Sunday, August 31, 2014

MOTIVATION - Forgiving Yourself


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said ‘that it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others. . . . sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.’

This for me, in my personal capacity has to be one of my greatest challenges, and what often makes the challenge even greater is that often my transgression, is something that is only my perception!

In my experience, people are far harder on themselves than anyone could actually be on them.  It is for this very reason that I tell most of my clients to let their staff perform their own Performance Appraisals – basically what that means is that they rate themselves.

I have yet to see a staff member rate themselves higher than what their bosses rate them and this is because the actual physical action of performing the appraisal makes them think about what they do and how they perform their duties.  It makes them look at who they are and what they do, from a totally different perspective.

The outcome usually, is that they rate themselves far lower that what their employers rate them, and with the higher ranking from the boss, comes a different appreciation and respect for their bosses, which usually means a half way decent relationship between the employer and the employee – at least for a little while.

What is also very important to remember though, is that the employer now needs to work on taking that staff member’s lack of self esteem and turning that into something that is positive and that becomes a win/win situation for both parties.

It does highlight however, that as individual we are really very hard on ourselves – harder on ourselves than any other person and that most of our transgressions are perceptions in our own minds.

That said, I am still challenged by looking at my own demons and finding forgiveness for myself, by myself.  I have discovered though that my demons are often quieted when I give myself credit for the things that I have accomplished and the good things that I have achieved.

So perhaps, therein lies the solution.

Remember to heap accolades and praise upon your head, for each and everything that you achieve or do well. Not just the big things, but the little things too.  Things like every appointment that you make on time, each telephone call that you return when you say you will, each deadline that you meet and each and every person, in whose life, you make a difference.

Remember, you are the architect  of your own life.  Let that life be full of laughter and joy and yes . . . .  even your own forgiveness.

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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

MOTIVATION - Failure & Opportunity

MOTIVATION – Failure & the Opportunity

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2010

Hands up who loves to succeed?  I can see everybody’s hand shoot up.  Soooo – hands up who loves to fail?  Go on, who loves to fail?  Nope, not a hand in sight.  Yet think about this for a moment – we all know the Oscars are what actresses and actors strive to win for their performances in the movies and yet the other day I saw Sandra Bullock graciously accept a Razzie award (for the worst performance) for her acting in a film (ironically she also got the Oscar for the same role in the same movie – but then the Americans have always confused me anyway).

As far as I know, the movies (and perhaps Idols) are the only place where participants are given the ‘worst’ award.  Why is this do you think?  Well, I think it is because as children we are taught to succeed and in order to succeed we cannot and must not fail.  Well the word ‘fail’ is also a four letter word and in some households, being competitive is a way of life.  Sadly many children grow up thinking that if they don’t succeed then they have failed and as I am sure you can imagine, this produces its’ own share of nightmares.

What about if we look at so called ‘failure’ from a different perspective?  What about if we look at failure as an opportunity, not only to succeed in the future, but also as a ‘learning curve’?

Look, I’m not talking about looking at all types of failure as a good thing.  Let’s be reasonable here – imagine if you will, you lying on the operating table, about to undergo a heart transplant, and the surgeon walks in and says “oh by the way, I am not a qualified surgeon, I failed all of my exams, but I am using this opportunity of cutting into you, as a learning curve and perhaps it will allow me to pick up my grades and qualify!”  That’s just not good at all!  No I’m talking about the everyday things that we fail at and then beat ourselves up about and yes, I’m even talking about failure of businesses or business ideas.  Where those particular failures can be turned around and become huge successes.  I’m talking about the way we look at things and how we react to what it is that we have looked at.

For many of us growing up, failure was not a word in our dictionaries, or in our vocabularies and it was certainly not something that we even considered.  Yet it happened on a daily basis.  I remember being about 8 years old or so, at boarding school and being picked for a team the first time – we were playing rounders during the 10am midmorning break.  Now I have a problem judging distances, so trying to hit a tennis ball with a bat no thicker than a cricket stump, was a huge challenge.  Needless to say I was never picked, voluntarily, again.  This really suited me as it was not a game that I enjoyed and I was much happier sitting high up on a branch of my favorite tree, reading my book.  Children, being who they are though, thought that this was absolutely terrible and they teased me relentlessly about the absence of my ‘batting’ skills.  Right through junior school I was left out of the line up of any type of game that involved either a ball or a bat and I was repeatedly told how ‘useless’ I was, by kids and teachers alike.  How crazy is that and how absolutely damaging it could have been for me.  Fortunately, being an introvert and a loner, I was not really too interested in being part of the ‘gang’ and went about my business.  Here’s the thing though – I may not have been very good at hitting a ball with a bat, but my senior school days brought out a different side of me and I did well enough on the track in high jump and long jump.  I never won anything mind you, but that also never bothered me because for me it was about the enjoyment of the sport not in the winning.

So how about if we looked for the opportunities in the failure?  Things like if ‘we did this in a different way’ or even ‘clearly this is not our thing in life – let’s look at what else is available’?  What about if we looked at failure as an opportunity to ‘learn’ something new, or learn about ourselves or indeed, learn more about the product and/or service that we offer?  What if in that failure and in the ‘learning’ we improved upon what it was that we had failed at? What if in that ‘learning’ we discovered something even better and grander and we became even more successful than we ever could have been with what we failed at – would we then still be considered’ failures’?

I don’t know!  What I do know though, is that we are often so hard on ourselves that the damage that we do to ourselves is often irreparable.  So instead beating up on ourselves, let’s look at the opportunities that our so called failures have brought and rather get on with the living of life. 

Learn the lesson by all means, but then let it go and live!

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

Friday, August 29, 2014

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Restraint of Trade – Part 1


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Restraint of Trade – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC August 2009

There has been a great deal of speculation about “Restraint’s of Trade” in an Employee’s Letter/Contract of Employment.

Here are some of the facts:-

•    Our constitution states that we have a right to work.

•    The courts will only enforce a “Restraint of Trade” agreement on a case-by-case basis.  Each case is looked at specifically and individually.

So the bottom line is that there is no hard and fast rule.

Here’s the story.

Our favorite protagonist, Mike works as a program developer in ABC IT Solutions.  Mike has a contract of employment that has a restraint of trade clause that specifies that Mike cannot work for a competitor for a period of 24 months.

Mike, after working for the company for a period of 5 years, is offered a senior position, with a whole lot of additional items in his package, with a competitor (let’s call them XYZ IT Solutions).  ABC IT Solutions refused to even discuss matching what was offered to Mike and Mike decided to leave and join the  XYZ IT Solutions.  ABC IT Solutions decided to invoke the Restraint of Trade clause and Mike is presented with documents to appear in court.

Here’s the thing – Mike is changing employment to better himself, he is not changing employment to transfer company skills and to transfer information to his new employer.

In this instance, Mike already had his skills when he joined ABC IT Solutions, therefore his skills and ‘Know How’ are vested in himself rather than in ABC IT Solutions.

Furthermore his contract of employment is not specific at all – Mike has not been stopped for working in a specific demographic area or geographic area but rather has been stropped from working anywhere for a period of two years.

XYZ IT Solutions have their own client base and if view of the kind of product and/or service that they sell, their target market is similar but not exactly the same as that of ABC IT Solutions.

Mike’s ability to program software in direct response to the client’s needs and specifications, means that he is not taking any trade secrets or confidential information with him – he is using his own knowledge and Intellectual Property.  The knowledge that Mike has is quite generic to the trade, his ability to interpret the client’s request however and his ability to provide software that solves client’s problems at an affordable price, is unique to himself.

In this case, Mike won his case as the court decided that:

•    The restraint of trade was too broad and not specific.  To uphold it would mean that Mike would not be able to work in his profession, anywhere in the world, for a period of two years.
•    The knowledge and skills that Mike has, are his own and do not, in any way constitute any kind of trade secrets or confidential information that may belong to the Company.
•    ABC IT Solutions could not isolate what its Intellectual Property was or even differentiate between what was theirs or what belonged to Mike.

Next week we will look at when a Restraint of Trade was upheld.

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

HR - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . South African Working Outside of South Africa


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . South African Working Outside of South Africa

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC August 2009

To follow on from last week – in this instance, Mike, our favorite protagonist works in a branch of a South African company, we will call ABC Consulting, in Kenya.

Like many companies throughout the world, ABC Consulting in Kenya found itself in trouble because of the recession and it was forced to retrench its staff.

Fortunately for Mike, the proper procedures pertaining to retrenchment were not followed and no negotiations were entered into.

