Monday, March 31, 2014



By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from Michael Masterson who says:

“The trouble for most people is they don't decide to get wealthy, they just dream about it.”

So what is it about dreams that make them so important, and once you have done the ‘dreaming’ thing, what needs to be done?

Well for me, the dream is the start.  It’s the first step in this incredible journey that we call life. It’s the seed that is planted, that with love, care, commitment and perseverance, germinates and becomes the tree that grows strong and true.

What we all need to remember though is that the dream is just the beginning.  Dreams without action are just ……. well  dreams.  In order for anything to happen, the dream needs to be acted upon.  Something needs to be done to change the dream into a reality. 

So the next step is to decide to do something about the dream.  This is the first action in a very long line of actions that need to take place.  The decision to do something about the dream, is the second step. This is where the foundation is built.  This is where the nuts and bolts are decided upon and the plan is written down and then for me excitement and anticipation and that delicious feeling, deep down inside comes bubbling up and I can’t wait to get started because, well because something is about to happen!

As I go along, my dream morphs, due to some of the realities of life and the path that I have chosen to walk down has twists and turns and up-hills and down-hills and sometimes I need to pause and take in the scenery.  This means that my plans (or goals) need to change, they need to be flexible enough for me to be able to make changes, without losing sight of the winning flag, the realization of my dream. 

This does not mean that the dream has changed or that the end result is going to be different, it just means that the actions required in order to reach my goal or realize my dream, have changed.  There are always people to have a better way or easier way to do something – so the action must change.

But none of this can happen, not the action, not the execution of the action, not the realization – nothing . . . unless the dream has been dreamed.

Do you have a dream?

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

Sunday, March 30, 2014

BLOGGING 101 - Always be yourself

BLOGGING TIPS – Always be Yourself

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2011

I must admit, I really did have quite a chuckle when I read the article “Be Yourself” by Oleg Mokhov the other day.  You see I am a very literal person and the first thought that jumped up into my mind was ‘well how else could I be anyone other than myself?”  The thought of being or even trying to be someone else is absolutely repugnant to me!

After some thought (and of course reading the whole article through also helped), I got the point.

Mokhov’s point is that that he writes the way that he talks, which is in a ‘very relaxed and informal’ manner and very much like myself, he keeps it simple and easy to understand.

It appears that some people’s perception is that their own type of personality is not particularly successful and the result is that they then try and force themselves to become someone else and quite frankly unless you are an accomplished actor or actress, this just in not going to happen – remember also, even accomplished actors and actresses say the words and become the persona of someone else’s imagination.  So just don’t do it!

In the words of Mokhov “Are you funny, be funny.  Serious, be serious.  Angry, be angry.”

For my part, above all enjoy yourself and have fun – without that, there’s no real point anyway.

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

Saturday, March 29, 2014

BLOGGING - Don't be scared to ask for help

BLOGGING TIPS – Don’t be Scared to Ask for Help

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC September 2010

Many of the people that I encounter on a daily basis, look at me as if I have lost the plot, when I suggest that they should blog.

I am not sure if it is because they feel insecure about themselves and what they do or indeed if it is merely because the very thought of “I have to write something” scares the crap out of them.  The look of absolute terror on their faces pretty much resembles those of a buck that has been caught unawares in the headlights of an oncoming car – pretty much ‘frozen’ in terror they are!

Yet it is these self same individuals, whose faces light up in animation and with intense passion as they verbally describe who they are and what it is that they do and why you should purchase their product or engage their services.  Why is that do you think?

What is it about the written word that sends people into an absolute tizz?  I mean, at some point we all have to document things, proposals or Business Plans and what have you – why is it so difficult to document something that we are really passionate about?

I actually have several clients and colleagues who have grasped the ‘idea’ of writing blogs, but who are doubtful of their ability to communicate in the written word.

We sat down together and I ‘talked’ them through it.  They made lists of all the topics that they wanted to write about and then we broke them down into sub topics and  then further into bite sized chunks that would easily fit into articles of around 300 words or so.

Ideas of what they actually wanted to share, were jotted down and then the whole exercise of writing could begin.  Once the article was written, they sent it to me to read and critique.

For most, what started out as a monthly blog has now become a weekly blog and I suspect, it won’t stay as just a weekly blog for much longer and some have even added a monthly newsletter to the mix.

To be quite honest, in many ways I feel like a ‘proud’ parent as I watch their writing grow from strength to strength and as I watch their style of writing morph and flourish and become more about ‘who’ they are.

Well done to them I say – for taking that first step into a whole new, exciting and magical world of the written word.

Well done!

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

Friday, March 28, 2014

HR - What to do when . . . You want to suspend an employee


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want To Suspend an Employee?

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Firstly, let us understand when and employee can be suspended.

Usually (but not always, so be careful here) and employee is suspended during pre-disciplinary investigations and/or pending the outcome of a disciplinary action.  I would like to make it quite clear here though that the reason(s) for suspension should be documented and controlled by the terms and conditions of the Employment Contract and/or Letter of Appointment and/or the Company’s Disciplinary Procedures and/or The Company’s detailed suspension policies. 

Suspensions can, and often do cause a huge amount of problems, so you really need to make sure that you are suspending the employee for the right reasons.

Issues that need to be taken into account when suspending an employee are, but not limited to:
-    the need for the suspension
-    the duration of the suspension
-    prejudice suffered by the employee
-    demands for disclosure of information
-    constructive dismissal claims lodged due to resignation during lengthy suspensions etc.

Let’s go to my favorite protagonists for the type of situation that can arise.

Mike is our Business Owner.  He has a retail store that sells cell phones and accessories.  George is the Manager of the store in question and as such he is the sole key holder.  Stock has been, steadily but surely going missing on a monthly basis.  There are 4 staff members in the store and since clients do not have direct access to stock, it can only be one of the employees.

Mike has requested and received a printout of ‘activity’ from the security company.  This evidences when the store ‘opens’ and ‘closes’ and also if the store has been entered after hours.  Mike notices that at least once a week, the store is ‘opened at’ around 10pm and then ‘closed’ again at around 10.10pm.  Since George was the only one with store keys and the alarm codes, it was a reasonable assumption for George to be considered the ‘guilty’ party.

This hearing was scheduled to last for five days.

George insisted that he wanted his attorney Alex to represent him.

Alex could only be available for the 5 days over a 3 month period.  This of course, was not practical and unacceptable and George was given various options in order for the hearing to be expedited.  George was offered, (amongst other things) a 4 day postponement in order for him to find an alternative attorney and he was also offered the option to have the hearing held over the 3 month period on the condition that the suspension would be unpaid.  George declined all the alternative offers and the hearing proceeded without him being represented by an attorney.

In this instance it would have been ‘unfair’ to expect Mike to pay for 3 months suspension because it was George’s insistence to have a particular attorney represent him and also because George declined all other offers made by Mike

Be careful though as an employer, not to insist on non-payment for all postponements requested by an accused employee.  Not all instances will be regarded as procedurally fair.  Each case must be judged on its own merits.

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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

HR 101 - What to do when . . . You want to retire staff


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

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) stipulates that each employment contract should stipulate the age of retirement.

The problem of course arises when employers have not given employees Letters of Employment, or worse – they have issued Letters of Employment, but the letter does not stipulate the retirement age.

This of course is where things usually go pear shaped! You see the generally accepted age is 60 or 65 years and if nothing is stipulated in the Letter of Appointment you cannot suddenly retire someone at, say aged 55.

