Friday, May 30, 2014

HR 101 - What to do when . . . You need to compile a Job Description - Part 3


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Compile a Job Description

Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

The one tip that we discussed last week was that the description of what the staff member needs to do has to be accurate and realistic.

The next tip is that the Job Description has to outline the job’s location, job purpose and content.  It also has to document the relationships involved, the authority involved and the controls and checks.

Let’s examine what this means.  Let’s take an Operations Manager’s position in a retail chain.  Now clearly in this type of scenario, there are many different types of Managers.  There would be store managers, Area or Regional Managers, Procurement Managers, Administration Managers,  (and that’s just for the stores, never mind what happens at Head Office.) and so on.  So if you were looking for an Operations Manager for the ‘stores’ as apposed to an Operations Manager for Head Office and/or the Warehouse/Factory, this would need to be specified and the fact that it is a Manager that is required and not an operations assistant or an operation’s clerk is of vital importance.  This would highlight that the “job’s location in the organization” is one of Operations Manager of the stores.  It stands to reason that that all the Operations Managers in the company would have similar, but not necessarily the same tasks to fulfill, so these need to be itemized carefully.

The job purpose and content would of course be to Manage the Operational requirements of all the stores country wide and take responsibility for how well the stores run.  This would include but not be limited to the responsibility of the staff, the sales of the stores and the reaching of targets.  The projection of the company image to the public is also something that should be taken into account.  It would include things like staff training on product and sales training, setting of budgets and targets, the responsibility of ensuring that Government legislation is complied with and that HR and Labour issues are met and controlled.  Issues of safety and health would also need to be controlled, not only for the staff, but also for clients. Merchandising of stock and procurement of supplies would also fall under the responsibility of the Operations Manager.  So be sure to list everything that needs to be done.

The relationships involved would include the staff who would report into the Operations Manager as well as who the Operations Manager would report into as well as what controls and checks would be in place to measure the Operations Manager performance. This would include, but not be limited to targets and budgets being met and so on.  It would also be necessary to include things like the minimum requirements of the job, you would not employ someone straight out of school to perform this task, now would you? – what are the minimum educational requirements (for example, a minimum of matric and a Management diploma and/or degree or a minimum of x number of years working experience in an Operational Environment and/or Managerial position) and so on.

Clearly the expectation of both the holder of the job (in this case the Operations Manager) and his/her supervisor must be the same or similar.  They must equally understand exactly what is required, when it is required and how the job must be done.  Often issues of ‘expectation’ and ‘perception’  not meeting in the middle is what causes the most headaches and conflict within an organization.

Next week we will continue with some more tips on how to write a Job Description.

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

Thursday, May 29, 2014

HR 101 - What to do when . . . You want to compile a Job Description - Part 2


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Compile a Job Description

Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Last week we had a look at the difference between an employee’s duties and the job description.

Here are some of (but not limited to) the things that you need to look at and take into account when you want to write a job description.

First of all you need to be accurate and realistic about the requirements of the job.

Let me tell you a story.  Many years ago I was employed by an insurance company, to capture all their hand written client data onto their computer system and in so doing, drag them kicking and screaming into the 20th Century.  They needed to get all of their client information into an electronic format, if they were to remain in business and have any sort of competitive edge.  At the same time, their own business Administration was in a state of total chaos, and they needed proper procedures and controls put into place to bring some sort of order into their lives.

A few days after I started, I was asked to perform bookkeeping tasks.  Now although I am a qualified bookkeeper, I have never done a full set of books for a client (other than my own, when I was young and stupid) and certainly never done a set of books in an accounting package.  You see they had seen that I was a qualified bookkeeper (as this information was on my CV) and they thought that they could get two jobs done for the price of one.

Don’t do that – the one job has nothing to do with the other and in this instance actually required two different people.

Make sure that what you require is realistic.

Then there is the case of the domestic worker – here is another story of how things go pear shaped. 
You cannot believe the number of small businesses who have hired their domestic worker as the cleaner/housekeeper/tea lady.  This in itself is not a problem at all, in fact I have done this myself.  What is the problem is that all of a sudden the domestic worker becomes the filing clerk and then the office administration clerk.

Now, giving someone the opportunity, if they are capable is absolutely fantastic.  Promoting someone to a position that is outside of their capabilities and then holding them accountable when they cannot cope or mess something up, is just plain irresponsible.  You cannot fit the Job Description to the person – the person must fit the Job Description.  So be honest about what the job entails and what your requirements are for that particular job and then find the person that fits those requirements.

Next week we will continue with some more tips on how to write a Job Description.

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

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Networking 101 - Find what is unique to you



Find what is unique to you

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Brand your uniqueness:  Remember; 45% of what you do, others do better than you, 45% of what you do, others do as well as you, 10% of what you do is unique to you.  Focus on the 10% that is unique to you!”

Oh man is Renate ever spot on the money with this one! So many times I have been in a networking environment where there have been in excess of 100 people and they all look just the same and many of them are in exactly the same field doing pretty much the same thing. I have looked around in absolute confusion (I have never been very good and names or faces for that matter), then when I get to the point that I follow up and meet with them, I just make sure that I am at the meeting well in advance and hope to hell that they recognise me! Not ideal I know, but it works for me!

Remember the 70’s (for those of you who are old enough to do so), I mean there was such an explosion of new acts and new musicians entering the arena that they only way that they could actually be remembered (or even make any kind of splash for that matter) was to dress up – David Bowie with his unique hairstyle and his infamous ‘Bowie Dot’ in the middle of his forehead, or what about Leo Sayer who used to dress up as a clown and don’t forget Alice Cooper (it wasn’t enough that he had a girl’s name) and his band Kiss who had the most bizarre images painted in black and white on their faces and used to bite the heads off live chickens on stage (talk about making an entrance!) and smash their guitars into a million pieces, all on stage!

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for one minute that you purchase your local Fancy Dress store, in order to have a sufficient number of costumes on hand.

What I am saying is that branding is a must! You have to show people that unique side of you – and we all have it and we need to flaunt it.

I for example, am a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl. I don’t look like a typical auditor and I really don’t think like a typical auditor (I could think of nothing more boring – urgh!), that is part of who I am and that is something that sticks in the minds of many of the people who meet me at networking events. Now I am not suggesting that you all rush out and buy up all the jeans and t-shirts in the city – don’t do that! What I am saying, is that often who you are as a person, is what is most unique about you – so don’t try and re-invent the wheel.

Be yourself, work on who you are and what you value most about yourself – expand on that, and you will probably find that that, is your most powerful and yet most inexpensive tool that you have. With very little effort and a great deal of value, you will have branded your most unique self.

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, May 27, 2014

Workshop: Jhb: Contract, Proposals & Tenders - the How To - 23rd July

Workshop: (Jhb) Contracts, Proposals & Tender Documents – The How To – 23rd July 2014

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

Understanding the 'small print' can often be the difference between signing your life away with no reward and my personal favorite, signing your life away for great rewards. Accessing and completing tenders remains a mysterious area for most small businesses. Learn 'how to' ensure that the contract you sign is fair and with your best interests at heart and learn 'how to' complete and submit a tender so that you can participate in a lucrative sector of business in South Africa.

Using the practical skills that you will learn and understand, here in this powerful one day workshop, will enable you to make the system work for you, instead of you working for the system.  This will ensure that you apply for the opportunities that are best suited for you.

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

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

Malcolm Larsen
Malcolm is a Quantity Surveyor by profession.  Malcolm has over 25 years worth of experience in submitting proposals for Tenders, contracts and project management of projects up to a value of R250 million.  Malcolm is currently engaged as a Small Business and Personal Contract Specialist.  Malcolm was also previously a “Fellow of the Institute of Directors”.

Join Sisibukula at this essential day long workshop:

Date: Wednesday 23rd July 2014
Venue: The Oak Leaf
61 Rivonia Road

Cost: R1495.00 (includes breakfast snack/finger lunch/refreshments and course material, exclusive of VAT)

Time:  08.30 to 3.30/4.00 pm. (Registration from 08.00 onwards). Please allow additional travelling time to combat traffic.

