Thursday, March 31, 2016

Blogging 101 - 10 Tips When Blogging - Part 3

BLOGGING TIPS – 10 Tips when Blogging – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC December 2014

Following on from the previous article where we looked at Being yourself, People are just People, Say what you mean and mean what you say, Keeping it tidy, Interpretation and Perception, Success or Failure and Everyone has their own Journey, here are some more tips around the content of your blogging.

1. Water, water everywhere, but not a Drop to Drink!

Nowadays we often hear the term “Information Overload”.  That said I also often hear people saying that they “don’t have the information that they require” or that they “don’t know where to find” the information that they need.

There is an abundance of information freely available on the internet.  Here’s the thing though, you have to learn how to look!

Much like the ‘good old days’ when we actually went to the library to do our research, we had to know where to look to find the information that we needed.

Walking into the library for the first time for me was really overwhelming.  I must have been around 5 or so at the time.  I remember standing in this huge building, surrounded by really tall shelves that were filled to capacity with what looked like millions and millions of books.

I stood rooted to the spot, bursting with the desire to read everything in sight but having no clue where to start.

The internet is pretty much the same -  you have to learn to define and clarify your questions in order to access what it is that you need to see.

Follow like minded people or people who are clearly experts in their fields.  Connect with and follow your clients to find out what they want and need.  Join groups and discussion and interact with them all.  You will be amazed at the amount of valuable, interesting stuff that you will come across.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Most people are by nature helpful.  Sure you get the odd idiot who would rather kick you to the curb than give you the time of day, but by en large, the average person will help.

Here’s the thing though, you have to ask for help.  It’s unrealistic to expect people to automatically, intuitively know when you need assistance.

So if you find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed – ask for help.  More often than not you’ll find that the answer is a lot simpler than your thought it would be.

The reality is that it is human nature to complicate things!

3. Don’t give up!

The final piece to this puzzle  - don’t give up!

In order to get to your destination you have to take that first step.  I understand that you may be feeling daunted and unsure, but just get started.

I was terrified when I wrote my first article and as soon as it was posted, I wondered what all the fuss was about!  I celebrated the achievement and went on to write the next one and the next and I am still having fun and writing, more than 1600 articles on.

So stop thinking about doing and just get it done!

Till next time, happy blogging!

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Networking 101 - Employees Also Need to Network

Networking 101 - Employees Also Need to Network

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. June 2010

I am sure I am not the only person to hear people saying that they ‘work in a Corporate Company and therefore they don’t have to Network”.  I don’t know how you feel about that, but it not only amazes me, it also saddens me!  I mean, look at the potential that they are just dismissing out of hand.

It really doesn’t matter where you work or whether you work for yourself or not, Networking has got to form part of your communication and it is an essential skill to have if you really want to get anywhere.  Think about us women who are always complaining about the “old boy’s network” – I mean, what on earth do you think that is exactly?

Quite frankly, Networking in the workplace is the most effective way to get your career advanced.  How’s that for a statement?

Think about it for a moment – in every business and every Corporate there are those special few (and I wish I had the numbers for the ones in some of the companies that I deal with) who are a ‘cut above’ the rest.  Often it is their knowledge, or the way that they deal with their customers (going the extra mile or putting the extra effort in) that sets them apart.  Most of the time however, it’s in the relationships that they have built up around themselves from their network, both in the company and also outside of it.

I can just see the consternation on the faces of many of you – so let me explain.  You see, Networking is about connecting with people.  Networking is about building relationships.  When you connect with people and have relationships with those people you put yourself in a position were you are either able to help them or alternatively, they are able to help you.  How cool is that?

Big Corporate Companies, who understand the value of internal Networking and building of relationships are usually the companies that use things like ‘team building’ experiences or relationship building workshops to assist their staff in forming relationships (and no I am not talking about the lovey-dovey ones) and building their Networks.  They understand that in order for their employees to effectively run or manage projects, or communicate ideas during a ‘brain storming’ meeting, or even obtain information that is critical to doing some research, the employees have to have a strong and effective Network that is well connected with them.

So the next time you hear someone say that they are employed and therefore don’t need to Network, perhaps you should exercise your right to do a ‘good deed’ for the day and gently explain to them, just how vital it is for them to Network – who knows, they may actually listen and you will have gained a grateful and probably strongly connected individual for your own database too.

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Business Tips - Being Your Own Boss - Part 4


Being Your Own Boss – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – April 2009

As much as we would like to think that the world is a great place, the reality is that it isn’t.  People will steal your ideas and your dreams and pass them off as their own.

You need to protect your ideas and yourself from the charlatans out there.

