Friday, February 28, 2014

HR - What to do when . . . You want to dismiss staff - Part 6


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

Part 6

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Staff who take part in, or participate in any way, a strike that does not comply with the provisions in chapter iv, are by default, guilty of misconduct.

Please remember, just because they have taken part in an illegal strike, and that that is considered “misconduct”, it does not necessarily mean that they deserve to be dismissed.  It still has to be determined whether or not a dismissal is fair.

In these instances the following needs to be taken into consideration:
-    the seriousness of the contravention of the Act
-    whether any attempt was make to comply with the Act
-    whether or not the strike was in response to any unjustified conduct by the employer.

Before dismissal takes place the employer must, discuss the intended dismissal or any other action that they intend to take, with the trade union concerned.

The employer also needs to make it very clear, in simple language that all can understand, the terms and conditions of what is required and what the consequences will be, should they not comply with the requirements.

Once again the employees should be allowed a reasonable amount of time, in which to make a decision to either agree to the requirements and/or reject them.

Once again there may be instances where the employer cannot reasonably be expected to comply with these requirements, with the employees concerned.  In these instances the employer may disregard the guidelines.  Again this must be documented and a copy retained in the employee’s personnel file.

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

Thursday, February 27, 2014

EARLY WARNING - All About Procurement Fraud - Part 5



All About Procurement Fraud – Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting February 2013.

Last time we looked at some of the different types of issues that need to be looked at around procurement. 

Today we will have a look at some more.

As we said one of the ways to limit procurement fraud is to ensure that you have a proper procurement policy in place and that it is adhered to and checked on a regular basis. We looked at the Needs Analysis, Timing and Suppliers. Then we looked at Supplier Communication and Negotiation. Other issues that need to be taken into account when implementing the procurement process are (but not limited to):

1.    Supplier Liaison
Of course it is important for the supplier to perform and at this point in the process that is exactly what needs to be done.  It makes sense therefore to have some sort of scorecard in place around the performance of the supplier.  By now there should have been at least one or two deliveries and re-orders and the whole experience needs to be evaluated.  Should the supplier have not met your basic requirements, then it is obviously time for you to consider alternative suppliers and/or options.

2.    Logistics Management
Whilst we all have expectations around our suppliers and their delivery of our goods, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we manage the whole process. Issues around (but not limited to) shipment, delivery and payment need to be monitored closely and of course the terms and conditions of the contract must be met at all times.

There may instances where ‘installation’ needs to take place and then training needs to be effected.  Clearly this would also need to be monitored carefully as well.

3.    Tender Notifications
Should your company be large enough to require and/or need tenders to go out to meet your procurement requirements then obviously this would necessitate a whole different workflow.  There are software systems that can be utilized or you can also outsource these requirements.  Obviously you can also keep this ‘in-house’ but I would suggest that careful consideration be taken into  how the whole process should work and of course a lot of research would need to be undertaken in order for this to be as painless as possible.

Be sure to document the process so that there are clear lines of what the requirements are and make sure that each step is monitored carefully.

Next time we will have a look at a few more steps that need to address in your procurement process.

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

NETWORKING 101 - Some More Networking Tips for Introverts



Some More Networking Tips for Introverts

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen CC

Following on from last week’s offerings on Networking for Introverts, here are some more tips for other Introverts.

When I first started Networking for my Business, I was like a kid with a new toy.  If there was a Networking event, I was at it.  I could not get enough!  Not only would I be at every single networking event, I would also scurry around frenetically trying to touch base with every single person at the event.  I wanted every single person’s card and/or contact details because each person, each card, each contact detail was an opportunity.  It was madness personified!

Many of the individuals were not really interested in meeting with me, but felt obliged to give me their business cards and/or contact details.  When I contacted them to set up a meeting, they hummed and ha-ed and finally agreed to a meeting and then on d-day, despite me having confirmed the meeting, they just did not pitch!  Wasted time for both of us and a somewhat disillusioned me!

You see, the bottom line is that not everyone ‘gets’ the whole networking concept and as the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to the water, but you cannot force it to drink.  In my enthusiasm I had automatically assumed that everyone would be as excited about networking as I was.  Well they aren’t – so deal with it, get over it and move on!

Nowadays, I am a lot more sedate about networking.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still as passionate about it as I ever was – I just look at it and deal with it a whole lot differently. 

I no longer feel the need to attend every networking meeting on the planet – two or three a month are more than enough.

I no longer feel the need to obtain every single participating person’s business card and/or contact details.  Now I ‘cherry pick’ a few individuals who I think I may either have synergy with or who I feel ‘drawn’ to meet (yes I go with my gut feel!) and I touch base with those who seek me out.

I no longer get stressed out if people don’t pitch for a meeting, now I take work along with me and get on with it, recognising the fact that everyone is not automatically on the same page as what I am.

My diary is still full with meetings sometimes booked as far as two or even three months in advance, but I no longer have this intense need to make a difference in someone’s life.

You see, building relationships takes time and commitment, and although networking gives you a foot in the door, the relationship still needs to be built and that is not something that should be rushed, and quite frankly running around frenetically is not only exhausting, but it is also very time consuming.

So take your time, accept your limitations and the limitations of others.  Go to fewer events but make them quality events.  Meet with fewer people, but make sure they are people who value who you are and what you do and make those meetings count and finally, be gentle with yourself, don’t push yourself too hard and too fast.

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

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS - Why Twitter - Part 3

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

Twitter for me, as you no doubt seen in the last two posts, is about communicating with a much larger audience.  Most sites that you get onto today have a link onto twitter – especially the social networking sites.  This of course means that your ‘tweets’ are reaching a much larger audience and this of course also means that you are driving more and more traffic to your own website.

Most of the professional social networking type websites such as (but not limited to) Facebook, have Twitter groups.  These are individuals who are passionate about their tweets and who love to grow their following and who love to interact and share information, knowledge, experience and generally just have good fun.  Write a little something about yourself – remember to keep it short and to the point – find these groups and let them know what you are about.  Generally speaking, people who are interested in what you have to say, will be interested enough to follow you, thereby exposing your blog and/or website to a whole different group as well.

One of the quickest ways to get people interested in following you or driving traffic to your blog or website is to post a question with a poll.  Yep, people are curious as to what other people think and love to see statistics on ‘who thinks what’ (actually how many people agree with what they think is more like it!).  If you make the topic of the poll something to do with what it is that you do, not only will it drive people to your website, it will in all probability keep them there too and get them coming back, time and time again.

When I started my whole Networking experience, I started asking questions – lots and lots of questions.  You see, I had come from a Corporate Environment and being on the road for almost three weeks of the month, I was pretty isolated from the rest of the Company.  From there I went straight into my business and met the real world – in great abundance.  There was so much new stuff that was happening that I was completely clueless about and so much that I needed to know.  So I traded.  For every question that I asked, I tried to ensure that I also ‘gave’ some useful information in return.  As I used the new information that I was given I, in turn shared it with others and so the blog was born. One of the most important things I discovered though is that generally speaking, people love to share their experiences and their knowledge.  Actually if the truth be told, generally speaking, people love to help others.

So don’t be scared to ask for help, but remember the ‘give to get’ thing.  Don’t always just take – give as well!  You’ll be amazed at just how good it will make you feel.

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

Monday, February 24, 2014

MOTIVATION - Creating New Plans

MOTIVATION – Creating New Plans

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – March 2010

The great Napoleon Hill writes ‘The majority of man meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail.”

