Saturday, February 28, 2015

Motivation - The Seed


This was not written by Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC.  In fact she has not idea who wrote it and where it came from – it is however, very pertinent to life!

A successful Christian business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business.

Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you. "The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued." I am going to give each one of you a SEED today - one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO."

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by--still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - He so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful--in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Jim just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown," said the CEO. "Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!" All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!"

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed - Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, "Behold your next Chief Executive Officer!

His name is Jim!" Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even grow his seed. "How could he be the new CEO?" the others said.

Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today.

But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers.

When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!"

*   If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

*   If you plant goodness, you will reap friends

*   If you plant humility, you will reap greatness

*   If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment

*   If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective

*   If you plant hard work, you will reap success

*   If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

*   If you plant faith, you will reap a harvest

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Motivation - The Mind


By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting

Today’s quote comes from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. who says “Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

Powerful words these, and certainly ones that I can relate to – actually they produced an “inside my head” type video and that I found quite delightful.

I don’t think I would like my mind to shrink back to it’s original dimensions as it would no doubt squash whatever epiphany I had just had, back out and it would then probably then be lost forever – what a sad thought!

Mostly though, once we have a new idea, it is generally followed by yet another new idea – how cool is that!  All you need to do is go with the flow and pretty soon you will be spouting new ideas like they are going out of fashion.

Sadly though, most people, once they have a new idea, take the decision to go no further.  So that is as far as they get and yet there is a world of opportunity out there for all of us to share.  All we need to do is open our eyes and our minds to the possibilities and they will appear before us.

So let me ask the question – what do you do when you’ve had a new idea?

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

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Motivation - The Will


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from Muhammad Ali who said “The will, must always be stronger than the skill.”

Now this one gave me huge opportunity to dig down deep, to understand what exactly this means to me.

You see, I have always believed that in order for a person to hone the skill, they must have the will to practice and get it right.

I really don’t believe that there is a creature on the planet who can say that they got their skill or their gift, if you like, without putting hours of work and effort into getting it just quite right.  None of that would have happened if they did not have the will to make it happen.

Look around for a minute and really think about it, we often hear of an “overnight sensation”, and we take that to mean that this person went from absolute obscurity to being famous – overnight!  Yeah right!  Perhaps the recognition has come “overnight”, but you can rest assured that that person has worked their absolute butt’s off to get where they are.  The “recognition” comes after the will to succeed has driven them far beyond and above anything that they ever thought it would take to achieve that ‘recognition’.

Yes, some people have been blessed with a natural talent for something, but that talent would lie dormant, without life until such time as the will or the desire to use that talent became so strong that that person did something about it.  I don’t believe that there is any skill in the world that would manifest itself into being without the ‘will’ of the person to put it in place.  That ‘will’ then becomes an action, and believe me it is a repetitive action, to perfect that skill and in doing that, they eventually succeed and if they are really lucky, they will get the recognition.

So remember that the next time you make a mistake or fall over!  It is a repetitive action, but you have to have the will to get yourself up, dust yourself off and get back in the game – not once, or twice, but time and time again.  Each time you get back up, and perform the task again, you will do – just that little bit better, until before you know it, your skill will become effortless and second nature.  And when that happens, you too – will be that ‘overnight sensation’.

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Networking 101 - The great state of interdependence



The great state of interdependence

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Inherent in successfully networking, is the philosophy of mutual support and interdependence.”

This is so cool, I was wondering when it was going to come up and I am so pleased that it has finally arrived.

Let’s just get the terminology right!  There is a huge difference between ‘interdependence’ and ‘co-dependence’!  The one is really healthy, the other is quite destructive – so make sure that you know which one it is that you are attached to.

Co-dependence – well, let’s just say it is not a good thing – it means pretty much that you cannot function on your own.

Interdependence on the other hand is about the joining of forces.  It’s about collaboration and joint ventures.  It’s about the joining of synergies and strategic alliances.  It’s about doing what you are really, really good at and having an even greater value add by having someone who is really, really good at the things you aren’t so good at – in a partnership of sorts.  It’s about teamwork!

For me, on both a personal and professional level, it’s about making us SMME’s, you know – us little guys and gals, far more powerful than any of the big Corporate companies, because when we stand united and together, we can give any client far better service than any Corporate.

That’s a helleva statement to make, I am sure that you would agree, but it is actually the truth.

You see, each one of us individually are incredibly passionate about what we do and we are specialists in our own fields, but when we get together we are a huge force to be reckoned with.

Each one of us, passionate, committed, specialized – there is not one Corporate on the planet that can say that about each and every one of their staff.  In my book that makes us far more powerful and far more lethal.

So how about it folks – let’s all get interdependent upon one another and make the difference that we know we can!

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, February 24, 2015

Business tips - Unhealthy Politics

BUSINESS TIPS – Unhealthy Politics

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC March  2010

Dr Renate Volpe, in her Political Intelligence (PQ) Nuggets says “Unhealthy Politics: Reduce Performance, Stifle innovation and learning, Increase labour turnover, Decrease motivation, Distort communication, Decrease morale and Undermine effective decision making.”

One of the first things that I learnt when I joined the Corporate world was that there was politics.  Politics from the top to the bottom.  Within the directors of the company – one siding against the other, within senior management – directors playing one manager against the other, middle management – staff playing one supervisor against the other and even right at the bottom of the food chain where employees vie for attention.  Everyone grappling for what they perceive as a ‘piece of the pie’! Crazy, scary stuff!

Often the staff, in a particular department would stop working, not because they were on strike, and not because they didn’t have anything to do, but usually because they were watching the managers as they ‘strutted’ their stuff in front of their superiors.  They watched the ‘posing’ and brownie point posturing.  The body language insults and often even the verbal challenges that their managers made to each other as they ‘threw down the gauntlet’ in an effort to get noticed, by what they perceived, were the people who held their careers in the palms of their hands.

I watched, as many of the Managers struggled with keeping their thoughts to themselves, at meetings where we brainstormed for ideas for special projects.  Their eyes telling the story of how much they wanted to join in but didn’t for fear that their ‘chosen’ guru or the person that they thought that they had formed an alliance with, might think less of them or who had already put an idea forward.

I watched as a steady stream of talented, skilled individuals headed for the door and left the company.  People who should have been nurtured and who really could have made an enormous difference in the company but who would rather leave than take on the office politics.

What I also learnt though was that it was possible to separate myself from the political animals around the office water-cooler.  I made sure that I did not participate and thankfully due to the nature of my position I was able to keep my distance when the ‘ugly’ side of politics raised its nasty head.

So, if you are going to allow the political animal into your working environment (and it’s not always a bad idea) make sure that it is of the good kind and that you keep it healthy and working for the good of the company.

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

Monday, February 23, 2015

Motivation - The Wize Man


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes form Naguib Mabiuz – author, who says “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers.  You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.”