It is not really necessary to register your business name or get copyright protections for your logo or your ‘by line’ because there are laws in place that protect you.  Basically what that means is that whoever used a name or a slogan first is then the owner of that name or slogan.  The problem with this though is that if someone else then uses what you consider to be yours, the only way then to stop them using it again is to take legal action and go to court to enforce the law.

One of the ways to ‘prove’ that it was your idea or theme or that it was used by your first is to document everything.  Use a daily planner or your diary to make notes and keep track of who you met and what was discussed.  This will provide you with a ‘paper trail’ which could be used as evidence should you ever need to go to court.

Although many will tell you to continue your business as a ‘sole proprietor’ for as long as possible before you register as a (Pty) Ltd, be aware of the fact that this has tax implications both to you as an individual and also for your business.  Make sure that you understand the why’s and wherefore’s of registering your business before taking the plunge.

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

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Blogging Tips - 10 Tips when Blogging - Part 2

BLOGGING TIPS – 10 Tips when Blogging – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC December 2014

Following on from the previous article where we looked at Being yourself, People are just People, Say what you mean and mean what you say and Keeping it tidy, here are some more tips around the content of your blogging.

1. Interpretation and Perception

I always say that the 3 most dangerous words in the dictionary are perception, assumption and expectation, as they never meet reality.  Well I have added a 4th word and that is “Interpretation.”

Remember when you communicate face to face with someone they not only ‘hear’ the words, but they also “hear” you through your body language as well as the tone and inflection in your voice. If all of those ‘voices’ are congruent with one another, the listener’s interpretation is usually in alignment with what your intended message was.

The written word however, is a completely different beast altogether and more often than not your words will be misinterpreted.

So be very careful about the words that you use and where possible try and stay away from contentious topics or be prepared to deal with the volatile fall-out.

2. Success or Failure

Well in truth that is completely up to you.  From my experience however, it is extremely difficult to fail on social media, unless of course you just give up!

Consistency is the name of the game and if you keep trying, you will of course get better as you go along.  You will also get to understand your readers a lot better as you go along and then you are able to ‘tweak’ your posts to ensure that you supply the information that is both wanted and needed by your followers.
The secret is just to keep going and never give up.

3. Everyone has their own journey

Comparing where you are in the journey of life with someone else, is just crazy! The reality is, you are all exactly where you are meant to be.  Sure there are social media guru’s out there who you may follow, who always appear to be at the head of the pack, who will always be saying something clever and who are always up to date on what is trending or trendy.  I say “So What”!

The reality is that social media is a huge animal and there will always be someone who is being witty and entertaining.  Instead of concentrating on comparing your ‘lack of’ to their abundance, rather concentrate on doing what you love to do best.

Here’s a thought!  In all probability there is someone out there who is looking to you for guidance and who holds you in high esteem and who would like to be as witty and as knowledgeable as you and the person who you are comparing yourself to also has someone who they hold in high esteem and who they would like to be as knowledgeable as too.

It’s called the Circle of Life and we all have our own little place in it.

On that note, check out next week’s post to look at the final 3 tips.

Till then, happy blogging!

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Networking 101 - There Always Needs to be an Action of Sorts

Networking 101 - There Always Needs to be an Action of Sorts

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. May 2010

Whilst I am very passionate about Networking, I am also passionate about reading and what’s better reading than books about Networking, referral marketing and even sales.  Some great books to get stuck into and get you started are (but not limited to):

You can’t teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar by David Sandler.

The little red book of selling by Jeffrey Gilomer.

Masters of Sales by Dr. Ivan Misner and Don Morgan – this particular book has 80 of the most successful sales people in the world sharing their secrets with the reader – how awesome is that?

The truth of delusion by Dr. Misner, Mike Macedonio and Mike Garrison

Business by referral by Dr. Misner.

Don’t forget to add books that you have read and found to be inspiring as well as any other reading referrals you get from friends/family/colleagues/clients and ‘who have you’.  It’s always a good idea to share stuff and this will save you time and energy.  No-one wants to go around trying to read everything that is available on the subject only to find that it does not quite fit or it’s not really suitable or even relevant.

Keep these books close at hand and refresh your memory of their content from time to time.

Remember though that reading all the books in the world and attending all the networking events going will not make any difference if you don’t follow up or if there is no action on your part.  You have to see the opportunity and/or synergy and then you have to do something to get it going.

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Business Tipts - Being Your Own Boss - Part 3

BUSINESS TIPS - Being Your Own Boss – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – April 2009

Big corporate companies with very deep pockets spend hundreds of thousands of Rands with professional market researchers because they want to find out ‘what people want’!

As small business owners, we certainly do not have deep pockets and quite frankly we don’t need to use professional market researches.  We can do it ourselves.

Here are some ideas on how to go about it.

- Take a field trip, ask questions of the people that you meet along the way.  Find out from them how your product and/or service would benefit them.  Will it satisfy their needs?  Will it make a difference to them?

