Thursday, April 30, 2015

Networking 101 - Have a Plan of Action



Have a Plan of Action

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“ Be strategic and determine what your goals are.  Assess your current network and plan your future networking accordingly.”

Wow!  So this pretty much fits in with what I have been saying over the last 4 weeks or so.

Let’s re-iterate! What is it that you want to accomplish when you go to a networking event?  Do you want to ‘sell’ your product and/or service or do you want to ‘buy’ someone else’s product and/or service or do you want to meet up with ‘like minded’ individuals who you want to build relationships with?

If you are wanting to build relationships with ‘like minded’ individuals, they then become your networking partners or, if you like ‘are in your circle of influence’. 

How do you go about educating the people in your ‘circle of influence’ or your networking partners about the type of clients that you wish to do business with? Do you actually know what kind of clients it is that you want?

What about subsequent meetings with your networking partners or circle of influence?  How do you engage with them in terms of reciprocal networking?

Do you have any kind of plan of action?

You see, like most things in life, if you don’t plan . .  well you have exactly  . . .  nothing!

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  or

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Networking 101 - Sharing with Networking Partners



Sharing with Networking Partners

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today I am going to share with you, one of the most effective ways to educate your networking partners about what it is and who it is, that you are looking for in a client.

Actually it’s awfully simple – you have to share!  Yes it is actually as simple as that, you have to share with them the qualities of your current clientele.

Paint a visual picture or even a virtual picture of the people who you currently do work for.  Tell them the top five things (you can tell them more next time to you know) that you do for those particular clients and why those clients need you do to those things for them.

If you can, arrange for the client to come and talk about the difficulties that they were having, how what you have done has made such a big change to their business.

Give some examples of measurements that been made to illustrate your point – for example, Ann said that she was closing one in forty five deals before she had some sales coaching by Tom and now she is closing four in five deals.

Try and do demonstrations where possible, when you can show people something. It often has a far more profound effect than just talking about it.  Have a power-point presentation done or bring a flipchart.

This kind of ‘show and tell’ interactions really help to ensure that your networking partners really understand the type and calibre of the person that you would like to have referred to you.

The more you show your ‘circle of influence’ the type of referral and the calibre of client that you desire, the more that you will find that the referrals that you begin to get will be of a much higher calibre than you currently (perhaps) have and the more chance you will have of closing the sale.
I have found that if I ‘enlighten’ the people that I want to get referrals from rather than trying to ‘sell’ them what I have, it makes it easier for them to understand what it is that I want.

So change your mindset when you go to a Networking event, don’t try and sell anyone anything, rather try and educate them on how what you do and/or sell can make a difference and then watch and see how the quality of your referrals will improve.

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Business Tips - The Man (or Woman) in the Mirror

BUSINESS TIPS – The Man (or Woman) in the Mirror

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – December 2014

Ken Blanchard says “If you want to know why your people are not performing well, step up to the mirror and take a peek”.

This one really made me smile -  you see I recently attended a seminar where Billy Selekane was one of the guest speakers and he said that Michael Jackson’s song “Man in the Mirror” was singularly instrumental in changing his life and I guess if you listen to the words properly you will hear something which explains the profound impact that the song had on him – it goes something like this:
“I’m starting with the man in the mirror,
I’m asking him to change his ways & no message could have been any clearer,
If you wanna make the world a better place,
Take a look at yourself and then make a change!”

I guess half the battle is firstly to recognize that there is a problem and then to get clarity on exactly what that problem is.  Only then will you be in a position to make a decision on how to go about finding the correct solution to that problem and in my experience, nine times out of ten it is lodged somewhere between “Perception, Expectation, Assumption and Interpretation!”

Those four words for me are the most dangerous in the dictionary because they very seldom meet reality!

Often the lack of good performance is a lack of understanding of the communication and then the employee assumes that they understand what needs to be done and the employer assumes that the employee knows what needs to be done and the result is chaos, resentment, angst and hurt feelings.

Then of course the perception on the part of the employee is an emotional one of “I get no appreciation for my efforts” and the expectations on the part of the employer are not met and there is an emotional “the staff are not performing properly because they are lazy and ungrateful” and the reality of course is that neither statements are even remotely correct,

Perhaps the better option would be to ascertain whether or not they have understood the instruction correctly the first time around.  The reality is that often our interpretation of something is completely different to the next person.

When I am facilitating workshops, I have learnt that it is not enough to just ask people if they understand because usually the answer is a resounding yes!  I have learnt to take it one step further and ask them to tell me what they understand from what it is that I have just told them.

The first time I did this, I was absolutely astounded by the different answers that I got around the room.  The delegates themselves were amazed at the different responses, the different interpretations, the different viewpoints and perceptions.  It was an extremely profound moment and one that had a huge impact on all of us.

So for the sake of your sanity and for the benefit of your relationship with your employees make sure that everyone really does understand the requirements and that you are all on the same  page.  You’ll be amazed at how much your employee’s performance will improve.

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

Monday, April 27, 2015

Motivation - The Most Important Relationship

MOTIVATION – What are you waiting for?

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – July 2014

Robin Good says “The most important relationship is the one that you have with yourself.”

I must confess that whilst I absolutely, emphatically agree with this statement, when I sat down to write my musings  today, my thoughts on the subject were strangely ‘missing in action’!

I suspect that it is because I have undergone some huge changes in my life over the last year or so.

You see, someone came into my life last year and I have learnt some very big, very personal lessons from them.  One of the biggest of these life lessons is around how I value myself and my self worth, what I think of myself and how much of this is evidenced by how I allow others to treat me.

The reality of course is that I did allow others to treat me with disrespect and disdain and even on occasion complete disparagement. How utterly ridiculous is that! 

This person gently pointed out what was happening and quite frankly I was horrified at the extent to which I had allowed this to happen.  For years now I have allowed myself to be belittled and slowly but surely this has eaten away at my self respect, which of course has eroded my self esteem and my self worth. How utterly sad is that?

Believe me when I tell you that I have done an about turn and am living life with my eyes wide open.  Those who have gotten away with treating me so badly for so long have had a rude awakening and know that they can no longer do this -  the choice of course is theirs, they can have me in their lives . . . or not.  Some have chosen to continue to walk with me on the path of this journey through life, some have chosen not to, not necessarily because they have walked away, but because they have continued to treat me badly, and I have walked away.

For the first time in a very long time I feel alive!  It is as though every nerve ending in my body is awake and alert and waiting in anticipation for what is about to happen next.  The Universe has also responded and so many doors and opportunities are presenting themselves and I know it is because “I am different”!  I look the same and I sound the same, but I am different.  My demeanor is different, the way that I think is different and therefore the way that I engage with people is different. The way that I look at things and people and how they respond and react to me and with me is different and this change in me is what is making things happen differently.

How fabulous is this – a mindset change is responsible for the way I see myself, the way that I deal with myself and therefore the way that I deal with others. 
My relationship with me is different and it’s wonderful!  I have discovered that I am a worthwhile person and I am now going to invest in me, be gentle and nurturing with me and have fun with me!

Perhaps it is time for you to also look at yourself, inwardly, openly, honestly and unashamedly and see how your relationship is with yourself. If like me, you wouldn’t be friends with you, then maybe it is time to make the changes that you need to make.

Today, I am my own best friend and quite honestly, I like it like this!

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

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Motivation - What are you waiting for?

MOTIVATION – What are you waiting for?

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2014

Jonathan Winters says “I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it!”

Oh wow!  This one really made me smile.  You see I often find myself in limbo . . .  waiting!  Waiting for people to arrive for meetings (I like to be a bit early to make sure I am on time), waiting for people to make a decision or to make up their minds or catch up with me or even just to make an appearance in their own lives.

I am sure you all resonate with the aspect of waiting for someone to do what they need to do so that you can get on with what you need to get on with.  That for me is a really painful process, especially if the other person does not have the same work ethic as I do.  Equally frustrating if not more so is if my contribution to the process is entirely dependent on the outcome of the other persons – now that’s enough to drive me absolutely crazy! Little wonder then that I prefer to work alone.

Here’s the thing though -  we all have a choice and mine is to make things happen!