Mike referred the case to the Labour Court here in South Africa.

The Labour Court decided the following:

•    Both Mike and the Head Office of the Company, were based in South Africa, therefore South African Labour Laws applied.
•    Both Mike and ABC Consulting had agreed that the employer’s (South African) policies would apply
•    ABC Consulting had not approved and/or adopted Kenyan Law or their Labour Relations Act in any other part of the business.
•    Both Mike and the CEO of ABC Consulting had been under the impression that the contract was enforceable under South African Law, when they signed the contract

Therefore  South African Labour Law had jurisdiction and Mike won his case.

In this particular instance, Mike was awarded damages for ABC Consulting’s breach of contract as well as relocation costs, his share options, accrued profit shares, salary, notice pay, leave pay and his severance pay.  In addition to all of this, Mike was also awarded compensation to the value of 12 months pay.

A very expensive lesson for ABC Consulting, I am sure you will agree.

So be sure that you know exactly what the legal requirements are if you are a ‘foreign’ company or if you are a South African Company with branches in other countries, it could be your saving grace.

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Networking 101 - Branding who you are



Branding who you are.

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Do you know what you stand for? Well . . . . . do you?

What is it that you represent? What do you stand for? When you walk away from a conversation – do you leave a part of yourself behind? What about an e-mail or an sms – when you send one, does it contain something that reflects who you are and what you represent?

When you enter a room – do people notice you? Well . . . do they?

I’m sure you’re wondering “what’s with all of the questions?” It’s about branding who you are.

You see, I’m ‘in love’! I can just see all of you who know me, fall laughing to the ground! Ok you can get up now!

Yes I am, I am in love! I am in love with what I do. I am crazily, passionately in love with what I do - and that shows.

It shows in my energy. It shows in every conversation that I have regarding work and even if it is a conversation that has nothing to do with work - it shows. It shows because I live to do what it is that I do!

How fabulous is that!

It shows in every e-mail that I send out. It shows every time I enter a room.

It just shows!

So, I ask again – do you know what you stand for?

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Business Tips - Computer Shortcuts - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Computer Shortcuts – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC August 2010

What a fabulously positive response I got last week.  Seems I am not the only one who doesn’t know all the shortcuts and tips.  Here are the next lot.

Next Up – Word Shortcut Keys
Ctrl + A    Select all contents of the page
Ctrl + B    Bold highlighted selection
Ctrl + C    Copy selected text
Ctrl + X    Cut selected text
Ctrl + N    Open new blank document
Ctrl + O    Open options
Ctrl + P    Open to print window
Ctrl + F    Open find box
Ctrl + I    Italicize highlighted section
Ctrl + K    Insert Link
Ctrl + U    Underline highlighted selection
Ctrl + V    Paste
Ctrl + Y    Redo the last action performed
Ctrl + Z    Undo last action
Ctrl + G    Find and replace options
Ctrl + H    Find and replace options
Ctrl + J    Justify paragraph options
Ctrl + L    Align selected text or line to the left
Ctrl + Q    Align selected paragraph to the left
Ctrl + E    Align selected text or line to the centre
Ctrl + R    Align selected text or line to the right
Ctrl + M    Indent the paragraph
Ctrl + T    Hanging Indent
Ctrl + D    Font options
Ctrl + Shift + F    Change the font
Ctrl + Shift + >    Increase selected font + 1
Ctrl + ]    Increase selected font + 1
Ctrl + Shift + <    Decrease selected font – 1
Ctrl + [    Decrease selected font – 1
Ctrl + Shift + *    View or hide non printing characters
Ctrl + <- br="" left="" move="" nbsp="" one="" the="" to="" word="">Ctrl + ->    Move one word to the right
Ctrl + (arrow up)    Move to beginning of the line or paragraph
Ctrl + (arrow down)    Move to the end of the paragraph
Ctrl +  Del    Delete word to right of cursor
Ctrl + Backspace    Delete word to the left of cursor
Ctrl + End    Move cursor to the end of document
Ctrl + Home    Move cursor to the beginning of the document
Ctrl + Spacebar    Reset highlighted text to default font
Ctrl + 1    Single space lines
Ctrl + 2    Double space lines
Ctrl + 5    1.5 space lines
Ctrl + Alt + 1    Change text to heading 1
Ctrl + Alt + 2    Change text to heading 2
Ctrl + Alt + 3    Change text to heading 3
F1    Open help
Shift + F3    Change case of selected text
Shift + Insert    Paste
F4    Repeat last action performed (Word 2000+)
F7    Spell check selected text and/or document
Shift + F7    Activate the thesaurus
F12    Save as
Ctrl + S    Save
Shift + F12    Save
Alt + Shift + D    Insert the current date
Alt + Shift + T    Insert the current time
Ctrl + W    Close the document

Again I knew one or two of these, but certainly not the majority and now of course I will also have to irritate the heck out of my IT guy by asking all the ‘what does . . . . . mean?”.

More next week.

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

Monday, August 25, 2014

Motivation - Understanding that we are all Role Models

MOTIVATION – Understanding That We are All Role Models

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

For the record, whilst I do understand that we are all role models in our own right – this particular subject makes me extremely nervous on a personal level.

Let me explain why, so that you too can be aware of it and then we will move forward on to the ‘understanding that we are all role models’.

Being a role model is not a difficult thing at all.  We have all ‘looked up’ to people in our lives.  We have all, at some point or another followed someone’s way of thinking or doing or looking.  That in itself is a healthy thing and not bad at all.  It’s when someone ‘hangs’ onto your every word and actually almost (if not in fact) ‘hero worships’ you or puts you onto the proverbial pedestal.  This is where it actually goes pear shaped!  You see at some point you are going to fall off that pedestal and when that happens there is usually a great deal of hurt and anger and animosity.  You didn’t put yourself onto the pedestal and yet you are the person who gets blamed for falling off the damn thing!  So now you know why I get very nervous when people want me to ‘mentor’ them, it actually makes me want to run in the other direction.  For the South Africans amongst us – remember Hansie and all the emotion, disbelief and anger that came out of that one (myself included).  Putting people onto a pedestal is not a good thing at all – they are after all . . . just people.

So now, let’s have a look at ‘Understanding That We are All Role Models’.

It’s often a really frightening thing to know that someone out there looks up to us as a role model.  Can you imagine someone really wanting to be us, or wanting to live the life that we have.  I often hear people saying things like “Nikki, I would love to have your energy” or “Nikki I would love to be able to Network the way you do.”  My usual response is to either growl at them or if I am in a really good mood, explain that it is all in the choices that they make.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t think that I am good enough for someone to want to emulate, or that I am not proud of my achievements.  I also understand on some level that I do make a difference in the lives of many people – that’s a choice that I made many years ago – to make a difference, and for me that is very exciting as it opens up all sorts of opportunities for me.  What scares me the most is that I consider myself a ‘work in progress’ and I am continually working on the person who I am and who I want to be.  I cannot control how quickly (or slowly for that matter) I change or evolve and now I have to consider the people who are trying to keep up with me.  The mind boggles!

What is equally if not more scary is that this is how people, supposedly intelligent people, follow other people into all sorts of disgusting, horrible and often even purely evil, avenues of life.  Think about all the gangs, rip off artists and scammers, or cults and then what about the leaders of this world – people like Hitler and Robert Mugabe and Idi Amin.  Believe it or not there are still those amongst us, yes they walk amongst us, who still think that these people are heroes.

On the flip side of the coin, this is also the avenue that we can make the most difference and how exciting is that.  It also, in my opinion, makes us responsible for the way that some people see the world and how they will ultimately act in the world and how they will behave in the world and quite honestly that makes me feel really proud, especially because it is as a direct result of me . . .  well just being me.

How incredible is that?  It means that I, little old me, will have either a positive or a negative effect on someone in the world today. It makes me responsible for the way that I interact with people (oh dear, now that means I have just kicked my own rear end), it means that I have to be careful of the choices that I make today because someone else is watching what I am doing because what I do will influence what they say, or think or do.

Just writing this piece has made me realize just how much more aware I need to be, on the daily choices that I often make without even thinking.

This knowledge and awareness makes me understand that I can literally change the world, one person at a time, and that’s really cool.  It’s a big responsibility and I still have no desire to step onto the pedestal, but it’s also really mind blowing to understand the power that I have and that you have too.

The question remains however – what are you going to do with your power today?

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

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Blogging 101 - Focus on your readers

BLOGGING TIPS – Focus on Your Readers

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2013

This is most definitely a case of “Do as I tell you and not Do as I Do!”