- Change YOUR mindset.  Get out of YOUR comfort zone.  THINK out of the box.  Speak to people who have succeeded.  Find out how they did it, what they did and when they did it.  Learn from them.  It is not necessary for you to learn only through the mistakes that you make.

- Meet with other business owners, brainstorm with them.  Ask them what they have done, what they have learnt.  Ask them to tell you how to avoid the mistakes that they have perhaps made.

- Research!  And when you think you have finished researching – research some more!  Read reports, both old and new that pertain to whatever your industry is.  Look at what strategy is best for you.  Look at the latest trends and see how you could slot what it is that you do in there.

- Keep a record of your ideas, make notes, open a file and keep everything.  I promise you, you will go back to refresh your memory or add to your list on a very frequent basis.

Be prepared to be flexible – learn to adapt and change.

Above all – don’t forget to have fun!  Remember why you went into business for yourself in the first place.  Never lose sight of your goals!  Always, always, always recognize and reward your own achievements, no matter how small.

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

Friday, March 18, 2016

HR 101 - UIF (Unemployment Fund) - Part 1

HR 101 - UIF (Unemployment Fund) – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

Please note that this is only relevant to South African conditions

Of late, I have been inundated with questions around the issue of UIF (and remember this applies to your domestic worker and gardener who work for you for more than 24 hours a month too), so here are a bunch of ‘cans and cant’s).

In order for someone to be entitled to claim from UIF, they have to be registered as an employee with the UIF fund and both themselves and their employers will have had to pay the monthly contributions into the fund.

It is incumbent upon the employer to deduct the employees portion of the monthly contribution from their salary (currently 1% of their gross salary) and then pay their employer  portion of the contribution (currently also 1% of the gross salary) as well as the employees portion over to SARS by means of the EMP 201.

It is also incumbent upon the employer to register themselves as employers and then to register their staff (as and when they are employed) as employees.

Whilst it is the responsibility of the employer to register the employee and to pay the monies across, the employee also needs to understand that if the money is NOT paid across, they are not covered.  So if, as an employee, you get a pay slip that does not show a deduction for UIF – you are not covered and your employer is in direct contravention of the law.  It’s as simple as that!

UIF does not only cover people who are unemployed, you can also claim for:
- illness
- maternity
- adoption
- death

Remember though, if you have resigned from your job, you cannot claim.  You can only claim the unemployment benefits if you have been dismissed, retrenched or if your contract has expired and it has not been renewed.

If you have been contributing to the fund for four years or more, you can claim up to, but not more than 238 days.  If you have contributed or been employed for less than the 4 years, then you can claim 1 day for every 6  days that you were employed and that you were contributing to the fund.

You can claim if you have been sick for a period that is longer than two weeks.

You can only claim for maternity benefits if you are pregnant and you are only covered from four weeks before the expected date of delivery of the child and up to (but not more than) six weeks after you have delivered the child.  You can only claim for a maximum of 121 days.

You can claim for adoption benefits provided that you legally adopt a child under the age of two and you leave work in order to take care of that child.  Be warned though – only one parent per adopted child can claim for this benefit.

Death benefits can only be claimed by the surviving spouse or a minor child.  Again be warned – this benefit can only be claimed if the person who dies was contributing to the fund at the time of their death.

Next week we will look at the ‘how to’ of going about claiming these benefits.

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

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Blogging 101 - 10 Tips When Blogging - Part 1

BLOGGING TIPS – 10 Tips when Blogging – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC December 2014

I have of late been engaged with blogging and tweeting more and more on a daily basis and in some instances I have been both shocked and horrified at some of the comments that I have received and then on the other hand hugely amused and somewhere in the middle too -  mildly irritated!  I guess it all has to do with these 4 little words that I consider to be the most dangerous in the dictionary -  perception, assumption, expectation and interpretation.

To try and share some of the key points that I have learnt and perhaps defuse some of the reactions based on those four little words, let’s have a look at some of these tips here.

1. Be Yourself
The internet is not a stage or a film set where you play a part.  It might seem like a great place for you to role play or indeed emulate someone else.  The reality however is that if you are trying to brand yourself or your business, you will do more harm than good if you are not authentically you!

To add to that, why on earth would you want to be anyone other than you? If you are branding yourself, actually even if you’re not branding yourself, why would you want to be or portray yourself as someone else?

Be consistent as you brand yourself across the social media platforms.

2. People are just People
One of the things that I always talk about when networking is that it is not about whom you know, but more often about whom you don’t know that knows who you know.  Quite a tongue twister I know but the reality is that irrespective of whether you connect with someone who has 10 followers or someone who has 10 000 followers, you have no idea who they are connected with.

You need to make every connection count and in order to do that you cannot discount people because they only have a small number of followers.  That small number of followers may include someone who can take your business to the next level!

3. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
Now this one I particularly like!

You should never say anything on social media, not just twitter, but social media in general, that you are not prepared to defend in person.

Be true to who you are as a person, be true to your beliefs, be true to the topic and you will develop credibility and trust with your followers.

4. Keep it tidy
I know that I always talk about the “telling of the story” and keeping the message short and brief, or “tidy” as I like to call it, may seem to be a contradiction in terms.  That said I still stand by both.

The reality is that if you have a one liner that people don’t understand because they have no frame of reference, it’s not going to help you in any way. In fact if your readers or followers are anything like me, it will frustrate them to such an extent that they will leave anyway.

True as that may be, the story does need to have a point and shouldn’t waffle all over the place.  The story also needs to be entertaining and create pictures in the mind of the reader and leave a lasting impression.

On that note, check out next week’s post to receive some more tips.

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

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Networking 101 - Never Underestimate the Value of a Referral

Networking 101 - Never Underestimate the Value of a Referral

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. April 2010

Getting back to the issues around referrals and testimonials from your clients, both current and previous, I would just like to reiterate about the importance of these on your sales.

If someone has been referred to you, the person who has referred them is saying something very loudly and very clearly about you.  The story that they are telling is that they trust you, that they are so impressed with what you have done that they are willing to stake their reputation and their credibility in attaching their name to whatever it is that you offer/sell/do.

Think about that for a moment.  It is one of the greatest compliments that anyone can give you!

Think about that for another moment.  I say again, it is one of the greatest compliments that someone has paid you and yet nine times out of ten, you let them down!

How disrespectful!  How thoughtless and incredibly short sighted!

Look at the opportunity that has been thrown away – notice I did not say “missed”, but rather thrown away!  How sad!  Talk about killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

The better idea of course, would be to honour that person.  Honour them by delivering on their promises.  Honour them by living up to their expectations, which were based on what and how you conducted your business with them and how you delivered on your promises to them.

Honour them by keeping their reputation intact.

Honour them by being the best that you can be and by honouring your own credibility and your own reputation.
Never, and I repeat never, underestimate the value of a referral!

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

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Business Tips - Being Your Own Boss - Part 2


Being Your Own Boss – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – April 2009

Getting your message out there will probably be your next huge challenge and in order to resolve that you need to create a message that has a fast, hard hitting, instant impact.

As I write these words I am reminded of the voice mail message of one of my clients – Charrise from “Kinky Knickers”, who supplies an array of lingerie and underwear.  She was obviously busy with something and could not take the call and I needed to leave a message.  Her recorded intro had the usual “I’m not available . . . please leave a message”, type wording, but she concluded by saying “And remember . . we supply the knickers that someone is always trying to get into.”  Needless to say, I was laughing so much, I could not leave a message!  How brilliant was that!  How totally unexpected and refreshingly different.  Believe me, even if she was not my client – I would always remember where to purchase my lingerie and underwear going forward.

The point that I am trying to make here is that her message was powerful and had an instant impact and that message would last for ever.  I doubt that I will ever look at lingerie or underwear and not think of that message and have a good giggle.  From that message I know exactly what she does and I know the benefit and even though I could probably get what she sells at several different outlets, the ‘way’ she told me ‘what she does’, in her message will ensure that I buy from her.

As I tell the story, (and this article attests to that fact), I am spreading the news of what she does, which means that I am actually marketing her and her products (and she doesn’t even pay me a salary) and you can be sure that everyone else who hears that message will be doing the same.  This means that essentially it is easy for people to remember her and what she does and because of that, they will share that information readily about her business.  How cool is that?  She has a whole team of people marketing for her and they don’t even know it, much less expect a salary!

So how do you create one of those award winning messages?  It’s quite simple actually – so don’t panic.

Firstly, write down how your business helps your customers – this works for both products and services.

Secondly, underline or circle any of the descriptive  words that ‘stand out’ and make a statement about what you do or that describes your business.

Thirdly, take all of those words and make a single sentence which will make up your final message.  For example my message is: “Viljoen Consulting – I prevent loss by assisting and empowering small business owners to start up, grow and maintain sustainable businesses.

Finally, use your message as much as possible and where ever you go – at networking events, at business functions, on your card, your letterheads, as part of your signature on e-mails, on your voicemail messages, your blogs and even when you ‘tweet on twitter’.

The more people who hear your message, the more business you will generate and the more ‘ideas’ will come your way.

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

Monday, March 14, 2016

Motivation - Getting Closer to the Top

MOTIVATION – Getting Closer to the Top

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC- March 2009

H Norman Schwarzkopf says “You can’t help someone get up the hill without getting closer to the top yourself.”

Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time.  Everyone needs some sort of assurance that they are going in the right direction or that they have made the right decision from time to time.  This is more so of a need in the SMME (Small, Medium, Micro Enterprise) arena that anywhere else.  Why you may ask?  Well quite simply, small business owners often feel that they are all alone and in some extreme cases even feel ‘lonely’ in business.  Strange as that may seem, that is exactly the reality that some people find themselves in.

Little wonder then that Life and Business coaches are in abundance or that mentorship programs are offered up on silver platters.

Ever thought seriously about why that is?  Sure there is a financial reward and sure they will have a bevy of extremely grateful clients who will hang onto their every word.  But what’s the ‘what’s in it’ for them?  What is the ‘pay off’ for them?

Quite simply it is also what they get out of the relationship.  It’s about how they grow from the experience.  It’s about what they learn from the person that they are in fact teaching.

In the laws of the Universe, it is about ‘getting what you give’ or ‘paying it forward’.

Remember though, you have to ‘give it’ first before you will ‘get it’ back.

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

Friday, March 11, 2016

HR 101 - Trapping & Entrapment - Part 2

HR 101 - Trapping and Entrapment – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC July 2010

Last week we had a look at what is considered legal (trapping) and what is considered illegal (entrapment).

Just to make sure that you are really clear on the difference (because it is really easy to get confused between the two), I am going to tell a story, so let’s bring in the protagonists. Mike owns a small retail stand outlet in a busy square and George is one of the sales staff.  Mike’s store sells sweets and cold drinks as well as biltong and dry wors and some burgers and/or sandwiches type fast food.  Mike is experiencing a huge shrinkage problem that only started when George started working at the stand. Mike suspects that George is either giving stock to clients without ringing it up and/or helping himself to stock for his own consumption or taking it home.  Mike hires a new staff member, let’s call him Tim who is an ex-policeman.  Tim will pose as the new employee and who will ‘keep an eye’ on what George is doing and will ‘learn’ from him.

Tim watches what George is doing and thinks that he can see that stock is sold to clients without being rung up on the till.  Tim also watches to see if George consumes biltong, dry wors or sandwiches and burgers without paying for them.  Tim, still pretending to be ‘learning from George’ asks George to show him how to serve the customers without putting it through the till.  George refuses.  Tim then makes himself a burger and also one for George and does not pay.  Both men eat the burgers.  Tim then reports this to Mike and George is disciplined for theft and summarily dismissed.

In this case, Mike (through Tim’s actions) had set up a situation where George was pressured into eating a burger that was not paid for.  You see although George may have helped himself to a burger without paying for it, by himself – without Tim’s encouragement he may not have taken it at that time.  Mike would be found guilty of ‘entrapment’ in this case.

Trapping an employee is, however perfectly legal.  In the above case, if George had agreed to show Tim ‘how to’ serve a customer without putting the payment  through the till and even shown him how to do it with the next customer that came in – this would have been considered as legal trapping, but because George helped himself to the burgers and ate one himself that the line has been crossed.

Actually it reminds me of a TV program that I once watched where a policeman was under ‘deep cover’ in the mob and he was called upon to “kill” someone by the mob boss (as a token of his loyalty).  He was in a really bad space because if he did kill the person anything that he (or the police) tried to pin onto the mob boss would be considered ‘entrapment’.

So be clear on what it is that you are doing when you set the trap up for the employee as the lines can often be quite blurred and if you are in any kind of doubt, seek professional assistance.

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

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Blogging 101 - Where Else To Look For Ideas - Part 8

BLOGGING TIPS – Where Else to look for Ideas – Part 8

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC March 2013

Last time we looked at the opportunities around Free Writing, the Movies, reading Fiction and Nature, for inspiration or ideas for articles of interest that pertain to your particular passion.  Today we will have a look at a few more.

1. Quirky Facts
Having been in business now for 11 years this year (yes I am one of those good statistics that we hear about from time to time), I have encountered several ‘strange but true’ incidents and often write about them.  Some of them are hilariously funny and I often find myself giggling away as I recount the story, but sadly some of them do not have happy endings and I feel a profound sense of sadness when I tell these stories because they more often than not tell of loss – so yes some of my clients have lost their businesses, their relationships and their livelihood.  Both kinds of stories however, are told not to gloat or because I want to embarrass anyone, but rather to illustrate what can and often does happen, so that these particular types of results can be avoided where possible.  Obviously it would not be a good idea to ‘name and shame’ anyone, so the identity of the client or real life protagonist is always kept confidential – but their stories are told and hopefully they serve to prevent similar types of issues from reoccurring.

