Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Networking 101 - Be clear about what you do



Be Clear About What You Do

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Get out there and tell people what it is that you do and how they can benefit from a business relationship with you.”

I don’t know about you guys but my crystal ball doesn’t work very well.  Actually if the truth be told, it doesn’t work at all!

I need people to tell me what it is that they do – they need to explain it in detail.  Particularly if their business is based around being a consultant.  I mean exactly what is it that you consult about?

The same goes for someone who does training, what is it that you train?  Tell me, I can’t just guess!

Sometimes getting information out of people is like pulling hen’s teeth!

Remember, I cannot refer you if I don’t know what it is that you do – so put it out there – tell me what it is that you do, I will then tell you what I do and we can see what kind of synergies we have together and we can also see who we can refer each other to, in our respective data bases, thereby adding value to both.

A win/win situation – wouldn’t you agree?

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at 

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Business Tips - You are not alone

BUSINESS TIPS – You are not alone

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – December 2014

Being an Entrepreneur is not for sissies! It’s tough – really tough! Especially when you are starting out.  You have to be all that there is and more.

You’re the person in charge of operations, administration, bookkeeping, compliance, HR and Marketing.  Then you usually have to be the cleaner, the delivery guy and the tea person too.  Don’t forget all the research and legal stuff and legislative stuff that also has to be done not to mention procurement and . . . . and so the list of things that have to be done goes on and on! Yep, the life of an Entrepreneur is often very hard and often very lonely.

It gets even worse though when you experience a problem that you are not sure how to deal with because it is outside of your realm of experience.  You will often feel that the weight of the world and your burdens are crushing you, squeezing all of your inspiration out of you and killing your spirit.

It can get so bad that you get to the point where you are ready to just throw in the towel and give up.  The angst, the uncertainty and sheer enormity of the undertaking before you is just so overwhelming, it’s just too much!

Believe me when I tell you that we have all been there at some point or another!

The reality of course is that you don’t have to isolate yourself and do this all on your own.  Ask for help – what’s the worst that can happen?

In my experience the worst that can happen is that that particular person cannot help because they themselves do not have the experience, but believe me when I tell you that there are always people out there who are more than willing to help.

Let’s take it one step at a time.

Firstly, as you are starting out, get advice from the start and I am not talking about advice from your mates who are all working for other people and who have never run or started a business themselves.  I am talking about help from Entrepreneurs who are already up and running and who have already gone through (and survived and prospered) what you are currently going through.

Understand also, that in all probability you will need advice of one kind or another all the way through the rest of your career as an Entrepreneur.  Even the most successful Entrepreneurs still have mentors and advisors, why would you be any different?

When you start out and are still in the planning stages and you are confused about the ‘how to’, differentiate your product or service from your competition or how to ‘price’ yourself, the easiest way is to actually use your competitors to improve your products or services.  What are they selling that you can improve on?

Once you are up and running you need to measure on a regular basis. What are your customers experiencing?  Are they satisfied with the experience? Are they happy with the product? What or how can you improve?

As an Entrepreneur there will come a time when you have a difficult or disgruntled client.  That is just the reality of doing business.  As difficult as it may be for you to deal with angry or upset customers, it is something that you need to do  and please understand that it should be done sooner rather than later.  Making an angry customer ‘wait’ before you contact them is not going to endear them to you in any way – if anything it will fuel the fire.

Keep yourself up to date with social media channels, especially those that are the home for complaints.  Often this is the first place where you will become aware of a problem.

Keep yourself informed – you need to know what is happening in the markets around you.  Depending on what industry you are in, it will often give you an advantage.

Finally, talk to your mentors and coaches - the people who know you best.  The people whose ‘common sense’ (although that is a very rare commodity these days), or logical type advise is just what you need to hear and then really listen to what they say.

Often when you are not talking to them it is because your sub-conscious is telling you that you are doing something wrong – something that they would advise you against.

So listen to and really ‘hear’ what is going on around you – it may mean avoiding a world of pain  further on down the line.

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

Monday, December 29, 2014

Motivation - Put pen to paper

MOTIVATION – Put Pen to Paper

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC August 2009

Even before I started my business in 2003 (yes I am a statistic – a good statistic), my friend and mentor Vanessa, kept telling me that I should write.  “Write it down, it will become your affirmation . . .” she kept telling me and I promise you, I really resisted – hard!

I resisted like you wouldn’t believe – you see, for many years, while working in the Corporate sector, I wrote procedures – hundreds and hundreds of procedures and I felt stifled by the thought of having to write.  The mere thought of writing anything made my heart sink and my mind rebelled – so I resisted.  Silly me!

About 9 years ago I got really interested in blogs.  It seemed like everywhere I went, I heard about blogs and so began my research.  At some level, even if it was subconsciously, I understood that although the electronic age is upon us and many people don’t even know how to manually write anymore, information is critical and in order to share that information with people other than one person at a time it is necessary to write.

And so my blog was born.  In view of the fact that I was so anti writing at this point, it was pretty limited to a networking tip, once a week.  The rest of my posts usually comprised of some or other interesting titbit which I then reproduced on the blog and made comment on.

As my reluctance to write dissipated, I found that I had more to say on issues relating to small business and more importantly I found that I was actually pretty good at writing and then horror of horrors, I found that I actually rather enjoyed writing and I allowed myself to expand my writing to several other topics.  Topics like Motivation and Business Tips as well as Sales and Marketing, HR and of course my passion about Networking.  Hell I even started writing new procedures again.

So what has this got to do with writing down affirmations?  Well you see as I write and document my thoughts, I often find that I not only write about what I have researched or what my observations are, in terms of what the issues are that face small business owners, but I also seem to write down what I most need to hear.  The words do not only pertain to the facts and the figures, but also to the emotions and feelings that I happen to be experiencing at that moment in time and of course don’t forget they also reflect my particular brand of humour. 

These feelings somehow appear on the page and they are in fact, my feelings, my hopes, my fears, my joys, my expectations and therefore my aspirations – but they are also often things that I need to hear or be told – ironically I am the doing the telling!  How cool (and a bit weird) is that?

Writing has now become a part of my life and I can now, no longer even imagine a day going by without me putting pen to paper.

Much of my writing does not appear on my blogs, or in the newspaper or in magazines – much is for my own pleasure and most of it is written by hand with my 38 year old fountain pen.  Much of what I have written has been very painful and much has brought about tears of laughter as I remember things, ideas, dreams and moments in time.  That said, ALL of it has helped me to see things more clearly, to grow both in my business and also within myself.

All of it has challenged me and stretched my mind and all of it has been beneficial to me as a person.

So let me be “my” Vanessa to you – write down your aspirations, write them down daily or even twice a day or more.  Write them down and see how much more clearly you look at the world around you, look at how much you grow and how much easier you find it is to achieve your goals.

Just write it down . . .

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

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Motivation - Problems & Challenges

MOTIVATION – Problems & Challenges

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

This was submitted to Thought for the Day by Juanita Welgemoed.  “Now is the time to change all your problems into challenges.”

I am sure that I was not the only one, to take some time out over the holidays, to reflect on what has gone right in my business over the last year and what has gone wrong and why.  Now the things that have gone right and why they have gone right is aways a good thing and it is usually quite easy to replicate what you did before in order for it happen that way again.

It’s the issues of what went wrong and how to resolve those issues that is always a tad more difficult.

But what if . . .  what if, instead of seeing these issues as problems that have to be agonized over, or beating ourselves up over problems that we don’t seem to be able to resolve, what if we turn them into challenges.  Challenges that can provide us with alternative income streams, or where we collaborate or joint venture with others in order to use the problem in its alternative form and turn it into a positive.

