Thursday, December 31, 2015

Blogging 101 - Stealing Content & Ideas

BLOGGING TIPS – Stealing Content & Ideas

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC September 2011

I was asked the other day whether I had ever ‘stolen ideas and/or content”? To be quite honest I was gob smacked!  Now I can see you all shaking your heads and wondering if I have lost all of my marbles!

Here’s the thing, more often than not, (probably around 99.9999% of the time), something that I have heard or something that I have seen or something that I have read about, has sparked an idea for an article, in my mind.

Logic must tell you that it would be impossible for me to actually experience every single thing that I write about.  Of course that does not mean that I cannot write about the lesson that needs to be learnt or in fact learn the lesson from someone else myself.

Look, let’s be honest here – I am not saying that you should plagiarize anyone’s work or not give an author credit for something that they have written.  That for me goes without saying.  Words that you use that were written by someone else should be correctly credited.  That’s not only a legal issue, but for me it is also a moral one.

What I am saying though, is that words, or pictures often spark another idea or are often the basis of another idea that will usually end up as an article.  Pretty much like the question that was asked that has now become this article.

This is often one way that allows ideas to be shown in perhaps a different context or from another viewpoint.

The fact of the matter is that I have several websites that I visit on a daily basis and several newsletters that I get on one feed or another and I also subscribe to several magazines and am constantly reading books that pertain to business or biographies and even non-fiction.  The fact of the matter is that all of this reading makes something ‘click’ and somewhere, something has made me think and that thought has resulted in an article being written.

So whilst I don’t condone or promote ‘theft’ of someone else’s work  or that an article that someone else wrote be attributed to yourself, I do feel that we all get ideas from somewhere and even when we do ‘research’ we are still using other people’s work to validate what we are doing.

Think about it for a minute – and then go and write your own article!

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Networking 101 - It's a Collaborative Effort


PART 144

It’s a Collaborative Effort

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. January 2010

Napoleon Hill said that “No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third invisible, intangible force”, whilst Andrew Carnegie’s secret of success revealed “Economic advantages may be created by any one person who surrounds himself with the advice, counsel and personal cooperation of a group of men who are willing to lend him wholehearted aid in a spirit of perfect harmony.”

Now why would any of us even begin to doubt or even question the words of these two great and successful men?  Not me hey, if I can learn from others instead of having to learn the lesson myself, usually in the most painful way, well then I am a happy camper!

On top of that, what they are saying makes perfectly logical sense to me as well.  It is my personal experience, in a Networking environment (particularly the ones that I go to), that like minded people are more than willing to assist, to connect you to their data bases, to recommend you to other like minded people – it’s a collaborative effort.

My colleague and friend Colleen Larson of BE (Business Engage, ) always tells folk “that even as a group, we (BE) know that we cannot do everything and indeed we wouldn’t want to as we want to create the opportunities for our members”.

For me it’s almost like ‘playing it forward’.  It’s like Oprah Winfrey says in her “What I Know for Sure” when she says that her friend and mentor Dr Maya Angelou always says “When you learn, you teach.  When you get, you give.”  It’s about helping those navigate their way through the mine field that you have just walked through.  It’s about mentoring whilst you yourself are being mentored.  It’s about empowering people and SMME’s whilst I, myself am being empowered.

It’s about surrounding myself with people who make things happen, rather than people who are constantly wondering what the hell happened!

So pick your Networking events with care.  Make them work for you and don’t forget to work them too.

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Business Tips - Why Twitter - Part 4

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

As promised last time, here are some additional tips when tweeting.

Since it is all about giving to get, (and I believe this to be true irrespective of whether you own a business or not), don’t just tweet to drive the numbers to your website.  Engage in conversation, join in discussions and respond to those who send you a tweet.  Yes I know that it may seem a little awkward at first, they are strangers after all, but remember – you are in cyberspace and that makes you very safe!

The more you engage with people, the more involved you become and the more involved you become, the more friends you make and let’s face it, we can always do with a few more friends!  Actually if the truth be told, because of twitter and facebook, I have reconnected with old friends and acquaintances that I had lost contact with – some of whom I have not spoken to or seen in over 35 years.  They are both an incredible medium.

Despite the fact that this is cyberspace and as far as I am concerned, you are safe – there are some scary people out there and it is always better to be safe than sorry.  So, no-where is it written that you have to put personal details such as your home or physical address or contact details and certainly it would be wise to exercise caution in these particular areas.  I always look at the following as a guideline before following another tweeter:

1. If, when looking at their profiles, everything is written in a foreign language, then there is really no point in me following them as I cannot understand what they are on about and

2. If their tweets (and for goodness sake have a look at more than one or two, to be fair) don’t hold my attention or deal with anything that I find even remotely interesting, then quite frankly – what is the point?

Exercise reasonable caution and you will be fine.  Remember though you can always stop following someone – there is no law that says you have to engage with anyone.