RSVP:  no later than Friday 18th July 2014 . Space is limited therefore bookings will be accepted on a first come first serve basis.

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

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

WORKSHOP: Jhb: Financial Literacy for Non-Financial Entrepreneurs – 9th July 2014

Financial Literacy for Non-Financial Entrepreneurs – 9th July 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 9th July 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 4th July 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.

Workshop:Jhb: Sales Explosion - 3rd June 2014

Struggling with Sales?
Then this is the Workshop to attend

Barry Mitchell’s Sales “Explosion” Master Class

Viljoen Consulting, Sisibukula and Business Engage are extremely proud to welcome Barry Mitchell to facilitate this workshop.  I can tell you that I have attended one of these workshops and I was able to see immediately where I was going wrong!

Based on World Renown Sales & Business Trainer, Blair Singer’s
Sales Explosion Workshop

Learn How to Generate Income in any Market

“Dynamic, High Energy Training that Drives Sales Activity Fast”

“Explode Your Sales & Income
By 20%-100% in a Matter of Weeks!”

Date: 3rd June 2014,
Location: Johannesburg

Business owners would agree that sales are the life blood of their businesses, SIMPLY,
Unfortunately, in most businesses there is always someone who doesn’t want to sell, doesn’t like selling, or doesn’t know how to sell. Then there are those who know but just don’t do.

If you want to see Massive growth in your sales activities………..
If you want to Explode your Personal Sales results and your Sales Team’s results……..
If you want to build long lasting confidence in any sales environment……..
This dynamic, practical, one-of-a-kind training will reveal the SECRETS of how some businesses are increasing their sales anywhere from 20%-100% in a matter of weeks!!
Do You really want to explode Your Income & Create Massive Sales Growth?
Cash Flow is becoming Tighter for many businesses. Borrowing to support that Tightening Cash Flow is becoming harder.  Businesses are having to go back to basics and Drive Sales to Drive their cash flow. Can You Relate?
You may well say  “That’s Not New, let’s just get out & sell” You are correct, however your  potential customers are holding onto their cash tighter than ever before, they are demanding more Value, & Competition is on the increase……. You are probably putting in more time for less return.  You need something that will distance you from the rest.
The Sales “Explosion” Master Class will reveal the Key Building Blocks to Building a Successful Business and to Increasing Your Sales & Income Dramatically. To do that you will learn how to confront some of your greatest FEARS about SALES.
Technical Sales Development…. Personal Development
In this Program we combine Technical Sales Skills, Tools, & Knowledge with Personal Development. Why? Because we know that it’s what Holds You back in your Mind, NOT what holds you back in your Skill that’s the Biggest Problem. You will learn how to confront some of your greatest FEARS about SALES. You will learn how to develop your mind to overcome those things holding you back from EXPLODING your Income & Your Sales.
Put to practice the techniques you learn and drive your business activity right in the room!

ABOUT the Facilitator
Barry has had over 23 years’ experience in the Sales Industry during which he has managed, lead and taught 100's of businesses the art of Sales & Leadership. His clients range from R200 million companies, to start-ups and individuals... all with the common goal; the desire to significantly change their business and their lives. Barry works with and is mentored by the world’s top Sales & Leadership trainer Blair Singer. Barry's Sales Explosion workshop has helped thousands of people dramatically increase their sales in short periods of time.

Venue and Booking Info:

Date:    Tuesday 3rd June 2014
Time:   08.30 to 4.00 pm.     (Registration from 08.00 onwards). Please allow additional travelling time to combat traffic.
RSVP:  Please book by No later Than Thursday 29th May 2014
Venue: The Oak Leaf
                     61 Rivonia Road  Sandhurst   - Directions Click Here

Cost:   R1 495.00 
(Includes breakfast snack / lunch / refreshments and course material) 

Hurry! Book Now  Spaces limited !

 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 contact Nikki Viljoen on 083 702 8849 or
Let’s be a part of Entrepreneurs helping and supporting other Entrepreneurs.

Business Tips - Being Your own boss - Part 3


Being Your Own Boss – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – April 2009

Big corporate companies with very deep pockets spend hundreds of thousands of Rands with professional market researchers want to find out ‘what people want’!

As small business owners, we certainly do not have deep pockets and quite frankly we don’t need to use professional market researches.  We can do it ourselves.

Here are some ideas on how to go about it.

-    Take a field trip, ask questions of the people that you meet along the way.  Find out from them how your product and/or service would benefit them.  Will it satisfy their needs?  Will it make a difference to them?

-    Change YOUR mindset.  Get out of YOUR comfort zone.  THINK out of the box.  Speak to people who have succeeded.  Find out how they did it, what they did and when they did it.  Learn from them.  It is not necessary for you to learn only through the mistakes that you make.

-    Meet with other business owners, brainstorm with them.  Ask them what they have done, what they have learnt.  Ask them to tell you how to avoid the mistakes that they have perhaps made.

-    Research!  And when you think you have finished researching – research some more!  Read reports, both old and new that pertain to whatever your industry is.  Look at what strategy is best for you.  Look at the latest trends and see how you could slot what it is that you do in there.

-    Keep a record of your ideas, make notes, open a file and keep everything.  I promise you, you will go back to refresh your memory or add to your list on a very frequent basis.

Be prepared to be flexible – learn to adapt and change.

Above all – don’t forget to have fun!  Remember why you went into business for yourself in the first place.  Never lose sight of your goals!  Always, always, always recognize and reward your own achievements, no matter how small.

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

Monday, May 26, 2014



By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC- May 2009

P J O’Rouke says “One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility, is the difficulty in finding someone to blame your problems on and when you do find somebody, it’s remarkable how often their picture turns up on your driver’s license.”

To be completely honest, this one had me in absolute stitches!

These days finding someone who takes responsibility and accountability for their actions is quite rare.

I am constantly amazed at the number of people who want the authority – in fact they demand it and of course all the perks that that brings, but when it comes time to be accountable and responsible, it suddenly becomes someone else’s problem, or it was because of something that someone else did or because there is a ‘plot’ to discredit them – talk about conspiracy theories!

I remember as a small child, going fishing with my father.  It was one of the great pleasures in my life – spending quality time with my father, having him all to myself.  Being out in the fresh air and sunshine on the farm, with nothing but the wild animals and the beauty of the bushveld around us was really quite special.  There were many things that I learnt from my father, but what I consider to be one of the most meaningful is the fact that we are responsible for not only our actions, but also our ‘non’ actions.

This meant that as we fished, fishes that were too small to eat went back into the dam or the river to be caught another day when they were bigger.  Then of course, when we had caught enough for our immediate needs (for the pot as we called it), those were also returned to the water to be caught another day.  Pretty much along the lines of ‘catch and release’, except that we ate what we didn’t release.

Our responsibility did not end there.  You see, what I caught also had to be cleaned and gutted and prepared for cooking.  That was the way in which I was taught to respect the ‘animal’ whose life had come to an end, in order to feed me and in so doing give me life.
This is how I was taught to respect ‘life’ and I am sure that you will agree with me when I say that ‘respect for life’ is also something that seems to be a very rare commodity these days.

This was how I was taught to respect others and to take responsibility for my actions.  I had caught the fish for my own needs, therefore it was my responsibility to clean it and gut it and prepare it for cooking and when I got older and was able to, to even cook it myself.

This is how I was taught, that every single action (and even non actions) have a consequence and that each consequence becomes a responsibility that we must hold ourselves accountable for.

Not a bad way to grow up, I am sure you will agree.  It is something that the generations of today need to understand though, that shifting the blame makes them no less accountable for their actions.