Think about it for a moment.  Take crime for example – 30 or so years ago, we did not have hi-jackings or armed robberies (well not if you weren’t a bank).  There were very few walls, let alone gates and electric fencing and the like around residential areas and homes.  As the problem of crime became progressively worse (for whatever reason), instead of moaning and griping about how bad the crime was, people started doing things to help themselves and so a problem was turned into a challenge and an opportunity.

Can you imagine the challenges that the first ‘armed response’ company had to face, with no infrastructure in place.  The vehicles, the training of the guards, the control rooms that operate 24/7 and so on – today I am sure that you would agree that it must have been quite a daunting task, but they took the challenge on and they turned it into a positive.

Does that make crime right?  Of course it doesn’t.  Has crime gone away?  Of course it hasn’t and the challenges that they face today, I am sure, are of a completely different nature.  Today, 30 years later, the people who chose to bemoan the problem of crime, are probably still moaning and groaning.  Yes they have the car alarm, the armed response and alarm contract, the electric fence and everything that goes with it, but it has ‘cost’ them financially and they are still moaning.  Those that turned the problem into a challenge have made money out of it and will continue to do so as they change newly acquired problems into challenges.

The bottom line of course, is that we can choose to take a problem and look at it, cry about it, talk about it, bang our head against it and perhaps even try and solve it – or we can choose to take that problem and turn it into a challenge or an opportunity.

The choice is entirely ours.

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

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Motivation - Taking Action

MOTIVATION –  Taking Action?

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – May 2012

Todays’ quote comes from Al Batt who says “It is easy to sit up and take notice.  What is difficult is getting up and taking action.”

I must admit I did have a quiet chuckle about this one.  I guess I have watched too many movies where the wife yells at the husband at every possible opportunity “You never take any notice of me or what I am saying!”  Honestly speaking, not only is he not taking notice, he is also not doing anything about the problem either and the more she continues to shout and scream, the less likely he is to pay any attention or take any action.

For me, just like it’s not having the knowledge that makes me powerful, it is what I do with that knowledge that makes me powerful – taking notice without putting the action into play is just a complete waste of time!

To be quite honest I am completely at a loss with people who are inactive.  I think in the grand scheme of things, many people do not understand that there are also consequences for inaction.  Most people understand (although they may not accept) that there are consequences for your actions, but few understand that there are also consequences for inaction – it’s the whole “but how can you hold me accountable – I did nothing!”  The fact that your doing nothing resulted in the consequences is, for some reason, more difficult for some people to wrap their heads around.

Here’s an example – you’re driving from Johannesburg to Cape Town – you see the petrol gauge moving from “F” to “E” slowly but surely.  You continue on your journey going through one town after another – passing one petrol garage after another, but not stopping to fill up.  Clearly the consequence of that behavior is that eventually the car will run out of petrol and you will come to a standstill.  You have done nothing and there is a consequence.  This is a consequence of your non-action. Conversely, you have stopped at the garage to fill up with fuel, but the petrol attendant filled up with diesel instead of petrol – now that is a consequence of an action that took place.

Many folk seem to float through life without committing to anything – people who
Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Friday, December 26, 2014

HR 101 - Trapping and Entrapment


Trapping and Entrapment – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

Winning at the CCMA as an employer is extremely difficult, usually because the employer is always the accused and as the accused you are always ‘seen to be guilty until proven innocent’!  Is this fair?  Of course not, but that is the perception and it is therefore up to you, as the employer to prove your innocence.

The most import three factors that you, as the employer need to take into consideration when attempting to convince the CCMA that you dismissed your staff member fairly are:

-    that your employee was guilty of the offence, be it misconduct or poor performance.  Having a case that is not ‘rock solid’ in this instance will just not cut the mustard!
-    Trying to get rid of an employee because “you have too many”, does not help your case.  If you are in this situation, bite the bullet and go the retrenchment route, don’t try and use evidence that is really not strong enough and not worth the paper it is written on – it will cost you more in the long run.
-    Make sure that you can ‘prove’ your evidence.  Many employers in a frustrated attempt to get rid of a ‘bad apple’ resort to illegal means to gather their evidence and make their cases stronger.  This is really not a good idea and will also cost you big time in the long run.

Here’s the difference between what is legitimate and not:

-    getting your facts together by conducting a proper and thorough investigation of the course of events.
-    Using your policies, procedures, templates and any other documentation that were used as proof to back up your facts.
-    Using video footage and/or audio tapes (or any other electronic methods) and/or polygraph tests, stress tests, voice analysis, handwriting tests etc to back up your documentary evidence – remember the staff member will have had to give you written permission to perform these tests.
-    Having witnesses who can corroborate your evidence and who will give testimony on the course of events as they occurred.
-    Laying traps for the employee and supplying evidence of how those traps were laid and the course of events that employee followed and the result thereof.

-    Using documentary evidence and/or video and/or audio evidence that has been falsified in any way.
-    Using witnesses who lie in order to ‘prove’ your case.
-    Forcing your employee to confess by using his family/his work etc as the reason he should confess.
-    Entrapment, which basically means that you lay a trap and then force the employee to fall into it.

Please don’t get confused between the two.

Next week I will give you a story example of exactly what entrapment is and highlight the difference between Trapping and Entrapment.

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Networking 101 - Make Loads of Notes



Make loads of notes

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Write notes and reminders on the business cards, which will over time jog your memory.”

Well I don’t know about you, but I am really bad with names and faces.  I have been like that all of my life – ironically though I can remember what the US$ rate was in 1977 (it was 1.12 with the Rand being the stronger), but when it comes to names and faces – well they just escape me.  I no longer apologise, it is not meant disrespectfully – some times things just are what they are.

So as you can imagine, I really have to work hard at trying to remember who is who, when I meet a whole bunch of people at a networking event!  As soon as is practical, I make notes on the actual card as to what they do and what I want to talk to them about when I meet them, I also make a note of which event I met them at so that when I phone and remind them who I am I can use the name of the event as clarification.  Often I can hear on the phone, that they can not quite place me and then when I mention the name of the event, they suddenly remember – it works all the time.

When I load the contacts onto my database, I make notes again of where I met the individual and what it is that they do (often the card does not give any kind of indication of what it is that the person does, especially if they are consultants), so that when I meet with them I have a broad kind of understand about what it is that they do.

Keep your notes up to date and keep your data base up to date too, for the best results and to reap the highest value from  it.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Business Tips - The New Consumer Protection Act

BUSINESS TIPS – The New Consumer Protection Act

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC - November 2010

There’s a lot being said about the New Consumer Protection Act that came  into effect at the beginning of April 2011 and like so many of the Acts that we are seeing being introduced of late, there are some good things and some potentially bad things.

I am particularly excited about the clause that deals specifically, with fixed term contracts.  Finally, we Joe Public, will get a little relief from some of the wolves that abound.

I have no doubt that we have all been caught by the contract that we sign, originally for one year and then we have about a nano-second to advise them in writing, that we no longer want to continue with the contract, before it rolls over again and we are locked in for another year.

You know the ‘re-newable’ contracts, like the gym memberships or the cell phone contract or what about the newspaper or magazine subscription?  Yeah – those ones.

Come end of March 2011, not only will these clauses have very little effect but we, as consumers, will also be able to cancel any fixed term agreement prematurely!  Now that’s fantastic news.

Sure there is a procedure needs to be followed but the fact of the matter is it can be cancelled and that is what is important.

The Consumer Protection Act, will allow the consumer to cancel the fixed term contract at any time as long as the consumer gives the supplier 20 (yes twenty) business days notice.

