Thursday, June 30, 2016

Early Warning - The Stolen GPS


By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting.

I received this story from my friend and colleague Toni Guerrero, who writes:

“A couple of weeks ago a friend told me that someone she knew had their car broken into while they were at a football game.  Their car was parked on the green which was adjacent to the football stadium and specially allotted to football fans.  Things stolen from the car included a garage door remote control, some money and a GPS which had been prominently mounted on the dashboard.

When the victims got home, they found their house had been ransacked and just about everything worth anything had been stolen.

The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house.  They then used that garage remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house.  The thieves knew that the owners were at the football game, they knew what time the game was scheduled to finish and so they knew how much time they had to clean out the house.  It would appear that they had brought a truck to empty the house of its contents.

Something to consider if you have a GPS – don’t put your home address in it.  Put a nearby address (like a store or gas station) so that you can still find your way home if you need to, but no-one else would know where you live if your GPS were stolen.”

Sounds like sound advice to me.  One of the things that I have realized during my time on this planet is the fact that everything good thing that comes into our lives has a ‘dark side’ and people who are that way inclined will always find a way to use that to their own advantage.  This is just one example of that.

So take care, beware, be aware and stay safe.

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Marketing 101 - Personal Branding - Changing Your Mind Set

MARKETING 101 - Personal Branding – Changing Your Mind Set

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Like most things in life, there is branding and Branding and then there is BRANDING!

There is branding that belongs to a product such as Coca-Cola or Nissan and then there is personal branding that belongs to an individual, like GiGi (and the rest of the celebs) that we are currently viewing on Survivor or Edith Venter, our well known South African socialite.  Then of course there are those who not only have a personal brand but also a business brand.  Here GiGi carries dual branding because of her business, the club called Lollipop Lounge, which is situated in Randburg.

Just like businesses change and rebrand themselves, and the two that popped into my mind almost immediately, are Pick ‘n Pay and  Castle Larger (neither of them have been in the very recent past, but they have both been rebranded at some point).  Both companies changed their branding, their logo’s, their look and with it upgraded their image to something similar but also quite different to what it was before.  The new look seemed more modern but make no mistake, it cost them millions!

So cost aside, why would an individual ‘re-brand’ themselves – I mean at the end of the day, you are still ‘you’ – or are you?

Some individuals need to change their brands because they have moved on from what they used to do or because they were associated with another brand and the relationship has gone sour or a marriage that has not survived, whatever the reason, understand it is going to be a long, painful and probably very costly exercise.

Here’s the thing – when you started out branding yourself, you did it one step at a time, one person at a time.  You did an incredible job of letting the world know who you are and what it is that you do.  You told everyone who would listen (and even some who didn’t) all about your passion.  You got yourself interviewed on TV and radio and wrote articles that were published in magazines and newspapers.  You got yourself photographed with as many famous people as you could get close to. You wrote blogs and had an opinion on every subject under the sun.  You interacted on Facebook and told the world about your accomplishments and you ‘Twittered and Tweeted’.  Friends, family and colleagues were carefully instructed on what to say about what it is that you do and anyone who got your title wrong or made the slightest mistake about what you do, were gently corrected.

You created an all powerful brand . . .  that is you.

Now, due to whatever circumstance that has occurred in your life, that brand has to change – but remember, for years you have been telling the world that you are . . well “You” and now you want to tell them that you are no longer the ‘old you’, but a ‘new, improved you’.  Remember though, that people (no matter how ‘open minded’ they say they are) are basically creatures of habit and just because you have had a mind set change or undergone a personality change, their perception of you will in all probability, remain with the ‘old you’.  So don’t be expecting them to change their mindset or perception over night.

Make sure that you understand the process that you are about to undertake when rebranding yourself – it’s not a ‘quick fix’ kind of process, but rather one that is very long term and just like you branded yourself the first time, one step at a time, one person at a time – so to will the journey be for rebranding yourself (although in truth it will probably be a little faster, since at the end of the day – you are still . . .  well ‘You’).

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Business Tips - Computer Shortcuts - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Computer Shortcuts – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

What a fabulously positive response I got last week.  Seems I am not the only one who doesn’t know all the shortcuts and tips.  Here are the next lot.