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

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Blogging 101 - Being kind to your readers

BLOGGING TIPS – Being Kind to your Readers

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2011

I’ve just read an article entitled “6 Ways to be Kind to your Readers” by Bamboo Forest, and I must admit I was absolutely intrigued by the title.  I mean kindness in itself is something most of us aspire to have and I am sure that we all think of ourselves as ‘kind people’ or at the very least, we would like to think of ourselves as kind (even if we may not be).

But what does it mean – to be ‘kind’ to our readers when we blog?  I mean as much as it is our choice to write the blog, it is our reader’s choice as to whether they read the blog or not, surely? 

So here is what ‘Bamboo Forest’ had to say:

1.    “Kill or shorten introductions”.  Now this particular statement, I am very sure will not work for me.  To be fair, I can understand it up to a point, but for me, my intro sets the stage for the story to unfold.  “Killing or shortening” that intro would hurt the story before it began to unfold.
2.    “Champion quality over quantity”.  This one however, in my opinion is right on the money!  At a point, I was writing 5 new articles every week.  Now don’t get me wrong, if you have the time to do the research as well as write the article – well that’s just fantastic and a great bonus.  However, my workflow increased and the number of hours in the day didn’t and because I didn’t want to compromise the quality or the value of my writing, I have chosen to cut back on the number of articles that I write.  There may be times when there are no articles for weeks or even months and then again there may be times when I am able to write on a pretty regular basis.  I would rather write a good meaningful article than a rushed half -hearted one!
3.    “Commit to having every post be entertaining”.  Interesting – absolutely!  Entertaining – well I am not too sure about that one, particularly in the world of business and especially in the world of business in South Africa.  Current legislation and politics and proposed new legislation often makes really scary reading.  Finding solutions to implement the changes without too much upheaval or cost, would hardly make for entertainment, unless of course you are falling about with laughter at the absurdity of it all.
4.    “Write clearly” Well that makes perfectly good sense to me, especially when you are writing about business topics.  People need to know what the point is.  Let’s face it, if you are writing a piece of fiction, there doesn’t always need to be a ‘moral to the story’ (although a plot or storyline is a must), but if you are writing a piece on business – there has to be a point and people have to ‘get it’!
5.    “Keep your posts as short as possible”.  Again for me this is dependent upon the telling of the story.  Sometimes the point is best made and illustrated by means of a story and the length of the story – well if the truth be told, it doesn’t matter how long the story is, as long as it keeps you engaged and interested and it illustrates the point, so that you the reader, ‘get it’!
6.    “Step up your game”.  Now this one, I particularly like.  You see, for me ‘if you are not growing you’re dying”!  If you are not constantly challenging yourself and your readers with what you are saying, if you are not improving or engaging or teaching or learning or moving forward or upward in some way –well what is the point?

So I guess what I am trying to say is that there are always guidelines on what to do and how best to do it.  Thing is though, it has to serve your own soul and it has to make a difference in the lives of others – if it doesn’t meet those two requirements, well personally, I’d give it up.

Till next time, happy blogging!

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

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Blogging 101 - The Content - Part 11

BLOGGING TIPS – The Content – Part 11

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC July  2011

As promised here is the final article on the “Content” of blogging.  I will certainly write some more articles on blogging at some stage, but this is it for now.

I think it is really important to understand that as bloggers, we are not just about blogging or about our blogs. We are (usually) business owners who are passionate about our businesses and what it is that we do and the value that our readers gain from reading our blogs comes from our experience – not only the experience gained from our businesses, but the experiences that we have gained from life.  It’s about all that knowledge that we share about our lives, where we have been and what it is that we have lived through.  It’s about the little things that have touched our lives and grabbed our interest and the big battles that we have fought and won (or lost) and why and how we won (or lost) them and how to do it better/faster/easier next time around.

So does this mean that we have to travel and trawl the four corners of the earth (strange that we say that don’t you think, when the world is actually round ) to find new material and new experiences to share – of course not!  Fact is, we mostly have so much information that we already know and that we continue to harvest on a daily basis, that doing this is not necessary. 

What we do have to do though is ‘keep it fresh’.  If you want to keep your current readers or grow your followers, you have to keep it interesting, you have to introduce new material all the time.  You have to engage with people all the time.

In order to do this, for me, I have to read, read and then read some more.  Many of my guests laugh at me when they visit me at home – I usually have between 5 and 8 books next to my bed – all being read at the same time and all at different parts of their particular stories.  I have magazines and books in both my toilets and also a book in the car (and no I don’t confuse the stories).  I love to read and usually live vicariously, through the characters in the books – it makes for an interesting life and I have no doubt that this has stood me in good stead as I continue to write my stories and articles for posting on my blog.

I have discovered that the more I write, the more I want to write and the more topics open up to me, stories and experiences just begging to be written and shared with people who are like minded and who enjoy engaging in the story being told and who learn the lessons (or not) or who just read for the enjoyment of reading.

My friend GiGi always says “Everyone has a story to be told” and for me the magic is in the telling of that story, in the learning and in the sharing.

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

Friday, May 23, 2014

HR - What to do when . . . You need to compile a Job Description - Part 1


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Compile a Job Description

Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

In my experience, one of greatest challenge in any small business is getting the paperwork right, particularly in the HR arena.

Issues of paperwork seem to pale into insignificance, when the focus is on getting the sale of the product and/or service, in order to ensure that there is sufficient funds at the end of the month to pay the bills.

Ironically, it is the lack of proper ‘paperwork’ that usually becomes the downfall of the Company and this is especially true when it comes to the HR side of the business.

Landing up at the CCMA, with a difficult staff member, who has all the weight of the law behind them, because you – as the business owner – have not put all the requirements in place, could mean the demise of your business as fines paid eat into your hard earned cash flow.  Some businesses and/or business owners never recover.

Ensuring that your staff have been notified, in writing of their job descriptions and their duties is a legal requirement.  The law is there to actually protect the employer as well as the employee.  That, perhaps is the first thing that we all need to understand.

The next thing that we all need to understand, is the difference between a “Job Description” and the “Duties” of the employee.  Most people that I come into contact with seem to think that it is one and the same – beware – it isn’t.

A job description is exactly that – it describes the job. 

Employee duties is exactly that, it describes the duties that the employee is expected to perform.

Let me simplify this a little more for you.  In some Companies, particularly small businesses, an employee may be expected to perform several duties, for example Jane Doe, may be employed as the PA and the Bookkeeper and she may also be responsible for shipping and sales as well.  So her duties (which is what goes onto the letter or contract of employment) are that of PA, Bookkeeper, Shipping clerk and sales assistant.  Therefore Jane Doe actually should have four different Job Descriptions – one for each of the duties that she performs and despite the fact that there may be ‘overlaps’ on each one of them – in this instance for example, she may be required to liaise with clients for issues pertaining to each individual duty, the fact remains that they are four extremely different jobs and each one must have their own Job Description.

In a big Corporate, often there is one Job Description for several employees.  Take for example a Company that has  several hundred sales assistants.  Each assistant would have the duties of a ‘Sales Assistant’ on his/her letter of appointment, but there would only be one Job Description involved and that would be the Job Description of a Sales Assistant.

Writing Job Descriptions for me is not a difficult thing, but then that is because of the way that my brain is wired, however it has become increasingly evident that for others it is one of the most difficult and challenging things to write – especially if the person writing it has no knowledge of what the actual job entails.  For example, George is an extremely talented designer and if asked could probably tell you to the nearest cm, how much fabric is required to make a particular garment.  That said, George in all probability would have no clue how to run a set of books properly.  Oh don’t get me wrong George would understand the basics of how to cost the garment and what have you, but the ‘nuts and bolts’ of bookkeeping would not only bore him to tears, it is something that he would not understand.  Could you therefore imagine George writing a Job Description for the bookkeeper that he would need to employ?