Let me explain . . .

You see I started out writing my blogs for my own gratification, my own enjoyment.  Not for the enjoyment of anyone other than myself.  Sounds really selfish, doesn’t it?  But that is the honest truth!

Now most folk will tell you that you need to focus on what your readers want to read about, not what you necessarily want to say and yes, they are usually two very different things. Pretty much like when you are doing the research on what you are going to sell (be it product or service), you need to ascertain what people want rather than what you think they need.

The reality of the situation is that no-one really cares about what you think or indeed what it is that you have to say, unless of course it happens to be what they want to hear or have a need to hear (and yes those are also two very different things to).  If you don’t give them what they want, they will just go somewhere else to get it – yip, people are pretty fickle like that.

Fortunately though, what I wanted to write about because generally it was something that I had just learnt and was excited about and just wanted to share – or alternatively, something that I needed to hear, was also something that most SMME’s (small, micro, medium enterprizes) wanted to read themselves.  I am just lucky that it turned out that way.

That and the fact that I have penned in excess of 1300 articles, makes me believable, especially when they read an article and it resonates with them – the general consensus then is that I must know what I am talking about, so they read another one and so on.

The fact of the matter is that if you are looking to earn money out of your writing, it has to be about the reader – you have to pander to their every need.  You have to strike a chord in them or challenge them or give them righteous indignation – something that makes them think about what you are trying to say that they either wholeheartedly agree with or they completely disagree with.  If it is the latter you need to hope that they are indignant enough to respond to you in some way that will open up a discussion.

Fortunately for me, my blogs (and yes even the business ones) are generally presented in the form of a story, and it’s in the ‘telling’ of the story that I am most successful.  You see, I am a person who sees the words in pictures and when I read I have this whole video thing going through my mind as the words conjure up the most colourful pictures and when I write, I tend to write in the same way.  The words produce pictures in my mind and this is what people tend to grab a hold of. Those pictures in their minds have more impact on the story being told or the lesson that is being learnt than just a bunch of facts and figures would have and this gives the words (or the lesson) great value. 

People usually appreciate getting good value for money and they appreciate it even more if they get the ‘great value’ without having to pay anything, including the usual ‘school fees’ that come with starting a new business or going on your own.

Me, well I don’t really care one way or the other – you see my words give me the greatest value and the most enjoyment, and there’s nothing more that I could actually want from them. The fact that they also make a difference in the lives of others . . .  well that’s just a hidden bonus for both the reader and me!

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

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Blogging 101 - The Harsh Reality

BLOGGING TIPS – The Harsh Reality

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2013

I was asked the other day by my Life Coach what it is about blogging that I find so addictive, having penned over 1300 articles.  I must admit I had to stop for a moment and think carefully about my answer and I am so glad that I did.

You see I have been struggling for some time now to get articles written.  It’s not for a lack of material you understand (I probably have enough material to keep me writing an article a day for the rest of my life and beyond).  The problem for me is a lack of time, or rather to be completely honest with myself (as well as you lot) and more to the point, a lack of organizing my time!  There . . . . I’ve said it!

I have on many occasions stated that I often write about what I most need to hear and this is again one of those instances.  I am ashamed to say that I have become a procrastinator of note!  Shocking hey!  To the point that every time I see an article about procrastination, I hastily file it without even opening it – now that’s just me being a huge coward on top of everything!

The really sad thing about all of this is that on some level I have to write every single day (and I am not talking about Policies and Procedures here either) in order for me to be fulfilled – it is my one creative outlet and I know and understand that if I don’t write and express myself and dig down deep into the core that is essentially me – well then I don’t grow and if I don’t grow  - well a part of me dies!  That sounded quite melodramatic don’t you think?

So what happened – why is it that I have not been writing every day – the simple answer is . . . life.  I have allowed the everyday clutter and clatter to creep into what is fundamentally time that should be sacred to me.  The ‘slap upside the head’ for me was yesterday when I had a meeting with a client who wants me to mentor him and we were discussing time constraints and how we would fit it into our respective diaries and he said “I know that on a Friday you like to catch up on your admin and that you like to take some time for your ‘dream time’, so let’s have the meeting on a Friday.”  My ‘knee jerk’ reaction to that was – Noooooooo!  Actually, now that I have really thought about in (in the writing of this article to be exact), the answer is still a resounding “No!”

I have to take back my ‘me’ time!  I have to get back into the habit that was mine for so long, where writing an article was part of my daily stuff – the daily stuff that matters.  I have to get back to doing what is best for me, in order for me to grow as a human being and an individual.

So if you are going through the same dilemma, understand it is about facing the ‘time thief’, even if that is you and taking control of your life.

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Are A South African Working In A Foreign Embassy


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Are A South African Working In A Foreign Embassy

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC July 2009

As you probably know, an Embassy is, according to international law, considered to be on foreign soil.  Therefore it you are a South African working in an Embassy you would be governed by the Labour laws of that particular country.

This however, does not apply to companies or branches of companies that are based in South Africa.

Here’s the story.

Mike is the Managing Director of a Foreign company in South Africa, whose Head Office is in the USA.

The USA Head Office officials decide that they do not like Mike’s management skills and he is dismissed without any kind of warning.  Mike refers his dismissal to the Bargaining Council.

The USA Head Office officials retaliate by stating that the Council has no jurisdiction because it was the Head Office in the USA, who dismissed Mike and not the officials that reside in South Africa.
The arbitrators are called in and it is decided that the Bargaining Council do have jurisdiction because of (but not limited to) the following issues.

• Although the Company’s Head Office was  in the USA, Mike was employed in the South African branch.

• The employer had to pay Mike’s legal costs.

Mike won his case, since the dismissal procedures, which apply to South Africa were not complied with.

Next week we will have a look at South Africans working in Foreign countries.

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Networking 101 - You have to focus on YOU to



You have to focus on You too

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Do you focus enough on you?  Strange question you may think, but here’s the thing. 

It  is always a good thing to focus on the other person at the right time, in fact it is critical to focus on the other person at the right time.  Having said that, first of all you need to understand yourself.  You need to understand who you are, what the difference is that you make.  What it is that you do, how you do it and why other people need whatever it is that you are selling.  You need to understand that your credibility needs to be intact and that you can and do meet the deliverable requirements.

Nick Heap calls this Your Core Process, whilst Roger Hamilton calls this “Being in your flow”.  Penny Power who is the founder of Ecademy ( calls this Emotional Understanding of your Self, your Emotional Wealth. 

Whatever you call it, it needs to be done and established before you start networking, or enter into any kind of networking discussion with anyone – if you want to come across as a ‘real’ person or the genuine article.

So take some time out, sit down with yourself and have a ‘heart to heart’.  Ask yourself the question – who are you?  What difference do you make, and if you don’t know, ask yourself what difference is it that you would like to make?  Be honest with yourself (and that does not mean that you have to beat yourself up).  Set yourself some realistic goals and when you know which direction it is that you are going in – so will the people that you engage with, believe me!

The time that you invest in yourself, will always yield far greater returns than the time that you don’t.
Nikki Viljoen is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist and she can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Business Tips - Computer Shortcuts - Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Computer Shortcuts – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC July 2010

Wow! Wow! And Wow again!  By now you all know that I am a bit of a technophobe, mainly because I don’t know and/or understand the technical terms and having grown up using a typewriter (and yes I learnt on one of those old fashioned ones that you had to use the leaver to turn up a line), the shortcuts that we have on a computer up to now have just been more than I could cope with.  Hell I only learnt how to cut and paste a year after I started my business – before that I just typed everything out every time (just as well I am pretty fast and accurate with typing on a keyboard hey!)

Anyway, I found this whole thingymabobby that gives lists and lists of shortcuts so I will be sharing this with you over the next couple of weeks.  Please note though that this does not mean that I understand all of the jargon – hopefully you guys and gals understand more than I do.

First up – Basic Shortcut Keys
Alt + F    File menu options in current program
Alt + E    Edit options in current program
F1    Universal help (for all programs)
Ctrl + A    Select all text
Ctrl + X    Cut Selected Item
Shift + Delete    Cut Selected Item
Ctrl + C    Copy selected item
Ctrl + Ins    Copy selected item
Ctrl + V    Paste
Shift + Ins    Paste
Home    Go to beginning of current line
Ctrl + Home    Go to beginning of document
End    Go to end of current line
Ctrl + End    Go to end of document
Shift + Home    Highlight from current position to beginning of line
Shift + End    Highlight from current position to end of line
Control +  <- a="" arrow="" at="" br="" left="" move="" nbsp="" one="" pointing="" the="" time="" to="" word="">Control + -> (arrow pointing right    Move one word to the right at a time

Now that wasn’t so bad – I must admit that although I did know some of these – many I didn’t.