The notice has to be in writing or alternatively “in any recorded manner” (beware of the institutions who say that they are recording you for whatever reason – rather make sure and have your own recording).

To be fair, the supplier also is not left without any recourse.  The supplier ‘may impose a reasonable cancellation penalty for any goods, services or discounts that were supplied to the consumer on the assumption that the agreement would continue for the proposed fixed term” according to Roy Bregman of Bregman attorneys.

Oh – and of course, if the consumer stills owes the supplier any money up to and including the period that the contract was terminated – that still needs to be paid, so don’t be thinking that you can just cancel the contract because you are behind in your payments – you will still be liable for those .

That said, if the consumer did not receive discounts or goods or services that the supplier can claim for, the supplier would be hard pressed to find ‘reasonable’ cause to implement the penalty.  I like Roy’s example of this so I am going to use it (thank you Roy).  If you have signed up for two years worth of dance lessons, you are paid up to date and you did not receive any discounts and you cancel the contract 18 months into the deal, the supplier, in this case would find it very difficult to substantiate a reasonable penalty for early cancellation.

Sure a ‘rolling’ type contract would continue and not come to a dead halt.  That would not be good at all if you say had that kind of contract with your internet provider and then suddenly one Sunday morning, you have no internet coverage because your contract expired on Saturday night at midnight.  From what I understand, these types of contracts “would automatically continue on a month to month basis, unless the consumer expressly directs the supplier to cancel the agreement on expiry date or agrees to a renewal of the agreement for a further fixed term” writes Roy.

In the event that a contract carries this clause, the supplier would have to notify the customer about the contract that is about to expire.

The customer would need to be notified, of this during a period of between 40 and 80 business days prior to the existing contract’s expiry date and any changes to the contract should also be notified at that time.  If notification does not take place the contract would automatically be renewed, but would continue on a month to month basis.

Obviously, once the contract is in the ‘month-by-month’ category, either the customer or the supplier would be able to terminate the contract by giving a single months’ notice.

The bottom line of course, is that it is up to the consumer to READ the contract before signing it.  Sure it is up supplier to be transparent and up front with what their expectations are, but consumers also need to take responsibility for their actions.

In conclusion – don’t sign anything that you haven’t read and that you don’t fully understand.

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

Monday, December 22, 2014

Motivation - Perseverance

MOTIVATION –  Perseverance

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – December 2010

H Jackson Brown says “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins – not through strength, but by perseverance.”

Ain’t that the truth!

On a personal level, I find that when I am going through a particularly rough patch or trying time, the only way to get through it is to ‘Grit’ my teeth, square my shoulders and put one foot in front of the other and just keep going – sooner or later you have to come out the other end.

I remember my favorite teacher at junior school – her name was Olga Barrett, and she was the strictest disciplinarian in the school – stricter than even the headmaster.  Mrs. Barrett saw something in me that I don’t think anyone else saw.  She saw my ‘heart’ and understood that I was different to the other kids.  She saw that although I was by no means gifted or genius, but that my mind need to be stimulated differently.

She saw that I was determined to succeed, but that I went about things differently and instead of trying to force me into a mold as the other teachers seemed hell bent on doing,  she took my tenacity and taught me how to harness that energy, that spirit, that heart . . . and then use it to my own advantage.

Olga Barrett, encouraged me to reach for the stars and not give into the challenges that would come my way.  Instead of forcing me to look at the world through her eyes, she tried to see it through mine.

Her patience and perseverance with helping me to achieve and be all that I can be, certainly went far beyond the call of duty and I will be forever grateful to her.

That tenacity and perseverance has certainly allowed me to meet the challenges and heartache that I have endured in this life time and I have no doubt that it will continue to serve me to the end of my days.

So remember, if your life is challenging or if there is something that you really want, because you have dared to dream – square your shoulders, grit your teeth and put one foot in the front of the other and just keep going.

You will eventually get there.

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

Motivation - Perseverance

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Motivation - Playing the Victim

MOTIVATION – Playing The Victim

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – October 2009

Stedman Graham says “People who consider themselves victims of their circumstances, will always remain victims unless they develop a greater  vision for their lives.”

That just hits the spot!  I am so tired of hearing about people being ‘previously disadvantaged’ and the ‘suffering’ and the rest that goes with it.  The racist card is played at every opportunity and the ‘poor me’ card brought out at the drop of a hat and yet we don’t seem to do anything about it.

A couple of months ago I wrote an article for the Business Report in the STAR Newspaper on “Intimate Relationships in the Workplace”.  You can just imagine the responses that I received!

One woman phoned me to tell me that her husband is having an affair at work and then asked me what to do.  Well I am no ‘agony aunt’ and I am certainly not a medical person who is qualified to hand out this kind of advice, but what I can do is voice an opinion on what I would do if I were in the same circumstances.  This woman, (lets call her Jane) was quite indignant about the fact that her husband was ‘lying to his children, imagine’ and yet . . . here she was telling a total stranger intimate details of her personal life.  She laid it on thick, telling me ‘when and where’ he met up with his illicit romantic partner and that ‘everybody’ at his work knew about it and yet they did nothing.  The truth is of course, that it’s not their job to do anything, it’s hers.

You see Jane really got off by playing the victim and the martyr, she could gain everybodys sympathy and this made her feel like a worthwhile person, it also was the only kind of attention that she seemed to be getting.  When she paused for a breath, to tell me some other despicable thing that he had been doing, I asked her why she had not turfed all his stuff out onto the street and changed the lock on the door.  She seemed quite taken aback by the very mention of that.  I told her that she had given him permission to act the way he was acting because of her inaction.  By not doing anything when she found out about the affair, she was telling him that it is ok for him to treat her in this manner – so of course he did, constantly.  Furthermore, she was also lying to the children, every time she made an excuse about where he was at night.

Jane was gobsmacked for a few seconds and could not get the words out to say anything.  I suspect that I had just taken the wind out of her sails and she was taking a good hard look at what she was doing too.  Finally she agreed with me saying that she had never looked at it like this before.

Is Jane still with the wondering husband – I have absolutely no idea.  What I do know though is that Jane stopped in her tracks and probably for the first time in her life understood that she could change her circumstances by changing the way the she responded to things.  Whether she has made the changes in herself and her circumstances or not, is a whole different ball game, but I do know that she is now aware of what she is doing and hopefully she will make the changes that she needs to make.

Going back to apartheid and the ‘previously disadvantaged’ – quite honestly, right now I don’t even have much empathy left, let alone sympathy!  Oh and I know that I am going to upset a huge number of people too and so be it. 

For every one person who is still flying the ‘previously disadvantaged’ banner, there are probably two or more who have done something to change their circumstances.  I would rather help these folk and have oodles of time and respect for them.

There are those that have done things for themselves instead of standing around, begging bowl in hand, waiting for someone to do something for them.  I would rather help them turn their lives around and respect them for the changes that they are not only willing to make but are also making.

There are also those who have perfected the art of playing the victim and for them, ‘being the victim’, is their full time employment, it’s their right and quite frankly, it’s probably exactly what they deserve.

So today, I challenge you – if you truly want something to change, then get up off your rear end and make it happen.  If you’re not prepared to make the changes or do something for yourself, then quite honestly – please don’t tell me, I really don’t want to hear it, because my time is better served making things happen and changing the aspects in my life that I don’t want to stay the same.

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

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Motivation - My Stones


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

Well here we are again and it’s all about the choices that we make to any of the situations that we may find ourselves in.

A huge debate has been raging on one of the forums that I used to belong to.  You see as in most aspects of life, there were several people who were very active and prolific on the forum.  They all came from different backgrounds, different cultures, different religions and so on.

