Safe?

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting April 2011.

I know that I have written about this before – but hell, it needs to be talked about again.

Just last week something was delivered by a bank to one of my clients, by means of a courier, the delivery guy demanded a copy of client’s ID document. I instructed my client not to hand over a copy of their ID! Whatever next? I was told by the bank official that the delivery guy had to make sure that he had delivered to the correct person. My response – well he can look at the person, then look at the ID as well as the ID number that you have given him and if the picture looks like the person he is handing the package to and if the ID # is the same – then guess what – it’s the right person. If he is not satisfied that it is the right person, then he doesn’t have to leave the package here. Quite simple really. The end solution – the courier company delivered to the bank guy (taking a copy of his ID I’m sure) and the bank guy delivered to my client, without getting another copy of the ID!

Here are some of the issues that have been reported in terms of identity documents:

How about these guys – as reported by Lyse Comins and Arthi – “Fraud syndicates are using identity theft to exploit the huge number of life and funeral policies being taken out because of the HIV and Aides pandemic. They steal an identity, take out a policy and then declare the person dead and claim the money.”

How absolutely disgusting and reprehensible is that?

To make matters worse, according to Pat Cunningham, SA Fraud Prevention Services Head, “Syndicates frequently used informants at state mortuaries and funeral parlours to alert them to unidentified and unclaimed bodies. They will also disfigure and sell an unidentified body between syndicates (to commit multiple fraud).”

Now that is even more disgusting! I doubt that anyone reading this will disagree with anything that I have said here.

Yet we happily give copies of our ID’s to all and sundry, to anyone who asks. We hand copies of our ID’s to people who deliver stuff to us because we are ‘told’ to, because this is the ‘procedure’ or the ‘policy’ of the company!

Well here’s a thought – I have my own set of ‘policies and procedures’ – I don’t give copies of my ID to just anybody.

Quite frankly, I am the client and not a sheep and actually the FICA and FAIS Acts are there to protect me too.

Yes people have a right to insist that I verify who I am and I can do that by showing them my ID – they can look at the ID and look at me and make a decision as to whether the person in the photograph is me. Hell, that’s what they do when we leave or enter a country – they don’t take copies of our passports! What they don’t have, and this is actually in terms of the FICA Act, is the right to insist that I give them a copy of my ID.

As individuals, we all have to take some responsibility for keeping our identity safe.

So think, think carefully before you just hand over copies of your ID.

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

BLOGGING TIPS - Being Kind to Your Readers

BLOGGING TIPS – Being Kind to your Readers

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2011

I’ve just read an article entitled “6 Ways to be Kind to your Readers” by Bamboo Forest, and I must admit I was absolutely intrigued by the title. I mean kindness in itself is something most of us aspire to have and I am sure that we all think of ourselves as ‘kind people’ or at the very least, we would like to think of ourselves as kind (even if we may not be).

But what does it mean – to be ‘kind’ to our readers when we blog? I mean as much as it is our choice to write the blog, it is our reader’s choice as to whether they read the blog or not, surely?

So here is what ‘Bamboo Forest’ had to say:

1. “Kill or shorten introductions”. Now this particular statement, I am very sure will not work for me. To be fair, I can understand it up to a point, but for me, my intro sets the stage for the story to unfold. “Killing or shortening” that intro would hurt the story before it began to unfold.
2. “Champion quality over quantity”. This one however, in my opinion is right on the money! At a point, I was writing 5 new articles every week. Now don’t get me wrong, if you have the time to do the research as well as write the article – well that’s just fantastic and a great bonus. However, my workflow increased and the number of hours in the day didn’t and because I didn’t want to compromise the quality or the value of my writing, I have chosen to cut back on the number of articles that I write. There may be times when there are no articles for weeks or even months and then again there may be times when I am able to write on a pretty regular basis. I would rather write a good meaningful article than a rushed half -hearted one!
3. “Commit to having every post be entertaining”. Interesting – absolutely! Entertaining – well I am not too sure about that one, particularly in the world of business and especially in the world of business in South Africa. Current legislation and politics and proposed new legislation often makes really scary reading. Finding solutions to implement the changes without too much upheaval or cost, would hardly make for entertainment, unless of course you are falling about with laughter at the absurdity of it all.
4. “Write clearly” Well that makes perfectly good sense to me, especially when you are writing about business topics. People need to know what the point is. Let’s face it, if you are writing a piece of fiction, there doesn’t always need to be a ‘moral to the story’ (although a plot or storyline is a must), but if you are writing a piece on business – there has to be a point and people have to ‘get it’!
5. “Keep your posts as short as possible”. Again for me this is dependent upon the telling of the story. Sometimes the point is best made and illustrated by means of a story and the length of the story – well if the truth be told, it doesn’t matter how long the story is, as long as it keeps you engaged and interested and it illustrates the point, so that you the reader, ‘get it’!
6. “Step up your game”. Now this one, I particularly like. You see, for me ‘if you are not growing you’re dying”! If you are not constantly challenging yourself and your readers with what you are saying, if you are not improving or engaging or teaching or learning or moving forward or upward in some way –well what is the point?