There it is – that word persistence!  It’s the one thing that I am convinced that we are all born with.  Without it none of us would have learnt how to sit up and crawl, to walk and to run.  None of us would be where we are now.  None of us would have achieved what we have and certainly none of us would be the people that ultimately we have become.

Sadly, like learning to fear, where we were once ‘fearless’ as children, many of us seem, to have lost our ‘persistence’ along the way too.

Sadly, like those of us who literally ‘live in fear,’ those who have lost their ‘persistence’ will not stick around long enough to make anything work, or even long enough to enjoy the fruits of their own endeavors and actually, truth be told, they will set themselves up for their own failures and downfall.

Dream your dreams and from your dreams create new plans and from your new plans add in action and your dreams will become a reality!

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

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tax - EMP 201 & EMP 501


EMP 201 & EMP 501

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting July 2010.

Has anyone else been struggling with the SARS e-filing?  I know I have.  It has been an absolute nightmare to try and navigate!

Firstly, there was the whole change around the monthly EMP 201 submission.  Suddenly the form format changed and although I managed to submit the form it didn’t automatically debit my bank account.

Phoning SARS offices was also a nightmare! Firstly to get through to a living, breathing human being in itself was a huge challenge. After listening to the whole electronic voice guide of ‘if you want to …. Press this ….’ Etc, I ended up being the 213th person in the queue.  Needless to say I ended the call!  What’s with that anyway?  Surely when you change something of this magnitude you really do need to have the support structure in place to deal with the fall out.  Obviously SARS did not think about this at all.

Three weeks and many calls later I eventually got through to a living, breathing person . . . . .  who could not help me!  It was a simple question right?  I mean all I asked was “how do I get the payment from my bank account into the SARS bank account”? She could not assist me and insisted that I go to the SARS offices for assistance.  So off I went, waited in the queue for parking, waited in the queue at reception, only to be told . . .  wait for it . . . .  they couldn’t help me!  Yip, you got it, they couldn’t help me, but to their credit they did give me an e-mail address, written on a scrap of paper, of someone by the name of Busi – who would be able to assist me.

Irritated beyond belief, I went back home and sent off an e-mail to one Busi.  Two days later I got a response with an easy to understand step-by-step instructions on ‘how to’ do everything that needed to be done with the EMP 201 and what’s more, it’s incredibly easy.  So why on earth did they not put some sort of tutorial on the SARS site to assist people through the whole exercise?  Who knows, but I am sure it would have assisted many without them having to go through the whole irritation that I went through.

My faith in SARS efficiency restored – I faced my next SARS challenge – the EMP 501 (or for us older folk the IRP5). Seeing that I had had so much assistance from Busi, I contacted her again to ask for the ‘step-by-step’ method on how to complete and submit the EMP 501.  I was not so lucky this time around.  Mails went backwards and forwards with me getting no closer to the solution and the ‘cut off date’ loomed even closer and even worse, I could not now get into the SARS site to download the new ‘easy file’ application.  Busi eventually advised that I should go to SARS on a Tuesday or Thursday for training – no mention of how long it would take, the time of the training, nothing – just go to SARS!

Great, they have training – being a small business owner and only having one employee (being me) means that I am often booked up weeks in advance – but hey, why should SARS care about that?  I should just drop everything and get my butt off to do some training!  Off I duly went and there I was, one of several people who were then taken step-by-step through the whole EMP201 requirements by two gentlemen who actually even offered to come to our businesses to assist if we should need any help – only with the forms EMP201 though.  They could not assist with anything to do with the EMP501 – we had to wait for Busi to arrive. 

Eventually Busi arrived and went through the whole process and even I, technophobe that I am, kind of sort of get it! Part of the problem is that although I am registered on e-filing, I do not use an accounting package and that means that although it gets submitted electronically, it is still done manually (on the system as opposed to being done electronically through the accounting package) – confusing – pretty much.  When I queried the fact that the SARS site was not accessible at this time I was told “please give me your flash-drive and I will load the program onto that for you”, by said Busi.  Now who goes to a training session on how to fill in a form, armed with their flash-drive – not me?  Apparently they did have CD’s but the demand had been so great that they had run out! Go figure – you change a system that affects every single business in the country and you don’t expect a huge demand on the ‘how to’ do it? My faith in the efficiency of SARS plummeted again!

A long story short, it took another month for me to be able to get hold of Busi (no-one else could assist according to her office) to get the program put onto my flash drive – all of this for a monthly payment to SARS of R80.00.  It must have cost me around R20 000 in time, fuel costs, not to mention irritation to get to this point.

Now we come to the fun part – not for me, because I actually do have a tax number, but for all the other business owners out there who employ staff.  Irrespective of whether your employee earns enough to submit a tax return or not, you – as the employer are responsible for ensuring that the staff member has a tax number and an ID number.  If they don’t have a tax and ID number, you need to get them registered, because if you do not put their tax and ID number on the form, it will not allow you to submit it and if you don’t submit it you will be fined!

One of the ladies at the training who does payroll administration tried to explain how difficult it is for her to get information like this from some of her clients, who often just employ ‘casuals’ for a day.  She visits her client once a month to get their information, so she does not control what documentation is presented.  The response from SARS “well I suggest you get new clients!”  What does that tell me – well, loud and clear, the message is that SARS doesn’t give a continental about SMME’s and even more clear is the fact that SARS has no clue about the challenges that small business owners face.  Getting the money at any cost, irrespective of whether they close you down with what I consider as unreasonable requirements, they don’t give a damn – Yip - that’s the message I got from SARS!

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

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tax - Does the Small Business Rates Apply to Sole Proprietors


Does the Small Business Rates Apply to Sole Proprietors

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting February 2009.

Now here is one for the history books – me writing about tax!

Firstly let it be understood, I am no expert on Tax and I am not a Tax consultant.  That said, there are issues that even I understand on how we as SMME’s (small, medium, micro  enterprises) can save ourselves some money.

Where ever we go, we hear people talking about how the tax man is messing with us, how our businesses are being ‘strangled’ by the tax man.  How difficult it is for the small business owner to survive because of the taxes and how Government should assist the SMME.

Well to be quite honest, every year I see evidence of just that!  Government relaxing criteria on the SMME, Trevor Manual relaxing tax for the SMME.  What I don’t see, is the SMME taking advantage of what has been offered. Perhaps it is just easier to moan and groan and blame someone else for our misfortune or the fact that we often don’t think about what we are doing.

Small businesses have preferential rates that are applicable, but one of the requirements is that the business must trade either as a private company or as a close corporation in order to qualify.

Now already I can see the eyes moving heaven ward.  Think about it for a moment.  If your company is not registered as a company, how is SARS expected to know if your personal account is being used for a legitimate business or if on the face of it you have ‘created’ a business – which runs through your personal account, in order to claim the preferential rates?  Come on now be fair – registering your business, tells SARS that yours is a legitimate business.

As a registered business, SARS is now able to award you the preferential rates.  This means that instead of paying maximum of 40% as an individual or Sole Proprietor, as a registered Close Corporation or Private Company you get to pay a maximum of 28%.  The reality of this is a saving of 12% on your bottom line and I am sure that you will agree with me that that is not to be sniffed at.

Now I can hear all of you saying, “yes, but now I am paying 40% as an individual and 28% as a business!”  Well not really hey, especially if you are doing your books correctly!

Firstly, you should be claiming all of the expenses and allowances that you are entitled to, through your business.  This should leave you in your personal capacity, with only the personal expenses and incidentals that you cannot claim through your business and then this should form the ‘salary’ that your business pays you on a monthly basis.  Now here comes the interesting part – if your ‘salary’ is less than the minimum, then you don’t pay tax as an individual at all.