Next time we will have a look at some additional tweeting tips.

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

Monday, December 28, 2015

Motivation - Controlling Fear


By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from Marilyn C Barrick, who says:

“For the most part, fear is nothing but an illusion.  When you share it with someone else, it tends to disappear.”

How fabulous is that?  I think it’s marvelous – the only problem of course is that we have to get over our own selves and our own egos and our own pride and our own lack of self esteem and of course our own . . . .  . fear!

Fear of what other’s may think of us,

Fear of how others may see us

Fear of how we may see ourselves


Crazy stuff that – fear, and ironically enough something that every single person on the planet experiences at one time or another, and actually therefore nothing really to be ashamed of at all.
Owners of small businesses all over the country seem to think that they are always alone with their fears.  Strange thing that, how we feel that everything that happens to us is uniquely ours!

Come on people, we are actually all in this together, surely it makes perfectly good sense to get together and unite, as a group to face the challenges that presents itself to us all as individuals.  Surely it is better to ‘brainstorm’ our way through these issues rather than try to stand up in the face of perceived adversity, all by ourselves.  Surely it is better to find solutions for all of us than to try and be all of everything to ourselves?

I am often told about individuals who are ‘lonely’ in business by themselves and yet that is exactly how they mean to stay – by themselves because of the ‘fear’ mostly, I guess, fear of opening themselves up to anyone, of showing how weak and/or vulnerable they are.  Yet in the words of my friend and mentor Vanessa Paige – ‘Your greatest strength lies within your vulnerability’, lay my biggest ‘ah ha’ moment!  Took me quite a while to get that one, but I did – eventually and I am a far stronger person for it.

Now you see, I share everything about my life with people.  My fears, my challenges and my triumphs - especially my triumphs.  I am not alone in my business and I don’t have to do it alone either.

Are you alone?  Are you afraid and alone?

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

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Blogging 101 - Learn Something New

BLOGGING TIPS – Learn Something New

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC July 2011

I must admit that there have been occasions when I have sat here in my office, word document in front of me, ready for me to just put something on it and nothing comes to mind.  I can’t begin to tell you the number of times, that that clean white block looks back at me, mocking me, bullying me, daring me, in fact doing everything nasty and horrible that you can think of to me.  The one thing that it never, ever does is inspire me!  That has to come from somewhere else and that somewhere else, for me is usually something that I have seen, read or listened to, but now have an opinion about and as I have often said, I usually have an opinion about most things.

Sometimes when I am writing an article on a particular topic, it feels like a chore – something that I was really on fire about, just a few weeks ago has become a chore, a pain in the rear end!  That’s when I really do procrastinate – trying to squirm myself out of writing the article with ‘I don’t feel like it or I want to do xyz now, or my own particular favorite one – I’ll just go and make myself a cup of tea and I’ll write it as soon as I get back.  Needless to say, when I come back or rather if I come back, there is always something else that I need to do first.  Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

What I have realized lately is that the reason that I am not inspired to write that particular article on that particular subject, is usually because I’ve gone off the boil.  I mean how many times can you say the same thing in a different way and sometimes people just don’t get it.  Now that’s not my fault, although to be honest it can be quite frustrating for me.

So how do I get back ‘on the boil’?  How do I get my ‘mojo’ back?  Well I can either look though all of my material that I have gathered over the years, and believe me there is a lot of it – but the idea of getting some 20 odd boxes of notes and cuttings down out of the top corners of the cupboards is about as exciting and spark creating as watching paint dry (yet I still collect stuff all the time).  The quickest and least painful thing for me is to put the old headphones on, crank up the music (I am currently listening to Duffy singing “Distant Dreamer” as I type this) and go on an e-journey on the subject that I am wanting to write about.  I always find something that I never knew on the subject, or something that I can now look at from a  completely different aspect and my spark is once again ignited, my mojo returns and the blank word page, suddenly fills up really quickly – just as it should.

Personally, I don’t think that we will ever know all that there is to know about a particular subject. I think that we often become over confident about it.  That’s the danger!  So when you’re stuck, learn something new about the subject that you want to write about or about anything really.  Learning something new never hurt anybody and it can be a lot of fun!

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Networking 101 - Time is in Short Supply, Don't Waste It


PART 143

Time is in Short Supply, Don’t Waste It

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. January 2010

I don’t know about you, but time for me is something that is in very short supply and I value it immensely. Little wonder then that I get extremely peeved when people waste my time.

Corporates are notorious for wasting people’s time and the amount of time that it takes for them to make a decision about anything often makes me wonder about whether they actually know how to make one at all and in moments of extreme agitation and irritability I wonder how they actually function as a business.  Their inability to make any kind of decision must surely hamper anything that they may be trying to achieve.

Understandably then, I much prefer to do business with and deal with the like minded business people that I generally meet at Networking meetings.  There’s no beating around the bush.  Decisions are made based on the input available and with a minimum amount of fuss and bother.

