Friday, January 29, 2016

HR 101 - Maintain Control of your Staff - Part 5


Maintain Control of your Staff – Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next time 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, January 28, 2016

Blogging 101 - Where Else to look for Ideas - Part 2

BLOGGING TIPS – Where Else to look for Ideas – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2012

Last time we looked at using Celebrities and their causes or keeping a journal for inspiration for ideas for articles of interest that pertain to your particular passion.  Today we will have a look one more.

How about that for a common daily occurrence?  We all use gestures in our daily communication.  Usually we use them in conjunction with our speech, but often gestures are an alternative form of communication – when you can’t find the right words.  More often than not, when you are a visual person like I am, the gesture can make more of an impact that the written or spoken words themselves.

Let me explain.  I mentor several individuals, one of them is quite an artistic person who operates in the entertainment arena.  Let’s call her Susan.

Susan is looking to embark on a journey of her own into the world of business.  She is bright, articulate and open to ideas and absorbs information at a rapid rate.  At the moment, Susan’s greatest challenge is taking all the ideas and discarding what she doesn’t need and ‘parking’ what she does.  Her greatest fear is that she doesn’t have enough time and enough of ‘her’ as a resource to accomplish all that she perceives she needs to get done.

I explained to Susan how to ‘unpack’ things so that they become ‘bite sized’ chunks that can be easily dealt with and we also chatted about the art of delegation and outsourcing.  You see Susan doesn’t have to do anything other than give the project her name and put in an occasional appearance.

As Susan ‘got it’ and realized that she had been focusing on the wrong issues, she lifted her hands to the center of her forehead and made a motion like someone, whose face has been pressed up close to a curtain and who was now opening that curtain, curiously, to peek out into the wild world beyond.  This simple gesture had a profound effect on me and the visual had far more punch than any written or verbal explanation.  You see I had opened her mind to other possibilities.
Think about the gestures that you make to add value to your words and be aware of the gestures of those that you talk to – all could be used as or in the topic of your next blog.

Next time we have a look at some more ideas to keep those blogs flowing.

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Networking 101 - Using Your Database Effectively


PART 148

Using Your Database Effectively

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. February 2010

In his article entitled “Not Getting The Referrals You Want . . . Then It’s All Your Fault”, Dr Ivan Misner, puts the blame squarely at your feet and quite honestly I agree with him.

To continue where we left off last time:

Another reason that many people come up with when they don’t get the referrals that they want is “They just don’t have the contacts I need” says Dr Ivan Misner.  Let’s have a look at the issue there.  Many people don’t even use their own data bases effectively let alone looked at the databases of the people in their own data bases.  Think of the infinite possibilities . . .

Sure you have to work at it.  Sure you have to follow up on every single lead that you are given.  Sure you have to do something with every single business card that you are given.  Sure it means getting up off your butt and doing something other than moaning about what you’re not getting.  The returns though are absolutely fantastic and those of us who work at their data bases can attest to this – I know that I can.

The internet makes the world a really small place.  I met an Australian chap on an International Virtual Networking group about 2 years ago now.  He was looking to set up distributions all over the world for the product that he is selling.  We corresponded now and then and the result was he came out to South Africa and he has set up a whole bunch of distributions both here in Gauteng and in Cape Town.  I met him fact to face last week and we greeted each other as if we had known each other for years.  His product is not something that I would sell or even use, but I have people in my database who would both purchase it and/or want to set up a distribution point for him.  Now he knows how to Network effectively and although I haven’t had anything from him directly, I have added value to my own database and I know for sure that somewhere down the line, I will make money out of my connection with him.

His tale is even more amazing.  Around the time that he met me on the internet, he had just started with this particular product and was doing it ‘sort of part time’ as he was still running his own business that has been going for in excess of 25 years.  About a month ago, he handed the jewellery business to his wife and a manager and he is now working full time in the business of setting up distributers all over the world – he now has 285 distributors worldwide.  So I guess you could say that his Networking skills are incredible!

Next time we will continue to look at why not getting the referrals that you want, may in fact be all your own fault.