So I urge you as SMME’s to go and register your business, then register your business as an employer and employ yourself.  Following the rules and the guidelines, will mean huge savings in taxes. 

Huge savings in taxes will also increase your productivity too!  Why increased productivity you may ask?  Well that’s a simple one to answer – you see all the time that you used to spend moaning and groaning about how badly the tax man is treating you can now be used to sell more product and/or your services.

The bottom line of course is that you – yes you – need to change your mindset and work with the system.  You will find it far more rewarding than the constant butting you head against a brick wall that you all seem hell bent on doing.

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

Friday, February 21, 2014

HR 101 What to do when . . . You want to dismiss staff - Part 5


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

Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

So what exactly would be considered as “fair practice”?

Let’s examine this a bit more.

Firstly the employer must ensure that a proper investigation takes place in order to ensure that there are grounds for dismissal.  Whether or not this is a formal enquiry at this point does not make any kind of difference as this is just the preliminary investigation.

Once it is ascertained that there are sufficient grounds, the employee must be notified in writing, that there are allegations and what these allegations are.  Remember to use language that the employee will understand – so in essence – keep it as simple as possible.

The employee should then be allowed to respond and state their case or give circumstances etc around why they did whatever it is that they have been accused of doing.  They have to be given the opportunity to answer to the charges and/or allegations made and give an explanation.  This is usually when the disciplinary hearing would take place.

The employee also needs to be given a reasonable amount of time in which to formulate a response to the allegation(s) and/or charge that has been levied against them.

The employee is also entitled to request and receive any assistance that they may require from a trade union representative and/or fellow employee and may even ask for assistance from the HR department if they are not sure of the process and/or how to proceed.

After the enquiry has been held, the employer must advise the employee of whatever the decision has been made.  This advice and/or notification must be made in writing and a copy retained in the employees records.

Any disciplinary that is taken against trade union representatives or any employee that holds any kind of office bearing position or any official of a trade union, should not be taken without first notifying the trade union.  The trade union should then be consulted before any action is taken against that particular staff member.

If the decision is taken to dismiss an employee, the employee has to be notified in writing that they are being dismissed and of course the reason for the dismissal.  At this point the employee has to be reminded of their rights in terms of the appeal hearings and/or their right to refer the matter to a council with jurisdiction or even to the CCMA for mediation and/or to any other dispute resolution, in terms of the employers laid down and/or previously negotiated and accepted policies and procedures, or any other policies and procedures that have been established and agreed to by means of a collective agreement. 

There are obviously exceptional circumstances where the employer cannot reasonably be expected to follow these guidelines and in these instances the employer would then document the reason why these guidelines could not be followed and copies of this documentation must then be retained and filed in the employee’s personnel file for future reference.

It is a legal requirement for employers to keep and maintain records for each employee.  All transgressions, whether they resulted in a disciplinary hearing or not, should be recorded in the file, together with any hearings.  Actions taken against the employee by the employer must also be recorded and maintained as well as the reason that these actions were taken.

Next week we will look at Dismissals and Industrial Action.

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

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Workshop: Jhb: Financial Literacy for Non Financial Entrepreneurs - 12 March 2014

Financial Literacy for Non-Financial Entrepreneurs – 12th March 2014

Hosted by Viljoen Consulting, Sisibukula & Business Engage (formerly known as WIF – Women in Finance)
Getting the numbers right can mean the difference between failure or success – understanding how the numbers work and then implementing that knowledge will make a difference to your bottom line

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

Financial Literacy for Non-Financial Entrepreneurs is a workshop aimed specifically at small business owners and entrepreneurs, at all levels who want to equip themselves with the basics of accounting and understanding the financial aspects of their businesses.

Understanding the language of accounting will empower you to take your business to the next level and to understand and manage the business growth. Ultimately you will be equipped to grow a healthy and sustainable business.

Nico Labuschagne facilitates this workshop.  Nico Labuschagne obtained his degree in Internal auditing from the Potchefstroom University based in Vanderbijlpark in 1997. To complete his articles, Nico joined a medium sized auditing firm. Nico then applied to join The South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA). After being tested and reviewed he was registered as a full member and received his practice number from the institute in 2002.

Like most entrepreneurs, Nico soon became bored with the mundane repetitiveness of corporate life. Nico had also noticed that in most small and medium sized businesses, the owners or and staff carried out the financial business without being equipped with any kind of accounting knowledge or understanding. 

Understanding the challenges that face SMME’s and Entrepreneurs, Nico felt the need to empower them and has done so by writing a financial programme for the business man/woman in easy to understand language. The programme aims at a better understanding of how accounting works and its importance as a tool in running a financially healthy and stable business. Accounting principles are demonstrated. Topics like what an income statement and balance sheet are and what to look for in these statements are covered.
Entrepreneurs and SMME’s no longer need fear financial data, putting them in a very empowering position. The entrepreneur is in control of the business.

Topics that will be covered in this workshop:
•    Understanding the basic concepts of accounting.
•    Reading financial statements.
•    Analysing the basic elements of a balance sheet.
•    Using the evidence in financial statements to make a financial decision.
•    Determining financial viability of a project/enterprise.
•    How to base decisions on evidence in the balance sheet.
•    The financial strengths and weaknesses of an entity are analysed and suggestions are made of  ways to improve income and reduce costs.

No prior knowledge of accounting or book keeping is necessary for this highly effective but simple to understand workshop that promises to equip you with powerful tools to manage your business on a practical level.

Date:  Wednesday 12th March 2014

Venue: The Oak Leaf
61 Rivonia Road


Price: R1495 per delegate (includes breakfast snack/finger lunch/refreshments and course material)

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

RSVP: Please book no later than Friday 7th March 2014. Space is limited therefore bookings will be accepted on a first come first serve basis.

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

Business Engage ( formerly Women in Finance)  delegates please contact Colleen Larsen on or 084-353-9865. Paid up Business Engage members get a 10% discount.

Everyone else  please contact Nikki Viljoen on 083 702 8849  or

Let’s be a part of Entrepreneurs helping and supporting other Entrepreneurs.

EARLY WARNING - All About Procurement Fraud - Part 4



All About Procurement Fraud – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting February 2013.

Last time we looked at some of the different types of issues that need to be looked at around procurement. 

Today we will have a look at some more.

As we said one of the ways to limit procurement fraud is to ensure that you have a proper procurement policy in place and that it is adhered to and checked on a regular basis. We looked at the Needs Analysis, Timing and Suppliers.  Other issues that need to be taken into account when implementing the procurement process are (but not limited to):

1.    Supplier Communication
Once you have sourced the supplier, irrespective of whether you have one supplier for each product or several suppliers, you need to obtain quotes and/or ask for a proposal.  It may be that you require additional information pertaining to the product and where it was sourced (for the Eur1 certificate if applicable).  It is important to have the correct contact details of the person that you will be dealing with in order to establish a good working relationship.

If this is a new supplier that you are considering, it is a good idea to get references (which of course must be checked properly). You may require samples so that you can check the quality or find out who to speak with when you have issues around repairs or maintenance or installation etc.  You may what to test samples so need both new and used products in order to conduct same.

Clearly the better the lines of communication the more successful the relationship will be, remember to be clear in your expectations and requirements.

2.    Negotiation
I always say that assumption, perception and expectation are the three most dangerous words in the dictionary because they seldom meet reality!

The reality of course is that there will always be negotiation.  The client always wants to pay less for the goods and the seller always wants to sell more products for more money.