I have a pet hate, actually to be  completely honest – I have several pet hates, but for the purpose of this piece, I have a pet hate.  That pet hate is people who don’t ask questions!

Not, I’m not talking about asking questions for the sake of asking the question – I am talking about asking the question, because you don’t understand the statement!  Believe me there is a huge difference.

Those of you who know me, know that I run a workshop/course on “A practical Guide to Starting a Business”.  I have facilitated the course with people on a ‘one on one’ basis and I have stood in front of a group of people and delivered the same course material.  In both instances I have received ‘blank stares’ from equally ‘blank faces’, when, as I go through the course material, I have asked the question (that I am sure most of you who have delivered any kind of course material, asks from time to time) “Do you understand what I have just said or would you like to ask a question?”

I am not sure if it is because people are scared of looking like a fool, or what the reason is, but somehow, somewhere, someone has no idea of what it is that I have just said and they don’t ask any questions!  I cannot understand this at all.  You see for me, a person looks more like a fool, if they tell me that they understand something when they don’t, because when it comes to doing the practical side of things and they can’t do it, then they look like the fool.  I am often heard saying that ‘the only stupid question is the one that you do not ask’.

I’ve got to the point now, from pure frustration, where, when people tell me that they understand what it is that I have just said, I ask them to firstly repeat what I have said and then secondly I ask them to tell me in their own words what they understand from the statement – you’d be amazed at the different kinds of answers that I get!  Some of them would be really amusing if the situation were any different.

So ask the question, it doesn’t matter how stupid you may think that you look or feel – but at the end of the day, you will be the one that understands the content and you will be the one that will stand ‘head and shoulders’ above the rest.

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

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Motivation - Time Management


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from William D. Reiff, who says "Without the management of time, you will soon have nothing left to

How many times do we not only say, but also hear the words “I don’t have the time ……”

I know that I have been saying it, probably several times a day for the last three months – this year certainly seems to have gotten away from me, I don’t know about the rest of you.

I am sitting here at my desk, after two days of doing literally nothing, with a huge guilty feeling hanging over my head, as I look at the piles of work that are sitting on my desk – I know that the work will get done, at some point and at a cost – the cost being to me, to my time.

Looking at my diary, everything neatly allocated, it would seem that I have designated my time very effectively and constructively and to be quite honest that is exactly what I have done.  The problem arises, with people who have not been allocated any time, but who now suddenly need it desperately. Ironically, it’s those same people (desperate for my time and who demand the most) who pay the least and who take the longest time to pay.

Yet - still my challenge is to say “No”!

So I guess my New Year’s resolution this year is to say the word ‘No’ to those that need it saying to – once I have mastered that, my time management will be an absolute breeze!

So to all of us out there who do not have time – my question to you, is the same one that I had to ask of myself! 

Do you know how to say No and even more importantly . . . mean it?

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

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Motivation - The Price of Excellence

MOTIVATION – The Price of Excellence

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

William Arthur Ward says “the Price of Excellence is discipline.  The Cost of mediocrity is disappointment.”

I cannot begin to tell you about the number of clients who I see on a daily basis who are faced with the disappointment that comes because of their own mediocrity.

Oh don’t for a minute think that they are disappointed or angry or even resentful because they see themselves as the problem or that they have been mediocre in their businesses or with their staff or with the VAT/Tax man.  Oh no!  Their disappointment is always because of something and/or someone else.  It couldn’t possibly be because of what they may have or may not have done!

The reality of course is usually very different.  It is entirely because of their own actions or more often than not, their inactions.

Often though (to give them a little benefit of the doubt), their action and/or inaction is directly attributable to their lack of knowledge on the subject.  Again, in all truthfulness, this is also directly attributable to their own lack of discipline.  I can actually see everybody’s hackles rising as they read these words.  But actually that is exactly what it is – lack of discipline because inadequate research has been done and it’s been a case of, “Jump right in honey, the water is just fine!”

You see too often we have an idea for a product and/or business and without doing the proper research or understanding the full consequences of our actions and/or inactions, we just jump right in and then of course when we fail, it’s everybody else’s fault, definitely not ours.  We didn’t have the self discipline to sit down, do the research, work out the numbers, calculate the risks against the rewards and then make an informed decision.

Of course, there are those of us who have the information and the know the risks but who choose not to work in a disciplined environment, or who want to ‘cheat’ the system or who thrive on taking risks.  For those too, it’s also everyone else’s fault when they get ‘caught out’.  It’s the VAT/tax man who has killed their business – not their lack of discipline to manage their VAT or tax.  Or how about the Department of Labour, who has imposed a huge fine for non compliance, that may result in the business folding – not their unfair Labour practice or lack of discipline in following the rules, that protect both them and their staff.

In both of these instances (and thousands of others that result in the failure of a business), the implementation of simple policies and procedures and the discipline needed to follow them, would have been sufficient to avoid the problems and their subsequent consequences altogether.

But no – it’s easier to apportion blame than it is to admit that we were in the wrong!

It’s easier to ‘go with the flow’ than it is to set the boundaries and limits and be disciplined enough to stay within these parameters.

Be warned though – those of you who just ‘go with the flow’ usually end up learning and also paying for the hardest lesson of all – the lesson of failure and disappointment.

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

Friday, February 20, 2015

HR 101 - The Charge - Sexual Harassment


The Charge – Sexual Harassment

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC - April 2011

I have been reading some very interesting case studies lately and thought that it might be a good idea to share some of these with you.  Now before anyone does the usual ‘knee jerk’ and the government’s legislation etc., let me be very clear on one thing.  The law (irrespective of whether it is labour law or commercial law or any other specific law) is always open to interpretation – just keep that in mind always.

So let’s bring in the protagonists – Mike, who owns a retail outlet, selling CD’s and DVD’s, in a busy mall.  Mike employs George, who is the supervisor and Julie (amongst others) who is a sales person.

Mike goes off to attend a meeting one Monday and comes back to absolute chaos.  Julie is in floods of tears and it is evident that all the female staff in the store are really angry with George.  Mike starts to investigate.

Apparently, or so the story goes from the female perspective, George and Julie received new stock, as was the norm on a Monday morning, that came with posters.  The one poster was of the lead singer of a band, standing in a typical “Michael Jackson” pose with his hand on his genitals.  Julie was disgusted at the visual effect of the poster and commented that it should not be displayed in the windows for children to see and George, from the male perspective, thought that the poster was hilarious and that there was nothing disgusting about it.

To illustrate his point (and I suspect to tease Julie), George jumped up and started dancing around Julie, to the music that was playing in the store and every time he came around to the front of her, he gyrated and put his hands over his genitals, mimicking Michael Jackson’s dance moves.