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Business Tips - Some More Common Mistakes - Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Some More Common Mistakes – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – July 2011

I had the opportunity to speak with one of my client’s this week, whose eyes became like saucers when I expanded on things that she could introduce and do within her business that she hadn’t even thought about.  A bit sad that, because she had the idea, the basic idea – but she was so caught up in that basic idea that she couldn’t see the wood for trees – there were several different additional dimensions that she could also go to, but hadn’t.  She was being restrained by herself.  Don’t be scared to dream big!

One of the other things that I often see small business owners and entrepreneurs doing wrong, including myself, is the old 80:20 rule.  It’s not new, it’s not difficult and it certainly is one of the most basic rules that we should all know and yet I for one, often struggle with it badly.  I think that one of the reasons for this is that I am so ‘caught’ up in the moment that I don’t see it coming or that I am in the middle of it and it’s only when I am just about strangled to death by it, that I see what’s happening and then take the necessary steps to stop it and usually by that time, it has already caused the damage and I have to start again.

Let me step back for a moment and explain what I mean.

When 80% of your sales or your income, is generated from 20% of your customers – your natural instinct is to spend the greater amount of your time with those particular customers.  The problem with this of course, is that because you are getting most of your income from these customers you are often coerced into giving them bigger discounts or freebies and that means that your margins are cut.  The bottom line is that you may be getting the lion’s share of the turnover from them, but you are also getting the least profitability from them.  There is also the very real danger that should you lose, even one of these customers, you have lost a very big piece of your income and that is never a good thing.

Balancing the 80% with the 20% is a very delicate thing and if you get it right your business with soar to incredible heights, but getting it wrong could also lead to your downfall.  It is something that needs to be kept in sight at all times.

Linking to the 80%/20% spilt is customer service.  If your 80% clients are running you ragged with all of their demands, and believe me some of those bigger clients can have a very lopsided view of what their money buys from you, chances are that you may very well have both little time and/or energy left for your smaller clients and their perception then is that they are not getting good customer service from you.

I don’t care if I go into a shop every single day or once a year – I want good service.  If that is how I think, then surely my clients are entitled to the same.  Giving consistently good service to ALL of your clients will result in loyalty.  Loyalty in a client means that not only will they come back time and time again, they will also recommend you to all of their friends and word of mouth referrals are the best kind of marketing you can have.  Believe me too though, when I tell you it is also the worst type of marketing you can have, if you have upset a client.  Remember that ‘bad’ news also travels faster than ‘good’ news does and it has a bigger impact.  So be sure to give consistently good service to your clients.

This of course, does not mean that you have to become a doormat for nasty and bad clients – those you should just get rid of anyway.  Give value for money and good service and you’ll always have business coming your way.

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

Monday, January 25, 2016

Motivation - Creating New Plans

MOTIVATION – Creating New Plans

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – March 2010

The great Napoleon Hill writes ‘The majority of man meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail.”

There it is – that word persistence!  It’s the one thing that I am convinced that we are all born with.  Without it none of us would have learnt how to sit up and crawl, to walk and to run.  None of us would be where we are now.  None of us would have achieved what we have and certainly none of us would be the people that ultimately we have become.

Sadly, like learning to fear, where we were once ‘fearless’ as children, many of us seem, to have lost our ‘persistence’ along the way too.

Sadly, like those of us who literally ‘live in fear,’ those who have lost their ‘persistence’ will not stick around long enough to make anything work, or even long enough to enjoy the fruits of their own endeavors and actually, truth be told, they will set themselves up for their own failures and downfall.

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

Friday, January 22, 2016

HR 101 - Maintain Control of Your Staff - Part 4

HR 101 - Maintain Control of your Staff – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

Although we have walked through some pretty hair-raising examples around this issue, it’s time to bring you some more.

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

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

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

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

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

Next time 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, January 21, 2016

Blogging 101 - Where Else to Look for Ideas - Part 1

BLOGGING TIPS – Where Else to look for Ideas – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC January 2012

So last time we had a look at just how easy it is to turn everyday experiences into ideas for articles.  Today I am going to give you some more examples of where to look for inspiration.

