Friday, October 20, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . You Are Not Sure About Workmen's Compensation - Part 3

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . You Are Not Sure About Workmen’s Compensation? – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

You are now registered with Workmen’s Compensation and are in the process of submitting your Return of Earnings, but somehow though, you don’t feel that the tariffs used to calculate your assessment is 100% correct for what it is that you do.  Is there anything you can do about it?  Of course there is.  As in most things in life – not everything is a 100% fit!

The Commission has the authority to vary the rates that apply to your specific Company based on a whole bunch of criteria.

What you need to do now is get a Commissioner involved to do an assessment on your Company.  If the Commission is of the opinion that your business is structured and set up in such a way to make it highly unlikely that any accidents would occur and that if, per chance there was an accident, that it would be highly likely that they would occur far less often and be of a far less serious nature, than in another similar business, the Director General of the Commission may allow your business to be rated at a much lower rate.

Be aware though, that in life, as there is an ‘upswing’ so too there is a ‘downswing’, because if the Commission finds that you are not really as organized or safe as you thought you were and that in fact it is far more likely that your staff will have more accidents and more serious accidents than in another similar business, they also have the right and the responsibility to increase the rate that you would have been charged.  So make sure that you have all of your ducks in a row!

The annual fees are due and payable within 30 days of the receipt of their ‘Notice of Assessment’.  Should you have cash flow problems however, you can make arrangements with the Commissioner to pay the assessment fee in installments. 

Currently there are 3 acceptable payment methods – they are cheque, direct deposit and internet banking.

If you pay by cheque, the remittance advice part of the notice of assessment must be included with the cheque.  Don’t forget to write your reference numbers at that the back of the cheque.

Paying by direct deposit means that you will have to make a trip to ABSA bank, however payment can be made at any branch.  If possible use the deposit slip that is attached to your notice of assessment as it already has all your reference numbers printed on it.  If you use a generic deposit slip though, remember to write your reference numbers on the deposit slip.  Always retain your deposit slip as proof of payment.

When paying by internet banking, be sure to include all the relevant information that is required by your financial institution as well as the correct reference number of your assessment.

The banking details of the Compensation fund are always included with your assessment.

Next week we will look at what happens when you fail to make payment.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sales 101 - Selling in Tough Times - Part 2

SALES 101 - Selling in Tough Times – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting February 2009.

Following on from last week, here are some more tips on Selling in Tough Times.

The next one is Keeping your Pipeline full

This is definitely something that you should be doing all the time – not only when times are tough.  It’s a good idea to put at least one new prospect or opportunity into your pipeline on a daily basis.  Look around you, be aware of the people around you, be even more of all the opportunities that are in great abundance all around us all.  Remember though, recognizing an opportunity is great, but it is really not enough, you have to do something about it – it requires an action on your part for that opportunity to be turned into a reality.

Network

Oh this is one that I really like – Network, Network, Network!  Always, always, always have your business cards with you – don’t leave home without them.  Set a goal or a target of new people to meet on a daily basis – four or five new people a day is a good start.  Exchange business cards with them.  Find out who they are and what it is that they do.  Tell them who you are and what it is that you do.  Work the synergies between you and if there aren’t any, don’t stress it – connect them with the people in your database or your circle of influence that they may need to be in touch with.  Understand that this may not bring you any kind of business immediately, but what it will do is set you up for the future and future business.

Ask Questions

Most sales people don’t ask the right questions and very seldom listen. The usual for them is to launch into this huge explanation about their product or their service and long explanations about how their product or service will revolutionize your life.  Stop!  Instead of waxing lyrical about how wonderful your product or service is, ask your prospect what they need and want and then just shut up and listen - I mean really listen.  People feel more comfortable about buying something that they know they need rather than something that they are told that they need.  If their needs have been met, because you have listened to what it is that they need or want, the sale will be much easier.

Next week we will look at some more tips on Selling in Tough Times.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Networking 101 - Working the Networks

NETWORKING 101 - Working the Networks

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Many of the people that I meet at networking meetings, seem to have this very naive concept about how networking works.  You see they seem to think that it’s enough just to pitch up at a networking meeting and if they make themselves available to whomever is there, the work will flow in.  Clearly, work will just fall like manna from the skies or claw its way out of the earth, to land very neatly into their laps!  Must be their pure magnetism that attracts it in the first place, whilst they, of course sit quietly, waiting for this momentous phenomenon to take place!  Yeah right – and you’re going to marry a tall dark handsome stranger who is rich beyond your wildest expectations!