Then -  Microsoft “Windows” Shortcut Keys

Alt + Tab    Switch between open applications
Alt + Shift + Tab    Switch backwards between open applications
Alt + Print + Screen    Create screen shot for current program
Ctrl + Alt + Delete    Reboot/Windows Task Manager
Ctrl + Esc    Bring up Start Menu
Alt + Esc    Switch between applications on taskbar
F2    Rename selected icon
F3    Start find from Desktop
F4    Open the drive selection when browsing
F5    Refresh contents
Alt + F4    Close current open program
Ctrl + F4    Close window in program
Ctrl + plus key    Automatically adjust widths of all columns in Window Explorer
Alt + Enter    Open properties window of selected icon or program
Shift + F10    Simulate right-click on selected item
Shift + Del    Delete programs/files permanently
Holding Shift During Boot-up    Boot safe mode or bypass system files
Holding Shift During Boot-up    When putting in an audio CD, will prevent CD player from playing.

Again I knew one or two of these, but certainly not the majority and now of course I will also have to irritate the heck out of my IT guy by asking all the ‘what does . . . . . mean?”.

More next week

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

Monday, August 18, 2014

MOTIVATION – Unleashed Imagination


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from William Arthur Ward who says “Nothing limits achievement like small thinking; nothing expands possibilities like unleashed imagination.”

How’s that for a mouthful of absolute truth!  We have an ad-campaign running here at the moment (although I forget what the product is) that has a young child saying something along the lines of “they say we should think of out the box!  I say throw the box away!”  The first time I heard it, I was astounded – not only by the words, but by my reaction to them!  You see as an Internal Auditor, many people out there think that I should dress a certain way and behave a certain way, much like a character in some soap opera.  It is their perception of how an ‘auditor’ should be.  I have never fitted into that particular box and I have no intention ever, of fitting into any kind of box, for that matter. 

I have always stated that I ‘think outside the box’ and yet here was a totally new concept!  Throw the box away!  How cool is that?  Not having a box to be inside or outside of meant, for me, that much more opportunity.  The mind boggled – well mine did anyway.

I guess that when most people say  that you need to ‘focus’ on the business, they mean always keep your mind on your business.  But what if . . . .  what if, we didn’t so much focus on the business, but rather take the focus off the business and we just allowed ourselves to see and I mean actually see what opportunities there are out there?  Remove the box from our vision, take the blinkers off or however you want to say it – but really look at the different ways that we could collaborate or form joint ventures or work opportunities!

For me it opens up a whole different view – this last week has seen me collaborating with Personal and Business Coaches, and mentors as well as graphic designers and power point facilitators.  I am doing trade exchanges with web designers and IT guru’s and Media people.

Now suddenly the more I look around me, the more opportunities I see.  The more opportunities I see the more my imagination finds ways for me to become involved, the more I become involved the more I am inspired.

So fire up your imagination, lose your blinkers and kick the box out of the way – there is more than enough to go around and there is no reason at all, for you not to have a share.

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

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Blogging 101 - Where else to look for ideas - Part 8

BLOGGING TIPS – Where Else to look for Ideas – Part 8

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC March 2013

Last time we looked at the opportunities around Free Writing, the Movies, reading Fiction and Nature, for inspiration or ideas for articles of interest that pertain to your particular passion.  Today we will have a look at a few more.

1.    Quirky Facts
Having been in business now for 11 years this year (yes I am one of those good statistics that we hear about from time to time), I have encountered several ‘strange but true’ incidents and often write about them.  Some of them are hilariously funny and I often find myself giggling away as I recount the story, but sadly some of them do not have happy endings and I feel a profound sense of sadness when I tell these stories because they more often than not tell of loss – so yes some of my clients have lost their businesses, their relationships and their livelihood.  Both kinds of stories however, are told not to gloat or because I want to embarrass anyone, but rather to illustrate what can and often does happen, so that these particular types of results can be avoided where possible.  Obviously it would not be a good idea to ‘name and shame’ anyone, so the identity of the client or real life protagonist is always kept confidential – but their stories are told and hopefully they serve to prevent similar types of issues from reoccurring.

2.    Stating the Obvious
Just because I have made a statement, what feels like a million times and in my mind every person on the planet has heard it, the reality is that there are still many more out there who haven’t!  Just like I always tell people not to ‘assume’ stuff, so should I listen to my own advice and make the statement again! The reality is that there will be someone out there who hasn’t heard the statement yet and who in all probability, is in desperate need of hearing it.  So go back to the beginning, to what are the ‘ground roots’ or the cornerstone of what people need to know.  It may feeling like you are caught up in or stuck in a ‘ground hog’ kind of situation, but you will most certainly be assisting someone.

3.    Taking a break
When all else fails, I put my pen down or switch the computer off and spend some quality time with my kittens.  I tickle their tummies or scratch their ears and under their chins and just revel in the marvel of unconditional love and trust that my animals bestow upon me.  They never cease to bring a smile to my face or give me pause to chuckle at their antics and even on occasion to squeal when my youngest unmarried daughter of the feline furry persuasion bites my toes or nips at my ankles, in her own little attempt to get my attention.  Often the distraction is all that was needed to take my attention away from the frustrations at hand and I am able to once again focus and get on with what needs to be said and done.

We are at the end of this particular series and I hope that these tips have provided you with some inspiration when you have those moments where your mind is a blank and you feel that there is nothing to write about.

Remember, as much as you may need to get that article out there, you also need to enjoy yourself, so as always “Happy Writing” and don’t forget to have fun!

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

Friday, August 15, 2014

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Member Steals From You


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Member Steals From You

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC – July 2009

Did you know that there are certain circumstances, when you can actually get remuneration from an employee’s pension payout, when they steal from you?  I must admit that until I did the research, I didn’t know that!  Here’s the story.

Mike owns a retail store in a busy mall and George is one of his salespersons.  Mike has been noticing that stock is slowly but surely going missing and his level of shrinkage is growing month by month.  Mike implements added procedures such as daily stock counts in an effort to sort the problem out.  As luck would have it, Mike catches George red handed (so to speak) as Mike watches, he sees George hide an expensive tie inside of his shirt and then walk out of the door to be met by someone down the corridor.  Mike follows at a discreet distance and watches as George removes the tie from his shirt and hands it to the other fellow.  As the fellow hands George money, Mike makes his presence known and catches George before he can run.

George is embarrassed at being caught and admits to have been stealing for a long time. Under Mike’s watchful eye, George writes out the incident report about ‘how’ he stole the tie.  Mike calls in the police and again insists that George make a statement about what he has stolen and George admits to stealing stock to the value of around R20 000 – this is documented.  Once the statement has been written, signed and witnessed, Mike gets a certified copy and is given a case number. 

Mike then holds a disciplinary in ‘Abstentia’ (remember George is locked up), George is found guilty of theft and dishonesty and he is dismissed.  Although George in this instance is not entitled to notice pay, he is still entitled to any leave that may be owing to him and also there is his pension fund. Mike pays  all the outstanding leave pay and monthly pay (up to and including the last day that George worked for the month) into George’s account and notifies the Pension Fund administrators that George is no longer employed by the company and that they should calculate his pension payout.

Mike also advises the Pension Fund Administrators that George has been dishonest and that he has admitted to theft and gives them a copy of the admission of guilt.  The Pension Fund Administrators are obliged to give Mike R20 000 out of George’s pension payout, prior to them paying the balance out to George.

Mike has followed the correct procedures.

The law you see, is actually quite fair as long as the correct procedures are followed.

Be aware though that had Mike not ‘driven the process’ himself, the Administrators would not have just automatically paid him out, out of George’s pension payout – Mike had to advise them that this is what he was entitled to and give them the documentary evidence that they required.

Please make sure though that you have a signed copy of admission from the employee, stating that they have been dishonest, or that they have stolen, or that they have committed fraud or that the loss experienced by the company was as a direct result of their ‘misconduct’.  Make sure that you get some sort of value on what has been ‘lost’ or that there is a judgment against them for the loss that you have incurred.