The men found this absolutely ‘fall down funny’ but the women were outraged.  George, intent on getting his dance moves just right, misread Julie’s protests of his dance and continued to dance around her.  Julie felt that his behaviour was disrespectful and unprofessional and George oblivious to this, just continued to gyrate and dance.

Eventually his dance routine was interrupted, when a whole group of customers entered the store, they had to be attended to.

The male staff saw this as a bit of harmless fun, but the female staff saw this as disrespectful behaviour as well as a form of sexual harassment as he had gyrated and ‘grabbed his genitals’ in Julie’s face.

Understandably, Mike was really annoyed with George.  Not only was his behaviour unprofessional, but as the supervisor he should have been setting an example.  Sexual harassment is a dismissible offense and Mike went through the process of the disciplinary.  George was found guilty and was dismissed.

George lodged with the CCMA and unfortunately Mike lost the case.

Here’s the thing – although the charge of “Sexual Harassment” is an extremely serious one, the CCMA found that “the dismissal was too harsh because it was an isolated incident and was unlikely to be repeated.”

Sure, George’s behaviour was inappropriate, but no-one had been sexually assaulted or raped or threatened and as I have said many times – the punishment must fit the crime.

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

Thursday, February 19, 2015

HR 101 - Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?


Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC - April 2011

I recently read an article on how a business owner who gave his staff member a final written warning for a genuine transgression, then lost the plot and fired the staff member for having a ‘negative attitude’, when he refused to sign in receipt of the warning.

I laughed – you know those great big belly laugh , laughs – yeah, one of those!

You see of late, there have been a huge number of debates (and believe me they often get quite heated, on this very topic.

The debates often erupt around HR and labour issues and they can get really heated and emotional because they are often seen as very unfair and usually leaning towards the rights of the employee and very seldom are about the rights of the employer.

Let’s put a little bit of a spin on this story and use my usual protagonists.

Mike owns a plumbing business and he is extremely busy.  George is his ‘right hand man’ and Mike is trying to give him ‘on the job’ training, not only the technical and practical aspects of plumbing, but also the responsibility and accountability of doing a job well and looking after the company assets as well as giving the clients a good service.

Sometimes Mike feels that his working life is made up of his teams rushing from one job to another. There always seems to be a pipe that’s burst in one complex and geyser in another.  Due to the ‘lack of skills’ pandemic that has hit the world with a resounding ‘thump’, business is good and Mike is doing well.

George is really grateful to Mike because for many years he did not have a job.  Mike treats him well and he is paid a fair wage for what he does and Mike is teaching him all the tricks of the trade.  George has a dream that one day he will own his own plumbing business.

George loves learning about the plumbing side of the business.  He loves to learn about the different types of pipes and where they go and he loves to see the different tools, all laid own in a row and he is particularly proud of the fact that he knows which tools to use when.

What George hates though is to ‘pick’ up and ‘clean up’ after himself.  He hates to have to put all the tools back in exactly the right space in the tool box or in the bakkie and he thinks that Mike is a real ‘fuss pot’ when he goes on about tools that are lost, but aren’t really because they are usually on the bakkie, just not where they are supposed to be. George already has two written warning on his file for not putting the tools away properly or in the right place – “Yes”, George thinks to himself, “Mike makes a big fuss about nothing!”

Mike and George are just finishing a job in a complex, when a call comes in about a burst pipe in another complex and by the sound of it, it’s a real gusher! Mike instructs George to pack up all the tools and ladders quickly, whilst he finishes up so that they are ready to dash to the broken pipe as soon as he is finished with this repair.

As usual George does not take care as he throws the tools into the back of the van and hurriedly puts the ladder onto the roof rack on the van.  George is thinking about how the pipe is going to be fixed and what tools should be used and whether Mike will let him fix it by himself.

Mike comes out having finished what he was doing, gives a quick glance into the van to see if everything is where it should be, raises an eyebrow at George when he sees it isn’t , but there is no time now to repack everything as every second delay means hundreds of litres of precious water being wasted.

Mike jumps into the van and off they go.

Mike is still moaning at George about the state of the tools in the back of the van as they whiz up the road and he has to slam on brakes as a pedestrian steps into the road in front of him.  Mike swerves, narrowly missing him and as he straightens up again he hears a horrible scraping sound, the angry sound of a hooter and the screeching of brakes behind him and then a huge ‘bang crash’ as something metal hit something else metal!

Mike brings the van to a halt at the side of the road and gets out of the van with a very sick feeling in the pit of his stomach.

Behind him, a brand new Mercedes Benz has also come to a halt at the side of the road.  The Mercedes Benz however has a steel ladder sticking out the passenger side of the windscreen.  Yep – you’ve guessed it – George forgot to secure the ladder and it has now caused thousands of Rands worth of damage (thank goodness no-one was hurt) as it went through the passenger side of the windscreen.

Shaken and shocked, Mike was both relieved that no-one was hurt but also horrified at the extent of the damage that had been caused unnecessarily.  Over and above that, Mike was furious with George (quite rightly so) because he had not followed the correct procedure when returning tools and equipment to the van.

Justifiably, the next day Mike handed George a final written warning for not following procedure and instructed George to sign in receipt of the written warning.  George, in his understanding that this was his ‘final’ written warning and now scared of the consequences, refused to sign the form. This of course is where the whole thing goes pear shaped and falls apart.  Up until this point, Mike has done everything correctly.

Mike in his anger and frustration at getting George to do things correctly as well as facing a huge financial bill (being the excess of insurance etc.) as a direct result of George’s inability to follow simple procedures perceives this refusal to sign in receipt of the document as George’s refusal to accept responsibility and ultimately the consequences of his actions.  Mike dismisses George for being negative and having a bad attitude.

George of course, went straight to the CCMA and Mike ends up having to pay George out 4 months salary to add insult to injury.

Mike is obviously outraged at this injustice and so the war between the SME’s and the Department of Labour continues.

Here is the thing though . . . . nobody, and I mean nobody can be forced to sign anything and George not signing the document actually has no real meaning or value at all.  Mike could have merely documented that the warning discussion took place at the date, time and place (as indicated on the form) and that George had refused to sign the document.  If Mike really wanted to prove a point, he could have called any one of his staff in to witness that he had given George the document and the witness could have signed that this was so.  End of story.  Quite simple really.

Dismissing someone for having a ‘negative attitude’ or indeed, having a ‘bad attitude’ or any other kind of attitude for that matter, is really quite ridiculous and no wonder it was thrown out for being ‘unfair labour practice;’

Had Mike just followed the correct procedures, the outcome would have been completely different.

Following the correct procedures to the letter of the law will usually ensure that justice prevails.

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Networking - The Win-Win Situation



By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The term ‘win/win’ is being bandied about quite a bit of late, but what does it really mean and is there such a thing, in reality?