Ok, so let’s look at the statistics – nothing like cold hard facts to get logic back into the picture.  Less than 3% of the people you meet in a networking meeting will actually contact you, do business with you or even take any kind of note that you exist.  Should you actually be one of that 3% and you get some work out of a networking event – lucky you.  Now you can sit back because they are going to refer you – here’s another cold hard fact!  Less than 10% of referral business “just happens”. 

What makes you think that you are so special that people want to walk around talking about you and your products or services?  What makes you think that they want to walk around telling people how great you are?

Be realistic people – networking and getting referrals, like any other thing in life, is hard work and it is something that you need to work at – constantly.  It takes hard work, actually to be honest - make that consistence, persistence and hard work!

Napoleon Hill, in his book “Think and Be Rich” (and if you have never read it, I strongly suggest that you need to get a copy), says “Persistence is an essential factor in the procedure of transmuting desire into its monetary equivalent.  The basis of persistence is the Power of Will.”

Oh, don’t get me wrong, getting yourself to a meeting is a good thing – but it is essentially, the first step.  Once there, you have to meet and introduce yourself to the people there, engage in conversation.  Tell them who you are and what it is that you do (briefly), listen carefully to what it is they do and who they are.  Then you need to follow up. 
Send them an e-mail with your business profile and a short message telling them to expect a call from you
Actually phone them and book an appointment with them to have a ‘one on one’ meeting with them.  No-one knows your business better than you – can you explain in three minutes who you are, what you do and why people need your products or services?  No, well neither can they.  So get together, have a coffee and chat.
Pitch up for the meeting!  This is very important!  If you don’t pitch up, believe me – they will not refer you, no matter how fabulous your product is or how wonderful you are.  By not pitching up, you are telling them, very loudly that you are not reliable and you cannot be trusted!
Tell them who you are, if you have any marketing material, this is the time to give it to them and explain it, yourself, your product and your service.
Listen to who they are and what it is that they do – listen carefully (you expected them to listen to what you had to say, so return the favour).  Take notes, ask questions – satisfy yourself that you understand (even if it is only on the surface) their business.
Make a list of all the people you can think of in your database, who might need their product or service or who might be able to introduce them to the people who might need their product or service.
Introduce them to those people (I usually do this by means of an e-mail to both parties).
If you are given a referral – contact the person you have been referred to.  These introductions are like gold, treasure them. Also remember to thank the person who has referred you too.

Once in your database, you can now relax – well you have their contact details and they have yours, so now they have nothing better to do than send you work! 

Wake up people!

Constantly remind them that you are available for work.  Send out regular e-mails or newsletters or invitations to other networking events.  Get into their faces and spaces (and I mean that in the nicest possible way – no spamming or stalking please), so that they don’t forget you, so that if an opportunity does arrive, the first person that they think of is you!

Easy hey?  Very - as long as you work at it constantly, persistently, every day, everywhere and all the time.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za




Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Business Tips - From Employee to Entrepreneur - Part 6

BUSINESS TIPS – From Employee to Entrepreneur – Part 6

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

So far we have looked at:-
1. The difference between being an employee and an employer;
2. Your Purpose:
3. The People around you and
4. Your Personal Footprint.
5. Knowledge & what you do with it
6. The Generosity of your Spirit
7. The Role of Technology in your Business
8. Self Confidence
9. Creativity and
10. Focus
11. Vision
12. Result

Believe it or not there are a whole lot more – today we will explore a few more.

1. Networking
One of the quickest ways to get to people who have more knowledge and more experience than you do is to network.  There are many SMME (small, medium, micro enterprises), entrepreneurial or start up networking groups out there for you to choose from.  Some leave you to your own devices, some are semi facilitated and some are fully facilitated – find one that suits your requirements and get networking.  Networking is also a great way to build relationships with like-minded people who often become suppliers and even customers and you will find people who will be willing to assist you by sharing their knowledge and experience.

2. Leadership
Every company needs a leader and as a business owner that is who you are – the leader.  Quite honestly, your business success (or failure for that matter) is intrinsically linked to and dependent upon your capability as a leader.  You will need to inspire your staff, you will need to gain the trust and respect of your staff and you will need to commit to them if you want commitment from them.  If you are not a natural leader or are unsure of your role as a leader, I would suggest that you get yourself off to some training as soon as possible as leaders are not necessarily born but they can also be made.

3. Management
Every business needs to be properly managed.  Whether you are on your own or you have staff, your business still needs to be managed and this is achieved by having some sort of plan in terms of the operation of the business.  What are you going to do with regard to sales, delivery etc. and how are you going to achieve that.  You have to know where you are going and how you are going to get there in order for you to succeed.