In the big Corporate Companies, the person writing the job description is usually the Line Manager, and it would be written in conjunction with the HR Manager.  The Line Manager would understand and have experience in every aspect of the job or position that he would like to be fulfilled  and the HR Manager would have the experience of how to put those requirements into a Job description.  In a small business, the business owner is usually the one who does everything that needs to be done, often without fully understanding all the requirements of the job as is evidenced by George the talented designer.

Next time, I will list some of the basic requirement.

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

Thursday, May 22, 2014

HR 101 - What to do when . . . You need to conduct a disciplinary


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Conduct a Disciplinary

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

The mindset of most individuals is that the conducting of a Disciplinary hearing is a ‘waste of time”.  Whilst that may be the perception – it is really the only way that both parties, the Employer and the Employee, get to do battle in a way that is completely fair and without any emotion.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act is very clear on the subject.

Staff can no longer just be summarily dismissed – the staff member is thereby protected from an employer hell bent on dismissal.  Staff members, no longer get to do as they please and then get away with it – the employer is thereby protected.

There are now rules and regulations governing how things get done – this is called the Disciplinary Procedure.

Many cases that have landed up in the CCMA, and been lost by either of the parties because the correct procedures were not followed and not necessarily because of the alleged transgression.

They are not difficult, they are completely fair and they can ensure a fair outcome.  If the employee is dismissed and feels that justice has not been served – they can firstly ‘appeal’ the decision and if they still do not feel that justice has been served they can then take the whole issue to the CCMA.

Let’s step back a moment and see what the procedures are:

•    The staff member must be served with a Notice to Attend a Disciplinary Hearing.
•    The charges must be clear and concise. 
•    The staff member must be given a minimum of 48 hours to prepare his/her case from the time that the Notice is served to the time that the hearing takes place.
•    The staff member has the right to have representation (this means someone inside of the company – no lawyers at this point)
•    The staff member has the right to have an interpreter if there is a need.
•    The staff member has the right to call any witnesses, if there is a need.

And guess what – the Employer has the same rights.

The Disciplinary must be chaired by an impartial person, who has not been involved with any of the issues leading up to the hearing being called for.  This way, both cases get to be heard without any pre-conceived perceptions.

The Chairperson must hear both sides of the story, before making a ruling.  The chairperson can ask as many questions as they feel the need to, in order to reach a decision.

The penalty must fit the crime. 

Next week we tackle a new issue.

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

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Networking 101 - Making contact quickly

THE POWER OF NETWORKING - Making Contact Quickly

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Make contact within three days of meeting people”.

Oh dear!  This is one that I fall down on quite badly sometimes!  Well maybe not hey – you see I try and send everyone an e-mail as soon after I have met them as is humanly possible.  The e-mail tells them a little more about who I am and what it is that I do and also gives them my Business Profile. 

Then here comes the challenge, for me at any rate, contacting those people again telephonically to set up individual meetings!  It could take a week or even more to get hold of that person again and set up a meeting with them.  Those that get hold of me (and I must admit that they are very far and few between) obviously then get an appointment before the rest, but that’s just first come first serve.

Remember it’s in your own best interest to get hold of the person that you met as soon as possible and make an appointment to see then, sit down and have a one on one with them – it increases your ‘circle of influence’ and in so doing it also increases your ‘value add’ and more importantly – it also more often than not, brings you work – whether it’s the person themselves who can give you work or whether it is someone that they know who needs your services and/or widgets – it’s all work and that is the bottom line!

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, May 20, 2014

Business Tips - Being your own Boss - Part 2


Being Your Own Boss – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – April 2009

Getting your message out there will probably be your next huge challenge and in order to resolve that you need to create a message that has a fast, hard hitting, instant impact.

As I write these words I am reminded of the voice mail message of one of my clients – Charrise from “Kinky Knickers”, who supplies an array of lingerie and underwear, (I know her website is in the process of being developed, but have a look at – done by my brilliant web design friend Meryl of  She was obviously busy with something and could not take the call and I needed to leave a message.  Her recorded intro had the usual “I’m not available . . . please leave a message”, type wording, but she concluded by saying “And remember . . we supply the knickers that someone is always trying to get into.”  Needless to say, I was laughing so much, I could not leave a message!  How brilliant was that!  How totally unexpected and refreshingly different.  Believe me, even if she was not my client – I would always remember where to purchase my lingerie and underwear going forward.

The point that I am trying to make here is that her message was powerful and had an instant impact and that message would last for ever.  I doubt that I will ever look at lingerie or underwear and not think of that message and have a good giggle.  From that message I know exactly what she does and I know the benefit and even though I could probably get what she sells at several different outlets, the ‘way’ she told me ‘what she does’, in her message will ensure that I buy from her.

As I tell the story, (and this article attests to that fact), I am spreading the news of what she does, which means that I am actually marketing her and her products (and she doesn’t even pay me a salary) and you can be sure that everyone else who hears that message will be doing the same.  This means that essentially it is easy for people to remember her and what she does and because of that, they will share that information readily about her business.  How cool is that?  She has a whole team of people marketing for her and they don’t even know it, much less expect a salary!

So how do you create one of those award winning messages?  It’s quite simple actually – so don’t panic.

Firstly, write down how your business helps your customers – this works for both products and services.

Secondly, underline or circle any of the descriptive  words that ‘stand out’ and make a statement about what you do or that describes your business.

Thirdly, take all of those words and make a single sentence which will make up your final message.  For example my message is: “Viljoen Consulting – I prevent loss by assisting and empowering small business owners to start up, grow and maintain sustainable businesses.

Finally, use your message as much as possible and where ever you go – at networking events, at business functions, on your card, your letterheads, as part of your signature on e-mails, on your voicemail messages, your blogs and even when you ‘tweet on twitter’.

The more people who hear your message, the more business you will generate and the more ‘ideas’ will come your way.

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

Monday, May 19, 2014

MOTIVATION - Repeated Efforts

MOTIVATION –  Repeated Efforts

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – August 2010

Robert Collier says “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”

I was recently interviewed by Helen Nicolson (for her new book on Networking) and one of the questions that she asked me was “What do you consider as success.”

I don’t think that I missed a beat before replying something along the lines of that success means different things to different people.  Think about it for a moment, flicking a light switch, as you enter a dark room and having the light actually come on – well that’s success!

Having looked at what Robert says and thinking it over very carefully, I am more than a little inclined to agree with him.  It’s the daily effort that we put into things that ensure that we become successful as individuals.  Never mind the money and the accolades (sure they are wonderful and often make life so much easier), the fact that we have carried on despite all odds, in spite of the negatives and hardships and irritations that we all face on a daily basis is in itself, a proclamation of our success.

I mean where would we be if we didn’t get out of bed each morning, put on our happy faces and bravely faced the world? Probably up Sh*t creek with no paddles.  Sure many of us bounce out of bed and bounce around from pillar to post every day, but we all have days when we don’t want to get out of bed, where we don’t want to face the world and yet somehow we do.  We drag ourselves out of bed and drag ourselves from meeting to meeting and from task to task, clearly only thinking of putting one foot in front of the other, and  minute by minute, getting through the day.

Here’s the thing though, we have in actual fact been successful – yes we have.  We haven’t stayed in bed, where the perception is that it’s warm and safe.  We have gotten out of bed and through our actions we have accomplished something – and remember, without an action of some sort, nothing will happen.

Day after day we perform actions and successfully negotiate our way around obstacles that as SMME’s and Entrepreneurs, are everywhere in abundance.  We deal with power outages and bad cash flows and client’s who don’t pay and bad (or no service) from our service suppliers and no internet connections and staff who don’t want to work or who steal from us and  people and institutions who think that they have the power to make us dance like idiot puppets to any old tune that they feel that they can play.

And yet, somehow – with little more than guts and determination, we get to the end of each day.  Sometimes a little more weary than the day before, but more often fired up and excited about what we have achieved.  The deals that we have signed.  The incredible people that we have met and engaged with.  The doors that we have opened (or even managed to shut and bolt) and then we deal with the other one hundred and one little things that constitute our day – and you know what?  We have succeeded, minute by minute – foot step, by foot step, we have succeeded.