I know that I use the term quite often, and it certainly makes sense to me, but that is my perception and my expectation.  What about the other person?  What if they do not see it as a ‘win’ on their side?  What if they do not see whatever it is that I am ‘putting on the table’ as a win – is it still a ‘win/win’ or is the reality that there is a loss somewhere?

If I had to be brutally honest, I would have to say “Yes”, absolutely yes, there would be a loss!  How could there not be? 

I guess that this is where the saying ‘it takes two to tango’ is really profound!  You see at a Networking event, if someone cannot see the benefit of his/her being there, they will not work at it, and no matter how many meetings I set up and no matter how excited I get on their behalf, if they don’t work at it from their side – nothing will happen.

The majority of people who go to networking events, go there specifically to ‘sell’ their service and/or their widget. They are usually the most disillusioned of them all because the reality of Networking is that they are highly unlikely to ever make a sale.

Occasionally someone will go there because they are looking for a service and/or widget supplier, however that is the exception rather than the rule.  These people usually have a bit more luck, because there might just be the kind of service and/or widget that they are looking for.  But what happens if there is no-one there offering the specific service and/or widget that they are looking for and they too go home empty handed?  Well they also become very disillusioned to.

The person who is the most successful of them all at Networking, is the person who goes there to meet people and build relationships.  Believe me the sale of the widget and/or service will follow, but the relationship has to be built first.

So where is the ‘win/win’ situation in any of this.  Well it’s really quite simple and I can’t for the life of me understand why others just don’t get it.  If you and I are in the process of ‘building a relationship’ (or already in one for that matter), every time I (or you) speak to a prospective client, we will listen carefully, not only to what that prospective clients wants from us, but also what that prospective client needs.  One of those ‘needs’ might just be something that you can provide.

The ‘win/win’ (which is you and I looking out for business opportunities for each other – not just ourselves) has just become a ‘win/win/win’ because - I have secured work and/or given value to the prospective client, you have been given work by the prospective client, and the prospective client has had all of his/her needs fulfilled.  How cool is that and more importantly, how easy was that.

So what is your interpretation or perception of a ‘win/win’ situation in Networking or are you one of those folk whose expectation is all about ‘what’s in it for you’?

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Business Tips - Storing your e-mails


Storing Your E-mails

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2009.

I must admit, this is something that I have had to research on a personal level.  When you get to the stage of getting in excess of 100 mails a day it can be a daunting exercise to try and manage and/or prioritize the mails.

The research that I did came up with the following suggestions:

I keep all mails that pertain to my clients and my service providers.  I have a file for each client and/or each service provider and pretty much in the same way that I would file my paperwork, I use these files on the computer.

So for example if I have a client ABC Consulting – I would have a folder (under clients) called ABC.  In the folder ABC, I would have sub folders such as invoices, quotes, payments etc – but for the e-mails I would also have sub folders for incoming mail and another for outgoing mail.  It just makes it easier if I am looking for something that I sent to the client or something that I received from the client.

The rest of the mails that pertain to anything other than clients and/or suppliers, that I want to keep go into sub-folders of my Inbox.  This means that I can search though all my messages (particularly if I am researching something) all in the same place.

I have also discovered that you can have replies that you send out, sent to a sub-folder too.  How neat is that?   You can write a rule to have messages sent to various folders on receipt or on sending the message, depending on what it is that you want to do.  Click on the Tools tab and then select Rules and Alerts.  Remember though that if you have more than one ‘rule’ that applies to incoming e-mail, the rule that was placed first is the one that takes precedence.

Keeping a handle on your e-mails will make it easier to manage all the information overload that most of us experience on a daily basis.

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

Monday, February 16, 2015

Motivation - The People you don't even know


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that “your life can be changed in a matter of seconds by people you don’t even know”

For me, I don’t think it even matters as to whether or not you are actually even open to the possibility of that moment or even open to the change that that moment might bring.

These are the moments, or what, Oprah Winfrey calls “Ah Ha!” moments, that usually come completely out of the blue or when you least expect them and yet quite possibly they are the moments that can and probably will change the direction of your life or be the defining moment when you change intrinsically as a person.

That’s not to say that you will only experience one of these moments in the course of your life time.  I certainly haven’t!  But then of course why would you limit yourself to only one of these deliciously appetizing, soul defining moments?  You don’t have to you know.

That said, like your first kiss or your first love – your first ‘Ah-Ha’ moment is one that you are unlikely to ever forget.  I certainly couldn’t.

My defining moment came in November 1999, when I sat in front of a complete stranger by the name of Vanessa Paige and she was reading my Tarot cards.

Now I can see all of you smiling and nodding your head in unison – a Tarot card reading!

Well let me tell you, this was not a Tarot card reading that you have done by the Gypsies  who live in caravans or the fortune tellers that you engage with at the fun fair.  This was a reading like I have never encountered in my life! And this was the reading that changed the course of my life and who I am as a person.

You see Vanessa told me that I was a worthwhile person.  That I had the right to make my own decisions and my own choices.  That it was my life and that I had the right and the power to live it.  She told me that I had “given away my power” to bosses that used and abused it, to friends who did not appreciate me and to family, who took as much as they could and then discarded me.

Vanessa made me understand that I could take my power back, I could be somebody, a worthwhile somebody, who could make a valuable contribution to this world. All I had to do was to believe in myself and start to love – me.

And you know what else?  Vanessa told me that she believed in me!

This was the first time that anyone had ever said anything like this to me and the effect was quite profound.

It has been a slow and sometimes painful journey, but it has also brought me much happiness and fulfillment.

I now own my own business.  I make a difference in the lives of others.  I write for magazines and newspapers. I have been interviewed and appeared on TV.  I have been the guest speaker at huge functions – but most of all, most powerful of all – I am the master of my own destiny.

And all it took was one brief moment in time, with someone I did not know!

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

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Motivation - Passionate about Life

MOTIVATION - Passionate about Life

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from an anonymous person who said “It takes a strong man to swim against the current; any dead fish will float with it"

I had to smile when I read this and thought about what I am going to write today – I had this instant video in my head, with all these lifeless fish just floating along!  Smelly and unpleasant to say the least!  Oh the movies that my head produces – not all of them pleasant and many of them could very well turn into absolute nightmare!

And nightmares are what a great number of business owners will have if the majority of the people that they employ are “dead fish” – you know the ones that I mean.  Yes, it’s those that come to work because they have no place else to go, they put in the time – just barely – they don’t put in more effort, than the bear minimum that it takes to allow life to be sustainable.  They don’t work a second more than they are required to and God forbid that they should ever be passionate or even care about what it is that they do!

For me, working with people like this is very, execruciatingly, very painful.  They are the ones that you sometimes want to shake, just to see if they are actually still alive! 

