Friday, January 31, 2014

HR - What to do when . . . You Want to Dismiss Staff - Part 2


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want To Dismiss Staff?

Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

So here we are again – let’s look at what is considered an ‘unfair’ dismissal.

•    any dismissal that is not done for a fair reason (like you just don’t like the person) is considered ‘unfair’.
•    any dismissal that takes place without the proper and fair procedure, irrespective of whether  it is in accordance with any notice period in a contract of employment or in legislation governing employment.  So this means that you cannot just come to work one day and decide that George has to go, because he is irritating the hell out of you, so you give him a month’s notice as per his Letter of Appointment and in compliance with legislation – I mean you did give him a month’s notice so what is the problem?  Right?  Wrong!

Each time you dismiss someone, please understand in order for you to ascertain whether it is fair or not is always determined by the facts of the case and whether dismissal is appropriate or not as a penalty. 

I would also like to add in here that it is also determined by precedents that have been set in previous cases.  Let me explain.  If two years ago one of your employees (let’s call him Philip) was caught stealing say R100.00 out of the till and Philip managed to convince everyone at his disciplinary, that he had ‘borrowed’ the money for taxi fare and that he intended to pay it back the following day and you gave him a ‘Final Written Warning’ in consequence of his actions and now George is caught stealing say R100.00 out of the till and George now also says that he ‘borrowed’ the money for taxi fare and that he intended to pay the money back the next day, but you are fed up with George because his attitude is bad, so you dismiss him – this would be construed as ‘unfair’ dismissal because you did not dismiss Philip for the same offense, two years ago.  So be careful when dishing out punishments for first time offences – they may just come back and bite you on the rear end in the future!

You still have to follow the correct procedure and whether the procedure is fair or not is determined by, but not limited to, the following guidelines.

There are three grounds, by which ‘dismissal’ is considered fair and legitimate, by the Act.

These are:
•    the conduct of the employee (which is why it is of critical importance to have a documented ‘Code of Conduct’ for your Company)
•    the capacity of the employee and
•    the operational requirements of the employer’s business.

The Act says that a dismissal is automatically unfair if the reason for the dismissal is:
•    anything that is an infringement of the basic rights of employees and/or trade unions or
•    if the reason is one of those that is listed in section 187.

These reasons include, but are not limited to:
•    if the employee participates in a lawful strike
•    if the employee intends to become or is pregnant
•    any acts of discrimination against the employee.

Where the dismissal is not automatically unfair, the employer has to show that the reason for the dismissal is because the employee’s conduct was in question or that the employee’s capacity was in question or it is based on the employee’s failure to meet the operational requirements of the employer’s business. 

If you, as the employer cannot show this or if you cannot prove that the dismissal was performed within the parameters of fair procedure, then the dismissal will be deemed as unfair.

In essence you have to make very sure that you have all your ducks in a row and that you can substantiate and prove anything that needs to be proved in this respect.

Next week we will look at the Disciplinary Procedures prior to dismissal.

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

Thursday, January 30, 2014

EARLY WARNING - All About Procurement Fraud - Part 1


All About Procurement Fraud – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting December 2012.

I have decided that going forward, not only will the “Early Warning” section be used to highlight some of the negative things that are currently happening, but it will also be used proactively to try and avoid the negative things from happening. In this particular case “Procurement Fraud”.  It is quite a large topic so as usual when this happens, it will be segmented into smaller parts.

So . . .  let’s start at the beginning – What is Procurement?

According to the Wiki “Procurement is the acquisition of goods or services”.  The Wiki goes on to say (sic) “It is favourable that the goods/services are appropriate and that they are procured at the best possible cost to meet the needs of the purchaser in terms of quantity and quality, time and locations (Weele 2010).  Corporations and public bodies often define processes intended to promote fair and open competition for their business while minimizing exposure to fraud and collusion.”

So what then is “Procurement Fraud?”

Again, according to the Wiki (sic) “Procurement Fraud can be defined as dishonestly obtaining an advantage, avoiding an obligation or causing a loss to public property or various means during procurement process by public servants, contractors or any other person involved in the procurement process.”

In the Corporate world and certainly in the Government Departments and Parastatels, the whole procurement process is handled by specific “Procurement Departments” with often, hundreds of personnel and this usually is where all the mischief happens.  Remember that in the larger companies (and obviously on a much smaller scale in the SMME playground), there are many different ‘types’ of procurement, depending on the sector – some of the more generic ones are (but not limited to):-
Staff Training
Equipment (office and other)
IT (hardware and software) etc.

Keeping control of these purchases and these expenses has become a priority, as crime escalates and as always, as it affects the bottom line.

Sadly, more and more I am discovering that “Procurement Fraud” is not only taking place in the larger Corporates and/or Government and/or the Parastatels, but also in smaller companies, so going forward, in this series, we will together identify the ‘red flags’ and find practical solutions on how to avoid this particular scam.

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

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Networking 101 - Networking with Purpose



Networking with Purpose

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

I was asked the other day, “what my purpose is” when I network. I must confess that I was a little confused by the question, until I realized that I was being asked the question by someone who is used to a completely different style of networking to the one that I tend to engage in.

You see for him networking was usually done as an entertaining social sort of thing, where people chatted genteelly around a table with a cup of tea in one hand and a sticky bun of sorts in the other. Where people smiled politely at one another and made small talk about the weather, the cricket/rugby/soccer, the latest fashion and who was doing what to whom on a regular basis.

This kind of ‘networking’ for me is quite simply, ‘a no go’. You see I am in the Business of Business to make a profit, making money is easy, but making a profit – well that is an entirely different thing altogether (but that is another story for another time). In order for me to make a profit, I need to grow my business – slowly but surely, one step at a time.

For me to grow my business, I need to look for opportunities, and believe me there are an abundance of them all around, it’s just a question of recognizing them and then doing something with them.

For me, the easiest way to search for opportunities, is at a networking event, where people are serious about doing business and who are hungry to find opportunities.

So for me, understanding my purpose for being at a specific type of networking meeting is of the utmost importance.

Therefore the purpose for me attending a networking meeting is to meet people, and build relationships with them. It is to search for opportunities, whether they are for me as an individual, or a possible Joint Venture, or a Strategic Alliance, or even to see an opportunity for a business colleague and/or friend and/or client.

These opportunities and relationships, will allow me to grow my own business, and provide a ‘value add’ to both my clients and my colleagues.

For me, this is a win, win & win again situation.

So now, what was the question again . . . . . .

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

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS - Some More Common Mistakes - Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Some More Common Mistakes – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – July 2011

I had the opportunity to speak with one of my client’s this week, whose eyes became like saucers when I expanded on things that she could introduce and do within her business that she hadn’t even thought about.  A bit sad that, because she had the idea, the basic idea – but she was so caught up in that basic idea that she couldn’t see the wood for trees – there were several different additional dimensions that she could also go to, but hadn’t.  She was being restrained by herself.  Don’t be scared to dream big!

One of the other things that I often see small business owners and entrepreneurs doing wrong, including myself, is the old 80:20 rule.  It’s not new, it’s not difficult and it certainly is one of the most basic rules that we should all know and yet I for one, often struggle with it badly.  I think that one of the reasons for this is that I am so ‘caught’ up in the moment that I don’t see it coming or that I am in the middle of it and it’s only when I am just about strangled to death by it, that I see what’s happening and then take the necessary steps to stop it and usually by that time, it has already caused the damage and I have to start again. 