Once your Letters of Appointment have gone out to staff (with or without the relevant retirement age), you now cannot all of a sudden decide that you want to make the retirement age 57.

This now has to become a negotiation or at the very least, a consultation with your staff in order to reach a consensus .

Should you decide on your own, what age you wish for them to retire, this will be considered a ‘unilateral amendment of employment conditions’ and your employees then would have the right to either refuse the age or comply with forced retirement at the age that you have decided upon.

That said, as an employer you do have the right to enforce a formal retirement age, at a certain stage, even if this has not been done consistently in the past, as long as you go the necessary consultation or negotiation course with your staff.

If, for example the employer has not indicated the retirement age at say 60, then after a negotiation process the retirement age is fixed at 60, the employer now cannot go and ‘retire’ all of those employees who are already 60 and over.  This would be seen as ‘unfair’ dismissal.  What would need to occur is that the retirement age of 60 would need to be phased in over a period of say two years.  This would give the affected employees time to sort their lives out and plan for their retirement.

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

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

NETWORKING 101 - Be prepared to listen



Be Prepared to Listen

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

My late friend Geraldine Bunting from Cheyenne Financial Services always told me that one of the things that her mother  used to say is “There is a reason that God gave us two ears and one mouth!”

Frankly, I agree – we don’t listen enough.  We are so busy, thinking about a clever thing to say in response to something that someone has said, that we don’t listen to all of what the other person is trying to say and yet conversely we become offended if someone doesn’t listen to what we have to say.

I am always reminded of an incident that happened to me at the garage.  The petrol attendant asked me 3 times whether I wanted unleaded or leaded and each time, when I answered him, he was so busy talking to his mate that he didn’t listen – the result of course, is that he put the wrong petrol into my car.  When I pointed this out to him, he immediately stopped the incorrect petrol pump and started putting the correct petrol into the tank.  When it came time to pay, I was presented with a bill for xx amount of litres of leaded petrol and yy amount of litres of unleaded petrol – I refused to pay for the leaded petrol.  The Manager entered the debate and tried to insist that I pay for the leaded petrol as “it was already in my tank” – I refused and invited him to remove it from the tank as I had neither asked for it and nor did I want it – in fact, I requested his name and contact details, because  if anything untoward happened to my car, as a result of the wrong fuel being put into the car, I would be holding him personally responsible.

In this instance, not only did the petrol attendant not listen to the instruction, but when the result of this could have cost the garage money – suddenly it became my problem!  How bizarre!  Anyone who knows me though, knows that I did not pay for the leaded petrol – in my opinion, the petrol attendant and the garage needed to be responsible for their own shortcomings – but that is another story for another day.

The point that I am trying to make is that there is usually a consequence for not listening and when you are in a networking environment this is usually the loss of a lead, loss of a sale and invariably – loss of a client!

A bit harsh, you may think!  But think about it logically for a moment.  Let’s say you are telling someone who you are and what it is that you are doing – he on the other hand, whilst appearing to be very interested in what you are saying, is watching the nubile young waitress who is serving a table nearby and clearly by following his glance and the glazed look in his eyes, he is not paying attention.  He sells motor vehicles.  At the same meeting, there is another chap who also sells motor vehicles.  He on the other hand not only listens carefully to what you are saying, but also takes notes and asks pertinent questions and really tries to understand what you are all about.

The very next day, your friend Geraldine Bunting is looking for a car, but wants to talk to someone who is not going to rip her off and who will tell her the truth – which of the two guys above are you going to refer her to – for me it’s a ‘no brainer’!

In my opinion, there is a consequence, each and every time that you do not listen – the question remains however, whether you are prepared to bear that consequence or not.

It’s a conscious decision that only you can make!

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

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS - Rising to the occasion - Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Rising to the Occasion – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

As small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs we all understand and are often touched by the adversity around us.  From political unrest and uncertainty to financial and economic recessions and troubles.  These are indeed, very trying times but also very exciting times.

Here’s the thing though – at some point in our lives, trouble will visit with us.  Even during the best of times, trouble comes to visit.  Trouble has many faces and many forms – trouble can visit in the form of an illness, or a fire or business ruin or financial challenges.  Whatever form trouble takes, it will visit.  The challenge of course is how we deal with trouble.

Many of us not only deal with every day challenges or the small irritations that life throws at us, but also have to do with some of the big things too.

Strangely enough though, it is the way that we deal with the small irritations in life that will usually determine the way that we will deal with the big things in life.

Disasters are big and in their hugeness, it is difficult to ignore them – they aren’t going to go away and you cannot hide them under the carpet or in the cupboard.  They are ‘in your face’ and you have to deal with them.

The real test though, for me anyway, is how to deal with the everyday little issues.  Those constant daily irritations that buzz around our heads like an army of mosquitoes?

Issues such as (but not limited to) getting enough rest or looking after our health or even spending quality time with our families and loved ones.  These issues are not the dramatic disaster kind and they don’t appear to be urgent, yet many of us ignore them hoping that they will go away.  For example neglecting your wife/husband and family won’t have any major effect in the short term. The long term effects though could be divorce and/or estrangement.  How sad is that?  In this particular example, it’s the small , daily, irritating mozzie that has grown into a tsunami that is causing the major problems.

People who are successful or who are high achievers, always expect challenges, in fact many of them welcome challenges because it’s in the dealing with the problem that they get to stretch their minds and their problem solving skills.  You will also find that most of these people, whilst they are realists – are also optimistic about life. They believe in themselves and understand their strengths and they are determined to put the changes in place.  They are determined to life meet head on.  They are also aware of the fact that as their success grows, so too will the number and size of their troubles. Most importantly too is that they usually have a great sense of humour and know how to laugh at themselves as well as at life.

Next week we will have a look at some indicators on ‘how to’ solve your troubles before they become disasters.

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

Monday, March 24, 2014

MOTIVATION - Doing, not just Talking

MOTIVATION – Doing, Not just Talking

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Towards the end of 2008, I was invited to the Launch of the Soweto Project at the Ubuntu Kraal in Soweto and one of the things that became absolutely apparent was that people are tired of the ‘Talkers’.  One after the other people stood up and said “We have heard this ‘Talk Show’ before, when are we going to see the ‘Do Show’?”

I was amazed!

You see, lately (and I suspect for some time now) I have become more and more irritated with the number of ineffectual, time wasting individuals who are puffed up, like ‘hot air balloons’, with the amount of worthless gas and uninspired drivel that they seem never to run out of, as they stand up on their public platforms, and pontificate.

From politicians (who seem to be outdoing themselves at the moment as the political race to the finish line gets going), to trainers and coaches, from small business owners to the large corporate giants, they all have a story to tell and it seems to be the same story!  From the banks who tell you how serious the are about your money, or how motivated they are to the government bodies who are there, supposedly to assist you in growing the economy – the story is all the same.  It goes along the lines of “We are wonderful, we care about you so much that we will . . . .”  (fill in the blanks yourself), and at the end of all the sprouting and erupting, all the pontificating and posturing they deliver exactly . . . . nothing!

I am sick and tired of people who tell me what wonderful leaders they are, yet they couldn’t find the paper bag, let alone lead themselves out of one.

I’m sick and tired of the personal and life skills coaches, who tell you how you should live your life, yet should probably be committed to some sort of institution because of the mess that their lives are in.

I’m sick and tired of the politicians who talk about morality and ‘doing the right thing’ whilst groping in my pocket for my last cent!

