Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WORKSHOP : JOHANNESBURG : How to Complete a Tender Document

Workshop: (Jhb) How to Complete a Tender Document – 14th September 2011
Brought to you by Viljoen Consulting, Sisibukula, WIF, Randburg Chamber and the German Chamber
Accessing and completing tenders remains a mysterious area for most small businesses. Learn how to complete and submit a tender so that you can participate in a lucrative sector of business in South Africa. Using the practical skills that you will learn and understand in this powerful one day workshop, you will be able to make the system work for you to ensure that you apply for the opportunities that are best suited for you. Understand the pitfalls and how to avoid them by understanding your rights as well as your obligations. Get the right contracts in place and negotiate the best deal for yourself.

This workshop covers:
Entering into agreements
Changing Mindsets
Other issues in the Tender Process
Legal issues
Practical Examples

Malcolm Larsen
Malcolm is a Quantity Surveyor by profession. Malcolm has over 25 years worth of experience in submitting proposals for Tenders, contracts and project management of projects up to a value of R250 million. Malcolm is currently engaged as a Small Business and Personal Contract Specialist. Malcolm was also previously a “Fellow of the Institute of Directors”.
Join Sisibukula at this essential day long workshop:
Date: Wednesday 14th September 2011
Venue: German Chamber
47 Oxford Road
Forest Town

Cost: R950.00 (includes breakfast/lunch/refreshments and course material, inclusive of VAT)

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 12th September 2011 . Space is limited therefore bookings will be accepted on a first come first serve basis.

Please contact:-

German Chamber delegates please contact Shaan Padayachy at or 011 486 2775

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

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

Friday, August 12, 2011

HR - Some Strange Interview Questions


Some Strange Interview Questions

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC , August 2011

It was with great amusement that I read (and I must say absolutely enjoyed) an article that I received from “Job search clinic on behalf of Gerard Le Roux”, entitled “3 dumb questions & a Bruce Lee quote.”

I was more than amused to find one of the questions that I always ask on there, although I am somewhat confused as to why it was classed as a dumb question. Quite frankly, I don’t see it as such, but perhaps I should let you in on it – the question of course is “Why should we hire you instead of the other candidate?”

Oh come now – how could that possibly be a dumb question? I guess it would have to do something with the ‘intent’ behind the question.

You see for me, it’s about what you, as the candidate, think that you can give me, or do, or be that is better than or bigger than what you think that the other candidates can give me, or do, or be. It’s about how you see yourself, whether you are different or the same as others.

In terms of this particular article though, if you as the candidate even attempted to answer the question, you would immediately be disqualified because . . . wait for it . . . because you would be ‘trying to answer without the facts. How can you possibly compare yourself with people you’ve never met and know nothing about?”

Now that for me is just being difficult and trying to trip people up or be ‘clever’ at someone else’s expense.

The other two questions in the article are really strange – the first one being “If you were a shoe, what kind would you be?” and the second one being “Tell me about a time when you . . . ? I guess for the first question, if you were intent on being in the fashion industry or it was a job to do with say colour it may have some kind of meaning and for the second question, I suppose if you were doing something that required instant use of your imagination it might have some sort of meaning, but for the average ‘Joe Public’ I can’t imagine what the right answer would be. I think if I had ever been asked a question like that, as an Internal Auditor, I might have decided that that particular company was more than a little strange and whilst I do have a number of eccentric friends, working for an eccentric company would be altogether a novel idea.

So why am I telling you about these questions? I promise it is not just to raise a smile, but also to let you know to expect the unexpected as well as the sometimes bizarre. They may very well just be checking to see if you have a good sense of humour, nothing more.

On the other hand however, they may be checking to see how you handle difficult situations or situations ‘out of the norm’ or even how you solve or find solutions to things outside of your comfort zone. So don’t be flippant when you respond.

Oh yes – and the Bruce Lee quote was “The successful warrior is the average person with laser like focus.”