Using Celebrities & their Causes
We all have our favorite celebrities and many individuals avidly follow what their favorite celebrities are doing and getting up to.  Celebrities also often use their status to highlight their pet projects – pretty much like Angelina Jolie uses her name to advance her projects and her position as a UN Ambassador or Al Gore who highlights Global Warming.

Using my friend Jacques the gardener again, his ideal celebrity to use to promote his business “Grow your own food” to highlight how we can all feed ourselves as well as grow our own little sustainable food businesses, would be someone like Annie Lennox or Cameron Diaz or Leonardo de Caprio, who are all very outspoken about our carbon footprints and issues around hunger and the starving poor – all of which can be addressed in some way by growing our own food.

Sure Jacques would have to do a little research on the exact or specific areas of their passions and commitments, but with his commitment to sustainable and organic food growing, there would be a wealth of information on the issues that they stand for, that he would be equally as passionate about.

I can see the article right now starting with words that go something along the lines of  “Like Annie Lennox who strongly believes that no child should go to bed hungry – neither do I!  Growing your own food  and  . . . .”

Keeping a Journal
Now I know that keeping a journal can be a real pain in the rear end – especially if it is something that you have not done all your life.

Oprah Winfrey often talks about the “gratitude” journal that she keeps and how she writes down at least 3 things every day that she is grateful for.  So what about keeping a journal, either as a full journal about your business day or if that is too much, then say 3 things a day that you learnt, discovered, noticed, experienced etc. about your business?

In the case of my friend Jacques the gardener, this could be a full journal on the gardens that he works in and what works and what doesn’t (and yes all gardens are very different depending on the type of soil or how much sun they get etc.) or the project that he is involved with  and how they are progressing or evolving or it could be on the things that he researched on that day and how they could change whatever it is that he needed to do the research for.

I am sure that you can see that that would open up a huge amount of possibilities and inspire a great number of things to write about.

Next time we have a look at a few more options for inspiration.  Until then don’t forget to have fun with your writing.

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Networking 101 - Ask for Referrals

Networking 101

Ask for referrals

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. February 2010

In his article entitled “Not Getting The Referrals You Want . . . Then It’s All Your Fault”, Dr Ivan Misner, puts the blame squarely at your feet and quite honestly I agree with him.

One of the first and most important things that you have to do when expecting people to refer you is . . . .  to ask them, and not just once either, keep on asking or make sure that people remember you or that you are the first person who comes to mind when they encounter or engage with someone who needs suppliers of your particular product and/or service.  Do this by meeting with them at any other Networking meeting that you may end up both attending, or keep in contact by means of a newsletter, or phone them, or refer someone to them, or meet them for coffee to catch up.  Doesn’t matter what you do, just ensure that they are reminded frequently, that you are still around and that you are ready to do business or add value to their ‘circle of influence’.

Make sure that people in your Network know that you take in an interest in their wellbeing and that you are not just interested in them for supplying referrals for your well being.  Pass on snippets of useful information or ideas or introduce them to people who may be able to assist them or do business with them,

Secondly, it’s no good asking people to refer business to you if they are not sure about what it is that you do.  They need to know what your business is all about, they need to understand, at the very least, the fundamentals of what you sell, be it product and/or service.  They need to understand how your business can make a difference in the lives of others.  Be careful not to give them too much ‘technical’ information at once but rather give out ‘bite’ sized bits of information that is easy to understand.  Don’t forget to let them know about any new or additional products and/or services that you add to your business, as you add them.  This will also help you to ‘keep in touch’ with them and keep them excited about what it is that you do.

Horror of horrors, if the person that has been referred to you has only used you once and then you have never heard from them again  . . . .  perhaps it is not because they are fickle, perhaps you should be looking inwards at yourself.  Did you close the sale properly?  Did you deliver and also important, did you deliver on time?