You see, we all know and understand firstly, the reason why we are at the Networking meeting, which is to do business, to meet people and to build relationships.  Secondly we all understand that the time of everyone there is a precious commodity, so we don’t waste each other’s time.  There is no pondering and pampering of egos.  There’s no dancing about and around the issues.  It’s either Yes, or it’s No!

The quick decisions, and yes they are informed decisions are what makes Networking so valuable to all concerned.  The ‘no nonsense’ let’s get done because I have other things to do, makes it for me a valuable source of new clients, new service providers, new contacts and new relationships.

Knowing ‘how to’ Network effectively is one of my greatest assets!

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Business Tips - Why Twitter - Part 3

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

Twitter for me, as you no doubt have seen in the last two posts, is about communicating with a much larger audience.  Most sites that you get onto today have a link onto twitter – especially the social networking sites.  This of course means that your ‘tweets’ are reaching a much larger audience and this of course also means that you are driving more and more traffic to your own website.

Most of the professional social networking type websites such as (but not limited to) Facebook, have Twitter groups.  These are individuals who are passionate about their tweets and who love to grow their following and who love to interact and share information, knowledge, experience and generally just have good fun.  Write a little something about yourself – remember to keep it short and to the point – find these groups and let them know what you are about.  Generally speaking, people who are interested in what you have to say, will be interested enough to follow you, thereby exposing your blog and/or website to a whole different group as well.

One of the quickest ways to get people interested in following you or driving traffic to your blog or website is to post a question with a poll.  Yep, people are curious as to what other people think and love to see statistics on ‘who thinks what’ (actually how many people agree with what they think is more like it!).  If you make the topic of the poll something to do with what it is that you do, not only will it drive people to your website, it will in all probability keep them there too and get them coming back, time and time again.

When I started my whole Networking experience, I started asking questions – lots and lots of questions.  You see, I had come from a Corporate Environment and being on the road for almost three weeks of the month, I was pretty isolated from the rest of the Company.  From there I went straight into my business and met the real world – in great abundance.  There was so much new stuff that was happening that I was completely clueless about and so much that I needed to know.  So I traded.  For every question that I asked, I tried to ensure that I also ‘gave’ some useful information in return.  As I used the new information that I was given I, in turn shared it with others and so the blog was born. One of the most important things I discovered though is that generally speaking, people love to share their experiences and their knowledge.  Actually if the truth be told, generally speaking, people love to help others.

So don’t be scared to ask for help, but remember the ‘give to get’ thing.  Don’t always just take – give as well!  You’ll be amazed at just how good it will make you feel.

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

Monday, December 21, 2015

Motivation - Don't Ever Do . . . Nothing

MOTIVATION – Don’t Ever Do . . . . Nothing

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC November 2009

Theodore Roosevelt said “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing.  The worst thing that you can do is nothing.”

Wow! Ironically enough, my good friend and colleague Colleen Larsen of Business Engage ( and I were discussing this very issue earlier today.  Doing nothing about something never makes the problem go away – in fact it usually just makes it that much worse.

Obviously, in any given situation, it is always a good thing to do the ‘right’ thing.  That’s just a given and it always makes life just that much easier.

The dilemma comes along when there is indecision or when the decision comes packaged with a huge consequence – one that we are perhaps not so willing to subject ourselves to.

Here is where the danger lies. Here is where we meet the challenge . . . or not.  This is where we usually step back from the situation.  Oh and don’t misunderstand me for one moment – stepping back from a situation is within itself, not a bad thing if the reason we are stepping back is to take a breath and look at what is happening.  That is definitely not a bad thing.  But once you have stepped back you still need to action something.

Step back, but don’t come to a full stop.  Strategize, plan, engage and get going again.  Do something for goodness sake!

Doing nothing is quite detrimental to yourself.  Doing nothing means that nothing will happen.  Doing nothing will often created a negative situation or even a vacuum and it will result in  . . . nothing!

Remember that every action causes a (re) action.  So get busy, get moving, get actioned!

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

Friday, December 18, 2015

HR 101 - Maintain Control of your Staff - Part 1


Maintain Control of your Staff – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

One of the biggest mistakes that small business owners make when they employ staff is to make them part of their extended families.  Do that and you have lost control from the get go.

Maintaining control of your staff is critical to ensuring that everyone works well together, in the same direction and working towards a common goal.  Most importantly, it will ensure that everyone is working to maintain the highest quality of service and/or quality control.

It stands to reason then that a ‘close eye’ needs to be kept on the staff to ensure that they meet their quota’s and that they maintain a high standard of quality work ethic.

Often consistent and poor conduct or lack of compliance to laid down procedures is a direct reflection of poor management.  Usually it means that management lack the relevant skill or that they are unwilling to manage or control staff effectively.