Don’t try and do this if the charge against the employee is merely one of ‘negligence’ – there has to be an actual loss and the loss has to be a result of dishonesty and oh yes, an unsigned e-mail or an ‘SMS’ is not sufficient proof.  Make sure that you get the errant employee’s signature on the document and make sure that they have admitted to the theft/fraud.  This will ensure that their ‘intent’ was clear and that you then get your money back.

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

Thursday, August 14, 2014

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . What Needs To Be On A Medical Certificate


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . What Needs To Be On A Medical Certificate

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC – July 2009

Mike owns a factory and George is one of his workers – George calls in sick on a regular basis and when he comes back to work, he does bring a doctors certificate with him. 

When George has taken sick leave for the 50th day in the same year, Mike starts getting suspicious because George never ‘looks’ sick when he is at work.  Mike starts his investigation by looking at the doctor’s certificates that have been given to him.

In terms of the BCEA (Basic Conditions of Employment Act) a doctor’s certificate must be signed and issued by a ‘registered Medical Practitioner’.  This means that it has to be someone who is ‘certified’ to diagnose and treat patients and who is ‘registered’ with a professional council that has been established by an Act of Parliament.

Here is the other information that must be on the medical certificate.
•    The name, address, qualification and practice or registration number of the practioner (please note that Mike is entitled to check that this information is correct).
•    The name of the employee.
•    The date and time that the employee was examined.
•    If the doctor actually saw the employee and diagnosed the illness at the time of examination, this should be stipulated on the certificate.  If the doctor did not examine the employee, but has issued the certificate based on what the employee has told him/her, this should also be stipulated on the certificate.
•    A description of the illness.  It must be noted here however that if the employee is not prepared to give consent for the illness to be stipulated on the certificate, then the Medical Practioner is entitled to document something along the lines of “my opinion, based on my examination of George Dladla is that he is unfit to work.”
•    The Medical Practitioner should also state whether the employee is totally ‘unfit to work’ or if the employee is ‘able to perform less strenuous duties’ in his/her working environment.
•    The exact period that the patient has been booked off for (this should indicate exactly which date the employee must return to work – so, not George is booked off sick for a week, but rather George ‘will return to work on Monday 20th July 2009.)
•    The date that the Medical Practioner has issued the Medical Certificate.
•    The Medical Certificate must be signed  by the Registered Medical Practioner.

In this particular instance, the Certificates that George was bringing to Mike were correct and Mike now has to decide whether he wants to dismiss George due to ill health.  How Mike deals with this situation is another story for another day.

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS – Bookkeepers & Financial Year End – Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Bookkeepers & Financial Year End – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – May 2011

I know that I continually harp on about getting the right bookkeeper/accountant in place – the reason for this is that having the wrong one can end up costing you an arm and a leg.

It is imperative that your bookkeeper/accountant advise you in advance of any changes that will affect you. Imagine the waste of money and resources if the Company owner only found out that the has to pay VAT monthly when he reaches the R35 million turnover per annum mark, 6 months after he has met that particular milestone?  The penalties and interest would be absolutely staggering!

The bookkeeper/accountant must also ensure that you are given monthly financial statements or management reports.  Here’s the thing though, if you are given reports and/or statements that you have no idea how to read, these reports/statements are actually not worth the paper that they are printed on!  So it is therefore incumbent upon the bookkeeper/accountant to make sure that you understand what it is that they are giving you.  There is no way that you can make an informed decision around the financial aspects of your business if you have no idea about what is going on.

In terms of the law, your Company is obliged to produce Annual Financial Statements.  This is to evidence to SARS (should they ask) what your financial status was during the course of the year and of course, so that your Company taxes can be correctly calculated. This must also be done timeously by your bookkeeper/accountant and they must be signed off correctly in terms of the law.

If, in terms of the law, your books must be audited, then it is the responsibility of the bookkeeper/accountant to assist the auditors with the auditing process and communicate and liaise with the auditors.

All of these issues should be done automatically and timeously by your bookkeeper/accountant, but that said you – the business owner remain accountable and responsible, so you need to manage your relationship with your bookkeeper/accountant to ensure that you are kept up to date.

As with most things in life, there are good bookkeeper/accountant’s and bad.  Make sure that whomever you choose is at the very least registered and properly qualified and remember that no matter how brilliant/qualified/professional they are – you are ultimately responsible, so ensure that you, at the very least, pick one that you can build a relationship with and not someone who is just a voice at the other end of the telephone and that you are not just another invoice that has to be raised every month.

Finally – understand that SARS will not accept “ignorance of the law” as a reason for you not doing or paying stuff.  Irrespective of whether or not you have a bookkeeper/accountant who did or didn’t do what needed to be done, it is your responsibility to ensure that things are done and you will be held accountable.

It’s your business at the end of the day and you need to keep your finger on the pulse.

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Networking 101 - Radiators and Drains


Radiators and Drains


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

I don’t know about you, but I have, of late, had to take a step back  from the world and do a bit of re-examining.  Not always the most pleasant thing in the world to do – but certainly something that must be done from time to time if you want to get rid of the ‘dead wood’ in your life and make sure that you are on the right path going in the right direction.

“Dead wood” is pretty much what I want to talk about today – and it is the ‘energy’ sapping, frustrating, pulling out of hair in frustration type of ‘dead wood’ in particular that I want to discuss.

We all have them in our lives – the Radiators and the Drains.  There are some people on the planet that you are just drawn to, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing (unless you yourself are a Drain!).  They give out the type of energy, or aura, or whatever, else you would like to call it that makes you feel good.  Those people are a pleasure to have around – they are fun to engage with or have any kind of interaction with as they usually give very freely of themselves and you come away from them with a smile on your face and a song in your heart and usually with a benefit or two, whether it is something that you have learnt or a joke that you have shared.  It’s that warm fuzzy feeling that tells you that all is good with the world today and you actually can’t wait to see them again – to engage in a mutually satisfying conversation or even debate.  These, clearly are the Radiators and it is always a good thing to have a few of them in your circle of influence, and hopefully you are also a Radiator and therefore a good thing in the circle of influence yourself.

Then, of course, you have the Drains – these are the people who I (not so) affectionately call human vampires!  They suck and draw out all your energy and then off they go on their merry way to their next un-suspecting victim and you are left behind in an exhausted heap. Not much fun at all.

The dilemma arises when some of your client’s and/or the people that you network with, are Drains.  The rest you can walk away from or see as seldom as you can – but with clients and people who you meet at networking events, this is not always that easy to do.

A lot of it has to do with the energy that you yourself give out.  It could be that if you are ‘down’ or not in a good space yourself – the negative energy that you are giving out is simply attracting the wrong people and it means that they will, in all probability bring you down even further.

It is critical for you to attract the right kind of people, when you are networking.  You yourself need to be happy, passionate about what you do and interesting to those around you and those that you meet at networking events. You need to be ‘on fire’ for life, for your business, for the things that you hold dear to you.  Most importantly you need to protect yourself from the Drains, so mixing and/or attracting other Radiators is always a good thing – safety in numbers I think!  All that positive energy driving the negative away!

Drains you see, feed of off people to get their energy.  Radiators get their energy from inside of themselves (well at least I do) and that is obviously is like gold, a very sort after commodity.

Well, I’m off to get rid of some of the ‘dead wood’ drains in my life and I know that this will also let in some more Radiators, can never have enough Radiators!

So, who are you?  Where do you get your energy?  Are you a Drain or a Radiator?  
Nikki Viljoen is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist and she can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Monday, August 11, 2014

Motivation - Where we stand


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from Johann Wolfgan Von Goethe who said “The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.”

Well I don’t know about any of you, but I certainly would like to be moving in a forwardly direction!

On a personal level though, I think that we as individuals don’t take enough time and trouble to stop – turn around and see just how far we have come.  I mean think about it for a moment, how on earth would be know if it is the greatest thing in the world or not, if we don’t even acknowledge that we are moving forward and not sideways or backwards, although I am sure we are very conscious of that fact when it occurs!

For me it is not just ‘moving’ forward and achieving that is important, but also acknowledging to myself that I am moving forward and that I am in fact achieving – otherwise what would be the point?

I know that I am certainly very guilty of this oversight.  Once a year though, on New Years eve in fact, (I don’t celebrate New Year, in the traditional sense – but that is another story for another time), I discourage visitors and switch the phone off, light the fire – a huge big fire, open up a bottle of particularly good red wine and have a braai (or barbeque for those who are not “African”) for one. 

Now I know that that may sound frightfully morbid or sad, but for me it is extremely self satisfying.  You see, it is the time of the year that I take out the goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the year, I ‘tick off’ and acknowledge each one of the goals I have achieved that were on the list, and add all the goals that were not on the list but that I have achieved anyway -  and the ones that I haven’t – well they couldn’t have been that important anyway (and if they were – then  I add them onto the new list).