2. Stating the Obvious
Just because I have made a statement, what feels like a million times and in my mind every person on the planet has heard it, the reality is that there are still many more out there who haven’t!  Just like I always tell people not to ‘assume’ stuff, so should I listen to my own advice and make the statement again! The reality is that there will be someone out there who hasn’t heard the statement yet and who in all probability, is in desperate need of hearing it.  So go back to the beginning, to what are the ‘ground roots’ or the cornerstone of what people need to know.  It may feeling like you are caught up in or stuck in a ‘ground hog’ kind of situation, but you will most certainly be assisting someone.

3. Taking a break
When all else fails, I put my pen down or switch the computer off and spend some quality time with my kittens.  I tickle their tummies or scratch their ears and under their chins and just revel in the marvel of unconditional love and trust that my animals bestow upon me.  They never cease to bring a smile to my face or give me pause to chuckle at their antics and even on occasion to squeal when my youngest unmarried daughter of the feline furry persuasion bites my toes or nips at my ankles, in her own little attempt to get my attention.  Often the distraction is all that was needed to take my attention away from the frustrations at hand and I am able to once again focus and get on with what needs to be said and done.

We are at the end of this particular series and I hope that these tips have provided you with some inspiration when you have those moments where your mind is a blank and you feel that there is nothing to write about.

Remember, as much as you may need to get that article out there, you also need to enjoy yourself, so as always “Happy Writing” and don’t forget to have fun!

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

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Networking 101 - Selling Through Networking

Networking 101 - Selling Through Networking

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. April 2010

I feel the need to explore the whole ‘selling’ thing a little more – so following on from last time and the idea of ‘selling through networking’ – I honestly understand that networking is not for everyone.  I understand that for some it is really difficult and for those, there are obviously other avenues such as (but not limited to) cold calling.

Let’s have a look at the numbers for a minute,

Irrespective of whether you are cold calling and/or networking (or any other form of selling that there is) there is a set of numbers in terms of what you can expect.

Statistics show that around 20% of the people that you approach, will buy from you and 20% of the people you approach won’t, regardless of whether they have the budget or not – it’s just the way things are.

Here’s the thing though – that still leaves 60% of the people that you can really focus on and herein lies the challenge.

With Networking, I will always have the advantage over the person who is cold calling in terms of turning that 60% prospects into sales.  Here’s why – the person who is doing the cold calling, still has to develop relationships with those people – because of Networking, either I have already started building those relationships or in terms of referrals, those relationships have already been built and cemented in.

With Networking I will always have an added advantage (or as some say, an unfair advantage).  As long as I look after those relationships and I continue to maintain them (long after the first encounter) I will always be able to sell easier and I will always have referrals.

With Networking and the resultant referrals, I will never have the constant negativity that is a given when cold calling as all my calls will be, at the very least warm and generally very hot!

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

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Business Tips - Being Your Own Boss - Part 1


Being Your Own Boss – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting March 2009

I have, over the last couple of months, had to field a number of questions around this topic.  Questions such as where do I get money to fund the business, to how do I market it and what do I do and where do I go to get it off the ground and started.

Firstly, you have to find your own focus and decide exactly what it is that you want to achieve.  Look at what it is that you are passionate about and then think about what your intention is, what your goals are and then what your purpose is.  Write this down and make sure that you see it on a daily basis.  Read it, digest it, believe it, live it – it is what and who you are.

Remember that for every “ying” there is a “yang”, so for every internal intention, there is an external one too.

Your ‘Internal’ intention dictates what ‘you’ will get out of the business, so it is about your gratification.  What the business means in terms of what you accomplish in your life – this can be financial independence and success, notoriety etc.

Your ‘External’ intention is about what your business does, in terms of benefits, to others.  So how does your business make a difference to people?  No matter whether your business is about the sale of products or the sale of a service, how does that service and/or product impact on others?  How does it help or assist or be of benefit to people.

Write down your internal intention and then share it with everyone – not just friends and family, but pretty much everyone that you encounter on a daily basis.  Watch how people react when they understand your objective and what you want to achieve on a personal level.  Your passion and drive will make them want to help you in anyway that they can – they can’t help themselves, its human nature.  You, in turn, become animated at their enthusiasm and their desire to assist and this in turn boosts your confidence and gives you validation in terms of understanding that you are going in the right direction.  And so the wheel turns . . .

Write down your ‘external’ intentions.  Then again tell people how it is that your product and/or service will benefit them or others.  Again, don’t just tell your friends and family, but tell everyone who cares to listen.  As people hear how what you sell will ultimately benefit others, they will begin to react.  You see people relate in a personal way to benefits and once they relate to what you are doing they will start giving you advice on how to improve your product and/or service.  People who are so fired up about giving you new ideas and being a part of what you started also won’t be inclined to question the validity of your product and/or service.  They just want to see you succeed – especially if you like their ideas enough to use them.

So what happens if there is someone else who has a business that is similar to yours or who wants to start a business that is similar to what you have done?  Well nothing actually!