I’m sick and tired of the ‘talkers’ who never deliver and who usually do the exact opposite of what it is that they are telling me to do!

Talk is cheap and it looks like it is getting a lot cheaper!

I want to find the people who ‘walk the walk’.  I want to find the people who DO what they say they will do, when then say they are going to do it and in the manner in which they say they are going to do it.

I want to find the people who do things themselves, in exactly the same manner as they tell me to do them.

I want to find the people who do what they say they are going to do, who consistently and deliberately take action on their promises.

I want to find the people who not only commit to things but who also make good on their commitments.

Those are the people that I want to follow and respect.  Those are the people that I want as my ‘role models’.

Those are the people who I want to mix with and do business with and refer to my colleagues, my clients and my friends.

Are you someone that I want in my ‘circle of influence’?

Are you a person who will be judged by what you do or are you just like them or are you just another bag of hot air that emits pollution into the atmosphere.

I know which person I want to be – do you?

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

Sunday, March 23, 2014

VAT - Some of the Requirements - Part 2

VAT  – Some of the Requirements – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC October 2010

Last week we looked at a number of expenses that most people think they cannot claim on.  Here are some more.

If you hire a car for business purposes, then you are entitled to claim the VAT on the insurance that you are required to take out on the vehicle.  Be sure to get an invoice that lists the insurance, or itemizes it separately, this will make it much easier for record keeping purposes.

Should one of your staff fall ill at work or get hurt in an accident whilst they are at work and the medical expenses are paid by the company, the VAT on these medical bills can also be claimed back.

Parking fees – now here is one of my favorites.  Do you know how much we spend on parking in the malls and in office park complexes – it’s frightening!  Parking fees, particularly fees that are paid, while working, that have VAT charged on them (in other words Tax Invoice should appear, somewhere on  the receipt, and yes you have to have a receipt to claim the VAT back), can be claimed back.  Most malls that have those ‘pay machines’ that actually give out receipts – be sure to request and submit those receipts.  Obviously monies that are paid out to the ‘car guards’ cannot have the VAT claimed for, but you can of course, claim them as a business expense as long as they are “reasonable” and it is always better to be able to substantiate them.  I use my diary as a guide, when I paid the car guards.

When you send wreaths and/or flowers to staff and/or customers who have had a death or bereavement in their families, you can claim the VAT back. 

In terms of postage stamps and postage,  the VAT portion of this too, can be claimed back provided of course that the postage is being used for business purposes.

Artwork, in the form of carpets or paintings and pictures or even plants, can have the VAT claimed for, provided of course that they were actually purchased for the office.  Here’s the thing though – they have to physically be in the office.  Understand that if they are not in the office and the VAT man comes to visit, you could be in the deep brown smelly stuff.

Next week we will have a look at some additional expenses that you can claim the VAT back on – I must say, there are a whole bunch that I was not aware of, so this exercise has been of great value to myself as well!

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

Saturday, March 22, 2014

VAT - Some of the Requirements - Part 1

VAT  – Some of the Requirements – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC September 2010

“Who here loves the VAT man?”  That is a question that I ask on a regular basis.  Sadly though, more often than not, mine is the only hand that goes up.  It is definitely a mind-set that needs to be changed if we are to make the best use of the concessions that SARS gives us.

That said, here are a few tips in terms of what must be done regarding the VAT requirements. 

Obviously – number one on the list is that you have to be a VAT vendor in order for any of this to apply to you and if your turnover is a million or more per annum, then being a VAT vendor is compulsory.  You can, however, apply to become a ‘voluntary’ VAT vendor.

VAT has to be charged at the current rate (as at September 2010) which is 14% and of course you have to make use of a valid ‘Tax Invoice’ and this has to be kept in terms of the correct retention period as promulgated by law.  That means that your documents must be archived and retained.

VAT must be charged for all services and/or products supplied by the vendor.  These services and/or products must be wholly and/or partly used for consumption in the course of making supplies or supplying a service that is taxable.  That means of course that if you buy a potato (as a basic foodstuff this does not attract VAT which means you cannot offset it), to make chips or mash or even a roast potato dish for your restaurant, you used the potato (but changed it in the cooking process) in your product and your product does now attracts VAT.

Going out for a meal with clients is called ‘entertainment’ and as such you can claim it as a business expense, but you cannot claim the VAT on it, unless . . .

If you or one of your staff are going out for a meal with a client and you (they) are out of town for longer than one night, you can claim the VAT back on this.  In fact any meals taken by you and your staff, including alcohol, whilst you are out of town on business for a period longer than one night can have the VAT claimed for.

Normally, you cannot claim VAT for ‘office refreshments’, however if you purchase refreshments for the delegates that you are training, then you can claim VAT on those refreshments.

As usual, it is about what you know and how you use it that will allow you to make the most of your relationship with SARS.  Next week we will have a look at a few more expenses that you can in fact claim VAT on.

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

Friday, March 21, 2014

HR - What to do when . . . You want to dismiss staff - Part 9


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

Part 9

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

So the final piece in this particular saga is that of dismissal due to incapacity, ill health or injury.

The first thing that we need to understand is that the employer is not obliged to keep someone on because they are ill or have been injured.  The employer also has rights and as long as the proper procedures are followed, these employees can be dismissed.

The employer would need to ascertain whether or not the incapacity of the employee on the grounds of ill health or injury is temporary or permanent.

If the employee is unable to work for a while, which would make it temporary, the employer would have to investigate all the different possibilities before considering dismissal.

When checking out what other measures may be taken into consideration, it would be a good idea to have a look at factors such as, but not limited to:
a.    the nature of the job;
b.    the period of absence;
c.    the seriousness of the illness and/or injury; and
d.    the possibility of getting a temporary replacement to take the place of the ill and/or injured staff member.

When the disability or injury is of a permanent nature, the employer would need to decide if there was any possibility of securing alternative employment within the company or if the work could be adapted to fit the capabilities of the employee.

Remember that in all instances the employee must be allowed to state their case or respond to any suggestions put forward or be assisted by a colleague or a union member.  The employee also has the right to request assistance from the HR department.

The extent of the injury and/or nature of the illness also needs to be taken into account and this too must be taken into consideration when deciding on whether the dismissal is fair or not.

Injuries that are sustained in the workplace are more difficult to process in terms of being fair and/or unfair as the courts appear to have more sympathy with the employee in these circumstances.

The guidelines for dismissal for incapacity due to ill health and/or injury are:

As usual there is always a recommended process or procedure to follow.

In order for the dismissal not to be considered unfair, the employer needs to decide whether or not the employee is capable of doing the work.  If the employee is not capable, the following needs to ascertained;
i)    The extent to which the employee is able to perform the work – for example, John works in the warehouse.  His job is to pack stock onto the pallets.  Some of the bags or boxes weigh in excess of 40 kilos.  John lost his leg in an accident that occurred in the warehouse, when a number of pallets were not correctly stacked and they fell over, pinning him underneath and severing his leg.  There is an opening in the administration department for a filing clerk.  If John is dismissed in this instance you will be inviting trouble in through the door.
ii)    The extent to which the employee’s work circumstances might be adapted to accommodate disability, or where this is not possible, the extent to which the employee’s duties might be adapted – for example Jane is the tea lady, who has suffered a stroke and as a result she is semi paralyzed down her right side.  She is no longer able to carry trays of tea and/or refreshments and the company refused to buy a trolley that she can push around.  If Jane is dismissed in this instance you will be inviting trouble in through the door.
iii)    The availability of suitable work – for example, Alex is an Accounts Manager and he has had a heart attack and can no longer work under stressful circumstances.  There is an opening for an accounts researcher.  The hours are fixed, there are no deadlines and no interaction with clients, however, it is a junior position.  Alex is willing to take a reasonable cut in pay but the employer feels that he is far too qualified for the position and even with a reasonable cut in pay it will be more that they wanted to pay.  If Alex is dismissed in this instance you will be inviting trouble in through the door.