I mean, exactly what is the point?  Why do anything at all if it’s not worth going the whole hog, and giving your best effort?  Why attempt anything as if you can’t look at it, once the job is done, with pride or even with understanding, because of the lesson learnt? It’s just this complete indifference that gets me every time.

I understand that there are a great number of people out there who are fearful of making a mistake, scared of what people may say or think about them.  I could not live like that either – in constant fear - that would be a total waste of effort and emotion too for that matter.  Can you imagine living life, constantly looking over your shoulder to see if anyone is watching you – constantly  straining to hear what people are saying, because they may be saying something about you!  Oh good God no!  That would be just too weird for words.

For me, life is about the living of it, of every moment!  Taking it in both hands, enjoying it, savoring it, pushing it, tasting it, loving it!

It’s about trying new things, even failing at them – as long as you learn the lesson.  It’s about pushing the boundaries, to see how far you can go.

It’s about testing my own limits.  It’s about learning new things. It’s about laughter and yes even tears, it’s about life!

Floating about like a dead fish is not for me – it’s, well, it’s “for dead fish”!

Give me a staff member with a bit of life in them any day – they may test my patience (what little I have), they may make me mad and drive me crazy, but they will always pleasantly surprise me too.

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

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Motivation - Strengths and weaknesses

MOTIVATION –  Strengths & Weaknesses

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – November 2010

Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe says “By nature we have no defect that could not become a strength, no strength that could become a defect.”

Wow!  Apart from telling us exactly how it is, it certainly gives me encouragement as well.

Knowing that if I want to change or improve one of my weaknesses (and let’s face it we all have several), it’s great, but to know that I can improve one of my weaknesses to such an extent that it becomes a strength – now that’s a great incentive and quite frankly a task of mammoth proportions.

I am one of those people who would rather work on my strengths, to make them that much more effective and I am all for ‘outsourcing’ my weaknesses to someone else.  You see my weaknesses are someone else’s strength so to me it makes perfectly logical sense to let someone else deal with those.

I continue however, to have this little niggling voice (you know the one that sits on your shoulder and whispers all sorts of things in your ear) that keeps telling me that although I am ‘outsourcing’ my weakness, I am also ‘giving up’ my power!

Perhaps on some level that is true, but I am also very aware of the fact that ‘outsourcing’ works for me, as it enables me to get on with what I love to do and what I am good at.  It certainly reduces my stress levels (and probably my blood pressure too) as I don’t have to struggle with issues that I am not comfortable with or that I don’t fully understand . . .  but perhaps, one day when I am not busy with something else and the mood takes me, I will work on those particular defects and weaknesses.  Yeah right!

What I really want to do is chat about  the second part of Van Goethe’s statement – the one that goes “no strength that could become a weakness”.  Now this is the bit that really concerns me – in fact it damn near terrifies me!

I think that many of us, particularly those of us who own our own small little businesses and who consistently work long hours as we attempt to make a decent living and perhaps even a difference – we are in particular danger of getting to the point where it is our very strength that defeats us!

Oh, I can see all the blank looks on the faces of people who have no clue about what it is that I am talking about.

This is directed at all of us who work, we say for our families, but to such an extent and with such focus that we lose sight of those that we love, so much so that we actually lose them.  The result is that our flourishing business is achieved at the cost of our wives, or husbands and our children and loved ones.

It is directed at all of us who bring about our own ill health because we refuse to take time out to rest and rejuvenate.

It is directed at those of us who are so focused on what we do and what we are good at, that it takes over our lives and devours us and we forget to live and exist merely to be a slave to that particular strength.

So I guess, the point of all of this is to take note of and be aware of the fact that our weaknesses can become our saving grace and our strengths could very well be the reason for our demise.

Be careful – very careful about which one you choose to pay the most attention to.

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

Friday, February 13, 2015

HR 101 - Check the Work Permit - Part 3


Check the Work Permit – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC - April 2011

So what happens if you have a huge project on the go and you need 20 or more people in order to meet the requirements of that particular project.

Ok, don’t worry – there is a solution to this. It will mean getting pre-approval from the Departments of Trade and Industry (DTI) as well as the Department of Labour and of course Home Affairs.  As soon as the Company in question has identified and appointed the individual workers, Home Affairs issues the authorization certificates and the foreigners are then able to arrive in South Africa and start working immediately.  Obviously the usual documentation still needs to be corrected submitted.

Students, interns and the like, who are under 25 and who are involved in exchange programs that are initiated by Government departments and/or schools or universities would need to apply for an exchange permit.  Be advised however that exchange permits are only valid for one year and once they have expired, the student/intern must leave the country.  Once they have left the country they would only be eligible to apply for a temporary residence permit after two years.

South Africa welcomes foreign investment and subsequently, those who invest here and are granted business permits qualify to work in and manage their businesses without any special permission requirements.

Here’s the thing though, just because you don’t know what the requirements are or what is allowed and very definitely isn’t – doesn’t mean that you can’t make it happen and I mean that in the legal sense of the word.

What it does mean though, is that you would have to do the research and ask the questions and find out what would be the best way to go about making what you want to happen, happen.

This brings to conclusion the article on work permit requirements.

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

Thursday, February 12, 2015

HR 101 - Check the Work Permit – Part 2


Check the Work Permit – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC - March 2011

Following on from last time, let’s have a look at some of the other types of permits that are available out there.

There are also often instances where foreigners, who have rare skills are needed here in South Africa.  Sometimes these particular skills are not included on the ‘quota list’, usually because of their rarity.  More often than not these foreigners will also be granted the ‘general’ type work permit.  Again, these should be processed through a professional immigration practitioner as this will ensure that the proper procedures are followed and that all the required documentation is present and accounted for.

Individuals, such as (but not limited to) academics, who have published, or an internationally recognized motivational speaker or even a sports coach whose teams always does well, irrespective of which country they are coaching in, or what about a surgeon who has invented or perfected a particular medical process, these individuals would be recognised as people who have ‘exceptional skills’.  Before any of these individuals get the required permit, they will have to provide Home Affairs with documentary evidence to validate their particular achievements.

One of the easiest permits to get issued are the intra-company permits.  These are used mainly by multinationals and they are used specifically to bring in staff that hold key management and/or skills that are specific to that particular company.  These permits are usually issued for a two year period.  Understand though that a tea lady or a driver or a cleaning person etc., would not be considered ‘key’ management personnel.

So what happens then if the person who has an ‘intra-company’ permit (that has been issued for two years), falls in love with South Africa and wants to stay here.  Well that is not typically a problem provided that the foreigner becomes a part of the local (or South African leg) of the multinational company.  In this instance the intra-company permit can be changed to another type of permit before it expires.  If it expires, however, that is a whole different ball game.  Once the permit expires the foreign individual must leave the country and the permit would have to be reapplied for.