Next Up – Word Shortcut Keys
Ctrl + A Select all contents of the page
Ctrl + B Bold highlighted selection
Ctrl + C Copy selected text
Ctrl + X Cut selected text
Ctrl + N Open new blank document
Ctrl + O Open options
Ctrl + P Open to print window
Ctrl + F Open find box
Ctrl + I Italicize highlighted section
Ctrl + K Insert Link
Ctrl + U Underline highlighted selection
Ctrl + V Paste
Ctrl + Y Redo the last action performed
Ctrl + Z Undo last action
Ctrl + G Find and replace options
Ctrl + H Find and replace options
Ctrl + J Justify paragraph options
Ctrl + L Align selected text or line to the left
Ctrl + Q Align selected paragraph to the left
Ctrl + E Align selected text or line to the centre
Ctrl + R Align selected text or line to the right
Ctrl + M Indent the paragraph
Ctrl + T Hanging Indent
Ctrl + D Font options
Ctrl + Shift + F Change the font
Ctrl + Shift + > Increase selected font + 1
Ctrl + ] Increase selected font + 1
Ctrl + Shift + < Decrease selected font – 1
Ctrl + [ Decrease selected font – 1
Ctrl + Shift + * View or hide non printing characters
Ctrl + <- class="Apple-tab-span" span="" style="white-space: pre;">
Move one word to the leftCtrl + -> Move one word to the right
Ctrl + (arrow up) Move to beginning of the line or paragraph
Ctrl + (arrow down) Move to the end of the paragraph
Ctrl +  Del Delete word to right of cursor
Ctrl + Backspace Delete word to the left of cursor
Ctrl + End Move cursor to the end of document
Ctrl + Home Move cursor to the beginning of the document
Ctrl + Spacebar Reset highlighted text to default font
Ctrl + 1 Single space lines
Ctrl + 2 Double space lines
Ctrl + 5 1.5 space lines
Ctrl + Alt + 1 Change text to heading 1
Ctrl + Alt + 2 Change text to heading 2
Ctrl + Alt + 3 Change text to heading 3
F1 Open help
Shift + F3 Change case of selected text
Shift + Insert Paste
F4 Repeat last action performed (Word 2000+)
F7 Spell check selected text and/or document
Shift + F7 Activate the thesaurus
F12 Save as
Ctrl + S Save
Shift + F12 Save
Alt + Shift + D Insert the current date
Alt + Shift + T Insert the current time
Ctrl + W Close the document

Again I knew one or two of these, but certainly not the majority and now of course I will also have to irritate the heck out of my IT guy by asking all the ‘what does . . . . . mean?”.

More next week.

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

Motivation - Getting Past the Fear of Failure

MOTIVATION –  Getting Past the Fear of Failure

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – September 2010

This is a topic that I have covered before, however that said, it is something that has really come to the forefront in my life lately.  The other fear that I seem to constantly battle with is the fear of success.

Let’s look at this in a logical and unemotional manner.

Firstly – the fear of failure is a very normal emotion.  I promise you, you are not alone.  Everyone has, at some time or another had this fear.  It’s how you deal with it that is important.

One of the ways to deal with the fear of failure, is to set yourself reasonable and effective goals.  Remember though that you need to keep your goals as bite sized chunks, so that they are easily attainable.

Here’s the thing – “We can only have one thought at a time” says Robin S. Sharma – the trick is to have the right thought.

I am currently reading “The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari” by Robin S Sharma and some of the advice that I have seen there, not only resonated with me – it blew me out of the water.  You see the whole book, (and I haven’t finished reading it yet) is around the fact that our minds control our thoughts and we should control our minds.  Our thoughts actually bring about our fears or failures or indeed, our successes and pretty much anything that we wish to achieve.

In this wonderful story the Sage (or teacher) says that even one negative thought is poisonous to us as individuals and that we, by controlling our minds and our thoughts’  can change these ‘negative’ thoughts into ‘positive’ thoughts that will serve us.  The reader is given exercises in visualization of the positive kind.  These exercises start at a few minutes a day and they progress from there.  There is also a section on ‘what to do’ when you have a negative thought.  It really is a wonderful book and one that I would really recommend to everyone.

Of course, like everything else in life, it is only in the repetitive actions of the individual, that the solution will take place – it’s not an instantaneous happening, but rather a gradual reformation, so don’t think that you can do the exercise once and then everything in your life is solved.  It won’t be, you have to repeat the exercise on a daily basis and you have to continue it for life.

Secondly, let’s have a look at the fear of success.  This is the one that bites me in the rear end on a regular basis.  I have spent all my life dreaming about my goals and when they finally arrive, I go into a kind of reverse action and my brain is flooded with thoughts of “I can’t do this because . . . “ or “I don’t deserve . . . .”!  Actually yes I do deserve – I have put in the work, I have sweated the blood and the reward is mine to enjoy.

Again, it is about controlling your thoughts and turning positive thoughts into successful actions.  Remember that a thought without any action is just that – a thought.  The thought needs an action in order for anything to happen.

The bottom line of course, is that it is up to you – they are your thoughts and you are the only person that can control them.

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

Friday, June 24, 2016

HR 101 - Religious Discrimination - Part 1

HR 101 - Religious Discrimination – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

The law states, in Section 6 of the Employment  Equity Act (EEA) that there can be no unfair discrimination against an employee on arbitrary grounds.  One of these grounds of course, is religion and this means that as an employer you cannot discriminate against an employee or a prospective employee, on the grounds of their religion.

Some of the area’s around religion that you would need to take into consideration are (but not limited to):-

- You cannot turn down a job applicant based on the fact that they are no (or are for that matter) of the same religion as you are, irrespective of what that religion is
- You cannot decide that only the employees belonging to a specific religion will be allowed to go to church/temple/shul/mosque etc., during working hours. The requirements of all the different faiths must be taken into account.
- You cannot insist that employees of a specific faith or religion must work on  public holidays

That said, this is not an exact science and although the statements made above are examples of the types of discrimination out there, there are instances where they may not be considered “unfair discrimination”.  Whether the discrimination is unfair or not will depend on various issues, such as (but not limited to) whether or it makes sense.  Now whether or not it makes sense or not will also be dependent on the requirements of the job.