This will often result in issues such as (but not limited to):

Staff spending hours talking to friends on the phone (irrespective of whether they use the office phone or their personal cellular phones).  Time spent in frivolous chatter is actually ‘theft’ of Company time.  It cuts into that particular staff members’ productivity time and if there are other employees in the vicinity, it disrupts them as well.  In essence it costs the company in time, productivity and in all probability – quality.
Quality of work.  Most often, the first thing that goes when the staff are not effectively managed is the quality of their work.  It’s pretty much a case of ‘well if no-body is taking any notice of what I am doing, I don’t need to take care of what I am doing.”
Another issue that constantly arises when the staff are not managed correctly and efficiently is another ‘theft’ of time.  It’s when the employees perform their personal and private chores during office hours.  I recently came across a situation where a client’s employee was fixing printers on the side.  The client’s printer broke down and despite the fact that one of the employees duties was to maintain the electronic equipment and despite the fact that he repaired the printer during office hours, this employee actually presented his employer with an invoice for repairing the printer – quite a cheek I am sure you would agree.

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

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

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Blogging 101 - The Writing


By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

About now we hit a complete blank!

We all know what it is that we know and given any other opportunity to tell people what it is that we know is never a problem.

Ask us to write down what it is that we know in anything other than a ‘strictly business sense’ and quite frankly we are up *&^% street without a paddle.  Actually if the truth be told, many of us do not even have any kind of business profile to speak of.

Here’s the thing though – to talk and gesture and pontificate, well that’s easy – we do it every day, but to put our thoughts, our passion, our feelings down on paper, well that’s an entirely different thing altogether!

Somehow, through our own perception, we lock into something dark and unacceptable when we put our own thoughts down on paper.  Truth be told, I guess – these thoughts come back to haunt us or bite us on the bum.  Strangely enough for me at any rate, what I write about is what I most need to hear myself.

Many of my most profound lessons and the things that I have most needed to learn or understand are the things that I have shared with the world, on my blog.

Many is the time that I have ‘kicked’ your rear end and my own at the same time!

You see, I don’t just rely on ‘what I know’, I research almost every article that I write, which means, not only do I provide you, my reader, with information, but I also keep myself up to date and that is extremely important!

Often as Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners we are so caught up in the running of our own businesses that we do not keep up with what is happening in the world around us. Doing the research for my blogs allows me to do this.

My marketing becomes my training and my R & D too – how cool is that?

Blogging really has become part of my marketing and the time that I spend on it is really worth while.

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Business Tips - Why Twitter - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

Everyone is ‘twittering’ about twitter!  From what I have heard, it is often asked “what is twitter” or “how does it work?” and my personal favorite “What are you doing?”

Those of us who use social networking as a marketing tool, this last question is often seen on sites like Facebook, or MySpace or Linked in.  The fact of the matter is that people are interested in learning more about you – be that in your personal capacity or in your business capacity.  That’s just human nature – we are a curious species.

So for me it makes perfect sense to use Twitter as a marketing tool.  As individuals “follow me” on twitter, so they link into my website and my blogs.  If they like what they read, chances are that they will start looking out for my daily link and many of them don’t even wait to do that, they signup on the website to get the blogs sent to them on a daily basis.  How cool is that?

Now, I’m not saying that everyone who “follows me” will be interested in all of the articles that I write, but since (in my opinion) there is something for everyone, it stands to reason that as I link up to people who I follow and then they follow me – more and more traffic is driven to my website and we could all do with that, I am sure you will agree!

From a marketing point of view, those who “follow me” on twitter have found something in my articles that interest them – this of course means that they are my ‘target market’.  Here’s another cool thing – not only are these individuals looking at my information, but I am also looking at their information.  Not only am I making a difference in their lives, but they are also making a difference to and adding value to mine.

What an incredible way to collaborate!  What an incredible way to interact with and meet new people!

Man, I love technology – yes, I know that I always say that I am a technophobe (but that is because I don’t understand the technical terminology) and that I don’t always understand it, but I do know, a little bit about what it does and I sure do love it!

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

Monday, December 14, 2015

Motivation - Creating Opportunities

MOTIVATION –  Creating Opportunities

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2011

Bruce Lee said “To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities!”

This statement really carries a punch for me!  To be quite honest, I am really fed up with a number of people at the moment.  I am seriously sick and tired of people with begging bowls who seem think that it is my ‘job’ to provide for them.  To hold their hands, or put money into their pockets or even to supply them with solutions to their problems because – well because they were previously disadvantaged – or their circumstances were not the same as mine (not that they have a cooking clue about my circumstances you understand).  It’s just expected.

I have just had a meeting with a young chap, let’s call him George – who read an article in a magazine, where I was interviewed.  Apparently, as I am given to understand it as I have not seen the article in question, I help people to start businesses – I suppose that’s a pretty fair (although very broad) statement of what I do.

So his opening request is “I want you to write a business proposal for me”.  Now, no-where on anything that I have ever written, have I offered writing business proposals for anyone, irrespective of whether I am being paid for the service or not.