So I guess what I am trying to say is that there are always guidelines on what to do and how best to do it. Thing is though, it has to serve your own soul and it has to make a difference in the lives of others – if it doesn’t meet those two requirements, well personally, I’d give it up.

Till next time, happy blogging!

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

WORKSHOP : JOHANNESBURG : Employee to Entrepreneur - Creating a Winner Mindset

Employee to Entrepreneur, Creating a Winner Mindset – 10 May 2011
Hosted by Sisibukula, Viljoen Consulting, German Chamber and WIF.
When someone starts a business, no-one explains the mental adjustment that must be made to ensure that the entrepreneur remains mentally positive and well. This workshop is aimed at someone interested in starting their own business as well as those who have owned a small business for a while and are looking to expand their business to the next level.
The transition from being an employee to becoming an employer is often quite a mental stretch as the entrepreneur becomes responsible for carrying out all the tasks that are generally carried out by a number of people in a larger company. Also, as an entrepreneur, the person has to work longer working hours to properly establish the business. The entrepreneur is also under tremendous stress to bring their product and/or service to market for various reasons.
The mental and emotional wellness of an entrepreneur can be better self-managed when a more holistic approach is taken to business as a whole.
The Workshop covers:

The Entrepreneurial Mind
This one day programme was created to assist prospective entrepreneurs to prepare themselves for the challenging task of running your own business. Your thinking, expectations and attitudes to the entrepreneurial space can make or break your business.
The programme is broken into four core components:
Module 1: Playing to strengths
This module is designed to help you identify and work to your primary strengths.
Module 2: Build your team – No man is an island
Very few businesses can be created and sustained by one person alone.
Module 3: Get Real – how to blue sky with both feet firmly planted on the ground
The harsh reality is this, building a business is no easy thing.
Module 4: The Art of Self-Promotion
In my experience, the hardest thing for most entrepreneurs is to promote themselves.

About the Facilitator – Rachel Van Doorene

Rachel is the founder of a company called Every Woman Education & Training Solutions PTY Ltd. She is also the publisher of an online magazine called Women Inc. (The Complete Resource for the Working Women). This magazine (in hard copy) reached a total of 17 000 subscribers and an estimated pass-on readership of conservatively 250 000 South African women. In January, 2006, she launched a company targeted at the male market, called EveryMan ETS (PTY) Ltd.

Rachel has successfully run her own consulting company, consulting on education and training strategies to the banks in Johannesburg for four years. Her consulting clients include but were not limited to SCMB, Barclays Bank, Standard Bank Operations and Standard Bank Commercial.

Prior to this she taught entrepreneurship, life skills and computer literacy at Greenside High School. She in turn has been involved in media planning and direct sales with Verimark Holdings, a direct marketing company. She spent three years as a pastor at His People Christian Church, Johannesburg where she mentored young professionals in life skills, entrepreneurial skills and counselled them as and when the need arose. She has launched five entrepreneurial Rachel is the founder of a company called Every Woman Education & Training Solutions PTY Ltd. She is also the publisher of an online magazine called Women Inc. (The Complete Resource for the Working Women). This magazine (in hard copy) reached a total of 17 000 subscribers and an estimated pass-on readership of conservatively 250 000 South African women. In January, 2006, she launched a company targeted at the male market, called EveryMan ETS (PTY) Ltd.

Rachel has successfully run her own consulting company, consulting on education and training strategies to the banks in Johannesburg for four years. Her consulting clients include but were not limited to SCMB, Barclays Bank, Standard Bank Operations and Standard Bank Commercial.

Date: Tuesday 10th May 2011

Price: R950.00 per delegate (includes breakfast/lunch/refreshments and course material)
Venue: German Chamber
47 Oxford Road
Forest Town

Time: 08.30 to 3.30/4.00 pm. (Registration from 08.00 onwards). Please allow additional travelling time to combat traffic.

RSVP: no later than Friday 6th May 2011 . Space is limited therefore bookings will be accepted on a first come first serve basis.

Please contact:-

German Chamber delegates please contact or 011 486 2775

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

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

BUSINESS TIPS - Managing Your Business - Part 5

BUSINESS TIPS – Managing Your Business – Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2011

Irrespective of how ‘uncertain’ times are and how difficult it is to get the business in or make the sale, or how much you have downscaled the expenses, the fact of the matter is that you have to keep your staff motivated if you want to still get the business in and the orders processed. Clearly I am not talking only of the sales staff here!