Let me step back for a moment and explain what I mean.

When 80% of your sales or your income, is generated from 20% of your customers – your natural instinct is to spend the greater amount of your time with those particular customers.  The problem with this of course, is that because you are getting most of your income from these customers you are often coerced into giving them bigger discounts or freebies and that means that your margins are cut.  The bottom line is that you may be getting the lion’s share of the turnover from them, but you are also getting the least profitability from them.  There is also the very real danger that should you lose, even one of these customers, you have lost a very big piece of your income and that is never a good thing.

Balancing the 80% with the 20% is a very delicate thing and if you get it right your business with soar to incredible heights, but getting it wrong could also lead to your downfall.  It is something that needs to be kept in sight at all times.

Linking to the 80%/20% spilt is customer service.  If your 80% clients are running you ragged with all of their demands, and believe me some of those bigger clients can have a very lopsided view of what their money buys from you, chances are that you may very well have both little time and/or energy left for your smaller clients and their perception then is that they are not getting good customer service from you.

I don’t care if I go into a shop every single day or once a year – I want good service.  If that is how I think, then surely my clients are entitled to the same.  Giving consistently good service to ALL of your clients will result in loyalty.  Loyalty in a client means that not only will they come back time and time again, they will also recommend you to all of their friends and word of mouth referrals are the best kind of marketing you can have.  Believe me too though, when I tell you it is also the worst type of marketing you can have, if you have upset a client.  Remember that ‘bad’ news also travels faster than ‘good’ news does and it has a bigger impact.  So be sure to give consistently good service to your clients. 

This of course, does not mean that you have to become a doormat for nasty and bad clients – those you should just get rid of anyway.  Give value for money and good service and you’ll always have business coming your way.

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

Monday, January 27, 2014

WORKSHOP: JHB: Contracts, Proposals & Tender Documents - The How To - 19th February 2014

Workshop: (Jhb) Contracts, Proposals & Tender Documents – The How To – 19th February 2014

Brought to you by Viljoen Consulting, Sisibukula, Business Engage (formerly Women In Finance)

Understanding the 'small print' can often be the difference between signing your life away with no reward and my personal favorite, signing your life away for great rewards. Accessing and completing tenders remains a mysterious area for most small businesses. Learn 'how to' ensure that the contract you sign is fair and with your best interests at heart and 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, here in this powerful one day workshop, will enable you to make the system work for you, instead of you working for the system.  This will ensure that you apply for the opportunities that are best suited for you.

Understanding the pitfalls and how to avoid them by understanding your rights as well as your obligations will assist you in getting the right contracts in place and negotiate the best deal for yourself.

This workshop covers:
•    Changing your mindset
•    What is a contract?
•    Who is the author?
•    The parties
•    Rights & Obligations
•    Pre- tender check list
•    Understanding the tender
•    Restrictions
•    Execution of the contract
•    Scope and specifications
•    Tender and contract conditions
•    Starting and finishing
•    Financial risk
•    Clarifications, clarifications and more clarifications
•    Authority
•    Pricing

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 19th February 2014
Venue: The Oak Leaf
61 Rivonia Road

Cost: R1495.00 (includes breakfast snack/finger lunch/refreshments and course material, exclusive 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 Friday 13th, February 2014 . Space is limited therefore bookings will be accepted on a first come first serve basis.

Please contact:-
Business Engage delegates please contact Colleen Larsen at or 084-353-9865. Please note that there is a 10% discount for paid up members.

Everyone else please contact Nikki Viljoen on 083 702 8849   for booking details.
Be part of a group of Entrepreneurs helping and creating opportunities for other Entrepreneurs.

MOTIVATION - Controlling Fear

Today’s quote comes from Marilyn C Barrick, who says:

“For the most part, fear is nothing but an illusion.  When you share it with someone else, it tends to disappear.”

How fabulous is that?  I think it’s marvelous – the only problem of course is that we have to get over our own selves and our own egos and our own pride and our own lack of self esteem and of course our own . . . .  . fear! 

Fear of what other’s may think of us,

Fear of how others may see us

Fear of how we may see ourselves


Crazy stuff that – fear, and ironically enough something that every single person on the planet experiences at one time or another, and actually therefore nothing really to be ashamed of at all.

Owners of small businesses all over the country seem to think that they are always alone with their fears.  Strange thing that, how we feel that everything that happens to us is uniquely ours!

Come on people, we are actually all in this together, surely it makes perfectly good sense to get together and unite, as a group to face the challenges that presents itself to us all as individuals.  Surely it is better to ‘brainstorm’ our way through these issues rather than try to stand up in the face of perceived adversity, all by ourselves.  Surely it is better to find solutions for all of us than to try and be all of everything to ourselves?

I am often told about individuals who are ‘lonely’ in business by themselves and yet that is exactly how they mean to stay – by themselves because of the ‘fear’ mostly, I guess, fear of opening themselves up to anyone, of showing how weak and/or vulnerable they are.  Yet in the words of my friend and mentor Vanessa Paige – ‘Your greatest strength lies within your vulnerability’, lay my biggest ‘ah ha’ moment!  Took me quite a while to get that one, but I did – eventually and I am a far stronger person for it.

Now you see, I share everything about my life with people.  My fears, my challenges and my triumphs - especially my triumphs.  I am not alone in my business and I don’t have to do it alone either.

Are you alone?  Are you afraid and alone?

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

Sunday, January 26, 2014

MARKETING - Relying on Networking to Generate Sales Leads



By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting November  2008.

Now what I am about to say is probably going to sound like a huge contradiction in terms.  You see I always carry on about the fact that I get all of my work through Networking and now I am telling you that relying on Networking to generate sales leads is not a good idea.  I can just see all the eyes raising heavenwards and groans of ‘well make up you mind!’

Well it’s like this, I am a natural Networker and a natural connector – so it works for me as an individual.  For those of you who find Networking hard work or in any way difficult or you actually just don’t ‘get it’, relying on Networking to generate your sales leads is a really bad mistake.

You see most people will join a Chamber of Commerce and go to one or other of the meetings and shuffle around meeting one or two other people who are doing exactly the same thing.  You may or may not meet someone with whom you can form a joint venture or strategic alliance with, sometime in the future and it may give you a few brownie points for being visible as a supporter of your community, but in all probability it will not generate you any kind of sustainable sales leads.  That is because you will not ‘work’ it.

One-on-one networking is time consuming and it is hard work and if you don’t work at it properly, there is no guarantee that you will get any work out of it.  So be sure that you are aware of what it is that you are doing and why you are doing it.  It can become a very costly exercise both financially and also with your time.

So for those of you who are uncomfortable (or perhaps that should be not as comfortable as I am) in the Networking environment, you should use Networking as any other of your marketing strategies – measure them and determine the cost to you versus your payback.

Don’t be too quick to blame Networking for your lack of sales leads though, it is probably your lack of knowledge and/or your failure to understand how to Network correctly that will result in zero sales leads.
Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Saturday, January 25, 2014

MARKETING - Realistic Belief



By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2008.

I know that on many levels, it is really sad if you can’t dream – hell, I do!  That said, I also know how dangerous it can become if your dreams are out of the ball park.  Think about it for a minute – most evenings, sitting watching some of the ads that they present on TV, I actually have to ‘suspend belief’ in order for me to even try and understand the message that they are trying to get across.  As an Internal Auditor, that for me is incredibly difficult – remember I live, deal and work in an environment that is based, strictly on fact!

