Wednesday, April 30, 2014

NETWORKING 101 - Grabbing Opportunities



Grabbing Opportunities

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Remember!  Opportunities present themselves to be grabbed with both hands, or be relinquished forever.”

Whilst I do believe this, I also believe that the minute you ‘miss’ an opportunity, it becomes ‘open season’ on that opportunity for someone else.  If you don’t take that opportunity, it will become someone else’s and then don’t cry!

In my opinion, one of the biggest tragedies facing the Small Business Owner (and the large one for that matter) is their failure to recognize an opportunity when it comes a knocking.  You see some opportunities are around for a while and some are here for just a fleeting moment!  You need to be constantly aware of what is going on around you.

Opportunities are, for me, in some way like people – sometimes the timing is also not quite right and you have to learn to ‘let go’ too.  Not every opportunity that you seize with both hands is going to be the right one.  That is why, not every deal that you think you might like to make always works out – some basic chemical is missing somewhere!  Chasing an opportunity that is just ‘not right’ can also be costly and time consuming for little or no reward. 

So you need firstly recognise that there is an opportunity and grab it, once you’ve grabbed it, you need to ascertain if it is the right opportunity for you and if it isn’t, you need to let it go, or pass it onto someone else.

Remember though, you cannot ‘let it go’, if you haven’t first grabbed hold of it, to understand what it is.

Happy Hunting!

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

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

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS - An Amazing Journey

BUSINESS TIPS – An Amazing Journey

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009

If you had told me years ago that this lifetime is made up of several journeys, I probably would have laughed you out of the ball park.

Thing is though, we do go on several journeys.  Some of these journeys that we go on are personal and some are business or even work and/or professional.  Some we take on our own and others we share with husbands, wives, lovers, children, friends, clients, colleagues and even business partners.

There are journeys that are long and arduous or lifetime journeys and others that are short term, perhaps for a specific period, for a specific project or customer or even a special friend.  Each journey has its own starting place and its own ending place.  Some you may even start alone and then pick up some passengers along the way.  Some you may start with a whole bunch of people but end on your own.

Each journey is its own unique experience.  Each experience may be similar but all are quite different.  Some are pleasant and fun and some are just disgusting and we can’t wait for them to end.

Think about it for a moment – we would all like to think that we give all our customers great service and perhaps we do, but there is always a client that will get a little extra.  A little extra care and attention, or a little extra effort or extra time that we don’t charge for.

Let’s face it, the way we treat our customers is not always dependent upon the quality of the journey that we are taking with them.  Customers who always pay on time and who don’t give us a hard time, may actually not be the customers that we ‘give’ more to and we need to be seriously very careful about this because they should be the customers that we treat as VIP guests.  Difficult customers who are yelling and shouting at us all the time, who are never satisfied and who we have to battle to get money out of, are traditionally the customers that we bend over backwards for and quite frankly that’s just not right!  In fact those are the customers that we should be firing, not pandering to.

I know that after writing this article I am going to do some serious evaluations on my clients.  Going forward, the customers that do what I tell them to, who pay on time and who give me very little hassle are going to be treated like the Kings and Queens that they surely are and those who give me as much grief as they are able, who don’t pay on time and who are just generally unpleasant to deal with are a) going to be charged an additional tax which I am going to call AST (Aggravation Surcharge Tax) and that is going to be dependant on how much hassle they give me and b) I am going to keep records of who pissed me off the most and give them points for bad behaviour, bad attitude and bad payments and c) I am going to set a limit on what I am prepared to put up with and when they reach their limit, I am going to fire their arses and get myself some more decent clients!

The journey that I want to take with my clients must be one of mutual respect.  It must be an amazing journey where we both profit from each other.  I can think of nothing worse than having to bend over backwards for clients who do not respect me, who do not respect what I do for them and who keep demanding more and more from me and at the same time they disrespect me, by not paying me on time or always wanting more and more of a discount.

Yip – that’s what I am going to do in future! Work with ‘like minded’ people.  People who respect what I do, who respect me and who value what I do for them.  What about you?  What kind of journey do you want to travel and have with your clients?

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

Monday, April 28, 2014

Motivation - Failure


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from Gita Bellin, who says “People may fail many times, but they become failures only when they begin to blame someone else.  Experience is determined be yourself – not the circumstances of your life.”

This for me, is like a kick up the backside! How many times do we not only say the words, but we also hear them – “it wasn’t my fault! It was because . . . .”

Well clearly it was my fault!

You see, I set it up that way and until I take responsibility for my own actions, I will never be able to correct the situation and move forward.

Let me give you an example.  I know a lady, let’s call her Jane who is happily married.  She has been married to the same man for the last 20 plus years and has had 4 children by this man.  She owns her own business and he works in the hospitality industry.  Jane is a bit of a control freak – actually she is a hell of a control freak!

When her and her husband first got married (let’s call him John), she set down the ground rules.  She would control the finances, the household and everything that went with that. John is a pretty easy going guy and hell if she wanted the responsibility who was he to deny her.

So every month John’s salary got paid into the joint account and Jane paid all the bills – no problem.  Then the kids arrived, one by one.  Jane managed the children, the household and the finances.  Still no problem.

Then some time down the line the children became extremely difficult – school became a huge problem and both the household and Jane’s business began to suffer.  The children were all diagnosed with ADD and they were also all dyslexic.  Jane really started to take strain. 

Instead of Jane asking John for help, she started to pick arguments and fights. She started to nag and complain about everything in general and nothing in particular.  The fights extended to the bedroom, where she now started denying John sex as a sort of a punishment.  John had no clue what was going on so he did what he always did when there was strife in the home – he went to work, double shifts and on some occasions even triple shifts!

Clearly this situation could not continue and Jane ended up having an epileptic fit. 

Jane blamed John for her health, the state of their marriage, the ADD and dyslexia that the children had and I guess even the weather!

Was John to blame?  I personally don’t think so.  John was doing what he had always done and in my opinion the only thing that he could be blamed for was ‘not noticing’ what was going on around him and then doing something about it!

It was at this point that she and John actually sat down and had a discussion about how to save their marriage, how Jane had to regulate what she did and the amount of stress that she could cope with and John committed to helping out at home more.

Jane had set her life up the way she wanted it to run and when the wheels came off, instead of recognizing that it was exactly as she wanted it, she blamed every thing on everybody else.  Jane felt she had failed because John had not “been there” for her or ‘helped’ her in any way.

The moment that she was able to understand that she was the one who was responsible for the mess and that she needed to ask for assistance instead of just moaning and groaning and picking fights, they were able to deal with the problem as a unit.

Don’t get me wrong, the problem has not gone away – the children still all have ADD and dyslexia, but now both Jane and John pick up the strain and deal with it together supporting each other and backing each other.

Jane now feels that she has more control over her own life and John feels like he is more involved with his wife, his children and his family.

It’s like that old saying “be careful what you wish for . . .” Getting what you wish for or how you set something up, carries a responsibility and with that comes accountability. 

Part of that responsibility means having to ‘step up to the plate’!  Understanding that you have made a mistake and taking  ownership of the mistake and the problem and then doing something about it!

Own your mistake, learn from it, do something about it and then move on!

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

Sunday, April 27, 2014

BLOGGING 101 - The Content - Part 4

BLOGGING TIPS – The Content – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

We all look at newspaper headlines as we whizz all over town on our daily travels.  Many of them make us angry, many more make us very curious.  Some make us curious enough to even buy the newspaper to see what it’s all about.  Sadly though, often the heading is misleading and sometimes the heading doesn’t even have anything to do with the actual story.

Now the bottom line is that I am not a journalist, I have no formal training in terms of writing, but logic tells me that the heading for any story should, not only reflect the gist of what the story is about, but also catch the eye of the person whose attention it is that you want to get. It has to make them stop in their tracks and want to read what you have written.  It has to make them want to read more of the story and it has to make them want to join in the conversation and at least have an opinion.