Here’s the thing, if you have cut back and trimmed away as much as you should have and tightened your belt as far as it can be tightened, then most if not all of your staff have taken over some (if not all) of the duties of the staff who have left and usually for no additional remuneration. That means that you need to implement some sort of reward system to motivate them. This is where you have to get creative, as you may not be able to reward them financially. There are many perks that don’t necessarily cost the company a lot of money but could have huge beneficial implications to the staff. Things like, introducing flexitime, so that they spend less time in traffic and therefore have more quality family time or even, if it can be done, allowing them to work from home. This could result in you renting out your excess office space and your staff member spending less on fuel and toll fees – a win/win situation, I am sure you will agree. Rather get rid of the ‘dead wood’ and poor performers and reward those who have invested themselves in your company and who work effectively and efficiently. Poor performers and ‘dead wood’ take up a huge amount of management time and ultimately increase costs in more ways than one.

One of the quickest ways to decrease costs and increase productivity is to ensure that your operational costs are kept to a minimum. Machinery should be well and regularly maintained to optimise efficient use and processes implemented and properly managed to ensure that both quantity and quality of output. This should also be measured to ensure that it is of the highest standard. Regular review of processes and procedures to ensure that they are both effective and efficient and that they comply with legislation will also ensure that workflow output is optimised and constant and that fines or penalties are not levied against you for non-compliance.

Finally, “always keep your enemies close”. Make sure that you know what your competition is doing to ensure that you are doing things better, more efficiently and more effectively. Make sure that your always give value for money and that you operate from a place of integrity and honestly with your clients, your suppliers and your staff.

In your Business – honestly really is the best policy!

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

Monday, April 18, 2011

MOTIVATION - Creating Opportunities

MOTIVATION – Creating Opportunities

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2011

Bruce Lee said “To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities!”

This statement really carries a punch for me! To be quite honest, I am really fed up with a number of people at the moment. I am seriously sick and tired of people with begging bowls who seem think that it is my ‘job’ to provide for them. To hold their hands, or put money into their pockets or even to supply them with solutions to their problems because – well because they were previously disadvantaged – or their circumstances were not the same as mine (not that they have a cooking clue about my circumstances you understand). It’s just expected.

I have just had a meeting with a young chap, let’s call him George – who read an article in a magazine, where I was interviewed. Apparently, as I am given to understand it as I have not seen the article in question, I help people to start businesses – I suppose that’s a pretty fair (although very broad) statement of what I do.

So his opening request is “I want you to write a business proposal for me”. Now, no-where on anything that I have ever written, have I offered writing business proposals for anyone, irrespective of whether I am being paid for the service or not.

To cut a very long, painful and frustrating conversation short – the story is as follows:

George used to work in a fish and chip shop – peeling potatoes for the chips, so he thinks that it might be a good idea to open up a fish and chip shop. Nothing wrong with that dream, I hear you saying. Here’s the problem, he has done no research, never managed anything, never employed any staff, never done any other kind of work in a ‘fast food’ type environment and he has no money to put down. So clearly that turned out to not be such a good idea.

So his next plan was that he had worked as a volunteer in a clinic – he says, doing counseling, (but he has no education to speak of), around HIV and STD’s. I suspect (and I say suspect, because getting any information was like pulling hen’s teeth or dancing between the raindrops), that he spoke about the use of condoms rather than actually counseling someone with HIV or aids or any of the STD’s. George apparently worked there for 6 months, so now – how about he opens a clinic! I mean for goodness sake! The only research that he has done is to ascertain that the ‘government says that they will fund it’!

George registered an NGO 14 months ago and now he wants me to write a proposal to government because ‘they must fund it’!

Currently he is ‘working with fibre optics’ and when I asked the probing questions I discovered that what he is actually doing is laying cables in the trenches – well not today he wasn’t, today he was wasting my time and irritating me because that seems to be his right because his “circumstances” growing up were less than mine! It’s his right because he was previously disadvantaged – although the fact that I am currently disadvantaged is not something that he wanted to talk about!

George’s parting comment as he prepared to leave was that “he can see that he needs to do some research, but eish, it’s hard and when I have done the research I will contact you so that you can tell me what to do next!” My response “Sure okay, but my hourly rate is ……. And the next meeting you will have to pay for in advance.”

My circumstances – well they made me work harder, something that I still do to this day. I started working after school and on the weekends at 13 and by the time I was 15, I went to court to have myself legally declared an emancipated minor. I had my own flat that I paid for and that I worked for. Sure I’ve had help along the way, but it has always been help that I reciprocated. I have made my own way, watched out for opportunities or made my own. I’ve come really far but I can say with all honesty, I have paid to get here.

Perhaps I have done it the hard way around, perhaps I should have sat on my arse with my begging bowl extended and bemoaned my particular set of circumstances and demanded that my expectations be met off the backs and hard work of others.

