Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Marketing 101 - Focus on Sales

MARKETING 101 - Focus on Sales

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting.

So how do you deal with your ‘Focus on Customers’? Do you focus more on getting new customers or do you focus on existing customers or what about ‘old’ or previous customers – do you ever revisit them?

Here’s the thing – it is always a good idea to bring in new business, it’s healthy for the Company to have new ‘blood’ from time to time. That said it takes time to build new relationships and it can be a costly exercise, although it must be done.

What is an alternative idea though, is to promote your business and/or new products/services to existing, current or even previous customers. The relationship is already built. Trust and credibility issues have already been dealt with and both you and the client know what to expect.

By reaching out to your existing data base, you will be able to significantly reduce your marketing costs whilst keeping your turnover on the up and up. These clients have ‘proved’ their willingness to purchase your products and/or services and you have them on hand, it’s not like you would have to prove yourself all over again.

I am sure that any marketing person anywhere, will tell your that one of the biggest assets that your company has is your data or customer base. So use it, all the time.

You need to understand that just because one sale has been finalized, it does not mean that the relationship is over – it’s just beginning. Remember that and your current customer base will forever be your ‘bread and butter’ whilst new customers will become the icing and the cherry on top of the cake.

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Business Tips - Creating a Successful Team - Part 3

BUSINESS TIPS – Creating a Successful Team – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Following on from last time, here are the last few tips on how to get the best out of your team.

I know that as children we are taught to ‘share and share alike’.  Be it food, or clothing, or toys – whatever, we are taught to share.  Sadly, many of us lose this quality as we grow older.  We become fearful that if we share we will lose it all. We become fearful that someone will ‘steal’ it from us so we hide it from view.  We tell no one, we share it with no-one or we play the cards ‘close to our chests’ so that no-one can have a ‘look see’ for fear that it will be gone. No-where is this truer than in the work place and no-where is it more important for us to share, especially information, than in the work place.  No matter what the information is, or whether we think it is important or not, it should be shared, it may very well be important to the work that someone else in the team is doing.  Not only will knowing the information that you have, be valuable to them, but it may also add intrinsic value to their task and therefore make them more effective in terms of their performance.  Sharing the information will also show them that you trust them and again, this creates an environment that is motivated and strong.

Having regular meetings to ‘brainstorm’ is also of vital importance.  These meetings should be positive and staff should be able to feel that they can raise issues such as problems that may arise from time to time, without them being attacked for doing the wrong thing.  There should be no ‘recrimination’ at this type of meeting, as it should be seen as an opportunity for everybody in the team to look for a solution to the problem.  Often we are ‘too close to the wood to see the trees’ and having an outside point of view may be all that is required to find a solution to the table.  Creating a ‘safe’ environment for people to share, not only their accomplishments but also to seek assistance for their challenges will go a long way to creating a strong and efficient team who will always be successful in any project.

It’s about creating and providing your team with the right conditions for them to work in.  It’s about giving them the correct tools with which to perform their tasks.  It’s about trusting them and guiding them and working with them.

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

Monday, August 29, 2016

Motivation - Lessons In Life


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting cc

The quote today comes from William Golding who says:

 “Consider a man riding a bicycle. Whoever he is, we can say three things about him. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. Most important of all, we know that if at any point between the beginning and the end of his journey he stops moving and does not get off the bicycle he will fall off it. That is a metaphor for the journey through life of any living thing, and I think of any society of living things.”

On a personal level, this for me is true, both from a personal and business prospective.

Imagine, if you will – in your business, just going about things in the same way as when you started.  In my opinion, at some point, everything will just stop moving.  You need to constantly strive to do things better, to improve your service to your clients, to get new clients, to get new products and/or services.

I am reminded of this by one of my recent clients.  The family business, let’s call it Joe Blogs’s Inc, started in 1967, by his father.  In it’s hey day they had 24 members of staff and a production line that worked very well, selling widgets.  They started off with just the father and his dream and he worked at it, adding new products and different lines and it grew and grew until about 10 years ago, when everything seemed to go somewhat pear-shaped.

You see the father became ill and went into semi retirement, and his son took over the business.  Now the son is an Entrepreneur of note.  He has wonderful ideas, but has no plan on how to implement things.  So even while all the ideas are whizzing around in his head, he tries to carry on with “Business as usual”.  The problem is that the area where the factory is, deteriorates, people move shops into the malls that have sprung up everywhere you look in Gauteng and business starts to slow down.

The son panics and ups production, but soon – with very few goods sales happening, he has to start downsizing and eventually is reduced to himself and two staff members.  The premises are allowed to deteriorate and pretty soon, he is making just enough money to ‘tick-over’.