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Business Tips - Planning to Succeed - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Planning to Succeed – PART 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC December 2011

Following on from last time, let’s look at some of the other guidelines that can be used by SMME’s to plan for the success of their business.

Organizational Chart

Contrary to popular belief, an organizational chart is not just about knowing which staff report into which departments or which individuals head up the various departments.  Having a proper organizational chart makes it that much easier for business owners to see or visualize the company with all its various divisions and compartments.

This in turn makes it easier to put strategy and infrastructure in place and it will also allow business owners to respond to changing markets, trends and opportunity, a lot faster and more effectively.  Having a plan or chart clearly visible has a great impact – much more than something that is merely a thought or an idea and that is kept only in the mind.

The organizational chart also means that intensions are clear and well defined and this makes it a lot easier to communicate these intentions to your staff.

Positional Contracts

Although all the staff need to have their own contracts – having contracts that are specific to a position is always a good thing.  Apart from the fact that the staff member concerned will be under no misconception about what their role in the company is, the business owner also gets to define that particular role and make their expectations clear.

The easiest way for me (and I suspect that this is standard practice) is to start at the top of the organizational chart and work your way downwards.

Remember of course to have the list of requirements for each task readily at hand and make sure that your expectations and requirements are clear.


KPI’s of course are “Key Performance Indicators” and they are how the performance of the staff member is to be measured.  Remember the old adage “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it?” Well here’s the thing – it’s true and the best way to set those measurements and implement them is in the KPI’s or job descriptions.  That way, as the business owner, your intention is made clear from the start and the consequences of not meeting your expectation is also documented.

Just make sure though, that when you hire someone for a position that they are capable of performing the required task or you will be responsible for setting them up for failure.  The days of hiring someone because they had cute dimples or because they had long gorgeous legs and then dismissing them at some stage because you discovered that the work was not being done, are no longer here.  You, as the business owner also have a responsibility for ensuring that the person you hire is qualified and/or capable of doing the work.

How-to Manuals

It is of the utmost importance – most especially if you have staff – to document ‘how to’. Ensuring that your staff all complete tasks in the same way will ensure that things get done properly and consistently and will also provide you with something to measure their performance by.

Actually if the truth be told, even if you don’t have staff, having checklists for yourself for all the tasks that you perform will ensure that you don’t forget to do things when you are interrupted by the phone and/or a client.

Documenting your ‘how-to’ will also remove all sorts of emotional issues like (but not limited to) “but I thought you meant” or “I thought I would do it like this today” or my personal favorite “But I always do it like this!” Instructions that are simple and clear provide the groundwork for work that is correctly and timeously performed, leaving little room for error and oversight.

So, there you have it – the basic plans that you should have in place as you venture out into the world of Business Owner.

Don’t forget to check your plans and goals on a regular basis though – not only to see that you are still going in the right direction, but also to ‘tick off’ your accomplishments as and when you realize them.  Then of course there are always the little ‘tweaks’ that need to be done as you change direction due to market trends and legislational requirements.

Good luck on your new venture and don’t forget to have fun along the way.

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

Monday, January 18, 2016

Motivation - Defects & Strengths


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, who says”

“By nature we have no defect that could not become a strength, no strength that could not become a defect.”

Wow, what an incredible statement to make and it really connects with me!  That’s for sure.

The first part of the quote for me is a ‘no brainer’.  You see I am on a mission at the moment to change people’s mind sets.  I am looking at the way we see things, issues such as the ‘VAT man’ or how we look at policies and procedures for example and how when we change our mind sets and we look at these in a more positive light, they actually become beneficial to us and to our businesses – so that one I don’t have a problem with.

It’s the second part of the quote that becomes a bit of a challenge!  Actually now that I think about it – it’s not that difficult.  I think that on some level, we as humans become somewhat ‘arrogant’ about our strengths and when that happens they can become our greatest weaknesses.

I recently saw a movie where the young lawyer had something like a 97% win ratio and this resulted in him being head hunted by some of the most prestigious law firms around.  He ended up prosecuting a case that should have been a ‘slam dunk’ and which very nearly became the ‘undoing’ of him, when he lost it.  His arrogance about his strength became his biggest weakness.