The problem with that though is the fact that I would then never have been . . . . well me!

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

Friday, April 15, 2011

HR - Does the Punishment Fit the Crime


Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC - April 2011

I recently read an article on how a business owner who gave his staff member a final written warning for a genuine transgression, then lost the plot and fired the staff member for having a ‘negative attitude’, when he refused to sign in receipt of the warning.

I laughed – you know those great big belly laugh , laughs – yeah, one of those!

You see of late, there have been a huge number of debates (and believe me they often get quite heated) on the Business Masters forum ( , a very active website that provides networking and online community support for SME’s.

The debates often erupt around HR and labour issues and they can get really heated and emotional because they are often seen as very unfair and usually leaning towards the rights of the employee and very seldom are about the rights of the employer.

Let’s put a little bit of a spin on this story and use my usual protagonists.

Mike owns a plumbing business and he is extremely busy. George is his ‘right hand man’ and Mike is trying to give him ‘on the job’ training, not only the technical and practical aspects of plumbing, but also the responsibility and accountability of doing a job well and looking after the company assets as well as giving the clients a good service.

Sometimes Mike feels that his working life is made up of his teams rushing from one job to another. There always seems to be a pipe that’s burst in one complex and geyser in another. Due to the ‘lack of skills’ pandemic that has hit the world with a resounding ‘thump’, business is good and Mike is doing well.

George is really grateful to Mike because for many years he did not have a job. Mike treats him well and he is paid a fair wage for what he does and Mike is teaching him all the tricks of the trade. George has a dream that one day he will own his own plumbing business.

George loves learning about the plumbing side of the business. He loves to learn about the different types of pipes and where they go and he loves to see the different tools, all laid own in a row and he is particularly proud of the fact that he knows which tools to use when.

What George hates though is to ‘pick’ up and ‘clean up’ after himself. He hates to have to put all the tools back in exactly the right space in the tool box or in the bakkie and he thinks that Mike is a real ‘fuss pot’ when he goes on about tools that are lost, but aren’t really because they are usually on the bakkie, just not where they are supposed to be. George already has two written warning on his file for not putting the tools away properly or in the right place – “Yes”, George thinks to himself, “Mike makes a big fuss about nothing!”

Mike and George are just finishing a job in a complex, when a call comes in about a burst pipe in another complex and by the sound of it, it’s a real gusher! Mike instructs George to pack up all the tools and ladders quickly, whilst he finishes up so that they are ready to dash to the broken pipe as soon as he is finished with this repair.

As usual George does not take care as he throws the tools into the back of the van and hurriedly puts the ladder onto the roof rack on the van. George is thinking about how the pipe is going to be fixed and what tools should be used and whether Mike will let him fix it by himself.

Mike comes out having finished what he was doing, gives a quick glance into the van to see if everything is where it should be, raises an eyebrow at George when he sees it isn’t , but there is no time now to repack everything as every second delay means hundreds of litres of precious water being wasted.

Mike jumps into the van and off they go.

Mike is still moaning at George about the state of the tools in the back of the van as they whiz up the road and he has to slam on brakes as a pedestrian steps into the road in front of him. Mike swerves, narrowly missing him and as he straightens up again he hears a horrible scraping sound, the angry sound of a hooter and the screeching of brakes behind him and then a huge ‘bang crash’ as something metal hit something else metal!

Mike brings the van to a halt at the side of the road and gets out of the van with a very sick feeling in the pit of his stomach.

Behind him, a brand new Mercedes Benz has also come to a halt at the side of the road. The Mercedes Benz however has a steel ladder sticking out the passenger side of the windscreen. Yep – you’ve guessed it – George forgot to secure the ladder and it has now caused thousands of Rands worth of damage (thank goodness no-one was hurt) as it went through the passenger side of the windscreen.

Shaken and shocked, Mike was both relieved that no-one was hurt but also horrified at the extent of the damage that had been caused unnecessarily. Over and above that, Mike was furious with George (quite rightly so) because he had not followed the correct procedure when returning tools and equipment to the van.

Justifiably, the next day Mike handed George a final written warning for not following procedure and instructed George to sign in receipt of the written warning. George, in his understanding that this was his ‘final’ written warning and now scared of the consequences, refused to sign the form. This of course is where the whole thing goes pear shaped and falls apart. Up until this point, Mike has done everything correctly.

Mike in his anger and frustration at getting George to do things correctly as well as facing a huge financial bill (being the excess of insurance etc.) as a direct result of George’s inability to follow simple procedures perceives this refusal to sign in receipt of the document as George’s refusal to accept responsibility and ultimately the consequences of his actions. Mike dismisses George for being negative and having a bad attitude.

George of course, went straight to the CCMA and Mike ends up having to pay George out 4 months salary to add insult to injury.