I think that we as individuals are so busy chasing after the goals that we have set and beating ourselves up about the ones that we did not achieve, that we forget about the ones that were not on the list, but that we have achieved anyway.  Situations change, perceptions change, new opportunities present themselves and yet we somehow feel the need to rigidly stick to something that was written down on paper.  Why?  My answer to that is this, once I have ticked off all that I have achieved, added all the ones that weren’t there – I drink a toast (well several actually) to myself, pat myself on the back and burn the list with the goals on it!  Why you may ask?  Well it’s quite simple, I don’t want a constant reminder of what I did not get to,  glaring at me all the time, so I erase it! 

Then I make a new list for the new year – a clean slate with new exciting visions and attainable goals – well attainable as I write them down on New Years eve.  But hey, guess what?  Situations change, perceptions change and new opportunities present themselves, so nothing that I write down on my piece of paper is carved in stone and it’s not the end of the world if I don’t achieve them because, well, next New Year’s eve, they too will be celebrated and then burnt.

Do I ever have any regrets?  Sure I do – one of them is that I only perform this ritual once a year.  It doesn’t seem like it is often enough.  Perhaps I will put it on my list this year, that I will perform this ritual twice a year!  Yip, that’s what I will do and if I manage to achieve that, then I will drink a toast (or maybe several) and if I don’t – well, it’s not the end of the world – you see, I will have achieved other goals, I will have acknowledged that I am moving forward in the right direction, I will have recognized and done something with the new opportunities that presented themselves and I will have celebrated all of that.

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

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Blogging 101 - Where else to look for ideas - Part 7

BLOGGING TIPS – Where Else to look for Ideas – Part 7

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC February 2013

Last time we looked at the opportunities around what the last year brought, Everyday Activities and Hiatus, for inspiration or ideas for articles of interest that pertain to your particular passion.  Today we will have a look at a few more.

Free Writing
I have recently come across a style of blog writing called “Free Writing”.  Now apparently what you do is ensure that you will not be disturbed by phone calls or e-mails etc., decide on a small amount of time (like 10 or 15 minutes), sit down and just start writing.  Don’t worry about your mind wandering, just let your thoughts guide the writing.  Once you are done, you will obviously discard some of what you have written, but you will also be astounded by some of the profound things you have written.

Don’t be scared of your imagination.  Don’t be scared by the playfulness of your inner child, just have fun.

I often use movies, both the big screen and the small screen, that I have recently watched to illustrate a particular point that I am trying to make.  When your readers identify themselves with a favorite actor or actress or indeed even a favorite movie or show, they often ‘get’ the point that you are  trying to make a whole lot easier.

Read fiction
Read fiction – lots of it!  Sure it is also great to read factual type books, but fiction and fantasy are also wonderful.   Quite honestly, they inspire me and I am often amazed by the minds of the authors and how their brains work.  In particular authors like Dean Koontz, who is well known as a ‘horror story’ writer, and what about fantasy writers like J K  Rawling and her tales of Harry Potter or J R R Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings series, who wrote of hobbits and fairies and made up languages – what incredible imaginations they must have, what incredible minds . . . .  and their stories . . . that transport you to magical places.  They terrify, they horrify, they intrigue and mystify you but most of all they entertain you and that is exactly what your blog should do – entertain your readers.

Years ago before everyone had a computer or the internet was available to many, I used to travel a great deal for work.  I also have a really great Russian friend Olga, who is married to a Greek chap and who lives on a tiny island in Greece.  We corresponded regularly and I introduced her to this incredible country by mail.  As I travelled and mostly drove to wherever I was going I would compose my letters to her in my head.  From the wide open spaces and “Big Sky” country of the Free State, to the magnificence of the Drakensburg and beauty of the Cape and the breathtaking views in the Eastern Transvaal.

Wherever I visited I bought picture postcards and then told the story of my journey there and what I saw around me.

More than 15 years later we still correspond regularly via SKYPE.  We chat often and she tells me that she often goes back to her bundle of letters and post cards from me, during the long cold winter months and imagines herself travelling those roads and seeing those sights.

I certainly learnt a lot about South Africa as I looked around me and I mean really looked.  There is nothing like having to describe something that you take for granted to make you open your eyes and really see!

Next time we will have a look at some more ideas to keep those blogs flowing. Until then “Happy Writing” and don’t forget to have fun!

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

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Blogging 101 - Where Else to look for Ideas – Part 6

BLOGGING TIPS – Where Else to look for Ideas – Part 6

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC January 2013

Last time we looked at the opportunities around Television, being Angry or Upset and Victory and Defeat, for inspiration or ideas for articles of interest that pertain to your particular passion.  Today we will have a look at a few more.

Share the lessons that you have learnt during the course of the past year and maybe some of what you consider to be your greatest achievements.

In terms of ‘lessons learnt’, if you have had to learn the lesson the hard way, I am sure that there are many individuals out there who would really appreciate not having to go through the angst and  anxiety themselves.

When you share your achievements it might be a good idea to take your readers on the journey as you experienced it as there may be someone who is on a similar journey who will be motivated and inspired by your achievements.

Everyday Activities
For me the ‘everyday activities’ are about the routine things that I have tasked myself to do every day, like for example the writing of my blog. It might be a good idea to explain ‘why’ you have chosen to perform these tasks on a daily basis and how you feel once the task has been completed.  Again for me, writing is extremely important as it is part of the ‘creative’ side of me.  If I don’t write something every day, then I am not ‘balanced’ and that causes its own set of complications. So once my blog for the day is written I feel that I have released my creative energy for the day and that brings about a sense of peace and well being – clearly a great way to start the day.

Believe me when I tell you that you can literally write something to death!  I know I did.  When I first started on my ‘blogging’ journey, all I wrote about was “The Power of Networking” – 170 odd blogs on Networking later, I found myself procrastinating every time I had to write another article and realized that I was all blogged out on the subject.  So I stopped writing about Networking and found something else to write about.  Am I still passionate about Networking – of course I am, but I can find no more to write on the subject and it is still all there for anyone to read.

Also, sometimes the creative juices are just not there – don’t force it, give yourself a break for the day or several days for that matter – you can always come back to it and re-kindle your passion for writing.

Remember though, if you do not enjoy what you are doing, then what is the point!  Always have fun!

Next time we will have a look at some more ideas to keep those blogs flowing. Until then “Happy Writing” and don’t forget to have fun!

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

Friday, August 08, 2014

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Always Seem To End Up At The CCMA


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Always Seem To End Up At The CCMA

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC – July 2009

At a workshop that I was giving, the other day (A Basic Practical Guide To Starting A Business), one of the delegates made a statement that went something along the lines of “I don’t want to hire any staff because they are so difficult to get rid of and then you always end up at the CCMA and then end up having to pay huge fines – it’s all about the employee!”

To say that I was stunned, would be an understatement!  Then it hit me – apart from the ‘mindset’ out in the marketplace that the Labour Law only takes care of the employee and the employer just has to keep paying, there is also the mindset of ‘how difficult can it be – I can do it myself’!  Wrong, Wrong and Wrong again!

SMME’s (Small, Medium, Micro Enterprises) also seem to operate from the back foot.  They always seem to do things as a reaction to something.  Quite honestly it frustrates the hell out of me and what it does is add to the bottom line – the reality is they always end up paying through the nose and then they sit back and play the victim.

Here are some of the ways (but not limited to) in which you can avoid ending up at the CCMA or paying huge fines and penalties.

•    It is widely recognized that the quickest way to end up at the CCMA is, not to have procedures in place!  Having the correct HR, Administration and Operational Policies, Procedures and Templates will ensure that staff know exactly what it is that is required of them, they understand that there are consequences and they know what those consequences are.  Make sure that your procedures are within the letter of the law.
•    The next problem is that employers, in an attempt to save money, try and chair disciplinaries themselves.  That’s just not a good idea – to chair a disciplinary, you would need to, at the very least, have an idea of what the BCOA (Basic Conditions of Employment Act) and the Labour Relations Act says.  It’s like being your own lawyer in a court of law!  The reality of this is that it ends up costing you an arm and a leg, as you end up having to get legal advice anyway and it leaves you feeling like a victim of the law.  Don’t do it!
•    Many business owners think that the law is there to make life difficult.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  My take on this is that the law (and also policies and procedures) are legislated and implemented to protect us from our own stupidity.  Now, as you can imagine, I am often given quite a hard time by people when I make this statement.  The reality though is that laws are passed and procedures are implemented as a result of something that has happened.  No-body sits around all day, trying to think up ways to make life difficult.  People usually try and prevent something from happening again and again and they do this by means of either legislation and/or the implementation of Policies/Templates and Procedures.
•    Having an inexperienced Chairperson can also cause untold problems.  A Chairperson who is not competent or who cannot make a decision based on the facts, rather than the emotions – or who must report into an HR department or business owner, prior to ‘taking a decision’ is going to cost in the long run, when the employee goes to the CCMA.  So make a decision to get the right person in to chair the disciplinary.