This concludes the series on Fair Dismissals.  Next week we will be starting a new topic.

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

Thursday, March 20, 2014

EARLY WARNING - The Role & Responsibility of Directors - Part 2



The Role and Responsibility of Directors – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting June 2013.

When the New Companies Act came into being the role and responsibilities of the Directors changed - dramatically. The problem of course is that still today, most Directors out there have no clue what it is that they are responsible for!

One of the things that Directors will be held responsible and accountable for is managing the risks in the Business? Here are some of the risks that will need to be assessed and then managed.

There are three distinct types of risks. These are

- Hazard
- Opportunity
- Uncertainty

Let’s have a look at these in more detail.

Hazard risk.
This is usually the "threat" of negative things that could happen to a business and it is usually the most common risk that Directors understand and it usually the only one that is discussed around the boardroom table.

Opportunity Risk
This is usually about an opportunity that is lost due to decisions taking too long to be made, or when an opportunity is not recognized until it is too late. It is about the possibility of "positive" things not happening or taking place.

Uncertainty Risk
This is when potential is not realized. For example when forecasts and budgets are not met in reality.

All of these should be used to identify the risks.

There are Five Key Functions that the Board need to agree on when assessing risks.

- The Board needs to agree on three or four critical risks that the organization is facing. Solutions to the risk and/or solutions to managing the risk need to be identified and documented and then management needs to be monitored to ensure that the risks are in fact being managed.

- The Risk Management Policy must be approved by the Board and must also be monitored by the Board.

- In order ensure that attention is always focused on the Risks, KPI's (key performance indicators) for the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) should be established.

- The issues around risk should be discussed at all strategy meetings and certainly at all the Board meetings, so it must be included on the agenda.

- A SWOR (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks) analysis should be conducted for strategic planning purposes.

Next time we will have a look at some of the specific risks that many organizations have.

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

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

NETWORKING 101 - No Longer Lonely In Business



No Longer Lonely in Business

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

I once sat in a meeting where one of my colleagues stated that she had been in business for over 10 years as an entrepreneur and that networking for her meant that she was no longer ‘lonely’ in business.

At the time I found this quite hard to understand as I am, by nature, a loner – not a lonely person you understand, but very definitely a loner.  So the concept of someone being ‘lonely’ is hard for me to grasp and someone being ‘lonely’ in business, is something that is very foreign to me.

You see on a business level, I meet people and with people on a daily basis.  There are of course my clients that I meet with when we discuss what needs to be done, how it will be done and in what priority it will be done, then of  course are the prospective clients that I meet when I try and understand what their business is and whether they need my services or not and finally there are the people who I meet at Networking events and who I make appointments with to meet on a ‘one on one’ in order to expand my ‘circle of influence’ and my data base, whilst adding value to them and they to me.  So the question begs to be answered – how can you be ‘lonely’ in business.  I mean surely she would also be meeting clients and prospective clients and networking?

I have, over time, understood exactly what it is that she meant, not that I have experienced that feeling, but that is probably because I am a natural networker.  It is being able to use other networker’s in order to bounce your ideas off them.  It is being able to sit in a room full of people who understand your frustration(s) because they too are entrepreneurs and they face the same challenges as what you do.  It is about seeing the same kind of passion on the faces of people, that you know shines off your face – because they are as passionate about what they do as you are about what you do.

Again, the question begs to be asked – why wouldn’t you want to be in the company of a group of people like this?

I certainly want to be – but then again, that is probably why I am!

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

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS - Planning to Succeed - Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Planning to Succeed – PART 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC December 2011

It’s no secret that in order for you to succeed in life, there has to be some sort of plan and obviously this also applies to business success as well.  In fact I would even go so far as to say that the ‘devil is in the detail’.  The more information and detail in the plan, the more you can ‘measure’ yourself to see how you are doing and the more likely it is to succeed.

The problem of course is that many folk have no idea what needs to go into a plan and this statement is backed up and evidenced by the many businesses that fail because individuals have failed to make plans or set goals of any kind.

Here are some guidelines on what you need to look at in order to plan properly.

Your vision, of course, is your dream or your intention.  It is the ultimate goal.  It could be something as dramatic as having your particular product in every home in the country by xxxx date or as simple as providing training to 500 SMME’s (small, medium, micro enterprises) on a monthly basis.

What it should perhaps include however is what kind of product and why it should be in every household or what kind of training and why it will make a difference.

Mission Statement
For me, the mission statement is a simple plan on the ‘how to’ achieve your vision.  So how do you intend getting your product into every household or how do you intend getting the SMME’s into your training.  At this stage I wouldn’t go too in depth but rather have the basics down as these can be fleshed out at a later stage or as and when you get to the information that you need.

At this point it is also a good idea to start getting your figures in place – the budgets.  Number crunching is not always as difficult as we seem to think it is – just start with the basics and then the detail can be fleshed out from there.

Culture Statement
I must admit, when I ask this particular question, I am often met with a very confused look as well as the statement -  “The What . . . . ?”  Every business has a culture and pretty much like we are ‘masters of our own destiny,’ we also have a choice about the type of culture we want our businesses to be.  The way that you deal with customers and your suppliers or your staff would largely affect the type of culture that your business will become. In many instances, the culture of the company is determined by ethnic or religious influences but whilst we may be influenced by these external factors, it is equally important to ensure that our ethics also influence the culture of the company.

Often, it’s “Who we are” and our beliefs (and I am not talking about religion here), that are what attract people to do business with us.

Whether we want to admit it or not we all have goals – some of them are really simple and we make them without even thinking, like “I need to get to work by 08h30am this morning”.  Of course that is a goal – is it one that you need to write down – not necessarily.  Some of them can be seriously difficult and complicated, well actually – if the truth be told, we make them seriously difficult and complicated.

For me the easiest way to put my goals into perspective is to break things down into bite size chucks.  Where do I want to be in a year or two years or three years or even five years.  That’s the end goal – then break it down into the components – what do I need to do to get there and how long will that take me.  Once you have written all of that down, it is easier to set goals with time lines, be those timelines hours, days, weeks, months or even years.

Let me give you a simple example.  I want to paint my home and I want it done and completed at the end of say 6 months.  What do I need to do to get that done?  How many rooms are there, in which order will I paint the rooms.  What has to be done before I can paint (preparation), how long will that take me for each room (preparing the walls, covering and/or moving furniture, purchasing paint, brushes, etc)?  What has to be done once the room has been painted (clean-up and uncovering and/or moving furniture etc).

Now I have an idea of all the tasks that must be done and I can assign a time frame to each and if my time frames are reasonable and I stick to them, I can complete my task within the time period that I gave myself or not – you see here I can now adjust my ‘end result’, if that is what is required.  I have documented my goal and set a plan in place in order to achieve my goal – I can measure myself at every step along the way and see how I am doing.

In the same way and in every aspect of your business, this simple type of goal setting and planning can be implemented to ensure that you achieve what ever it is that you wish to do.