Here are some examples:
If you owned a factory type business where there were machines operating and where stupid mistakes could lead to loss of limb or life, you could not stop religious emblems being worn underneath garments as this would not affect the way that they worked or put them in any kind of danger.  However, that said, if under the same conditions and circumstances you staff insisted on wearing these same emblems on necklaces around their necks, dangling out of their clothing, you could state that this put them at risk of injury to themselves and their peers and in this instance, of course you would be well within your rights to make that rule.  What you absolutely couldn’t do though is allow some of the staff to then wear necklaces and not others.  You have to be consistent in your decisions.

Some of the other examples that I have seen posted by Ivan Israelstam are rather evident in themselves and I must admit that I had a good chuckle to think that someone would even have considered them – some of these are “You could turn down a Jewish person for the position of Pope – that would not be considered unfair.  You could refuse to employ an atheist as a priest – that would be considered fair.”

Next time we will look at an actual CCMA case where the staff cried ‘foul’ and see what happened.

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

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Early Warning - Stolen Identity

EARLY WARNING - Stolen Identity.

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

Imagine trying to prove who you are, when your identity has been stolen by someone else.

Ok let’s put it into perspective.  You have a bank account and in that bank account you have several hundreds of thousands of rands.  The bank has decided that they have to ‘freeze’ your account because you are not ‘FICA’ compliant and now you have to prove who you are all over again.  Problem is though, someone has stolen your identity and the identity number that you have, have always had and should always have, now belongs to someone else, so the bank won’t allow you access to your funds, you cannot open a new bank account – in fact your drivers license is also affected and you cannot get a new passport either.  Gives everything a completely different slant doesn’t it?

A recent report in the newspaper tells of a disabled woman who is living on handouts because her identity has been stolen and she cannot access the disability grant that she is entitled to because of this.

In this instance, this poor woman, has no income and because of her disability is not able to work to provide herself with an income and whilst she is destitute, hungry and cold, someone else is cashing in on her grants.  The authorities appear to know all about it, but have done nothing – a case of fraud has been opened, but nothing has happened and she in the meantime has lost her right to a dignified life.

So here’s the thing, don’t give your identity number to just anyone, in fact don’t give out any of your details to just anyone.  If you call a bank or somewhere where they need to identify who you are, then that is fine – you have made the call to the relevant institution – but if someone calls you, telling you that they are from the bank or the insurance institution or MTN or Vodacom or Cell C or whoever, you are not obliged to give them any information at all – not over the phone and not when you have not made the call.

Never, ever give your pin number out to anyone – not even a bank official, if you are having a problem give them everything that they need until it is time to enter the pin number – this you must do whilst they have their backs turned to you.

Never ever give anyone your credit card and/or ID details on line unless it is a secure site.  A secure site will always have a little ‘lock’ in the corner.  The little lock in the corner is put there by the credit card merchant only.

Take care of your identity and report any thing that may be suspicious.  All of the banks have a ‘fraud division’.  Always get a reference number when making a complaint so that you can follow it up.

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Marketing 101 - The E-Mail Way - Part 3

MARKETING 101 - The E-mail Way – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC.

Following on from last week –

I often sit in the traffic, waiting for the robot to change, watching the guys on the side of the road or in between the cars trying to hand out their pamphlets to the drivers and passengers of the impatiently waiting populace.  What a thankless task that is and very clearly, one that I would not enjoy doing at all.

Not only is that a really thankless task, but it is also one that is almost impossible to measure.  Many of the pamphlets get dumped  before they are even handed out.  Most business individuals will tell you that if you can’t measure it, you cannot manage it and therefore it is pretty much not much use.

Well, using e-mail marketing, it is really easy to track who responds and in doing so you will also be able to measure the success of your e-mail marketing. Actually if the truth be told you can actually see how many of the mails are delivered and even how many were opened and read – how cool is that!

Using e-mails and the internet effectively as well as it being so cost effective, makes e-mail marketing good business sense.  It is a great way to reach a small number of people or even a large number of people quickly, and with a minimum of fuss.  It saves time and yet is also a really effective way to keep in contact with your colleagues and even friends and family.

Clearly it is time for me to follow my own advice and start marketing myself using e-mail marketing.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Business Tips - Computer Shortcuts - Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Computer Shortcuts – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Wow! Wow! And Wow again!  By now you all know that I am a bit of a technophobe, mainly because I don’t know and/or understand the technical terms and having grown up using a typewriter (and yes I learnt on one of those old fashioned ones that you had to use the leaver to turn up a line), the shortcuts that we have on a computer up to now have just been more than I could cope with.  Hell I only learnt how to cut and paste a year after I started my business – before that I just typed everything out every time (just as well I am pretty fast and accurate with typing on a keyboard hey!)

Anyway, I found this whole thingymabobby that gives lists and lists of shortcuts so I will be sharing this with you over the next couple of weeks.  Please note though that this does not mean that I understand all of the jargon – hopefully you guys and gals understand more than I do.