To cut a very long, painful and frustrating conversation short – the story is as follows:

George used to work in a fish and chip shop – peeling potatoes for the chips, so he thinks that it might be a good idea to open up a fish and chip shop.  Nothing wrong with that dream, I hear you saying.  Here’s the problem, he has done no research, never managed anything, never employed any staff, never done any other kind of work in a ‘fast food’ type environment and he has no money to put down.  So clearly that turned out to not be such a good idea.

So his next plan was that he had worked as a volunteer in a clinic – he says, doing counseling, (but he has no education to speak of), around HIV and STD’s.  I suspect (and I say suspect, because getting any information was like pulling hen’s teeth or dancing between the raindrops), that he spoke about the use of condoms rather than actually counseling someone with HIV or aids or any of the STD’s.  George apparently worked there for 6 months, so now – how about he opens a clinic!  I mean for goodness sake!  The only research that he has done is to ascertain that the ‘government says that they will fund it’!

George registered an NGO 14 months ago and now he wants me to write a proposal to government because ‘they must fund it’!

Currently he is ‘working with fibre optics’ and when I asked the probing questions I discovered that what he is actually doing is laying cables in the trenches – well not today he wasn’t, today he was wasting my time and irritating me because that seems to be his right because his “circumstances” growing up were less than mine!  It’s his right because he was previously disadvantaged – although the fact that I am currently disadvantaged is not something that he wanted to talk about!

George’s parting comment as he prepared to leave was that “he can see that he needs to do some research, but eish, it’s hard and when I have done the research I will contact you so that you can tell me what to do next!”  My response “Sure okay, but my hourly rate is …….  And the next meeting you will have to pay for in advance.”

My circumstances – well they made me work harder, something that I still do to this day.  I started working after school and on the weekends at 13 and by the time I was 15, I went to court to have myself legally declared an emancipated minor.  I had my own flat that I paid for and that I worked for. Sure I’ve had help along the way, but it has always been help that I reciprocated.  I have made my own way, watched out for opportunities or made my own.  I’ve come really far but I can say with all honesty, I have paid to get here.

Perhaps I have done it the hard way around, perhaps I should have sat on my arse with my begging bowl extended and bemoaned my particular set of circumstances and demanded that my expectations be met off the backs and hard work of others.

The problem with that though is the fact that I would then never have been  . . . .  well me!

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

Friday, December 11, 2015

HR 101 - To Steal or Not to Steal


To Steal or Not To Steal

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

Please note that this pertains to the South Africa Labour Relations requirements and best practice.

When you catch an employee stealing, your initial ‘knee jerk’ reaction is one of ‘get them out of my sight and out of my company (preferably before I do them grievous bodily harm).’  Step away from the employee – no, seriously – step away from the situation it is full of emotion and that emotion will induce you to do something that you will regret.

Gone are the days when you could just dismiss an employee for stealing.  Gone are the days when you could just tell an employee to pack up and go – the rules are in place and if you don’t follow them, you will be the one paying the consequences for their misguided youth.

Here’s the deal:

Theft is considered a ‘misconduct’.  The Code of Good Practice states “Dismissal imposed several requirements on an employer who is considering dismissing an employee for misconduct.”

“Three of these requirements are:
1. The employer should first consider factors such as the employee’s length of service and disciplinary record;
2. The misconduct must be of such a grave nature that it makes a continued employment relationship intolerable and
3. An employee should be dismissed only if that have been found guilty of gross misconduct.”

So what is considered as ‘gross misconduct’?  Some of these are (but not limited to):
deliberate (wilful) damage to the employer’s property
deliberately (wilfully) endangering the safety of others
Physical assault on the employer, a fellow employee or a client/supplier
Gross insubordination (so they can steal from you but they can’t give you the finger)
Gross dishonesty.

In the old days, stealing from your employer meant that you were dishonest and that dishonesty meant that your employer could no longer ‘trust’ you and meant that your continued employment would be intolerable for the employer – well those were the ‘old’ days.  Things have now changed – again.

You see, the law says it has to be ‘gross dishonesty’ and therefore not all dishonesty.  Therefore this means that not all ‘theft’ can be considered as ‘gross dishonesty’.

My take on this is that if my employee lies to me, I cannot trust them.  If they steal from me, I cannot trust them and quite frankly if I cannot trust them then I don’t want them to be working in my company let alone anywhere near my space.  The law of course, sees this in a different light.

Remember that mitigating circumstances have to be taken into account – those are things like number of years that the employee has been employed by the company and whether or not they have a clean disciplinary record or not.

The employer also has to prove that continued employment of the employee will make the employment relationship intolerable.  This proof would have to show that the relationship was not merely damaged but actually destroyed.

Note to self – outsource everything that you can!