Whilst discussion took place over a varied number of issues, usually these could become quite colourful as people voiced their opinions and their beliefs and it was easy to see that people were really passionate about what they did and what they believed in.

Where the whole thing started to go pear shaped (well for me anyway) is when certain individuals would not allow people their own opinions in their own beliefs (or lack there of) and started to almost force their own religious beliefs onto everyone else, belittling the beliefs of everyone else and quoting chapter and verse at every inappropriate opportunity.

Pretty soon every discussion ended up having some sort of religious debate and the own/founder of the forum stepped in and censorship was born.

Constantly members complained about what could be or couldn’t be discussed as the offending few continued their barrage of religious innuendo, until many members just quietly left, no longer wanting to be party in the foray!

Several members bravely continued to try and keep the forum going and new discussions were started only to be promptly invaded by the quoting of  scripture either offered up as a solution and/or given as the cause of whatever happened.  It became so that you couldn’t go anywhere on the forum without tripping up or falling over a scripture of some sort.

The founder of the forum, whilst implementing rules, failed to enforce said rules and the offending few just continued at every opportunity, climbing over every discussion and every debate, quoting scripture after scripture, chapter after chapter and verse after verse.  Remember this a Business forum, where issues around business were discussed and so every discussion from ‘Crime affecting Business’ to ‘staff behaviour’ came under some sort of religious attack until finally, in disgust and frustration, I have picked my  stones, that I was trying to build a community with, and I have left.

I will use my stones to build another community.  One whose members will, hopefully also use their stones, to build the forum into a community with a strong foundation, good business ethics, a value of friendship, an understanding and respect of the opinions of others and their right to think differently.

A community who can share ideas, debate issues, care about one another and laugh together.

But if they don’t – remember my stones can always be gathered up, tucked back under my arm and moved to greener pastures.

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

Friday, December 19, 2014

HR 101 - Maintain Control of your Staff - Part 7


Maintain Control of your Staff – Part 7

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

During the course of the several last weeks, we have had a pretty extensive look at some of the more common problems that line managers and SMME’s experience with their staff.  I have touched on some of the ways in which to combat these problems but list hereunder some additional thoughts on the subject.

Before I get into any kind of serious detail about the “how to” of controlling the situation, let me make it very clear from the get go that it is not necessarily the Manager’s fault that the staff want to get up to the mischief that they manage to get themselves into.  Human nature being what it is means that there will always be those individuals who are lazy or who actually are not interested in what they are doing or in fact have no interest in being an integral part of a team.  That is just the way that it is sometimes.

Here’s the thing though, it is incumbent upon the manager to implement measures that control staff and this is usually done in the first instance by putting together preventative and even corrective measures.  These measures of course have one of two effects upon the staff.  They will either change the behaviour of the staff member, or alternatively where the staff member is just not interested in conforming or getting back into line with the rest of the staff – these measures can and should be used to discipline and where applicable, even dismiss the individuals concerned (be sure to follow the correct procedures though).

The manager, must therefore be able to quickly recognise where there is a problem with rebellious or lazy staff.  Staff who are demotivated also need to be monitored closely to ensure that they too start working correctly.  Managers need to deal with staff in such a way that they clearly understand that their bad behaviour is not going to be tolerated.  Staff who have momentarily ‘lost’ their way, need to be guided back to what they should be doing in a fair, but also firm manner.

Where necessary, swift and appropriate disciplinary action should be taken, which not only deals effectively with the situation, but also is considered fair by the CCMA and/or the various bargaining councils.

Any kind of procedure must be fair though and disciplinary action taken must always be procedurally correct to ensure that the employer doesn’t end up on the ‘receiving’ end of the wrath of the CCMA.

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

HR 101 - Maintain Control of your Staff - Part 6


Maintain Control of your Staff – Part 6

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC May 2010

One of my ‘pet hates’ is when people miss deadlines.  I mean, what’s the point of setting a goal or a deadline, if you don’t mean to meet it?  It’s like having a meeting for the sake of having a meeting – a complete waste of time!  Having employees who consistently don’t meet deadlines can have an adverse effect on the rest of the team and ultimately on the business, particularly if, by missing their deadlines they impact on what is to follow.  Projects don’t flow, time is wasted and wasted time always means wasted money.

Ensuring that your staff meet their deadlines means that they need to be properly managed and that their performance needs to be measured.  The staff need to understand that there are consequences if deadlines are missed and employers need to ensure that these consequences are in fact enforced.

Another situation that many employers find themselves in is where money is literally being thrown away is when production materials are wasted or worse, misappropriated for personal use by the staff.  Wasting production materials will obviously have an affect on your bottom line, in that it will adversely affect the ‘cost of sale’, which in turn will have an affect on the margin and ultimately decrease the profits.

Finally, another of my pet hates is the employee who is always late, who takes extended tea and/or lunch breaks and then leaves early too.  Stealing times from employers is one of the easiest things to do – think about it for a moment – which boss gets all bent out of shape because someone is 5 minutes late?  Not many that I know of – but add it up!  5 minutes late for work, plus 5 minutes late from morning tea, then another 5 minutes late from lunch and 5 minutes late from afternoon tea and then they leave 5 minutes early at the end of the day.  That’s already 25 minutes per day – almost 2 ½ hours per week or 10 hours per month – now the whole picture changes, doesn’t it?

Employees need to understand that there is a “zero” tolerance to tardiness.  Again though, if this is not measured, controlled, monitored and implemented with consequences evidencing that you mean what you say, it is quite meaningless in itself.

Having consequences that are not enforced is the same as having no consequences at all.

Next week we will have a look at some examples of how to effectively control and manage your employees.

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Networking 101 - Business Card Rules



Business Card Rules

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Your business card should be professional, innovative and easy to read.”

Boy oh boy, I really wish more people would take note of this.  I don’t know whether it is because of the onset of middle (ok older than middle) age and my eyesight is deteriorating or if it is just that people are not concerned about the writing on the business cards, but I am seriously battling to read both telephone numbers and/or e-mail addresses and on occasion, even names.

I have gotten to the stage where I am beginning to seriously think about tossing out the cards where I cannot read the numbers and letters.  It’s got something to do with, not only the size of the numbers and letters, but the font and the colour too.  It’s either that or I will have to invest in a magnifying glass!

The irony of all of this, is that the actual card is usually beautiful to behold with bold, clear logo’s.  The name of the Company and what have you is also clear and concise, but when it comes to any of the details, often even the name of the person, the lettering is so small that it is almost impossible to read.

I’m pretty sure that if people only knew and/or understood how frustrating it is for people like me to try and read these cards, they would ensure that the writing and the numbers are clearer.  I know that every time I battle with a card, I take out one of mine – just to make sure that I can read the information on my own card without trying to grow an extension to my arm or alternatively trying to grow squint as I bring it as close to my eyes as is humanly possible.

Your business card tells me, not only what the name of the company is, but also who you are and it allows me to contact you – if I cannot read the card, then I cannot contact you and if I cannot contact you, then I cannot refer you!

So take a moment now if you will, take out your card, have a look at it – is the lettering bold and easy to read, if you are not sure – take it to someone who perhaps already wears glasses or is hitting the mid 50’s (sorry guys and gals it had to be said one way or another) and see if they can read it easily.  If they can’t chances are – neither can I, or anyone else for that matter.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at 

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Business Tips - Leveraging off your Customer Capital


Leveraging Off Your Customer Capital

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting March 2009.