I remember one of my service providers, let’s call her Jane, was having a lunch at her home one Sunday for all of her clients.  There were many more people attending than there were chairs around the dining-room table and as I got up to help her carry chairs into the dining room, she said to everyone (although no-one in particular) “Get out of the way – Nikki is making things happen again!”

I was quite amused and chatting to her afterwards about the comment she stated that it was best for people to get out of the way when I was doing stuff as I always made things happen and if someone got in the way  it was likely that they would be toppled over or pushed out of the way.

You see, she was someone that stayed on the sidelines and waited for things to happen.  Waited for others to do things for her . . . . waited and waited and waited.  I can think of nothing more soul destroying.

Now it wasn’t that she was lazy or didn’t have any skills.  Quite the opposite in fact, but she didn’t market herself or her business or source any client’s on her own merits – she waited for referrals of other people to make contact with her, and if no new work came in, well that seemed to be just fine. That for me would be absolutely excruciating!

That seriously would not work for me at all.  In fact I would have closed my business before it even got off the ground!

Do I like getting referrals?  Of course I do, who wouldn’t?  the fact of the matter though is that I see referrals as a ‘bonus’.  They’re great and they are wonderful and they bring in loads of money and that is always a good thing, but I could never rely on them and wait for them to come in. 

So in essence, what I am saying is, get up off your butt, get a plan of action in place and move your own sweet self into success.  The sense of achievement that you will feel as you cross each goal off the list and celebrate each little victory as you move closer and closer to your end goal, is something that is priceless and beyond words.

So stop waiting . . .  do something and get the ball rolling!

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

Saturday, April 25, 2015

MOTIVATION – Land and Live Amongst the Stars

MOTIVATION – Land and Live Amongst the Stars

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2014

Les Brown says “Shoot for the Moon.  Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars”.

Every time I read or see this sentence I get such a huge big smile on my face.  It gives me that warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of my stomach.  It makes me realize that all is well in my world and all is fantastic with me and that makes me really grateful!

Now I can see you all reading this with a really puzzled expression on your faces.  You see I have reached for the moon on many occasions and on many of those I have missed completely.  At the time the feeling is one of devastation but the result is that another door or opportunity has presented itself – a great big fat juicy lucrative opportunity that serves me well and that is always a good thing – landing amongst the stars.

Actually if the truth be told, I am precisely in that place right now and that is what I really love about writing my blog because nine times out of ten, I end up writing about stuff that I need to hear the most.

You see at the end of last year with the guidance of my mentor, I put all my plans, my goals and my desires in place.  Everything was done with an action plan, a due date and the detailed list pertaining to how it was going to be done.  A step by step of what I had to do to get things done.  I was going to hit the ground running in 2014.

Please believe me when I say I did hit the ground running in 2014 and I promise you I have hit it hard -  thing is though that often the ‘time’ frame that we live our lives on earth is completely different to that of the Universe.  Whilst common sense and logic must tell me that there is no such thing as ‘time’ in the Universe and its more to do with the lining up or perhaps ‘aligning’ of things, so that they ultimately all roll out fitting into each other and supporting each other to maximize their wealth of abundance, especially for little old me -  the reality is that my deadlines have been missed and things that should have taken place in February have now been moved and shifted out to April, May, June and even as far as August and beyond.

To say that I was a little despondent when I opened my journal to write todays blog would have been a huge understatement – all my carefully laid out plans down the tubes!!  And . . .  are they?  I think not hey!  What they are is ‘moved out’ and ‘shifted’ and a whole new bunch of opportunities have presented themselves in the now, in this current time and space!  How cool is that!

The reality is that although the plans for some opportunities have not happened as and when I wanted them to, they have not disappeared from sight altogether.  The reality is that there are now some new opportunities that have presented themselves for which I have not planned but now I have some time available to not only put stuff into place for the new opportunities, but I will also be able to utilize some of the strategies from my previous planning.

The reality is that I will now also have time to lie amongst the stars and look up at the moon and ‘plan’ my next opportunity to “Shoot for the Moon”!

How awesome is that!

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

HR 101 – How to Manage Sick Leave Abuse – Part 2

HR – How to Manage Sick Leave Abuse – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2013

Last time we looked at some of the records that need to be kept in order to ascertain the trends of absenteeism.

This time we will look at what you need to do in order to try and get to the root of the problem.

You need to do an audit on your company to see if you can highlight the problem areas. 

Included in your audit should be the following (but not limited to):
-    Is there a documented leave policy in place and do all of your staff know the possible consequences of abuse to absenteeism.
-    Whether or not the line managers and/or supervisors (and indeed even you yourself) manage the absenteeism.  Do all the employees face the same consequences or do some employees get preferential treatment?
-    Are the workspaces and/or working conditions comfortable, are your staff working in a safe environment, is there sufficient lighting and air circulation etc.
-    Are there any other factors that could have any bearing on job satisfaction?  If so, these could be part of the absenteeism problem.

There are several ways in which to conduct this type of audit, and it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune and it can be done ‘in-house’ as long as the person conducting the assessment remains impartial and of course there cannot be any ramifications and/or consequences  for the answers that you get from your employees.

One of the most successful ways to conduct this type of audit is by interviewing the staff.  Ideally this would be done with the line managers and employee representatives.  Another way to do this is to get the staff to complete a questionnaire or survey on the important issues – this of course can be done anonymously.

Some of the questions that could be asked are (but not limited to):-
-    What work do you do?
-    What are your responsibilities (as you understand them)
-    What department do you work in
-    Do any of the following impact on your work (work flow and/or quality of the work that is produced):
•    Level of noise
•    Attitude of fellow staff members and to fellow staff members
•    Attitude of management and to management
•    Availability of tools and equipment
•    Training to use the tools and equipment (and include in here computer and technical skills too)
•    Physical layout and accessibility of the work areas in relation to the work flow
•    Personal circumstances that may make coming to work difficult
•    Personal health problems
•    Any other factor that may make coming to work difficult

Don’t forget to include something where the staff can list some additional comments or expectations.

Once you have gathered all the information together, it might be time for you as the employer to make some changes.  Continue to monitor the absenteeism to see if those changes have made any difference.  If they have, well done – if they haven’t then probably it is just in the nature of the employees that you have and it is time to bring out the big guns and institute proceedings against them for the excessive absenteeism or “Incapacity” to give it the correct term. 

Remember though that it is a process and it’s a process that will have to be properly managed.  So every step along the way needs to be documented properly.  As the employer, you will have to ‘show’ that you have given them every opportunity to improve their attendance and assist them with their health care.

The bottom line however is simple – as much as the employees have all sorts of rights from the employer, the employer also has the right to expect the work to get done and therefore the employer has the right to expect the employee to be at work.

Don’t get emotional about it, just stick to the facts and if you are not sure what to do, then get a Labour Consultant to assist you.  It will be the cheaper option in the long run.

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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

HR 101 – How to Manage Sick Leave Abuse - Part 1

HR – How to Manage Sick Leave Abuse - Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC – February 2013

I can’t begin to tell you how many of my current clients are singing the same tune.  Actually if the truth be told it is much more of a lament.  Their staff are constantly off work “sick”.  Sadly for the employer this constant abuse of sick leave has far reaching and very damaging consequences and either the employee doesn’t understand this or they don’t give two hoots about the high risk factor to their employment that their irresponsible behaviour causes.

As the employer, you need to know exactly what the problem is and of course how big the problem is in terms of its financial implications.  Once this has been determined you will be in a far better position to take steps to address the situation.

Firstly you need to ascertain just how big your problem is and it is therefore time to look at the records to get all the numbers (now do you understand just how important it is to get the records done, up to date and properly maintained).
-    You need to have a look at the amount of time taken for each absence, for each staff member.  Are they ‘one day’ absences or two days at a time or several days.  What about ‘which’ days are usually taken – are they usually before or after a weekend or public holiday?  Are there any kinds of consistencies, for example, your staff member has a child who is in the 1st team swim squad.  The team travels for meets all over the country.  The employee is absent mostly on Mondays and Tuesdays in the summer months, but very seldom in winter!
-    What do these absences cost you?  Apart from the fact that you are paying the wages/salary of the employee (so their daily rate would apply) there is also the lack of productivity that needs to be factored in as obviously the deliverables are also affected.  So start there and work out a rough estimate.
-    Get some sort of indication of the ‘type of illnesses’ that the staff claim to have.  For example you would expect people to be ‘down with the flu’ or coughs and colds, during the winter months, but not necessarily all the way through summer as well. Obviously there will be some instances where this information is not available, but where and when it is, it makes for interesting reading.