What it also has to do though is uphold the promise of what is to follow.  Having an absolutely “Knock Out” heading that is followed by nonsickle ramblings of a boring mind, will not serve your purpose!  In fact, more often than not you will lose the reader – they may not come back and they will no longer be enticed by clever headlines and sweet promises of what is to come, that are then followed by stories that have no depth or substance.

Finally, always respond to the comments that others make, even if it is only to acknowledge their comment.  Think about how you feel when you write something and no-one makes any kind of comment.  They neither agree with you nor do they disagree and I guess in some ways that is not a bad thing.  On some level though, it worries me that many people do not have an opinion at all.  Sadly that is how many live their lives.  So respond, acknowledge, engage with people who have taken the time and trouble to engage with you.

Pick your topics, do the research.  Take the information that you have found, have fun with it – turn it into a story and share that story in your blog.  Remember though, you have to take the first step!

See you next week, when we will look at some more issues around some of the content that should be on/in your blogs.

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

Saturday, April 26, 2014

BLOGGING 101 - The Content - Part 3

BLOGGING TIPS – The Content – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

So by now, I am sure that you have gathered that as passionate as I am about my business, so am I passionate about blogging and when I blog, not only do I learn for myself, but I also share what I have learnt.

Most of us have heard the words that “knowledge is power” – I’d like to say that knowledge is exactly that – plain, unsophisticated, understated . . .  well knowledge.  The “Power” of the knowledge is in how we use it and what we do with that knowledge and by sharing that knowledge with others who will use it, we enable, not only ourselves but those around us too.  How cool is that!

The sharing of knowledge shouldn’t just be a ‘here and now’ experience either – so make sure that you create an ‘archives’ which allow people to go back, time and time again, to refresh their memories about the issues that you have written about or to savor their favorite posts.  It will also assist with reading articles (in one sitting), that have perhaps been broken up into parts that are easily readable.

Another idea, in order to assist with your archives is to break the content of the articles into sections, pretty much like I have for the blogs on my website. So each time I introduce a new topic (pretty much like I did when I introduced “blogging” as a topic), I add a new content section to my blog index.

Now, to get people interacting with you, it’s also necessary to tell people ‘about’ yourself.  People like to hear stories, especially stories about where you come from and what it is that you have done in order to get to where you are.  It makes them relate to you in a completely different way.  Put a photo of yourself onto your blog – it gives people a sense of communicating directly with you.

Make sure that you have a section that gives people direct access to you.  Have a contacts page with, at the very least, your e-mail address.  If you are not comfortable about being contacted at all hours of the day and night by people who live on the other side of the planet, or who are in different time zones, don’t include your telephone number.  Many people like to clarify issues or perhaps add to the discussion or even provide alternative information.  So allow yourself to be accessible, even if it is only up to a point.

Be willing share, not only your thoughts and your information and knowledge, but also your blog too.  Invite guests to ‘blog’ on your site.  If your feel like you are giving up control, then choose the topic yourself and reserve the right to edit what they have written.

See you next week, when we will look at some more issues around some of the content that should be on/in your blogs.

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

Friday, April 25, 2014

HR 101 - What to do when . . . Your staff want to strike - Part 2


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

So what we now know is when the staff cannot strike – let’s take a step backwards though and define exactly what a strike is:

Section 213 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) says “The partial or complete concerted refusal to work or the retardation or obstruction of work, by persons who are or have been employed by the same employer or by different employers, for the purpose of remedying a grievance or resolving a dispute in respect of any matter of mutual interest between an employer and an employee, and reference to ‘work’ in this definition includes overtime work, whether it is voluntary or compulsory.”

What does all of this actually mean? 

This means that in order for it to be termed ‘a strike’ there have to be three definite components.

The first one of course has several parts to it and it revolves around the issue of work.  It is but not limited to:

•    “Refusal to work”.  This means that any refusal to work, whether it is a ‘go slow’ or work relating to overtime or even if the employee refuses to ‘clock in/out’ and so on.   So let’s take the example of George, who is in a production line at a factory.  George’s job is to pack the finished product into tissue paper, place it back onto the conveyer belt and from there it goes to the next person who packs the wrapped product into a box.  George abandons his station at the conveyer belt and refuses to wrap any of the product thereby refusing to perform any of his duties.
•    “Partial refusal to work”.  In this instance George stands at the conveyer belt and wraps only some of the product into the tissue paper and then also refuses to place the wrapped items onto the conveyer belt.  In this instance he is only refusing to perform some of is duties but not all.
•    “Retardation of work.”  In this example, George continues to perform his duties but at a rate that is as slow as possible, without coming to a dead stop.  This is commonly known as ‘a go slow’.  George’s manager asks George to assist with the packing of the product into boxes, but George refuses as his contract does not specifically state that he must pack product into boxes.  This is known as ‘work to rule.”
•    “Obstruction of work”.  In this instance George does not wrap the product at all but does put the unwrapped product onto the conveyor belt which means the product cannot be packed but must be removed from the packing area and taken back up to the point where it should be wrapped by George, before any packing of boxes can continue.

The second component in terms of a strike, is that a single employee cannot strike and it therefore has to be two or more employees that refuse to work before it can be considered a strike.

The final component in a strike is that there has to be purpose to the strike which is usually to resolve a dispute or to remedy a grievance.  To resolve a dispute is usually around the issue of salary increases and/or benefits and a grievance is usually around issues of perceptions of unfair dismissal.  In this instance George is dismissed for dishonesty in that some of the wrapped product ended up in his pockets or in his home without any of it being paid for.  George is disciplined, found guilty of misconduct and dismissed and his colleagues feel that he has been dismissed unfairly and go on a strike in an effort to force management to give George his job back.

Please remember that a grievance of any nature can be and is anything that is between the employer and the employee whether there has been a collection bargaining process or not.

Next week we will look at protected and unprotected strikes.

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

Thursday, April 24, 2014

HR 101 - What to do when . . . Your staff want to strike - Part 1


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

How much do we actually know about when the employee can strike and when they can’t?

Let’s explore this situation together.  Firstly let’s have a look at when employees can’t strike.

According to the Department of Labour and the Labour Relations Act (LRA), employees cannot strike if (but not limited to)

1.    the employees have entered into an agreement that they have collectively entered into that then prevents them to strike because of the reason why they want to strike.  Ok that sounds very confusing, let’s give an example.  Let’s say that the workers and management have all agreed to an incentive bonus at the end of the year based on performance and turnover and profit.  The first year that this is happening, the performance of the employees has not been great and this has resulted in the company not making targets because the turnover was not great and then because of huge theft in the warehouse, the profits are really bad.  The union cannot now call for the company to present 13th cheques as a bonus.  In this instance if the workers went on strike it would be deemed illegal.

2.    the employees have entered into an agreement where any disputes have to be referred to arbitration. What does this mean, let’s have another example. The employees (and/or the Union) have signed a document stating that they will not strike and/or call for strike action until an issue (whatever that issue and/or disagreement may be) has been referred to arbitration. If the matter is still at a deadlock, with neither side being able to move, then under certain conditions (and they then have to list these), strike action may be called for. So the employer offers an increase of 8%, the employees decide that that is not good enough, they want an increase of 20%.  Neither side backs down and the union now calls for strike action.  In this instance if the workers went on strike it would be deemed illegal because they have not gone through the arbitration process.

3.    ‘the issue in dispute is one that a party has the right to refer to arbitration or the Labour Court in terms of the Act.’  Again – what does this mean?  Let’s assume that one of the employees was caught with his hands in the cookie jar so to speak.  He has stolen large quantities of money and he has been disciplined and found guilty of misconduct and he has been dismissed.  His fellow workers are really angry about his dismissal because they pretty much like the guy and well stealing from your employee is actually not a bad thing, so they go on strike demanding that he be re-instated.  This would be considered an illegal strike as the dismissed employee has not (yet) gone to the CCMA for arbitration.