Be careful here though, because although the ‘work’ permit is valid the permanent residence permit is not guaranteed and there are instances where this has had a negative impact on the multinational as they have lost key personnel, who are critical to the local leg of the multinational.  Be careful about this as it could seriously hamper your ability to trade effectively.

There are also instances where corporate permits are issued for companies who know, in advance, that they are going to need large numbers of foreign workers with a specific work skill that is not readily available in South Africa, as was the case with the French nationals who were brought out to South Africa specifically to build the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station.  Although they were artisans, their specific skill set was for the construction of Nuclear Power Stations which differed considerably to those of the normal construction artisan.

Next time we will look at the final lot of permits that are issued to foreigners.

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

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Networking 101 - The difference between flirting and warmth



The difference between flirting & warmth

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Flirtation and warmth are different energies.  Identify these within yourself and use them appropriately.”

There are several networking meetings that I attend, and at many of them there is a guy who is in his 60’s and the first people that he targets are the ‘young’ ladies.

It is quite embarrassing for us seasoned Networkers, who have invited people along to a meeting, with the sole intention of doing business and most of the time we just try and make a joke of it, but the bottom line is that he is losing a lot of sales because of it, and the sales he is losing is from the very women that he is targeting.

You see, sadly he sees himself as being really charming, but the majority of the girls see him as being a bit of a ‘pervert’!  In fact that is the exact word that someone used to describe him the other night.

How well do you think that that is working for him?

It’s now gotten to the stage that he pressures them into a one on one meeting with him, at the Networking event and then they  cancel afterwards.  This is just not good business acumen.

The reality of the situation is that because he cannot differentiate between being ‘charming’ and being a ‘bit of a pervert’, he is losing business hand over foot.

So believe me – understand the difference between being warm and friendly and flirtation.

The one will bring you heaps of business, the other will ensure that you don’t get any.

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, February 10, 2015

Business Tips - So you want to buy a Franchise?

BUSINESS TIPS – So You Want To Buy A Franchise?

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC February 2010

So many times I’ve heard people say “My dream is to open a little coffee shop/restaurant/take away/pizza place (insert your own dream/idea here), when I retire.  Sadly, more often than not they sink their hard earned life savings into a Franchise something, only to discover somewhere down the road, that it is not what they expected or even worse, the business is not able to sustain them and they end up losing everything.

Research people!  Research!

You really need to know exactly what it is that you are getting yourself into.  You need to understand, in graphic detail exactly what the business entails, especially if you have never worked in that particular arena before (cooking dinner for family and friends once a week is very different to running a kitchen in a busy fast food outlet). 

Here are some of the issues that you need to look at, familiarize yourself with and indeed, understand at some level.

1.    As I mentioned before – research is vital and just to be clear on this, the research that needs to be done, needs to be done by you!  You are the one that needs to understand all the pros and cons.  You are the one who needs to be interested in the whole process – therefore you are the one that needs to develop as much first had knowledge as possible.  Attend as many franchise expos as possible, surf the internet, find something that matches your passion and once you have decided which franchise you are interested in, you can move to the next step.
2.    Now the real research begins!  Firstly, look at the industry that your choice of franchise is in.  Find out all the information that is available for that particular industry.  Have a look at all the other franchises that are in the same sector.  What makes the franchise that you have chosen ‘stand out’?  Is the sector a growing one (this means that you have to look at lots of statistics and even know how to read them properly)?  Have a look at all of the trade magazines (or on the internet), what do they say about the industry, the sector, the competition and the franchise that you have chosen?
3.    Next you need to look at the brand of the franchise that you have chosen.  What makes it unique?  Why would customers/clients use this brand and not something similar around the corner?  Look at the physical branding – things like signage, logos, staff uniforms, shop fittings – does the branding run through all the stores so that they all look and have the same ‘feel’, or are some of the stores different and if so why? In other words, is the brand, colours, logos easily identifiable and recognizable?
4.    The next thing to research thoroughly is the actual franchise organization.  What are the rights and obligations of the franchisor, and what are the rights and the obligations of the franchisee?  What are your expectations and will they be met.  What are the expectations of the franchisor and will you be able to meet them.  What is the support structure in terms of procedures, policies, templates, IT, staff training, product training and so on?  Will the franchisor give you all the investment and financial information that you need?  Will the franchisor give you their ‘disclosure documents’?  Are their disclosure documents updated annually as prescribed by the FASA (Franchise Association of South Africa)?  Make sure that you not only read, but also understand all of these documents.  Ask questions.  Get your lawyer and/or accountant to also look at the documents and ask questions.  Make sure that the answers that you get satisfy the question that was asked and don’t be afraid to ask more questions.
5.    If, after all of this you still want to purchase the franchise talk to the professionals, take the documents to a franchise consultant or a business broker (preferably one that works in the franchise arena) and get their opinion.  Get them to look at the questions you asked and the answers you got. Make sure that they are comfortable with every single point in the contract.  Let them explain it all to you again, point by point and in a language that you understand.

Until next time

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

Monday, February 09, 2015

Motivation - Taking Responsibility for our Failure

MOTIVATION –  Taking Responsibility for Our Failure

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2010

Oh dear – looks like I got the soap box out again.  Clearly the whole thing on “Failure” has got me in a bit of a spin!

It seems to me that most people think of success or failure as either good or bad luck – that’s just so confusing. Surely your success is based on what you did that was right or what worked and your failure is based on what you did wrong or what didn’t work?

I mean think about it for a moment – when someone succeeds at something, they celebrate all that went before it, the hard work, the making of the right decisions, the planning and precision, the long hours and the sleepless nights.  So how then, when there is failure does it become everyone else’s fault?

How could it possibly be the fault of the Rand being too low, or economics or politics or the tax man or the 2010 World Cup?  That’s just bizarre!  The fact of the matter is that very few people want to take responsibility for their own actions.  Very few people want to look at themselves and then admit that perhaps it was their very own actions (or non actions for that matter) that have caused their downfall.  Very few people are prepared to accept that what they have done is their own fault.

Now here’s the problem – if you don’t admit to failure being your own fault, how on earth will you be able to correct whatever it is that you did wrong so that you don’t do it again?  How on earth will you learn from your mistakes and go on to grow as an individual?  How on earth will you ever learn to take responsibility for your actions or when you fail to act?

Part of your goals should be ensuring that you give and receive accolades when they are due and not only for others but for yourself as well. We are all very quick to grab the limelight when we have done something right but seldom that quick when we have done something wrong.  Part of your goals should be being able to look at a situation that has gone wrong and take responsibility, learn from the mistake, make adjustments and move on.

Part of becoming the best person that you can be is to be able to dig deep, admit to what has happened, I promise you, you will feel all the better for it.