Then he meets me and I do an assessment on his business.  The administrative side of the business is in a mess.  We put together a plan to sort it out.  “Spring cleaning” is the first order of the day and the premises are cleaned from top to toe and with a fresh coat of paint, clean windows and new curtains – the place already looks and feels different and I can see how this small change has actually made a difference to him.

We get all the administration sorted out and then start on a marketing campaign.  His ideas are all recorded (never been done by him before), they are prioritized and we bring in one new product every two months.  We leave ‘adverts’ at all of the Unemployment Offices around town and pretty soon we have a small work staff, who purchase stock from him for re-sale into the townships.    He now has to increase his production staff and we are back up to five people in the factory.

He now has goals, he has direction and his life has purpose again. He is moving forward, constantly changing, constantly seeking, constantly riding his bicycle and remaining upright!

Now I get a call once a month or so – to tell me how he is doing.  What he has achieved and what his goals for the following month are.  All he needed was to understand that the bicycle needed to be kept in motion, preferably a forward motion in order for it to stay balanced and upright.

What are you doing on your bicycle?  Are you riding it towards something, are you going round in circles, have you planned your journey?

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

Friday, August 26, 2016

HR 101 - The Charge - Sexual Harassment

HR 101 - The Charge – Sexual Harassment

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

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

I have been reading some very interesting case studies lately and thought that it might be a good idea to share some of these with you.  Now before anyone does the usual ‘knee jerk’ and the government’s legislation etc., let me be very clear on one thing.  The law (irrespective of whether it is labour law or commercial law or any other specific law) is always open to interpretation – just keep that in mind always.

So let’s bring in the protagonists – Mike, who owns a retail outlet, selling CD’s and DVD’s, in a busy mall.  Mike employs George, who is the supervisor and Julie (amongst others) who is a sales person.

Mike goes off to attend a meeting one Monday and comes back to absolute chaos.  Julie is in floods of tears and it is evident that all the female staff in the store are really angry with George.  Mike starts to investigate.

Apparently, or so the story goes from the female perspective, George and Julie received new stock, as was the norm on a Monday morning, that came with posters.  The one poster was of the lead singer of a band, standing in a typical “Michael Jackson” pose with his hand on his genitals.  Julie was disgusted at the visual effect of the poster and commented that it should not be displayed in the windows for children to see and George, from the male perspective, thought that the poster was hilarious and that there was nothing disgusting about it.

To illustrate his point (and I suspect to tease Julie), George jumped up and started dancing around Julie, to the music that was playing in the store and every time he came around to the front of her, he gyrated and put his hands over his genitals, mimicking Michael Jackson’s dance moves.

The men found this absolutely ‘fall down funny’ but the women were outraged.  George, intent on getting his dance moves just right, misread Julie’s protests of his dance and continued to dance around her.  Julie felt that his behaviour was disrespectful and unprofessional and George oblivious to this, just continued to gyrate and dance.

Eventually his dance routine was interrupted, when a whole group of customers entered the store, they had to be attended to.

The male staff saw this as a bit of harmless fun, but the female staff saw this as disrespectful behaviour as well as a form of sexual harassment as he had gyrated and ‘grabbed his genitals’ in Julie’s face.

Understandably, Mike was really annoyed with George.  Not only was his behaviour unprofessional, but as the supervisor he should have been setting an example.  Sexual harassment is a dismissible offense and Mike went through the process of the disciplinary.  George was found guilty and was dismissed.

George lodged with the CCMA and unfortunately Mike lost the case.

Here’s the thing – although the charge of “Sexual Harassment” is an extremely serious one, the CCMA found that “the dismissal was too harsh because it was an isolated incident and was unlikely to be repeated.”

Sure, George’s behaviour was inappropriate, but no-one had been sexually assaulted or raped or threatened and as I have said many times – the punishment must fit the crime.

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

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Early Warning - All About Procurement Fraud - Part 2

EARLY WARNING - All About Procurement Fraud – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting Januar

Last time we looked at exactly what Procurement is and also briefly, what Procurement Fraud is.

Today we will dig a little deeper and start looking at the different types of procurement.

All decisions to purchase, whether that purchase is in goods or services open you, the business owner up to fraud of one sort or another.  This is because all purchasing decisions involve issues around delivery and handling marginal benefit and price fluctuations. One of the most important distinctions to make is the distinction between purchases with a ‘high’ risk fraud and those with a ‘low’ risk.