Mike is obviously outraged at this injustice and so the war between the SME’s and the Department of Labour continues.

Here is the thing though . . . . nobody, and I mean nobody can be forced to sign anything and George not signing the document actually has no real meaning or value at all. Mike could have merely documented that the warning discussion took place at the date, time and place (as indicated on the form) and that George had refused to sign the document. If Mike really wanted to prove a point, he could have called any one of his staff in to witness that he had given George the document and the witness could have signed that this was so. End of story. Quite simple really.

Dismissing someone for having a ‘negative attitude’ or indeed, having a ‘bad attitude’ or any other kind of attitude for that matter, is really quite ridiculous and no wonder it was thrown out for being ‘unfair labour practice;’

Had Mike just followed the correct procedures, the outcome would have been completely different.

Following the correct procedures to the letter of the law will usually ensure that justice prevails.

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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

EARLY WARNING - Year End, Tax Season & Phishing


Year End, Tax Season & Phishing

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting April 2011.

For the record, I am not suggesting for one moment that phishing only takes place at ‘Tax Time’ – we all know that it continues to take place on a daily basis.

We all know that if we get a mail from the ‘bank’ instructing us to update or upgrade or download or check our details on line, it’s a scam and that all that you actually need to do is delete the mail and think no more about it.

Similarly getting an e-mail from SARS (South African Revenue Services) asking you click on the link and update, upgrade, download or confirm your details etc., is also a scam.

In fact don’t ever respond to mail from anywhere that gives you a link to update, update, download or confirm details – rather go onto the physical site by typing in the URL (the www address) and follow any instructions on there.

Just don’t do it – you will be giving unsavory individuals access to your banking account or to your confidential information at SARS or your service provider.

Of course the other scam that many have experienced over the last couple of years is the one where you get a phone call from someone who says that they are calling from SARS. The story goes something along the lines of :-

“My name is Joe Badman and I am calling from SARS. We have refunded you incorrectly. Instead of refunding you the R8576.27 that was due to you, we have refunded you in the amount of R88 576.27. Please could you refund the excess amount of R80 000.00 to our account at XYZ bank branch code 123 in the name of SARS. The refund must be executed by close of business today or you will be liable for penalties and interest.”

You of course, check your bank account and lo and behold, there’s the exact amount as a credit and well, you have been expecting a refund of about R8 000.00 from SARS, so it must be correct and you don’t want to incur additional costs, so you had better make the transfer . . . .

STOP! Don’t do that! What you will discover in the next day or two is that the payment of R88 576.27 will bounce (it’s usually a stolen cheque you see) and you will be left R80 000.00 (plus bank charges) out of pocket.

Here’s the thing – SARS will never ask you to refund them – if (and let me be very clear on this), “if” they have made a mistake like this (and that is highly unlikely), as the South African Revenue Service, they have not only the ability but also the legal right to access your bank account and refund themselves.

What you do need to do is get hold of the “Fraud Division” of SARS, as well as your own bank and report this.

Understanding or knowledge of the various scams that take place means that hopefully you are aware of what can happen and you can protect yourself accordingly.

Using common sense and logic and understanding that if something ‘sounds too good to be true’, usually means that it is.

Don’t let yourself be tempted into situations that ‘sound too good to be true’ by desperation and/or greed. You will be the one that will suffer the consequences.

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

Saturday, April 09, 2011

HR - Check the Work Permit - Part 3


Check the Work Permit – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC - April 2011

So what happens if you have a huge project on the go and you need 20 or more people in order to meet the requirements of that particular project.

Ok, don’t worry – there is a solution to this. It will mean getting pre-approval from the Departments of Trade and Industry (DTI) as well as the Department of Labour and of course Home Affairs. As soon as the Company in question has identified and appointed the individual workers, Home Affairs issues the authorization certificates and the foreigners are then able to arrive in South Africa and start working immediately. Obviously the usual documentation still needs to be corrected submitted.
Students, interns and the like, who are under 25 and who are involved in exchange programs that are initiated by Government departments and/or schools or universities would need to apply for an exchange permit. Be advised however that exchange permits are only valid for one year and once they have expired, the student/intern must leave the country. Once they have left the country they would only be eligible to apply for a temporary residence permit after two years.
South Africa welcomes foreign investment and subsequently, those who invest here and are granted business permits qualify to work in and manage their businesses without any special permission requirements.
Here’s the thing though, just because you don’t know what the requirements are or what is allowed and very definitely isn’t – doesn’t mean that you can’t make it happen and I mean that in the legal sense of the word.
What it does mean though, is that you would have to do the research and ask the questions and find out what would be the best way to go about making what you want to happen, happen.

This brings to conclusion the article on work permit requirements.

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

Thursday, April 07, 2011

EARLY WARNING - Facebook Virus

EARLY WARNING – Facebook Virus

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting - April 2011 .