Next time we will continue to look at some of the other issues that you will need or be aware of to become a successful Entrepreneur.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Monday, October 16, 2017

Motivation - Time Management

MOTIVATION -TIME MANAGEMENT

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from William D. Reiff, who says "Without the management of time, you will soon have nothing left to
manage"

How many times do we not only say, but also hear the words “I don’t have the time ……”

I know that I have been saying it, probably several times a day for the last three months – this year certainly seems to have gotten away from me, I don’t know about the rest of you.

I am sitting here at my desk, after two days of doing literally nothing, with a huge guilty feeling hanging over my head, as I look at the piles of work that are sitting on my desk – I know that the work will get done, at some point and at a cost – the cost being to me, to my time.

Looking at my diary, everything neatly allocated, it would seem that I have designated my time very effectively and constructively and to be quite honest that is exactly what I have done.  The problem arises, with people who have not been allocated any time, but who now suddenly need it desperately. Ironically, it’s those same people (desperate for my time and who demand the most) who pay the least and who take the longest time to pay.

Yet - still my challenge is to say “No”!

So I guess my New Year’s resolution this year is to say the word ‘No’ to those that need it saying to – once I have mastered that, my time management will be an absolute breeze!

So to all of us out there who do not have time – my question to you, is the same one that I had to ask of myself! 

Do you know how to say No and even more importantly . . . mean it?

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za

Friday, October 13, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . You are not sure about Workmen's Compensation - Part 2

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . You Are Not Sure About Workmen’s Compensation? – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practice requirements.

So now you have registered and as required you need to send in your ‘Return of Earnings’ – what on earth is that.

You see, unlike most of the other ‘insurance’ legislated requirements, Workman’s Compensation is calculated and paid for on an Annual Basis and based on the Annual Salaries paid.  Let’s have a look at the requirements.

When are employers required to submit their return of earnings?

The W.AS 8 is the form that deals with the Return of Earnings, and this must be completed and submitted by no later than 31st March each year.  Once again the form can be downloaded from the Department of Labour site at http://www.labour.gov.za or from me (mail me on nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za).

The return has to include, but not be limited to the following information:

- The amount of earnings paid by the employer to their employees, during the period from the 1st day of March the preceding year, up to and including the last day of February the following year.  In other words it works exactly along the same dates as the tax year.  For example on the 31st March 2009, the amount of earnings paid by the employer during the period 1st March 2008 to 28th February 2009. 

- Should the employer have opened the business between these date an ‘estimate’ needs to be submitted.

- In all instances the Accountant must sign off to indicate the correctness of the information.

- Should the employer have more than one business or more than one premises, the Commission may require the employer to issue separate returns for each place or type of business.

- Any other information required by the Commission.

The amount that is required to be paid is based on an Assessment fee.

What is an Assessment?

The salary bill, together with the Assessment tariff will produce the Annual Assessment fee.

Let me back it up for a moment.

Logic will tell you that someone who works in an office, quietly without having to drive around or be exposed to dangerous chemicals etc will have far less chance of getting hurt at work than say someone who drives a Construction Crane or who works at a Chemical Factory.  So there are different tariffs for different jobs and they are based on the risks associated with the type of work that is being done.

The Assessment fee is calculated by the following formula.

Assessment fee = total workers’ pay, divided by 100 multiplied by the assessment tariff.

Logic must also tell you that there are many individual types of jobs that are exempt from being assessed as they carry very little if any kind of risk.

Who is exempt from being assessed?

In terms of the Act, the following institutions are not required to be assessed.  These are, but not limited to:

National and provincial spheres of government, including parliament;
A local authority who has obtained a certificate of exemption from the Workmen’s Compensation Act;
A Municipality that has received an exemption;
An employer who has, with the approval of the Director General, obtained from a mutual association a policy of insurance for the full extent of his potential liability in terms of the Act for all employees employed by him.”

Well I say that is pretty clear – so if you employ anyone, including yourself, and you wish to become exempt – you have to apply and receive a certificate evidencing the exemption.  Exemption is not automatic.

Next week we will have a look at when the Commissioner varies the tariff of assessments, when the employer must pay and ‘how to’ pay.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sales 101 - Selling in Tough Time - Part 3

SALES 101 - Selling in Tough Times – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Following on from last week, here are some more tips on Selling in Tough Times.

Be Prepared
This one I am seriously found wanting on!  You see, since all of my leads come out of Networking, I have already, very briefly met the person that I am having a meeting with (except of course when it is a referral), so I do know a little bit about them, presuming of course that I remember who they are.

The problem is that I have a very bad memory with names and faces and the fact of the matter is that I am usually meeting them for the second time, for an in depth meeting, several months down the line.  What I should perhaps (in fact very definitely) be doing is googling them and finding out as much as I can about them and what it is that they do so that I am not going into the meeting blind.