So no matter how excellent we are at something, it is in our own best interests to always do our best, take the time to ensure that we have all the facts and that we pay as much attention to something that we are good at as we pay to something that we are not so good at.

It’s about giving 100% all of the time irrespective of what the task is.  It’s about taking pride in what we do and being committed performing the task to the best of our ability at all times.

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

Friday, January 15, 2016

HR 101 - Maintain Control of Your Staff - Part 3


Maintain Control of your Staff – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

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

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

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

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

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

Next time 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, January 14, 2016

Blogging 101 - Where to look for ideas

BLOGGING TIPS – Where to look for Ideas

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC January 2012

I know that I seem to be harping on about this, but every day I encounter people who seem quite keen to start a blog, but who have no idea what to write about.

It is sometimes extremely frustrating for me when this happens because as I talk to them and ascertain exactly what they do and what their passion is, it is abundantly clear that they have a huge amount of knowledge on their subject or specialty and that there is a copious amount of material that they could write about.  Even ‘every day’ things that occur could become a source of inspiration.

Whilst we were on holiday over the Christmas period, my friend Jacques and I were taking photos.  We took photos of everything that moved (and many things that didn’t) and I jokingly said to Jacques “we should start a blog on Things I Saw Today or Things I Did Today!”  The look that he gave me clearly stated that I had lost the plot – again!  I had a good laugh, you see Jacques is a gardener.  He works with many communities, showing them how to grow their own food and then how to turn the surplus into sustainable income and I realized that he was thinking how a photo of a clump of bobbing seaweed (being what we saw that day) could be turned into an article that would have any impact on the work that he does.

So I started to ask the questions (and happily I did know the answers because the tour guide had told us):

q. What does the bobbing seaweed tell us?
a. That there is no perlemoen (abalone) in the area because that is what they feed on – the poachers have harvested everything.
q. So would you harvest the seaweed?
a. Yes I would if I had, or wanted to start a perlemoen farm.
q. So what would the benefits be of starting a perlemoen farm?
a. Well it would replenish the stocks that have been depleted through poaching and it is a healthy organic source of food and if properly managed is extremely sustainable and  . . . .

All of that because of a clump of seaweed bobbing in the ocean – a whole bunch of stuff to write about (not to mention a whole host of opportunities for someone)!

We all have these kinds of experiences during our day – things that we see, encounters with people who we deal with and people who tell us their stories.  Each and every one of them has the propensity to become a blog article that highlights something in our businesses.  We just have to be open to the possibilities.

Personally, I think that the biggest challenge that most people think they have, when they want to write a blog, is the ‘how to write’ it and not the ‘what to write’!  As always my advice here is – write it exactly the way you would if you were telling someone the story, as if you were engaged in a discussion with someone and you were telling them what happened.

So now – who thinks that they don’t have anything to put into a blog?

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Networking 101 - Lead by Example


PART 146

Lead By Example

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. February 2010

I have one particular friend (let’s call her Jane) who consistently refers me to people.  Quite honestly, in the last two months alone she has sent 3 entrepreneurs to me.  Strangely enough, she only has a slight inkling of what it is that I do, but she has read some of my articles in the newspaper and the result of that is the minute she comes into contact with someone who owns a business, she insists that they have to meet me and we need to ‘talk’!  Now that’s the kind of friends we all want, I am sure you would agree.

Here’s the thing though, the people who we are most familiar with, and I am talking about family and friends here, are often the ones that very seldom give us referrals.  Apparently this is because with family and friends the relationships that we have with them is of a more personal nature and because of this it often does not even occur to them to refer business to us, unless we specifically make a point of asking for it or reminding them.

On of the biggest problems, I am led to believe, is that although our friends and family love us and think the world of us, they have also seen us at our absolute worst and they may not be comfortable with referring us to one of their friends ‘in case’ we embarrass them.  In some cases, no matter how much they respect, admire and even trust us, they do not want to mix business with personal relationships.  Even worse, many may not understand how to refer us.