Everywhere I go these days, be it to Networking meetings like Business Engage (  or onto FaceBook or Destiny Connect ( or any of the many other sites that I contribute to, I hear the same story over and over again.  The story of “I have this brilliant concept, but I need funding – where can I go for funding?”  Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

So why is it so difficult to raise funding for your brilliant new business/concept/idea/product/service (insert whatever you like here)?  Well apart from the fact that you probably haven’t done your research properly or perhaps you haven’t done a Business Plan and often you don’t have any collateral, one of the biggest things is that you are trying to raise capital for your business before you have any paying customers!  Actually it is as simple as that.

The reality of the situation is that investors won’t be interested in your business or your ideas until such time as you can show them that you have got clients who are willing to buy and pay for whatever it is that you are trying to sell – until you have buying customers in place all you have is an idea or a dream and investors are in the business of business not pipe dreams.

Think about it logically for a moment and without emotion – you can theorize and pontificate to your hearts content about whether your idea/concept/product/service (insert whatever you like here) will make you the next billionaire in 5 seconds flat, you can do the sums on a piece of paper evidencing what could happen when it sells, the bottom line is that it is still a dream and it is still only a bunch of numbers on paper.  But when the first customer buys whatever it is that you are selling and then the next one buys and the next – nobody can argue with that – because sales are facts and facts are what the investors want to see.  Sales fact will give you leverage when you are looking for funding.

Every Rand that your business earns from your customers is worth it’s weight in gold, because it demonstrates the fact that people are prepared to pay for whatever it is that you are selling and this makes it less of a risk to the investor and tells them that you are serious about your business and that you are in the business of business to make money.

Facts, not dreams are what investors are looking for, so find some paying clients before you start looking for funding, it really will make your life a whole lot easier.

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

Motivation - Postage Stamp

MOTIVATION – Postage Stamps

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009

Bob Proctor says “Be like a postage stamp.  Stick until you get there.”

Quotes like this always remind me of the story that goes something along the lines of ‘there was this chap who went mountain climbing.  He went on his own as he enjoyed the solitude and it was his ‘me time’.  It was the time that he used to reflect upon his life, to look at the memories of where he had been and where he wanted to go.  It was the time that he could empty his head of everything and live in the moment.

Whilst climbing down a particularly steep and dangerous mountain face, a storm arose and before he could get to the bottom or take any kind of shelter (remember he was on a sheer rock face), the mist came in and he could not see anything.  He tried as best as he could to climb down very carefully, but after several hours he slipped and fell, holding onto the piece of rope that was attached to a piece of rock somewhere high above.  There he was dangling at the end of the rope in the mist and the rain and then to add to his woes, night fell.  The man hung on for dear life, he had no way of telling how far down he was, how close to the bottom of the climb he was – disorientated, alone, cold, afraid he faced his biggest fears.

He decided that it was time to Pray “Oh God”, he prayed “Please help me, please don’t let me fall, please tell me what to do”.  “Oh God, please don’t let me die, tell me what to do”.  Over and over he said the words and over and over a voice inside of his head said – “let go of the rope!”  The more he asked what to do, the more the voice told him to let go of the rope and the more he held on.  His shoulders locked, his hands locked and he dozed from time to time.

Morning arrived and with it a glorious dawn and clear skies.  “Thank you God” the man breathed and as he shrugged his cramped shoulders and hand, he looked down to see how far he still had to go to get to the bottom and found that his feet were dangling about six inches from the ground!”

For me the moral of the story is two fold – stick as the postage stamp until you get there and . . .  know when you get there and it is time to let go!

Often we hold on for too long, we get all emotional about the little space that we are occupying, instead of taking the leap of faith and putting our feet forward and taking the next step.  As SMME’s and/or entrepreneurs we have already taken that first step or leap of faith.  We have all gone in a totally new direction, trusting in ourselves, in our intuition and in our capabilities – we have faced our fears and we have come out the other end triumphant – now is not the time to quit – now is the time to take the next step!

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

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Motivation - Overcoming our own Egos

MOTIVATION –  Overcoming Our Own Egos

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009

Nowadays our lives are lived at such a break neck speed that we often don’t have time to draw a breath, much less have time to reflect.

We suppress our emotions, we manipulate others around us into doing what we want them to do, we play the political games in the office with our peers and our managers and even on occasion, with our subordinates.

All this is done in an attempt to get our own way and whether we win or lose is usually as a direct result of how much we believe in ourselves or don’t.  I guess it would be easy to say that much of our lives is governed by how much ego we have.  Too little and we are plagued by issues of self esteem and too much and we strut our stuff like we are ‘cock of the coop’.

So how do we get real?  How do we get in touch with ourselves?  How do we get beyond that ego?

Well as I understand it, we ‘speak’ from the heart.  Whether we speak to ourselves, or our colleagues, or to our peers and our clients, it all boils down to the same thing.

It means that we have dropped down from our self imposed pedestals and our egos and that what we are say or talking about is ‘what is’ rather than what we would like it to be.

It means that we have stripped ourselves down to the core of us, our souls, our unconditional selves and that what we are saying is what we really believe deep down inside of ourselves, rather than what we have been conditioned to believe, or what we have been taught to believe or what we think we should believe.

I also believe that there is a place down deep inside of ourselves that knows the truth.  Some call it the core, some the soul – whatever you would like to name it, it is the place that we all have that knows the truth when we hear it.

So it stands to reason then, that when we speak from our hearts, from that place down deep inside of us and those words are heard by people, in that place down deep inside of them that knows that truth when it hears it, that that is when we have made and make the most impact.

Doesn’t it make sense then to always speak like this – whether you are dealing with your spouse, your children, you colleagues, your bosses, your subordinates, your clients (insert whomever you would like to here)?

It makes the most sense to me . . . .

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Motivation - Peaceful & Calm


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote is one from Ralph Marston who says:

“You can choose to be annoyed by just about everything. But why would you wish to be annoyed by anything?

As easily as you can choose to be annoyed, you can choose to be peaceful, patient and understanding. Instead of putting your energy into being annoyed, you can put it into more valuable and productive pursuits.

Would you like to make yourself into a victim, or would you prefer to be firmly in control of your life? Peaceful patience, tolerance and acceptance will keep you in control.

If there is a situation that needs to be changed, take action to make that change happen. Don't waste your time with being annoyed.

The next time you encounter a situation that would normally annoy you, stop and remember that you have another choice. Instead of letting outside events control your attitude, choose to control it yourself.

Being annoyed is a waste of your life. Be peaceful, calm and powerful instead.”

Man, oh man – does this ever pertain to me!  I have noticed of late that I am constantly challenged by the things around me, my pet hate at the moment being the lack of or bad service.  It really makes me see red!  My blood level rises along with the sound of my voice.  The sad thing is that it very rarely makes any difference to the situation at all, other than to just make me mad.

If it made any difference to the level of service that I was getting, then it would probably be worth my while, but it doesn’t.  The person doesn’t care two hoots about the service that he/she is giving or not giving (as is usually the case) and just labels me a difficult client.  Would you believe that they actually have workshops on ‘how to deal with a difficult client’!

Now that made me smile – you see I don’t think that I am difficult! If they gave me good service and exactly what I asked for in the first place, life would be easy and I would not be labelled a difficult client.  Perhaps they should run a workshop on ‘how to give good service to avoid making a client difficult’.  Now that one would get my vote!

In the meantime, here we still are with me being anything but peaceful and calm!  It doesn’t change the situation in any way, I haven’t made any difference to anything (other than my blood pressure) and quite frankly it is out of my control anyway – so what I should be doing is walking away and voting with my feet – just don’t go there or use that service any more.

Let’s hope we all have a peaceful, calm and extremely profitable week!

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

Friday, December 12, 2014

HR 101 - Maintain Control of you Staff - Part 5


Maintain Control of your Staff – Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

So here we are, Friday again and as SMME’s you are battling to keep your heads above water, you are battling to close the deals in order to bring in the funds to pay, not only yourselves and your suppliers, but also your staff.