I think, it’s time to stop beating ourselves up for the perceived failures and instead celebrate all the successes that we have. Lets toast ourselves for each and every little success and by doing that before we know it, we will be celebrating a tiny little success that will leave  a huge big imprint on our hearts, our souls and indeed, our lives!

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

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Blogging 101 - The Content - Part 10

BLOGGING TIPS – The Content – Part 10

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC July  2010

I think that one of the things that is truly visible in my writing is the fact that I really enjoy writing.  Sure it can become a pain in the rear end, especially if I am pressed for time or I don’t have anything prepared and I am running around like a mad person trying to get everything done – pretty much like today - but generally speaking, I really do enjoy writing!

Working on my own often means that days go by, were I don’t see anyone, let alone speak to anyone.  Don’t get me wrong – I have set it up that way and I do like and enjoy it that way.  What this means though is that when I write and watch the words appear on the paper, I am engaged in dialogue – the fact that it is dialogue with myself is an entirely another matter and I am sitting here with a very big smile on my face as I can just imagine the thoughts going on inside the heads of some of you.

The bottom line though is that as time goes by I am getting better at writing, at the way that I express myself, at the way that I look at things and also the words that I use.  I know that you, the reader, can see that I have having fun and that I really enjoy the fact that I am writing and that is always contagious. I am pretty sure that the minute the writing of my blogs lost its magic for me, the reading of my blogs would lose it’s magic for you.

So, if you are really consistently not enjoying the writing – don’t do it.  Rather give it to someone else who loves to write.

Never forget though, that as a ‘blogger’ you are one person giving out information to a (potentially) large number of people!  There are times when your blog, specifically the topic that you have written about, will inspire someone and when that happens to me – it is absolutely stunning.  You have to remember though that by writing and posting that article, you have opened the door to a conversation and that means that you should continue to take part in that conversation.  So try and respond to each person’s comments. Irrespective of whether you agree with what they have had to say or not, the fact is that they have taken the time and trouble to read your blog and respond.  Respect them for that!

And now . . . .  for the not so lovely part about blogging – the spammers!  In my opinion spammers are the most vile, reprehensible people on the fact of the planet – they are lower than the low and certainly lower that shark Sh*t!  They are the people who ruin a perfectly good blog and/or website with their inappropriate postings of offers for Viagra or porn related video clips.  Because of them, your blog and indeed your website, needs to be constantly monitored and you need to delete all of their rubbish on a daily basis.

Next week we will have the final episode on the content of your blog – until then – happy writing!

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

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Blogging 101 - The Content - Part 9

BLOGGING TIPS – The Content – Part 9

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC July  2010

My being a specialist in terms of being an Internal Auditor means that I am a ‘generalist’ in most of the other fields that I write about. Does that mean that I don’t have a clue about what I am talking about when it comes to those articles – of course not!  What it does mean though is that I will usually have to do some research in order to check my facts.

There are occasions where I may want to (or indeed need to) quote from something that someone else has written or base my writing upon an article that I have read.  When I do this, I obviously need to give recognition to the person who either wrote the article or the person who I am quoting.  Come on people – it really is the right thing to do.  I know just how angry I would be if I found something I had written under someone else’s name – that’s just not right!

If you are going to be writing blogs that are technical in nature, it is very important to list where you did the research as well, particularly if like me, you are a bit of a technophobe.  That way, not only will you give yourself that added bit of credibility but you also allow the reader to familiarize themselves with your source – and that is always a value add to both.

If what you are writing is merely an opinion and not necessarily a fact, then that also needs to be documented – clearly. There’s nothing worse than taking what someone has written to be absolutely gospel (and then sprouting off at the mouth about it) only to find out later that it is a load of nonsense and that they were merely voicing their opinion.

Next week we will look at some additional   points on the content of your blog.

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

Friday, May 16, 2014

HR - What to do when . . . Your staff want to strike - Part 8


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 8

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Here we are again, at the dismissals.  Your staff have embarked on an ‘Unprotected and/or illegal’ strike, you have issued an ultimatum and they have not returned to work.  The ball is now in your court.

Remember though that you still have to decide whether dismissing them would be considered ‘fair’ before you dismiss.  The Code of Good Practice (which we have already looked at in a previous discussion) on dismissals deals with three components which much be taken into account when deciding on the fairness of the dismissal.  To re-iterate, these are:
1.    the seriousness of the contravention of the Act;
2.    attempts made to comply with the Act, and
3.    whether or not the strike was in response to unjustified conduct on the part of the employer.

Please note that although these are the three issues that the employer has to look at, the court is not limited to these only.

So, let’s have a look at the ‘seriousness of the contravention of the Act’.  If the employees have not followed any of the procedures as laid down by the Labour Relations Act, in all probability the Labour court, will have very little, if any sympathy for the employees who embark on an Unprotected and/or illegal strike.

What about ‘attempts made to comply with the Act’?  Again, if the strike is unprotected and/or illegal because the striking employees have not followed laid down procedures or the followed the requirements of the Act, the court may have a little more sympathy, depending on the nature of the ‘failure’ to comply.  Let’s have a look at this in a little more depth.  Let’s say for example the striking employees really believe that the strike was protected – the court may have more sympathy for the employees – this is one instance where ‘ignorance of the law is bliss’!  Here’s the deal – the employees did not, for example, give management the required 48 hours ‘notice of intention to strike’ it was only 40 hours.  The employees, have in their ignorance, thought that they had complied with the requirements, but technically they hadn’t – so the strike is unprotected.  The court will have sympathy with the employee – so be careful on this issue.

And finally, ‘whether the strike was in response to the employer’s unjustified conduct’.  If the strike is in direct response to a perceived something that the employer has done, I would suggest that you call in a Labour Attorney as each of these needs to be judged on their own merit.

A word of caution here though  - if the employer provokes a strike or if there is ‘bad faith’ during negotiations before the strike takes place, the court will come to the assistance of the employees.  So make very sure that your reasons, as the employer, of doing what you did are very clear and transparent.

One of the other issues that the court will look at is the duration of the strike.  If the employees are dismissed as soon as the strike starts, the court will in all likelihood rule the dismissals as ‘unfair’.  If the strike has been going on for a long time, and this results in irreparable financial harm to the company (and this must be able to be proved) then the dismissal of the strikers would be considered fair.

Here’s the thing though, there are also consequences to a protected strike.  The Labour Relations Act does control and regulate these consequences.

Firstly you cannot institute civil proceedings against an employee for participating in a protected strike, however the employee is not entitled to receive any pay during the period of the strike – the ‘no work, no pay’ rule applies.  Please note though, that if the employee’s package includes payment for accommodation or food etc, these have to continue.  What you also can do though is recover the ‘payments in kind’ by instituting civil procedures in the Labour Court.

Secondly and more importantly, although you cannot dismiss a staff member for participating in a protected strike, but you can (in certain circumstances) dismiss the employee for ‘operational reasons’.    Beware though, that this can only be done if there are genuine operational reasons and as long as you comply with the requirements of Section 189 or 189A of the Labour Relations Act.  The bottom line is that if, as a consequence of the strike, the employer loses business and/or production to such an extent that the financial wellness of the company has been put or is at risk, then you will have good and valid reasons to consider retrenchment.

Just be careful that you don’t use ‘operation requirements’ as an excuse to dismiss striking employees.  The reason for the retrenchment must be genuine and you must be able to show that they are linked to the operational requirements of the business.  The Labour Appeal Court has ruled that employees can be dismissed if the ‘operational reason’ for retrenchment is as a direct result of the employees going on strike.

Again, please also remember that irrespective of whether the strike is protected and/or unprotected, employees can be dismissed for misconduct during the strike.  These would pertain to issues such as intimidation, violence (both physical and/or verbal) and damage to property.

Next week we tackle a new issue.