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

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Motivation - Taking Some Risk

MOTIVATION – Taking Some Risk

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2009

Ask anyone about how they would prefer their lives to be and chances are that they will tell you that they would like to go through life being healthy, wealthy and happy.

Well folks – here is a splash of reality – if you sit quietly in a little corner, minding your own business and not doing anything – nothing will happen.  You will not grow as an individual and you will not grow your business (presuming of course that you even have one).  In fact the bottom line is that if you don’t get out there and do something, nothing will happen.

One of the identifiable attributes of an entrepreneur is that they are willing to take risks.  Now contrary to popular belief, that does not necessarily mean that they would stand in front of an on coming train.  It does not mean that they are necessarily reckless or that they would put the lives of their families and indeed, their own lives at risk.  What it does mean though is that they will usually take calculated risks.

Although at first glance, it often seems that they are completely out of control, the fact of the matter is that usually, they are exactly in control.

You see, most entrepreneurs are very aware of the fact that life is not simple, that looking through a pair of rose coloured glasses is not going to give them the reality of what life is all about.  They know that life and indeed business can be really, really hard – so hard in fact that it hurts.

True entrepreneurs, who know all of these things also know that in order for them to succeed, they  will have to be willing to accept the pain that will come from stepping out of their comfort zone.  They know the secret and I am going to share that particular secret with you.

You see by being willing to endure a little bit of toughness and discomfort in the short term, they will usually make their lives that much easier in the long term.

Have a look around you – really look.  All the people who are crying and moaning and groaning about how tough it is out there are usually the ones who wallow in their tough lives.  They are scared of moving forward and doing things a little bit differently, they are scared to go backwards because, well it was tough there too and they are scared to stay exactly where they are because it’s so tough there.  So all they can do is moan and whine about how tough it is and how unfair life is – is it any wonder?

On the other hand show me a successful person and you will see someone who has endured the pain, the hurt and the often sleepless nights.  They did something though, they moved forward.  They took the calculated risks, they sucked up the tough times and they came out the other end, not only successful, but better individuals for it.

It didn’t matter how people laughed at them, or how they were criticized by friends and family, they had a dream and they were committed to their dream and they stuck with it.

It always boils down to attitude in the end – if your attitude and your mindset is right, you will ‘swim’, but if your attitude stinks – you sink!

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

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Motivation - Teachers


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from William Arthur Ward who says:

"The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires."

I know that from a personal perspective, I have always had the most out of someone (teacher or not) who inspires.  People who “tell” me things get my interest, but that is about all and yes it is great when people can explain things to me, especially if I do not understand the concept.  It’s good to explain so that you can get a ‘buy in’ and certainly the teacher, who demonstrates, will also get my attention, but usually just until the demonstration is over.  For me, the bonus is a teacher who can do all of the above – man oh man, that is pure inspiration!

A teacher can tell you about passion, a teacher can explain what passion is all about.  I dare say that, on occasion, a teacher can even demonstrate what passion is, but for me my mentor, inspires the passion in me.

Some time ago, I wrote about my mentor – she inspires me.  She challenges me to be all that I can be and then some more.

We are all, in one way or another ‘teachers’, whether by formal training or not.  We teach our children, our animals, our staff, our friends and acquaintances – most of all we teach ourselves as we learn about life.

What kind of impression will be your legacy?  What kind of teacher are you?

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

Friday, February 06, 2015

HR 101 - Check the Work Permit - Part 1


HR 101 - Check the Work Permit – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC - January 2011

We have probably all been in the position where we have hired a gardener or a domestic helper, who it turns out, is an illegal alien.

The problem is when we have foreigners working for us, who have the incorrect (or worse no) documentation or work permits.

The consequences to them (and you particularly if they bring a specific skill with them) can be quite serious.

Here in South Africa, there are a whole host of different types of work permits – some of these are (but not limited to):

- Quota permits
- Intra Company permits
- General permits
- Exchange permits
- Exceptional skills permits
- Business permits
- Retired persons work permits

Even some of the ‘visitors’ permits allow foreigners to work here for a while.  The challenge of course, is to ensure that they have the correct permit.

In my experience, most foreigners who come to South Africa, get their permits by getting a written job offer first and believe me this is not a new thing – when I came to South Africa in 1977, this is exactly how I got my work permit – I got a written job offer and based on that, my work permit and resident’s permit was granted.  This is a general work permit and the prospective employer needs to evidence that they have tried unsuccessfully to employ a South African with the necessary skills.  This is usually done by advertising nationally.

A ‘quota’ work permit is one that is available for foreigners, whose work skills fall into  a particular category.  This category is determined by whatever skill shortage is currently prevalent in the country at that particular time – so last year it may have been engineers and this year it may be accountants (just to give an example).  The categories that are nominated chosen by the Minister of Home Affairs who also decides on the number of quota permits that will be issued, and to which category they will be issued.  Here’s the thing though – only about 20% of the quota permits are ever actually filled as Home Affairs does not actually market and recruit for these particular skills and/or requirements outside of South Africa (makes me wonder what the point then is actually).  It is also very difficult for foreigners, who are based outside of our borders, to apply and go through the application process themselves.

In many, if not most of these cases, it would be a good idea not to even try and process these applications yourselves, but to rather get the services of the right Professional Immigration Practitioner.

Next time, we will have a look at some of the other types of permits in a little more detail.
Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Thursday, February 05, 2015

HR 101 - Suspending an Employee


Suspending An Employee

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC December 2010

First of all, let’s be really clear about this . . . .  suspending an employee, irrespective of whether it is with pay or not is a really serious thing to do.  It is not something that should be done lightly or at the very least, done without taking all of the consequences into account.  One of the questions that you should ask yourself before suspending an employee is “Did the employee do something that can be considered as “serious” misconduct?

If the answer to that question is no – don’t suspend.  If however the answer is a resounding “YES”, then here are a few more issues for you to think about, carefully – before you continue.

-    Are you going to suspend the employee immediately, or wait a few days and what are the consequences to either one of these actions.
-    Are you required to hold a ‘pre-suspension’ hearing and if so how do you go about it – what are the requirements?
-    Would there be (and what would they be) any consequences if you did not hold a ‘pre-suspension’ hearing?

Firstly – employees should not be suspended unless you are reasonably concerned that they would interfere with your internal investigation.  In other words if you thought that they may destroy documents or say delete e-mails etc., that would really strengthen your case.  If you were concerned about them intimidating colleagues, who you may want to use as witnesses or if they may, in any way do damage to your reputation or jeopardise your income in any way, then you have grounds to suspend. 

If you are at all concerned about any of these and I mean justifiably concerned, then by all means suspend.

Remember though, that a ‘pre-suspension’ hearing should take place ‘before’ suspending the employee as failure to do this could result in the CCMA awarding a financial penalty (which always goes into the employees pocket to add insult to your injury) as procedures were not correctly followed.