Next week we will have a look at the rest of  the guidelines that I spoke about at the beginning of this blog.

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

Monday, March 17, 2014

MOTIVATION - Don't Forget To Play

MOTIVATION – Don’t Forget To Play

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC -  September 2009

One of my biggest challenges as an adult, was to remember, and even on occasion, find the child in me.  Don’t think for one minute that I don’t laugh or don’t have a sense of humour – of course I do and those who know me can attest to this fact.  My problem is though that I am not really a ‘playful’ person, and that is what is very bad.

I first became aware of this when Vanessa, my friend, my mentor and my guide though life said to me “Play with your child!”  I remember how confused I was as I do not have children except of the feline variety and Vanessa knows this very well.  I am a very literal person you see and even thinking  about a little child in the adult me is really very foreign and quite disturbing.

It was quite a challenge I must tell you and one that I am quite sure that I have not yet mastered (despite my best efforts), but it meant me going back to my childhood and remembering the things that I enjoyed doing as a child.  It meant not only remembering those things but also remembering how I felt when I was engaged in those activities and then of course it meant recreating those activities and feelings in the here and now.

Therein lay my own personal challenge.  You see as a child I was without boundaries when I played.  I did not think about how silly I might look, or whether people were looking at me or judging me or judging what I was doing, I reveled in my childish play and I had fun, unashamed fun.  Whether adults joined in my childish laugher made absolutely no difference to me and in fact I was most happy when there were no adults around to put boundaries around my play.  I did not have to play in the ‘reality’ type world, but could do so in the imagination and in the abstract and believe me, I had imagination enough to support anything and everything!

Where and when had I lost the ability to let myself go completely, in wild abandon and just enjoy the feeling of absolute freedom to be myself, of just being me?  Where and when had I lost the reality of not caring about what others thought or whether they participated or not?  Where and when had I lost the ability to live in the ‘now’ rather than worry about the consequences of yesterdays actions or the planning of tomorrow?  Where and when had I lost the confidence in myself to just be me?

I cannot answer any of these and indeed it doesn’t really matter where and when it was lost.  What matters now is that I return back to those moments from time to time.

What is important now is that I am able to disengage from the adult world and for a short time, play and feel like a child again.

What is important now is that I am able to engage with the child in me to feel the unencumbered joy of not being an adult, of not having the responsibility of my every day world, but the unrestricted, unfettered freedom of my childhood.

What about you?  Do you ever “play” with the child in you?

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

Sunday, March 16, 2014

VAT - VAT on Fuel


VAT on Fuel

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting August  2009.

We all know (well I hope we do) that we cannot claim VAT on the fuel that we use.

So how do we handle VAT and fuel levies? How do we claim back all that we can without falling foul of the law?

Let’s call in the protagonists.

Mike owns a transport company that collects fresh produce from all over the country and delivers it to the various branches of his clients, again all over the country.

With the various increases in fuel that we as South Africans have experienced over the last two years and Mike has been forced to introduce a fuel levy to his delivery charges on all of his deliveries.  Mike being an honorable man ensures that if the fuel price decreases, so do his levies, so the levy therefore fluctuates from month to month.

According to the law, Mike meets the minimum requirements and he is a registered VAT vendor.  Mike has to charge VAT.

The ‘fuel levy’ is not zero-rated.  It is a charge that Mike levies in respect of the service that he supplies and it is therefore not exempt.

You see Mike is not supplying fuel to his clients, he is supplying a service – the fuel levy now becomes a part of the services that Mike provides, much the same as the cost of maintenance of the vehicles is factored into Mike’s costs and therefore Mike is quite entitled to charge VAT on the fuel levy.

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

Saturday, March 15, 2014

VAT - The Company, The Trading name and the VAT

VAT – The Company, the Trading Name and the VAT

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC - August  2009.

Sounds like the title of a bad movie, doesn’t it?

The reality is that it can be very confusing so let’s try and explain it in the most simplistic manner.

Let’s bring in the protagonists.  Mike, who is a plumber, has been trading as a ‘Sole Prop’ now for a number of years.  You see when he first started out he was concerned about whether he would be successful or not and he has now decided, due to the tax benefits and other Government concessions for small businesses, that he needs to be properly registered.  Mike has been trading under the name “Mike’s Plumbing & Supplies” and would obviously not like to start from the very beginning again, in terms of marketing and branding.

Unfortunately the name “Mike’s Plumbing & Supplies” has already been reserved and Mike has had to register his Company in his full name, being Mike Jennings T/A Mike’s Plumbing & Supplies.

Mike has had to register the VAT under his new Company.  The VAT that he collects is now under the name of Mike Jennings Company T/A Mike’s Plumbing & Supplies.

Mike is having difficulty in finding properly qualified plumbers and clearly needs to employ same if he wants to grow his business.

Mike recognizes the opportunity and decides to open up a training school to train aspiring plumbers.  Mike decides to use his existing Company to start the training school.

In view of the fact that Mike is using his existing company and it is already VAT registered, Mike has to charge VAT for his school right from the very beginning, although the training of plumbing students is very different to being a plumber, and in fact is a completely different entity to his plumbing business.

In time, Mike decides that he wants to operate his training division as a completely separate entity as it is doing really well.  Mike doesn’t want to start or register a new business, but he does want to separate the bookkeeping functions of the two businesses.

Mike’s bookkeeper, who knows what he is doing, registers a ‘branch’ to Mike’s original Company and so Mike Jennings CC T/A Mike’s Plumbing School is born.  This entity is now also registered for VAT and has its own VAT number.  He does this by means of a VAT 102 form.  The second VAT number for the same “holding” company does not have a minimum threshold and Mike  is able to continue charging VAT to the students.

As Mike’s business grows and he expands into more and different avenues, he is able to separate each entity, register them as ‘branches’ and register a VAT number for each one as he separates the bookkeeping functions so that each ‘branch’ is responsible for it’s own income and expenses and VAT requirements.

Well done to Mike for growing such a profitable business and running it in the correct manner.

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

Friday, March 14, 2014

HR - What to do when . . . You want to dismiss staff - Part 8


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

Part 8

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Today we are going to look at Incapacity and Poor work performance and the guidelines for dismissing someone therefore:

To ensure that the staff member is given every opportunity to improve the following must take place where appropriate:

- the staff member’s work performance should be evaluated on a regular basis
- staff should be given instruction that is in a clear and concise language that is easily understood, so as to avoid miscommunication
-staff should be given training that pertains to the position that they work in.
- staff should be encouraged to have mentors within the organization who would be able to guide them and steer them in the right direction
- should the employer still find that the employee is struggling to meet laid down requirements and/or criteria, counseling sessions should take place in an endeavor to get the staff member to render satisfactory service.

In the event that a new employee fails to meet the criteria in terms of work performance, the employer should not dismiss the employee until the employee has had an opportunity to state their case or to respond to the allegations. In other words the employer would need to follow the usual disciplinary procedures.

A new employee should also not be dismissed unless the previous requirements in terms of evaluation, instruction, training, guidance counseling etc., had been met. Should the staff member still continuously fail to perform in a satisfactory manner, disciplinary procedures must be followed prior to the dismissal.

As always the procedure leading to the dismissal must include an investigation to establish the reasons for the unsatisfactory performance. Both the employer and the employee should try to think of other ways to remedy the matter – other than dismissal. Dismissal should always be a last resort.

The employee also has the right to be heard and has the right to be assisted by another employee, colleague or union member. The employee also has the right to seek assistance and guidance from the HR department.