4.    the employee works in what is considered an essential service or a maintenance service.  So this would be people like nurses and/or the refuse removal guys and so on.

Next week let’s look at exactly what a strike is and when a strike can happen.

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

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Networking 101 - Networking equals ACTION



Networking equals ACTION

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

How many of us, in the past, have gone to networking events, where we have religiously handed out handfuls of business cards and received fistfuls  of business cards in return?  We’ve promised to contact the numerous people who have given us their cards, in order to ‘do something together’ and then when we have gotten home, the cards are dumped on the desk or very diligently filed in the rolodex and in some extreme cases even trashed?

So come on, be honest now – how many of us?  I know that I am guilty of this – in the past!  Not now, you can be sure of that, definitely not now.

You see I have come to realize the value of a business card!  For me every business card is an opportunity!  It doesn’t matter where you got that card, at the supermarket, in the pub, at a networking event – anywhere! 

In my business, next to my IP, my database is my biggest asset and I treat it with respect.  It houses my large collection of contacts (from business cards that I have collected) and with that comes my own ‘circle of influence’. 

Here are the people (not just contacts – they are living breathing human beings who should be treated with respect), who add value to my business because here are the people that I will recommend in terms of the services that they provide and the widgets that they sell.  They make me look good to potential clients.

These are also the people who refer work to me – now that deserves even more respect, don’t you think?  These are the people who I interact with on a daily basis and who I choose to surround myself with.

Napoleon Hill in his book, Think and Grow Rich, says ‘Men take on the nature and the habits and the POWER OF THOUGHT of those with whom they associate in a spirit of sympathy and harmony.’

The people that I associate myself and who I choose to interact with on a daily basis are the very people whose names and contact details I have found on a business card.  They are (hopefully) people who are ‘like minded’ to myself.  They are people who are entrepreneurs and SMME’s and service providers, who are serious about doing business, who are hungry for new business, who want to grow their businesses and who are passionate about their businesses, themselves and what they do – these are the people that I want to be around, don’t you?

So when you get home, with your fistful of business cards, do something with them, contact those people – set up appointments with them, start building relationships with the people who you want to be in your ‘circle of influence’, your database and who will become your ‘value add’. 

I hope this means that you are looking at the Business Card in your hand in a completely different light now – you are, aren’t you?

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

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS - Company Operations Manual

BUSINESS TIPS – Company Operations Manual

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – September 2011

Every company should have an Operations Manual.  Okay, this is so important that I am going to have to say it again – irrespective of whether you have one employee, or one hundred employees or one hundred thousand employees – every company should have an Operations Manual.

An Operations Manual is the “how to” guide.  It is a ‘living’ document that evidences and outlines every process in your business and it should have various sections (as outlined below).  It should be checked and reviewed at the very least, annually to ensure that it is up to date and in line with legislation.  Obviously, the size of the business will determine how big or long the manual is and obviously depending on the sector that the company is in, there may or may not be sections that are applicable.  For example, if you are in a services type industry (say a financial advisor), you may not have any stock and therefore would not have any need for stock control.  Remember always to try and keep it as simple as possible.

The sections that you may require are (but not limited to):-

1.    Introduction
a.    This should include a brief history of the company – how and why it was started and also the purpose of the manual.
b.    The company’s business objectives and mission/vision statement should be included here.
c.    A list of the products and/or services provided should be featured here.

2.    Organogram
a.    Once you get to 3 or 4 departments, this should be split into two.  The first one should show just the departments and where they report into.  For example HR should report into Operations, Accounts into the Financial Director and so on.  The second organogram should include the names of the individuals who head up the departments as well as the name of the individuals that report into them – so in this case Jane Doe and Joe Public who are clerks in the accounts department report into Suzie Stressed out who is the Accounts Manager and she reports into Philip Pedantic who is the Financial Director and so on.
b.    The function of each department should also be outlined as well as which department supports which activity and so on.
c.    The job descriptions for each particular job (not person) should be filed here too. For example Jane may be the receptionist as well as a debtors clerk and the warehouse data capturer.  This of course means that Jane should have 3 different job descriptions.
d.    Don’t forget to include the details of the company, such as (but not limited to) address of branch offices and contact details for key personnel.

3.    General Information
This section would be the general type information for the staff and would include things like, but not limited to:-
a.    General attitude towards clients, suppliers, colleagues and management.
b.    How to deal with customer/supplier/colleague/management  queries, complaints or visitors
c.    Housekeeping – such as personal hygiene and dress code
d.    Do’s and don’ts.  Examples of this is “do be at work 15 minutes before you are due to start working” or “don’t partake of illegal substances and/or alcohol whilst on duty” and so on.

4.    HR and Administration thereof
This section is self explanatory and would deal with some of the below mentioned sub sections:
a.    Hiring practices – who authorizes new employees, what are the job spec requirements, what the interview process is, what forms/templates need to be completed including SARS, Department of Labour, Workmen’s Compensation etc.  Legislation registration requirements etc.  Letters/contracts of employment to be issued etc.
b.    When and how employees are paid, including full time or permanent employees and/or casual (one day) employees.
c.    Frequency of salary reviews and/or bonus requirements as well as advancement opportunities.
d.    Benefits paid by the company (if any), staff contributions and payroll deductions. These also need to be carefully explained so that  the staff understand them properly.
e.    Disciplinary policy and procedures, including letters of warning and/or notice to attend a disciplinary and/or letter of reprimand and don’t forget the Certificate of Service.
f.    Hours of Operation including Annual Leave, Sick Leave, Family Responsibility Leave, Unpaid Leave, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave and Study Leave – where applicable.
g.    Attendance requirements as well as overtime and holidays and remuneration pertaining to these issues.
h.    Labour Laws -  Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Labour Relations Act and “Best Practices”
i.    Any other policies and procedures such as (but not limited to) Smoking requirements, Sexual Harassment or Alcohol and Substance Abuse etc.,

5.    Products and Services
This section is also self explanatory but should include:-
a.    Your sales procedure and credit authorization requirements.
b.    Customer relations and complaints process.

6.    Operational Procedures
These should include a departmental flow chart and authorization process for each department and for each process.  It would also include  detailed ‘step-by-step’ procedures such as ‘once the sale has been completed and signed the order goes to administration where it is checked and data captured and then  to the warehouse for the goods to be ‘picked and packed’ then the stock goes to dispatch where the stock is released to the driver and the invoice is produced and then…’ etc.  A copy of each document and/or template used should be included with the procedure.

7.    Administration
This should include the following (but not be limited to):-
a.    Departmental administrative procedures and authorization requirements that would also indicate responsibility and accountability.
b.    Templates for each requirement, for example Petty Cash Reconciliation.
c.    Procedures on how to complete each template and the purpose of such document.
d.    The document flowchart as well as due dates and deadlines.

8.    Safety and Security
This would include (but not be limited to) safety issues around the premises, the personnel, company assets and information so issues around:-
a.    Safety of the premises (in-house or outsourced), security cards/access cards etc. Access to safes and/or restricted areas
b.    Safety of the staff, compliance with OHSA (Occupational Health & Safety Act), including safety gear etc.
c.    Managing the importance of the safety of the employee as well as the company.
d.    Protection of company assets and the requirements around that
e.    Safety around company confidential information as well as client information etc.
f.    Key and password control.
g.    Incident reports

9.    Emergencies
a.    How to deal with accidents, staff, visitor and client accidents as well as company vehicle accidents.
b.    What to do in case of fire or theft or hold ups or car jacking and all the telephone details that pertain to these.
c.    What to do in case of power failure or burst water pipes, or gas leaks.
d.    Incident reports

10.    Maintenance & Repairs
Procurement policies pertaining to these service providers as well as their contact details.
a.    Procedures pertaining to authorization of these service providers as well as authorization for the repair.
b.    Authorization and control of after hour access to premises
c.    Key controls
d.    Refuse removal
e.    Handling of equipment
f.    Procedures around damage and/or loss to property and/or premises
g.    Incident reports.
11.    Legal
a.    Legislation around local and national requirements and rules and regulations that are industry specific.
b.    The ‘how to’ and ‘who with’ handling of regulatory agencies and/or municipalities.
c.    Inspections that have taken place and the reports that were issued.
d.    Record keeping requirements.
e.    Maintaining of ethical standards
f.    Green and carbon footprint issues.