What this tells the person that you are meeting, when you know a bit about them and what it is that they do or what their company is all about, is that you are serious about what it is that you do.  It creates a tremendous amount of credibility for you as it shows that you were interested enough in what is to come out of the meeting, to find out more about them and then be able to discuss or ask questions that make sense.

Sell reliability.
Well now, this one certainly pertains to me.  I often start off amused and then slowly (actually it quite quickly) become quite irritated with a sales person, that waxes lyrical about the technical stuff that happens with a product. 

I am not a techno person, so I don’t understand the stuff and when I don’t understand it, throwing all the technical jargon at me, just makes me realize how many things can go wrong with the product.

Tell me the bottom line in easy to understand English.  Tell me in easy to understand English if there is a guarantee and what brings it into effect. 

Two of my favorite sales (and they both happened over a year ago) are:  It was time to upgrade my cell phone, something that can normally be extremely frustrating for me.  I walked into MTN at Rosebank and spoke to the young chap behind the counter.  I said something along the lines of “I am a Nokia girl, this is what I have – I want the same or better and I don’t want to have to pay in.”  Five minutes later I walked out with my new phone, all the paperwork done and dusted.

The second one was the purchase of my digital camera.  Now I am not one to rush around like a mad thing taking happy snaps all the time, but I do take photos from time to time and it was time to drag myself kicking and screaming into the 21st century.  I walked into the camera shop in Cresta and spoke to the young chap who always sorted the printing of my photo’s out.  I said something along the lines of “I have no idea of the brand that I want, I want something simple that I can point at the general direction and it takes a reasonable photo.  I don’t want to have to decide weather it is dark or light, the camera must do that for me, and it must not cost more that R2.50 (that’s always said with a huge grin on my face, but they understand what it is that I am saying.”  Fifteen minutes later I walked out of shop with a new camera, camera bag and several other accessories.  The camera had been programmed for me and all I have to do is press the two buttons – one to switch the thing on and the other to take the picture.  Perfect!

In both of these instances, the sales person listened to me.  They listened to what it was that I wanted and they gave it to me.  In most of my other disastrous shopping experiences the sales person doesn’t listen to what it is that I want, instead they try to give me what they think I should have.  Half the time I don’t understand what they are trying to say because I am not a technical person and I have no interest in hearing all that waffle.

Most people will tell you that I am extremely difficult – I disagree.  If you give me exactly what it is that I want I am the easiest person on the planet.  I am sure that if you tell these two salesmen that I am difficult they will disagree and tell you that it was the easiest and quickest sale that they have ever made.

Next week we will look at some more tips on Selling in Tough Times.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Networking 101 - Networking is also for Corporate Employees

Networking 101 - Networking is also for Corporate Employees

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

I still have a number of colleagues and friends in the Corporate World (shame hey!), and am often amazed at some of the comments that I hear about networking.  The one that astounds me the most is “I don’t go to networking events because I get ‘hit on by people looking for work’!”  Oh how sad!

On a personal level, I just don’t think that most corporate people ‘get it’ – the plot I mean, or what networking is all about.

Not going to a networking event because you are afraid of people trying to get you to give them work or because they would like to become your service providers is just not clever. 

Yes, some people will ‘hit’ on them – there is no doubt about that.  In fact I can pretty much guarantee it, however they fail to see the ‘big’ picture!

You see by not going to these events, they will not be meeting new people and by not meeting new people, their own network is not going to grow, and not actively growing their network is not clever.  In fact it could have some serious, adverse repercussions on their businesses.

I am often reminded of this when I attend some of the Business Engage (www.businessengage.co.za) functions.  Business Engage is supported by many of the Corporate’s in the financial world – in particular banks and insurance companies.  In most instances the Corporate has taken out a block membership to Business Engage for their staff.  Most of the functions are attended by someone who “represents” the Corporate entity and in many cases, this someone has no interest what-so-ever in networking.  In fact they see this as an obligation to their employer and a chance to have a free meal.

They are so easy to spot and it’s not difficult to see how different they are to the entrepreneur.  The entrepreneur is bouncing around the place, interacting with new people, exchanging business cards and generally working the opportunity that they have, whilst the corporate employee is sticking to their respective groups and trying hard not to ‘talk to strangers’!

My message to the Corporate world is this – “you guys need to get with the programme”!  When it comes to making and sustaining sound Business Connections  - the entrepreneur is streets ahead of the corporate.  Entrepreneurs are hungry for new contacts, they explore every business opportunity available to them, from meeting that new contact to looking  for new innovative ways to do business!