Make sure that your expectations are fair and clear.  Is the price right, are the goods readily available and if not what are the time lines for delivery?  Are the products standard or do they have to be customized and if so what does that entail? Delivery schedules should be put into place as well as payment schedules.

If you need to test certain products to ensure quality etc., then this also needs to be documented into your process as well as what the physical tests are, as well as what the acceptable levels are in terms of the quality and functionality of the product.

Next time we will have a look at a few more steps that need to address in your procurement process.

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

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Networking 101 - More Tips for Introverts



More Tips for Introverts

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Following on from last week’s offerings on Networking for Introverts, here are some more tips for other Introverts.

When I first started looking for business at networking events, I had to get myself to every networking function that was available.  Please believe me when I tell you that I spent many a very uncomfortable hour standing around trying to force myself to smile and introduce myself to total strangers, because I wanted their business desperately, whilst trying to look casual, professional and anything but desperate.  Going to every meeting that was taking place was a really good thing, no matter how difficult it was at the time because that is how I learnt, what kind of  meeting best suited me.  For me (and I suspect that this would work for most of the other introverts out there) a semi-facilitated, loosely structured type of environment works best.  At least I am sort of introduced to people, (not necessarily one at a time or even one on one) and they recognise me (and I them) and we can strike up a conversation and get talking.  Going to networking functions where you don’t know anyone and nobody knows you and you have to go up to strangers and introduce yourself is like going ‘cold calling’!  That, as far as I am concerned is for the birds and I am not a vulture!

So now, when a new meeting (with a bunch of people that I have not come across yet) is marketed or I am invited to attend something new, I always go to check it out, but that does not necessarily mean that I will automatically join up.  There are different types of networking meetings and I function better at these when I feel comfortable in my surroundings.  This also does not mean that I am restricted to one group – quite the contrary – I belong to several different groups, each one slightly different from the other, but all semi-facilitated, loosely structured and made up of individuals who are serious about doing business!

Find the type of meeting that fits with you as an individual.  Make sure that you feel comfortable, meet the individuals and grab all of the opportunities that come your way.

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

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS- Why Twitter - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

Everyone is ‘twittering’ about twitter!  From what I have heard, it is often asked “what is twitter” or “how does it work?” and my personal favorite “What are you doing?”

Those of us who use social networking as a marketing tool, this last question is often seen on sites like Facebook, or MySpace or Linked in.  The fact of the matter is that people are interested in learning more about you – be that in your personal capacity or in your business capacity.  That’s just human nature – we are a curious species.

So for me it makes perfect sense to use Twitter as a marketing tool.  As individuals “follow me” on twitter, so they link into my website and my blogs.  If they like what they read, chances are that they will start looking out for my daily link and many of them don’t even wait to do that, they signup on the website to get the blogs sent to them on a daily basis.  How cool is that?

Now, I’m not saying that everyone who “follows me” will be interested in all of the articles that I write, but since (in my opinion) there is something for everyone, it stands to reason that as I link up to people who I follow and then they follow me – more and more traffic is driven to my website and we could all do with that, I am sure you will agree!

From a marketing point of view, those who “follow me” on twitter have found something in my articles that interest them – this of course means that they are my ‘target market’.  Here’s another cool thing – not only are these individuals looking at my information, but I am also looking at their information.  Not only am I making a difference in their lives, but they are also making a difference to and adding value to mine.

What an incredible way to collaborate!  What an incredible way to interact with and meet new people!

Man, I love technology – yes, I know that I always say that I am a technophobe (but that is because I don’t understand the technical terminology) and that I don’t always understand it, but I do know, a little bit about what it does and I sure do love it!

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

Monday, February 17, 2014

MOTIVATION - Defects & Strengths


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, who says”

“By nature we have no defect that could not become a strength, no strength that could not become a defect.”

Wow, what an incredible statement to make and it really connects with me!  That’s for sure.

The first part of the quote for me is a ‘no brainer’.  You see I am on a mission at the moment to change people’s mind sets.  I am looking at the way we see things, issues such as the ‘VAT man’ or how we look at policies and procedures for example and how when we change our mind sets and we look at these in a more positive light, they actually become beneficial to us and to our businesses – so that one I don’t have a problem with.

It’s the second part of the quote that becomes a bit of a challenge!  Actually now that I think about it – it’s not that difficult.  I think that on some level, we as humans become somewhat ‘arrogant’ about our strengths and when that happens they can become our greatest weaknesses. 

I recently saw a movie where the young lawyer had something like a 97% win ratio and this resulted in him being head hunted by some of the most prestigious law firms around.  He ended up prosecuting a case that should have been a ‘slam dunk’ and which very nearly became the ‘undoing’ of him, when he lost it.  His arrogance about his strength became his biggest weakness. 

So no matter how excellent we are at something, it is in our own best interests to always do our best, take the time to ensure that we have all the facts and that we pay as much attention to something that we are good at as we pay to something that we are not so good at.

It’s about giving 100% all of the time irrespective of what the task is.  It’s about taking pride in what we do and being committed performing the task to the best of our ability at all times.

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

Sunday, February 16, 2014

MARKETING - Seven Steps to Starting Out - Part 3


Seven Steps to Starting Out – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting February 2010.

Following on from the first five marketing tips out of the seven steps to starting out – let’s look at the rest now.

The sixth tip is all about the sales process and yes, it is a process.  Many people fall flat round about now as they think that because they are sitting in front of someone that they consider a friend, the process is complete and done – don’t you be making that mistake.  The deal still needs to be done and the sale needs to be concluded.

Make no mistake, sitting in front of someone that you consider a friend will make part of the process very easy, but part of the process will also be extremely difficult, failing to deliver to a ‘friend’ will, in most cases result in the breakup of that friendship as well as loss of the sale and loss of a client!

Ultimately, it is definitely easier (and often safer) to have the ‘sales discussion’ with a qualified prospect who is open to whatever it is that you are selling and open to working with you.  Remember that the successful conclusion of the ‘sales process’ is that the prospect is converted into a paying client.

The final point of course is the deliverables.  You have to deliver and you have to deliver on time, especially to new clients as their expectation of what you have committed to is so much greater.  You have to deliver whatever it is that you have promised and in fact it is in your own best interests to ‘over deliver’.  The saying that goes something along the lines of ‘under promise and over deliver’ is exactly what needs to happen at this point.  Believe me you will score ‘brownie’ points if you work like this and your reputation will proceed you.

Remember, exceeding someone’s expectation of you is a wonderful thing as it will usually end up to leads that are generated by ‘word-of-mouth’ referrals and these are the very best that you can get, they are more powerful than King Kong and certainly more valuable than diamonds and gold. 

Take care of the deliverables and the ‘word-of-mouth’ referrals will take care of you.

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

Saturday, February 15, 2014

MARKETING - Seven Steps to Starting Out - Part 2


Seven Steps to Starting Out – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting February 2010.

Following on from the first three marketing tips out of the seven steps to starting out – let’s look at the fourth one.

Well this is my favorite one for sure, but that is because I absolutely love to write – it is a passion that I found, rather late in life and as you can see from my blogs it is one that I am making the most of – catching up for all the years I lost I suspect.  Thing is though that writing is one of the most powerful marketing materials.  With the advent of the internet and more recently ‘social networking’, your writing skills (or if you don’t have them, your marketing guru’s) is of paramount importance.  I use my blogs on as well as the posting of the blog on my own Website and on Twitter and on Facebook.  Posting the blog, by means of a “url link” onto Twitter and Facebook ensures that I get visitors to my website.  The blogs give out useful information for free, to anyone who cares to read them, but the primary target is Small Business Owners or Entrepreneurs and as people read what they think pertains to them, they are drawn to read more and more as my blogs cover a vast variety of subjects.