I received a mail from David Green of Switched On IT, that says “Facebook Virus Turns Your Computer into a Zombie”.

Apparently, through the IM (Instant Messaging) portal of Facebook, people are getting messages that go “I have this hilarious video of you dancing. Your face is so red. You should check it out.”

Now I personally haven’t had that exact message, but I have had plenty of similar ones that also seem to involve me in a video – here’s the thing though – there are no “video’s” of me out there that would have anyone in a state of shock or laughing their rear-ends off, so that raised a very red flag for me and I refrained from the temptation of clicking on that particular button. Furthermore, it was sent to me who although they are a ‘facebook friend’ (I play zoo and Farmville, so I have many ‘friends’ who I actually don’t know at all), they are not someone that I have ever met or know in any way other than ‘in passing’ in whatever game it is that we are playing. How very fortunate for me, that I didn’t click on the link!

You see, by clicking on that particular link (or any similar ones for that matter – either on Facebook or MySpace) you “might have been exposed to the Koobface virus” says the message that David forwarded to me. Apparently what happens then is that once you have clicked the Koobface virus then prompts you to update your Flash player (that’s the only way you would be able watch the video) and the virus is contained in the flash player file. What happens then is that “the worms transform victim machines into zombie computers to form botnets.” Now, I personally have no idea what that means, but it certainly sounds serious.

Kaspersky (which is my anti virus of choice) says that you can ‘usually spot phony e-mails by their titles’ and they found several as examples. These are (but not limited to) “Paris Hilton Tosses Dwarf on the Street” – I know that she is a troubled child, but I can’t see her doing anything like that – or how about “Examiners Caught Downloading Grades From the Internet – You must see it!!! LOL” – that also just doesn’t sound right. Another easy way to spot a problem is that the spelling is usually very bad – if it looks dodgy then it usually is.

As usual with a little bit of common sense and precaution, you can avoid these things – don’t just be ‘clicking’ on everything that pops up. Don’t open things from people that you don’t know personally and my personal favorite – if it doesn’t look right then it usually isn’t.

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

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

BLOGGING TIPS - Being a Blogging Master

BLOGGING TIPS – Being a Blogging Master

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2011

First off, let me just say this – not everyone can be a Master (or a Mistress for that matter) – that said, we are still always the Master (yes and the Mistress) of our own destiny’s.

As a Master (or Mistress) what are our expectations? What are our expectations of other Masters and Mistresses? For me, it’s not only about the content, it’s not only about the construction of the sentence or whether the grammar is correct (although that is also very important) it’s also about how much of yourself, your emotions and how you connect with the emotional requirements of your audience. You have to get them excited, you have to connect with their heart strings, you have to challenge them, you have to make them reflect, you have to make them indignant, you have to shock them, you have to move them in some way!

Again for me, the biggest challenge was getting over my own fear. You know what I mean, the ‘what if I fail’, ‘what if people don’t like me’, ‘if I succeed, what will be expected of me’? You can’t be afraid to let yourself out of the bag (never mind the cat)!

We all have conversations with people and we connect and engage with those people – write like that. Write like you are having an engaging conversation. Write with compassion, with humour, with passion and yes even with anger.

People need to believe in what you are saying and they can’t do that or connect with you if you are disconnected with yourself. Don’t be bound by your own limitations – move past those, go through those, go around those or over them or under them – you’ll learn the best way to connect with, to link to and to create that particular emotional connection.

If you battle to get started, it’s a good idea to perhaps write down the reasons why you are battling to get started. Some of the most common reasons are (but not limited to):

- Why – because I am not sure that people will be interested in what I have to say
- Why – because I am not in the mood to write about anything right now
- Why – it’s a really sensitive subject and I am not sure that I should be putting it out there.
- Why- it’s really difficult to write about stuff that I have never really done before, I need to do some more research.

Actually at this point you probably need to really think about what it is that you want to do.

Why do you want to write ? Are you passionate about what you do – are you passionate about who you are and are you passionate about what you want to share? If your answer to these is yes, then you need to tell the story. Every article or blog that you write needs to tell a story and every story must have a value, otherwise you are not “sharing”.

Stand up and look at yourself, really look at yourself – you know that you have what it takes, you know that you are really good at what you do. Let go of your fear and your uncertainty.

Stand up, be yourself, be all of who you are and all of who you can be and write that story.

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

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

WORKSHOP:Johannesburg - Financial Literacy for Non-Financial Entrepreneurs - 13 April 2011

Financial Literacy for Non-Financial Entrepreneurs – 13th April 2011

Hosted by Viljoen Consulting, Sisibukula, SA German Chamber and WIF.
Accounting is a language used to communicate important information about a business’ financial status and as a small business owner and entrepreneur understanding this language is vital to the financial success of your business. After all, how can you look after your bottom line if you don’t know what it is!