Once you have gathered and analysed all of this information you will be in a far better position to understand the impact that the absenteeism has on your company.

Next time we will have a look at trying to ascertain the causes of the absenteeism.

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

HR 101 - Take your time



Take your time

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

On the table today is simplifying the components of your business.  Remember that people who go to networking meetings are going to be listening to a great number of people, all in the space of a minimum of time.  It’s natural to want to tell everybody who attends, all 300 things that you do in your business.  It’s just too much information – so please do your best to resist the urge!

Even if you attend one meeting a week, that’s 52 times you will be given the opportunity to tell people who you are and the wonderful bouquet of products and/or services.  At any given meeting though, try and limit your product and/or services to just one.

Take the time to explain in detail, educate your networking partners – create visual posters or images in their minds.  Let them ‘feel’ and see and smell and touch your products and/or service.  Demonstrate your product or tell them stories about the value of your service.  Explain in detail the value add properties and the consequences of what can/will/might go wrong if people don’t use your product and/or service or what it is that they might be missing out on.

Each week, talk about a different product or a different aspect of your business.  Each week get detailed and ‘up close and personal’.  Make your stories and tales really interesting and full of useful information, so that they cannot wait for the next meeting and/or encounter.

Make them want to know more about what it is that you do.

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

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

BUSINESS TIPS – 8 Tips on Stuff you Should know Before you Start a Business – Part 4.

BUSINESS TIPS – 8 Tips on Stuff you Should know Before you Start a Business – Part 4.

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – November 2014

So far we have looked at how vital it is to get clarity, to put a Business Plan into place, doing the research, avoiding discounts, hiring friends (or even family) and leaving the past behind.  Today we are in the final stretch with the last two tips.

Don’t be afraid to fail
I recently saw one of those motivational posts that said something along the lines of  “The only difference between you and a master is that the master has failed many more times than you’ve even tried”!

The reality is that we fail . . . . .  all the time.  Think about the red robot that stopped you – you failed to go through the green in time, or the meeting that you were late for or even worse missed altogether.  They’re failures, sure not life threatening ones, but failures non-the-less!

Don’t be too hard on yourself when you do fail.  Dust yourself off, learn the lesson from what you did wrong and then discard the failure and move on.  Take the lesson you’ve learnt, put it together with all the things that you did right and move forward.

I started this particular series with a plan, a business plan and I am going to end it with a plan – an action plan!  Clearly planning is of great importance.

The Action Plan
For me, each issue that comes up must have its own plan.  So for example the registration and legal requirements need a plan so that I know what needs to be registered, how (what documents are needed to be completed and/or attached to the registration) and when by.

The administrative process needs an action plan.  What needs to get done, who is going to do it and how – the sales process would feature hugely here.

The operational requirements needs an action plan.  What needs to get done, who is going to do it and how – the deliverables process would typically feature here.

Then of course the HR requirements also needs its own plan.  What employees need to be sourced and recruited and of course how many.  What skills do they need, what are the legal requirements, where do you find them -  what do you need?  So typically you would need things like job specifications, job descriptions, letters of employment and the whole host of policies and procedures.  Issues around who is going to write or supply them and when do you need them by, would feature here.

I have often heard people, from the safety of their cushy corporate jobs you understand, say things like “I want to start my own company – how hard can it be?”

The reality of course is that it is hard -  the reality is that there is a huge amount to do, to research and to understand and if you cannot keep track of it all you will make things a whole lot harder for yourself than they need to be.

So although it might take you a whole heap of time to put the action plans into place, they will most definitely save you a whole lot of time and angst in the long run.

Here we are at the end of this particular series.  I hope that they have been of some help and benefit to you as you start this exciting chapter of your journey.

I wish you good luck, good wishes and good fortune.

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

Monday, April 20, 2015

MOTIVATION – Choose how you are going to live

MOTIVATION – Choose how you are going to live

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – March 2014

Joan Baez said “You don’t get to choose how you are going to die, or when.  You can only decide how you are going to live – now.”

This really does resonate with me at the moment.  You see I am really down in the dumps and feeling very sorry for myself.  There’s no real reason for me to be feeling like this – nothing has gone wrong, no-one has slighted me in any way – in fact I am really busy on the work front and very content on the home front.  I’m just feeling blue!

Now I have often written about the choices that we make (or don’t make for that matter) so I do understand from a logical prospective, that me being blue is some sort of choice that I have made on a subconscious level and that therefore I can, on a conscious level, make another choice to be upbeat and positive.

The problem for me right now is that is that it is easy to make that choice – the difficulty of course is in the ‘living’ of that choice.

The difficulty now for me is to look beyond the fog that is clouding my mind.  You see the blues that I am having is not based or bound by logic but by emotion.  So clearly I have to step away from all the emotion in order for me to get back to the place where logic prevails – and of course that is another choice that I have to make.

One step at a time, once choice at a time and of course, my mindset will change and the blues will simply just fade away.

So, here I go to make a choice . . . .

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

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Motivation - Can't or Won't

MOTIVATION – Can't' or Won't

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – February 2014

Jan Ashford says "There is no such thing as can't, only won't"

Isn't it absolutely amazing how the thing that is absolutely bugging me the most or the thing that I most need to learn about is the thing that I get to write about! It always makes me smile when these opportunities present themselves in this way.

Let me tell you the story . . . .

I am currently doing some work for a client, let's call them ABC Products.  They have several branches throughout the country and even some across borders.

Although the business is a number of years old now and doing very well, there are very few policies, procedures and templates in place - including (but not limited to) the fact that Letters or Contracts of employment have not been issued.

For several months now I have been trying to get information out of the office administration staff in each of the branches and it has been a very long and frustrating process.

The final straw happened today when I received a reply from the Office Administrator.  Now you may be wondering why receiving a reply from the Office Administrator would cause such a furor.  Well you see it's like this, this is the fourth time she has sent me the exact same reply, clearly the problem is that she has not answered the question.  Actually the reality is that she probably did not read the question properly and therefore did not answer it at all.

It was Einstein who said that "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again whilst expecting a different outcome"!

Now clearly the problem was either the Office Administrator "could not" give me the correct answer or she "would not" give me the correct answer! Yet instead of explaining what the problem was to me, so that we could find a workable solution, she merely continued to send me the incorrect information in the hope that I would either accept it or just go away!

Clearly I did neither!  What eventually happened of course, is that she ended up facing disciplinary charges for failing to comply with a reasonable instruction and that of course, makes me the "bad" guy - not that that concerns me in any way, you understand.

The reality is that all this drama could have been easily avoided if only she had had a mind shift change and become a part of the solution instead of contributing to the problem.

I guess it goes to the age old story of how resistant we humans are to change of any sort - whether it will ultimately make our lives easier or not.  The reality of that of course, is that "change" is one if the few things that is absolutely guaranteed and we had best get used to the idea and just deal with it or we will be faced with a life full of angst and challenge.

So the challenge is for us to let go of the angst and embrace the change.  That way at least we have some control over how and when the change takes place.

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

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Motivation - The Magic of Success

MOTIVATION –  The Magic of Success

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – May 2013

Jim Rohn says that “Success is neither magical nor mysterious.  Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.”

I think that what Jim is trying to say is that ‘success’ doesn’t just happen like something that appears magically out of thin air.  Success is not a mysterious thing that just appears, but rather something that happens as a result of a whole lot of actions that have to take place and many of these actions have to take place in a specific sequence and they have to take place consistently, usually time and time again.

Like anything else in life, success is something that is easily achieved with proper planning and like anything else you need to have ‘actions’ or deliverables that need to be met and by meeting these ‘deliverables’ your success will ‘magically and mysteriously’ appear!

Decide what it is that you want to achieve and by when you want to achieve it.  It really is no good wanting to achieve something and not having a “by when” date that it needs to be achieved by.  You obviously need to know exactly what it is that you want to achieve.  Not being 100% sure about this will usually mean that you wander around life in a perpetual fog.

Once you have decided what you want to achieve and by when you want to achieve it, then you need to put a plan into place around what you need to do in order to achieve your goal.