Yet your staff are more often than not, your biggest adversaries.  They steal your time, they steal your infrastructure, and in many instances, here in South Africa, they also steal your stock and even your assets and if that is not enough they will throw the legal book (being the Basic Conditions of Employment Act) at you if you don’t follow the correct procedures when you discipline them.

It is imperative that you have a proper ‘Code of Conduct’ and a comprehensive Disciplinary Policy in place to set the boundaries.  As usual though, even if you do the boundaries in place, if they are not enforced or only enforced with some, they are not worth the paper that they are written on.

One of the strangest things that I have seen in the workforce though was a fight between two male employees who were after the same female employee, who ironically was happily married and actually wasn’t even aware of the tension that she had caused.  It was like watching a movie as she went about her business totally clueless about the chaos that was going on in her wake.  Sadly, both of the guys were badly hurt and even when their physical wounds had healed the friction and tension that the whole fight had caused had quite a ripple effect through the entire company.  People were taking sides and giving advice and some enterprising youngsters had even started a betting pool going.  The effect though of course was that the whole thing had a huge negative effect on productivity and of course the quality of the work was also affected. 

The bottom line of course is that it is not okay for the staff to fight or get into fist fights.  It’s not okay and it shouldn’t be allowed.  In the above instance, both guys had to attend a disciplinary and because their behaviour was not properly monitored and because the friction carried on (if not escalated), things got out of hand and they were both eventually dismissed.  This type of behaviour should never be allowed and again in order to ensure that it doesn’t happen in the first place, strict ground rules should be enforced.

This should be documented in the Code of Conduct as well as the Disciplinary Policy.

Next week we will have a look at some more examples of what employees get up to when they are not effectively managed.

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

Thursday, December 11, 2014

HR 101 - Maintain Control of your Staff - Part 4


Maintain Control of your Staff – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

As we have walked through some pretty hair-raising examples around this issue, I bring you some more.

Here’s a nasty – in terms of the “Communications Act”, the employer is responsible for the content/pictures/jokes/articles etc that the employee writes and sends out.  So every time your wannabe office ‘Don Juan’ sends out leery suggestive e-mails to all the female staff in the office, the employer can be held responsible and accountable, should one of those female staff members file charges of ‘sexual harassment’.  Yip – that is a fact!  The fact of the matter is that it is the employees misuse of the internet and it can cost you, the employer – plenty.  Not only in lawsuits but also in the time that they have stolen or the second rate work that they have produced whilst playing on the internet.

Talking about playing on the internet, I have recently discovered “Zoo World” on Facebook and along with my discovery of the game is my discovery that I have an addictive personality.  This game has got me by the short and curlies and I find myself playing at every opportunity.  Now I am relatively self disciplined and so I find myself getting up earlier or going to bed later, so that I can play – but what of the average employee?

Generally speaking, what employee, addicted to playing computer games, is going to give a damn about the fact that they are stealing time from their employers in order to meet their own needs?

Again proper policies and procedures should be implemented to prevent misuse of both the internet,  the company telephones and personal cell phone abuse.  Most medium and even some smaller companies now have an effective “Communications Policy” in place.  Again there has to be a consequence and again it has to be monitored and managed.

Please remember that this policy should also apply to the number and content of private e-mails that are sent and received through business e-mail addresses, and just because an employee has a ‘yahoo’ or ‘hotmail’ or ‘gmail’ address, that doesn’t mean that is it personal – it just means that the employee is a bit more sneaky about how they use it with your infrastructure.

Next week we will have a look at some more examples of what employees get up to when they are not effectively managed.

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Networking 101 - Reciprocity Rules



Reciprocity Rules

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Reciprocity is vital in successful networking.”

Right on the money again Renate.

I am still, after all this time, amazed at some people.  As those that know me be now know, when I get a business card, it is an opportunity.  I send off a mail to the person who gave me the card, telling them a little bit more about me and then I follow that up with a call to set up an appointment.

The whole idea of the meeting is for BOTH of us to share a little bit more about who we are and what it is that we do.  It’s to explore synergies and see how we may be of assistance to one another and it is also an opportunity for BOTH of us to give each other referrals.

You would probably not believe me if I told you the number of people who are only interested in telling me what it is that they do and who they need to be put in touch with.  I sit there is wide eyed amazement!

I mean come on people, I know that it is better to give than to receive, but I also need to put food on the table!  I mean do they really think that I give up an hour of my time to listen to what they need and how I should connect them  to all and sundry in my database, and they don’t even think about perhaps connecting me to someone in their data base?

Ok don’t get me wrong, I do try and assist where I can, but as they continue to contact me to get referrals from me, and never give me a referral – well at some point the pages of my database are going to close and when that happens, no amount of prying will get them open again.

As much as I need to give in order to receive, so to do you need to give in order to receive.  It’s common courtesy and good manners.  It’s also sound business sense.

So go on, give as much as you get – all that will happen is that you will get even more! 

There is plenty, actually an abundance, to go around.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

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

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Business Tips - Keeping it Real

BUSINESS TIPS – Keeping It Real

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC December 2009

Dr Renate Volpe, in her nuggets on Leadership insights says “What do you have to offer the world other than your true self?”

I must say that this is a subject that is absolutely close to my heart.  We are all here to do business.  We are all here to earn an honest living and most of us are here to make a difference.

Perhaps it is something in the air, or a changing of the winds or perhaps it is just because it is that time of the year, but I get the feeling that there are some things that are just not as they should be.  I seem to be being messed around much more than usual lately and quite frankly it is getting up my left nostril.

We’re all busy, we are all trying to get done before everyone leaves for the annual migration to the coast and yet in some ways I seem to be going round in circles. 

People want to see me, they book the appointment, hell they even get me to move other appointments around because they absolutely have to see me and then at the last minute, they cancel.  Well I suppose that I should be grateful that they did cancel and that I didn’t have to find out when I arrived that the meeting was no longer.

Here’s the thing though, if you are wanting to meet with me as a matter of urgency, then meet me – whatever else comes up schedule it for another time or another day, but meet me – my perception is then that you are serious about what it is that you want to discuss with me.  When it gets to the point that the 3rd meeting in a row is moved, rescheduled or cancelled by the same person, my perception is one of  - if you are messing me around at this early stage of our relationship, what on earth is it going to be down the line?

In all honesty, what is it that you are telling me by doing this – that your time is more valuable than mine, or that your clients/suppliers/friends (add anything you like here) are more valuable than mine, or that your business comes before mine, despite the fact that I have something that you want!  Actually, what you are showing me is your true self, what you are telling me is who you really are and in the words of Dr Maya Angelou “Believe someone the first time they tell you who they are!”

So think about what you show the world, because sooner or later – the true self, the person that you really are, will come out.

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

Monday, December 08, 2014

Motivation - Making Opportunites

MOTIVATION – Making Opportunities

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – October 2010

I have no doubt that the average South African who owns a TV, will remember the advertisement about the guy who moves into his new office, all bright eyed an bushy tailed, at the beginning of the day.  As the day progresses, he continues to watch the phone, that is clearly not ringing and eventually in frustration, he picks it up to check whether there is a dial tone or not.  The look of absolute disappointment on his face says it all, when there is obviously nothing wrong with the phone.  His expectation certainly did not align with his reality!

Sadly, for many South African SMME’s and Entrepreneurs – this is their reality – the silent phone – and it has nothing to do with the phone being out of order.  In my opinion, it has everything to do with their mindset being ‘out of order’.

I know that I have said this before and I have no doubt that I will say it again, many times over – I am seriously confused as well as really exasperated by the sense of entitlement that some (actually make that many) people have.