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

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Blogging 101 - Your Writing Style

BLOGGING TIPS – Your Writing Style

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC March 2011

As many of you know, I am an avid reader.  I have this insatiable need to learn and reading keeps that particular monster fed and at bay.  Over the years though, I have certainly become more of a discerning reader and obviously tend to look at articles that are of particular interest to me.

I am not for example, going to be reading about IT hardware (or software for that matter) – I don’t understand the terminology and would probably have more fun watching paint dry.  So how do I choose what I read?

First and foremost, the title would have to grab my attention and then the content would have to be not only interesting, but in my case it needs to make me ‘see’ the picture.

If my imagination is not captured within the first few paragraphs, I move on!  It’s that simple.

As I have often said before, it’s all in the telling of the story and if that is not told in an interesting way or if I don’t find it exciting or funny, well then it’s not likely to hold my attention.

For me the easiest way to write is to tell the story in exactly the same manner as I would if I were chatting to a friend or even a client. Using simple words I create the picture or vision, if you will, in the mind of the listener.

Remember, in this instance, your listener becomes your reader and you have to keep them engaged by ensuring that the tale you tell is interesting and insightful from the get-go.

Keep it short, keep it sweet and keep it interesting!

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

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Business Tips - Why Twitter - Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

For the last couple of years now, I have been listening to all the hype about “Twitter” and “Tweeting” and “Tweets” and “Twits” and so on.  Actually, now that I think about it, my technophobia aside – I really do love technology, I love the world that it opens up to me.  The fact that I am not sure how the technical side of things work doesn’t really phase me at all.  I do know that “Twitter” is another form of international communication and what I really love about it is that it allows me to put a one-liner up which will drive a considerable number of people to my website.

For example, on a daily basis I tweet – Today’s blog (and then the title of the blog), add the URL address of my website and that’s it.  Looking at the statistics afterwards shows me exactly how many people come to visit my website and they usually stay for a while and look around.  How do I know this?  Well the stats show that the average time anyone spends on my website is in excess of 5 minutes.  See, my website is very content rich with loads of information that pertains mostly to SMME’s (small, medium, micro enterprise), Entrepreneurs and start ups but actually in general to everyone.  The information is presented in bite sized chunks, with my own brand of humour and I know that many have not only learnt something but have also enjoyed a chuckle whilst doing so – and that’s always a bonus.

I also know that when I started the whole ‘twitter’ scenario, I was addicted.  I couldn’t get enough of the site.  I found myself standing in a queue and instead of reading my book (which is what I used to do), I would be logging onto the site via my phone to see ‘who had posted what tweets’ – it was an exciting time of information overload.  Back at the office, I found myself logging onto the site at every opportunity and found myself going from one site to the other as I devoured all the information that others had so thoughtfully found and shared with me.

Reality hit me really hard one day, when I got up and it was still dark outside.  I did the daily things that are routine to me and immediately logged onto the site.  During the course of the day, I felt hungry and thirsty but every time I wanted to get up and get something to eat or drink, I found myself caught up in whatever it was that I was reading and thought ‘as soon as I finish this article I will go and get (insert food or drink here)’.  Of course I got so involved that getting something to eat or drink just never happened.  After what seemed like a couple of hours, not long at all, I suddenly realized that it had gone very dark and I thought it must be because there was going to be a Highveld storm. 
One of those that we are famous for – you know when suddenly the thick black clouds come over and then the rain comes down in sheets for about 10 minutes and then the sun comes out to play again? 

Sadly it wasn’t!  What it was, was the onset of night – in fact it was after 7pm.  I had sat in front of my computer playing on twitter and going from site to side from around 5.30am to after 7pm without eating or drinking anything.  Needless to say, no work had been done for the day either and I gave myself a helleva fright.

The solution to the problem of course was clear, I went out and bought myself one of those oven timer clocks and limited my use of twitter to 15 minutes a day.  When the clock alarm goes off, it doesn’t matter where I am and what I am reading, I have to close the site down!  Addictive it is and I am not the only one to say this either!

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing some of the things that you can do with Twitter – I hope you will stick around and enjoy the journey with me.

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

Monday, December 07, 2015

Motivation - Believing it is Possible

MOTIVATION – Believing It is Possible

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – November 2009

Richard M De Vos says “The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible.”

So what exactly is it that we are all so afraid of?  Why is it that we are afraid to believe that “things” are possible?  Why is it that we have so little faith in ourselves and the magnitude of ‘that’ person that we are, that we are afraid to try things in life?  Quite honestly I don’t have the answers.

What I do have is a life and business coach by the name of Vanessa, who is teaching me and guiding me through this process.  I always smilingly say that I am a ‘work in progress’!

What I am discovering in this amazing journey through life is that I am beginning to ‘try’ things – not just wanting to try them or thinking about trying them, but that I am actually actively engaged in the process of ‘trying’ life. I am physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually engaged in ‘the business of trying life.’