Remember that each step that has to be taken should have a deadline date by which time it should be completed.

Think about it for a moment – let’s take one of my favorite authors, Dean Koontz – when he writes a book he needs to have, at the very beginning of the process, an outline or some sort of an idea of what the story is going to be about.  Then he has to have a date by when the book must be completed.  Between the idea for the book and the date by which it has to be completed, a certain amount of research needs to take place and of course the book itself has to be written as well as proof read and then there are the re-writes etc.  Clearly he has to allocate a dedicated amounted of time to the research as well as the actual writing of the book.  Now be that a number of hours per day or a specific number of words per day, he needs to have some sort of schedule in place in order for him to successfully meet his goals.

Obviously he needs to remain focused on these goals and committed to meeting his deadlines –failing to be focused or committed will result in . . . .  well no book being completed on time.  That I’m afraid is the bottom line!

So for me the ‘magical’ moment is when I complete the final task, on time.  In that moment of completion the success takes place and I can quite honestly say that there is nothing quite like that particular feeling, on earth.

That successful moment is one of the most magical that you will ever experience.

So plan, then execute and finally celebrate your magical moment!

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Networking 101 - The Dream Referral



The Dream Referral

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today I continue with my tips on the ‘how to’ of getting your dream referrals from your ‘Circle of Influence’ or Network.

Last week we looked at teaching our Networks about what our “Dream Referral” looks like.  This week I would like to talk about ‘getting what we ask for’.

Now I’m sure that brought a smile to many faces, as we are often told to ‘be careful what you ask for’ and yet this is exactly what it is that I want to discuss.

We often hear people at Networking meetings, asking us to refer them to “Anyone who wants and/or who is looking for . . . .” or how about “Everyone who want and/or who is looking for . . . .”  I am sure you remember exactly who they are and also exactly what the product and/or service is that they want you to refer on their behalf.  You don’t!  You really don’t!  Ok, let me explain why you don’t.

It appears that when we hear to many ‘anyone’s’ and ‘everyone’s’ we tune out because we know so many anyone’s and/or everyone’s that it becomes too much and we end up not referring ‘anyone’ to ‘everyone’, or is it the other way around?  I am led to believe that this has something to do with information overload, and let’s face it – there is a huge amount of irrelevant information out there.  So in order for us to access the correct information we need to ask specific questions.

So too it is with referrals!  If you want the right referral, you have to be specific with your request when asking for referrals.

Be specific about who you would like to do work for and the kind of work that you want to do, so that your Networking partners have a clear picture in their minds of the type of person/referral that you are wanting.

Remember though – Be careful what you wish for!

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

BUSINESS TIPS – 8 Tips on Stuff you Should know Before you Start a Business – Part 3.

BUSINESS TIPS – 8 Tips on Stuff you Should know Before you Start a Business – Part 3.

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – November 2014

So far we have looked at how vital it is to get clarity, to put a Business Plan into place, doing the research and avoiding discounts.  Today we will be looking at a few more issues.

Hiring Friends
If ever there is a quagmire in business, this has surely got to be one of the biggest!

The reason for this is that generally speaking emotions get in the way and when things should be debated or problems discussed, we tend to try and steer clear of the confrontation so as not to upset the friend and in doing so, we put the friendship under another type of strain.

The reality of course is that the friendship/relationship should not be brought into the office and any issues concerning work or office, should be dealt with as you would deal with any other employee.

Human nature being what it is however, means that that seldom happens and unacceptable situations are allowed to continue until somebody snaps and irreparable damage is done to both the working relationship and the friendship.

If you are one of those people who find it difficult to separate the two relationships (and please understand that this would put you in the majority of individuals out there) then it would be in your own best interest not to hire someone that you consider a friend.

Similarly and equally as dangerous is developing ‘friendships’ at work.  What usually happens then is the same type of scenario as hiring friends and/or equally as serious, holding onto staff (who are now friends) who want to leave for whatever reason, but you don’t want to let them go.

Both situations are not sustainable and will more often than not, not be a good fit and when things go south and really aren’t working out well between employees and employers who are friends (or even family), then emotions need to be put aside and good business sense needs to be exercised and the employee needs to find work elsewhere.

Leave the Past in the Past, where it belongs!
Sounds like a title for a song doesn’t it!

Don’t get me wrong for one moment -  having previous experience is a great benefit and it certainly will serve you well in a new venture.  However, that said, especially if your previous business failed or did not take off as planned, don’t bring your fears and uncertainties and expectations in with your new ideas – leave those behind.

Previous competition, crazy customer needs and service challenges and the expectations that went with those, should also be left behind.  Learn the lesson that they taught you and move on.

This is a new business and it needs to be given the respect and dignity that it deserves.  So start afresh with brand new players for customers and new suppliers alike.

Remember that your business plan is a living, breathing document and you need to keep changing it and tweaking it as the market place changes and moves with the times.

Remember to keep up with the ever changing market place too.  Technology moves very fast and often as a product hits the shelves it is already “old”!  Make sure that you keep abreast with what is taking place in your industry in order for you to be a leader who reaps the rewards rather than a follower who fights with snaps and snarls for the scraps left behind.

Next time we will look at a few more of these points that should be taken into consideration before you even start.

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

Monday, April 13, 2015

MOTIVATION – Attaining the Impossible

MOTIVATION –  Attaining the Impossible

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2013

“Optimists enrich the present, enhance the future, challenge the improbable and attain the impossible” says William Arthur Ward.

What a lovely thought!  Actually what a lovely several thoughts!

I have always believed that I am a ‘realistic optimist’.  I remember sitting in my English Major class in college in the early 70’s and making that statement, in front of the whole class, to the teacher (who I still consider one of my closest friends some almost 45 years down the line), and her looking at me as though I had ‘lost the plot’ when she said “Exactly what does that mean?”

To be completely fair, I have been asked that very same question many times since then and explained as I will here.

Let me put it this way (and I am going to give my beliefs around South Africa here as an example), I have great faith in South Africa.  I think that we have huge potential to grow as a nation, to join together in making this country the best that it can be.  I believe that if we all work together and all do our bit, that we can eradicate poverty, crime and corruption.  That is the optimist in me talking.  The reality of course is that we may very well grow but that will be a huge climb because unfortunately the fact of the matter is that not all members of the nation will be ‘pulling’ in the same direction. Not all will be working to eradicate poverty because some will be stealing the food/opportunity/ money for education etc. right out of the hands of those poor people.  Not all will be working to eradicate crime and corruption, because many will be actually working very hard in their chosen professions of crime and corruption! That’s the realist in me talking.

So whilst I am very enthusiastic about the potential of the country I am also acutely aware of the challenges that face us all if we are to get it right.

Thing is though, although I am very aware of the challenges, I am also inspired enough to want to do something to make the whole thing work.  I am still prepared to ‘do my bit’ to make a difference and to motivate and perhaps even inspire others to also do their bit, no matter how small or how ‘little’ that bit is, because you see – all the ‘little’ bits will at some point join up to become a ‘big’ bit and that ‘big’ bit will make a huge difference and that ‘huge difference’ will ‘enrich the present, enhance the future, challenge the improbable and attain the impossible’.

As much as the reality is that there will always be those who are pessimistic about the future, the reality is also that the impossible can be obtained, if everyone ‘Chips in’ and does their ‘little’ bit.

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

Sunday, April 12, 2015

MOTIVATION – Run to Your Dreams

MOTIVATION –  Run to Your Dreams

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2013

Tina Downey says “You can run from your dreams in fear or run to your dreams in faith.”

For me this is a ‘no brainer’, but the question is always, which one will you choose?  I was recently interviewed on Summit TV on the issues around fear and how that fear impacts on Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners  and how these Entrepreneurs and Small Business owners (or actually anyone for that matter) can deal with and even ultimately conquer or get over their fear.

There are of course different types of fear, fear of the dark or fear of heights and for the average business owner, fear of commitment, fear of failure or even fear of success.  Then we are often fearful of our own perceived shortcomings, our belief in ourselves (or lack thereof) – you know the one that I mean, that little voice in our heads that often  says things like  ‘don’t be ridiculous – of course you can’t do that’! The little voice in our heads that second guesses our every move, our every decision, that little voice that mocks us at every opportunity.

