Tuesday, June 25, 2013

BUSINESS TIPS - Five Mentoring Tips

BUSINESS TIPS – Five Mentoring Tips

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2013

As many of you may know I am currently working with the Cherie Blair Foundation as a mentor.  One of my fellow mentors, Jenny, shared five of her recommendations for mentors with us.

-    “Get down and dirty – you can’t mentor from a distance, you have to get your hands dirty and understand the nitty gritty of what your mentee does”.

Well that sounds like pretty logical advice to me!  The Cherie Blair Foundation mentors and mentees are based literally all over the world and I have yet to come across a mentor mentoring a mentee in their own neck of the woods.  I was matched up to a young lady who originally comes from Kenya, but who now lives Rwanda.  Sure we can’t get ‘up close and personal’ to one another and we rely on SKYPE for our two weekly chats, but the point is that I know exactly what her business is about, what her ‘crisis’ areas are, what her challenges are and how she is or isn’t coping.  It’s all about communication and sharing – her sharing with me and me sharing with her.  I mean really, how could I possibly give someone business advice if I didn’t know the very basics about what business they are in.

-    “Open doors – use your connections and your networks to open doors for your mentee.”

The whole idea behind mentoring is about sharing experience and advice and so for me, sharing connections (obviously where appropriate) is also what is called for.  Not only will it benefit your mentee but it will also add value to the person whose details you share.  Networking is a basic resource for any business.

-    “Don’t let your mentee off the hook, keep them focused and on track to act.”

Oh thank goodness for this one! I have had several requests from clients as well as colleagues for me to mentor them.  They are really keen to get all the information and experience from me until I tell them that I want a written agenda at least 48 hours before the meeting, that they have to take minutes which must also be given to me prior to the next meeting and that all actions that they have agreed to must have a ‘due by’ date and that those deadlines have to be met.  Remember the whole ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’ thing – clearly this applies to mentoring as well.

-    “Meet regularly – weekly or bi-monthly to keep the momentum going, the sessions can be short and sweet”

You really cannot monitor what your mentee is doing or give them the correct guidance if you are not communicating on a regular basis.  I have found that 20 to 30 minutes every two weeks is more than sufficient once you get going.  The initial meeting(s) will be a bit longer but then that is because you are getting to know one another and to understand the needs of each other.

-    “Be prepared to learn as much as your mentee does”.

This one quite honestly I was not prepared for and one that has had the most impact on my life.  Be prepared to listen, carefully – I did and I am so glad that I did.  I have learnt a huge lesson from my mentee and it’s not one that I will forget!

And a final word from me, give your mentee room to grow – don’t give them everything on a platter – steer them in the right direction, but make them think for themselves, often they will come up with their own solution.  This will strengthen their ability to problem solve and ensure that they do not become reliant on you for every decision that they need to make.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Monday, June 24, 2013

MOTIVATION - Learning to Fly

MOTIVATION –  Learning to Fly

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2013

Fredrich Nietzsche says “He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying!”

Oh!  This one really had me smiling!  You see, whilst I am very aware that most things in life take time to achieve and that certain processes need to be followed to ensure a successful outcome, I am also terribly impatient!  I am always impatient to get the task started and done – no – patience is certainly not one of my strong points!

I understand that the journey of life goes through stages, where we start off by ‘standing’ and then ‘walking’ and so on, but that doesn’t mean that the goal of ‘flying’ is not constantly far from our thoughts and that we want to get there as quickly as possible and that we are not hugely impatient to get to it and of course, herein lies the challenge.

Much like the ‘short cut’ that we take on unfamiliar roads to get to a specific destination in a hurry, will often get us horribly lost and take us far longer to get there than the original route, so too often will the ‘shortcuts’ that we take in life often end in disaster.

I think that the trick is to savour the journey.  To stop every now and then and celebrate the achievements that we have made.  To look back and see how far we have come rather than just continuously chastising ourselves on all the things that we have not yet achieved.

I think that the trick is to deal with the issues as and when they arise and not to ignore or bury them in the hope that they will resolve themselves or even go away.  I think that where we can, we should be proactive and prepare ourselves for what we know will happen or can happen so that we can deal with them effectively and efficiently when they do happen.

I think that we should always look at life with a ‘can do’ kind of attitude, rather than actively trying to find ways to say “can’t do”!

I think that we should check our ‘mind sets’ on a regular basis and make the ‘minor adjustments’ that are required instead of waiting until life gives us a big fat smack or ‘wake up’ call.

I think that we must remember to ‘flex’ our fledgling wings from time to time to remind us of our goals and so that when it comes time to ‘soar’ we will do so without fear or restraint.

But until that time . . . . I think we need to pull in the reigns and ‘learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance’ before we start to fly.
Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

BUSINESS TIPS - Documentation and SARS

BUSINESS TIPS – Documentation and SARS

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – May 2013

On a daily basis I meet with people who are either starting their own businesses or alternatively there are those who have been in business for many years now – irrespective of where they are in that particular journey called life, they more often than not, have no clue about the legal requirements around the retention of their business documents.

The harsh reality is that not only is there a legal requirement in terms of what documents must be kept there are also requirements on how long these documents must be kept and they are not all just about the financial records either.  Some need to be kept for only a couple of years, others for up to 5 or 7 or even 15 or so years and others that have to be retained ‘indefinitely’.

Add to all of this the digital and electronic age and although in many ways this simplifies life there are also instances where this will complicate things.

Take for example the tax records . . . it has been promulgated into law that the tax records and financial documentation pertaining to these records can be stored in their electronic form provided that they are stored electronically in a physical location in South Africa.  Furthermore, if the taxpayer wishes to store and maintain their accounting or invoicing records using ‘the cloud’ technology or servers outside of South African borders, they will need to obtain written approval from a Senior SARS officiator.

Apparently though, obtaining authority to do this is not an easy achievement either, as the following requirements have to be met.  These are (but not limited to):
-    You have to be able to easily access these records here in SA.
-    Irrespective of the location of these servers, this should not affect the access to the records.
-    It is a requirement that the country where the servers are hosted has to have an international tax agreement with South Africa for reciprocal tax assistance.
-    That the taxpayer in South Africa has to be able to produce an acceptable electronic form of the record – ideally it should look exactly like its paper hardcopy equivalent and
-    The storage capabilities must meet all storage requirements.

Additional challenges that may be encountered are in the form of system description development should the software or electronic platform not be commonly used and/or recognized in South Africa, so beware of all the ‘off the shelf’ products that may have been developed in India or the USA as they may carry ‘hidden’ costs.

Be sure to have properly researched what you purchase to ensure that SARS requirements are always met – it will be cheaper in the long run.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za