First up – Basic Shortcut Keys
Alt + F File menu options in current program
Alt + E Edit options in current program
F1 Universal help (for all programs)
Ctrl + A Select all text
Ctrl + X Cut Selected Item
Shift + Delete Cut Selected Item
Ctrl + C Copy selected item
Ctrl + Ins Copy selected item
Ctrl + V Paste
Shift + Ins Paste
Home Go to beginning of current line
Ctrl + Home Go to beginning of document
End Go to end of current line
Ctrl + End Go to end of document
Shift + Home Highlight from current position to beginning of line
Shift + End Highlight from current position to end of line
Control +  <- arrow="" class="Apple-tab-span" left="" pointing="" span="" style="white-space: pre;">
Move one word to the left at a timeControl + -> (arrow pointing right Move one word to the right at a time

Now that wasn’t so bad – I must admit that although I did know some of these – many I didn’t.

Then -  Microsoft “Windows” Shortcut Keys

Alt + Tab Switch between open applications
Alt + Shift + Tab Switch backwards between open applications
Alt + Print + Screen Create screen shot for current program
Ctrl + Alt + Delete Reboot/Windows Task Manager
Ctrl + Esc Bring up Start Menu
Alt + Esc Switch between applications on taskbar
F2 Rename selected icon
F3 Start find from Desktop
F4 Open the drive selection when browsing
F5 Refresh contents
Alt + F4 Close current open program
Ctrl + F4 Close window in program
Ctrl + plus key Automatically adjust widths of all columns in Window Explorer
Alt + Enter Open properties window of selected icon or program
Shift + F10 Simulate right-click on selected item
Shift + Del Delete programs/files permanently
Holding Shift During Boot-up Boot safe mode or bypass system files
Holding Shift During Boot-up When putting in an audio CD, will prevent CD player from playing.

Again I knew one or two of these, but certainly not the majority and now of course I will also have to irritate the heck out of my IT guy by asking all the ‘what does . . . . . mean?”.

More next week

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

Motivation - Failure and the Opportunity

MOTIVATION – Failure & the Opportunity

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Hands up who loves to succeed?  I can see everybody’s hand shoot up.  Soooo – hands up who loves to fail?  Go on, who loves to fail?  Nope, not a hand in sight.  Yet think about this for a moment – we all know the Oscars are what actresses and actors strive to win for their performances in the movies and yet the other day I saw Sandra Bullock graciously accept a Razzie award (for the worst performance) for her acting in a film (ironically she also got the Oscar for the same role in the same movie – but then the Americans have always confused me anyway).

As far as I know, the movies (and perhaps Idols) are the only place where participants are given the ‘worst’ award.  Why is this do you think?  Well, I think it is because as children we are taught to succeed and in order to succeed we cannot and must not fail.  Well the word ‘fail’ is also a four letter word and in some households, being competitive is a way of life.  Sadly many children grow up thinking that if they don’t succeed then they have failed and as I am sure you can imagine, this produces its’ own share of nightmares.

What about if we look at so called ‘failure’ from a different perspective?  What about if we look at failure as an opportunity, not only to succeed in the future, but also as a ‘learning curve’?

Look, I’m not talking about looking at all types of failure as a good thing.  Let’s be reasonable here – imagine if you will, you lying on the operating table, about to undergo a heart transplant, and the surgeon walks in and says “oh by the way, I am not a qualified surgeon, I failed all of my exams, but I am using this opportunity of cutting into you, as a learning curve and perhaps it will allow me to pick up my grades and qualify!”  That’s just not good at all!  No I’m talking about the everyday things that we fail at and then beat ourselves up about and yes, I’m even talking about failure of businesses or business ideas.  Where those particular failures can be turned around and become huge successes.  I’m talking about the way we look at things and how we react to what it is that we have looked at.

For many of us growing up, failure was not a word in our dictionaries, or in our vocabularies and it was certainly not something that we even considered.  Yet it happened on a daily basis.  I remember being about 8 years old or so, at boarding school and being picked for a team the first time – we were playing rounders during the 10am midmorning break.  Now I have a problem judging distances, so trying to hit a tennis ball with a bat no thicker than a cricket stump, was a huge challenge.  Needless to say I was never picked, voluntarily, again.  This really suited me as it was not a game that I enjoyed and I was much happier sitting high up on a branch of my favorite tree, reading my book.  Children, being who they are though, thought that this was absolutely terrible and they teased me relentlessly about the absence of my ‘batting’ skills.  Right through junior school I was left out of the line up of any type of game that involved either a ball or a bat and I was repeatedly told how ‘useless’ I was, by kids and teachers alike.  How crazy is that and how absolutely damaging it could have been for me.  Fortunately, being an introvert and a loner, I was not really too interested in being part of the ‘gang’ and went about my business.  Here’s the thing though – I may not have been very good at hitting a ball with a bat, but my senior school days brought out a different side of me and I did well enough on the track in high jump and long jump.  I never won anything mind you, but that also never bothered me because for me it was about the enjoyment of the sport not in the winning.