Please believe me when I tell you that it is the most difficult thing I have ever done and also the absolute easiest.  Difficult because I have had to let go of and work through my own fear and my faith in myself and the Universe.  Easy because, once I let myself ‘do’ it, I could not for the life of me understand what it was that I was so scared and afraid of in the first place.

Yip – a work in progress, that’s me!  You see every time I hit a ripple in the road (usually put there by myself) my first reaction is one of fear and then I have to stop – work through everything from a logical perspective, understand the fear, throw the fear and the uncertainty out and then continue on my way.  I do understand and am aware of the fact that as I continue on my journey the ‘fear factor’ will become less and less though.

You see, the ‘fear’ had been a part of my life for so long that it had become a really nasty and evil habit.  Like any other bad habit, you have to be consciously and consistently aware of the damage that it is doing to you and only in that awareness will you be able to rid yourself of it.

It’s a habit that I am expunging on a daily basis.

It’s a habit that will soon be gone from my life forever.

In my new found ‘fearless’ freedom, I am finally starting to try new things and in so doing I have found the faith and trust in myself and the purpose of my life, which will ultimately allow me to live my life to the fullest.

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

Friday, December 04, 2015

HR 101 - Safety Laws & the SMME


Safety Laws & the SMME

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

Please not that this applies to South African Labour requirements and bet practice.

The Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) applies to everyone – irrespective of whether you have 1 employee or you have 100 000 employees – it applies to everyone.

Right, now that I have that out of the way, less unpack it and see exactly what that means.

Most small business owners/entrepreneurs that I know, seem to think that the Act only applies to large corporations – please understand that it doesn’t – the Act requires that an ‘employer’  must ensure that the workplace is free of ‘hazardous ergonomics and substances, micro-organisms etc, which may cause injury or disease’.

The purpose of the Act is to establish a minimum set of standards and/or requirements of occupational health and safety within the workplace and/or working environment.

Actually, if the truth be told all companies should have a health policy, which needs to be applicable to all of their employees and workplaces.  Actually it needs to be for persons other than their employees too – so it would need to be applicable to clients or service providers and others who would be ‘visiting’ their premises for whatever reason.

Where SMME’s go wrong is that they compare their small workplace to that of a mine or a large manufacturing plant and/or factory and then they don’t see their workplace as a potentially dangerous working environment.  Truth be told, all employees have a constitutional right to work in a safe environment, so employers need to do whatever they can to prevent injury to their staff and it is also advisable for them to have someone trained to deal with emergencies.

The staff member also has an obligation not to put themselves at risk.  For example if they work say on site in a construction company, as much as the employer is required to supply the employee with protective clothing, such as a hard hat or steel capped boots and gloves, the employee is obliged to wear such clothing and/or cooperate with the employers requests on the matter.  Failure to do that would actually constitute ‘negligence’ on the part of the employee and the employee can be disciplined and/or actually dismissed on these charges.

Be warned, inspectors from the Department of Labour regularly inspect companies – large and small and they will also investigate any incident where someone is injured or any complaint that may have been made and if the SMME has not complied they will be in for penalties, just the same as any large corporation.

Remember too, that it is the responsibility of the company to report any injury that has occurred in the workplace to the Department of Labour within 7 days of the incident occurring.  This does not just apply to incidents where someone has lost a limb but also incidents arising when someone slips or trips or is exposed to chemicals or falls from a height or where someone has a sprain or strain or sustains a burn or even noise damage etc.

If you, as an SMME or entrepreneur, are not sure of what needs to be done be sure to get some help.  But get yourselves a ‘health policy’ and get yourself informed – someone’s life may well depend upon it.

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

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Blogging 101 - What makes a Blog well written - Part 2

BLOGGING TIPS – What Makes a Blog Well Written?

Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC  2010

So now we have a great title and . . .  now what?

It feels like a hundred years ago since I was at school, but I do remember the
English teacher always drilling into us the basics of a good composition – it, the story that is, has to have a beginning, a middle and an ending.  Let’s be honest here, what is a blog – if not a story about your business, or about who you are or what it is that you are doing and why you are doing it?  The reality is that it is a story and it is in the telling of the story, that you have the power.

A story is no good, if the beginning makes you want to fall asleep.  Most people will stop right there and not continue reading.  So too is having a fantastic and strong ending, without a great beginning.  That is just a hopeless exercise.  Conversely having a fantastic beginning, that grips the imagination or curiosity of the reader and then having an ending that makes them feel like they have just lit the soggy end of a wet squib, will also make them reluctant to read any of your future offerings.