The guidelines for dismissal for poor work performance should also include but not be limited to:

a. whether or not the employee failed to meet the performance standard and/or criteria for the position that they fill
b. if the employee did not meet the required standard and/or criteria whether or not this was not met because
i. the employee was aware, or could reasonably be expected to be aware of the required performance standard – for example, Joe used to be a waiter at the Wimpy where the cutlery was wrapped up in a paper serviette and placed on the table for patrons to help themselves. Joe now works in a 5 star hotel restaurant, where the waiters are expected to lay the cutlery out in a specific manner for specific courses. Joe has no clue what the difference is between the cutlery and what it is supposed to be used for. If Joe is dismissed at this point you will be inviting trouble in through the door.
ii. the employee was given a fair opportunity to meet the required performance standard – for example, Jane has never worked an electronic touch till before and the sales person who installed it, showed all the staff members how to operate it in a 15 minute demonstration. There are no operator manuals with instructions and Jane is completely out of her depth. If Jane is dismissed at this point you are inviting trouble in through the door.
iii. dismissal was an appropriate sanction for not meeting the required performance standard – for example, Alex started as a data capturer in the financial department in a large corporate. Alex has only done data capturing on Pastel and can capture 150 units a minute with consistent accuracy. This company uses SAP and after the first month Alex’s speed is only at 50 units a minute. If Alex is dismissed at this point you are inviting trouble in through the door.

Clearly from the above, it can be seen that dismissing someone for poor work performance can be done and it is not that difficult, providing of course that you follow the correct procedures consistently.

Next week we will have a look at Dismissal due to Incapacity and Ill Health.

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

Thursday, March 13, 2014

EARLY WARNING - The Role & Responsibility of Directors - Part 1



The Role and Responsibility of Directors – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting May 2013.

There is a great deal of eye winking and chuckling from the Gogos (one of the local native names for Grandmother), around the term CEO (Chief Executive Officer) or even Director, here in South Africa.  It seems that everybody that you talk to is either a self- named, self-styled CEO or they aspire to be one!

The fact of the matter is that with the New Companies Act coming into effect, the whole landscape, in terms of business ownership has changed dramatically.

In the good old, bad old days anyone could be a Director of a company and in fact there were many individuals who make careers out of being Directors of Companies.  I have actually heard of a lady who was a Director of something like 37 different Companies.  She earned a considerable sum of money from each of the Companies for doing very little work, but having her name on the Company Letterheads.  Other than attending meetings and perhaps voicing an opinion or two there was little to do and of course there was very little responsibility.

You see before the introduction of the New Act, responsibility was only really held by very few individuals.  Directors like the Financial Directors who were obviously responsible for looking after the financial side of the business were far and few between.  The Sales Director for example was responsible for ensuring that sales targets were met (often by any means possible), never carried the responsibility for the financial well- being of the Company.

Let me explain – often when a Company found themselves in financial difficulty the Financial Director was made responsible because it was his responsibility to ensure that the ‘numbers’ were correct and that expenses were controlled.  In this situation the Sales Directors would usually absolve themselves from any blame by saying something along the lines of “I brought in the sales and that is what I am responsible for, I am not in charge of the expenses.”  Hardly fair I am sure you will agree as in my experience the sales people have no problem running up huge expenses.

The New Act makes all Directors equally liable and accountable for what happens in the business.

Let me say that again – all the Directors are equally and jointly responsible for what happens in the Company.

Next time we will look at some of the risks that Directors should be aware of and also how best to manage them.

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

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

NETWORKING 101 - Why Networking Works for Me



Why Networking Works for Me

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that there are only three ways to grow a business – I’m personally not too sure how true that is.  However having said that, I am sure that one of the most critical of these is to find new customers.

Now it is also said, that there are many different ways to find a new customer, and I have no doubt that we can all list them, in great abundance.  Some of them are the methods that we use to get new customers and others are the ways that other people have used as they tried to make us new customers. Most of those though, have irritated the S*&t’s out of me!

I’m not too sure why this is – perhaps it is because when I answer the phone, it is because I would like to chat to a friend, or a client (especially if it is out of the norm of working hours) and that is my expectation.  Or perhaps it is because, when I hear a knock on the  door, when I open it I expect to see a friend, not someone wanting to sell me something that I don’t actually want – again that is my expectation!

I not to keen on getting thousands of e-mails either (currently I am up to between 120 and 150 a day – which means about 30 are actually mails from friends, family and clients – the rest are just spam!) and I am not too keen on getting hundreds of SMS’s either (this seems to be the latest trend).

Actually, now that I think about it carefully, I am at my most comfortable state, when my expectations are met and I am prepared for what is happening.  That for me is when I am at a networking meeting.  You see there, my perception is that I will be meeting like minded people.  That is people who are serious about doing business.  People who are serious about expanding their data bases.

At most networking events (well the ones that I attend anyway), I meet people who are not only potential customers, which, let’s face it, are not only important for my business, but also my personal needs.  Often these people, who may never ever become one of my customers, have key centres of influence in their families, their communities, their business associations and even their churches.  These people become very important to me because of the value that they add to my clients. 

You see every single one of them have their own data bases, and every single one of them reach a lot of people, and every single one of them are an important source of referrals.  Referrals, as customers to me and referrals as a value add to my clients.

So to all of you who believe in the telemarketing way to get new clients (and I am not knocking it you understand) and to all you people who like to do the ‘cold calling’ thing (and again I am not knocking it) and all of those who choose to ‘spam’ everyone with e-mails and SMS’s – (and it works for some), I say good luck to you. 

Me – I will continue to attend my various networking events that I go to and I will continue to network, in my personal capacity as I meet people at parties and social events, and I will continue to grow and expand my data base – one person at a time.

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

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS - Why Twitter - Part 5

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

As promised last week, here are some additional tips on tweeting and the last in this particular series.

Isn’t the electronic age exciting?  I know that I am always on about the fact that I am a technophobe, but that is just because I don’t understand the technical jargon – on a logical level though, I do understand what different things can do and that, well that just confuses a lot of IT people who think that they can spin me a yarn and I will just accept it – that very seldom works.  I digress – again!

What I am trying to tell you is that technology makes things so much easier and instead of us trying to do everything ourselves, some really clever people have made it possible for us (with the use of links and automation) to do a great number of things with the click on a button.   For example, if you sign up for Tweetlater and set it up correctly (ok this is where you can’t ask me the questions as I don’t have a clue how to do this), it will automatically send a thank you message to all of the people as they ‘follow’ you.  How clever is that?

The other really cool thing is if you link all of your social networking sites to your twitter account.  That way everyone on those sites, are linked to you and that will also increase your following as well as increase the traffic that you drive to your website or blog.

Finally, don’t forget to look for a BIG/SUCCESSFUL person who is in the same niche market as yourself.  Once you have found them, follow them.  The fact that they may be big and/or successful in their own right, doesn’t exclude them from being a potential client of yours.  They may be doing research for something that they need to read up on and you may very well have the answer that they are looking for.

Be warned though, you will only be able to follow a maximum of 2000 people, until you have 2000 people following you.  Once you have the required 2000 people following you, the sky is the limit.

As always, don’t forget to have fun!

Happy tweeting!

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

Monday, March 10, 2014



By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from William Arthur Ward, who says:-

“We can throw stones, complain about them, stumble on them, climb over them, or build with them.”