Like the chap in the TV advertisement, many people think that because they have made the decision in life to open their own business/office/shop (insert what you like here), that Joe Public, who has never met them before and in all truth, has no idea of their very existence, will suddenly be overcome by some mysterious malady, that is air/water/thought borne and they will now miraculously flood though their doors or ensure that their phone rings off the hook as they try frantically to purchase their particular product/service.

Please people – get a grip!  And I would suggest that it is a very large and ‘real’ grip on reality.

For someone to walk through your door, or phone you – you yourself will have to do something!  There has to be an action of some sort on your part!

Absolutely, categorically and without a doubt, there are opportunities out there – in fact, again in my opinion – there are probably more opportunities than there are people on the planet, but there has to be some sort of action on your part, to make or turn that opportunity into a successful, viable reality.  Oh and . . . opening an office and staring at a phone, willing it to ring just doesn’t cut it!

You have to go out there and ‘create’ your opportunity.  You have to take your idea or your product and do something about it.

You have to use your talent, your strengths and go knocking on doors, attend Networking meetings, write blogs or articles for newspapers or magazines.  Get yourself interviewed on radio or TV.  Create a stir so that people will sit up and take notice!

Obviously as an SMME, you do not have access to a huge budget for marketing, so you have to innovative and creative in finding different ways to get your name, your brand, your product, your service out to the people you want to sell it to.

Not only that, but if you are really smart and wide awake, you will ensure that whatever it is that you are peddling – product or service – it will be something that Joe Public actually wants as opposed to what you think Joe Public wants.

Whatever it is that you decide though – you can be sure, your actions will determine how successful you are.

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

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Motivation - Make good things happen

MOTIVATION – Make Good Things Happen

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – July 2009

I was chatting to a colleague the other day, who is going through some really big trouble.  Actually it’s a web of intrigue with doing business with family and not having contracts in place and there may be quite a few issues around non-compliance with Corporate Governance and all sorts of other things as well.  During the conversation she said to me that this is not the first time that this sort of thing has happened to her and that every time it knocks her to her knees she gets up with a ‘thicker skin’!

I asked her if she had not yet learnt her lesson and that perhaps the better (read easier) road to travel would be to do things differently (read the right way).  There was a moment of stunned silence as she digested what I had said and then she agreed.

Now, I have no idea if she will take her own advice or if she will continue down her particular path in life, but here’s what I do know.

You cannot help a drug addict or an alcoholic until such time as they admit that they have a problem and then once they have admitted that they have a problem THEY have to do something about it. Yes, we can be there for them and give them encouragement, but THEY have to make the changes themselves.

No matter what my intention, I have to act on something in order for something to happen.  Things don’t just happen by themselves, they happen because of something that someone has done!

We can live our lives as victims or survivors and personally, I choose to be a survivor – being a victim is just really hard work, emotionally.  In order for me to be a survivor I have to live my life in that manner.

We can live our lives as pessimists or optimists – I choose to be an optimist.  It makes my life ‘lighter’ and I get to see some really cool things like the beauty of the sunrise and the magnificence of a sunset.

We can live our lives sadly or with a sense of humour – I choose to live my life with a sense of humour, even if it means that often what I say goes right over the heads of the people that I am saying it to – it still brings a smile to my face.

We can live our lives allowing ‘bad things’ to happen to us on a continual basis or we can make good things happen in our lives.  I choose to make good things happen in my life.

Remember though we have to MAKE it happen and we do that by the actions that we perform, whether it is by a decision that we make and how we act on that decision or by taking up one of the many opportunities that constantly knock on our doors.

Making things happen is my choice today, what’s yours?

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

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Motivation - Living Each Day

MOTIVATION – Living Each Day

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from an anonymous donor who says “Live each day as if it is your last, but start each day anew.”

Live each day as if it is your last!  What a statement!  What a mindset change!  What a life style change!

I am of the opinion that we are all very guilty of becoming complacent.  Of taking life and our lives for granted or for just going through the motions of living.  In reflection this is very sad and such a waste. 

Then there are those who often live each day as their last, but very seldom start each day as a ‘new’ day – they drag every hurt and perceived wrong doing through the dawn with them, making the burden of ‘living’ the day as if it were their last a very burdensome one.  Thinking on it, logic must tell you that the lighter the load the easier it would be to live the life, so to speak.

So it is my recommendation that we try to recognize what needs to be done on a daily basis, deal with what can be dealt with, accept what can be accepted and discard the rest – just walk away, it will not serve you in any way to hang onto feelings and emotions or perceived slights and transgressions. 

In fact, not only will they not serve you, they will drag you down and in dragging you down, they will prevent you from living each day to the full.

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

Friday, December 05, 2014

HR 101 - Maintain Control of your Staff - Part 3


Maintain Control of your Staff – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

Continuing from last time here are some additional examples of what staff can get up to at their employers expense if they are not properly managed.

I’ve had two separate clients this year who have staff who abuse sick leave.  The one client’s employee took a total of 65 days sick leave over a 12 month period – that is more than double her 3 year allocation – and when we put a stop to that and told her that any further sick leave would be taken as unpaid, she promptly asked for her 3 days family responsibility leave as her son was having a medical procedure done.  Her son is 25 years old and the medical procedure turned out to be he had a tooth pulled.  Needless to say that leave was also taken as unpaid!

Then there was another client who had a husband and wife team working for him (that is also never a good idea).  Both went to the clinic once a month – on different days, but when the wife went the husband had to take her (so he couldn’t come to work) and when he went the wife couldn’t get to work (clearly the buses and taxis don’t work) and then they also expected to get their full quota of sick leave on top of that because ‘it wasn’t their fault that they had to go to the clinic every month’!  I guess maybe that they thought it was their boss’s fault!  Needless to say, they too have discovered the joys of unpaid leave!

Sick leave and especially excessive sick leave that is not monitored and controlled can cost the company hundreds and thousands and indeed can even cripple a company.  Having a proper leave policy in place that clearly states and outlines the consequences of excessive sick leave and ensuring that those consequences are upheld, will go a long way to ensuring that this particular problem does not rear its ugly head. Having a disciplinary policy that also clearly outlines ‘incapacity’ and that consequences of that, also often ensures that staff get to work on a more regular basis.

My father always used to say that no-matter what your job is, you should always do it with pride and it should always be done to the best of your ability.  Sadly this no longer seems to apply to people in general anymore.  People no longer seem to feel the need to take any kind of pride in the work that they produce and sadder still is the fact that that not only do they not feel the need to take pride in their work but they also seem to feel that employers should be very happy to accept their second and third rate work, whilst paying wages and salaries for first rate expectations.  Crazy idea that!  Again checklists laying out exactly what must be done and then ensuring that they are correctly signed off will ensure accountability.  Again though, it needs to be properly monitored and consequences must be metered out if the procedures are not complied with.

Next week we will have a look at some more examples of what employees get up to when they are not effectively managed.

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

Thursday, December 04, 2014

HR 101 - Maintain control over your staff - Part 2


Maintain Control of your Staff – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

I must admit that writing this particular article has taken me down memory lane and some of the most bizarre experiences, in terms of staff who just do not want to co-operate and who are in turn often mismanaged.  Just this year alone I have had more than half a dozen incidents where the employer has turned to me in absolute frustration and said “I know that I have allowed this to carry on far too long, but . . .”.  Sadly it has cost them all – dearly, not only in fees to pay me and then my HR specialist who had to be consulted in terms of dismissal and in some instances even representing them at the CCMA, but also in their own time that was wasted in trying to sort this out.