Quite a lengthy but comprehensive list, I am sure that you will agree – but a very necessary one at the end of the day.  This will evidence that you have a policy of full transparency and that you have nothing to hide.

Your employees will also have an understanding of what is and what isn’t acceptable and also know what the consequences of their actions will be.

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

Monday, April 21, 2014

MOTIVATION - Great Achievements


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from David J. Schwartz, who says :

"All great achievements require time."

I am pretty sure that we have all heard the saying ‘Stop. . . . .  and smell the coffee’.  For some of us though, and I am including myself here, time seems to run away!

It’s not that I am unproductive or that I squander my time, or even mismanage it – it’s just that there doesn’t seem to be enough of it ever!  I sometimes get the feeling that I am literally running against time!  There is always so much to do, so much that I still want to achieve, and never enough time in which to do it!

I am always impatient with people who waste my time, especially banks, post offices and the like. I am thoroughly irritated by people who meander through life, who seem to walk with no sense of purpose.  I am frustrated by people who can’t see the big picture or the finer details, and yes – you do need to see them both!

I am frustrated by people, who don’t seem to know what they want, let alone how they are going to achieve it, and don’t get me started on people who profess to know what it is that they want but then when you chat to them it is clearly evident that they are actually quite clueless!

You see, although I can ‘talk the talk’, I am essentially a doer, so once I have had the talk and thought it through, I want to get going.  Most of the time, I am frustrated by people, who still want to talk about it . . .  for another 6 weeks (by which time the opportunity has moved on), or people who want to think about it for another 6 weeks (again the opportunity has moved on) or by people who are just plain undecided!

I agree that ‘great achievements take time’, but my biggest challenge is taking the first step towards realizing that achievement!  If it is something that I can achieve myself, I am usually off to a flying start, however if I am doing something together with others . . . well, I think I have made my point already.

Make a decision and take the first step and for heaven’s sake just get going.  Achievements take time, so I would still like to be around to benefit and enjoy the fruits of my labour as and when the achievement is realized.

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

BLOGGING 101 - The Content - Part 2

BLOGGING TIPS – The Content – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

Many of us are ‘visual’ beings – I know that I am because of the constant ‘videos’ that play themselves in my brain.  Brighten your blogs up with pictures that are relevant to whatever it is that you are writing about.  The visuals will add depth to your article and enrich your post.

It’s also a good idea to visit other blog sites.  It will give you an opportunity to have a look at different styles of writing and different layouts.  You will be able to see what works and what doesn’t and take what works together with your own style and make something uniquely different.

To get readers to ‘follow you’ make sure that it is easy for them to do so, either with an RSS feed application or at the very least set it up so that an automated e-mail is sent to them containing each post.  If they don’t have to go and ‘look’ for it all the time, chances are that they will read your blogs more often.

Encourage your readers to leave a comment or engage in a discussion or even a debate.  It makes people feel that they are all part of the process and part of a community and if it’s one thing that I have learnt watching the celebrity survivor, its that people need to ‘feel’ that they are a part of something.

Challenge people and get them to challenge themselves.  When an article gets people thinking about who they are, what they are doing etc, they will return time and time again to see what there is that may be of interest.  Get them thinking and talking.

Don’t forget to give due, where and when it is deserved.  If you are quoting someone or using any part of their work, give them the appropriate credits.  I know how I feel when I see that someone has used my pontifications and they have not credited me.

Don’t jump on the bandwagon, just to promote your own stuff.  One of my personal pet hates is when people respond to one of my articles by plugging their own products.  That’s just rude and they should start their own blogs if they feel that strongly about it.

See you next week!

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

Saturday, April 19, 2014

BLOGGING 101 - The Content - Part 1

BLOGGING TIPS – The Content – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

Over the next few weeks we will have a look at the type of content that you can blog with.  I will use some of my clients (their names will be changed) to illustrate what kind of information can be used when blogging.

Now remember I am a bit of a technophobe, so some of the stuff that I tell you about, I don’t actually use – well because I don’t know how to . . . !  It is however, on the list of things to do, so once I find a few minutes to sit with my very patient IT gurus, it will be added to my own blogs to enrich them and therefore the output to my readers.

Whatever the business though, your blog needs to put you apart, so your content and the issues that you write about must create visions in the minds of the people that read them – no-one is going to read boring stuff, you have to capture the readers interest.  For example on a Friday my blogs are HR related.  I often take actual CCMA cases and turn them into stories of things that can and in fact do happen, not only to big Corporations but also to the one or two man businesses at the bottom of the ladder.

Now believe me, reading actual CCMA cases has got to be one of the most boring stuff ever to cross my desk and I can guarantee you that if I had to post it on the blog as I get it, no-one would be reading it and in fact many people would make the decision not to read any more of my blogs, going forward.  What is great though is that the content of what transpired at the CCMA is what is important and I have the ability to turn that information, through putting it into a story with protagonists that we can all relate to, into something that makes sense and is easy to read.  That is what makes it different and that is what makes it powerful and that is what makes the information readable and valuable to my readers – they can relate to the people in the story and in many instances they have been in similar circumstances and now they know exactly what to do.  That is one of the things that makes my content stand out from the rest.

One of the other tools that I use all the time is simply, simplicity.  I don’t use big words that have people rushing to dust off the dictionary.  My posts are in simple to understand language that most people can read and process, irrespective of whether they have a basic education or the CEO of a large Corporation.  I know that if I get frustrated when reading something because the language gets too technical or the author has become over indulgent with his/her use of language, the article usually gets put down in favour of something that is easier to read and understand.

Most of all, my articles are also usually written with my own special brand of humour.  I know for a fact that most people don’t always ‘get’ my humour, but here’s the thing – I love to laugh at life!  I have fun with it and the truth is that if I don’t have fun writing the article, then what am I doing it for?  If I don’t have fun writing the article, then I will probably procrastinate to such an extent that the article will never get written – there goes my blog, my marketing and to some extent my Networking.  So always remember the ‘why’ you are doing this and always, always, always have fun.

See you next week!

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

Friday, April 18, 2014

HR - What to do when . . . You want to avoid clashes with employees


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want to Avoid Clashes with Employees

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

For me prevention is always much better than a cure.

Here are a few tips that will assist in ensuring that there are a few less ‘clashes’ between employees and employers.

•    Make sure that the employees that are in charge of ‘procurement’ of any kind, do not have private relationships with your suppliers.

This means that you should not have a staff member in charge of purchasing all of the stationary for the Company, who is married to someone who owns a stationary store.  This is clearly a conflict of interest and could result in illegal ‘kick backs’ and the earning of unearned commissions.  It could also end up meaning that your Company is paying bigger fees for purchases than you should be.

•    Make sure that your staff members have written permission to carry on with a business that is in competition to your own.

Now this is just common sense don’t you think?  Staff members shouldn’t be doing anything on the side without your written consent.  Make sure that whatever it is that they are going to be doing to earn extra cash, is not in competition with you and make sure that it is not going to interfere with their duties at the office.

•    Employers cannot expect employees to perform illegal duties.

Be careful here.  If you instruct the bookkeeper not to pay SARS for any reason, you are instructing said bookkeeper to break the law!  Although the bookkeeper works for you and should be loyal to you and your company, you cannot expect the employee to break the law on your behalf.  Make sure instructions that you give to your employee are within the boundaries of the law.

•    Employers cannot expect employees to ignore their own legal rights in order to satisfy the interests of the employer.

Again, be fair – it’s your business and you can work as much ‘overtime’ as you like, but you cannot expect your employees to work excessive overtime. It’s not good for their well being and ultimately it’s not good for your Company.  Overly tired employees make mistakes that could cost the Company dearly.