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

Thursday, August 04, 2011

CPA - Consumer Complaint Procedure - Part 1

CPA – Consumer Complaint Procedure – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC- August 2011

Much has been written and said about the new CPA (Consumer Protection Act) that was recently introduced to South Africa. Many have seen it in a positive light (and I am included in these), but many have seen it in a negative light. Regardless of how you choose to see it, the very real and harsh reality of the matter is that it will affect you and have impact on your life, one way or another.

Let’s face it, we have all, at one time or another had a bad shopping experience and have felt frustrated and abused or even bullied by a supplier – I know I have, but now you can actually do something about it.

Let’s go through the process together.

Firstly there are three different types of solutions to your consumer complaint. They are:-
Class Actions;
Damages; and
Discriminations (remember though that discrimination complaints can be brought to, both the Equality Court or the National Consumer Commission, who will in turn refer it to the Equality Court).

Now, let’s go through the process one step at a time.

The first thing that you need to do if you have a complaint about a product or service is to approach the service provider. Obviously if you can resolve the problem at this level, between the two of you, this would be first prize. Remember to document everything as this will obviously assist.

There are of course, some suppliers who will not be willing to play their part in the dispute negotiation and so at this point, you would need to refer the matter to the DRA (Dispute Resolution Agent), who will attempt to resolve the matter in a fair and impartial manner, through an ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) process. Remember, the more information that you give them, particularly documented, the easier it will be for them to prove or disprove the situation.

From there, so called ‘minor matters’ will go to a provincial office, where the dispute will be forwarded onto the Provincial Consumer Courts.

At this point, it will become the responsibility of the Commissioner and/or the Tribunal to resolve the matter.

At this level, each complaint will be thoroughly investigated by the National Consumer Commission, who will in turn refer cases to the Consumer Tribunal.

The buck stops with the Consumer Tribunal who have the authority to decide whether the Consumer Act has been contravened or not. They can and will, order changes in the practice of ‘how things happen’ in the supplier’s business or they could also make the supplier pay a fine or even implement a process in the supplier’s business to ensure that things happen differently next time.

As you can see, this is quite an onerous, complex process – so don’t be thinking that it will take all of five minutes.

The bottom line of course is that finally we, as consumers have a voice that we can make heard. Conversely, if we are service providers who don’t do things properly, our clients too, have a voice that can now be heard.

As usual though it is a process that has to be followed correctly, so again, please understand that it will not happen overnight and if you are a ‘knee jerk’ type of individual like I am, you will have to wait patiently while the wheels of justice turn.

You also have to understand that the CPA is not something that is unique to South Africa, it has been introduced in several countries across the globe, so it’s not the S A Government out to get you.

Next time we will continue with the process.

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

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

BUSINESS TIPS - Some More Common Mistakes - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Some More Common Mistakes – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – August 2011

Let’s be honest here, we all have good days and bad – we’re human after all and sometimes that’s just the way things are. Of course that does not mean that we just sit back and do nothing! What it does mean though is that we have to work extra hard at getting ourselves re-motivated. Our lives and our businesses depend on it!

Instead of beating yourself up when you are feeling low though, try doing something different. Do something that you absolutely love, or at the very least, do something that will take you out of the normal routine – go and watch a movie or take yourself ‘out for tea’ or ‘out for a meal’, or go for a massage, but take yourself away from your day to day drudge and troubles – chances are that when you come back you will be in an altogether different frame of mind and you can then get back onto the treadmill – ready to face whatever may come your way.

You need to understand that you will have to exercise great patience and tenacity when you have you own business. It is more than likely that you will need to speak with someone whom you can brainstorm with and/or bounce ideas off or who can (and will) challenge you and keep you motivated and going in the right direction. We all need a little help every now and then and having a mentor is usually a good thing – remember to ‘pay it forward’ though and help or mentor someone else too.

Keeping your emotions in check is also something that you will need to do, especially when you are making decisions that will have a huge impact on your business.