Larger manufacturing companies often use tools to analyze the economic and financial factors and implications that this produces as there are also two very different types of acquired goods and services and more often than not, procurement activities are split between these two depending of course, on the type of business that you are in.  The first type is ‘direct production related procurement’ and the second one is therefore ‘non-production related procurement’.  So now let’s have a look at what the main difference is between these two.

Direct procurement usually only happens in a manufacturing type of environment.  It includes all the different parts or components of the finished product.  This would be raw materials and/or components and/or parts.  Direct procurement therefore affects the whole production process within the manufacturing arena.

Indirect procurement on the other hand, pertains to the operating expenses and/or operating resources.  It’s the purchases that relate to the operational requirements of the company.  Clearly this has a very wide and far reach, as this applies to all the goods and services.  It is reflected in the standard office type supplies such as (but not limited to) stationery or regular office supplies to machines of a different caliber such as heavy equipment.  It also applies to consulting type services such as legal and/or accounting services.

In both direct and indirect procurement, systems need to be implemented to ensure that purchases are made at the correct time, from the correct supplies and at the correct price.

Next time we will have a look at these processes in a little more depth.

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Marketing 101 - Duplicating Efforts

MARKETING 101 - Duplicating Efforts

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

I am no expert on marketing – that said, common sense and logic must tell you that most marketing techniques have already been tried and tested through time.

I am pretty sure that many people will tell you that it is really important to be innovative and creative with respect to your marketing efforts.

To add to that I am also pretty sure that you are hugely excited about your very new and unique widget and/or product, or if your widget and/or product is not new, the unique spin is on why your product and/or service is different and why people should be using your product and/or service rather that anyone else’s.

It is really very easy to get caught up in the hype and the emotional excitement of the whole thing, but the bottom line is that your focus should be on the results that come out of the marketing.

Whilst it is not a good idea to copy other brands out there (you won’t see Pepsi doing the exact same marketing as Coca Cola, for example), it would be a good idea to have a look at the basic idea of what your competition are doing.  Look at the structure of the marketing exercise and what kind of campaign they are using.  What does the advertisement do and who is the target market?  Is the advertisement appropriate to the target market and so on.  So you can use the same kind of formula as the basis for thinking out and developing your own strategy.

So the better idea for great marketing is not trying to ‘fry your brain’, to think of new and innovative ways in which to market yourself and/or your product, but to use the old and trusted methods of marketing.

Keep your focus on the results and choose a winning formula as apposed to a wildly creative formula as your marketing approach of choice.

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Business Tips - Creating a Successful Team - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Creating a Successful Team – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Following on from last time, here are some more tips on how to get the best out of your team.

My ‘baby’ brother is a Senior International Partner at Deloittes in Australia and I am immensely proud of him.  We chat often and as I tell him of what is happening in my life and what I am achieving and he always says “Well done Nikki!”  The first time he said it I was amused – I mean, here I am – his ‘big’ sister and he is the one that is praising me (not that I never praised him or congratulated him, you understand).  It did make me feel good though (and it still does).  I guess that we, as the human beings, still always need to be acknowledged in some way or another.  Even though your staff are members of a team, remember that they still remain individuals and as individuals they still need to be encouraged.

When a member of your team does something correctly or their job performance is good, give them recognition.  This tells them (and all their colleagues) that you are aware of what is going on and that you have noticed that they are doing well.  Congratulations and praise should be given as soon as possible and if you have motivated them with promises of a reward, be sure to give that reward as soon as they have achieved the objective.  Holding onto a reward that should have been given in the hopes that it will spur them onto achieving more objectives will not work and in all probability will have a negative effect.  So don’t do it.

As someone who prefers to work alone, one of my biggest challenges is  to delegate.  Think about it for a moment though – you have a team, more importantly, you are part of a team.  Each member of the team (including you) has specific tasks that they need to perform.  If you were able to complete the project all by yourself, you would not need the team – therefore you have to ‘give up’ a lot of the tasks that you would normally perform to the various team members that those tasks fall under.  They are no longer your tasks.  Giving up those tasks will also free up time for you to do the important tasks that fall under your particular portfolio – so if it’s not on your portfolio, then  it’s not your task – give it to someone else or hand it over to the person that it belongs to.  Delegating things successfully will show your staff that you trust them to do their work (and any other tasks that you give them) properly.  It will give them confidence in their abilities and will generally assist with motivating them as well.

Just like any successful democracy, the whole team should be involved in the decision making.  Yes you are ultimately responsible for the outcomes and the deliverables and everything else that goes with that, but you need the ‘buy in’ of the team and that will never happen if they are not part of the decision making.  Remember they are the ones that have to do the physical work and if they are just ‘told’ what to do, without understanding the ‘why’ and the consequences they will become disgruntled.