You see, your true intent is like your fingerprint – it is unique to you and besides that, there is an abundance out there – more than enough for everyone in fact.  Just continue to focus on your stuff, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.

Make sure you have your own true focus though and you will inspire those around you before they can be engulfed with their own self doubt.

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

Monday, March 07, 2016

Motivation - Firing Up Your Soul

MOTIVATION – Firing Up Your Soul

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC –

Jean De La Fontaine says “Man is so made that when anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish.”

Oh Wow!  I really like that one and I must admit, it really resonates with me!

You see, I am really passionate about what it is that I do (mind you – if the truth be told, I am really passionate about a good party too ) and I am so fired up about what I can do and the difference that I can make, not only in the lives of others but my own life too.

It has morphed into something completely different to what I first had in mind almost thirteen years ago, but you know what . . . I like it even more.

I like how it feels, how it fits and I love how it makes me feel.  I love the fact that right now, as I am writing these words, there is a smile on my face.

Truth is, I like it more and am more passionate about what I do (if that is at all possible) than I was when I started out.

Here’s the thing – my passion shows.  People can see it and they often wonder what it is that I have that they don’t.  Not only can they see it, but they can also feel it in the energy that comes from me. It shows in the way that my face changes and my eyes light up when I talk about the various projects that I am currently involved with and the ones that are in the pipeline.  It shows when I get a new client or when I have met all the expectations, perceptions and requirements of an existing client.

It definitely does show when I have thought ‘out of the box’ and seen an opportunity that others feel will fall flat or that cannot materialize and I am sure you can understand just how much it does show, when I prove them wrong and get the whole thing going.

I know that it shows on the inside, when I achieve my goals and when I know that I have made a difference.  It shows on the inside when I see someone’s eyes light up when they ‘get’ whatever it is that I am trying to show them.

Most of all though, my passion shows on the inside, when I receive the accolades from clients, institutions, colleagues, friends, family and even total strangers in recognition for sharing my passion, for being real and often for doing what everyone else thought could never be done.

Impossibilities turn into possibilities when your heart and soul are fired up by passion!

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

Friday, March 04, 2016

HR 101 - Trapping & Entrapment - Part 1

HR 101 - Trapping and Entrapment – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please don’t get confused between the two.

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

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

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Blogging 101 - Where Else To Look For Ideas - Part 7

BLOGGING 101 – Where Else to look for Ideas – Part 7

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC February 2013

Last time we looked at the opportunities around what the last year brought, Everyday Activities and Hiatus, for inspiration or ideas for articles of interest that pertain to your particular passion.  Today we will have a look at a few more.

Free Writing
I have recently come across a style of blog writing called “Free Writing”.  Now apparently what you do is ensure that you will not be disturbed by phone calls or e-mails etc., decide on a small amount of time (like 10 or 15 minutes), sit down and just start writing.  Don’t worry about your mind wandering, just let your thoughts guide the writing.  Once you are done, you will obviously discard some of what you have written, but you will also be astounded by some of the profound things you have written.

Don’t be scared of your imagination.  Don’t be scared by the playfulness of your inner child, just have fun.

I often use movies, both the big screen and the small screen, that I have recently watched to illustrate a particular point that I am trying to make.  When your readers identify themselves with a favorite actor or actress or indeed even a favorite movie or show, they often ‘get’ the point that you are  trying to make a whole lot easier.

Read fiction
Read fiction – lots of it!  Sure it is also great to read factual type books, but fiction and fantasy are also wonderful.   Quite honestly, they inspire me and I am often amazed by the minds of the authors and how their brains work.  In particular authors like Dean Koontz, who is well known as a ‘horror story’ writer, and what about fantasy writers like J K  Rawling and her tales of Harry Potter or J R R Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings series, who wrote of hobbits and fairies and made up languages – what incredible imaginations they must have, what incredible minds . . . .  and their stories . . . that transport you to magical places.  They terrify, they horrify, they intrigue and mystify you but most of all they entertain you and that is exactly what your blog should do – entertain your readers.

Years ago before everyone had a computer or the internet was available to many, I used to travel a great deal for work.  I also have a really great Russian friend Olga, who is married to a Greek chap and who lives on a tiny island in Greece.  We corresponded regularly and I introduced her to this incredible country by mail.  As I travelled and mostly drove to wherever I was going I would compose my letters to her in my head.  From the wide open spaces and “Big Sky” country of the Free State, to the magnificence of the Drakensburg and beauty of the Cape and the breathtaking views in the Eastern Transvaal.

Wherever I visited I bought picture postcards and then told the story of my journey there and what I saw around me.

More than 15 years later we still correspond regularly via SKYPE.  We chat often and she tells me that she often goes back to her bundle of letters and post cards from me, during the long cold winter months and imagines herself travelling those roads and seeing those sights.