Financial Literacy for Non-Financial Entrepreneurs is a workshop aimed specifically at small business owners and entrepreneurs, at all levels who want to equip themselves with the basics of accounting and understanding the financial aspects of their businesses.
Understanding the language of accounting will empower you to take your business to the next level and to understand and manage the business growth. Ultimately you will be equipped to grow a healthy and sustainable business.
Nico Labuschagne facilitates this workshop. Nico Labuschagne obtained his degree in Internal auditing from the Potchefstroom University based in Vanderbijlpark in 1997. To complete his articles, Nico joined a medium sized auditing firm. Nico then applied to join The South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA). After being tested and reviewed he was registered as a full member and received his practice number from the institute in 2002.
Like most entrepreneurs, Nico soon became bored with the mundane repetitiveness of corporate life. Nico had also noticed that in most small and medium sized businesses, the owners or and staff carried out the financial business without being equipped with any kind of accounting knowledge or understanding.
Understanding the challenges that face SMME’s and Entrepreneurs, Nico felt the need to empower them and has done so by writing a financial programme for the business man/woman in easy to understand language. The programme aims at a better understanding of how accounting works and its importance as a tool in running a financially healthy and stable business. Accounting principles are demonstrated. Topics like what an income statement and balance sheet are and what to look for in these statements are covered. Entrepreneurs and SMME’s no longer need fear financial data, putting them in a very empowering position. The entrepreneur is in control of the business.
Topics that will be covered in this workshop:
• Understanding the basic concepts of accounting.
• Reading financial statements.
• Analysing the basic elements of a balance sheet.
• Using the evidence in financial statements to make a financial decision.
• Determining financial viability of a project/enterprise.
• How to base decisions on evidence in the balance sheet.
• The financial strengths and weaknesses of an entity are analysed and suggestions are made of ways to improve income and reduce costs.
No prior knowledge of accounting or book keeping is necessary for this highly effective but simple to understand workshop that promises to equip you with powerful tools to manage your business on a practical level.

Date: Wednesday 13th April 2011

Venue: German Chamber
47 Oxford Road
Forrest Town

Price: R950 per delegate (includes breakfast snack/lunch/refreshments and course material)

Time: 08.30 AM- 4:00 PM (Registration from 08.00 onwards). Please allow additional travelling time to combat traffic.

RSVP: Please book no later than Monday 11th April 2011. Space is limited therefore bookings will be accepted on a first come first serve basis.

To book your place for Financial Literacy for Non-Financial Entrepreneurs, please contact:

For SA German Chamber delegates, please contact Shaan Padayachy on 011 486 2775 or

For WIF delegates, please contact Colleen Larsen on 084 353 9865 or

Everyone else, please contact Nikki Viljoen on 083 702 8849 or

BUSINESS TIPS - Managing Your Business - Part 4

BUSINESS TIPS – Managing Your Business – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2011
We’ve looked at Managing your cash flow and making sure that your margins are where they should be, as well as ensuring that you are meeting your client’s needs. Today we will have a look at ‘managing your working capital’ and your advertising.
First off, let’s have a look at your ‘Working Capital Management’. Ensuring that you manage your working capital correct, will have quite an effect on your cash flow as it ‘releases’ monies that would normally go towards expenses. Let me explain – your clients pay you 30 days, but your suppliers want payment up front. This means that you are carrying the whole thing financially on your own (it will also have an impact on your risk management too). By negotiating better payment terms with your suppliers and/or your clients, you will decrease your risk and have a better cash flow situation and a stronger working capital, which could go towards growth and/or expansion.
Other critical areas to look at are (but not limited to), your debtors list. Make sure that you follow up outstanding or overdue accounts on a regular basis and don’t be scared to put ‘errant’ clients on ‘hold’ or in extreme cases, even firing them. Remember this is your business and you make the rules.
Stock is also something that needs to be managed both effectively and efficiently as this is one of the first areas that you will experience losses when there is downturn in the economy (ok, if the truth be told this is all the time, not only when things become a bit rough). So stock needs to be properly controlled to ensure that the shrinkage is kept to a minimum and that stock levels are kept to acceptable levels. Too much or too little stock on hand also has its own consequences. Oh, and don’t forget to make sure that your stock is properly and adequately insured and that (particularly with perishables) that the FIFO (first in first out) method is used, that way you will not end up with stock that has expired.
One of the first things that seem to go for a ball of chalk when times are tough is your advertising. This is not good at all. Think about it logically and calmly for a moment. Taking your marketing out of the equation means that less and less customers are going to know about you and less and less customers are therefore going to buy from you! Crazy that - you are wanting to increase your sales, which means your marketing and advertising should increase.
By all means, modify the way that you market yourself. Cut down on say, using the big PR agencies (or any agency for that matter) and try and do things for yourself. Get an e-mail campaign going or use the social networking sites and twitter to drive people to your website. Start a newsletter and give ‘useful’ information to your clients. Make sure that you are still in the forefront of their minds and that they don’t forget you and go to your opposition or competitors as a result of this.
So change the way that your market yourself, if you must, but ensure that the amount of marketing increases rather than decreases.
Next time we will have a look at some of the other issues around what to do when your business is going through a tough time.