More and more, as I look around me on a daily basis, and I see the challenges that we as South Africans have to face in order to live, to work, to be safe – I understand that choices have to be made in order for us to even meet the day.

Sure, there is a lot of negativity that is going around.  People whining and whining, wringing their hands and crying “woe is me”, but look around you – I mean really, really look and you will see many, who against all odds are making a good living.

Why is that do you think?  Well because they have chosen to.  They have made the right choices and instead of wasting their time and energy on the negative in the situation and “I can’t” mentality, they have turned it around in their lives and made it into an “I can” situation.

We are our own biggest stumbling block, we can be our own mountains to climb or head up our own negative fan club, or we can get on with the business of living life.  We can stand in front of the brick wall and cry because there is no doorway to go through or we can walk around it, climb up over it, tunnel under it or simply build our own doorway. 

Please believe me, that once we have shown them the way – the crying masses will try and follow, so why wait in line for someone else to do it for you?

I’m off to live my life – what are you doing with yours?

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

Sunday, March 09, 2014

VAT - Staff Uniforms

VAT – Staff Uniforms

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting  August 2009.

So what is the story with staff uniforms?  Staff take their uniforms home, particularly items such as safety boots and wear them outside of work too.  In view of this can we claim VAT?

The answer is ‘yes of course’ you can.  According to legislation, not only goods that are purchased for resale or supplies purchased for making product and/or manufacturing goods can be claimed for, but also goods purchased for consumption in the company and/or goods used in the course of making taxable products.

So staff uniforms, such as (but not limited to) overalls or boots or hardhats and goggles and the like can all have input tax claimed on them, provided of course that you obtain the relevant tax invoice.

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

Saturday, March 08, 2014

VAT - Reimbursements from Clients

VAT – Reimbursement From Clients

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting August  2009.

As VAT vendors we cannot claim VAT on invoices that pertain to accommodation for ourselves and/or our staff.  But what happens if we book and pay for accommodation for our clients and then we need to be reimbursed by the client?

Mike owns a training and facilitation company.

Mike is holding a two day workshop at a local conference centre but in view of the fact that Mike has extended the invitation to attend his workshop to his entire database, there are clients coming from all over the country.

Mike has committed to booking his ‘out of town’ clients into several B & B establishments that are close to the conference centre.

All of these B & B’s are VAT registered and Mike is obliged to pay VAT across.  Now, how does he charge his clients for this and can he claim this VAT back?

Well let me answer the second half of the question first.  Yes he can  claim the VAT back.

Now back to the “how” he gets reimbursed by the client.

Let’s say for example that the B & B’s in the area charges R200.00 plus VAT at 14%.  The total cost for each delegate would then be R228.00.

Mike’s invoice to his client would look something like:

Cost of two day workshop per delegate        R2 000.00
Cost of B & B                        R   200.00
                                R2 200.00
VAT                                R   308.00   
Total Due                            R2 528.00

At the end of Mike’s VAT period, Mike would be able to claim the full R308.00 as an offset to his input/output calculation because the accommodation part was paid for on behalf of his clients.  R280 of this would be the VAT portion pertaining to the cost of his workshop and the balance of R28.00, which of course was the VAT portion that he paid for the delegates accommodation on behalf of the his client.

If Mike had also paid for the client’s travel to and from the venue in terms of airfare or even bus and/or rail travel, the VAT of this too could be  claimed back in the same way.

Please don’t always assume that you cannot claim things back.  If you are not sure, contact your nearest SARS office and ask.  Be sure to give them all the correct facts and will often be surprised at exactly what can be claimed back.  Remember to get the persons name that you spoke to and if possible a reference number.

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

Friday, March 07, 2014

HR - What to do when . . . You want to dismiss staff - Part 7


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

Part 7

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Today we are going to look at what the guidelines are if you want to dismiss for misconduct.

Employers should consider the following before dismissing a staff member for misconduct:

Whether or not the employee failed to comply with a Company rule or Company standards governing conduct in the workplace or whilst they were representing the Company and

If the rule or standard was broken and/or not met, whether or not
i) the rule or standard that was broken was a valid or reasonable one – for example – the Company is a nursery and they have a standard rule that employees dress up around a theme for spring day. This year the theme is ‘pot plants’ and George refused to dress up as a pansy. Dismissing George for misconduct would be inviting trouble through the door.
ii) the employer was aware, or could reasonably be expected to be aware of the rule or standard – for example – Jane has been on maternity leave for 3 months. During the time that she was away the Company took a stand regarding “Facebook” and a memorandum was issued stating that staff could no longer access “Facebook” during working hours as it affected productivity. The first thing that Jane did when she got back to work was log onto “Facebook” to catch up with all of her friends. Dismissing Jane on the grounds of misconduct would be inviting trouble through the door.
iii) the rule or standard has been consistently been enforced by the employer – for example, George and James are both store managers in a retail chain. George was caught “borrowing” money out of the till for taxi fare. It was George’s first offence of this nature. George is the top salesman in the Company and his store consistently over performs. George is counseled and is given a written warning. A month later James is also caught “borrowing” money out of the till for taxi fare. It is also James’ first offence of this nature. James, on the other hand, is a trouble maker. He is always stirring up trouble with the unions and the staff. His sales are very poor and his store’s turnover is always below target. If James is dismissed for misconduct at this point, it would be inviting trouble in through the door.
iv) dismissing the staff member for misconduct, the punishment must ‘fit the crime’ for the rule or standard that was broken – for example, let’s use the retail environment again. The till float in James’ store, very seldom balances. It is usually out of balance by a minimum of R1.00 or less. Dismissing the cashier for misconduct in this instance would be inviting trouble in through the door.

As you can see from the above, it is very important to dismiss someone for misconduct for the right reasons as apposed to just seeing an opportunity for getting rid of someone and using that.

It certainly is not difficult to dismiss anyone, but the correct procedures must be followed.

Next week we will look at dismissing someone for Incapacity: Poor work performance.

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

Thursday, March 06, 2014

EARLY WARNING - All About Procurement Fraud - Part 6



All About Procurement Fraud – Part 6

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 and then Supplier Liaison, Logistics Management and Tender Notification. Other issues that need to be taken into account when implementing the procurement process are (but not limited to):

In this the final issue on procurement fraud let’s look at some of the practical processes that can be included  (but not limited to) in your procedure in order to limit fraud.

-    Make sure that the procedure is that there has to be a minimum of 3 quotes.
-    Make sure that all the suppliers, who have submitted quotes, have contactable references and do the reference check.
-    The person, in your company, who submits the quotes, should not be the person who authorizes the use of the supplier (unless of course that is you – the business owner).
-    The person, in your company, who orders the products/supplies/service, should not be the person who authorizes the purchase (again, unless of course that is you – the business owner).
-    The person, in your company, who ‘pays’ the supplier should not be the person who authorizes the payment (unless of course that person is you – the business owner).
-    There should be a valid ‘gift’ policy in place to govern/prevent your employees from receiving ‘gifts’ as ‘kick-backs’ from suppliers and/or service providers for ensuring that they become creditors.
-    The most expensive quote does not always translate into the best value for money – make sure that the research is properly conducted to ensure that you get the best value for your money.
-    Make sure that you have a proper Service Level Agreement in place, with realistic consequences for non-delivery and/or to ensure that you are properly covered in terms of compliance.

Finally, use common sense – if the deal is ‘too good to be true’, it usually means exactly that.  Always be alert for charlatans and scammers as they are always on the look-out for gullible business owners.