Take for example the host of motor vehicle ads that are doing the rounds at the moment.  Cars that morph into spiders, and snakes and the like, in order for them to travel where no other car goes.  Firstly the idea of me actually believing that a car could change shape like that is an insult to my ‘logical’ brain and intelligence and secondly, I have no doubt that there are other brands of vehicles that can not only do the same kind of terrain, but probably a whole lot more than just that, seems to me to be a whole lot more reasonable. 

Or how about the one where the driver, tired of listening to his girlfriend yapping away, opens the cubbyhole (or glove compartment – for the foreigners amongst us), and she gets ‘sucked’ into the compartment, never to be heard of again – well not until the next time that the ad is aired, you understand.  Now I understand that they are trying to ‘sell’ the concept of ‘more space’ or spaciousness, but the idea of getting a whole body into that space for me is just ludicrous!

To be sure, that could be very well what they are trying to do to get me to remember the ad and therefore that will become my car of choice – but quite honestly, I don’t remember the make of the car or anything other than what a ridiculous ad that is!

Now if the car manufacturers have to go to these lengths to try and increase the level of sales, on branded products – why is it that so many of the small business owners or SMME’s as they are called, seem to think that because they have produced an ‘incredible’ product and/or service, that said product and/or service will automatically sell itself!

That for me is also where I have to ‘suspend belief’. Why would brands such as ‘Coca-Cola’ who are internationally branded and are known by just about every person on the planet, believe they need to advertise and yet someone who knows exactly 100 people on the planet, feel that they don’t need to advertise because the product will sell itself?

Clearly you need to market yourself.  I, as an Internal Auditor – really do not know much about advertising and marketing – it’s not what I do.  What I do know however, is that if people don’t know about you or your product, you are not going to sell any of your product and that is the bottom line.

Marketing can be as expensive or as inexpensive as the amount of money that you have to spend, and for me it’s got to be believable too.

When I started, I certainly did not have a huge budget (and to be quite honest – I still don’t), but I did know that I had to get myself out there.  I had to tell people about who I am and what it is that I do and believe me, telling them once just doesn’t cut it!  You have to go back and tell them time and time again, at some point a light bulb will go off in their heads and they will understand that they need either your service or your product, but until that time – you have to keep telling them.

As an Internal Auditor, I always tell people, that it is not about making money – that’s easy!  It’s about making a profit!  To make a profit, you have to sell and in order to sell, you have to market yourself and/or your product.

It does not matter how incredible your product and/or service is, people still have to know about it in order for it to ‘sell itself’, so the job of marketing must still be done.

To make your marketing easier, you need to ascertain who your customers would be and those are the clients that you need to be make aware of what you have to offer.  I am sure you’ve  heard the saying ‘as difficult as selling ice to an Eskimo in the middle of winter’?  Well that’s exactly what it is. Selling to the right target market at the right time.

So remember, tell people who you are and what it is that you do and don’t forget to tell them why your product is different to all the others out there, and/or why your services are different. 

Marketing, in its most basic form is about making people aware of what you have.  Good marketing is making the right people aware of what you have, at the right time, and making them understand that your product/service is the best value for money.
Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Friday, January 24, 2014

HR - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . You Want to Dismiss Staff - Part 1


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want To Dismiss Staff?

Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

More and more I am getting questions around “when can we dismiss a staff member” or indeed “when should I dismiss a staff member”.

There are a host of reasons for dismissing staff, the question though is whether it will seen as ‘fair’ or ‘unfair’ dismissal.  When faced with a dismissal that is either ‘unfair’ or even borderline ‘unfair’, you can be sure that you might just end up at the CCMA and that brings on a whole different world.

So here are some pointers of what can and cannot be done – please be advised that these are ‘some’ pointers – certainly, not everything will be covered and always ask advice from a Labour Attorney should you be confused.

There is a ‘Code of Good Practice’ available on the Department of Labour’s website and whilst this deals with some of the key issues around dismissals, specifically those related to an employee’s conduct or their capacity to do a particular function, it remains general.  In other words each case is usually quite unique and there are some instances where the issues or “what took place” are completely outside of what is considered ‘the norm’ in the “Code of Good Practice’.  This may include but not be limited to circumstances such as the number of employees and so on and therefore a different approach would be needed to resolve these issues.

For the record the “Code of Good Practice’ was established as a guideline and it was not intended to be substituted for disciplinary and/or grievance procedures.  These procedures still need to be followed correctly.

For the ‘Code of Good Practice’ to be effective, both employees and employers should treat one another with respect.  The spirit of the Code is for both parties to have a ‘win/win’ experience.  The employer must be able to operate his/her business effectively and the employee must be able to work in a safe and efficient environment.

The whole purpose of the ‘Code’ is for  employees to be protected against frivolous actions on the part of the employer, however that said the employer is also entitled to a satisfactory work performance as well as acceptable conduct from their employees.

Next week we will look at some of the ‘fair’ and ‘unfair’ reasons for dismissal.

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

Thursday, January 23, 2014

EARLY WARNING - Legal Notices, Amendments


Legal Notices - Amendments

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2011.

I got this information directly off an AA Newsletter.  It says (sic):
The National Road Traffic Regulations have been amended.
The amendment is in Government Gazette 33796, Notice number 1113 published on 25 November 2010. It is called the Seventeenth Amendment and came into force on publication. A few of the amendments are listed for your information:
•    New motor vehicles registered after 1 August 2010 must have number plates that are fitted with pop rivets or screws. If it cannot be fitted to the vehicle it must be fitted to a bracket that complies with SANS 973.
•    As of 1 February 2011 persons who obtain driving licences for a code C, C1, EC or EC1 driving licence will not be allowed to drive a motor vehicle that requires a code B or code EB licence (in old terms – a person with a code 10, 11, 13 or 14 licence cannot drive a vehicle for which you need a code 08 licence). This will only apply to new licence holders.
•    Foreign licences are accepted in South Africa if the person got the licence while he was not in SA for a period longer than 3 months. Foreign licences are valid in SA until it expires in the country of issue but not for longer than 5 years after the person got permanent residence in SA
•    Directional Stability Control Devices for mini and midibuses are introduced through a certification process that forms part of the roadworthy test. It applies to all mini and midibuses and not only newly manufactured vehicles.
•    Left-hand drive steered vehicles: Legality is clarified - the owner of such a vehicle may, if the vehicle was licensed in his name before 23 July 2004, sell the vehicle and the new owner may licence it.
•    An amendment to regulation 332 was published and lists the evidential breath testers that may be used to collect evidential breath samples and the certificate issued by the manufacturer or supplier may be used as evidence in cases by the mere production thereof.
•    Management representatives of testing stations are limited to testing 150 motor vehicles per month.

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

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Networking 101 - Introverts are Great Networkers



Introverts are Great Networkers

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“Introverts can network successfully too.  They simply need to be more selective about where, when and with whom they associate.”

Quite frankly, I am always amazed when people look at me in absolute disbelief when I tell them this.  Actually if the truth be told its then next bit of information that always gets them – you see I am an introvert!  So now that everyone who fell down to the floor laughing has picked themselves up and dusted themselves off – the truth of the matter is that – I am an introvert!  Ask my shrink if you don’t believe me.