The biggest problem with fear is that it paralyses us.  We get sucked into its core and then it overwhelms us and the perception is that we need to ‘get away’ from it as fast and as far as possible.  We focus our entire beings on – getting away!

The reality of course is that fear will always follow and if you are fearful about something, (irrespective of what that ‘something’ is) and you don’t deal with the issue or the cause of that fear or the fear itself – there is nowhere on this planet that you can actually hide safely from that fear.

So how do you deal with that fear?  How do you reclaim your power (and make no mistake, we are all incredibly powerful beings)? 

Like most things in life different people deal with situations differently.  For me, facing my fear is the most difficult but yet the most liberating way of dealing with my fears and like we here in Africa say, “You eat an elephant one bite at a time”, the only way that I can deal with my fear is one step at a time.  I have to face that fear and ask the questions and believe me they are often incredibly hard questions because you have to dig deep inside yourself to find the answers.  The “what exactly am I afraid of” and “why am I afraid of that . .” type questions. Oh . . .  and there is no point is lying, no matter how much your squirm and try to get away . .  you have to be honest with yourself, brutally honest! 

Oh, and whilst I am on the subject – be prepared to make some changes in yourself, your mindset and the very core of who you are as a person.  You know the ones I mean – the hard ones! 

I find the easiest way to do this is, as usual, to write things down.  Let your pen be governed by your thoughts as you write down the question that you asked yourself and then the answer that comes – usually very slowly to start with and then like a gushing faucet or raging river – don’t worry about spelling or even writing down full sentences – don’t worry about whether you are making any sense at all, just write.  Once done you will be exhausted – well I always am.  Then it is time to be gentle with yourself, take a nap or have a massage – take your mind off what you have just gone through.

Once refreshed, go back to your writing and go through each item individually – make notes on what can be done differently to change the outcome and then work through each one individually. Put your thoughts into an action plan and make sure that the plan has dates by which tasks must be accomplished and slowly but surely get on with it.  Make sure that there are consequences if you don’t meet your deadlines and rewards if you do.  If you need to, turn it into a challenge or a game and before you know it, that particular fear will have dissipated and you will be well on your way to successfully accomplishing your goals.

Will you ever be afraid again – probably!  The fact of the matter is that we are human and we doubt ourselves, our actions, our plans. We doubt who we are and what we are capable of and even what our intentions are.  That said, it is also our very ‘human-ness’ that makes us courageous and strong and committed too.

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

Saturday, April 11, 2015

MOTIVATION – Don’t Put your Happiness on Hold

MOTIVATION –  Don’t Put your Happiness on Hold

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – February 2013

Dale Carnegie said “Many people thing that if they were only in some other place, or had some other job, they would be happy.  Well that is doubtful.  So get as much happiness out of what you are doing, as you can and don’t put off being happy until some future date.”

Man oh man! I sure did have a quiet chuckle around this one!

You see I don’t believe that this only applies to your ‘happiness’!  I think that this applies to ‘life’ in general!

How many times during the course of the day do we hear ‘when xyz happens, things will be better or ‘when xyz kicks in things will be better’ or ‘when xyz happens I will feel better’ (insert any other saying that you’ve heard here).

The fact of the matter is that we tend to dwell in the past (and some of us seem to live there on a permanent basis), or live for the future.

What ever happened to the present or the ‘now’?  What ever happened to living in the moment?  How on earth do you enjoy life if you never take the time to ‘live it’?  We are always over analyzing the past when we know on some level that we cannot change what has already taken place.  We are always over planning the future when logic must tell us that the future can only be determined by what we do in the present!  Yet never quite being present, well present in our own lives, we plan and worry and hope and wish and . . .  well nothing really changes does it?

The reason that nothing really changes is because you are not happy inside of yourself, you are not content with who you are as a person and until you change that or make peace with it, it doesn’t really matter how much money you have, how much power you have, how much you have in terms of worldly possessions, you will never be content or happy.  The only way to change what you are not happy with inside of yourself is to make the decision to change – yip, it’s actually that simple. 

You have to make the decision to see your circumstances differently or to react differently to any given situation or feel differently when you are confronted with a certain set of circumstances.  You have the power to make the change! 

So the next time you feel that you can’t cope because there is no money and things will be better when you do have money, rather think about all the things that you can do with what you have and be amazed and how different you will feel.  You make your own happiness, but you have to make the decision to do so!

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

HR 101 - What is Dereliction of Duty?

HR – What is Dereliction of Duty?

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC – February 2013

The Collins Concise Dictionary defines ‘dereliction’ as “conscious or wilful neglect” (especially of duty), whilst the Dictionary of English Synonyms lists the synonyms as ‘abandonment’ and ‘desertion’.  The meaning therefore is very clear – it is when an employee intentionally or on purpose, if you will, does not perform their tasks or duties.  There are no ‘accidents’ or ‘mistakes’ here – this is deliberate.

Many employers, when charging an employee for some misdemeanour or another, use the incorrect terminology and the term “Dereliction of Duties” has great ominous and serious connotation to it.  This coupled with the fact that it is a dismissible offence, even for the first offence, often makes it a great tool for frightening the hell out of the staff.

Employers – you need to be careful here as charging for the incorrect offence (or even wording the charges incorrectly for that matter) will result in a ‘not guilty’ verdict for the employee!

Let’s have a look at some examples of what can be termed as ‘Dereliction of Duties’.
-    When an employee completely ignores the client he/she is supposed to be serving, in order to complete the cell phone discussion that are having with a friend.
-    When the security guard leaves his post to go home early (or any time for that matter), without a valid reason.
-    When a staff member gives the keys to the safe or passwords of the alarms to an unauthorized colleague, so that they can have an extended lunch or go home early.
-    When an employee leaves the company truck, heavily laden with product, in a dodgy part of town whilst he takes his lady of the moment to the movies.
-    When a machine operator switches off all the safety devices on all the machines that are operated by everyone other than him.
-    When an employee downloads porn from a site that he knows is full of viruses.

Pretty standard stuff, I am sure you will agree although I am equally sure that you now understand the difference between not doing (or doing for that matter) something by accident and doing something that is planned, intended or deliberate.

Clearly then ‘dereliction of duties’ should not be used in instances that have arisen due to misunderstandings or miscommunication or because the staff member lacks adequate skills or if machinery is faulty or not correctly maintained.

The punishment has to fit the crime and the crime needs to be correctly identified.  Charges that are incorrect will usually be thrown out and/or the employee found ‘not guilty’.

Again clearly, it is in your own best interests as an employer to ensure that you get the correct outcome by keeping your emotions in check and dealing with or presenting the facts calmly and confidently is always a good thing.

To ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them as well as what the consequences are, if the boundaries are breached, to ensure that you have proper policies and procedures in place and that your line managers (and of course yourself) are properly trained to ensure that discipline and control is maintained.

Finally, make sure that all contraventions to laid down procedures are properly and calmly investigated and that the correct, legally applicable charges and therefore the correct wording is used to prevent additional losses to the company in the form of penalties levied against the employer.

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

Friday, April 10, 2015

HR 101 - Training Records Check List

HR – Training Records Check List

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC – January 2013

As usual it is of the utmost importance that accurate staff records are kept and maintained.  Ultimately these may be required to prove illegibility in terms of BEE and/or EE requirements.

Clearly it will also assist with ensuring that staff are adequately trained for the tasks that have been allocated to them and/or to ensure that they remain up to date and ‘current’ with the latest technological and/or legal requirements and/or methodologies.

Some of the required information is (but not limited to):

1.    Employee’s personal information:
-    Surname
-    Name(s)
-    Identity Number
-    Employee Number (where applicable)
-    Designation/Position
-    Grade/Level
-    Line Manager
-    Department
-    Date Started
-    Gender
-    Racial Group
-    Disability

2.    Training courses attended
-    Course Name
-    Type of Training (i.e. skills/development/ABET/school level/further education/tertiary etc.)
-    Training Provider – Name
-    Training Provider’s registration information with the relevant SETA’s etc.
-    Starting Date
-    Completion Date
-    Number of Training days/hours
-    NQF credits – if registered
-    Examination information including results obtained.
-    Direct costs incurred – cost of course/books/examination fees/any other.
-    Indirect costs incurred – travel/accommodation/meals/any other.