Next time we will look at the final few tips on Creating a Successful team.

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

Monday, August 22, 2016

Motivation - It's Not the What, It's the Who


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that “It’s not what you have, but WHO you have in your life that counts the most.”

Whilst on some level I agree whole heartedly with that statement, I would like to take it one step further and say that ‘It’s not only WHO you have in your life, but also who they have in their lives, that will count the most in yours’.

I have watched this in play over and over and over again – people sitting around a table chatting about this and that and suddenly a single comment is made and everybody interacts with everybody else in terms of somebody who knows somebody who can assist.  It’s wonderful to watch this when it happens.

You see most people instinctively want to help others and sometimes this is the only way that they know how.

So I consider myself truly blessed, because I know a great many people, who know a great many people, and when I need help and assistance all I have to do is ask!

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

HR 101 - Failure to Disclose - Part 2

HR 101 - Failure to Disclose – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

So now, as promised, the not so nice ending for the employer – let’s bring in the protagonists.  Michelle is the owner of a busy day Spa.  Men and women come to spend an entire day, or even just an hour or two, being pampered and spoilt. The Spa offers several different types of massages as well as the usual facials and what have you.  Michelle has had several requests from some of her regular ladies for a male masseuse and she had decided that that would be quite a draw card. So she goes about getting the right person for the job.

Michelle also has all the proper procedures in place and she is also careful to ensure that all the right questions are asked, one of them is “Do you have a criminal record” and her applicant George responds with a resounding “No, I don’t.”  George is the successful applicant and he is hired and starts work immediately.

From the very beginning, George is very popular with the ladies (and even a few of Michelle’s gay male clients) and the novelty of having a male masseuse is quite a draw card.  Business is great and Michelle is pleased with her decision.

A couple of months down the road, Michelle gets a new client (let’s call her Mary).  Mary is a model and is clearly a difficult customer who makes a lot of demands – very loudly. Mary is also very careful to let everybody know who she is and who she knows.  Mary wants everything done her way, done now and is very ‘public’ about what happens, when it happens and if it happens.  Michelle stresses out every time Mary arrives as she disrupts the quiet and peaceful tranquillity of the Spa and it takes several hours, after she has left, for everybody to calm down and for peace and quiet to be restored.

On her 3rd or 4th visit Mary decides that she is going to try the male masseuse and despite the fact that George is fully booked for the day, Mary makes such a scene about it, that one of the regular clients decides to forego her scheduled and booked treatment with George and ‘give up’ her spot  for the sake of peace and quiet.  A very grateful Michelle promises, not only a replacement appointment, but also another at no cost.

Mary goes into George’s massage room and all hell breaks loose.  Mary starts screaming as though she is being attacked and a very traumatised and distraught George hastily departs the massage room.  Mary comes out screaming like a banshee because ‘George is the pervert who tried to sexually abuse her’ at the previous spa that she used to go to and now he has ‘followed’ her here to Michelle’s Spa.  Mary describes in great glorious detail what George is ‘allegedly’ did to her and states that she brought charges against George and that the ‘law’ has taken its course.

Michelle is obviously outraged as she did ask if George has a criminal record and George had replied that he did not.  In her anger, frustration and obvious embarrassment, Michelle set about calling for a disciplinary hearing and George was dismissed for non-disclosure.  George goes off the CCMA and Michelle loses the case.

Here’s the thing, in this country ‘a person is deemed innocent until proven guilty’ and since the court case, having been postponed several times because Mary’s lawyers just did not bother to pitch up, was eventually dismissed for ‘lack of evidence’, George was not charged or found guilty of anything, therefore when he stated that he did not have a ‘criminal record’ he was telling the truth. Michelle was ordered to pay all sorts of damages as well as all of George’s legal fees.  Worse than that, Michelle still contends with Mary and all of her ‘loud’ snide comments about being subjected to a massage by a criminal.

As you can see from this story, if Michelle had used the services of a proper HR consultant, this probably would have been resolved without the huge legal costs incurred, because of her lack of understanding of the law.

My advice to Michelle would have been to get hold of a reputable HR specialist who had a good grounding in IR (Industrial Relations) and also to ‘fire’ Mary as a client!

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

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Early Warning - All About Procurement Fraud - Part 1

EARLY WARNING - All About Procurement Fraud – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

I have decided that going forward, not only will the “Early Warning” section be used to highlight some of the negative things that are currently happening, but it will also be used proactively to try and avoid the negative things from happening. In this particular case “Procurement Fraud”.  It is quite a large topic so as usual when this happens, it will be segmented into smaller parts.