The length of time that the employee is suspended should also be taken into consideration.  Keeping an employee suspended for too long, even if they are suspended on full pay, could also result in a financial penalty being levied against the employer.

Bottom line – don’t just have a knee jerk reaction.  Think about what it is that you are doing and why, because the CCMA and the Labour Courts are very strict about unfair suspension.

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

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Networking 101 - Relationship Building

Networking 101 - Relationship BuildingTHE POWER OF NETWORKING


Relationship Building

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that ‘sales come purely from people’.

As true that that may be, we still have to ‘trust’ people and there is a whole lot of ‘personal touch’ that would need to enter the equation too.  How about ‘value add’ or being ‘unique’ and offering something that no-one else does?  Then of course there are things like pricing, quality and delivery, and I suspect that I have only just begun to scratch the surface!

So why am I talking about all of these in a Networking Tip?  Well it’s really quite simple – you see none of the above would happen if a relationship had not been built or a referral not been made.

Think about it for a moment – we have built relationships with all of our suppliers (although I suspect some, like banks, cell phone providers and the post office were out of necessity rather than choice) in both our personal capacity and our business capacity.  Even the big ones like Woolworths or Pick ‘n Pay, we go to because our parents went there to do the grocery shop, or someone told us about a special that they had on or they give good value for money. Whatever the reason is and whether it is with a specific person there, or just the brand name – the relationship is built.

Networking for me is about meeting people, quickly and effortlessly so that I can start building relationships with those people.  The more people I meet, the more relationships I can start, the more business walks in through my front door. 

So if sales ‘comes purely from people’ doesn’t it stand to reason that the more people I have in my circle of influence the more sales I am going to generate?

It works for me!

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

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Business Tips - Payroll Tips for Tax Year End 2015 - Part 3

BUSINESS TIPS – Payroll Tips for Tax Year End 2015 – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC January 2010

Last week I touched on some of the requirements that an employer would need to work through in terms of the payroll and the tax year end pertaining to 2015.

Here are the rest of the requirements that I came across during my research.

Now you have to get a little technological:
•    This is where you have to go to the SARS website at and then in the middle of the page towards the top you will see the e@syFile logo.  Click on that to download the file.
•    Once the download is complete you need to capture all the employee information as well at the tax certificate information onto e@syFile.  This must include:
-    All the employee’s personal information
-    The employee’s contact details including their residential address
-    The employee’s bank account details
-    The Employment information
-    The Source Codes and Amounts.  Please be aware that you will need to use the correct source codes for all the transactions that were used on all the employees pay-slips and that where necessary, the source codes may have to be consolidated.  Be sure to enter the correct values for each source code.
•    Next you will need to consolidate the EMP201 with the monthly SARS payments on the EMP501 reconciliation.  Make sure that these amounts balance with the tax certificate values.
•    The tax certificates and Reconciliation Declaration using SARS e@syFile must be submitted before 31 May 2015 to ensure that you are not hit with penalties and interest.  Again, diarize it to ensure that it is submitted on time.

That’s the end of that – make sure you keep these notes so that you know what to do in 2016.  I know that it looks like it could be quite a mission, but the truth of the matter is that once you have loaded what needs to be loaded, most of it is a once off.  Keep notes as since it is only needed once a year, it is very easy to ‘forget’ what to do.

Remember, if you are not sure about what you are doing rather go to SARS and speak to one of the consultants there – better to do this the right way than to mess it up and have hassles with SARS thereafter.

Next week we will be looking at something different again.

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

Monday, February 02, 2015

Motivation - The Basics to Succeed

MOTIVATION – The Basics To Succeed

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC- June

I am often asked “what is the recipe for success?”  Well at the risk of upsetting a huge bunch of the population, let me say this – success for each person means different things.  So how you as an individual would then achieve that success would also then vary from individual to individual.

In my opinion through there are certain elements that are necessary, irrespective of what your idea of success may be.

These are (but not limited to) having the right attitude.  Your attitude must reflect who you are as an individual.  So if you feel that you are lost and on a ‘road to nowhere’ that is exactly what will be reflected in your attitude.  Clearly the best attitude to have is a “Winning Attitude”.  If you think of yourself as a winner, as someone who can do what is required or necessary, then this will be reflected in the way that you conduct your business.

Don’t get me wrong – you still have to have fun with what you are doing, otherwise – what’s the point?

But getting things done, efficiently and effectively and treating people in an open minded manner will show that although you mean business you are still open to the point of view of others.  It’s all in your attitude.

Common sense, although in very short supply, in my opinion also counts for a great deal in having the right attitude as does those who are willing to go the extra mile.

So have a good look at your attitude, the way it is rather than the way you think it is.  Be honest with yourself and if you feel that you need an attitude adjustment  - there is no time like the present!

What about belief? Do you believe in yourself?  Do you believe that you can be a leader or that you can be true to yourself and that you can make a difference in the lives of others?  You see, if you cannot believe in yourself – how is it possible that you think that others would believe in you. 

Stands to reason don’t you think?

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

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Motivation - Sharing Life


By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from Erin Majors, who says:

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”

This is so true of so much in life.  I am often astounded at how incredibly scared (or perhaps selfish is the right word) people are to share, especially in the business world.  It’s almost as if, people are scared to give someone a helping hand because that may mean that  they will lose out on the deal.  How bizarre!  To my mind, sharing something with someone, just makes my business just that much stronger – pretty much I guess, like the brighter light of two candles as apposed to just one.  Yet many people look at me, with a really puzzled expression on their faces when I ask “How may I be of assistance to you?”  Strange that don’t you think?

Then of course, you have those individuals who ‘help’ others, but only with some sort of hidden agenda, or a ‘what’s in it for me’!  I must say, I really don’t get that one – because sooner or later, any deviousness will come out, and usually when you least expect it!  Why does there always have to be some sort of ‘pay off’?

For me the Universe, is a really, really fun place.  I have been helped along this pathway of life, many times by complete strangers. People, whose names I never even got to know and thankfully, I have been in a position to help some along the way – again often people whose names I never got to know and quite honestly it gave me a great sense of satisfaction.  I was giving back you see – giving back to the Universe that has given so much to me.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking about people, who only have one purpose in life, and that is to get as much as they can out of somebody, whilst giving as little as they can in return!  I’m not talking about the people who make a career out taking anything and everything that they can.  I am not talking about the people who continually whine and moan about how badly life has treated them and how all they need is a little bit of help and then sit on their fat backsides and do nothing for themselves, whilst all around them people running around frenetically, doing everything for them!

I’m talking about empowering people to do for themselves, just like a candle – once lit – burns for itself.  Sometimes people just need a helping hand to steer them in the right direction or a little advice or a word of encouragement.

So what kind of person are you?  Do you give back to life or are you the person that just takes from it?

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