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

Thursday, May 15, 2014

HR 101 - What to do when . . . Your staff want to strike - Part 7


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 7

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

What exactly is an “Unprotected or Prohibited” Strike?  Well it’s really quite simple and literally means what it says – if the employees and/or union have not followed the correct procedures and/or if they are striking over anything that is not ‘protected’ (see previous articles on this subject), then the strike is not protected, which basically means that they are not protected, in any way from being dismissed (of course, as usual there are procedures that would still need to be followed).

Should the employees embark on an Unprotected or Prohibited strike, the employer can go to the Labour Court of an urgent interdict to stop the employees from continuing the strike.

If the employees continue to strike, the employer can start thinking about dismissal.  Actually you don’t need to wait until you get an interdict, which they then ignore, but it is a good idea to wait as it puts the employer in a much stronger position should there be a question of ‘fair dismissal’.

To re-iterate, in terms of the dismissal, the employee still needs to follow the correct procedures, which would include:

•    issuing a written ultimatum to the employees stating that they should return to work or face possible dismissal – please note that the ultimatum must be very clear.  The employer must ensure that the staff understand, in simple clear terms, that if they do not come back to work they will face a disciplinary hearing that may result in dismissal.  If the ultimatum is not clear, then the employer may end up having to face charges of ‘unfair’ dismissal at a subsequent CCMA hearing. If your workforce are not proficient in English (or whatever language you ‘work’ in), get the ultimatum translated into what the language is that they use – this will ensure that they do understand the meaning of what it is that you are trying to convey. Don’t, whatever you do ‘threaten’ that there may be a disciplinary – make sure that they understand that if they don’t come back to work within 24 hours (or whatever time frame you set like . . .  by tomorrow the 22nd January 2009) disciplinary action WILL be taken that may result in dismissal (be careful not to say ‘will result in dismissal because that indicates that the verdict has already been handed down before the disciplinary has even taken place).  Also be careful about attaching any further terms and conditions – make sure that they are legal.  Make sure that the employees have sufficient time to consider the ultimatum – don’t for example say that they have to be back at work within the hour – that’s just unreasonable.  If there is a union, get the union involved and get them to intervene.  Unions, generally speaking, do not want their members going off on an unprotected and/or prohibited strike and they will usually try and persuade the employees to get back to work. 
•    The Labour Appeal Court, has in the past indicated that it is not enough just to issue an ultimatum to get the employees back to work and then if they don’t you can dismiss them – they still need to have the chance to be heard.  It is not necessary to have a formal hearing, but what the employer does need to do, is ensure that staff are dismissed on charges that are ‘fair and reasonable’.  Depending on the number of staff involved, it is suggested however, that a formal disciplinary hearing take place.  In the instances where it is not practical to have a formal hearing for each staff member (imagine doing disciplinary hearings for say 100+ staff members), employers should write to the union advising them that in view of the fact that the employees have not adhered to the ultimatum, you (the employer) are now considering dismissal and that the union now has 24 hours within which to give explanations and/or make representations as to why you (the employer) should not dismiss the striking employees.

Next week we will have a look at ‘how’ the employer actually goes about the dismissal process.

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

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Networking 101 - Quality before Quantity



Quality before Quantity

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Making two or three good contacts at an event is good enough.  You don’t have to ‘work’ the whole room”.

Now she tells me!  This is one of the biggest mistakes that I made when I first went to Networking events and/or meetings.  In my enthusiasm I wanted to talk to everybody and ran around frenetically trying to get every person’s card and then afterwards trying desperately to get an appointment with someone!  That was really hard work and in many ways very soul destroying too.

You see many people don’t understand the value of networking and so they couldn’t see the connection or synergies that ‘could have been’ and the result of that of course was that they couldn’t see why there was a need to meet with me in the first place, let alone discuss ways in which we could help one another.  That, for me was, and still is very difficult to understand.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I was spending a huge amount of time and energy on people who could not see the value of what I was doing – so quite frankly – why bother!

Nowadays, even if I only make one contact, that for me is good enough.  That one person, understanding what networking is all about and the value that I not only get from that person, but the value that I can give to that person, is worth far more to me in time, effort and good referrals than 100 people who cannot see the value and have no interest in what I am doing.

So be selective, get in touch with ‘like minded people’ – don’t waste your time and energy on those who cannot or will not see!

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, May 13, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS - Being Your Own Boss - Part 1


Being Your Own Boss – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting March 2009

I have, over the last couple of months, had to field a number of questions around this topic.  Questions such as where do I get money to fund the business, to how do I market it and what do I do and where do I go to get it off the ground and started.

Firstly, you have to find your own focus and decide exactly what it is that you want to achieve.  Look at what it is that you are passionate about and then think about what your intention is, what your goals are and then what your purpose is.  Write this down and make sure that you see it on a daily basis.  Read it, digest it, believe it, live it – it is what and who you are.

Remember that for every “ying” there is a “yang”, so for every internal intention, there is an external one too. 

Your ‘Internal’ intention dictates what ‘you’ will get out of the business, so it is about your gratification.  What the business means in terms of what you accomplish in your life – this can be financial independence and success, notoriety etc.

Your ‘External’ intention is about what your business does, in terms of benefits, to others.  So how does your business make a difference to people?  No matter whether your business is about the sale of products or the sale of a service, how does that service and/or product impact on others?  How does it help or assist or be of benefit to people.

Write down your internal intention and then share it with everyone – not just friends and family, but pretty much everyone that you encounter on a daily basis.  Watch how people react when they understand your objective and what you want to achieve on a personal level.  Your passion and drive will make them want to help you in anyway that they can – they can’t help themselves, its human nature.  You, in turn, become animated at their enthusiasm and their desire to assist and this in turn boosts your confidence and gives you validation in terms of understanding that you are going in the right direction.  And so the wheel turns . . .

Write down your ‘external’ intentions.  Then again tell people how it is that your product and/or service will benefit them or others.  Again, don’t just tell your friends and family, but tell everyone who cares to listen.  As people hear how what you sell will ultimately benefit others, they will begin to react.  You see people relate in a personal way to benefits and once they relate to what you are doing they will start giving you advice on how to improve your product and/or service.  People who are so fired up about giving you new ideas and being a part of what you started also won’t be inclined to question the validity of your product and/or service.  They just want to see you succeed – especially if you like their ideas enough to use them.

So what happens if there is someone else who has a business that is similar to yours or who wants to start a business that is similar to what you have done?  Well nothing actually! 

You see, your true intent is like your fingerprint – it is unique to you and besides that, there is an abundance out there – more than enough for everyone in fact.  Just continue to focus on your stuff, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.

Make sure you have your own true focus though and you will inspire those around you before they can be engulfed with their own self doubt.

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

Monday, May 12, 2014

MOTIVATION - Our Calling

MOTIVATION – Our Calling

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – January 2010

Dr Naomi Stephan says “You have a calling which exists only for you and which only you can fulfill.”

We are, each and every one of us, governed by our beliefs.  Whether that belief system was implemented by our family or whether it is one that has been chosen and designed by ourselves, matters very little in the long run.  The fact and reality of the matter is our actions (and indeed our inactions), the way we think and what we do with our lives, is governed by our belief system.

It is my belief that we are all here on this planet, sharing this journey with the billions of other people all around us, for a specific reason and that that specific reason is our life purpose.

Now, I know that many will disagree with me and then of course there are those who will insist on embarking on a negative journey, one that is full of anger and/or destruction and/or hatred and hurt.  That is their choice and I have no doubt that they will reap their just deserts one way or another.

 I am filled with a feeling of hope that we all will find our true calling, the only one that we as the unique individuals that we are, can fulfill.

I am full of a sense of anticipation when I look around and see all the opportunities.  The journeys and the projects that we have already started or that wait patiently for us to start.