I am really not comfortable with most people, I dislike crowds intensely, I am actually quite shy and given half a chance I would become quite a recluse.

I know that I have said, on more than one occasion that I am a natural Networker and on most levels that is absolutely true – here’s the thing though.  Every morning when I get up, and I have to meet with people, I have to make a conscious decision about that.  I have to have this chat to myself about how it is in the best interests of my business and therefore myself.  It’s a motivational chat of great proportion and it is what gets me going and keeps me going for the rest of the day.

Absolute bliss, for me are the days, when I don’t have to meet with anyone and I can sit quietly at home and get on with my work or write what needs to be written and I can deal with people on the phone – if I have to.  That really works for me in a ‘natural’ sort of way, I can just relax.

So, as an introvert, if I can get Networking to work for me in the way in which I have, what on earth is stopping you?  Find a way that allows you to be comfortable in a Networking environment and get going – it will make a world of difference to your business and ultimately to yourself.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

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

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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 this 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 or

Monday, January 20, 2014



By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from David Hackworth who says "Bravery is being the only one who knows you're afraid."

In my opinion, one of the bravest acts that I have ever performed is the one where I quit my relatively luscious job and in a ‘leap of faith’ and not much more, I started my own business.  That was almost eleven years ago.

I remember during the three months notice that I had given, people with whom I worked, coming up to me with looks of concern on their faces, because they thought I was either mad, had lost the plot, had fallen off the path and any other saying that anyone cares to substitute, can be inserted here.  I was absolutely steadfast in my reply which became a standard “I am stagnating here, this is my dream and I am going to do it.”

After a while the words just came out by themselves usually accompanied with a fixed smile on my face and eventually even I started believing what I was saying.

Inside though, was a completely different story!  I was sick to my stomach and as my body absorbed the additional stress, so it also reacted to it.  My hair started falling out, my stomach churned and often spurned whatever I had put in it, resulting in me rushing off to the loo to spew at length.  I, who had always had relatively low blood pressure (between  95 – 100/70 – 75), now had to contend with a reading that now soared to 150/100!  The noise in my ears sounded like the blood whooshing through my veins and I swear I could actually hear my heart beating.

Every morning when I jumped out of bed to start the new day, with smile firmly fixed in place, I wondered if I had indeed lost my mind along the way – I mean what was I actually thinking?

Yet at the end of every day, when I had survived being in the Business of Owning my own business, I realized that I was far stronger than I had ever given myself credit for.  I realised that, on the surface most people believed in me far more than I believed in myself, but that deep down below, somewhere in that space that we all have, where we instinctively know the truth when we hear it, that I was living my dream.  That I could achieve and would achieve anything that I put my mind to, simply by visualizing it and by going towards my goal – one step at a time.

So as I continue on this journey of mine, whenever I get scared of something, I remember the beginning of this particular chapter of my life and I know that I can do it.  I pat myself on the back for a job well done (even if it hasn’t been started yet) and start at the beginning, with my smile fixed firmly on my face and the words “this is my dream” on my lips and I know that I will succeed.

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

Sunday, January 19, 2014

MARKETING - Preparation and then . . . Nothing


Preparation and then . . . . Nothing!

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2008.

I was reading an article (and yes I do read, I don’t just write articles) by Martha Beck in which she said “To fail is divine she (Martha Beck) has repeatedly, and she has nothing to show for it except freedom, serenity, and a sure –fire recipe for success.”

Yet we all have a frighteningly huge fear of failure.  The really crazy thing is that we fail on a daily basis, no matter how successful we are, we still experience failure on a daily basis.  The missed or late arrival for an appointment. The missed or late deadline. The closed bank teller.  They are all failures on our part, in one way or another.  Even though we all fail on a daily basis, our fear of failure is so great that it often overwhelms us and we go to great lengths to avoid it.

How do we try and avoid failure, well we prepare and organize and research and then we prepare some more, and we organize some more and then we do some more research and so it goes on!  Pretty soon we are so busy preparing and organizing and researching and running around like lunatics, to prevent failure that we don’t ever get to the point of actually getting started.  How scary is that?

Think about a baby who is learning how to walk.  No child that I have ever seen, got up onto his/her feet and walked after doing only crawling for the better part of their lives.  They all fall down and then with immense cheering and motivation and yes, even a little bribery I suspect, they get up again, only to fall down again.  Along the way however, their tenacity pays off and they start to walk.

Starting a new business is much the same, we all fail a little, adjust our thinking, pick ourselves up and get going again.  Remember tenacity will pay off, but you still have to take that first step.

It is a good idea to remember two basic points, I would actually write them down somewhere where you can see them every day.  They are:-
•    Just because you are running around frenetically all the time, doesn’t mean that you are actually achieving anything.  So Activity is not productivity!
•    Just because you have this brilliant idea for a product or a service that you think you can sell one to every individual on the planet – you still have to sell the first one, before you can sell the rest!  So make the first sale!

Bottom line, preparation and research are very important, but just get going!

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

Saturday, January 18, 2014

MARKETING - Making time to market - Part 4


Making Time To Market – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting June 2009.

As promised last time, here are the last of the ideas, in this particular series, on ‘making time’ to market yourself/your business.

Social Event
Some of my best and even biggest clients have come out of a chance meeting at a social even or when I least expected them.  Let me explain – some years ago now, I was at a club, spending time with friends, laughing and chatting with not a thought of business in mind.  A young chap, standing at the bar on his own, came over and introduced himself.  Turns out he owns two very successful businesses and he has been both client and friend from that day (about four years ago now).  Chances are that I would not have met him anywhere else as we mix in totally different circles.

Remember though if it is a social occasion, to keep it light.  No-one wants to talk business all the time.  Exchange contact details, exchange cards and then get back to them the next day or at a later stage.

Relax and make it happen
If you are anything like me, you will understand that it is extremely difficult to relax in the normal sense of the word.  For example it is very difficult for me to even contemplate sitting at the beach for a couple of hours or lying next to the pool, soaking up the sunshine – my mind would completely rebel at such inactivity.

For me this would be the ideal opportunity to update my data base or plan new marketing strategies or to re-evaluate plans or goals or even for me to  write a couple of articles for my blog.  Whilst my body does need to relax, my mind still feels the need to be active and it is something that I cannot just ‘shut down’.

As you can see there are many small, yet effective ways in which to include your marketing requirements in your everyday activities.

The secret is to be innovative, be creative and just do it!

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

Friday, January 17, 2014

HR - Are your staff expenses or investments


Are your Staff Expenses or Investments?

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Often when I listen to what is being said by SMME’s in the market place, I am amazed at some of the responses made to this particular question, and I wonder why it is that they employed staff in the first place.

For me, the only reason that I would employ someone is because of my need of their particular skill and/or talent in the workplace.  Let me clarify this for a moment. 

Here I am working an 18 hour day and suddenly more sustainable work flows in than I can possibly deal with (sound familiar).  So I need to employ someone who can assist me with the mundane things that take up so much of my time in the office.  Clearly I need an assistant that has strong administration skills, who would be able to keep the office administration up to date, who could manage my diary, who would ensure that I can get enough uninterrupted time to do what I need to do in order to service the clients, while he or she get’s on with what they need to get on with.  For me this would be a junior office administration clerk, who I could, over time, train up and who could eventually progress to a mini-me.  Well not quite  a ‘mini-me’ because he or she should have attributes that compliment mine as well as be able to do some of the things that I hate doing. So the bottom line is I would not employ a junior hairdresser, now would I?