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

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

NETWORKING 101 - Be careful of what you say



Be Careful of What you Say

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

So I am sure that we all agree that ‘people talk’!  We all do it.  When we talk about people, especially in the business world and particularly in the SMME environment, it is generally about what people have done.  Now of course this could go one of two ways – there is always the instance when someone has messed up – badly, and then the conversation would go along the lines of “Jane Doe did not do what she promised to and as a result Joe Bloggs is out of pocket and he lost the deal”.  The result of this kind of conversation, usually means that the people, within hearing distance, would not be using the services of Jane Doe – well not any time soon anyway.

Then of course the conversation could also go along the lines of “Jane Doe promised to deliver XY & Z and she actually went out of her way and introduced him to  AB & C as well and as a result of that Joe Bloggs not only got the deal, but they have also signed a contract for another deal!”.  The result of this kind of conversation, usually means that people, within hearing distance, would be clambering to meet up with Jane Doe and use her services and her contacts.

That is how it is with ‘networking’ and believe me, the SMME world is not that huge that you don’t get noticed, either way.

So think about which message it is that you would like to send and live your life accordingly.  Make sure you deliver what you promise (even if it takes a while) and make sure that you continually grow your data base with people who understand the Power of Networking.

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

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS - Why Twitter - Part 4

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

As promised last week, here are some additional tips when tweeting.

Since it is all about giving to get, (and I believe this to be true irrespective of whether you own a business or not), don’t just tweet to drive the numbers to your website.  Engage in conversation, join in discussions and respond to those who send you a tweet.  Yes I know that it may seem a little awkward at first, they are strangers after all, but remember – you are in cyberspace and that makes you very safe!

The more you engage with people, the more involved you become and the more involved you become, the more friends you make and let’s face it, we can always do with a few more friends!  Actually if the truth be told, because of twitter and facebook, I have reconnected with old friends and acquaintances that I had lost contact with – some of whom I have not spoken to or seen in over 35 years.  They are both an incredible medium.

Despite the fact that this is cyberspace and as far as I am concerned, you are safe – there are some scary people out there and it is always better to be safe than sorry.  So, no-where is it written that you have to put personal details such as your home or physical address or contact details and certainly it would be wise to exercise caution in these particular areas.  I always look at the following as a guideline before following another tweeter:

1.    If, when looking at their profiles, everything is written in a foreign language, then there is really no point in me following them as I cannot understand what they are on about and

2.    If their tweets (and for goodness sake have a look at more than one or two, to be fair) don’t hold my attention or deal with anything that I find even remotely interesting, then quite frankly – what is the point?

Exercise reasonable caution and you will be fine.  Remember though you can always stop following someone – there is no law that says you have to engage with anyone.

Next week we will have a look at some additional tweeting tips.

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

Monday, March 03, 2014

MOTIVATION - Curiosity

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC
Today’s quote comes from the infamous Walt Disney, who says “Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long.  We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we are curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Imagine, if you will – never having the desire to do something new, or to the desire to learn about something new?  For a Gemini, this is the most scaryiest thing to even think about!

Curiosity is a natural thing – think of a young child as they touch something for the first time, or they discover something for the first time.  The look of absolute wonder and then the joy that crosses their faces and how their expressions change.

Or how about our animals, I know I am often amused at the antics of my cats, who ‘check’ everything out, like the grocery shopping bags.  I often enter the kitchen to find all the cupboard doors standing wide open and I know that Deushka (my youngest unmarried son of the feline variety) has been ‘checking’ everything out again to ensure that everything is in its place.

I am currently running a ‘Today’s Trivia . . .’ on the Business Masters ( forum and we are having such fun!  Some of the answers and the discussions that have come about as a direct result of me  asking a question, are quite astounding and it’s fabulous to see all the directions that the discussions take us.  All because of a natural curiosity.

So don’t, whatever you do, stifle curiosity in your children or yourselves.  Let it out and enjoy the travels that it takes you on, down the different pathways of life.

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

Sunday, March 02, 2014

VAT - Invoice Requirements

VAT – Invoice Requirements

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC November 2009.

As a VAT vendor – it’s not just about ensuring that you do the calculations correctly.  It’s not just about making sure that you only claim for what you are entitled to claim for.  There are several other issues at stake and if you are not aware of them, chances are that you are going to end up in hot water, should SARS decide to do an audit.

Firstly, let’s just get the most important issue out of the way.  You need to retain all of your tax invoices.  Whether you retain them in hard copy or soft copy or both, is not the real issue – the bottom line is that you have to keep them for a minimum of 5 years.  So don’t be going throwing anything out!

Here’s a basic checklist for the requirements that MUST appear on your invoice.

•    The words “Tax Invoice” must appear in a prominent position.  Don’t try and be clever and hide it in amongst the rest of the wording on your invoice.  Rather display it together with the number of the invoice.  That way there can be no misunderstanding
•    The Name, address and VAT registration number of the supplier.  As a supplier myself, I have found it just easier to have my VAT number quoted on all of my correspondence.  That way there can be no confusion.
•    The Name, address and VAT registration number of the recipient.  This one is not always easy to get.  Sometimes clients are reluctant to give some of their personal details.  Tip. You can check you client/supplier’s VAT number on the SARS site.  Beware of people posing as VAT vendors.  It will affect your return.
•    The invoice number and date of the invoice.  Remember that the invoices have to run consecutively and therefore the dates must be consistent with those numbers. There is nothing to stop you from personalizing the invoices, as long as every number follows on from the previous number.
•    A full and proper description of the goods or the services supplied. Abbreviate if you must, but ensure that your description is understandable.
•    The value of the goods/services supplied.  It is also a good idea to evidence the cost of the goods/services supplied and then the VAT value as a separate figure and then the total cost of the invoice (which would be the value of the goods/services and the value of the VAT added together).

Remember though that unless you are a Sole Trader and/or a partnership where the partners are natural person, you will have to pay VAT on invoices raised.  This means that irrespective of whether you have been paid by your client or not, you have to pay the VAT portion of the invoice across every two months.

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

Saturday, March 01, 2014

VAT - Claiming VAT back on an employee's Telkom account

VAT – Claiming VAT Back On An Employee’s Telkom Account

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC - September  2009.

There are instances where employees are obliged to use their own resources on behalf of their employers.  The VAT that has been charged in these instances can also be claimed back.

Here is the story.

Mike owns a chain of retail stores throughout South Africa.  Mike employs a team of individuals who are area or regional Managers, whose function it is to spend most of their time in the stores to ensure that they are compliant in terms of the Company’s policies and procedures, that staff are trained and informed on new products and motivated to sell and that targets are achieved.  George is one of these regional Managers.

Part of George’s duties is to compile and file reports to Head Office on each store that he visits.  Due to the number stores that fall under George’s responsibility, time is of the essence and in short supply and there are often many weeks that George does not have time to physically get to the office and he must communicate with Head Office and his stores via e-mail from home.

Obviously in this instance, George is entitled to claim these Telkom calls and Internet expenditure back from Mike’s Company.  These claims would also include the VAT portion of the amounts to be claimed back.

In fact, if the truth be told, any expenses that are incurred by an employee, on behalf of the employer must be reimbursed to the employee, inclusive of VAT (of course this only applies where VAT has been charged).

The employer then would be entitled to claim (where applicable) the VAT portion of these reimbursements when they calculate their VAT from the offset between the input and output VAT.

If you are not sure about what can and can’t be claimed contact your nearest SARS office.

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