I certainly learnt a lot about South Africa as I looked around me and I mean really looked.  There is nothing like having to describe something that you take for granted to make you open your eyes and really see!

Next time we will have a look at some more ideas to keep those blogs flowing. Until then “Happy Writing” and don’t forget to have fun!

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

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Networking 101 - Don't Forget the Virtual Networking

Networking 101 - Don’t Neglect the Virtual Networking.

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. April 2010

Following on from last time - so now that we have established that you are indeed a salesperson, what remains to be established is what platform is best suited to your preferred form of selling.

On a personal level, for me it’s always about doing things in the most simplistic manner.  The most simplistic manner and easiest way for me to sell is by Networking and then actioning any subsequent referrals that I may get.

Early during the course of last year, I met a lady (let’s call her Jane), whose brother (let’s call him John) was a member of a virtual networking group called Business Warriors.  While I was a member of Business Warriors, I was pretty prolific on the forum and I shared my knowledge and expertise with everyone who cared to read what I wrote.  For reasons not to be discussed here, Business Warriors and I parted ways – but whilst I parted ways with the website, I remained in contact with many of the members, with whom I had built strong (often virtual only) relationships.

To cut a long story short, Jane had a business challenge and her brother John remembered much of my advice and the articles that I had written and he recommended that Jane contact me.

Jane and I had one pretty short meeting and in that same meeting, all of her problems were resolved – another happy customer that I did not have to go out and find!

Within a week, Jane had introduced me to another person (let’s call him Bill).  Bill had been offered a very senior position in a company that was started to regulate other businesses in a very specific field and he was not sure if the Letter of Appointment that he had been given was in his best interests.  I assisted him with getting the best for him put into his Letter of Appointment – another happy customer that I did not have to go out and find!

Bill accepted the appointment and I was called in at this point to assist him.  This particular business was started around the 1950s and believe me, most of the policies and procedures dated back to that time.

Over a period of around 6 or 7 months I supplied them with all the policies, procedures and templates that they didn’t have and updated the ones that they did have and then assisted, in part with the implementation of the new and updated documentation.  Another happy customer that I did not have to find!

Last week Bill referred me to one of his clients, (let’s call him Chris).  I met with Chris today, there were no questions about “are you able to do this”, it as more of a statement of “these are our problems, when can you start”?  Well here’s the thing – I start tomorrow!

I know that I can perform the tasks that they require.  I know that I am able to assist them, but I didn’t have to tell Chris any of this – you see Bill did and because Chris trusts Bill, he trusts me too.  Bill trusted Jane who told him how happy she was with my deliverables. Jane trusted her brother John – who incidentally I have never met.  John had seen my advice in the Business Warrior forum, over a number of years, and because the advice was consistent and because it was evident that I did walk my own talk, John trusted me!

That’s 4 referrals out of one virtual Networking website – 4 customers and 4 sales without me even going to look for them!

Now that’s the Power of Networking!

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

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Business Tips - Rising to the Occasion - Part 4

BUSINESS TIPS – Rising to the Occasion – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC April 2010

Following on from last week, this week we will be looking at the last of the solutions that there are to assist us with dealing with some of the challenges that we came across over the last few weeks.

If there is one thing that I have learnt on this journey of being an SMME (Small, Medium, Micro, Enterprise), it’s that I should never underestimate the value of friendship.  Like any other relationship though, it is very necessary to cultivate, grow and nurture friendships.  It’s really worth it in the long run though, especially in the workplace when you are faced with challenges – your friends will be there to assist you in finding solutions or assist you with analyzing the situation so that you can make the correct decisions.  Remember, none of us are “an island”, we all need help from time to time and friends provide that help ‘on tap’.

It is also imperative to ensure that you have enough energy to sustain yourself.  Always try and keep ‘a little extra’ time, like you would savings in a bank, just in case there is an emergency or a crisis.  Remember to take time out now and then to re-charge your own batteries.  My friend Vanessa always laughs at me when I do this – I usually declare “a couch day” and then spend the day, horizontal on the couch, watching movies!  I never fail to say that “it’s hard work having a rest”, which is what ultimately makes her laugh.  That said, I do understand the importance of doing this from time to time, especially when I have pushed myself hard.

Finally, don’t forget to choose new problems to deal with!  I find dealing with the same problem over and over again tedious and boring – so learn from your mistakes, learn from each experience.  Take note of the difficulties and learn to anticipate and be proactive instead of chasing your own tail around all the time.  Try not to repeat mistakes.  Make the changes, implement the policies and procedures and once the situation is under control or the problem has been solved – for goodness sake move on – don’t continue to ‘wallow’ in ‘what was’ – just make sure that you have learnt the lesson and only pay the ‘school fees’ once!

As always, remember why you started your own business in the first place and always have fun!

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