Now even though I do not go through a recruitment agency or talent lab type experience, there is still a cost to me employing someone to assist me.  I would obviously have to take into consideration that person’s salary and related costs, like commissions, UIF, SDL, the different types of leave pay, workmen’s comp and any other legislative requirements pertaining to the position. 

Then of course, there is the extra office space, equipment (such as computers etc), utilities.  Don’t forget things like medical aid, retirement schemes, training, absenteeism and so on.

What about training and perks such as car allowances, cellphone allowance and even travel allowances?

Suddenly I am beginning to feel overwhelmed with all of the expenses, and this is even before I have actually hired the person.

Having more than a little knowledge of the Labour Act, I would also have to start making provision for things like legal fees, for fighting CCMA and Labour Court cases, as well as costs related to “pay backs” or compensation orders that may be granted!  Whew! 

There certainly is a lot to consider, and herein lies much of the challenge.  You see, many people when they take on a staff member, don’t think about these at all.  All they see is this huge pile of work that needs to get done and a person who will do it – but we are not working with machines or robots, we are working with living, breathing, human beings.

So now the question is again – is the money that you spend on your staff, in order to acquire and retain them, for the skills that they need to possess, in order for them to perform the tasks that you need performed – an expense or an investment?

Some say that staff are an expense and that often this expense is among the biggest, if not the biggest in the annual budget.

Others see staff as an investment in their company.

I don’t really think that there is a right or wrong answer in this instance as it is entirely dependant upon whether you see your staff as a ‘necessary evil’ or as an asset.  It would be dependant upon your own perception and/or mindset.

For me, in my personal capacity they are both! 

For me it’s about using proactive measures, it’s about minimizing unnecessary costs and avoiding costly legal battles which would make my employees an asset.  I would do this by having the correct procedures, processes and contracts in place and by being fair.

On the other hand, I am also a realist and I do know that things go wrong and that there are other expenses and cost that would have to go into the pot.  Un-measurable costs that are associated with issues around the need for time to prepare cases for CCMA and/or Labour Court, not to mention the time that is actually spent at the CCMA and/or Labour Court.

When you take all of this into account, it’s no wonder that so many individuals try, where possible to stay away from hiring employees.  It’s no wonder that many see hiring employees as a cost only, with very little added benefit received from them and usually an utterly horrid experience.

The bottom line is as always – what do you think? 

The point that I am trying to raise with this article is that proper investigation and/or research needs to be done prior to employing someone!  Don’t look at the huge pile of work that needs to be done, have a major freak out and then hire the first person that comes along – you would be in for a huge amount of expense that you hadn’t bargained on.

Stop for a moment and really think about it – would this person be an asset to your company or would they only be an expense?

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

Thursday, January 16, 2014

EARLY WARNING - Does a Traffic Fine have an Expiry Date


Does a Traffic Fine Have an Expiry Date?

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2011.

One of my clients was telling me the story, the other day, of the time that he got pulled over, in what appeared to be a routine police check point.  Now I am not talking about a story that happened years ago, but rather one that has happened in the last month or two.  I know that I saw a really marked increase in the number of traffic check points along the roads over the Christmas period and the period leading up to the holidays.  In fact, coming back from visiting a client in Germiston in early December 2011, I went through a road block on the M2 (I mean the metro police were pulling people off on the highway) and on the same day there were 3 road blocks on Beyers Naude (between Auckland Park and Cresta).  Talk about overkill.  Like most people, I just put it down to the police looking to ensure that they get their annual bonus’s as this appears to be the only time that they are out in full force like this.

Anyway the story goes . . .  my client was not perturbed about going through the road block, his licenses were in order and he did not have any outstanding fines . . . or so he thought.  He was pulled over and asked to produce his driver’s license – no problem.  They checked the license disk on his windscreen – no problem.  Another member of the police force joined the fellow that was attending to him and there was a lot of loud talking and gesturing going on.  Perplexed, my client innocently asked “is there anything wrong?”  That’s when it all went pear shaped. 

You see sometime in the year 2000, my client got a fine in the amount of R100.  Apparently it was posted to him and again, apparently it had not been paid.  In view of the fact that this happened 11 years ago, my client was not too concerned because debts are supposed to be prescribed after 3 years.  Isn’t that how we all understand it?  Well like my client and myself, you would also be incorrect, if this is what you thought.

Apparently, in terms of the Prescription Act (and I must admit that I haven’t read this particular Act myself, so I am going on hearsay), the Act does not make provision for the prescription period on debts to the government (both local and/or national).  There is a huge argument about whether a traffic fine (or any fine for that matter I guess) is a debt or not and there does not appear to be consensus on this.

What there is consensus about though is this – according to an article in the AA newsletter, a traffic fine is the result or consequence of an offence and as an offence “in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act it is illogical to conclude that a debt linked to a criminal offence can prescribe.”

So the bottom line is that my client (and any one else out there who has outstanding fines from long ago) is liable to pay the R100 fine.

What still amuses me of course, is the fact that it took them 11 years and a random road block to find my client.  Even stranger is that he has worked for the same company at the same business address for all that time as well as resided at the same residential address for all that time.  I guess the metro police had to dig deep into the proverbial barrel for that particular R100.

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

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

NETWORKING 101 - The Importance of Business Cards



The Importance of Business Cards

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

In her cards on Networking Tips, Dr Renate Volpe says “Your business card should read like a headline that is promoting your business.”

Ain’t that the truth?  I can tell you I have seen some strange cards out there.  Some really strange shapes and some really strange textures and some that you can only read if you put them against a white sheet of paper!

For me it’s about being able to read the bloody thing!

I hate to admit it, but there are some cards that I have actually thrown away in absolute frustration!  It tells me who they are and all the numbers are there, cell, work, fax e-mail – the whole toot.  The problem is that the writing is so small that I needed a magnifying glass to actually read them – there are only so many times that I am prepared to go downstairs to fetch the magnifying glass to read a business card – so out it went.

Then of course there are the cards that are so different that they do not actually fit into any kind of card holder.  Sure they make an impression, but they also frustrate the hell out of a person – so out they go too. 

Please don’t get me wrong – be different, be innovative – make a statement, but for goodness sake make a statement that most people can read and make a statement on a receptacle that we can keep somewhere comfortably.

The card should tell a person, clearly, who you are and what you do and the numbers should be of a size that anyone can actually see (never mind read).   Be different, be daring but most of all be BOLD.  Your aim at the end of the day is to get someone to contact you – they need to be able to read the numbers on the card in order to do so.

For more information on Dr Volpe, visit her website on

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

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS - Setting Goals

BUSINESS TIPS – Setting Goals

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2013

I am sure that you have all heard the old adage that “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”!  Although many business owners faithfully quote this saying almost on a daily basis, the sad reality is that few actually use it themselves.

The sad reality is that few actually set goals for themselves – goals that they can actually leverage off for their own personal successes. Goals that are specific, that can be measured – that have meaning and make perfectly logical sense.  Goals that motivate and excite you, that make you jump out of bed in the morning, ready and rearing to face the day.

Many business owners strategize for the business, for the staff, for the clients, for the suppliers  . . .  but fail to develop strategies for themselves.  So the challenge today is for you to develop a strategy for yourself, then work out your plan.  It might be something as simple as getting yourself to more ‘self-development’ type workshops or as complicated as working a four day week, and then a three day week and then a two day week and then a four hour week.