The blogs are therefore used to educate potential clients and persuade clients to not only avail themselves of the ‘free information’ but that help is but an e-mail away or a phone call away, should they need it.  My website also contains the links to the various articles that I have written for newspapers and/or magazines as well as YouTube clips of my interviews on various television programs.  All of this is used to promote my business and most of it cost me only the time that it took to research the material (usually for my own or a client’s needs) and then to write the article.  Not a bad marketing budget, even if I say so myself. So it is worth everyone investigating in it for themselves.  Most small business owners are ‘specialists’ in what they do, or passionate about what it is that they do, so why not share some of that passion and some of that information – it will draw people to your product and/or service that you provide.

Then comes engagement and no I don’t mean the marriage type, I mean where you have the interest of the other person and you engage in conversation with them.  Getting an appointment with someone you have met whilst Networking or someone who has been referred to you, timeously is of the utmost importance and obviously the sooner it is done the better. 

Invite them for a cup of coffee and have an informal chat.  Find out how you can be assistance to them and tell them they can be of assistance to you.  Remember to keep it reciprocal – it’s the best and most profitable way for both parties.

That’s it for this week folks – next week we will look at the rest of the points.

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

Friday, February 14, 2014

HR - What to do When . . . You Want to Dismiss Staff - Part 4


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

Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

So here we have George, who has now attended his disciplinary hearing for a) stealing stock and b) hitting Simon.  Now what?

Well, generally speaking it would not be the right thing to do, to dismiss an employee for a first offence.  Obviously there are always exceptions, depending on the severity of the offence!

Some of the examples of serious misconduct are, but not limited to, and it should be noted that each case has to be judged on its own merits;
•    gross dishonesty
•    willful damage to the property of the employer
•    willful endangering of the safety of others
•    physical assault on the employer
•    physical assault on a fellow employee
•    physical assault on a client and/or customer
•    gross insubordination.

If the case does not meet the requirements of section 188, which states

(1) A dismissal that is not automatically unfair, is unfair if the
employer fails to prove-
(a) that the reason for dismissal is a fair reason-
(i) related to the employee's conduct or capacity; or
(ii) based on the employer's operational requirements; and
(b) that the dismissal was effected in accordance with a fair
(2) Any person considering whether or not the reason for dismissal is a
fair reason or whether or not the dismissal was effected in accordance
with a fair procedure must take into account any relevant code of good
practice issued in terms of this Act.51

then the dismissal will not be fair.

When the chairperson was deliberating on whether or not to impose the penalty of dismissal on George, not only should he take into consideration the gravity of the misconduct but he also has to take into account other factors such as, but not limited to:
•    length of service
•    previous disciplinary record
•    personal circumstances
•    the nature of the job
•    the circumstances of the infringement itself.

The chairperson also has to take into account what the penalty was for any previous case, in which the circumstances were the same.  You see all employees have to be treated in the same manner – so if there was a previous case such as this, the penalty has to be the same as this.

Next week we will have a look at what a “Fair Procedure” would be.

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

Thursday, February 13, 2014

EARLY WARNING - All About Procurement Fraud - Part 3



All About Procurement Fraud – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2013.

Last time we looked at some of the different types of procurement

Today we will have a look at some of the different issues that need to be looked at, around procurement.

One of the ways to limit procurement fraud is to ensure that you have a proper procurement policy in place and that it is adhered to and checked on a regular basis.  Issues that need to be taken into account when implementing the procurement process are (but not limited to):

1.    Needs Analysis.
It’s a good idea to sit down and establish a strategy.  This of course means that you really have to understand the Company’s needs.  To start off, a ‘short term’ strategy (usually anything between three to five years) should be implemented.  You will also need to “define” the ‘technical direction’ as well as the requirements that this will entail.  Remember technology changes at an incredible rate and therefore you need to prepare yourself for all the changes coming down the road.

2.    Timing
When do you need the stock?  How long does it take to get to you?  How quickly (or slowly) do you go through the stock and at what level of ‘stock-on-hand’ are you comfortable with for each product? 

Remember stock-on-hand becomes money in the bank, only when it is sold, so having too much stock-on-hand is not a good thing particularly if it is a ‘slow’ moving product.

On the other hand, if you don’t have the stock-on-hand, you won’t have the money in the bank either as you cannot sell what you don’t have, so not having enough stock on hand is not a good thing either, particularly if it is a ‘fast’ moving product.

3.    Suppliers
You need to identify your suppliers. In a small environment this is usually done through your networks and then when that fails you will usually resort to Google.  Remember that whilst referrals from friends, relatives, colleagues and in particular staff, can be great, they may also carry a hidden cost in the form of ‘kickbacks’ or payoffs. 

You need to ascertain if the product is a specific brand, in which case there will be recognized suppliers, or maybe you would like a product that is similar but less costly.  You may want to use several suppliers for the same product or use a single supplier for all of your products.  You may want to use local suppliers or import your products, the choice of course is always yours.  Here’s the thing though, it is very important that you do the research and identify who best, will supply you with what you require at a competitive price – good value for money is the name of the game.

If you are wanting to import, then attending Trade Shows or contacting the ‘Trade” section of a Chamber of Commerce who will assist you, is the way to go.  Taking a company’s name and contact details out of the yellow pages or its electronic equivalent, without getting referrals and doing your homework is a very clear recipe for disaster.

Next time we will have a look at some more of these  issues.

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

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Networking 101 - Introverts and Extroverts



Introverts & Extroverts

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

I was discussing Networking with one of my colleagues the other day when he turned around to me and said, in all honesty “I’m not a natural networker because I am an introvert!”  I stood there with my mouth hanging open . . .  for several seconds.  You see, I am a natural networker and I am also an introvert!  Ok everybody, you can get up off the floor now and stop laughing!  I am an introvert!  Ask my shrink!

It’s not that I am shy around people or afraid to be in public.  Those of you who know me can attest to that.  I not too good at small talk though, I much prefer to get into debates on issues that are important to me or not . . . Being with people on a constant basis often leaves me completely drained of all energy and I spend most weekends, on my own, relishing in the ‘space’ that I have on my own without any other people around me.

I am not ‘naturally’ good with people and although I have been told that I am a ‘people’s person’, I don’t feel that way at all.  Mixing with people and interacting with them is a conscious thing for me and it is something that I have to work at – hard.

Why do I work hard at it?  Well that’s quite simple – you see I understand the value of networking.  I don’t see networking as a waste of time or a pain in the butt (although generally speaking, for introverts it is exactly that). 

Networking for me, is me investing in myself and my company.  You see, by developing my network in the way that I have, when I need a particular widget and/or a particular service, I don’t have to spend hours doing research on the internet, or paging through the yellow pages, or time and money sending out endless e-mails looking for help. It takes me one or two phone calls to find the exact person that I am looking for.  In fact, if the truth be told, most of my colleagues phone me when they need anything because I usually have that particular contact within my data base.

For me that is a triple win situation.  You see not only do I add value to the person who is looking for someone/something, I also add value to the person in my database who is that someone or who can provide that service, but in connecting these two, I have added huge value to myself – both will feel indebted to me and payback is always very sweet!

There’s a great deal more to Networking as an introvert, so more next week.