So how about if we looked for the opportunities in the failure?  Things like if ‘we did this in a different way’ or even ‘clearly this is not our thing in life – let’s look at what else is available’?  What about if we looked at failure as an opportunity to ‘learn’ something new, or learn about ourselves or indeed, learn more about the product and/or service that we offer?  What if in that failure and in the ‘learning’ we improved upon what it was that we had failed at? What if in that ‘learning’ we discovered something even better and grander and we became even more successful than we ever could have been with what we failed at – would we then still be considered’ failures’?

I don’t know!  What I do know though, is that we are often so hard on ourselves that the damage that we do to ourselves is often irreparable.  So instead beating up on ourselves, let’s look at the opportunities that our so called failures have brought and rather get on with the living of life.

Learn the lesson by all means, but then let it go and live!

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

Friday, June 17, 2016

HR 101 - Check the Work Permit - Part 3

HR 101 - Check the Work Permit – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Requirements & Best Practices

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

Ok, don’t worry – there is a solution to this. It will mean getting pre-approval from the Departments of Trade and Industry (DTI) as well as the Department of Labour and of course Home Affairs.  As soon as the Company in question has identified and appointed the individual workers, Home Affairs issues the authorization certificates and the foreigners are then able to arrive in South Africa and start working immediately.  Obviously the usual documentation still needs to be correctly submitted.
Students, interns and the like, who are under 25 and who are involved in exchange programs that are initiated by Government departments and/or schools or universities would need to apply for an exchange permit.  Be advised however that exchange permits are only valid for one year and once they have expired, the student/intern must leave the country.  Once they have left the country they would only be eligible to apply for a temporary residence permit after two years.
South Africa welcomes foreign investment and subsequently, those who invest here and are granted business permits qualify to work in and manage their businesses without any special permission requirements.
Here’s the thing though, just because you don’t know what the requirements are or what is allowed and very definitely isn’t – doesn’t mean that you can’t make it happen and I mean that in the legal sense of the word.
What it does mean though, is that you would have to do the research and ask the questions and find out what would be the best way to go about making what you want to happen, happen.

This brings to conclusion the article on work permit requirements.

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Marketing 101 - The E-Mail Way - Part 2

MARKETING 101 - The E-mail Way – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC.

Following on from last week –

One of the things that I have learnt from managing my database and Networking is that people have to constantly be reminded about you.  Who you are, and what it is that you do.

In view of this it is extremely important to have your branding on everything that you do.  Every mail that you send out should be properly branded and by using e-mail marketing, something (even if it is just a short newsletter of sorts) should go out on a regular basis, in order to build up and or maintain your data base.

Small businesses do not have the kind of cash flow that supports the big name brands such as Coca-Cola®, who spend millions on ad campaigns on TV, in the newspapers, in magazines and on billboards (to name but a few), to get their name embedded in the minds of Joe Public.  So how do we do it?

Again one of the most cost effective ways to run an ad campaign would be through the use of e-mails.  This would have a similar impact at a fraction of the cost.

E-mail also reaches the entire world which means that your product/service would also reach friends, family and customers where-ever they are in the world.  E-mail marketing knows no boundaries.

We are living in a technological age and this also means that most of what we do can be automated and this includes the use of E-mails for marketing.  There are systems available that add new customers or friends or e-mail addresses to your data base.  You don’t actually have to physically add all the addresses in yourself, this can be automated making the task even more simple and even more cost effective – how cool is that?  In fact, if the truth be told, there are even systems that will send follow up mails and prompt clients and prospective client to respond and even update their own information on your database as well as unsubscribe.  Now that’s technology for you!

Next week we will continue with some more advantages of e-mail marketing.

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

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Business Tips - Check If You Are Blacklisted

BUSINESS TIPS - Check if You Are Blacklisted

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC.

We’ve all heard about the bad economy and how things are going to get worse before they get better.  We’ve all heard about how this is a global recession and how everyone is going to feel the pinch.  Well on a personal level, I am not sure that I actually ‘buy into’ that, however that is another subject for another day.

The reality of what is happening today is people are losing their jobs.  People are feeling the ‘credit crunch’ and feeling a bit squeezed and people are being blacklisted despite what we are told about the NCA (National Credit Act) and the various rules and regulations.

The Credit Information Ombudsman has, to assist consumers, introduced the “Back to Basics” project.

According to Caroline Buthelezi, who is an Ombudsman spokesperson, “going back to basics was not just budgeting to survive the current financial turmoil, but emphasizing the importance of laying a solid foundation for the future.”

Not knowing where you are financially, both in you personal and business capacity, can have seriously detrimental consequences.

Buthelezi also said “Checking and know what goes on with your credit profile is part of the building blocks for the foundation.”

That said, it makes perfect sense to check your credit profiles at least once a year and to assist consumers in taking control of their credit history, the National Credit Act has decided that consumers are entitled to one free credit report a year.  If consumers choose to have more than one, a maximum of R20.00 may be charged.  How great is that?

As much as many of us would love to be able to save and then by everything we need for cash, the reality is that there will be times when we absolutely have to purchase items on credit and when we need the credit, our credit record will have to be a healthy one.