Whatever it is, write it down.  Set actions with deadlines and then focus on achieving your goal.

You know that it is something that you should do, you know it is something that you want to do and most importantly, you know it is something that you can do!

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

Monday, January 13, 2014

MOTIVATION - Don't ever do . . . Nothing

MOTIVATION – Don’t Ever Do . . . . Nothing

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC November 2009

Theodore Roosevelt said “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing.  The worst thing that you can do is nothing.”

Wow! Ironically enough, my good friend and colleague Colleen Larsen of Business Engage ( and I were discussing this very issue earlier today.  Doing nothing about something never makes the problem go away – in fact it usually just makes it that much worse.

Obviously, in any given situation, it is always a good thing to do the ‘right’ thing.  That’s just a given and it always makes life just that much easier.

The dilemma comes along when there is indecision or when the decision comes packaged with a huge consequence – one that we are perhaps not so willing to subject ourselves to.

Here is where the danger lies. Here is where we meet the challenge . . . or not.  This is where we usually step back from the situation.  Oh and don’t misunderstand me for one moment – stepping back from a situation is within itself, not a bad thing if the reason we are stepping back is to take a breath and look at what is happening.  That is definitely not a bad thing.  But once you have stepped back you still need to action something.

Step back, but don’t come to a full stop.  Strategize, plan, engage and get going again.  Do something for goodness sake!

Doing nothing is quite detrimental to yourself.  Doing nothing means that nothing will happen.  Doing nothing will often created a negative situation or even a vacuum and it will result in  . . . nothing!

Remember that every action causes a (re) action.  So get busy, get moving, get actioned!

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

Sunday, January 12, 2014

MARKETING - Making time to Market - Part 3


Making Time To Market – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting June 2009.

As promised last time, here are some more ideas on ‘making time’ to market yourself/your business.

Sharing some time over coffee or a meal.
I usually set aside, one day a week to do my networking – this means that I usually can be found on a Thursday having a ‘one-on-one’ meeting with several people that I have briefly met at a networking event or meeting.  Whilst I have my networking meeting and find out what it is that the other person does, I also take the opportunity to do some marketing as well.  On occasion there may be someone that I have already ‘earmarked’ within my data base to meet, or there is a particular person that I want to discuss issues with, or there may be two individuals who I want to introduce to each other and I will, on occasion also invite those people along too.  It gives me an opportunity to ‘catch up’ with a colleague as well as introduce two people, who in all probability should be doing business together.

Over exercise
Those who know me well, know that I am not too keen on the whole exercise thing.  Oh don’t get me wrong, I used to be a sports fanatic and I used to do the gym thing on a daily basis.  Then I started my own business and well, that’s where things went pear-shaped for me in terms of my daily routine – somehow the time just wasn’t there anymore.  That said, there are many of you who love to exercise at the gym or walk or even when you go and watch a game – how about inviting a colleague or someone that you would like to do business with to your exercise class or on your walk or to watch the game with you.  Think about how much business actually gets done on the golf course and use the same opportunity in whatever sport it is that you play or participate in.  You’d be amazed at the results that you can achieve.

More tips next time.

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

Saturday, January 11, 2014

MARKETING - Make time to Market - Part 2


Making Time To Market – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting June 2009.

As promised last time, here are some more ideas on ‘making time’ to market yourself/your business.

Attending Networking Meetings, Workshops & other events
Going to events such as these, really gives you an opportunity to tell people who you are and what it is that you do.  Often all that is needed is for someone to start the ball rolling and that someone should be you.  Exchange business cards, listen to what others do and try and match them up with someone in your data base.  Before you know it the favour will be returned and referrals will be flying thick and fast.  Try and make it more interesting – take a colleague along with you, you double your value add and your colleague will also have an opportunity to do some marketing of their own.


Whether you are on a business trip, and let’s face it we all do that from time to time, or whether you are on holiday – make time to meet a colleague or a client or even a prospective business referral.  Use times such as meal times – this is ideal for someone who is already on business and means that it is one less meal that you need to eat on your own.  If you are on holiday, you still have to eat at some point so it does not take anything away from your holiday time and it is also a great opportunity to find out more about the locals and get great tips on where to eat and what to visit. 

More tips next time.

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

Friday, January 10, 2014

HR - What to do when . . . You have a Witness



By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Having a witness, when dealing with a disciplinary, an arbitration, a CCMA hearing or even a court hearing is often the difference between winning and losing!  Doing it all by yourself is often very difficult, but if you have someone who can back you up and vouch for your story, this is usually a winning factor!

Let’s bring in my favorite pair – Mike the employer and George the employee.

Mike and George have had their usual tiff and now they are at the CCMA for an arbitration hearing.  Mike has not only sent his representative (which in this case would be himself), but he has not sent Sue, who can corroborate his story.  Mike is going to find it extremely difficult to win the case, because the testimony of the witnesses (both for the employer and for the employee) forms an important part of the procedure at any arbitration hearing.

The arbitrator (let’s call him Charles) has to start the proceedings, by explaining the arbitration process and the rules – these are (but not limited to):

•    That opening statements have to be made by both parties (both Mike and George) to outline what it is that they intend to prove.
•    Charles may decide to have Mike present his case first.  This would mean that Mike, at this point should have all of his witnesses come in one at a time to give their testimony.  It is also at this time, that Mike would present any documents and/or other evidence that he may have to prove that George did whatever it is that he says that George did.
•    Each time that Mike and/or his witnesses give testimony, George is entitled to cross examine Mike and/or his witness.
•    Charles also has the right to ask either Mike and/or his witness any questions but only pertaining to clarity – in other words if Charles is not sure of what Mike is saying, he can ask to have that particular point explained in more detail.  So for example if Mike’s witness Sue says – “George did not follow procedures” – Charles could ask what those procedures entailed, so as to get a better understanding of the situation.
•    Mike also has the right to question his own witness, but only on issues that were brought up in the cross examination of the witness. So for example, if Mike’s witness Sue stated that George was late for work – Mike could ask her exactly how late George was for work.
•    Once all of Mike’s witnesses have been heard, been cross examined and questioned by both Charles and Mike, and Mike has presented all of his documentary evidence, visual and/or auditory evidence, then George has his chance to present his case – in exactly the same manner.

Once both sides of the story has been told, in graphic detail, the following will take place.

•    Charles will hear closing statements – this is when both sides (just like in a court of law) make a final plea as to why they should be awarded or win the case.
•    Charles then needs to take himself off to his office, go through all the evidence again, so that he is sure that he understands everything and then make the award.  In other words, at this point he will decide who has won the case.

The evidence that Charles needs to mull over and assess, before he makes his decision usually falls into 3 distinct categories.  They are, but not limited to:

•    Documents
•    Items such as, video tapes or clips, stolen goods, photos and other such items that would be relevant to the case
•    Witness testimony.

Witness testimony is always the most crucial.  For example, if Mike says that George told Sue that he was not coming to work because he wanted to stay at home and watch the soccer on TV, it stands to reason that Sue should be there to confirm and say exactly what it was that George told her. 

So having your witnesses there means that they can corroborate each piece of evidence thereby giving it more weight.

Make sure that when you attend any of the above hearings or arbitration that you have all your evidence in order and everyone present who can back everything up.