This ‘non-understanding’ may not be confined to family and friends either – many of our colleagues and indeed, people who we see at Networking meetings all the time, may not have the slightest idea of how to ‘refer’ business to us.

Networking individuals who are inexperienced, often don’t think about looking for referrals except through their existing customers and whilst getting those referrals is not a bad thing, it does mean that the number of referrals that they get and/or give is seriously limited.  On the other hand there are some very experienced Networkers who go to Networking meetings on a regular basis and they think that the only referrals they are going to get will come from the people and/or members that they encounter at the meetings.  That’s also limiting ourselves badly.

In order to get the most out of Networking, we have to put the most in and that means that we have to lead by example.  We have to refer business to our colleagues, our friends, our family and also strangers that we have just met.  By doing this we demonstrate a ‘willingness’ to share information and add value to their lives and pretty soon they will start sharing with us too.

We also need to remind people on a constant basis, that we are always looking for business and there are many ways to do this.  Keeping in touch by means of say a Newsletter, reminds people that we are out and about.  Asking for testimonials is also a good way to not only remind the person giving us the testimonial, what a good job we did for them, but letting others see those testimonial shows people that we can be trusted too.

So get busy today, remind people who we are and don’t forget to ‘ask’ people to refer us.  We’ll be amazed at the results.

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Business Tips - Planning to Succeed - Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Planning to Succeed – PART 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC December 2011

It’s no secret that in order for you to succeed in life, there has to be some sort of plan and obviously this also applies to business success as well.  In fact I would even go so far as to say that the ‘devil is in the detail’.  The more information and detail in the plan, the more you can ‘measure’ yourself to see how you are doing and the more likely it is to succeed. Clarity is King!

The problem of course is that many folk have no idea what needs to go into a plan and this statement is backed up and evidenced by the many businesses that fail because individuals have failed to make plans or set goals of any kind.

Here are some guidelines on what you need to look at in order to plan properly.

Your vision, of course, is your dream or your intention.  It is the ultimate goal.  It could be something as dramatic as having your particular product in every home in the country by xxxx date or as simple as providing training to 500 SMME’s (small, medium, micro enterprises) on a monthly basis.

What it should perhaps include however is what kind of product and why it should be in every household or what kind of training and why it will make a difference.

Mission Statement
For me, the mission statement is a simple plan on the ‘how to’ achieve your vision.  So how do you intend getting your product into every household or how do you intend getting the SMME’s into your training.  At this stage I wouldn’t go too in depth but rather have the basics down as these can be fleshed out at a later stage or as and when you get to the information that you need.

At this point it is also a good idea to start getting your figures in place – the budgets.  Number crunching is not always as difficult as we seem to think it is – just start with the basics and then the detail can be fleshed out from there.

Culture Statement
I must admit, when I ask this particular question, I am often met with a very confused look as well as the statement -  “The What . . . . ?”  Every business has a culture and pretty much like we are ‘masters of our own destiny,’ we also have a choice about the type of culture we want our businesses to be.  The way that you deal with customers and your suppliers or your staff would largely affect the type of culture that your business will become. In many instances, the culture of the company is determined by ethnic or religious influences but whilst we may be influenced by these external factors, it is equally important to ensure that our ethics also influence the culture of the company.

Often, it’s “Who we are” and our beliefs (and I am not talking about religion here), that are what attract people to do business with us.

Whether we want to admit it or not we all have goals – some of them are really simple and we make them without even thinking, like “I need to get to work by 08h30am this morning”.  Of course that is a goal – is it one that you need to write down – not necessarily.  Some of them can be seriously difficult and complicated, well actually – if the truth be told, we make them seriously difficult and complicated.

For me the easiest way to put my goals into perspective is to break things down into bite size chucks.  Where do I want to be in a year or two years or three years or even five years.  That’s the end goal – then break it down into the components – what do I need to do to get there and how long will that take me.  Once you have written all of that down, it is easier to set goals with time lines, be those timelines hours, days, weeks, months or even years.