Some more examples of what staff do (or don’t do in certain instances), when they are not properly controlled and managed is, (but not limited to):

•    Refuse to carry out instructions.  Often staff will pay ‘lip service’ to an instruction that you give them.  To outward appearances they have ‘bought into’ what you have asked them to do and you go about your business thinking that your instruction has been carried out only to find out later (and often when it is too late and the damage has been done) that the instruction was in fact not carried out.  This particular issue is worse than when the employee, straight out refuses to carry out an instruction – at least that way you know where you stand.  Here’s the thing though, in both of these instances this is grounds for dismissal and it needs to be dealt with immediately, especially if you have other employees who are watching to see what will happen.  The employee needs to be verbally cautioned about the fact that they are ‘refusing’ to follow a reasonable instruction and that this could lead to a disciplinary which in turn could lead to their dismissal.  If they still refuse to perform the task, disciplinary action should be taken.  In the instances where the employee has just not performed the task that they were instructed to follow, disciplinary action should also be taken – obviously this will not help the situation as you will still be sitting with the consequences of not having had something done, but it will send out a very clear message.  Remember by doing nothing, the message that you are sending out is that this is acceptable behaviour and that makes it all the more difficult to control the next time around.  Furthermore you are in all probability setting a precedent and if you don’t discipline the first person you cannot discipline the next one that does it. That would be considered ‘unfair practice’.

•    A personal favourite of mine – it’s sure to send me crazy, is when staff do the work but then don’t check what they have done!  Man oh man, that does it to me every time.  For me it is indicative of a person who is doing the bare minimum to get by, someone who is not proud of their work or someone who just does not give a damn and quite honestly, I believe that we can all do without people like that in our lives.  If I have to check everything that staff do before it goes out then quite frankly I may as well do it myself.  One of the quickest and easiest ways to control this type of person is by means of a ‘check list’ for the task.  The last thing on the list should be ‘check and double check your work’ – make them sign off on that and that record will ensure that they remain on the straight and narrow and if they don’t you will have evidence showing that they have not completed the task correctly. Make sure that they sign for each step and this will make them a lot more careful.  Again, any deviation or variation on the procedures must be dealt with immediately to ensure that it does not reoccur.

Next week we will have a look at some more examples of what employees get up to when they are not effectively managed.

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

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Networking 101 - Keep accurate records



Keep Accurate Records

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Keep accurate records.  You need to be able to keep track of the people you meet.”

Once again Renate has hit the nail squarely on the head.  If your records are not accurate, just how do you think you are going to keep track of the people that you meet?

This is possibly one of the main reasons that I am so fond of Plaxo, because it does all of this for me.  If any of my information changes, I need only change it once on my profile in Plaxo and it automatically updates my database with my new information.  How cool is that?

There’s nothing worse than trying to set up a meeting with someone whose telephone number has changed or their e-mail address has changed or they seem have just dropped off the planet.

So, whilst it is important to ensure that your data base records are current and up to date, so too is it important to ensure that your data base has your up to date and current details too.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

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

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Business Tips - Improving Your Business Website


Improving Your Business Website

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting December 2008.

Before we go any further, and before all who know me fall about with laughter – I am a bit of (hell let’s be honest – a helleva) a technophobe.  So what I am putting down here is what I have found on the web (a little common sense and logic) and because, no matter what I tell you or write here, my web is looked after by Meryl of Pixelmagic (, so no matter how much I ‘break stuff’ she assures me she can fix it!  How cool is that?  Anyway, back to the subject at hand.  The bottom line of course, is that if you are going to try these things yourself, it’s a good idea for you to have a “Meryl” of your own, or I am quite happy to share mine with you.

Here goes!

It really does not matter if you use your website for fun, family connections (when your family is scattered to the four corners of the world, like mine is) or for Business purposes, the fact is that around 70% of Businesses have websites.  No wonder we are spoilt for choice!  The problem however is that the majority (some home made and even some that have been professionally done) are really crappy!

The problem is that even the really crappy ones are competing in the market and trying to sell their products are or services – how scary is that!

So – let’s have a look at what the internet says are the top 10 tips for improving your Business Website.

1.    You have to have a plan!
As is most things in life, if you don’t have a plan, you have exactly . . . nothing!  Write it down – what is the purpose of your website, what do you hope to achieve.  Write down your goals, short term, medium term, long term and then brainstorm them – how are you going to achieve them.  What do you need to do in order to fulfill them.  Be realistic, we all have budgets.  Match your immediate goals to your wallet – you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve!

2.    Measure.
Again – if you can’t measure it you have a problem.  How would you know if your website is being effective, or if you are just wasting your time, money and effort.  You need to measure, how many people visit your website, how many sales result from your website, how many connections are made out of your website?  Is enough traffic being driven to the website and how can you improve on these numbers?

3.    Promote yourself?
I keep telling people – if you don’t tell people who you are, how will they know?  So, use your website.  Keep your customers updated on what is happening in your life – actually they are interested.  Tell them about your successes, post your testimonials, tell them what plans are in the pipeline (they may want to partner up with you).  Now is not the time to hide your light under the bushel – let it shine out brightly!

4.    Branding
Remember your brand will always be associated with you – so make sure that it is special! Your brand, logo and by line should be unique to you and your product and/or service. It has to stand out to the world and especially your target market.  Keep it simple though – complicated branding looks messy and cluttered on a website.

5.    Content
You are the expert on what it is that you do – aren’t you?  So write down what it is that you do, give out tips or teasers.  Keep your content updated and interesting.  Like it or not, we are all looking for information (yes even in this world of information overload) – make sure your information is new, fresh and current – it will keep people coming to your site on a regular basis.

6.    Navigation
This is one of my pet hates – getting myself lost on a website or having to ‘go back’ all of the time to get myself to the home page or where-ever it is that I want to go, is really just a pain in the rear end.  Let me tell you from experience – the easier it is for me to get around your site the longer I will stay and browse.  So keep it simple.

7.    Sales
Statistics tell us that Product and/or Services sold over the internet increased by 100% between 2002 and 2005.  How fabulous is that?  This means that your website should make it easy for your clients to purchase what they want/need/desire online.

8.    Database
Your database on you website should not only have all your business and personal contacts on it, but it should surpass anything that you may have in your ‘little black book’ or your customer base.  This is because as people visit your website, they should be encouraged to leave their contact details behind.  This gives you a huge opportunity to entice them to spend some money with you by sending out regular communications to them, in the form of newsletters, specials and useful tips and information.

9.    Promotion
Make sure that everybody gets to know about your website.  Put the address on every single piece of literature that you have, your Business Cards, your Letter Heads, in the signature on your e-mail – everywhere!

And finally

10.    Overloading your website
It is said that often ‘less is more’ – keep everything short, simple and to the point.  Don’t waffle on and on about something.  Say what you have to and then move forward.

Now – let’s have a look at an additional 3 tips as recommended by Meryl.  Meryl says:

a.    Know what you want your website to do for you
Yes, generate more income, but how?  Do you want to be talking about your past successes and showing testimonials from other clients?  Do you want your site pointed towards getting the visitor to contact you?

b.    Know what you want your website to ‘feel’ like
The ‘feel’ of a website selling kids’ toys is going to be very different from one selling financial services to big corporates.  Draw up a list of 20 or so emotive words that describe the tone of your site: fun, funky, young, colourful or corporate, serious trustworthy etc.

c.    Copywrite
Also, asking your designer to get you a good copywriter is a very valuable option.  Copywriters ensure that Search Engines love reading your site as much as humans do, as well as getting the feel you’ve chosen to carry across into the words!

Oh, and a – don’t have a look at my website just yet – Meryl and I will be doing some changes right now!

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