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

Thursday, January 09, 2014

EARLY WARNING - Phone Call Internet Scam hits SA


Phone Call Internet Scam hits SA

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting - May 2012

Sadly, we seem to have become a target for people with a hidden agenda. Please keep your information safe – do not give access to your bank accounts or your cell phone pin numbers or your computers to just anyone.

News24 - 2012-03-18 - SAPA

Cape Town - Internet users should be wary of an international phone scam that allows people full access to their computer, according to a report on Sunday.

The Weekend Argus reported that victims get a call on their land line from someone claiming to be a Microsoft employee, alerting them to a computer problem.

The scammers claim the victim's computer is submitting error messages and contains corrupt files that could damage it.

According to the report, the user is led to a programme called Microsoft Event Viewer, which displays error messages. They are then told to go to a website and download software to fix the problem.

Some South Africans had fallen victim to the scam, giving over full control of their computer with an added insult of a £185

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

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Networking 101 - Be on Time



Be on Time

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

One of the most frustrating things, specifically in a facilitated or semi-facilitated networking meeting is the stragglers coming in.

Imagine the scene if you will – a person is standing up, telling everyone about who he/she is and what it is that they do.  How wonderful their product/service is and why it is that people should be purchasing said product and/or service from them.  Everyone in the room is focused on what this person is saying and hopefully, either deciding that they need the widget and/or they know of someone who may require the services of the speaker. 

In the middle of all of this another person enters the room.  So far not a problem I am sure that you would agree.  The room is packed though, and said person wants to slink into the only remaining seat which is clear across the room.  So there is much “excuse me’s” going on with much bending over and head bobbing, whilst they find the seat that they are looking for and finally settle in. 

By this time the speaker has lost their thread and momentum, the rest of the networker’s have lost their focus and have forgotten the questions that they wanted to ask – the moment is lost.

If possible make sure that you can get to the venue on time, if not a little early.  Before anyone heaves a huge ‘sigh’ and rolls their eyes heaven bound – I know that no-one intentionally wants to be late, but then for goodness sake, use a little bit of common sense – wait until the person who is talking about themselves is finished and either steps down and/or sits down – there is time enough at this point to dash off to the seat in the corner that you now have had time to see.  This will cause the least amount of interruption and allow the speaker to say what it is that they need to.

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

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS - From Employee to Entrepreneur - Part 9

BUSINESS TIPS – From Employee to Entrepreneur – Part 9

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2013

So far we have looked at:-
1.    The difference between being an employee and an employer;
2.    Your Purpose:
3.    The People around you and
4.    Your Personal Footprint.
5.    Knowledge & what you do with it
6.    The Generosity of your Spirit
7.    The Role of Technology in your Business
8.    Self Confidence
9.    Creativity
10.    Focus
11.    Vision
12.    Result
13.    Networking
14.    Leadership
15.    Management
16.    Problem Solving
17.    Being Innovative
18.    Teamwork
19.    Strategy
20.    Branding
21.    Marketing
22.    Profit and Passion

Today we will explore the last three in this series.

1.    Scalability
Contrary to popular belief in many quarters, there is a huge difference between being a small business owner and being self-employed.  Make no mistake, whilst it is incredibly important to keep your finger on the pulse of your business and be aware of exactly what is happening in every aspect of it, the reality is, if your business in not fully defined as a company and if it is still reliant on you for it’s very survival, well then you are self-employed. There is no right or wrong for either, it is purely dependent on the way the company (or you) operate.

It is important however, that when you plan for the future that you understand the difference between the two (being self-employed and owning a company that is). 

2.    Leverage
At some point in time, most business owners need funding.  Make sure that your business plan remains current as well as accurate and that you have made allowances for the interest that needs to be paid back (when you are calculating what you need and then what you can afford to pay back as well).

And finally . . . . .

3.    Legacy
Like it or not, we all leave a footprint of one sort or another on this planet.  We are all responsible, one way or another, for the consequences of our thoughts and actions.

The decisions that you have made, or not, have impacted on our planet, your community, your colleagues, your friends, your family and more importantly on yourselves.

What will be you remembered for when you are gone?

Of course we all need to make money to improve our lives and the lives of our families, but we also need to make a difference and leave the world a richer place for our having been here.

. . . and oh!  Don’t forget to always have fun!

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

Monday, January 06, 2014

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

Sunday, January 05, 2014

MARKETING - Making Time to Market - Part 1


Making Time To Market – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting June 2009.

One of the most frequent lines that I hear from small business owners/entrepreneurs is “who has time to market”? I sure can understand that – hell, if I had my way, we would have 48 hour days and only need to sleep for 4 of these!

Now believe me when I tell you that I am no expert on marketing – I seriously am not!  That said, I know that it is of vital importance to get your product/service out there.  If you don’t, you will have a problem and it will affect your bottom line.

Here’s the thing though, you don’t have to spend a fortune to market yourself and it doesn’t have to take up hours and hours of your precious time, but you do have to make some time for it.  So book the time in your diary and have a plan.   Every day we take part in time consuming activities and integrating those activities with a marketing opportunity may just be the key to solving your problem.  Here are a few ideas to make marketing a tad easier for the small business owner who is always on the go.

Shopping ‘out and about’.
Whether we are conscious of it or not, we meet new people on a daily basis.  Think about it for a moment.  How many times have you found yourself frustrated, but still standing in the queue?  For me, the bank and the post office or even the annual trip to renew the motor vehicle license, are the most challenging!  How many times, in a moment of mutual frustration have you turned to a stranger in that queue and started a conversation?  I know I have, and although the conversation usually starts with a moan about how long the queue is or how slowly it is moving, it usually morphs into something else.  Remember to introduce yourself and tell them what you do, find out what they do – give them a business card (you see, I told you, you never know when you would need one) and then keep in touch.  You’ll be amazed at some of the business you will get out of this kind of encounter.

Reading an Article
By now it must be evident that I really enjoy reading a lot.  I understand that there are many people out there that perhaps, are not as passionate about reading as I am.  That said, as SMME’s, a certain amount of reading is kind of obligatory if you are to keep up. Whether it is a newspaper article or an article that is related to the industry that you are in or even an article that sparks your interest on a personal level.  Now take a minute to think of a few people who are in your network who may enjoy the contents of that particular article and send it to them.  Personalize it with a note saying something along the lines of ‘when I read this, I thought it might be something that you would like to read to’.  Doing this will just take a few moments out of your time, but the impression that it creates and the value that you add to the relationship that you have with that person(s) is priceless – every time they speak to someone who needs your service and/or product, they will think of you before anyone else.

Next time, I will share a few more of the types of ways that you can integrate some marketing in your daily life.

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

Saturday, January 04, 2014

MARKETING - Losing the Plot


Losing the Plot

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting November 2008.

I am sure that at one time or another we have all sat in front of the TV, having watched the same ad, for what seems like the 100th time in the same  hour and thought or even said “I’m sick to death of this Ad!”?

More often than not, the first time we saw the ad, it captured our imagination and if you are anything like me, you will have even, on occasion looked forward to, or even actively sought to watch it again and again – especially if it has had me in fits of laugher.  But pretty much like a song that I went from wanting to listen to over and over again, I soon got tired of it.

Does this mean that the ad must be pulled or taken off to be replaced by another?  Good heavens no!