•    An employee who is involved with a Trade Union’s first loyalty is to the Trade Union and not the employer, particularly where the law is protecting the employees rights and not the employers interests.

As much as this is a difficult one to swallow, it is the law!  An employee, who is a Manager for example and who is also a member of the Trade Union, cannot be expected to inform on issues that were discussed in the Trade Union meetings.  It is also illegal for the Employer to prevent someone in a managerial position to become a Union member.  That said, Managers who are Union members can be disciplined in certain instances.  For example if a manager was discovered, not disciplining his/her subordinates because they were fellow Union members, said manager could be disciplined themselves for not performing their own functions.

This is a very difficult one to constrict though, therefore if you have a situation where you feel that a Manager is not performing his/her duties because of Union issues, I would suggest that you contact an accredited Labour Attorney who will advise you on the case in question.

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

Thursday, April 17, 2014

HR 101 - What to do when . . . You're not sure about Workmen's Compensation - Part 4


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Are Not Sure About Workmen’s Compensation? – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Well, here we are and it is crunch time.  The registration is complete, the documents all sent in, the business assessed and it is all over – bar for the paying of course.  Well you didn’t think that this was all going to happen for free, did you?

So here’s what happens next:

You pay within the required 30 days – no problem, except that you get to repeat the whole exercise all over again next year, but at least you can relax for a whole year.

You don’t have the money to pay:  Well here, as in most aspects of life, there is a consequence or two or even several.  This is what can, but is not limited to what will, happen:-

•    The Commission may impose a fine on you (the employer)
•    In the instance that an employee has an accident and the assessment has not been paid, the Commission may, in addition to the original fine, impose an additional fine that is equal to the payment that would have been payable to the employee.

If you (the employer) still do not pay the assessment and/or the subsequent fines, the Commission is entitled to take legal action against you by approaching the Magistrates Court in order obtain the monies due.  The Magistrate has the power to impose an additional fine as well as a prison sentence not exceeding one year.

As you can see from the above, this is serious business.  Therefore, if for whatever reason you cannot pay it all up front, it is in your best interests to obtain permission to pay the money off in installments.

Should you have any additional queries, it may be a good idea to contact the Commission directly and/or seek assistance from a Labour Attorney.
Next week we tackle a brand new subject.

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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

NETWORKING 101 - The Importance of Building Relationships



The Importance of Building Relationships

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

I am pretty sure that we have all heard the saying “old school ties” or how about ‘the old boys club’?  I know that as a young woman growing up, I was fascinated by this whole concept of the ‘old boys club’ and the power that was generated out of there.  Little did I realize that one day I would have my own ‘old boys club’ but that mine wouldn’t just encompass the male species but the female one to.

For the male species though, networking and the ‘old boys club’ type of scenario is, I think to a large extent, almost instinctive.

I have a young God son, by the name of Bruce.  Bruce is now almost 30 but in his early 20’s he was living and going to Wharton’s Business School in the States, but as usual I have jumped too far ahead – let me go back to the beginning.

Bruce went to junior school at “The Ridge”, which for those of you who don’t know is an exclusive private school here in Johannesburg.  The children of the rich and famous attend this school (not that Bruce’s parents were either rich and/or famous but that is another story for another time).  Bruce, being the likeable child that he was, quickly made friends and pretty soon there was a steady group of youngsters that went everywhere together and did everything together – poor mothers were run ragged as they took turns collecting and delivering a pack of children to the various activities that they engaged in.  Bruce ‘chose’ his friends very wisely – many of them being the sons of prominent business men or powerful politicians and the like.

When it came time to choose a high school, funds were very tight and this would have limited the choice somewhat if it wasn’t for the fact that Bruce is exceptionally bright and he landed a full scholarship to Michaelhouse in the Drakensburg.  Although many of his ‘chosen’ friends were also going to Michaelhouse, Bruce made sure that he did not lose contact with the friends that went to several of the other private schools around, and so he started his ‘old boys club’ type network!

At Michaelhouse, he excelled academically, as well as in several of the sports and other activities, managing along the way to get himself into the Choir, that toured Russia and  Estonia as well as getting himself into the Debating Team, where he really excelled getting himself full colours, both provincially and then nationally.  He also managed to get himself on an exchange type program and got to live in Canada for 3 months at an exclusive school there.  Along the way he made friends, who he has always stayed in touch with.

Come time for his tertiary education, he requested and was given a full bursary to Wharton’s Business school in Philly – for those of you who don’t know this school – it was originally started by Abraham Lincoln and it is generally recognized as one of the best Business Schools in the world.  Here too Bruce has been making friends with kids from all over the world.  Kids who have extremely wealthy and well connected parents.  He has still not lost touch with all of those that he met along the way.

Ok, so by now you are wondering why I am telling you all of this – I mean, why would you be interested in hearing me waffle on about my Godson Bruce?

So here’s the deal – Bruce is being invited to cocktail parties and homes and offices of some of the most influential people in the world.  He is being invited to work, during the holidays, at places like The World Bank, the New York Stock Exchange and the like, by the father’s and mother’s of the kids that he has met and befriended.  In view of the fact that he has chosen, and is extremely passionate about the world of finance, this doesn’t hurt at all!

You see Bruce, from the time that he was a littlie, somehow knew how important it is to develop relationships and network those relationships, in order to get them to work for him and his desires.

Today he is one of the most well connected young men that I know, and I know for sure that he is going places.

So what about you – what kind of network do you have and do you ‘work it’ on a regular basis?

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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS - Rising to the Occasion - Part 4

BUSINESS TIPS – Rising to the Occasion – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

Following on from last week, this week we will be looking at the last of the solutions that there are to assist us with dealing with some of the challenges that we came across over the last few weeks.

•    If there is one thing that I have learnt on this journey of being an SMME (Small, Medium, Micro, Enterprise), it’s that I should never underestimate the value of friendship.  Like any other relationship though, it is very necessary to cultivate, grow and nurture friendships.  It’s really worth it in the long run though, especially in the workplace when you are faced with challenges – your friends will be there to assist you in finding solutions or assist you with analyzing the situation so that you can make the correct decisions.  Remember, none of us are “an island”, we all need help from time to time and friends provide that help ‘on tap’.

•    It is also imperative to ensure that you have enough energy to sustain yourself.  Always try and keep ‘a little extra’ time, like you would savings in a bank, just in case there is an emergency or a crisis.  Remember to take time out now and then to re-charge your own batteries.  My friend Vanessa always laughs at me when I do this – I usually declare “a couch day” and then spend the day, horizontal on the couch, watching movies!  I never fail to say that “it’s hard work having a rest”, which is what ultimately makes her laugh.  That said, I do understand the importance of doing this from time to time, especially when I have pushed myself hard.

•    Finally, don’t forget to choose new problems to deal with!  I find dealing with the same problem over and over again tedious and boring – so learn from your mistakes, learn from each experience.  Take note of the difficulties and learn to anticipate and be proactive instead of chasing your own tail around all the time.  Try not to repeat mistakes.  Make the changes, implement the policies and procedures and once the situation is under control or the problem has been solved – for goodness sake move on – don’t continue to ‘wallow’ in ‘what was’ – just make sure that you have learnt the lesson and only pay the ‘school fees’ once!

As always, remember why you started your own business in the first place and always have fun!

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

Monday, April 14, 2014

MOTIVATION - Happiness


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from C P Snow, who says:

"The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase: If you pursue
happiness you'll never find it."

So what is happiness?  How do you, as an individual define happiness and what exactly does it mean in your life?

Well, for starters it’s firstly about the way that I feel about life, about who I am and what my purpose in life is.  It’s about acceptance in terms of the things that I cannot change and the commitment (to no-one other than myself) to make a difference, not only in my life and the lives that my life touches, but also in the grand scheme of things and the big picture.  It’s about looking at the glass as half full and not half empty and if the reality of the situation is that the glass is indeed half empty – of filling it up.