I am engulfed with a sense of wonder at the realization of what my purpose is and that of my own personal calling  and I do understand that it is something that only I can do, and I think I’m ready, hell – I hope I am ready to take it on and meet the challenge.  Actually if the truth be told, I can’t wait to get started! I am chomping at the bit, straining against the inactivity, frustrated at the fact that I have to wait, for a little while in any event, while everyone rests over the festive period and I know that perhaps I should also be resting so that I am fit and able to take on the huge task ahead of me.  But the reality is that I cannot wait, I am eager to start – I want to see where the journey takes me!

The feeling for me is akin to what I feel when we are about to get an electrical storm. I can sense it, I can smell it, I can feel it and I know that pretty soon I will see it too.  It’s exciting, it’s really scary and I am almost breathless with the anticipation of what it to come and the profound effect that I know it will have on my life.  My senses are all ‘a tingle’ and I am intoxicated with the delicious expectancy of what is about to happen.

So perhaps this missive is a warning to all who know me, a warning that this year will see me like I have never been seen before.  The words at the end of my e-mail of “Lead, follow or get out of the way” will never be truer and I challenge you all, to take the opportunities, seize the day and live every moment with every fibre of your being and then watch what happens!

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

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Blogging 101 - The Content - Part 8

BLOGGING TIPS – The Content – Part 8

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

I don’t believe that I am any different to anyone else who loves to read and one of my biggest pet hates around reading (apart from the fact that I hate starting a book and I hate finishing a book), is when there is an abrupt interruption of the story.  Don’t you hate when that happens, you’re reading away, minding your own business, following the twists and turns of the story, engulfed in the plot, hardly daring to breathe as you turn the page and . . .  well nothing!  As you begin to read the next page, nothing that you are reading makes any kind of sense and you glance down at the page number and then look at the previous page number and in total disbelief you find that  someone has torn out several pages – or even worse – you turn what you think is the last page only to find that someone has stolen the last few pages and after reading a thousand odd pages you have no idea how the story ends!  Grrrrrr – that makes me mad as a snake! 

Clearly this does not apply only to the books that you read but also articles that you read, whether those articles are in magazines or on a blog, makes no real difference – you want to know the whole story, well at least I know that I do.  You want to know how the whole thing started and what happened then and then the result or consequence. Look, let’s be reasonable, we understand that unless your full time job is the writing of blogs, your time and energy is stretched and that that means that you probably won’t be able to research every single article to the ninth degree, but you also need to understand that  the readers really do need to have closure. They need to know how it ends.  They have to at least understand the basics of what it is that you are trying to say.  Think about it for a moment, it’s like people walking around and starting a conversation, uttering  half a sentence and then walking away leaving everyone looking at them with very perplexed looks on their faces. Remember the basics that you learnt at school (well I did), that every good story has a beginning, a middle and an end. 

If you don’t at least follow the basics and leave your readers feeling confused and frustrated, they won’t be returning any time soon and not only will they not be returning, but they will also not be sending any new readers or referrals your way either.

Next week we will look at a few more points about the content of your blog.

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

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Blogging Tips - The Content - Part 7

BLOGGING TIPS – The Content – Part 7

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June  2010

Let’s face it – I write 5 new articles a week for my blog – that does not include what I write for the newspaper or the magazines such as Business Women or Your Business or Women’s Inc and it certainly doesn’t cover all the Policies and Procedures that I write for my clients – that’s purely just the blogs.  As you can imagine, my blog becomes, on occasion a voracious beast – seeming to devour everything, including me.  That said, it was my decision to write the blogs, it was my decision to share my knowledge and/or experience and/or research as I go along.  So yes, it’s my decision to post when I do.  That said, I know how I feel when I go to my favorite blog and notice that there are no new posts.  It feels like I have been abandoned!

For the record I do not post blogs on South African public holidays (which is why there wasn’t one posted yesterday) and I ‘shut down’ the office from the 16th December to the 1st working day of the New Year.  So there will be no blogs on those days.  I know that recently there was a time when I just had to stop – I felt like I was having a meltdown – so much stuff happening, too little sleep and not enough dreamtime or even rest.  What I should have done was posted something telling everyone that I was taking a break – people like to have consistency in their lives and reading their favorite blog on a daily/weekly/monthly (whatever time frame) means that you have to be writing their favorite blog on a daily/weekly/monthly (whatever time frame).  So again it is one of those “do as I tell you and don’t do as I do things!”

For many people, reading a blog (or any article for that matter) is them investing time in what it is that you have to say.  Time, as we know is money, so for them to be investing that time, is a great compliment to you.  For many, the justification for them taking time out of their busy schedule is a negotiation (usually an internal one).  The negotiation is this - “I am going to take time out of my busy schedule to read something that is interesting.”  So here’s the thing – what you write has to be interesting!  It doesn’t have to be funny (although that is my natural style of writing – so for me that helps), but it does have to be something that they want to read, something that is perhaps unique or something that is new or even something that is satiric.  Even if the topic is one that the whole world is familiar with, make it interesting, look at it from a different perspective or from a different angle.  Even if you use ‘your observation’ as the foundation of your blog make sure that it is interesting and full of information,

Next week we will look at a few more points about the content of your blog.

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

Friday, May 09, 2014

HR 101 - What to do when . . . Your staff want to strike - Part 6


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 6

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

So what is a ‘lockout’ actually. A ‘lockout’ is when the employer, locks the striking employees, out of the office/warehouse/factory/store etc. There are two types of ‘Lock Out’ – a ‘defensive’ and an ‘offensive’ ‘lock out’. An employer is not obliged to remunerate an employee for services that the employee does not render during a protected strike or a protected lock-out,

In terms of the Labour Relations Act of 1995, Section 64 (which is the section that deals specifically with “Lock outs”), there are several reasons when the ‘lock out’ can be a really useful tool if there is a strike.

The union has to give ‘Notice of Intention to Strike’ and when they do this you are entitled to issue a “Lock Out Notice’ which means once the strike begins – so does the ‘lock out.’

Let’s have a look at the benefits of a ‘lock out’.

Well firstly a benefit would be that the employer does not have to pay the employee for the duration of the strike.

Secondly, the union officials and their shop stewards very often do not advise the employees of the employers right to ‘lock out’ and often the employees only find this out after the fact, which places them on the ‘back foot’  so to speak.  The Lock Out notice must be placed on the Company Notice board so that all employees are aware of what action the employer is going to take.

Giving a notice of lock out changes the ‘power play’ quite drastically.  The striking employees are no longer in control of when they come back to work.

A defensive ‘lock out’ must always be in response to a strike, because the employees  can not return to work until such time as they have dropped their demands.

Be careful though, the opposite of a ‘defensive’ ‘lock out’ is an ‘offensive’ ‘lock out’ and that occurs if you declare a ‘lock out’ that is not in response to a strike.  This would then mean that your employees would have to accept the employers demand to come back to work.  If you declare an ‘offensive’ ‘lock out’, you will not be allowed to use any replacement labour and this is in terms of the Labour Relations Act of 1995 section 75(1)(b). 

An ‘offensive’ ‘lock out’ lets the striking employees and the union officials know,  just how serious you are about the offer that you have put on the table.  An ‘offensive’ ‘lock out’ should only be used together with negotiations on an ‘ongoing’ basis and it is highly likely that this will then result in a settlement which should bring the strike to an end.

So make sure that you know and understand exactly which ‘lock out’ you are declaring and why.  Declaring the wrong one could cause you a lot of wasted time and energy, not to mention costs incurred.

The bottom line of course is that prevention is always better than cure and although it costs the employer ‘an arm and a leg’, the reality of the situation is that it also costs the employee, usually a lot more than what they bargained for.

So no matter how deadlocked talks appear to be, it is in your own best interests to continue to talk to union officials and shop stewards.  They too, more often than not, would also like to see a settlement sooner rather than later.

Next week we will have a look at Unprotected or prohibited strikes.

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

Thursday, May 08, 2014

HR 101 - What to do when . . . Your staff want to strike - Part 5


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Replacement labour is the topic on the table today.  Let’s have a look at the reality of a strike.