The Company who owns that particular ad may have heaps of spare cash to indulge themselves in producing a new ad campaign, but the average small business owner does not and the old saying of “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” certainly applies here.  If the ad or the promotion or the marketing campaign is making you money – for heavens sake don’t stop it or swap it for something else – that’s just losing the plot!

Sure if it is not working anymore, then by all means step up to the plate, but if the money is still rolling in, then you being bored with the ad, or the promotion or the marketing campaign is not a good enough reason to switch to something else.

Remember that what is old and boring to you is still shiny and new to your untapped target market.  If it’s making you money, stick with it.  When the results show that the money is no longer coming in, then it is time to change, but don’t change before the results are in.

One way to appease your growing boredom is to test the market with a new promotion and then track these results.  That way when your ‘old’ promotion shows in the results that it is no longer working and it is time to make a change – you have a brand new promotion ready to take its place.

So be clear about why you want to swap a promotion, make sure that it is about the results and not just your boredom.

Make sure you don’t lose the plot!

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

Friday, January 03, 2014

HR - What to do when . . . You're not sure about leave - Part 3




By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

I promised that we would have a look at the subject of accumulation of leave.

This is not a good idea people – not good for the Business at all! Actually the Letters and/or Contracts of Appointment that I have, deals very clearly with this point. Let’s examine why it is not a good idea and then I will let you know how I deal with it in the employee contracts.

So George has been working for Mike now for a period of 17 years.  Both George and Mike are very ‘proud’ of the fact that George has not taken a single days worth of leave in that entire time.  The perception of course is that George is so dedicated to his work that he will sacrifice himself  in order to make sure that the business works . . . well! Seventeen years – that’s a long time not to take leave, in fact it is a whopping 255 days leave that is due to George – almost 9 months worth of leave due!  Incredible wouldn’t you say?  Well not for me, I would say EEEeeeeeeekkkkk!  Houston we have a problem!

Let’s have a look at the real reason that George has not taken leave.  You see, personally I don’t believe that anyone could be that dedicated!  Even people who own their own Businesses or work for themselves take a break from time to time and there is anyone ‘dedicated’ to what they do, it’s them.  Wouldn’t you agree? 

One of the biggest frauds that I have come across in my career as Internal Auditor (a career that spans more than 35 years, I might add) ‘popped’ up when we put a stop to all overtime and insisted that people within the organization took their leave.  You see, the people who are committing fraud, or who (as in this case) were ‘in charge’ of all the people that they had coerced into committing the fraud, had to be around in case a question or two was asked – so that they could cover their tracks, make the appropriate excuses or make a timeous exit, should the need arise. 

That is one of the reasons that the Basic Conditions of Employment Act is quite specific about leave and how it should be taken.  Taking a day here or there doesn’t cut it.  Your employees need to take their leave in blocks/weeks/chunks or any other way you would like to describe it. 

Let’s be reasonable, apart from anything else, everyone needs a break, everyone needs to rest and honestly speaking, you are not doing yourself and/or your business any favour by having people around that are dog tired.  Contrary to popular belief, they do not work to their best capacity and neither do you.  So let them take their time off and make sure that you do too.

So that’s the first reason that your staff MUST take leave – let’s have a look at some of the others.

Although George has been with Mike for seventeen years now, he has been headhunted by Mike’s rival company.  Apart from anything else, they are prepared to give George, double the salary that he is earning right now and they are also going to throw in a car, a petrol allowance and a cell phone.  George of course, being the loyal employee that he is turns down the offer!  Yeah right!  George hands his resignation in so quickly, it’s written and handed in before Mike can even blink!

Think about this one for a moment -  Mike now has to “pay out” the 255 days leave that he owes George and get this – it’s not at 15 days at the rate that George was paid in the first year and then 15 days that George was paid in the 2nd year and so on.  It is 255 days at George’s current rate of pay!  What exactly do you think that this is going to do to Mike’s cash flow, presuming of course that he has one?

This is the kind of stuff that ‘closes’ businesses down – fast.

In the employment contracts that I use, it is stipulated that employees have to take a minimum of 80% of their leave as at 31 December of each year.  The balance of 20% may be accumulated until 31 March of the following year and if not taken by then is forfeited by the employee.

As you can see, it is in your own best interests to ensure that your employees take their leave every year – all of it.

Next week, we will look at a whole new topic!

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

Thursday, January 02, 2014

EARLY WARNING - The Stolen Cell Phone


The Stolen Cell Phone

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting  January 2010.

I received this story from my friend and colleague Toni Guerrero, who writes:

“This lady has now changed her habit of how she lists her names on her mobile phone after her handbag was stolen.  Her handbag, which contained her cell phone, credit card, wallet . . . . etc . . . .  was stolen.

20 minutes later when she called her hubby, from a pay phone telling him what happened, hubby says ‘I received your text asking about our Pin number and I’ve replied a little while ago.’

When they rushed down to the bank, the bank staff told them all the money was already withdrawn.  The thief had actually used the stolen cell phone to text ‘hubby’ in the contact list and got hold of the pin number.  Within 20 minutes he had withdrawn all the money from their bank account.

Moral of the lesson: Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in your contact list.

Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby, Sweetheart, Dad, Mom and so on.

And very importantly, when sensitive info is being asked for through texts CONFIRM by calling back.

Also, when you’re being texted by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back and confirm that the message came from them.  If you don’t reach them, be very careful about going places to meet ‘family and friends’ who text you.”

I certainly did not think of the above!  Take care and be safe.  Oh, and don’t forget – pass this on to everyone that you know.

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

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

MOTIVATION - Firing Up Your Soul

MOTIVATION – Firing Up Your Soul

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – January 2014

Jean De La Fontaine says “Man is so made that when anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish.”

Oh Wow!  I really like that one and I must admit, it really resonates with me!

You see, I am really passionate about what it is that I do (mind you – if the truth be told, I am really passionate about a good party too ) and I am so fired up about what I can do and the difference that I can make, not only in the lives of others but my own life too, that in the middle of this so called ‘recession’, my business has grown in leaps and bounds!  How cool is that?

Yip, that’s right, it has actually grown.  It has morphed into something completely different to what I first had in mind almost eleven years ago, but you know what . . . I like it even more.

I like how it feels, how it fits and I love how it makes me feel.  I love the fact that right now, as I am writing these words, there is a smile on my face.

Truth is, I like it more and am more passionate about what I do (if that is at all possible) than I was when I started out.

Here’s the thing – my passion shows.  People can see it and they often wonder what it is that I have that they don’t.  Not only can they see it, but they can also feel it in the energy that comes from me. It shows in the way that my face changes and my eyes light up when I talk about the various projects that I am currently involved with and the ones that are in the pipeline.  It shows when I get a new client or when I have met all the expectations, perceptions and requirements of an existing client. 

It definitely does show when I have thought ‘out of the box’ and seen an opportunity that others feel will fall flat or that cannot materialize and I am sure you can understand just how much it does show, when I prove them wrong and get the whole thing going.

I know that it shows on the inside, when I achieve my goals and when I know that I have made a difference.  It shows on the inside when I see someone’s eyes light up when they ‘get’ whatever it is that I am trying to show them.

Most of all though, my passion shows on the inside, when I receive the accolades from clients, institutions, colleagues, friends, family and even total strangers in recognition for sharing my passion, for being real and often for doing what everyone else thought could never be done.

Impossibilities turn into possibilities when your heart and soul are fired up by passion!

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