It’s about turning the ‘can’t do’ into a ‘can do’.  It’s about finding simple solutions to what some people consider a huge insurmountable problem and then empowering them to implement the solution and thereby solve their own problem.

It’s about looking around me in absolute wonderment at all the beauty and the good things around me and thinking “Wow! I actually own all of this, through my sight!”

So whilst I agree that physically pursuing happiness is probably a waste of time, I believe that you can change your life style, your expectations and who you are as a person, in order to make it easier for happiness to find you!

And I believe, that happiness will indeed find you!

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

Sunday, April 13, 2014

BLOGGING 101 - Responding to Comments

BLOGGING TIPS – Responding to Comments

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC July 2011

Most of you who know me, know that I have an opinion about most things and I am not afraid to voice that opinion.  It wasn’t always like that – there was a time when I just kept quiet, sucked it up and said nothing.  Problem with that of course is that it does damage inside, to your being.  So once I realized that and got over myself, I stated my opinion, not just to be difficult or give someone a hard time, but to get it out there – to make others think perhaps a little more and even sometimes (if I am perfectly honest) to see if I can get someone to change my mind.

That means of course, that I often leave comments on the blogs or articles that I read and I must say that I feel kind of deflated when I don’t get a response.  I understand that we are all busy, that we all have 101 things that need to be done and usually they all need to be done yesterday – but that said, it’s kind of rude don’t you think?  It’s like not saying ‘you’re welcome’ when someone says thank –you, or not saying ‘bless you’, when someone sneezes.

Think about it for a moment, by ‘enabling’ the comments section on your blog, you are actually inviting people to interact with you, to share their feelings/emotions/thoughts on what you have written and then what . . .  nothing happens, it’s like having a one sided conversation and quite frankly, that for me is just boring.

For me, it would be the same thing as not answering questions about the topics that I train on or being ‘indifferent’ to others.  We all know that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference and ignoring someone who has taken the time and trouble to comment on something that you have written, irrespective of whether it is good or bad -  well that is just being indifferent in my book.

Being ignored, that’s just horrid and quite frankly, I often don’t go back to that particular author.  Why should I?  Blogging for me, is not only about getting my message across, it’s also about interaction and with interaction comes relationships and we could all do some more of those.

My blogs have opened my life up to the rest of the world and I now have people who I correspond with all over the world.  From the USA to Russia – from Holland to the UK, Australia to Canada – I’m sure you get the picture.  Do I get business from these people – well not directly, but I have learnt a great deal and I am exposed to more than my little world and yes, indirectly I have gotten business and even a mentor or two.

Responding to comments for me is a must, it’s a way to open up a dialogue, to interact and to grow as a person.

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

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Blogging 101 - Being a Blogging Master

BLOGGING TIPS – Being a Blogging Master

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2011

First off, let me just say this – not everyone can be a Master (or a Mistress for that matter) – that said, we are still always the Master (yes and the Mistress) of our own destiny’s.

As a Master (or Mistress) what are our expectations?  What are our expectations of other Masters and Mistresses?  For me, it’s not only about the content, it’s not only about the construction of the sentence or whether the grammar is correct (although that is also very important) it’s also about how much of yourself, your emotions and how you connect with the emotional requirements of your audience.  You have to get them excited, you have to connect with their heart strings, you have to challenge them, you have to make them reflect, you have to make them indignant, you have to shock them, you have to move them in some way!

Again for me, the biggest challenge was getting over my own fear.  You know what I mean, the ‘what if I fail’, ‘what if people don’t like me’, ‘if I succeed, what will be expected of me’?  You can’t be afraid to let yourself out of the bag (never mind the cat)!

We all have conversations with people and we connect and engage with those people – write like that. Write like you are having an engaging conversation.  Write with compassion, with humour, with passion and yes even with anger.

People need to believe in what you are saying and they can’t do that or connect with you if you are disconnected with yourself.  Don’t be bound by your own limitations – move past those, go through those, go around those or over them or under them – you’ll learn the best way to connect with, to link to and to create that particular emotional connection.

If you battle to get started, it’s a good idea to perhaps write down the reasons why you are battling to get started.  Some of the most common reasons are (but not limited to):

-    Why – because I am not sure that people will be interested in what I have to say
-    Why – because I am not in the mood to write about anything right now
-    Why – it’s a really sensitive subject and I am not sure that I should be putting it out there.
-    Why- it’s really difficult to write about stuff that I have never really done before, I need to do some more research.

Actually at this point you probably need to really think about what it is that you want to do.

Why do you want to write ? Are you passionate about what you do – are you passionate about who you are and are you passionate about what you want to share? If your answer to these is yes, then you need to tell the story.   Every article or blog that you write needs to tell a story and every story must have a value, otherwise you are not “sharing”.

Stand up and look at yourself, really look at yourself – you know that you have what it takes, you know that you are really good at what you do.  Let go of your fear and your uncertainty.

Stand up, be yourself, be all of who you are and all of who you can be and write that story.

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

Friday, April 11, 2014

HR 101 - What to do when . . . You're not sure about Workmen's Compensation - Part 3


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Are Not Sure About Workmen’s Compensation? – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

You are now registered with Workmen’s Compensation and are in the process of submitting your Return of Earnings, but somehow though, you don’t feel that the tariffs used to calculate your assessment is 100% correct for what it is that you do.  Is there anything you can do about it?  Of course there is.  As in most things in life – not everything is a 100% fit!

The Commission has the authority to vary the rates that apply to your specific Company based on a whole bunch of criteria.

What you need to do now is get a Commissioner involved to do an assessment on your Company.  If the Commission is of the opinion that your business is structured and set up in such a way to make it highly unlikely that any accidents would occur and that if, per chance there was an accident, that it would be highly likely that they would occur far less often and be of a far less serious nature, than in another similar business, the Director General of the Commission may allow your business to be rated at a much lower rate.

Be aware though, that in life, as there is an ‘upswing’ so too there is a ‘downswing’, because if the Commission finds that you are not really as organized or safe as you thought you were and that in fact it is far more likely that your staff will have more accidents and more serious accidents than in another similar business, they also have the right and the responsibility to increase the rate that you would have been charged.  So make sure that you have all of your ducks in a row!

The annual fees are due and payable within 30 days of the receipt of their ‘Notice of Assessment’.  Should you have cash flow problems however, you can make arrangements with the Commissioner to pay the assessment fee in installments.

Currently there are 3 acceptable payment methods – they are cheque, direct deposit and internet banking.

If you pay by cheque, the remittance advice part of the notice of assessment must be included with the cheque.  Don’t forget to write your reference numbers at that the back of the cheque.

Paying by direct deposit means that you will have to make a trip to ABSA bank, however payment can be made at any branch.  If possible use the deposit slip that is attached to your notice of assessment as it already has all your reference numbers printed on it.  If you use a generic deposit slip though, remember to write your reference numbers on the deposit slip.  Always retain your deposit slip as proof of payment.

When paying by internet banking, be sure to include all the relevant information that is required by your financial institution as well as the correct reference number of your assessment.

The banking details of the Compensation fund are always included with your assessment.

Next week we will look at what happens when you fail to make payment.

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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What to do when . . . You're not sure about Workmen's Compensation - Part 2


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Are Not Sure About Workmen’s Compensation? – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

So now you have registered and as required you need to send in your ‘Return of Earnings’ – what on earth is that.

You see, unlike most of the other ‘insurance’ legislated requirements, Workman’s Compensation is calculated and paid for on an Annual Basis.  Let’s have a look at the requirements.

When are employers required to submit their return of earnings?

The W.AS 8 is the form that deals with the Return of Earnings, and this must be completed and submitted by no later than 31st March each year.  Once again the form can be downloaded from the Department of Labour site at or from me (mail me on

The return has to include, but not be limited to the following information:

-    The amount of earnings paid by the employer to their employees, during the period from the 1st day of March the preceding year, up to and including the last day of February the following year.  In other words it works exactly along the same dates as the tax year.  For example on the 31st March 2009, the amount of earnings paid by the employer during the period 1st March 2008 to 28th February 2009. 