3.    Bursary Information
-    Type of Study
-    Name of course/degree/diploma
-    Special Conditions that may apply
-    Contract date
-    Contract Term
-    Costs incurred.

Remember though that records are only worth anything if they are updated and maintained on a regular basis.

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

Thursday, April 09, 2015

HR 101 - What is Condonation?

HR – What is Condonation

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC March 2012

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that ‘condonation’ is:

“Implied pardon of an offense by treating the offender as if it had not been committed”.

Condonation in terms of labour is when an employee fails to refer a dispute to the CCMA (Committee for conciliation, mediation and arbitration), within the 30 day time period.

Let’s bring out the protagonists. Mike owns a small but very busy cell phone retail store is a popular mall.  George is one of the sales assistants.

George keeps taking sick leave and he does not follow the correct procedures which are 1) to contact his supervisor if he is not going to be at work or be at work on time and 2) to produce a doctor’s certificate if he has been off work for longer than two days.

George has already had a 1st, 2nd and final written warning for these offences.

George is once again not at work, he hasn’t phoned in and they have not been able to contact him.  A week later George comes back to work.  George is silent on the issue of why he did not call in and why he was not contactable but he produces a note from the clinic evidencing that he was at the clinic on the first day that he was absent from work.  There is no further documentation to evidence that George has been booked off.

George is issued with a notice to attend a disciplinary, he is found guilty and dismissed.

George does not appeal his dismissal and nothing is heard from him until three months later when Mike received a notification from the CCMA.

Now the normal rule is that George had 30 days after the date of his dismissal to lodge a dispute at the CCMA and yet, here we are three months down the line and a dispute has been lodged.

George had been to a labour attorney who had made a Condonation application and the commission had granted it.

Some of the issues that the commission would have had to look at and consider before either condoning the application or rejecting it are (but not limited to):
-    How late is the referral
-    The reason for the referral being late
-    Whether the employee has a case or not
-    Whether there is prejudice to both the employer and the employee.

In this particular instance George had advised that he had been ill and had supporting documentation (being a letter from the clinic where he had been committed) to support this.  On the grounds of this documentation, the application was successful (it doesn’t mean that he has won, just that he can still lodge his claim).

The lesson here of course is for the employers to understand that just because the 30 day period has expired and they haven’t received notification from the CCMA, doesn’t mean it’s still not coming!

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

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Networking 101 - Getting the best Referrals



Getting the best referrals

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Often when we entrepreneurs try to build relationships within ‘our circle of influence’, we try and ‘sell’ ourselves and/or our products to those individuals with the express hope that they will in turn ‘sell’ us to their respective ‘circle of influence’ and we will receive qualified, consistent and dynamic leads.  This in theory is how it should work.

That said, in order to optimize what our needs are we should add several steps along the way, in order to ensure that the leads that we get are of the highest quality.  Let’s face it – none of us want a ‘bad client’!  So for the next couple of weeks I am going to concentrate on ‘getting the best referrals and/or clients’ from your Networking relationships.

Let’s presume that your product and/or service is unique, (let me say here that it doesn’t matter how many competitors you have, you have made it unique because of the level of service or the value adds or what have you) and it (the product and/or service) has made a profound difference in the life of one of your clients and let’s call her Sue.

In any event, Sue is immensely grateful for the product and/or service that you have provided her and as far as she is concerned you have single handedly literally ‘saved her life,’ and she is not at all shy about telling the whole world about how it is that you came to ‘save her life’.  I have no doubt at all that we all have a “Sue” somewhere in our businesses.

So now here is what you do – at the very next Networking meeting that you go to (and all subsequent ones to), get Sue to go along with you – get her to tell everyone what you sold/did that was so ordinarily extraordinary.

For all intent and purposes, Sue is your dream client, she is your dream referral and everybody can see what she looks like.  An ordinary person – just like everybody else, someone who has the normal requirements - just like everyone else, but to whom your product and/or service has made an incredible difference.  Now think about it for a moment – if your product and/or service has made such a difference in her life, imagine what it can do for theirs?

If your ‘Sue’ cannot manage to go to the meeting with you – there is nothing at all to stop you from describing your ‘Sue’ and her reaction to the difference and/or the actual difference that you made itself.  The more detail you can give them about ‘Sue’s’ experience and the kind of person that she is (in other words your target market) the greater the understanding that your collaborative networking partners will have in recognising your prospective clients when they meet them outside of the Networking meeting.

Hiding your particular light under a bushel when you want to generate referrals that lead to sales is not a good idea.

So don’t be scared to tell people just how great your product and/or service is.  No-one will know unless you actually tell them!

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

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

BUSINESS TIPS – 8 Tips on Stuff you Should know Before you Start a Business – Part 2.

BUSINESS TIPS – 8 Tips on Stuff you Should know Before you Start a Business – Part 2.

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – November 2014

Last time we looked at how vital it is to get clarity and to put a Business Plan into place.  Today we will be looking at a few more issues.

I can’t begin to tell you the number of times that I ask people who their target markets are and they look at me as though I have come from a different planet and have lost my way, because of course, their product or service is for everyone! Yeah right and the Pope is Jewish!

The reality is that you have to do some research.  Whether the research is on who the target market is or whether there is any market at all is obviously dependent upon what your product or service is and of course the geographics, the demographics etc., also must come into play.  The old adage of ‘selling ice to an Eskimo’ in this case really does apply.

You see it doesn’t really matter how much you love and believe in your product or service, you have to find out if the people with the money to spend, feel the same way about it.

Then of course there will always be issues around cost.  Firstly and most importantly, you cannot sell your product or service for less than what it cost you, that’s just insane! So make sure that you do all the numbers correctly to ensure that you know what your “break even” point is.  Once you have ascertained that you are in a better position to set your margins.

Again -  be careful if your price is too low, prospective clients will question the value add or the quality or you may even attract the wrong type of clientele.  Too high and you may well price yourself right out of the market.

So where possible you need to do some research on your competition to ascertain what they are charging and what their value add is, for you to (at the very least) match their prices and their offerings or indeed better them.

This was a trap that I fell into when I first started out and hopefully you will learn from my mistakes.

Firstly, I had priced my services too low, which attracted the wrong type of clientele.  They were in desperate need of my services but they were also too far down the road to ruin and the stark reality was that they could not afford to pay me at all.  They negotiated and haggled and I lowered my already low prices even further.  The result – I ended up having to ‘write-off’ a great deal of money in bad debts that year, because quite honestly they could not have afforded to pay me even if I came for free!

Giving out discounts like this also leaves a huge psychological footprint on your sub-conscious and that is one of ‘I’m not worthy’! If you yourself think that you are not providing worthwhile value then why would your clients?

You should look at this from a different perspective – one of ‘how to’ or bringing more value to your customers rather than simply discounting your prices.

Next time we will look at a few more of these points that should be taken into consideration before you even start.

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

Monday, April 06, 2015

Motivation - Don't Compromise your Life

MOTIVATION –  Don’t Compromise your Life

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – July 2011

I was extremely lucky to have ‘discovered’ my passion, quite by accident although I like to believe that it was by some sort of design.  I couldn’t bear to think of working at a job that I wasn’t passionate about or that I hated.  On some level I guess, I do understand that there are some jobs out there that are done by individuals who have no passion for what they do or perhaps have no ambition to do anything else – it really saddens me when I think of them though and it just makes me that much more grateful for being able to work at and in a field that I love and am absolutely passionate about.

Actually it reminds me of my younger brother, who at the age of about four or five, was asked “what do you want to be when you are grown up?” and he replied without hesitation “I am going to be an accountant and I am going to be a millionaire!”  All the other little boys were wanting to be train drivers and ambulance drivers and policemen or whatever their perception of a ‘fun job’ was at that time. It was easy to change their minds by talking to them about other adventures like the ones that sailors had or explorers had, but my brother’s very serious statement stood and his mind could not be changed.  At fifty something, his choice has stood the test of time as he is a senior international partner with a well known audit group and he has been with them for around thirty years now and he is a millionaire – so yes, he has achieved the objective that he had as a little five year old boy.

His and my story though are the exception and not the rule as sadly, the reality of life is that often it is easier to find your lover or your life  partner than it is to find a job that you truly love.  How sad is that?