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

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS - Why Twitter - Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

For the last couple of years now, I have been listening to all the hype about “Twitter” and “Tweeting” and “Tweets” and so on.  Actually, now that I think about it, my technophobia aside – I really do love technology, I love the world that it opens up to me.  The fact that I am not sure how the technical side of things work doesn’t really phase me at all.  I do know that “Twitter” is another form of international communication and what I really love about it is that it allows me to put a one-liner up which will drive a considerable number of people to my website.

For example, on a daily basis I tweet – Today’s blog (and then the title of the blog), add the URL address of my website and that’s it.  Looking at the statistics afterwards shows me exactly how many people come to visit my website and they usually stay for a while and look around.  How do I know this?  Well the stats show that the average time anyone spends on my website is in excess of 5 minutes.  See, my website is very content rich with loads of information that pertains mostly to SMME’s (small, medium, micro enterprise), Entrepreneurs and start ups but actually in general to everyone.  The information is presented in bite sized chunks, with my own brand of humour and I know that many have not only learnt something but have also enjoyed a chuckle whilst doing so – and that’s always a bonus.

I also know that when I started the whole ‘twitter’ scenario, I was addicted.  I couldn’t get enough of the site.  I found myself standing in a queue and instead of reading my book (which is what I used to do), I would be logging onto the site via my phone to see ‘who had posted what tweets’ – it was an exciting time of information overload.  Back at the office, I found myself logging onto the site at every opportunity and found myself going from one site to the other as I devoured all the information that others had so thoughtfully found and shared with me.

Reality hit me really hard one day, when I got up and it was still dark outside.  I did the daily things that are routine to me and immediately logged onto the site.  During the course of the day, I felt hungry and thirsty but every time I wanted to get up and get something to eat or drink, I found myself caught up in whatever it was that I was reading and thought ‘as soon as I finish this article I will go and get (insert food or drink here)’.  Of course I got so involved that getting something to eat or drink just never happened.  After what seemed like a couple of hours, not long at all, I suddenly realized that it had gone very dark and I thought it must be because there was going to be a Highveld storm.  One of those that we are famous for – you know when suddenly the thick black clouds come over and then the rain comes down in sheets for about 10 minutes and then the sun comes out to play again?  Sadly it wasn’t!  What it was, was the onset of night – in fact it was after 7pm.  I had sat in front of my computer playing on twitter and going from site to side from around 5.30am to after 7pm without eating or drinking anything.  Needless to say, no work had been done for the day either and I gave myself a helleva fright.

The solution to the problem of course was clear, I went out and bought myself one of those oven timer clocks and limited my use of twitter to 15 minutes a day.  When the clock alarm goes off, it doesn’t matter where I am and what I am reading, I have to close the site down!  Addictive it is and I am not the only one to say this either!

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing some of the things that you can do with Twitter – I hope you will stick around and enjoy the journey with me.

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

Monday, February 10, 2014

MOTIVATION - Dare to Imagine

Dare to imagine

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from Ralph Marston, who says:

“In your mind you can go anywhere. And where your mind consistently goes, the rest of your life will follow.
There is no limit to what you can imagine. And what you imagine, you have already begun to create.
Allow your thoughts to travel often to beautiful and magnificent places. In your mind, construct all the rich details of the life you wish to live.
In order to reach for a dream, you must know what it looks like, how it feels, and where it is. Long before you actually get there, your mind can enable you to experience all these things.
Every success is first a success of the imagination. What wonderful pathways will you dare to imagine?
Set your imagination free, and it will show you who you are. Let imagination guide your efforts, and your dreams will be fulfilled.”

I am a very visual kind of person and while I was reading this my mind wandered away on a journey of it’s own and in my ‘mind’s eye’ I was a bird soaring through the air and looking down on the world! 

I could not imagine what my life would be like without my dreams, my hopes and my aspirations.

I could not imagine how droll life would be, if I could not dream about what I would like to do and who I would like to become.

Dreams for me are like old familiar friends that have walked along beside me on this journey of life.  They have carried me when I could no longer walk, they have led when I became lost and they have kept me company in times of loneliness.  They have been my light in times of darkness and stood quietly, unassumingly in times of triumph.

Without my dreams, there would be no point to life.

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

Sunday, February 09, 2014

MARKETING - Seven Steps to Starting Out - Part 1


Seven Steps to Starting Out – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting February 2010.

I know that when I started out I had no clue about ‘how to’ or even ‘where to’ market my service.  Coming out of a Corporate environment, where the accounts department was down the corridor and to the left and the marketing department was up the corridor and to the right and the art department was somewhere in between - starting your own business is not that easy as you may think.

Having spent, up to that point, most of my working life, just getting on with it, in a Corporate environment, where the assistance that I needed, was on tap so to speak, and then having the disciplines that the Company required me to meet, very clearly defined, meant that it was a huge ‘wake up to reality’ check when I finally ventured out on my own.  I learnt though – very quickly.  Sure if you are working from home like I do, it’s great to be able to work in comfortable clothes, which for me in summer is shorts and a t-shirt and in winter, my favorite tracksuit.  The reality though, is that irrespective of how you dress, the work still has to be done and you learn very quickly that you have to put proper structures in place in order to remain focused and  disciplined.

The biggest thing of course is that, on your own you do not have the resources at your fingertips that you perhaps had at the office. Let’s face it, in your Corporate world you were plugged into everything, but remained only responsible for your particular job/position/field of expertise.  On your own, you are in fact the whole shebang!  There’s no-one else to do the marketing/finance/design etc and then you will still also have to make the tea!  The reality is that you are everything to your business all rolled up in one.

Here’s the thing though.  As frightening and as daunting as it may seem, with a little bit of research, a bit of planning (and yes you do have to do it) the whole thing may not be as scary and frightening as you think.

Remember though – no planning and no research will undoubtedly result in a big disaster!

One of the first issues that needs research is the target market.  Let’s face it, pitching your product/service to the wrong target marked will result in disaster or more specifically – no sales.  So it is imperative that you know exactly who you will be offering your services to.  Once you get to the point that you can picture them in your mind as clearly as you can, your own family and close friends, then you know that you are going in the right direction.

It is of vital importance that you have a very clear picture of your product or service.  It you are vague about what it is that you are selling, chances are that your communication about the product/service will also be somewhat vaguer and your passion about what it is that you want will also come across quite diluted.

The third issue that you need to deal with is your Marketing Message.  Remember that this is how you will be engaging and communicating with your target market.  This, in essence is how you explain, in words (or sometimes pictures), what your product/service is.  This is where you get them interested and hungering for more information. So your message must be very clear, exciting and engaging.  There is nothing worse than trying to tell people what it is that you do or sell and they are struggling to stay awake from absolute boredom.  So make sure that your message is informative but also exciting and interesting.

That’s it for this week folks – next week we will look at the rest of the points.

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

Saturday, February 08, 2014

MARKETING - Why Do What Your Competitors Do


Why Do What Your Competitors Do?

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting November 2008.

From an information point of view, it is of the utmost importance to know and understand what your competition is up to.  The saying “Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer”, really applies in this case.  You need to see what kind of prices they are charging and what products and/or services that are offering or even how they are packaging and/or promoting their offerings.

Whilst it is important to know what the competition are doing, it is equally important not to follow exactly in their footsteps.  You need to be unique in what you do and you need to develop your own strategy.

So if your competitor puts everything on sale at less 50%, it is not necessary for you to put everything on sale less 55%.  This can only result in a really ugly price war.

Rather think of, or come up with innovative ideas on how to give better value.  Most people know that the best is not necessarily the cheapest and that the most expensive is not always the best.  So find ways of adding value, best value.