-    Should the employer have opened the business between these date an ‘estimate’ needs to be submitted.

-    In all instances the Accountant must sign off to indicate the correctness of the information.

-    Should the employer have more than one business or more than one premises, the Commission may require the employer to issue separate returns for each place or type of business.

-    Any other information required by the Commission.

The amount that is required to be paid is based on an Assessment fee.

What is an Assessment?

The salary bill, together with the Assessment tariff will produce the Annual Assessment fee.

Let me back it up for a moment.

Logic will tell you that someone who works in an office, quietly without having to drive around or be exposed to dangerous chemicals etc will have far less chance of getting hurt at work than say someone who drives a Construction Crane or who works at a Chemical Factory.  So there are different tariffs for different jobs and they are based on the risks associated with the type of work that is being done.

The Assessment fee is calculated by the following formula.

Assessment fee = total workers’ pay, divided by 100 multiplied by the assessment tariff.

Logic must also tell you that there are many individual types of jobs that are exempt from being assessed as they carry very little if any kind of risk.

Who is exempt from being assessed?

In terms of the Act, the following institutions are not required to be assessed.  These are, but not limited to:

•    National and provincial spheres of government, including parliament;
•    A local authority who has obtained a certificate of exemption from the Workmen’s Compensation Act;
•    A Municipality that has received an exemption;
•    An employer who has, with the approval of the Director General, obtained from a mutual association a policy of insurance for the full extent of his potential liability in terms of the Act for all employees employed by him.”

Well I say that is pretty clear – so if you employ anyone, including yourself, and you wish to become exempt – you have to apply and receive a certificate evidencing the exemption.  Exemption is not automatic.

Next week we will have a look at when the Commissioner vary the tariff of assessments, when the employer must pay and ‘how to’ pay.

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

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

WORKSHOP: Jhb: Financial Literacy for Non-Financial Entrepreneurs - 14 May 2014

Financial Literacy for Non-Financial Entrepreneurs – 14th May 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 14th May 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 9th May 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.

NETWORKING 101 - Working the Networks



Working the Networks

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Many of the people that I meet at networking meetings, seem to have this very naive concept about how networking works.  You see they seem to think that it’s enough just to pitch up at a networking meeting and if they make themselves available to whomever is there, the work will flow in.  Clearly, work will just fall like manna from the skies or claw its way out of the earth, to land very neatly into their laps!  Must be their pure magnetism that attracts it in the first place, whilst they, of course sit quietly, waiting for this momentous phenomenon to take place!  Yeah right – and you’re going to marry a tall dark handsome stranger who is rich beyond your wildest expectations!

Ok, so let’s look at the statistics – nothing like cold hard facts to get logic back into the picture.  Less than 3% of the people you meet in a networking meeting will actually contact you, do business with you or even take any kind of note that you exist.  Should you actually be one of that 3% and you get some work out of a networking event – lucky you.  Now you can sit back because they are going to refer you – here’s another cold hard fact!  Less than 10% of referral business “just happens”. 

What makes you think that you are so special that people want to walk around talking about you and your products and/or services?  What makes you think that they want to walk around telling people how great you are?

Be realistic people – networking and getting referrals, like any other thing in life, is hard work and it is something that you need to work at – constantly.  It takes hard work, actually to be honest - make that persistence and hard work!

Napoleon Hill, in his book “Think and Be Rich” (and if you have never read it, I strongly suggest that you need to get a copy), says “Persistence is an essential factor in the procedure of transmuting desire into its monetary equivalent.  The basis of persistence is the Power of Will.”

Oh, don’t get me wrong, getting yourself to a meeting is a good thing – but it is essentially, the first step.  Once there, you have to meet and/or introduce yourself to the people there, engage in conversation.  Tell them who you are and what it is that you do (briefly), listen carefully to what it is they do and who they are.  Then you need to follow up. 
•    Send them an e-mail with your business profile and a short message telling them to expect a call from you
•    Actually phone them and book an appointment with them to have a ‘one on one’ meeting with them.  No-one knows your business better than you – can you explain in three minutes who you are, what you do and why people need your products and/or services?  No, well neither can they.  So get together, have a coffee and chat.
•    Pitch up for the meeting!  This is very important!  If you don’t pitch up, believe me – they will not refer you, no matter how fabulous your product is or how wonderful you are.  By not pitching up, you are telling them, very loudly that you are not reliable and you cannot be trusted!
•    Tell them who you are, if you have any marketing material, this is the time to give it to them and explain it, yourself, your product, your service.
•    Listen to who they are and what it is that they do – listen carefully (you expected them to listen to what you had to say, so return the favour).  Take notes, ask questions – satisfy yourself that you understand (even if it is only on the surface) their business.
•    Make a list of all the people you can think of in your database, who might need their product and/or service or who might be able to introduce them to the people who might need their product and/or service.
•    Introduce them to those people (I usually do this by means of an e-mail to both parties).
•    If you are given a referral – contact the person you have been referred to.  These introductions are like gold, treasure them.

Once in your database, you can now relax – well you have their contact details and they have yours, so now they have nothing better to do than send you work! 

Wake up people!

Constantly remind them that you are available for work.  Send out regular e-mails or newsletters or invitations to other networking events.  Get into their faces and spaces (and I mean that in the nicest possible way – no spamming please), so that they don’t forget you, so that if an opportunity does arrive, the first person that they think of is you!

Easy hey?  Very - as long as you work at it constantly, persistently, every day, everywhere and all the time.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849083 702 8849 or

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS - Rising to the occasion - Part 3

BUSINESS TIPS – Rising to the Occasion – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

Here we are looking at some more solutions to challenges around us as individuals and how we view ourselves as either winners or losers.  How we look at ourselves in terms of success or failure and how we can solve some of these issues.

•    Words:  Think about the words that you use.  Change your mindset and instead looking at “problems”, look at ‘challenges; or ‘opportunities’.  The way that we use words and what they mean to your subconscious minds is very important to how we look at ourselves and how we judge ourselves.

I am sure that we are all aware of the thinking around affirmation and how if we tell ourselves, often enough and long enough, how excellent we are that we will eventually believe it.  Surely then if we continue to say the words “challenges” or “opportunities”, we will start looking for opportunities and finding solutions to challenges!

•    I am sitting at a “Women Making a Difference In Africa Conference” as I write this and so far this morning, all the speeches have been about ‘doom and gloom’.  My upbeat and optimistic mood of this morning has definitely slipped its moorings and has drifted somewhat southwards.  As I look around the people in the room, the looks on their faces speak volumes.  Some are bored to tears, some are filled with fear, some are angry at what is being said and me . . .  well I have found something useful to occupy my time . . I am writing this article and rising to this particular occasion. 

You see, I refuse to be engulfed in the fear that is all around us.  I refuse to live my life in accordance with what other people desire to do in their own lives.

For me it is of the utmost importance to get past the fear and pessimism if I want my life and my life’s purpose to inspire greatness in others.

Next week will be the final part in sharing some of the solutions to the challenges that we may encounter as we all attempt to rise to the challenge.

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

Monday, April 07, 2014

MOTIVATION - Going where your thoughts take you

MOTIVATION – Going Where Your Thoughts Take You

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – February 2010

James Allen says “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”

I love these kind of messages – when I ‘get’ them they becomes a real ‘Ah-ha’ moment for me. Like most things in life it’s all about the choices we make (or don’t for that matter).

I know for sure that at the moment, my thoughts are very focused and I have noticed how many of the projects or opportunities that I am currently working on, in and with seem to just flow – as easy as a leaf floating downstream.  I am not hitting any snags along the way and that in itself tells me that I am doing things correctly.