So . . .  let’s start at the beginning – What is Procurement?

According to the Wiki “Procurement is the acquisition of goods or services”.  The Wiki goes on to say (sic) “It is favourable that the goods/services are appropriate and that they are procured at the best possible cost to meet the needs of the purchaser in terms of quantity and quality, time and locations (Weele 2010).  Corporations and public bodies often define processes intended to promote fair and open competition for their business while minimizing exposure to fraud and collusion.”

So what then is “Procurement Fraud?”

Again, according to the Wiki (sic) “Procurement Fraud can be defined as dishonestly obtaining an advantage, avoiding an obligation or causing a loss to public property or various means during procurement process by public servants, contractors or any other person involved in the procurement process.”

In the Corporate world and certainly in the Government Departments and Parastatels, the whole procurement process is handled by specific “Procurement Departments” with often, hundreds of personnel and this usually is where all the mischief happens.  Remember that in the larger companies (and obviously on a much smaller scale in the SMME playground), there are many different ‘types’ of procurement, depending on the sector – some of the more generic ones are (but not limited to):-
Staff Training
Equipment (office and other)
IT (hardware and software) etc.

Keeping control of these purchases and these expenses has become a priority, as crime escalates and as always, as it affects the bottom line.

Sadly, more and more I am discovering that “Procurement Fraud” is not only taking place in the larger Corporates and/or Government and/or the Parastatels, but also in smaller companies, so going forward, in this series, we will together identify the ‘red flags’ and find practical solutions on how to avoid this particular scam.

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Marketing - Follow Up On Leads

MARKETING - Follow Up On Leads

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

I am often frustrated beyond measure and to the point where I lose my sense of humour when I receive a flyer in the mail advertising the services of a handyman and I call him, ready with my very long list of bits and pieces that I need done around the house, only to sit and wait for someone who never actually arrives, despite the fact that the appointment has been booked and confirmed.  I mean, what’s with that?

As the handyman in question, you have marketed yourself, advertised your services and then you don’t pitch to give me a quote or you come and quote and then I never hear from you again.  Why have you gone to the trouble and cost of marketing and advertising, but you don’t follow up on leads?

People, this is a biggie!  One of the biggest mistakes you can make is becoming obsessed with sourcing leads.  What happens then is that you have an abundance of leads and you don’t have the infrastructure or spare capacity to actually respond to what you already have and you are already out and about trying to source more leads.

Remember that the most expensive cost to a sale is generating the lead – not following up on that lead is like throwing money away.  Putting a practical, simple procedure in place to ensure that you follow up on all of your leads would be hugely beneficial in ensuring that you meet all of your delivery promises.

A happy client, who has had all of their needs and expectations met, is a returning customer and a referring customer.

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

BUSINESS TIPS – Creating a Successful Team – Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Creating a Successful Team – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC February

Some of us are better team players than others – I know because I have worked in a team and I have worked on my own, and quite frankly, working on my own, works for me.

That said, there are people out there who cannot work on their own and in order to function properly they need to work as part of a team.  Working in a team, or being part of a team does not necessarily mean that you are not a leader, or that you are not a self starter – in some cases it merely means that you need the camaraderie that is part of being in ‘a team’.

For me it takes a ‘special’ kind of leader to lead a successful team, and it takes a ‘special’ kind of person to be a member of a successful team.  Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses and it is obviously really important to have people with the right ‘mix’ of personalities to ensure the success of the team.  So how do you go about getting that winning formula?

Here are some of (but not limited to) the issues that need to be covered:

- Clearly you need to ascertain what skills are required for the particular task at hand.  Once those are clearly defined, you will need to source the individuals who have those skills and the only way to do that is to interact with the team. Get to know them, understand how they think.  Learn about what their strengths and weaknesses are so that when you do partner them up together that they compliment one another and not clash with each other.  Not only will this put you in a great position in terms of ‘who is who’ but it will evidence that you are taking a personal interest in them and the perception is then that you ‘care and have their best interests’ at heart.  This is a really positive position to be in.
- In order to get the very best out of your team, it is imperative that you not only know what motivates them, but you also need to know what their individual goals are.  Understanding what drives someone and then being in a position to assist them in achieving their goals, will ensure that everyone in the team pulls in the same direction.
- Whatever you do, don’t be taking anyone and/or anything for granted.  As in life, people need to be challenged, constantly challenged.  So if it looks like your team is functioning like a dream – don’t leave well enough alone, it will in all probability go southwards – find ways in which to challenge them. Make sure that each challenge is well within the capabilities or potential of each individual and remember that it doesn’t have to be the same challenge for each person – different things challenge different people, so make sure that each  person is challenged in their own particular way.  The trick is to keep everyone interested and motivated and there is nothing like a challenge to do this.
- Be sure that you have analyzed their strengths and weaknesses as once you know what it is that you are dealing with, you are then in a position to strategize and ensure that you make the most of everyone’s strengths and implement measures to ensure that the weaknesses are compensated for.
- Be a mentor.  Coach your team. Guide your team – know exactly what they are doing to ensure that they are always moving towards the common goal. Capitalize on the individual strengths and ensure that as a group these strengths are utilized correctly.  In the areas of weaknesses, if there are no members that are able to compensate for these, then you will have to assist the ‘team’ to overcome the weaknesses.  Understand the difficulty here and motivate them to ‘do better’ or challenge them to work on their weaknesses in order to overcome this problem.  Getting the best out of your team means that you have to put the best of you, into them.