So you’ve got a fabulous beginning and an ending that will make the reader bang down the door for the next installment, but what about the middle?  How do you tell the story?  Does it follow the twists and turns, does it have a surprise somewhere along the way, does it make the reader engage with the characters or feel that they want to buy your product or service?  Does it conjure up pictures or colours or smells or memories that reach down into the very core of a being?  How does it make them feel inside?  For example, what are you ‘feeling’ right now as you read these words.  Are you nodding your head furiously because you understand exactly how you feel when you are reading something that bores you to tears or the excitement that creeps up from within as you read something that gives you an ‘ah-ha’ moment or that challenges you or that makes you think, I mean really think – or are you sadly shaking your head from side to side, because you don’t have a clue about what it is that I am going on about (and yes, there will always be those who remain utterly clueless – no matter what the topic)!

For me, the beginning must grab my attention from the getgo – I must think, I have to just read this page before I  . . . .  (insert what you will here).  The ending must make me sigh with pleasure, sad that I have come to the end and eager to start reading the next article or the next book by the same author and the middle, well the middle must keep me engrossed, it must feed my imagination and satisfy my curiosity, it must stretch my mind and leave me with an internal sense of well being. It must make me willing to follow without question, not make me feel like I am being dragged along, resisting all of the way.  Reading the kind of articles that make me feel like I am being forced to read, irritate and annoy and sap all the pleasure out of reading the written word.

Step back from your page for a moment and ponder – what is the picture that you want your reader to have?  What is the experience that you wish for them to have? Is it a pleasurable one?  Now sit down and write the story with all of those images that run around and swirl about in your head – they will see them, they will feel them and I have no doubt that they will enjoy them.

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

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Networking 101 - Being a Great Connector


PART 140

Being a Great Connector

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. December  2009

So  what exactly is it that makes connectors so popular in a Networking environment?

Simple really, as their name suggests they connect people with one another – people who can do great, profitable business.  People who, under normal circumstances, would never even realise that they have any kind of synergy are connected in ways that they never even thought about.  Connectors are able to see/think out of the box and because they understand the true essence of Networking, they are able to, not only see the connection but also facilitate it.

Connectors build huge networks around themselves, so it’s little wonder that many people would love to get to know them, to have access to their network and/or data base, if nothing else.

Connectors are people who are trusted by their networks and/or data bases and since they are well known and trusted people often do business with one another, without knowing, or on occasion, even meeting one another.  You see the relationship has already been established and built by the connector.

You will always find at least one connector at a Networking event.  It’s not because they need to meet yet another bookkeeper or another coach, it’s because they need to meet and have access to all the people that that bookkeeper and/or coach know in order to facilitate the connections that they need to make.

Connectors are driven to move the value that they know and trust is in their networks from one contact to the other, connecting one person to another.  They understand that making these connections will also benefit them.  They also understand that Networking isn’t about instant gratification but rather of adding value to their Network and over time they will reap the rewards from making these connections.

Connectors understand that it’s about finding synergy between people they have known for years and the new people that they are constantly meeting.

Connectors instinctively Network where ever they go, with everyone that they meet.

Connectors know and appreciate that their Networks are in fact a professional asset to their businesses.

Is your Network a professional asset to you?  If not, perhaps it is time to make it one of the goals for you for the coming year.

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

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Business Tips - Documentation and SARS

BUSINESS TIPS – Documentation and SARS

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – May 2013

On a daily basis I meet with people who are either starting their own businesses or alternatively there are those who have been in business for many years now – irrespective of where they are in this particular journey called life, they more often than not, have no clue about the legal requirements around the retention of their business documents.

The harsh reality is that not only is there a legal requirement in terms of what documents must be kept there are also requirements on how long these documents must be kept and they are not all just about the financial records either.  Some need to be kept for only a couple of years, others for up to 5 or 7 or even 15 or so years and others that have to be retained ‘indefinitely’.

Add to all of this the digital and electronic age and although in many ways this simplifies life there are also instances where this will complicate things.

Take for example the tax records . . . it has been promulgated into law that the tax records and financial documentation pertaining to these records can be stored in their electronic form provided that they are stored electronically in a physical location in South Africa.  Furthermore, if the taxpayer wishes to store and maintain their accounting or invoicing records using ‘the cloud’ technology or servers outside of South African borders, they will need to obtain written approval from a Senior SARS officiator.

Apparently though, obtaining authority to do this is not an easy achievement either, as the following requirements have to be met.  These are (but not limited to):
- You have to be able to easily access these records here in SA.
- Irrespective of the location of these servers, this should not affect the access to the records.
- It is a requirement that the country where the servers are hosted has to have an international tax agreement with South Africa for reciprocal tax assistance.
- That the taxpayer in South Africa has to be able to produce an acceptable electronic form of the record – ideally it should look exactly like its paper hardcopy equivalent and
- The storage capabilities must meet all storage requirements.

Additional challenges that may be encountered are in the form of system description development should the software or electronic platform not be commonly used and/or recognized in South Africa, so beware of all the ‘off the shelf’ products that may have been developed in India or the USA as they may carry ‘hidden’ costs.

Be sure to have properly researched what you purchase to ensure that SARS requirements are always met – it will be cheaper in the long run.

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