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

Monday, April 04, 2011

MOTIVATION - Choosing Your Own Path

MOTIVATION – Choosing Your Own Path

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 11

Oprah Winfrey says “Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in the possibility.”

I have ‘the right to choose’ – what does that mean exactly? Well, for me it means that if I am accountable and responsible for the consequences of a choice then it is my right to make the choice.

So often lately, I have heard the words ‘but I didn’t have a choice’! Of course you do! Many times it is our perception that is flawed – the person who works for a Company, and they are ‘stuck’ in a job that they hate - well leave the Company, or ask for a transfer to a department where there is a job that you would love to do. I understand that you need to work, in order to make a living, to put food on the table – but nobody can force you to work where you are not happy – it is your choice to stay, just as it is your choice to leave. Whether you leave to go to another job or where you leave without another job is also your decision and your choice.

Whether you realize your dreams or achieve your goals is entirely dependent upon your actions (or indeed you non-actions) and your actions are dependent upon the choices that you make.

Understand though that without any action on your part, your dreams and aspirations will also not be realized – but again, that would be a choice that you have made.

Clearly, the path that you choose would have to lead to the dream or goal that you have. If it doesn’t, it would be like taking the wrong fork in the road or even turning in the wrong direction. As much as people get ‘lost; if they don’t follow directions, you will become ‘lost’ if the path that you choose does not lead to your dream or goal.

Fortunately though, as much as we can look at a map, or get new directions to our destination, so too can we make alternative choices to ensure that we get back on the right path.

Remember though that there may be a choice that you have previously made that may limit the choices that you can currently make. For example if you made a choice to steal and you were caught and as a direct consequence of that choice you are currently serving time, one of the choices that are currently open to you won’t be that you can go down the road to the local Wimpey for a coffee – that is why the choice of road that you take is ‘a sacred privilege’.

Keep you dream and your goal in the forefront of your mind to ensure that the choices that you make will keep you on the right path to achieve your dream and/or your goal
Guard that right, guard that choice, guard that dream and guard that goal.

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

Friday, April 01, 2011

HR - Check the Work Permit - Part 2


Check the Work Permit – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC - April 2011

Following on from last time, let’s have a look at some of the other types of permits that are available out there.

There are also often instances where foreigners, who have rare skills are needed here in South Africa. Sometimes these particular skills are not included on the ‘quota list’, usually because of their rarity. More often than not these foreigners will also be granted the ‘general’ type work permit. Again, these should be processed through a professional immigration practitioner as this will ensure that the proper procedures are followed and that all the required documentation is present and accounted for.

Individuals, such as (but not limited to) academics, who have published, or an internationally recognized motivational speaker or even a sports coach whose teams always does well, irrespective of which country they are coaching in, or what about a surgeon who has invented or perfected a particular medical process, these individuals would be recognised as people who have ‘exceptional skills’. Before any of these individuals get the required permit, they will have to provide Home Affairs with documentary evidence to validate their particular achievements.

One of the easiest permits to get issued are intra-company permits. These are used mainly by multinationals and they are used specifically to bring in staff that hold key management and/or skills that are specific to that particular company. These permits are usually issued for a two year period. Understand though that a tea lady or a driver or a cleaning person etc., would not be considered ‘key’ management personnel.

So what happens then if the person who has an ‘intra-company’ permit (that has been issued for two years), falls in love with South Africa and wants to stay here. Well that is not typically a problem provided that the foreigner becomes a part of the local (or South African leg) of the multinational company. In this instance the intra-company permit can be changed to another type of permit before it expires. If it expires, however, that is a whole different ball game. Once the permit expires the foreign individual must leave the country and the permit would have to be reapplied for.

Be careful here though, because although the ‘work’ permit is valid the permanent residence permit is not guaranteed and there are instances where this has had a negative impact on the multinational as they have lost key personnel, who are critical to the local leg of the multinational. Be careful about this as it could seriously hamper your ability to trade effectively.

There are also instances where corporate permits are issued for companies who know, in advance, that they are going to need large numbers of foreign workers with a specific work skill that is not readily available in South Africa, as was the case with the French nationals who were brought out to South Africa specifically to build the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station. Although they were artisans, their specific skill set was for the construction of Nuclear Power Stations which differed considerably to those of the normal construction artisan.

Next time we will look at the final lot of permits that are issued to foreigners.

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