Next week we will continue with some more pointers on how to get the best out of your team.

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

Monday, August 15, 2016

Motivation - Getting Started

MOTIVATION –  Getting Started

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Mark Twain says “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.  The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, then starting on the first one.”

The story of “How to eat an elephant” and its subsequent answer of “one bite at a time” springs to mind and it is exactly how you get ahead.

No matter how big the dream, you have to break it down into small ‘bite sized’ chunks.  Same with any problems and/or challenges that you have, no matter how big or unmanageable, break it down, once it’s broken down, choose a ‘bite sized’ chunk and deal with it.  Make it your goal, to not even look at the other pieces until you have dealt with and resolved that particular one.  Write all your ‘bite sized’ pieces down and as you deal with each one, mark it off – that way you will be able to see and even measure your progress and as each one is marked off, you will find yourself feeling lighter and more optimistic and less stressed about what it is that you still have to achieve.

I know that we often get caught up in the emotion or the drama of the situation or the issue at hand.  Often the problem or the dream appears to be so large that it becomes overwhelming and often what happens then is that we become afraid of our own success.

Okay – that’s a biggie!  Let me say that again – we become afraid of our own success!

Crazy as that may sound or even as it may be on the surface, the reality for many of us is that as soon as we realize the magnitude of the dream and/or the potential, we back off in fear of success.  Statements like ‘this is too big for me’ or ‘It can’t be this easy or someone else would have done/thought of it before’ rattle around in our heads and the magnificent size and breath taking magnitude of the dream or opportunity, literally knocks the wind out of our sails.

Step away from the dream, take a big breath, break it down and systematically work with and deal with each piece, one at a time.  Yes, look up from time to time to keep your eye on the ultimate prize, don’t be scared to look at it, but deal with it, slowly and surely and just ‘one bite at a time’.

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

Monday, August 08, 2016

Motivation - Honesty is Best


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that ‘no matter the consequences, those who are honest with themselves, get farther in life.”

I am sure that you will have noticed that it says “who are honest with themselves.” – that’s not to say that you should then feel the need to be dishonest with those around you.  I think that it means that you have to be honest with yourself before you really expect others to be honest with you.

Before you can reach your full potential you have to understand and therefore be honest with yourself regarding your driving factors, such as but not limited to:

What is my passion?
What’s in it for me?
What are my goals?
What do I hope to achieve?
Why am I doing this?

These questions cannot be answered untruthfully if you are hoping to achieve anything of significance.

Strategies and plans will not achieve any level of sustainability and goals will not be met if the very foundations that they are built upon are one of deceit.  Perceptions and expectations will not be met and even if you did achieve some sort of success the taste of victory will be somewhat hollow.

What you achieve as an individual and the level of success is determined by the person that you are.  The kind of person that you are is determined by the values and morals that you have in your life.

So – tell me, actually better yet – tell yourself.  Are you honest with yourself?

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

Friday, August 05, 2016

HR 101 - Failure to Disclose - Part 1

HR 101 - Failure to Disclose – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

PLEASE NOTE: This pertains to South African Labour Requirements and Best Practice

I certainly have had a few clients that have been on the receiving end of this particular situation and all for the wrong reasons – however this topic, like most connected to HR, is a double sided coin and I will endeavour to illustrate this by means of two stories – one will be a happy ending for the employer and one won’t.

Let’s deal with the happy ending first and bring out my favourite protagonists.

Mike owns a high end jewellery store in a popular very busy mall.  He is well situated in the mall and his store is internationally known and respected.  His hand crafted, individually designed jewellery is highly sought after and prized.