Decisions, of course, need to be made only after careful consideration, after a good deal of research and even more clear headed soul searching, in order for them it have the greatest beneficial impact. Decisions made ‘on the fly’ or without any kind of deliberation could have serious negative financial implications, which could bring about the demise of your business. So always think things through first.

A business needs to grow and that is a good thing – it’s a natural thing and it evidences that the product and/or service that you are offering is of value and that there is a demand for it.

Here’s the thing though that you need to be aware of and plan for. When you grow, your will need more money to facilitate the expansion. Ensure that your growth is measured and gradual and that you don’t grow too quickly as that will take more finance away from the day to day running and working capital of the business, which in turn would impact hugely on the cash flow and therefore the well being of the company.

Whatever you decide to do and however you decide to do it, remember why you started the business in the first place and remember to have fun!

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

Monday, August 01, 2011

MOTIVATION - Victory Over Oneself

MOTIVATION – Victory Over Oneself

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – August 2011

Lao Tzu says “He who gains a victory over other men is strong; but he who gains a victory over himself is all powerful.”

There have been several programs on TV over the last few months that have been about bullying and they were all somehow focused on the victim. Let’s take one of them as an example – I think it was one of the Private Practice shows a couple of weeks ago. There was this young chap (let’s call him Eric) around 14 who had lost his father at the age of 8 (or so) and now it was just him and his mum. His dad had gotten him interested in Japanese comic strips and it was something that he continued on his own. The kids at school really didn’t ‘get it’ and he became the butt of their jokes and because he didn’t react in any way, pretty soon the ‘jokes’ became violent and he was being taunted and beaten up on a regular basis.

Eric’s mum’s way of dealing with this was to take her son out of harm’s way and the result was that over a period of 2 years, Eric changed schools 8 times. Not a good situation, I am sure you will agree. As Eric moved from school to school, he became more and more the ‘butt’ of the bullies and not having any time to form any of his own roots and find friends who had similar interests, meant that he was on his own more of the time and being on his own, made him more susceptible to being the prey of bullies, and so the cycle continued.

Eric eventually started making up ‘pains’ and fevers to get out of school and his mother eventually took him off to see a doctor. The doctor (let’s call him Phil) happened to be a child psychologist and when Phil examined Eric for his so called ‘stomach ache’ the truth came out. Phil told Eric that he needed to ‘stand up’ for himself and that bullies, when confronted, would usually back down and he would then be left alone. Good advice, I am sure you will agree – but this is a TV program, so of course it didn’t work like that.

Eric, in an attempt to ‘stand up’ for himself, took a knife to school and of course he was busted by one of the teachers. Mother dearest was furious with Dr. Phil, because this was of course all of his fault, and would not allow Eric to see the doctor again and of course to ensure a good dose of drama, Eric attempted to commit suicide.

As he regained consciousness Eric spoke to Phil and explained how he felt that he could not meet anyone who he could connect with at school because his mum kept moving him and Phil explained that the first step would be to ‘stand up’ to his mother. Eric’s mum, of course only wanted to keep her son safe and again wanted him to move to another school.

Eric, eventually stepped up to the plate and convinced his mother that this was something he had to do for himself, he had to overcome his own fears and he had to face his tormentors, without showing them any fear, and he had to find ‘the others’ like himself – he could no longer run and he could only do this if she left him in the same school.

The message for me, was very clear – there is a very wrong and a very right way to gain victory over your enemies, but in order for that to happen you have to gain victory over yourself and (as in this case) it meant Eric facing his own fears and gaining control over them.

Gaining a measure of control over myself, my fears and insecurities was one of the biggest steps forward that I took and for what it’s worth, it made my (at that point) self esteem soar. I felt as though I had conquered the world and that made me feel and react differently and that made other people see me in a totally different light altogether.

So the next time you feel tiny and insignificant in the face of the world, remember to gain control of your fears, of yourself and that victory will carry you through any kind of adversity.

You will be all powerful because you will be victorious over your biggest enemy – yourself!

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