The ideal time to make the decision about what you want to do, of course, is when you are starting out.  Again sadly, the majority of our youth have no cooking clue about what it is that they want to do – the ‘drop out’ rate at universities and colleges evidence the amount of indecision that there is out there and even more end up in dead end jobs doing what they have no passion for and what they hate, just to put food on the table.

The question for me of course is; is this how we compromise our lives?  Is it acceptable that we make do with second best and we then spend the rest of our lives wondering about “what if . . . ?”

We all try and pay attention to the needs of our loved ones, we try and pay attention to the needs of our bosses and all the other external factors that need attention in our lives, but we very seldom pay attention to our own needs and what we need to fulfill our own dreams and aspirations.

Often we allow others to make decisions about our lives and often these decisions are based on their aspirations or dreams.  Sometimes it’s family members who feel the need to live their lost lives vicariously through yours.  Here’s the thing though, living your life like this will not bring any fulfillment in their lives or your life for that matter.

The bottom line is that you have to look out for yourself – you have to what’s best for you in order for you to be able to be there for others or for you to take care of others.

You cannot compromise your life! You have to live your life to the full and become all that you can be in order for you to fulfill your destiny.

I know that I am, but what about you?

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

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Motivation - Choosing Wisely

MOTIVATION –  Choosing Wisely

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – February 2013

W Clement Stone says “Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.”

Life for me has a natural segregation in terms of the people that I choose to associate myself with.  We all know people who we cannot abide in our space – you know the ones that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck!  I avoid those.  There are people who you meet for the very first time, who you just get a ‘feeling’ about – you know the ones that something is just not right and you can’t quite put your finger on what it is.  I avoid those too.

There are those folk who are negative about everything – you come away from spending time with them and you are completely and absolutely exhausted and thoroughly depressed, you can barely put one foot in front of the other you are so tired.  I avoid those too, they are definitely not good for the soul.

I am also not too good with people who have hidden agendas.  The ones who say one thing and mean another.  The ones that are always undermining what you say, who twist your words to suit the occasion or even worse, who twist your words to suit whatever issue they happen to be championing. Those are just hard work.

I am a pretty open and transparent person.  What you see is what you get. I say what I mean and I mean what I say.  I am very loyal and very protective of my friends and most of my friends are also business acquaintances and clients – they trust me and I trust them.  Most of my friends are people who have high moral standards, their word is their bond and they believe in being fair, not judging folk on where they work or what they wear, but rather on who they are as people, what they stand for and how they treat people.  Most of my friends strive to make a difference in the world that they live in, they care about their fellow human beings and they lend a hand when and where they can.

I really enjoy being around optimistic people, folk who have great energy.  Folk who make your hearts feel light when they are with you.  Folk who light up the room with their positive personalities.  Folk like most of my friends.

Quite frankly, I am proud to be associated with them, I am proud of their achievements and I am proud to be ‘counted’ with them.  They are like minded individuals who strive and work together for the ‘common good’ and what more can you ask of anyone. 

I am more than happy to know that my life has touched theirs and that their lives have touched mine and I am more than happy to ‘become like them’.

I guess I am well and truly ‘shaped by my environment’.

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

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Motivation - Why you should succeed

MOTIVATION –  Why you Should Succeed

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – February 2013

Michael Jordan says “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  26 times I’ve been trusted to take the winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

If the great Michael Jordan attributes his success to his failures, why is it that the majority of folk are so scared of failure?  Why does it make us quiver in our boots, break out in hives and reduces us to tears?  I don’t understand it!

Have I felt fear before – of course I have!  Have I been afraid of failing – of course I have!  I am no different from any one else out there, but here’s the thing – once you understand that we all fail on some level every single day, there is absolutely no reason to fear failure.  Ok, I am not talking about the type of failure that constitutes a life threatening or debilitating situation here – of course that should be looked at separately and individually and the risks taken into account.  But I am talking about the everyday failures that we encounter – things like making the wrong career choice and perhaps going into something that you have no passion for as a result of that, or not researching something properly and then purchasing a very expensive something that then does not meet your requirements or even starting a business that just does not get off the ground and you end up going into liquidation.  Yes, those are the everyday failures that many people experience, deal with, get over, learn from and then move on to bigger, grander and more spectacular successes than they ever could imagine.

Why do you think that is?  Are they any different from you and me?  Not really hey!  The one thing that sticks out about them though, is their “mindset”, the way that they react to any given situation that they find themselves in.

I am currently watching Masterchef Australia 2011, yes I know we are in 2013, but we are only watching it now!  There is a young chap that got into the top 50 (I forget his name now), in that particular journey he ended up in 3 consecutive elimination challenges, having failed in the pressure tests.  Gary (one of the judges) asked him why he was grinning from ear to ear on learning that he was once again in an elimination challenge – his response was something like “No worries mate, I get to cook again!”  Most of the other contestants had only cooked once or twice but because he kept finding himself in the bottom 3 and he had to cook his way out of that, he had ended up at this point cooking 5 or 6 times and his take on this was that the more he cooked, the more he showed what he could do and the better he was becoming at it.  The result, he is in the top 24!  How cool is that!  Was he afraid of failing  - I am really sure that he was, but he knew what he wanted to achieve and that is what he focused on.

How do you think Michael Jordan felt standing there, taking a shot that he absolutely knew, could lose the game?  I’m sure he also felt a profound sense of fear and clearly he did not give up, but took the shot anyway.  Was he upset about his failure to deliver the shot – I have no doubt that he was!  Thing is though, he didn’t give up on the game, he went back and practiced more.  He took what he had learnt from missing that particular shot and turned it around and he delivered, time and time again! 

It never stopped him from doing what he loved, he got up, dusted himself off and tried again, doing things slightly differently to ensure that he got a different outcome.  Were all the outcome’s successful – I doubt that too, but the point is he kept going, he kept learning, he kept trying and that is what makes him and all the other successful people out there different.

It’s about us controlling the failure and not the failure controlling us, by taking what we have learnt and applying ourselves to changing the outcome.  It’s about us keeping the objective in mind (and in sight).  It’s about us believing in ourselves and our dreams. 

Quite frankly, it’s about seeing things differently!

So going forward, instead of focusing our attention on beating ourselves up when we haven’t quite reached our goals or indeed our perception of what we need to be in order for us to ‘succeed’, lets’ turn the attention around and the focus on ‘how else can we get there’!

Never lose your dreams or your passions – they are what drive you, they are what makes you want to get up in the morning, they are what makes you want to be all that you can be!

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

Friday, April 03, 2015

HR 101 - Getting the Status Right

HR – Getting the Status Right

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC , January 2012

Many small business owners are not sure of the correct terminology to use when employing staff, that are not employed on a permanent basis and with the new labour laws, this can and will become problematical.  So let’s get the definitions correct to avoid any nasty nightmares.

A “temp” is a person who is employed on a temporary basis, usually to ‘fill in’ when for example, an employee is on leave or on maternity leave or sick leave.  They are often (but not always) employed by a Labour Broker.  They can also be employed over a busy or seasonal period, such as Christmas or even for a specific task such as a stock take.

A ‘temp’ is not someone who you employ on a contract for 3 months and then you renew that contract for another 3 months and then another 3 months and so on.  Doing that is against the law and will ultimately land you in hot water.

Understand too, that even a temp qualifies for leave pay, sick leave and even overtime in terms of BCEA (Basic Conditions of Employment Act).  The Act (Section 20 (b)) stipulates that annual leave accumulates ‘at the rate of 1 day for every 17 worked and that during the first 6 months of employment, sick leave accumulates at the rate of 1 day for every 26 days worked’ (section 22 (3)). 

A ‘temp’ is also entitled to be paid for working public holidays, irrespective of whether the contract states that they are to be paid only for the hours that they work.

The Independent Contractor
An ‘independent Contractor’ is not someone who works for you all the time and to whom you give a contract of work.  It is someone who comes in and does a specific job for a specific fee for a specific time.  An ‘independent contractor’ is someone like the painter that you have brought in to paint the offices.  He gives you a quote, you accept it (or not), he purchases the paint, brings in the ladders and/or equipment and paints the place out – cleans up (hopefully) and issues you with the bill, which you pay.  That is the end of that.  They are therefore essentially a service provider or supplier.