Let me give you a simple example.  I want to paint my home and I want it done and completed at the end of say 6 months.  What do I need to do to get that done?  How many rooms are there, in which order will I paint the rooms.  What has to be done before I can paint (preparation), how long will that take me for each room (preparing the walls, covering and/or moving furniture, purchasing paint, brushes, etc)?  What has to be done once the room has been painted (clean-up and uncovering and/or moving furniture etc).

Now I have an idea of all the tasks that must be done and I can assign a time frame to each and if my time frames are reasonable and I stick to them, I can complete my task within the time period that I gave myself or not – you see here I can now adjust my ‘end result’, if that is what is required.  I have documented my goal and set a plan in place in order to achieve my goal – I can measure myself at every step along the way and see how I am doing.

In the same way and in every aspect of your business, this simple type of goal setting and planning can be implemented to ensure that you achieve whatever it is that you wish to do.

Next time we will have a look at the rest of the guidelines that I spoke about at the beginning of this blog.

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

Friday, January 08, 2016

HR 101 - Maintain Control Of Your Staff - Part 2


Maintain Control of your Staff – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Blogging 101 - Write When You Do Have Ideas

BLOGGING TIPS – Write When You do have Ideas

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC December 2011

I’m sure that by now, most of you understand that I do love to write.  Actually, if the truth be told – if I don’t write every single day, I feel as though something is missing in my life.  You know what I mean – that feeling that you have forgotten to do something, but you can’t think of what that ‘something’ is.

The fact of the matter though is that despite the huge amount of material and ideas that I have for articles and stories – sometimes I am just not in the mood to write.  Sometimes, although the idea for the article is scrumptious and delicious and absolutely perfect – I’m not, and the words just won’t flow and as I once was so inspired, so uninspired I am right now. That’s usually when I fling my arms heavenward and declare “Someone has messed with my mojo!”

When I am in this frame of mind – well there’s actually no point in actually even trying to write!  I know because I have tried before – many times and all that happens is I’ve written a load of absolute drivel, messed up a perfectly good idea, then irritated and annoyed myself beyond reason.

Conversely, there are times when I can’t seem to stop writing – when ideas flow like running water and it feels like the pen won’t keep up with my thoughts or my fingers won’t move quickly enough over the key board.  When this happens, I can produce an article every 15 to 20 minutes and I have been known to write far into the night, often forgetting to eat or drink or even go to the bathroom.

I really do love it when I am in this space because this is the time when I write articles in advance.  The articles for my column in the “Your Business Magazine” ( may be written for the entire year, in one sitting.  Speeches for Toastmasters, or functions where I am the guest speaker or on occasions even new workshops that I have been asked to facilitate, are written during these times and are therefore ready long before they are actually needed.

There’s nothing quite like getting to a deadline knowing that the article has been written and that there is no need for panic or haste – especially when it is one of those times when I really don’t feel like writing about anything!

So use your time of inspiration to write to your heart’s content and put the ‘writings’ into your own pantry to be used as and when you are uninspired or just not in the mood. This way you can continue to love what you do instead of becoming irritated and resentful when you are forced to do something that you really don’t feel like doing.

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

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Networking 101 - Getting To The Decision Makers


PART 145

Getting to the Decision Makers

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. January 2010

According to Michael Gerber, who is the author of The E-Myth only 4% of ALL businesses make it past 10 years.  How scary is that?

Gerber has shown that 80% of all businesses fail in their first 5 years and then 80% of the remaining 20% fail in the next 5 years.

For me, the reality is that it is not what you know, but who you know that makes the difference.  Actually if the truth be told, the reality is more, who you don’t know, who know who you do know!

The reality is that no matter how fantastic your product and/or service is, if you cannot sell it, you will starve.

The reality is that building a successful business is about building relationships and trust.

The reality is that getting decision makers (whether they are from a Corporate type environment or a small ‘one man’ type business) to do long term business with you and it will mean getting them to trust you.  They need to know that you really care about their needs.