Do some research on your target market – find some need that has not been met or something that your competitor doesn’t have and add it to what you offer.  Make what you do or the way that you do it, not only different but also irresistible. 

Make your client conscientiously choose you, your products, your services before they go anywhere else!

Set you apart from the rest.

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

Friday, February 07, 2014

HR - What to do when . . . You Want to Dismiss Staff - Part 3


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

Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

As usual, our protagonists are standing by to make this journey just that little bit more understandable.  We have Mike the Business Owner and George the worker.

Let’s give ourselves a little bit of a story, so that we can understand the finer details.

This particular incident is going to be one of Misconduct.

Mike owns a string of retail stores, with most of them being in the bigger malls.  George is one of the workers in the warehouse.  George has been with the company for 5 years.  Mike has a warehouse in Johannesburg and the stock that is required by the stores is disbursed from the main warehouse in Johannesburg. 

Mike has a reward program in place, whereby staff do not get bonuses as a 13th cheque, but rather a profit share as a percentage, based, not on turnover, but on net profit.  In this way the expenses and shrinkage are kept to a bare minimum, by the staff themselves, as they obviously want to share in the highest obtainable profits.

George was caught stealing by another warehouse worker, let’s call him Simon.  Simon, justifiably angry (remember George’s stealing has a direct negative effect on Simon’s bonus), states that he is going to report the incident to the Warehouse Manager, let’s call him Andrew.  George also gets angry and punches Simon in the face, breaking his nose and his jaw.

Mike has a proper set of procedures in place including a ‘Code of Conduct’ and since he has been in business many precedents have been set.  The Procedure Manual is readily and easily available to all staff members and in fact as and when procedures are updated and/or new ones introduced – the procedures are circulated to all the staff members who sign evidencing that they have not only read but also understand the procedures.

Most of the staff, certainly those that have been employed over a long period of time know and understand that that ‘theft’ is a dismissible offence as is ‘striking’ another employee.  The staff understands the limits and those same limits are documented in the ‘Code of Conduct’.

George is advised, in writing, that he is to make himself available for a disciplinary hearing and that the charges are ‘Gross Misconduct, in that he removed Company  Property from the premises without the required approvals and/or documentation and that he struck a fellow worker, breaking both his nose and his jawbone.”

This is not the first time that George has been in trouble at work and Andrew has had to both counsel and discipline George on several smaller infractions.  A full documented record is available in George’s Personnel File and it is clear that Andrew has tried, on countless occasions to get George to change both his attitude and his self destructive behavior.

You see George has a really aggressive nature and a terrible temper and there have been occasions where George has sworn as fellow workers and other incidents where George has either pushed or shoved other workers. 

George has quite a history!

In view of the fact that most of the other incidents were of a minor nature, George was counseled regarding his behaviour and he has fully understood that his attitude needed to change in order for his behaviour to change, but George has not heeded any of the advice and despite being on a Final Written Warning, he has now committed a really serious offence that carries a ‘dismissal’ action.

George still has to be taken through the whole disciplinary procedure though, he cannot just be dismissed out of hand.  The disciplinary procedure itself must still be ‘fair’ and should be chaired by an ‘impartial’ person and evidence needs to be presented and the testimony of witnesses from both sides still needs to be heard, collaborated upon and carefully weighed before any kind of judgment is made.  In this case however, in all probability George may also face criminal charges of ‘aggravated assault”, as well.

George’s situation, at best is precarious.

Next week we will look at the Disciplinary Procedures relating to dismissal for misconduct.

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

Thursday, February 06, 2014

EARLY WARNING - All About Procurement Fraud - Part 2


All About Procurement Fraud – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2013.

Last time we looked at exactly what Procurement is and also briefly, what Procurement Fraud is.

Today we will dig a little deeper and start looking at the different types of procurement.

All decisions to purchase, whether that purchase is in goods or services open you, the business owner up to fraud of one sort or another.  This is because all purchasing decisions involve issues around delivery and handling marginal benefit and price fluctuations. One of the most important distinctions to make is the distinction between purchases with a ‘high’ risk fraud and those with a ‘low’ risk.

Larger manufacturing companies often use tools to analyze the economic and financial factors and implications that this produces as there are also two very different types of acquired goods and services and more often than not, procurement activities are split between these two depending of course, on the type of business that you are in.  The first type is ‘direct production related procurement’ and the second one is therefore ‘non-production related procurement’.  So now let’s have a look at what the main difference is between these two.

Direct procurement usually only happens in a manufacturing type of environment.  It includes all the different parts or components of the finished product.  This would be raw materials and/or components and/or parts.  Direct procurement therefore affects the whole production process within the manufacturing arena.

Indirect procurement on the other hand, pertains to the operating expenses and/or operating resources.  It’s the purchases that relate to the operational requirements of the company.  Clearly this has a very wide and far reach, as this applies to all the goods and services.  It is reflected in the standard office type supplies such as (but not limited to) stationery or regular office supplies to machines of a different caliber such as heavy equipment.  It also applies to consulting type services such as legal and/or accounting services.

In both direct and indirect procurement, systems need to be implemented to ensure that purchases are made at the correct time, from the correct supplies and at the correct price.

Next time we will have a look at these processes in a little more depth.

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

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Networking 101 - Being a Connector



Being a Connector

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

For the most part, networking for different people means different things.  For some it is about building relationships with a view to doing business in the future. For others it about selling their product/services – quickly.  Some on the other hand, use networking to be able to ‘buy’ whatever product/services that they need in order for their businesses to run smoothly and for a very select few it is about being a “Connector”.

Part of me being a ‘natural networker’ is that I am a ‘Connector’.  Connectors are people who do not only attend networking meetings to build relationships, to sell their products, to buy another product or even to have a few drinks or a coffee with someone, they like to match people up.  They like to introduce people to one another.

Thursday is my networking meeting day.  It is the day that I sit, from around 9.00am to around 4pm at ‘my office’ at the VovoTelo in Cresta (where I get excellent service I may add from the guys there, thanks guys) and I meet with people all day long.  These are the people that I have met briefly at a networking event, be it at the Inner Circle, or Business Engage, a Business Masters gathering, Rachel’s Conversations that Matter or indeed, even someone that I have met on Facebook.  I allocate an hour for each person – some take longer, some don’t need the whole hour and strangely enough, some don’t even pitch at all!

I listen to their stories, and am often amused by the fact that many arrive at the meeting and they have no clue as to why they are there!  All they know is that I have phoned them up, booked an appointment to see them (sometimes as much as 3 months in advance), confirmed the appointment the day before it has to take place, and now they are here!  To them I say – Well Done!

I digress - so I listen to their stories, try and understand what it is that they do in their business, who they need to ‘connect’ with and why.  As they talk I make notes and ask questions in order to understand something in a few minutes, that they have sometimes built up over months and years.  As I make notes and ask the questions about ‘target markets’ and the like, my mind wonders through my data base and the kind of people that they should be connecting with.  I start off by industry and then work on the individual in that industry.

For example, if I am talking to someone in the printing industry (yes I know we all need business cards, but there is just so much more to printing), my natural reaction would be to put them in touch with all the Training people (training manuals, course material – presentations and the like), all the Event Marketing people (banners, corporate gifts and the like), Team Building people (course material, manuals, banners), Advertising and Marketing people (corporate gifts, brochures etc) and of course the Corporate Gift people ( pens, t-shirts and the rest of the paraphernalia, that goes with that).  Sure, if I hear of someone who needs to have their Business Cards printed I will send them along to you too!