Therefore an independent contractor is someone who:-
-    Runs his own business
-    Should be registered as a provisional tax payer
-    Could be registered as a VAT vendor
-    Will work his own hours
-    Will have his own equipment/machinery
-    Can work or do work for more than one client at a time
-    Will invoice the employer (client) either at the end of the month or alternatively once the job has been completed.
-    The employer (client) will not have to worry about the usual HR stuff such as (but not limited to) deducting PAYE or UIF or SDL or payment of 13th bonus cheques etc.

So, when you ‘hire’ someone from a Labour Broker, you need to understand that they are not an ‘independent contractor’ as they do not fall under any of the above requirements.

The Fixed Term Contract
A ‘fixed term contract’ is one that usually has an “end” date or alternatively is for a specific project.

Because of the word “fixed”, should the contract not be completed on the due date, technically speaking the contract should be re-entered into with the new termination date.

A 'fixed term contract’ is not a contract that can be extended and then extended and then extended again.

I trust that now all of your employees and/or contractors will be given the correct contracts.

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

Thursday, April 02, 2015

HR 101 - What to do with Domestic Workers

HR – What to do with Domestic Workers

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC , December 2011

A number of my clients have found themselves either on the wrong side of the law or alternatively with a sullen, at odds with the world, domestic worker.  Neither are fun to deal with and the reality is that meeting the requirements as an employer is not that difficult and having the correct procedures in place is not that difficult and usually calms the waters as your domestic employee now feels secure in their employment and you will have the means to measure their performance as well as have the law on your side in terms of the disciplinary codes.

Firstly let’s define who “Domestic Employees” are.  They are your daily helpers, your maids, your chars, your gardeners.  They are also your drivers or care givers to the elderly, the frail or the disabled as well as child minders or anyone who cares for your children.  In short, they are anyone who works in your household.

Here are some of the basic legal requirements.

Like any other employee, your domestic worker needs and is entitled to have a written contract in place, irrespective of whether they are full time and even if they only work one day a week.

Like any other employment contract all the terms and conditions of the employment need to be listed.  Issues such as, but not limited to:
-    Starting and ending times
-    Pay rate
-    Leave requirements (include not only annual leave, but also sick leave and Family Responsibility leave)
-    Duties
-    Any special requirements such as when leave must be taken or cannot be taken etc.

Obviously your domestic worker needs to understand clearly what these terms and requirements are, so you need to go through them slowly and carefully and if necessary, in her/his home language to ensure that they do in fact understand what your expectations are.  If your domestic worker is illiterate, make sure that you explain things in simple terms.

No one can be forced to sign a document and many domestic workers are terrified of putting their ‘mark’ to anything.  So if your domestic worker refuses to sign, you can fulfil your compliance requirements by documenting this on her/his document and then giving them a copy of the document.  Don’t forget to keep one for yourself though – ensuring that you have also documented the refusal to sign the document and the date that the document was given to her/him.

Wages and Related Criteria
The rate of pay for Domestic worker’s, like any other category, is protected by law and there are minimum rates of pay for hourly/daily/weekly/monthly paid individuals.  Workers who work in the rural areas for example are entitled to a different level of pay to those working in the cities and things like whether they are ‘live in’ or if they have to take public transport, are also taken into consideration.  So you would need to familiarize yourself with what these differences are.  Please go to the Department of Labour’s website ( ) to get this information.

Remember that if your domestic worker/gardener works for you for more than 24 hours a month (and yes this means if you have someone in to help you once a week, this does apply to you), you have to register with the Department of Labour as an employer.  Once you have received your registration number, you have to register your employee for UIF.  The UIF is calculated at 2% of the employees total wage.  The employee has to pay 1% (which must be deducted from her/his wages) and the employer has to pay 1% as well.  This money has to be paid over to SARS (South African Revenue Services) every month and before the 7th of the following month.

All employees are entitled to receive a pay slip indicating what their remuneration is, what deductions have been made and how much leave they are entitled to.  In the case of casual and/or ‘piece’ workers, it is suggested that you get them to sign in receipt for any money that has been given to them for services rendered.  This will remove any emotional outbursts such as “I worked all day cleaning the garage and I never got paid!”

Leave Related Issues
The usual suspects apply – Annual Leave, Sick Leave, Family Responsibility Leave and of course Maternity Leave.

Just like any other employee, your domestic workers are entitled to paid annual leave and this is calculated at the usual three weeks (15 working days) per annum for full time workers or 1 (one) day for every 17 (seventeen) days worked.

In terms of sick leave, the cycle is also 36 months and the domestic worker is entitled to an amount of paid sick leave that is equal to the number of days that she/he would normally have worked during a period of six weeks or 30 days is she/he is full time employed.  So for example, your once a week char/gardener, in this instance would be entitled to 6 days and your full time (Monday to Friday) domestic employee would be entitled to 30 days paid leave for every 36 month period.

For the first six months of employment however, your domestic worker is only entitled to 1 (one) day’s sick leave for every 26 days worked.

Like all other forms of employees, your domestic worker is entitled to 4 (four) months unpaid maternity leave and you are obliged to ‘re-employ’ them after their 4 months is up.  Remember also, that you cannot dismiss them for being pregnant or getting pregnant and doing so would be considered ‘unfair’ by the CCMA and you would be fined and find yourself hugely out of pocket.  So don’t do it.

Domestic employees who are employed for more than 24 hours a month (again this applies to your weekly char or gardener too) are also entitled to take Family Responsibility Leave in the amount of 5 (five) days per annum.

Bits and Pieces
All the other HR requirements that apply in the Corporate Employment world also apply to domestic employees.  So this of course means that you cannot just dismiss, you have to have a fair and reasonable reason for wanting to dismiss your domestic worker.

The rules around discipline also apply, so written warnings and disciplinary hearings need to take place and be documented in the usual fashion.

Performance appraisals should also take place at least annually and increases and/or bonus should relate to the results of these, also government will insist on a minimum annual increase.

Issues around retrenchment still apply and in terms of this employers are governed and restricted in exactly the same way as any other employer would be.

The rest of the terms and conditions in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act also then still will apply to your domestic employees and you need to be aware of the fact that non-compliance to any of these could result in you receiving a visit from the Department of Labour inspector who may then issue a compliance order and/or even issue you with a fine.

The simple or most cost effective measure of course, is to ensure that you are compliant and keep yourself that way.

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

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Networking 101 - Cultivate Reciprocal Relationships



Cultivate reciprocal relationships

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Networking is about having a reciprocal relationship which evolves over time in a mutually beneficial manner.”

The words “reciprocal, relationship and mutually beneficial” are the ones that stand out the most for me here.

Let’s have a look at what the dictionary says:

‘Reciprocal’ – “In return; mutual; inversely correspondent, complementary; expressing mutual action or relation.”

‘Relationship’ – “State if being related; condition or character due to being related; kinship.”
‘Relation’ – “What one person or thing has to do with another, way in which one stands or is related to another, kind of connection or correspondence or contrast or feeling that prevails between persons or things.”

‘Mutually’- “Common to two or more persons”

‘Beneficial’ – “Advantageous; of having the use of or benefit of property etc.;”

Well that is all very clear isn’t it?  For me it means that there are two or more people who have formed a bond, that is a connection between them for the purpose of all people receiving something that is of benefit to them, in return for their participation.

Yet so many people seem to struggle really badly with this whole concept of everyone getting something out of the relationship – why?  I certainly cannot understand it. 

It doesn’t mean that because I give you a qualified lead here and now today, that you have to go home and search through your entire data base to find someone who may or may not, need my services (in your opinion) and then refer them to me!  That’s just crazy.

What it does mean though is that during your travels in life and as and when you meet people and engage with them and learn more about them and start building a relationship with them, should you hear that they need the kind of services that I offer, you will refer me.

It means that when to talk to prospective clients about what they need from you, you also listen to what they need in general, from other people too – it might just mean that they need your services too.

Listening to what people want, rather than giving them what you think they need, is fundamental to the well being of your business.  Giving people what they want, means adding value to your business and it means adding value to the people that you have relationships with in your data base or your circle of influence.  It mean being reciprocal, it means giving benefit to your clients and your relationships.  It means bringing benefit to your client, your data base and yes, bringing benefit even to yourself.

So when you Network, remember to listen carefully . . .
Listen and then react!
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