Mike’s mother used to do his books and she was also the cashier in the store, but now in her 80’s she has decided to finally retire.  Mike is looking for someone to replace his mother – someone who is not only competent with accounting but also someone he can trust.

Mike puts the word out and starts the whole interview process.  Mike, being an ‘attention to detail’ kind of guy is very clear about what his requirements are and as part of his interview process he is clear about what qualifications the applicant must have, that references will be checked and what documents the successful applicant must be able to provide in terms of legislation and compliance.  Mike does not want to have any problems with the Department of Labour down the line. Part of Mike’s interview questionnaire is the question “Do you have criminal record”?  Sarah smiled when she answered this question with a very resounding No.

After several gruelling weeks of interviewing, Mike finally settles on a young Nigerian woman by the name of Sarah.  Sarah is well groomed, erudite, has all the correct qualifications and she assures Mike that she is able to work here in South Africa as she has the required documentation.

Sarah is employed on the proviso that her references check out and that she provides the relevant documentation.  Sarah starts work the following day and Mike is pleased with his choice of candidate as Sarah fits right in from the very beginning.

Mike starts checking references and cannot get through to any of the numbers provided.  Mike understands that the references are for Companies and people who live in Nigeria and with the time difference there could be some difficulty, but he is mindful of the fact that these references have to be checked and he persists.  In the meantime, every time he asks Sarah for her documentation there is some sort of reason or another as to why she has not brought them along.  Mike keeps reminding her that he needs the documents and Sarah keeps promising to bring the documents to work.  Somehow she never does.

Mike continues to struggle to get through to the numbers that Sarah has provided and eventually Mike decides to contact the Nigerian Embassy to see if they can provide him with the correct telephone numbers for the Company that he is trying to contact.  The Embassy gives him the correct number and he eventually (some 5 weeks after Sarah has started work) gets through to the Company that she worked for in Nigeria.  Mikes speaks to the Company  CEO and he is absolutely horrified at what he discovers.  Sarah was caught selling ‘blood diamonds’ and had served time for this crime.

Mike calls Sarah in and confronts her with his findings.  Sarah breaks down and admits that this information is correct but that when Mike asked her if she had a criminal record, she assumed that he meant in South Africa.  The reason that she did not give him her documentation is because this information appears on one of the documents and of course she did not want him to see it. Mike is understandably furious and a disciplinary hearing is held and Sarah is dismissed for non-disclosure.

Of course Sarah goes to the CCMA and lays a claim of ‘unfair’ dismissal because according to her she had been asked this question purely because she was Nigerian.

The Chairman ruled in favour of Mike because the question that he asked in terms of the criminal record was part of his interview process and that all the applicants had been asked the same question – Sarah had not been singled out at all.  Furthermore, in view of highly sensitive issue around blood diamonds and the fact that Mike’s business involved the use of diamonds, employing someone who had trafficked in blood diamonds, could have a negative impact on his business.

In this instance, following the correct procedures in terms of the interview process as well as disciplinary and  dismissal procedures is what won the day for Mike.  As usual, if you are not 100% sure of what you should be doing or where you stand legally, get yourself some help.

Next time we will hear about a not so happy ending for an employer.

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

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Early Warning - The Stolen Cell Phone

EARLY WARNING - The Stolen Cell Phone

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

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

“This lady has now changed her habit of how she lists her names on her mobile phone after her handbag was stolen.  Her handbag, which contained her cell phone, credit card, wallet . . . . etc . . . .  was stolen.

20 minutes later when she called her hubby, from a pay phone telling him what happened, hubby says ‘I received your text asking about our Pin number and I’ve replied a little while ago.’

When they rushed down to the bank, the bank staff told them all the money was already withdrawn.  The thief had actually used the stolen cell phone to text ‘hubby’ in the contact list and got hold of the pin number.  Within 20 minutes he had withdrawn all the money from their bank account.

Moral of the lesson: Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in your contact list.

Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby, Sweetheart, Dad, Mom and so on.

And very importantly, when sensitive info is being asked for through texts CONFIRM by calling back.

Also, when you’re being texted by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back and confirm that the message came from them.  If you don’t reach them, be very careful about going places to meet ‘family and friends’ who text you.”

I certainly did not think of the above!  Take care and be safe.  Oh, and don’t forget – pass this on to everyone that you know.

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

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Motivation - Free Will


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

P J O’Rouke says “One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility, is the difficulty in finding someone to blame your problems on and when you do find somebody, it’s remarkable how often their picture turns up on your driver’s license.”

To be completely honest, this one had me in absolute stitches!

These days finding someone who takes responsibility and accountability for their actions is quite rare.