So here’s the thing then – yes Labour legislation is 100% in favour of the employee – that said Labour legislation lays down the correct procedures for employers to dismiss staff legally.

So make a decision now – get your policies and procedures correct and make sure that they are properly implemented, get the right people in to do the disciplinaries and even if you do end up at the CCMA, chances are that the case will be dismissed.

It’s your choice – how you make it will mean the difference to your business.

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

Thursday, August 07, 2014

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need To Retrench A Single Person


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need To Retrench A Single Person

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC – July 2009

So let’s bring in the protagonists.  Mike owns a large factory that makes furniture with over 1000 employees and George is one of the workers.  The credit crunch hasn’t quite hit Mike’s business yet, but he does understand that he needs to tighten things up.  Mike does his research and he finds that there is one employee who is really not pulling his weight, who is constantly late and who is just generally difficult to work with and that is George.

Mike decides to use the current economic situation to ‘retrench’ George for operational reasons.  George is called in and Mike goes through the whole ‘retrenchment’ process  and George is subsequently ‘retrenched’ for operational requirements..

Here’s the problem – if, as is the case here, there are many employees, then the retrenchment process should have been done with all of the staff or at the very least all of the staff in the same department.  Although Mike followed the procedure, he only followed it for a single staff member instead of all of the staff.

In this particular instance – George decided that he would take Mike on as he decided that he thought that he had been ‘unfairly dismissed’.  Section 191(12) of the Labour Relations Act offers ‘a single employee who was retrenched a choice to refer a dispute to the CCMA for arbitration or the Labour Court for adjudication.”

Labour court cases usually cost a huge amount of money and so the rationale behind this choice was to give those who could not afford to take their cases to Labour court a chance to be heard.  It only accommodates however, instances where “i) a single employee was consulted and subsequently dismissed; ii) the dispute related to whether the dismissal was substantively fair.”

So George is able to take his case for arbitration since he was the only employee that was consulted and dismissed.

Be careful people, when it comes to retrenchment, it is better to consult to all and not to just single out one person.  It could become a really costly affair.

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

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Networking 101 - Surround yourself with like minded people



Surround yourself with like minded people

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Networking for me is also about building the right people around me.  Let me explain. 

Part of adding value, when I refer someone or add someone to my data base, is to have a selection of people who do not do what I do, but rather do what I don’t.  I need people who will do the things that are not my strengths.

Let’s explore this for a moment.  I am an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist and the fact of the matter is that I am very good at what I do – now that’s not a boast, it’s a fact.  I have the accolades (and the clients) to prove it.

One of the areas that I check when I am doing an assessment, is whether the client has got contracts in place and if so are they the correct contracts.  Now I am not a lawyer and I don’t profess to know too much about the law (other than it can get really confusing), so instead of that becoming a weakness (because I know that you have a problem, but I cannot solve it for you), I turn it into a strength (for me) and a value add (for both you and the specialist that I refer), by referring you to the correct lawyer for your problem. Notice I said the correct lawyer – not just a lawyer.  You see there are many different aspects to the law, so many lawyers choose to specialize.  The result is that I have a Contractual Lawyer, a Litigation Lawyer, a Trust Lawyer, a Labour Attorney and a Generalist Attorney. I also have a Tax Advocate and if pressed, I am sure I could find you a really mean Divorce Lawyer as well.

Just by knowing these people, I have increased my value and therefore the value to my Company.  I have provided a solution to a problem that my client had (notice had – the problem is now resolved), I have given work to a colleague who will now ‘remember’ me if anyone of their client’s needs the kind of help that I can give and I have increased and added to my ‘Circle of Influence’    How awesome is that?

So, although it appears that I work totally alone, I am actually a very small part of a very large team!  That’s not the end of the story either because, I tend to work with other individuals who are entrepreneurs and SMME’s, so I work with Specialists rather than generalists, which is what you usually find in the Corporate environment.  What does this actually mean though?  It means that you get assistance from people like me – people who are passionate about what it is that they do, rather than just people who work to put food on the table.

People who are determined to make a difference in your life and your business.  People who deliver what and when they say they will deliver. Now that for me is the biggest value add of them all!

Where do I get these people from, I hear you ask – well that’s simple to answer – from networking of course!
Nikki Viljoen is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist and she can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS – Bookkeepers & Financial Year End – Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Bookkeepers & Financial Year End – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2011

I’m really getting to the point where I am beginning to feel like I am ‘sounding like a broken record’!  Problem is that many SME’s don’t seem to be listening and that is really sad.

Every day I meet people who haven’t listened and who are now paying the price and I mean “paying” in every sense of the word.  People who are trying to negotiate payment plans with SARS and people who are trying to hide from the Sherriff of the court, who has arrived to attach their possessions and even people who have had to liquidate their businesses and their stories are all the same – they didn’t understand or know how to do the finances of their businesses.

If only they had listened!

Sure a good bookkeeper/accountant will cost you money.  Sure there will be administration that you will need to do on a daily/weekly/monthly and annual basis, but look at what you have to gain from than – a business where you actually know what’s going on!  For me there’s actually nothing worse than not knowing where I am financially.

Here are some of the things that a good bookkeeper/accountant should be doing for you (so NO, it’s not just about the numbers, it’s also about delivering a good service and understanding your business too).

Your bookkeeper/accountant should ensure that you are properly registered – not only as a company but with all the different legislative bodies that you need to be registered with.  You don’t automatically have to be registered with all of them as some of them are industry specific.  For example if you run a pub or bar or restaurant, you would need to have  a liquor license but if you run a book store you wouldn’t.  If you have staff, you need to be registered as an employer both with SARS and the Department of Labour, and so on.  Your bookkeeper/accountant would need to ensure that you are properly registered and that your annual fees (where applicable) are paid and up to date.

The bookkeeper/accountant should also ensure that your books are maintained on a monthly basis and that they are accurate and calculated and recorded and documented in compliance with the GAAP (Generally accepted accounting principals) requirements.

It is the responsibility of the bookkeeper/accountant to ensure that the monthly/bi-monthly and annual statutory requirements are met on or before the deadlines.

As most of you know by now, there have been many changes to legislation over the last few months, but here’s the thing – legislation changes all the time.  Your bookkeeper/accountant needs to keep up to date with, not only all the changes that have taken place, but also the changes that are being proposed for the future.  The bookkeeper/accountant should be keeping you up to date with all of the changes, especially in terms of SARS (VAT and Tax).  Changes in these two elements could have a financial implication on your company if they are not correctly and timeously implemented.

Next time we will look at some additional issues that your bookkeeper/accountant should keep you informed about.

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

Monday, August 04, 2014

Motivation - Without Dreams


By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from Harry Kemp, who says:

“The poor man is not he who is without a cent, but he who is without a dream.”

Well this is good news for me specifically, that’s for sure.  A great deal of my ‘down time’ is spent dreaming.  Sadly though, this is not the case for everyone.

I once had to interview of the staff members, for a client of mine.  He had just bought another company out and when the staff of both companies welded together, there were obviously a great number of overlaps.  So he needed to ascertain who was best for the job at hand. 
I did the interviews and checked what they were doing against what the job description was and then against what their CV’s said that they could do and then asked them what they wanted to do – what their passions were.

One chap looked at me quite blankly, when I asked him what his passion was.  He really struggled with the question, grappling for an answer.  Seeing his dilemma, I asked the question “If you won the lotto and you received R20 million, what would you do?”  Sweat broke out on his brow – he was still at a loss.  I asked him what car he drove, he told me it was a 1995 Mazda 323 (this interview took place in 2007), so I asked him, if money was not a problem, what car would he like to have.  He hung his head as if he had done something wrong.  My heart went out to him, it really did.