Please note that consumers who are battling to get out of debt can make use of Debt Counselors, who will assist them.

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

Monday, June 13, 2016

Motivation - Failure


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from Gita Bellin, who says “People may fail many times, but they become failures only when they begin to blame someone else.  Experience is determined be yourself – not the circumstances of your life.”

This for me, is like a kick up the backside! How many times do we not only say the words, but we also hear them – “it wasn’t my fault! It was because . . . .”

Well clearly it was my fault!

You see, I set it up that way and until I take responsibility for my own actions, I will never be able to correct the situation and move forward.

Let me give you an example.  I know a lady, let’s call her Jane who is happily married.  She has been married to the same man for the last 20 plus years and has had 4 children by this man.  She owns her own business and he works in the hospitality industry.  Jane is a bit of a control freak – actually she is a hell of a control freak!

When her and her husband first got married (let’s call him John), she set down the ground rules.  She would control the finances, the household and everything that went with that. John is a pretty easy going guy and hell if she wanted the responsibility who was he to deny her.

So every month John’s salary got paid into the joint account and Jane paid all the bills – no problem.  Then the kids arrived, one by one.  Jane managed the children, the household and the finances.  Still no problem.

Then some time down the line the children became extremely difficult – school became a huge problem and both the household and Jane’s business began to suffer.  The children were all diagnosed with ADD and they were also all dyslexic.  Jane really started to take strain.

Instead of Jane asking John for help, she started to pick arguments and fights. She started to nag and complain about everything in general and nothing in particular.  The fights extended to the bedroom, where she now started denying John sex as a sort of a punishment.  John had no clue what was going on so he did what he always did when there was strife in the home – he went to work, double shifts and on some occasions even triple shifts!

Clearly this situation could not continue and Jane ended up having an epileptic fit.

Jane blamed John for her health, the state of their marriage, the ADD and dyslexia that the children had and I guess even the weather!

Was John to blame?  I personally don’t think so.  John was doing what he had always done and in my opinion the only thing that he could be blamed for was ‘not noticing’ what was going on around him and then doing something about it!

It was at this point that she and John actually sat down and had a discussion about how to save their marriage, how Jane had to regulate what she did and the amount of stress that she could cope with and John committed to helping out at home more.

Jane had set her life up the way she wanted it to run and when the wheels came off, instead of recognizing that it was exactly as she wanted it, she blamed every thing on everybody else.  Jane felt she had failed because John had not “been there” for her or ‘helped’ her in any way.

The moment that she was able to understand that she was the one who was responsible for the mess and that she needed to ask for assistance instead of just moaning and groaning and picking fights, they were able to deal with the problem as a unit.

Don’t get me wrong, the problem has not gone away – the children still all have ADD and dyslexia, but now both Jane and John pick up the strain and deal with it together supporting each other and backing each other.

Jane now feels that she has more control over her own life and John feels like he is more involved with his wife, his children and his family.

It’s like that old saying “be careful what you wish for . . .” Getting what you wish for or how you set something up, carries a responsibility and with that comes accountability.

Part of that responsibility means having to ‘step up to the plate’!  Understanding that you have made a mistake and taking  ownership of the mistake and the problem and then doing something about it!

Own your mistake, learn from it, do something about it and then move on!

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

Friday, June 10, 2016

HR 101 - Check the Work Permit - Part 2

HR 101 - Check the Work Permit – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC - March 2011

Please note that this pertains specifically to South African Labour Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Early Warning - Tow Truckers "Jam" Cellphones at Accidents

EARLY WARNING - Tow Truckers ‘jam’ Cellphones at accidents.

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting March 2009.

This is one of the most disgusting stories that I have found the need to tell! A recent newspaper article penned by Natasha Joseph has revealed that apparently some of the tow truck drivers in Cape Town are using some sort of electronic device that jams the signal to and from a cellphone. Apparently they are doing this to make sure that people who have been involved in accidents cannot phone alternative tow truck drivers.

Now here is my opinion – that, in itself is not the end of the world although I am a firm believer in free enterprise and all that that goes with. The problem however is that this typically means that the person involved in the accident or even witnesses or passengers or passers by also cannot contact an ambulance or the police or family or friends for assistance.

How terrible is that? I mean what if someone actually dies as a direct result of no-one being able to summon assistance? Who then becomes responsible? How would you feel if you found out that your loved one passed away because nobody could dial out to get hold of help, because someone jammed the signal? I mean, what kind of people do this? Do people actually have nothing better to do than to think up things like this? Clearly making money is more important than a person’s life!

You do understand of course, that if this is happening in Cape Town, chances are that it is also happening in Gauteng and probably Durban and well . . . . anywhere where there are tow truck drivers.

Apparently though – there is a way around it – if you move some 30 meters or so from where you are trying to call, and try again, chances are that you might then be able to make the call – provided of course that they then don’t get electronic devices with a longer range.

Satra (South African Towing & Recovery Association), chair Andre Van Der Merwe ‘has urged anyone who has had this problem at an accident site to report this to Icasa’, writes Natasha.