Now how are you going to get into seeing those decision makers?  Where will you find them (other than ‘cold calling’ which I detest with a passion)?  For me, there’s only one place and that is at a Networking event.  Even if you only attend one Networking meeting a month and you only connect with one or two people, it is still quicker and easier than trying to set up appointments with people who have no clue who you are and what it is that you do.

Not only does Networking provide me with an endless source of new decision makers, but it also affords me the opportunity to engage with people who are like minded.  It allows me to ‘brain storm’ with people who have engaged in the same struggles as the ones that I have been through.

By it’s very nature, the people who attend Networking meetings come from all walks of life and therefore represent many industries and a variety of businesses.  I have never, for example, been to a Networking meeting that was attended by 20 people and all of those people were Accountants!

The reality of it is that at proper Networking meetings, we are encouraged to share and discuss ideas.  We are encouraged to ‘think out of the box’. Innovative thinking is a goal that we all aspire to achieve and transferring those ideas from one business to another means successful business for all concerned.

The reality is that although there may be competition from people who are in the same or similar businesses, collaboration is encouraged.  Joint ventures are encouraged and strategic alliances are definitely encouraged.

Often, what we cannot achieve on our own, becomes highly possible when we share, like the tender that is too big for one person but can be successfully tackled by two or three people who are in exactly the same business and who would have on their own been unable to deliver.

Don’t automatically view your competition in a bad or negative light, but look for opportunities where you can work together successfully or even add to each others value.

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

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Business Tips - Why Twitter - Part 5

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

As promised last week, here are some additional tips on tweeting and the last in this particular series.

Isn’t the electronic age exciting?  I know that I am always on about the fact that I am a technophobe, but that is just because I don’t understand the technical jargon – on a logical level though, I do understand what different things can do and that, well that just confuses a lot of IT people who think that they can spin me a yarn and I will just accept it – that very seldom works, but I digress – again!

What I am trying to tell you is that technology makes things so much easier and instead of us trying to do everything ourselves, some really clever people have made it possible for us (with the use of links and automation) to do a great number of things with the click on a button.   For example, if you sign up for Tweetlater and set it up correctly (ok this is where you can’t ask me the questions as I don’t have a clue how to do this), it will automatically send a thank you message to all of the people as they ‘follow’ you.  How clever is that?

The other really cool thing is if you link all of your social networking sites to your twitter account.  That way everyone on those sites, are linked to you and that will also increase your following as well as increase the traffic that you drive to your website or blog.

Finally, don’t forget to look for a BIG/SUCCESSFUL person who is in the same niche market as yourself.  Once you have found them, follow them.  The fact that they may be big and/or successful in their own right, doesn’t exclude them from being a potential client of yours.  They may be doing research for something that they need to read up on and you may very well have the answer that they are looking for.

Be warned though, you will only be able to follow a maximum of 2000 people, until you have 2000 people following you.  Once you have the required 2000 people following you, the sky is the limit.

Oh and as always, don’t forget to have fun!

Happy tweeting!

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

Monday, January 04, 2016

Motivation - Creating Yourself

MOTIVATION – Creating yourself

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from George Bernard Shaw who says “Life isn’t about ‘finding’ yourself.  Life is about ‘creating’ yourself.”

I am often reminded how I needed to ‘find’ myself in my early twenties.  The problem of course is that when I ‘found’ myself, I didn’t much like who I was and promptly set about changing myself into the kind of person that I wanted to be – thereby ‘creating’ the person that I am today.

As adults, there are very few who can say that they aren’t changing themselves on a daily basis.  We all tend to strive to be the best of who we can be, and in doing this we morph into someone quite different to the person who we started out as.

The challenge, as I understand it, is to accept that we are continually creating or even re-creating ourselves as we slowly but surely change, as we grow as individuals.

We often comment, unkindly about superstars such as Madonna, who is continuously re-creating herself, yet this is exactly what it is that we do ourselves.

Perhaps it is time for us to understand and also accept the fact that we are exactly who we created ourselves to be and any change that we make to ourselves is made, by recreating ourselves.

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