You see, he was married and his first child had just been born.  He came from a background that was extremely poor and his only focus was how to get food on the table, clothes on his back and a roof over his head.  When he married, his focus did not change, but now included the notion that he now had someone else to be responsible for, and when his baby daughter arrived it increased the pressure because now he had a family to provide for.  He was so busy putting one foot in front of the other that he had not taken the time out to dream!
How incredibly sad is that.

I tried to think how my life would be if I didn’t have dreams and I must admit, I never got it right – I could not imagine my life without the many pictures, video’s and cartoons that flood through my brain at regular interviews.  I’d probably be dead and even then considering my spiritual beliefs, I would still be getting those images!

It’s fun isn’t it – to dream about the next house that you will buy, the next car that you will drive, the places that you hope to visit, the businesses that you build?  Well I think it is!

My life certainly is much richer for the dreams that I have and for the many dreams, in my life that have actually come true – because it’s not just about dreaming, but also about making those dreams a reality.

So whatever it is that you do today, don’t forget to dream!

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

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Blogging 101 - Where else to look for ideas - Part 5

BLOGGING TIPS – Where Else to look for Ideas – Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC January 2013

Last time we looked at the opportunities around Lateral Thinking and even the Wisdom of our Parents, for inspiration or ideas for articles of interest that pertain to your particular passion.  Today we will have a look at a few more.

Now I know that there are many people out there who very seldom watch TV and whilst on some level I do understand their reasons, it is one of the ways that I relax and chill out.  Also, if I am really honest, there are several shows that I am particularly fond of (read absolutely hooked on).  The fact of the matter is that I learn from many of these shows, trying to figure out who the culprit is in all of the ‘who-dun-its’ and learning the life lessons on the fantasy and esoteric type ones and just pure enjoyment and predicting the winners on the reality ones.  Yip, it’s official – I love watching TV.  There I said it!

Actually I have used examples of what I watched and the lessons learned, in several of my blogs – two that come to mind immediately are when one of the contestants in a reality show dissed the opinion of one of the judges – that was a motivational piece on respect and the other was a woman who documented her every move (giving specifics like pictures and the name of the place that she was at and then the next place she was going to) on Facebook (I think it was  CSI or one of those profiling shows) – that was an early warning about the content we share online.

So very much like Celebrities, watching TV can spark an idea that you can link to your subject material to illustrate what you mean.

Anger or being Upset
Who would have thought that being upset about something that you have read/watched/listened to/seen (insert anything you like here) would produce some of the greatest articles that you have every written?  I know that there is nothing like a good rant to clear the air and for me writing it all down transfers the anger (or indeed sadness) from my mind onto the paper.  It is one of the ways that I have of ‘releasing’ the pain or the anger. Obviously, once you have calmed down, you need to edit it to ensure that you have all your ducks in a row and that you haven’t mentioned anyone’s name, or you could find yourself in trouble.  Again I have, on occasion used some of these writings to illustrate a point.  Two that come to mind immediately are the one I wrote on the unrealistic begging bowl type expectations of entrepreneurs and/or start ups, especially around the issue of funding and the other was also about an unrealistic expectation of someone who expected everything to fall into her lap, or everything done for her, without her actually doing anything herself!  Both really got my blood boiling!

Victory or Defeat
This is one that I have used on many occasions and this year will be no exception.  My friend Perle said to me one evening during the course of the holidays, as we sat on her balcony sipping at an extremely cold beverage as we watched the sunset dip into the ocean “What were your highlights in 2012 and what were your biggest regrets”?  I really had to think carefully about this and decided to split it into two separate camps – one being in my professional life and the other in my personal life.  In both instances there were huge lessons learnt, but it was only in the “looking back” that the lessons became clear and this only re-iterates my conviction that we need to ‘look back and see where we have come from and what we have achieved’ more often. 

This is a theme that I have written about on more than one occasion and clearly something that I will be writing about again, during the course of the year.

Remember though, if you do not enjoy what you are doing, then what is the point!  Always have fun!

Next time we will have a look at some more ideas to keep those blogs flowing. Until then “Happy Writing” and don’t forget to have fun!

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

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Blogging 101 - Where else to look for ideas - Part 4

BLOGGING TIPS – Where Else to look for Ideas – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC December 2012

Last time we looked at the opportunities around Justice, Karma and even the use of Satire, for inspiration or ideas for articles of interest that pertain to your particular passion.  Today we will have a look at a few more.

Lateral Thinking
I know that this one can sometimes be really difficult for people to get their heads around simply because many people are not lateral thinkers – so how about you try the word association game.  It’s the game where you start off with one word, any word – write it down, then when you picture that word in your mind, what is the next word or picture or thought that comes into your mind?  Write that one down and then the next and so on. Once you have finished you will find that you have written a really interesting blog, or a really hilarious one – depending on how your mind is wired.  I always have great fun with these and in fact, on the Business Master forum ( we sometimes, just for the fun of it do these, with different rules in place, such as (but not limited to) only 5 words at a time and only 3 posts a day and you cannot follow on from your own post.  They often go really pear-shaped because you have upwards of 20 people participating – different people, different mindsets, different ideas and different dynamics usually result in great fun!

Parents Wisdom
Do you remember, when as a kid, the stuff your parents said always was a pain in the rear end?  When I grew up however and I understood the meaning behind the words – they took on a whole different life.  Actually if the truth be told, there are many articles that I have written that contain snippets of stuff that my Dad used to say to me or even stories from my childhood. 

Writing those stories transported me to another time, to another place and have brought back memories of sounds and smells and laughter and I have no doubt that they have transported the readers as well.  Don’t be scared to write about them, don’t be scared to share them – the sharing will empower you.
Next time we will have a look at some more ideas to keep those blogs flowing. Until then “Happy Writing” and don’t forget to have fun!

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

Friday, August 01, 2014

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Staff Need to be Dismissed Fairly


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Staff Need to be Dismissed Fairly

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2009

So what does actually constitute a ‘fair dismissal’?

The CCMA usually looks at two specific aspects of what a ‘fair’ dismissal is by looking at either whether the dismissal is ‘substantive’ or ‘procedural’.  This means that a commissioner would look at the charges and/or the evidence and then decide whether the employee was dismissed substantively and procedurally fairly.

Substantively fair would mean ‘does the punishment fit the crime’.  For example if an employee was dismissed because he reported to work five minutes late for the first time in two years – this would be considered a ‘substantively unfair’ dismissal.

Procedurally fair would mean ‘were the correct legislative and company procedures followed’?  For example if the employee took money out of the till for taxi fair and was caught and just dismissed there and then, without a formal disciplinary hearing taking place – this would be considered a ‘procedurally unfair’ dismissal.

Also on the table is whether the employer is consistent in the manner in which the discipline is metered out.  Gone are the days when some staff can be disciplined and dismissed for a specific transgression and others, committing the same transgression, go unpunished or punished to a lesser degree.

So remember, discipline must be the same across every sphere – be it senior management, middle management and right down to the general worker.  Being consistent is an absolute must.

Procedural fairness ensures that the manner in which the disciplinary action has taken place together with the compliance of the disciplinary policy within the company is correct and fair.

Many CCMA cases are awarded to the employee, simply because the correct procedures were not followed and/or enforced.  It is therefore in the best interests of the employer to ensure that their policies and procedures are both compliantly correct and procedurally fair.

According to the Labour Relations Act, the consequence of not following procedure and issuing a procedurally unfair dismissal is financial compensation to the employee.  The compensation is limited to a maximum of 12 months of the employee’s salary.

The consequence of a substantive unfair dismissal is either financial compensation to the employee or the employer will be forced to re-instate the employee.  In the instances where the employee is re-instated, the employer will have to also pay the employee from the time that he/she was dismissed up to, and including, the time that they started working again.  Again the compensation (if they remained dismissed) would be limited to a maximum of 12 months of the employee’s salary.

 The value of the compensation is governed by the severity of the unfairness of either the procedure and/or the substantive nature of the employer.

In other words, the less the employer follows the BCEA (Basic Conditions of Employment Act) and the Labour Relations Act, the greater the amount of compensation that will be awarded to the employee.

The high number of cases where the employee is awarded compensation, together with the value of the compensation, evidences that employers are not following the correct procedures and this means that they are then obliged to pay huge fines or penalties.

Losing great sums of money in this manner, in my opinion is like committing financial suicide.

The bottom line therefore is quite simple.  Ensure that you have the correct policies and procedures in place.  Not only will this ensure that you are in compliance with the law, it will also remove all the emotion from the workplace and the situation.

Should you require assistance with obtaining templates, procedures and/or templates are affordable prices, please contact Nikki Viljoen.

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