A strike can have devastating financial implications to a company.  Look at the results of some of the strikes that took place over the last couple of years.

Think about Pick ‘n Pay – the last really bad one that I remember is when shoppers were confronted with Toi Toi-ing staff as they tried to enter the stores to do their shopping.  I remember Jeremy Mansfield of Highveld Stereo trying to make light of the situation by saying something along the lines of “I have never felt so welcome in all of my life – there were what seemed like hundreds of people singing and dancing as they came towards me with arms open wide to greet me and welcome me into the store!”  Ja Boet – and I also believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy!  Jokes aside, many customers did not want to be personally ‘welcomed’ into the store and despite assurances that they would not be harmed in any way, they chose to shop elsewhere.  I have no doubt that millions of Rands worth of turnover was lost by the company.

Now in this situation, Pick n’ Pay would have no alternative but to hire replacement labour if they wanted to have any kind of turnover at all and if they did not want to close their doors to the public.

It is a given however, that replacement staff, irrespective of whether they have been supplied by a labour broker and/or sourced by yourselves or even if you use your own staff from other areas, will invariably be subjected to intimidation and even physical and/or verbal abuse in some instances.  So you need to ensure that they necessary precautionary steps are in place to ensure that your replacement labour is protected.

You can (and perhaps should) for example install some additional security surveillance such as CCTV type camera and video set ups or hire additional independent security.  Whatever you do, inform the union of what you are doing or intend to do in order to re-enforce their responsibility to ensure that they control their members.

Be aware though, that all of these additional bits and pieces will have a financial implication too.  Don’t for a minute think that a strike is not going to cost you and ultimately prevention is always better that cure (and often a lot cheaper in the long run).

Next week we will look at what a ‘lock out’ is and the benefits and/or implications of having one.

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

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Networking 101 - Don't confuse Networking with friendship



Don’t Confuse Networking with Friendship

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Don’t confuse networking with friendship.”

Actually, whilst we are on the subject, don’t confuse business (of any kind) with friendship either – they are two different issues that should inhabit two different spaces in your life – if they don’t and if you confuse or blur the line the result could mean the loss of business and/or the loss of the friendship – so be careful about what you are doing and make sure that the lines and/or boundaries are very visible and very clear to all parties concerned.

Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with social networking, in fact you can make some really great contacts and even do some really good business on places like My Genius ( or even Facebook (, but I wouldn’t rely on them as the sole focus of my networking commitments.  I would use them rather as tools to enhance what I already have.

Other networking sites that would give great business opportunities are or  or or or or or .  There will always be some that feel a whole lot more comfortable than others – it’s a matter of choice.  I would not say that one is necessarily better than the other – it’s about works for you at the end of the day.

Having said that however, you need to take the first step and actually get onto the site or get to a meeting and get going!   Networking takes work, it doesn’t just happen!

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, May 06, 2014

Business Tips - Being Straighforward

BUSINESS TIPS – Being Straightforward

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC January 2010

In her Leadership Insights nuggets, Dr Renate Volpe says “Straightforwardness simply means aligning the verbal and non-verbal messages to mean the same.”

Well that makes logical sense and it is also pretty straightforward don’t you think?  So why it is so difficult to do?  Why did Renate feel so strongly about it that she had to use it as one of her 50 tips on Leadership Insights?  Well my guess would be because often people who are aspiring to be leaders just don’t do it.

I know that even in the smallest of businesses, there is often a hidden agenda, there is often some sort of politics going on – whether it is a conspiracy of the staff to do whatever they can to upset the bosses or drive a wedge between senior management or indeed discredit their peers.  Often the bosses or management set it up so that the staff are constantly striving to undermine each other in an attempt to be ‘teacher’s pet’ and to score the most brownie points.

For me this is just counter productive and a waste of time and energy, never mind the distrust that it causes and often the result is a less than perfect product and/or less than satisfactory service for the client.  Besides that, how on earth do people remember what they have said to whom – it’s like trying to play several games of chess all at once – far too much irritation and drama for me!

Those who know me, know that I would far rather have a simple life and that for me is just telling it like it is!  That way the verbal will definitely match up with the body language and the rest of the non-verbal indicators, everyone will know where they are, what is expected of them, what my perception is and we can get on with the task at hand – building sustainable businesses, building sustainable relationships with and for my clients. Being known for my integrity and credibility and ensuring my deliverables.

I’d far rather have that agenda out in the open and transparent for all to see than all the other BS that goes with hidden agenda and the political games that so many others play.

What about you – which journey would you rather take?

For more details on what Renate does, please visit her website on

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

Monday, May 05, 2014

MOTIVATION - Having the right heroes

MOTIVATION – Having The Right Heroes.

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – July 2009

For me it is inconceivable that people go through life without a ‘hero’ or two.  Let’s face it, we all have our favorite Idol, or our favorite movie star, and many of us avidly follow what they get up (or actually more like what is alleged that they get up to).  It’s big business – you only have to see the number of copies of Heat and/or People magazines that are sold on a weekly basis to have some sort of idea of the value of the ‘interest’ that is generated by these ‘so called celebrities’ who are in fact heroes.

Many of them use their status and their celebrity status to change the way that we as “Joe Public” see things.  Some of it is really, really good, like Cameron Diaz, for example who does the whole ‘green’ thing or Angelina Jolie and her fight for the rights of children and women or Oprah and her benevolence towards the education of children, but then there is also the really, really bad – and I’m not going to mention any names here, but we all know who they are – the guys (and gals) who do drugs, or beat up on their women (and even perhaps their children).

Some of these ‘heroes’ take their ‘celebrity status’ very seriously and try and become ‘good role models’ and try and live their lives in the public eyes in a responsible way, whilst others couldn’t give a damn about whether what they are doing is seen in a negative light.  I guess, like most things in life, it’s all about the perception.

As individuals we too have a responsibility – ‘how’s that’? I hear you say.  Well it’s about choosing the ‘right’ heroes.  Warren Buffett says he was ‘lucky to have the right heroes’.  That’s really great for him, but on a personal level, I think it is not just luck, it’s also about choosing the right heroes.

So how do we go about choosing the right hero?  I mean when you have a hero, it’s like when you first fall in love, isn’t it?  The other person can do no wrong!  My first piece of advice here is that you have to realize that even heroes are human and if you put them up onto a pedestal it is your responsibility to deal with your own confusion when they fall off!  Being human means that they will make mistakes and do the wrong thing from time to time and since that is their own decisions you need to understand and make peace with that.  If you can live with it then that’s fine, if not then you are the one with the problem.

Heroes for me are people who make a difference all the time.  It’s who they are – an intrinsic part of how they are made up.  For them it’s not just about when the going is good – it’s also about when things are hard or difficult.  It’s about how they behave and what they achieve when they are struggling or going through a bad period (irrespective of whether it is in their personal or professional lives.)

Heroes are people who have the same sort of values that I have or I would aspire to have.  They are people that I can relate to, who I can talk to about anything at all and who I know have my best interests at heart.  They are people who look out for me, who are not afraid to tell me (in case they may ‘upset’ me) when I am going in the wrong direction and conversely who are not afraid to tell me when I have done something right.  They are immensely proud of my achievements and yet will continue to challenge me.

Heroes are people who also continue to strive to ‘do better’, but they are not afraid to show their weaknesses or even their vulnerable side.

They are people who have usually ‘climbed huge mountains’ to get where they are, they have overcome their own struggles and fought their own demons.

Often they are people who go about their business, helping people along the way often without thought of what they are doing and why and seldom with any kind of remuneration – just because they can.

My heroes are people who live their lives by example and they are the kinds of examples that I would like to follow.

My heroes are not famous people, they are not the stars of the screen but rather the stars that shine more brightly.

My heroes are people who I admire because of their qualities rather than just their successes.

My heroes are everyday people who walk amongst us – who are your heroes?

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