Quite frankly, I wouldn’t just report them, I would lay a charge of sorts against them as well.

Stories like this make me despair of the human race!

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

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Marketing 101 - The E-Mail Way - Part 1

MARKETING 101 - The E-Mail Way – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting August 2009.

On a personal level, I am often quite resentful of e-mail marketing – probably as much as I used to resent what we used to call ‘junk mail’, remember how it used to fill our letter boxes to overflowing.

It must work though, as it didn’t seem to stop the hundred and thousands of companies that had their leaflets shoved into literally millions of letter boxes throughout the country.  Nor does it seem to stop the thousands of people throughout the world who market their wares both legal or not, by means of internet and e-mail marketing.

Let’s have a look at some of the advantages that are directly attributed to e-mail marketing.

The reality of the situation is that e-mail is one of the most useful and widely used tools known to the world today.  Most people have access to email either at home or at work (if not both).  It is easy to use and relatively inexpensive.  Many of us get some sort of e-mail marketing on a daily basis.

Most of us, in a business sense and particularly small businesses do not use e-mail effectively as a marketing tool, which is quite silly really because e-mail marketing is probably the easiest and most cost effective way in which to reach a large number of people/customers, in a short space of time and with very little effort.

In view of the fact that e-mail marketing can be used to promote the sale of products or services or in actual fact pretty much anything, e-mail marketing is the obvious way to go.

If we actually used e-mail marketing properly it would drive more customers into out stores or to the services that we deliver and seeing that most people log on to check their e-mails at least once a day, we can be sure that our messages reach their targets pretty quickly and efficiently.

Next week we will continue with some more advantages of e-mail marketing.

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

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Business Tips - Bookkeepers & Financial Year End - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Bookkeepers & Financial Year End – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – May 2011

I know that I continually harp on about getting the right bookkeeper/accountant in place – the reason for this is that having the wrong one can end up costing you an arm and a leg.

It is imperative that your bookkeeper/accountant advise you in advance of any changes that will affect you. Imagine the waste of money and resources if the Company owner only found out that the has to pay VAT monthly when he reaches the R35 million turnover per annum mark, 6 months after he has met that particular milestone?  The penalties and interest would be absolutely staggering!

The bookkeeper/accountant must also ensure that you are given monthly financial statements or management reports.  Here’s the thing though, if you are given reports and/or statements that you have no idea how to read, these reports/statements are actually not worth the paper that they are printed on!  So it is therefore incumbent upon the bookkeeper/accountant to make sure that you understand what it is that they are giving you.  There is no way that you can make an informed decision around the financial aspects of your business if you have no idea about what is going on.

In terms of the law, your Company is obliged to produce Annual Financial Statements.  This is to evidence to SARS (should they ask) what your financial status was during the course of the year and of course, so that your Company taxes can be correctly calculated. This must also be done timeously by your bookkeeper/accountant and they must be signed off correctly in terms of the law.

If, in terms of the law, your books must be audited, then it is the responsibility of the bookkeeper/accountant to assist the auditors with the auditing process and communicate and liaise with the auditors.

All of these issues should be done automatically and timeously by your bookkeeper/accountant, but that said you – the business owner remain accountable and responsible, so you need to manage your relationship with your bookkeeper/accountant to ensure that you are kept up to date.

As with most things in life, there are good bookkeeper/accountant’s and bad.  Make sure that whomever you choose is at the very least registered and properly qualified and remember that no matter how brilliant/qualified/professional they are – you are ultimately responsible, so ensure that you, at the very least, pick one that you can build a relationship with and not someone who is just a voice at the other end of the telephone and that you are not just another invoice that has to be raised every month.

Finally – understand that SARS will not accept “ignorance of the law” as a reason for you not doing or paying stuff.  Irrespective of whether or not you have a bookkeeper/accountant who did or didn’t do what needed to be done, it is your responsibility to ensure that things are done and you will be held accountable.

It’s your business at the end of the day and you need to keep your finger on the pulse.

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

Monday, June 06, 2016

Motivation - Everywhere & Nowhere

MOTIVATION – Everywhere & Nowhere

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – February 2010

Michael Korda says “If your position is everywhere, your momentum is zero.”

Hahaha – man this is priceless!  How many times have you heard the words “I am running round like a blue *&^%ed fly” or “Running around like a headless chicken”?  I would probably be quite wealthy by now if I got a rand for every time I have not only heard this, but said it myself.  How about, when some one asks “how are you doing?” or “how’s business?” and our standard reply (well mine is anyway) “Busy!”

Here’s the thing – ‘busy’ with what?  I am also one of those people who start the day, very early I might add, with the best intentions – I am going to do x, y and hopefully even z by the end of the day.  Yet when the end of the day arrives I haven’t stopped running around, I am pooped, worn out, bone weary and more often than not, x, y and z still haven’t been done!  So what is it that I have been doing?  Make no mistake, I am working – the admin gets done everyday, clients get called, articles get written, not only for the blog, but also for the newspaper and the Your Business magazine.  I am interviewed telephonically or end up on TV, when I thought it was a radio interview.  I have attended to the crisis of clients with unruly staff, met with potentially new clients, done the mentoring thing, done the committee work for Business Engage  (, done everything except what it is that I set out to do and although it’s only 07h00 in the morning here as I write this, I have already attended to two client calls and my x, y and z of today have already been pushed out.