I am constantly amazed at the number of people who want the authority – in fact they demand it and of course all the perks that that brings, but when it comes time to be accountable and responsible, it suddenly becomes someone else’s problem, or it was because of something that someone else did or because there is a ‘plot’ to discredit them – talk about conspiracy theories!

I remember as a small child, going fishing with my father.  It was one of the great pleasures in my life – spending quality time with my father, having him all to myself.  Being out in the fresh air and sunshine on the farm, with nothing but the wild animals and the beauty of the bushveld around us was really quite special.  There were many things that I learnt from my father, but what I consider to be one of the most meaningful is the fact that we are responsible for not only our actions, but also our ‘non’ actions.

This meant that as we fished, fishes that were too small to eat went back into the dam or the river to be caught another day when they were bigger.  Then of course, when we had caught enough for our immediate needs (for the pot as we called it), those were also returned to the water to be caught another day.  Pretty much along the lines of ‘catch and release’, except that we ate what we didn’t release.

Our responsibility did not end there.  You see, what I caught also had to be cleaned and gutted and prepared for cooking.  That was the way in which I was taught to respect the ‘animal’ whose life had come to an end, in order to feed me and in so doing give me life.
This is how I was taught to respect ‘life’ and I am sure that you will agree with me when I say that ‘respect for life’ is also something that seems to be a very rare commodity these days.

This was how I was taught to respect others and to take responsibility for my actions.  I had caught the fish for my own needs, therefore it was my responsibility to clean it and gut it and prepare it for cooking and when I got older and was able to, to even cook it myself.

This is how I was taught, that every single action (and even non actions) have a consequence and that each consequence becomes a responsibility that we must hold ourselves accountable for.

Not a bad way to grow up, I am sure you will agree.  It is something that the generations of today need to understand though, that shifting the blame makes them no less accountable for their actions.

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

Monday, August 01, 2016

Business Tips - Creating A Budget

BUSINESS TIPS – Creating A Budget

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

For many of us who were employees before we became SMME’s or Entrepreneurs, creating a budget was something that we perhaps did on a monthly basis.  It was all that we needed because we were assured of a fixed income at the end of each and every month.

As an SMME however, especially when we are starting out, we do not know what to expect.  We can always theorize about what we would like to have coming in as income, but we do have quite a bit of control over what will be going out.  It is really is a good idea to know exactly how much your need to be coming in to be able to pay the basic bills.  So creating a 12 month budget is a good idea.

Having a 12 month budget will allow you to plan and strategize what you need and want to do for the following twelve months.  Creating a 12 month budget is not something that you should do when you have some spare time, but rather something that you should allocate time to do.  It should be seen as something that is critical to your business, rather than something that is viewed as a waste of time.  It will assist you in ensuring that your business has a manageable and sustainable financial plan.

For me the challenge always is just to get started.  If you are not sure about what you are doing, it is really easy to procrastinate.  So book it in your diary and just get going.

First of all you need to know what your profit/loss format is.  Don’t panic – it is not as scary as it sounds.  You start with your income – take what you charge for your product and/or service, less your cost of sale (which is the cost of the goods sold or the cost to you, in order to supply the service), less your overhead expenses.  This is your net income (also known as profit).

Don’t forget to list all of your expenses or the expenses that you expect to have during the next 12 months and also your projected income.  Then in order to ensure that you don’t overstate your income, it is always a good idea to validate it.  So for example if you predict that your income in July is going to be say R20 000.00, you need to list how that R20 000.00 is made up.  In other words, what you are going to do in order to bring that money into the company. Be careful that you don’t underestimate your expenses – be realistic about your expectations – it is always better to come in under budget on your expenses and over budget on your income than the other way around.

Remember to compare your actual monthly figures to your predicted theoretical figures.  This will be of real value to you, firstly to ensure that you keep your sales figures up and your expenses down and secondly it will assist you in the compilation of the following year’s budget.

As a business owner myself, I am all too aware of the demands on my time and how critical it is to manage my time effectively.  That said, I have learnt the hard way, just how costly it is, both financially and also from a time point of view, if the financial side of the business is not managed effectively and properly.

If numbers and the financial side of things is not one of your strengths, I promise you it is in your own best interests to find someone (either an employee or a bookkeeper or better yet an accountant) to assist you or get yourself on some sort of “Financial Literacy” workshop so that you have the basic knowledge of what is happening in the financial side of your company.  Believe me without it, you will be lost and that is surely the quickest recipe for disaster.

You are responsible for the financial well being of your company – at the very least you should be able to have a basic understanding of it.

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