Whilst ‘listening’ to your story and asking the questions that I ask, I may also understand that you may have a problem somewhere in your business.  You may be experiencing difficulty with your financials and may be looking to outsource you Bookkeeping functions or you may be needing someone to help you with your frustrating IT problems, or you maybe battling to get the right staff – whatever that problem is, I have no doubt, that somewhere in my database there will be someone who I can refer to you to be of assistance to you.  Even if they are not in my direct data base, I can go to Business Masters, Inner Circle, Business Engage, Every Woman and ask for assistance.  Somewhere, someone knows somebody who knows somebody else, who knows or who can refer me to someone who knows who you need to help you with whatever problem it is that you have.

Hence the saying “There are no problems, just opportunities!”  Your problem is someone else’s opportunity!

When I am connecting people (and believe me when I say it isn’t just at my Thursday meeting that this happens), I am in my element – this is the world that I love.  Why you may ask, well it’s because I can add value to the people in my data base (or network) by moving them from one contact to another.  In this way the networks of all the different contacts ‘cross pollinate’ so to speak and in so doing I add value to myself and also grow my Network.

You see my networking isn’t just a matter of you ‘helping me right now’ or of you ‘selling me something right now’, it’s about finding synergies, from the people that I have known for years and the new people that I am meeting right now.  It’s about bringing the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ together so that they can do business together. 

It’s about building credible relationships, not only between myself and the new people that I meet, but also between the new people that I meet and the people that I have known for years.

So what does networking mean to you?

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration specialist who can be contacted on

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS - Some More Common Mistakes - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Some More Common Mistakes – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – August 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 03, 2014

MOTIVATION - Creating Yourself

MOTIVATION – Creating yourself

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from George Bernard Shaw who says “Life isn’t about ‘finding’ yourself.  Life is about ‘creating’ yourself.”

I am often reminded how I needed to ‘find’ myself in my early twenties.  The problem of course is that when I ‘found’ myself, I didn’t much like who I was and promptly set about changing myself into the kind of person that I wanted to be – thereby ‘creating’ the person that I am today.

As adults, there are very few who can say that they aren’t changing themselves on a daily basis.  We all tend to strive to be the best of who we can be, and in doing this we morph into someone quite different to the person who we started out as.

The challenge, as I understand it, is to accept that we are continually creating or even re-creating ourselves as we slowly but surely change, as we grow as individuals.

We often comment, unkindly about superstars such as Madonna, who is continuously re-creating herself, yet this is exactly what it is that we do ourselves.

Perhaps it is time for us to understand and also accept the fact that we are exactly who we created ourselves to be and any change that we make to ourselves is made, by recreating ourselves.

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

Sunday, February 02, 2014

MARKETING - Who is your Target Market


Who Is Your Target Market?

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2009.

Do you know who your target market is? Do you believe that your market is “everybody”?

I know that when I started out, I believed that ‘everybody on the planet’ was my target market – wrong, wrong, wrong! You see, whilst most people could certainly benefit from having and using my services and my products – many just didn’t want to or don’t see the value add, or didn’t think that they needed it because they could fly below the radar, or they can do it themselves. So invariably the more I pushed for these people to buy into what I do and what I have for sale, the more they resisted and the more I struggled to sell.

This, for me, was a huge problem! I find it really difficult to understand why someone would not buy something that would actually assist them in saving money and headaches and time in the long run. Doesn’t make any kind of logical sense does it? Well it doesn’t to me and I have no doubt that on some level you would be the first to agree with me.

Thing is though, most people have a mind of their own and well ‘you can take a horse to water . . .’! On most levels I understand this, but the fear of losing someone who really should be a customer, drove me ever onwards to get them to buy! The result, well I lost them as potential customers – although in all honesty, when the brown smelly stuff hit the fan, there have been those that have come to me for help – too late to prevent the loss you understand, but well that was their choice now, wasn’t it?

So it took a while, but now I do understand that marketing to my clients is not exclusive, but inclusive.

So what does that mean exactly?

Well for me it means that instead of thinking that everybody needs a support group and I offer support and therefore they need me, I take it just a little bit further. I look at ‘why’ they need me. I look at what their ‘specific’ needs are as opposed to just their ‘general or generic’ needs.

Although most people have the same needs on many levels, they don’t want to ‘think’ that they are the same as everybody else – they are unique and therefore their problems and requirements are unique.

Get to know them, build relationships with them and find out what it is that they need and then you will be able to sell them what you have that they need or want.

Give them what they want/need/desire rather than want you want/need/desire to give them.

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

Saturday, February 01, 2014

MARKETING - Targeting a Market you Can't Reach


Targeting a Market You Can’t Reach

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2008.

As much as we all like to think that our product and/or our particular service is something that everyone on the planet really, really needs – the reality of the situation is that there are really some people out there who don’t need the product or service, or who don’t want the product or service and in some cases don’t deserve the product or service, and in some extreme cases some who you don’t want to have the product or service.  These people are very definitely not in our ‘target market’ and I am sure that you will agree, marketing to them would be a complete waste of time, energy and money. It’s just the way it is.

So logic must therefore tell us that there is a specific group or type of people and/or businesses that it would be ideal to market to – those specific people and/or businesses are commonly known as our ‘niche’ market and/or ‘target market’ and they are the ones most likely to purchase whatever it is that we are selling.

What we often do then is to market to people that are in our ‘niche’ or ‘target market’, but then going from one extreme to the other – instead of marketing to all and sundry (which as we have seen from the above is a complete waste of time, energy and money) we tend to go to the other extreme and narrow the target market down to such an extent that it only pertains to a handful of people and they live in Alaska.  Now that is also not too clever is it, as it means that that particular market will not sustain your business.  So clearly it is a good idea to be really sensible about this. 

I find that writing stuff down helps me, so make of note of EXACTLY (the narrowest ideal person(s)/company) who need your product and/or service.  Then expand on that list to others that may have a need (but not necessarily understand that they need it yet) and then people who would love to have it (whether they need it or not) and of course people who have the money to purchase it.  Your list will have grown somewhat by now I am sure.  Then have a look at the things you can ‘add on’ or value add to what ever it is that you sell and go through the exercise again – you will be amazed now at how your list has grown.  Finally see if you can partner with someone who does something similar or something that can fit in with your business (for example for me as an Internal Auditor to partner or JV with an Accountant is quite logical and now I have two data bases and two lots of target markets to look at) and then go through the exercise again – you will be pleasantly surprised at what you find.  Each time you ‘partner’ or ‘collaborate’ with someone else, go through the exercise again – so if I now ‘collaborate’ with an attorney, I will be able to target a far greater number of people again, and so on.

So now you have created a customer profile and identified the characteristics or needs of your potential buyers and you have identified your ‘niche’ or ‘target market’.  Now you need to have a look at whether they are long term clients or ‘once’ off.  As much as it is really great to sell to ‘once’ off buyers – they are spending the money after all, it’s even nicer to be able to build up a data base of clients who come back time and time again – not because your product broke or because your service didn’t do the trick, but because of the quality of your product and/or service.

Finally, beware of targeting people who cannot afford your product and/or service.  There are some people out there, who no matter how much they love your product and/or service, no matter how much they desire your product and/or service and no matter how much they need your product and/or service – just can’t afford it or don’t have the money.  Don’t make the mistake of trying to sell your product and/or service to them – the sad reality of this is that either you will sell it to them and never see the money or you will be competing for their grocery money.  Not a good idea all around.

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