The problem of course, is that x, y, and z are also going to make me money and even though I will be charging the clients that called this morning in a state of panic, the work that ‘their panic call’ generates is far less than what the x, y and z will generate – yet somehow they always seem to get pushed to the side to accommodate the rest.  What’s with that?

Make no mistake everything always does get done, I am very fastidious about my deliverables but the point is that I find it very difficult to ‘stick’ to my day planner and often it comes at a huge cost to myself, like working through the night to get done, or working over weekends when I should be grabbing a little time to rest for myself.  I have no problem with putting the plan in place or deciding upon the priorities for the day.  I have no problem with focusing on what needs to be done and I certainly do not have any problem with working – hard.  What I seem to have a problem with is saying “No” to clients who expect me to drop everything to accommodate them because they are having a crisis and therein lies my own particular challenge.

The result of all of this is of course, that I end up running around like a blue &^%ed fly or a headless chicken (depending on which video you like to see in your own head) and I don’t get what I have planned to get done, done.

So the challenge to myself today (and of course any of you who are experiencing the same issues that I am), is to stick to my plan for today and slot the ‘Crisis’ into the planner for tomorrow or even the next day.  After all, if the client only woke up to the problem as it is about to implode on them, it is really their problem and it should not be made mine or alternatively (and the thought has just occurred to me) that the ‘Crisis’ will be dealt with today – at an additional cost of course.

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

Friday, June 03, 2016

HR 101 - Check the Work Permits - Part 1

HR 101 - Check the Work Permit – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC - January 2011

Please note that this pertains to South African Labour & Best Practice Requirements

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

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

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

Here in South Africa, there are a whole host of different types of work permits – some of these are (but not limited to):
- Quota permits
- Intra Company permits
- General permits
- Exchange permits
- Exceptional skills permits
- Business permits
- Retired persons work permits

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

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

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

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

Next time, we will have a look at some of the other types of permits in a little more detail.

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

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Early Warning - Hi-Jacking - Number Plates

EARLY WARNING - Hi Jacking – Number plates

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting  March 2010.

Whilst I understand that writing these Early Warning articles is a good thing to hopefully prevent someone from getting hurt/scammed/conned etc., I must confess that I actually hate writing them.  It feels like such a negative issue in a world where I am trying to create positive affirmations.

I have received this communication in an e-mail from an Insurance Broker.

“There is a new number plate hi-jacking trend brewing around.  These hi- jackers will stalk you to a parking lot or mall, after parking your vehicle, they remove your number plate and wait for you to drive off.

They then follow you and overtake you displaying your number plate at their window as if you had lost it and want to give it back to you.

Shocked that your number plate has fallen off your car, you bring your vehicle to a halt to get it from them.

This is all they want you to do and by the time you realize what has happened it is too late, your cars was hi-jacked or could have been raped/killed.

Please don’t stop for anything, a number plate is valueless compared to your life.

Think about what is happening before you react to it.

Criminals are clever and cunning but are ruthless in getting what they want . . . “

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

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Customer Service 101 - The Customer is Always Right

CUSTOMER SERVICE 101 - The Customer is always right

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

We’ve all heard the phrase “The customer is always right”.  The phrase was apparently first coined in 1909 by the founder of Selridge’s Department Store in London.  It was used to instil a greater sense of awareness amongst the employees, of their attitude towards customers and how they interacted with them.  It is used today, rightly or wrongly, by business to indicate or give the impression of providing good service.

In many businesses today, particularly where there are call centres in place, this has become merely lip service.  Nowadays though, with the internet, e-mails and blogs, the networks and people who are linked with working networks, when a client chooses to complain, very few companies can afford not to listen.  With the introduction of industry ombudsmen there are even more complaint channels available to people who wish to voice their complaints.

This makes consumer power bigger and better than it has ever been.  The question of course is do we, as consumers, complain enough, or do we just put up with bad service, poor quality and indifferent sales people for the sake of a quiet life?

If a client takes the time and/or trouble to voice a complaint it should be seen as an opportunity, by the business, to right a wrong, or as a second chance.  The fact is that customers who complain give business the opportunity to improve their service and thereby retain the patronage of their clientele.

Ironically, the reality of the situation is that very few of us take the time and trouble to complain or express our dissatisfaction directly to a company usually because the perception is that it is not really worth the effort.  Many South Africans just tolerate bad service.  What we usually do is ‘vote with our feet’ and of course our voices, when we tell all of our friends, family and colleagues or in fact anyone who will listen about the bad experience that we had.  This does not help the situation at all, as we have not dealt with the root of the problem.

Human nature being what it is though, means that we usually complain a lot more that we praise.  So when we moan and groan quite liberally to all and sundry we very rarely spread the news when service or quality is exceptional.  The result of this of course that we as consumers have the ability and potential to make or break a small business.

Clearly it is of the utmost importance to deal with customer complaints effectively and efficiently.

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