You see, I have learnt (and believe me it was learnt the hard way) that the minute something becomes difficult or I find that no matter which way I turn, I hit a brick wall or a delay or something goes wrong, that the fault lies with me.  I have stepped off my path somewhere or the timing is wrong.  Usually it’s I have stepped off my path somewhere.

“Stepping off my path” has its own consequences and usually my thoughts control what those consequences are. If my thoughts are positive and logical, chances are that I will step back onto the right path and life will begin to magically flow again.  As and when I need things to happen, so they do.  As and when I need an opportunity to present itself, magically it does – I get a phone call from someone wanting something or I meet someone wanting something. If my thoughts are negative or filled with too much emotion, well then that’s where it goes ‘pear-shaped’ and the problem with ‘pear-shaped’ is that if I am not careful, it can spiral downwards and then that becomes a real issue.

Now I am in a very fortunate position, in that I have a Life Coach who is a gifted intuitive, so when this happens, she is able to get me to a place where I am able to stop drowning in my own pool of misery and get me back on track.  That said I know that there are millions of people out there, who don’t have a Life Coach to assist them and I know what it feels like.  It is probably the most terrifying feeling in the world – you feel like you have come to the end and there is no-one out there to even throw you a life line.

The upside of this, now, is that I am very aware of what my thoughts and choices are doing to me right now and the minute I even think of going to something that is negative, I stop – take a step backwards, take a deep breath and turn the negative into a positive.  The minute I can’t turn my thoughts positive, I give my Life Coach a call for assistance – there is no way that I want to go back to the ‘dark place’ again that is for sure.

My challenge to you therefore today, is that you monitor your thoughts – be aware of what they do to you, be aware that as much as they can be responsible for the great joys in your life they also have the power to destruct – that is of course if you give them that power!

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

Sunday, April 06, 2014

BLOGGING 101 - Great articles equal great experiences

BLOGGING TIPS – Great Articles equal Great Experiences

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2011

One of the quickest ways to get me to unsubscribe, fire you as a service provider or indeed walk into your competitors lair, is to irritate me.

You see, for me it is not just about what the offering is, it’s not just about the product or even the service – for me it’s about the whole experience.  It’s about how that whole experience makes me feel (and I don’t necessarily mean in a warm and fuzzy or touchy feelie kind of way).  Does it make me want to return, does it make me want to share (in a good way or even when I’m spitting mad), does it make me smile or laugh, does it make me want to change something?

Reading for me, be it articles or magazines or books, have the same kind of effect.  Is it written in a simple manner that is easy to read and understand?  Does it bring forth images that make me smile or laugh or even cry and squirm or shake with anger?  Not every ‘good’ experience is sweetly pleasurable – some sadden and make me think and then act, some challenge and some . . . . well, they just irritate!

They irritate because they are too technical or they use words that necessitate me being permanently attached to the dictionary or they are so devoid of any type of truth or figment of reality that I am blinded by a red mist of anger and indignation at the fact that someone would even think that I would be caught up in their absolute nonsense!

Like many, I do not like to seeped and surrounded by negativity and if I am reading something that constantly brings this emotion to the forefront, I will stop and move onto the next article.

As a creature of habit, I usually return time and time again to the same sites.  When I find an article that I enjoy on a site, I will usually ‘follow’ it to see what else comes up.  That said however, I can just as easily ‘unfollow’, which is something that I will do from time to time, if I become disgruntled and irritated with the author and/or their content.

The reality is that I am not any different to anyone else out there in terms of how I deal with my own set of particular likes and dislikes.  The reality is that there are truckloads and more, of information out there – useful stuff, enjoyable stuff and of course a load of nonsense too.  It’s freely available to anyone and everyone.  The only thing between someone reading your articles or not is the choice that they make about the experience that they are having.

So, if you want your readers to keep coming back, time and time again, you have to make sure that you do not irritate and annoy them.  Make sure that every article equates to a memorable experience.

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

Saturday, April 05, 2014

BLOGGING 101 - Why Blog


By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

It was a request from a friend who lives far away – the ‘how to’ of blogging that is!

I must say, both the question and the request took me somewhat by surprise.

You see, although I am a technophobe who literally has no clue on how to actually set up a blog (mine was set up by a friend – a mentee actually), the value and content of a blog was not in question from the day that I heard about blogging.  It is an extremely simple concept and quite honestly I am confused by how complicated some people have made it out to be.

Simply put, it is an electronic journal that you can share with the world or not.  It can be locked up and accessible to specific groups of people (like a family who has been scattered to the four corners of the world) or even used as a means to share information with say senior managers in an international company, or you can leave it as an open forum and share the information with anyone.

Quite honestly, it is, in my opinion, one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to not only market yourself, but also provide “Joe Public” with information that they may need but not know where to go in order to obtain it or avail themselves of it.

In my opinion there is no a single solitary business on the face of the planet that would not benefit from having a blog and those that use the opportunity (note to self – get the ads up and running) properly and effectively, would also actually have an opportunity to make a lot of money whilst also actually making a profound difference in the lives of others

Each one of us, who run a Business, has something to ‘give’.  The more we tell people about what we do, the more they understand and the more they understand the more they become interested, the quicker we will ‘pop into’ their minds when they need our particular product or service.

Think about it for a moment – you may know of say 5 different bookkeepers.  They are all equally as good as each other, they all have excellent references.  One of the bookkeepers starts writing a blog that actually explains the different terms that bookkeepers/accountants use in a way that you understand and suddenly you start understanding the terminology.  Your bookkeeper decides to immigrate and suddenly you need to engage the services of a ‘new’ bookkeeper.  Which one would you choose?  I know that for me, it would be the one who has been blogging because, even though I haven’t physically engaged with them I have on some level engaged when I read the blogs.  There is now a connection with one bookkeeper that I do not have with the others. 

We are all experts in what we do or sell and sharing some of our knowledge and expertise as ‘tips’ will do more for our business than any expensive marketing campaign.  I actually find that doing the research for some of the articles that I write means that my knowledge is expanded too and that is always a bonus.

So – sharpen your pencils and start jotting down ideas on some of the things that you may want to write about or have an opinion on or even if you just want to write for fun – let’s explore the opportunity and see what we can come up with.

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

Friday, April 04, 2014

HR 101 - What to do when . . . You are not sure about Workmen's Compensation - Part 1


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Are Not Sure About Workmen’s Compensation? – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

There seems to be a great deal of confusion about who must register, where to register, how to register and when to register, so I thought it would be a good idea to try and demystify it.
So here are the important factors to consider as a Business Owner. Who Must Register With The Workman’s Compensation Fund and How Does One Register:
As a Business Owner in South Africa, if you employ a staff member (and that includes you – so if the only staff member is you) then you need to be registered. The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases (COID) Act of 130 of 1993 defines and employer as:
“Any person, including the state, who employs an employee and includes:- Any person controlling the business of the employer;

- If the services of an employee are lent or temporarily made available to some other person by the employer, such employer for such period as the employee works for that employee;
-    A Labour Broker who against payment provides a person to a client for the rendering of a service or the performance of work and for which service or work such person is paid by the Labour Broker.”

Well that is pretty straight forward – so for example, I as Viljoen   Consulting CC do not have any staff members on the one hand, but ‘pay’ myself a salary on the other hand (to get the best tax benefits), so I will now need to Register for Workman’s Compensation.

The form that is required to be completed is the prescribed (Form WA52 – which can be downloaded from the Department of Labour site or requested from myself) and the employer is required to submit a separate form for each business he/she has.

What Records Are To Be Kept By the Employer

The Act says that the employer has to keep a register or some form of record of the earnings and particulars of employment. This record must be kept for a period of 4 (four) years.

The Act also says that this record must be kept open for inspection, not only for a representative of the Health & Safety fraternity but also for the Health & Safety Representative who must be elected in terms of the Act or also in terms of the Mine & Health Safety Act 29 of 1996 or for any of the shop stewards or similar Union officials.

Next week we will have a look at when to submit the return of earnings, what an assessment is and who may be exempt from being assessed.

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