Let me put it this way – we all talk about the bottom line – my bottom line is this:

All of my business comes through networking!  I do not advertise, I do not do any marketing.  You will not see anything about my business on a flyer.  There are no advertisements in magazines or any other periodicals.  Yet I am beginning to be well known in the market place.

I wonder why that is?  Perhaps it is because I am a natural networker and I use every opportunity to talk to people, about who I am and what my business is.

The question is – shouldn’t you?

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Business Tips - From Employee to Entrepreneur - Part 5

BUSINESS TIPS – From Employee to Entrepreneur – Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – November 2012

So far we have looked at:-
1. The difference between being an employee and an employer;
2. Your Purpose:
3. The People around you and
4. Your Personal Footprint.
5. Knowledge & what you do with it
6. The Generosity of your Spirit
7. The Role of Technology in your Business
8. Self Confidence
9. Creativity and
10. Focus

Believe it or not there are a whole lot more – today we will explore a few more.

1. Vision.
One of the greatest strengths that many Entrepreneurs have when they start out is their ability to ‘think big’!  One of the biggest weaknesses that many Entrepreneurs have is to ‘start big’!  The first thing that they seem to do, once they have borrowed the finance to start the business is to rush out and buy the designer car, the designer clothes and live the designer life – the problem with that is, that it is never sustainable.

I was told the tale the other day of a chap who applied for and received financial assistance from the bank to purchase some much needed machinery that would assist him in automating much of his factory, which of course would increase his capacity because he could now produce his products a lot faster and a lot cheaper and this in turn would mean that his sales would increase too.  Now please understand the loan was for quite a considerable amount – it was in excess of R2m.  As soon as this chap had the money in his account he rushed out and bought . . . . no, not machinery – well I suppose technically a brand new sports car would be considered a machine!  The result . . .  as soon as the bank found out what he had done, they forced him to return the car and he immediately lost R100 000 on the deal.  Quite frankly, I have no sympathy at all.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with dreaming the big dream and thinking big, but when you start out, you need to ‘start small’ and grow big.

2. Result
Being able to achieve your dream and make a success of  the business that you are trying to build, is not just about your efforts.  It’s not just about ‘doing’!  Sure your actions are important and without them you will never get going or get to where you want to be.  The key here is ‘achieving’, it’s about getting the desired results. It’s about being able to measure what you are doing, so that you can manage your efforts to ensure that you achieve the results that you are looking for.

Let me explain . . I often find myself running around like a headless chicken.  This usually happens when I receive a panic call from a prospective client, who needs XYZ now and not a moment later.  Because I am always on the look out for new business and despite the fact that I have scheduled time for my current clients, I will drop everything to try and meet the requirements of the prospective client, who at the end of my running around, gathering information, putting a proposal together – then decides that they will ‘shelve’ the idea to another time when they have sufficient time/money/resources (insert what you want here) to implement what they were thinking about.  I on the other hand have run around like a mad possessed person, getting everything together so that I could meet their rushed deadlines and achieved . .  exactly nothing!

Now remember, I still have clients who have expectations and I have yet to meet my deliverables, so that usually means that I have to work through the night or over the weekend to ensure that I give them the results that they expect and that they pay for. My result here is that at the end of all of this, yes I have met my deliverables, but I am exhausted, frazzled and often angry with myself, the prospective client and the world in general – not a good place to be.

As you can see, my personal challenge (and I suspect that it is true of many Entrepreneurs), is that I have to learn to say ‘no’ to prospective clients who have unrealistic, last minute requirements.  In other words, My efforts need to harvest achievements.

Next time we will continue to look at some of the other issues that you will need or be aware of to become a successful Entrepreneur.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Monday, October 09, 2017

Motivation - The Price of Excellence

MOTIVATION – The Price of Excellence

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

William Arthur Ward says “the Price of Excellence is discipline.  The Cost of mediocrity is disappointment.”

I cannot begin to tell you about the number of clients who I see on a daily basis who are faced with the disappointment that comes because of their own mediocrity.

Oh don’t for a minute think that they are disappointed or angry or even resentful because they see themselves as the problem or that they have been mediocre in their businesses or with their staff or with the VAT/Tax man.  Oh no!  Their disappointment is always because of something or someone else.  It couldn’t possibly be because of what they may have or may not have done!

The reality of course is usually very different.  It is entirely because of their own actions or more often than not, their inactions.

Often though (to give them a little benefit of the doubt), their action or inaction is directly attributable to their lack of knowledge on the subject.  Again, in all truthfulness, this is also directly attributable to their own lack of discipline.  I can actually see everybody’s hackles rising as they read these words.  But actually that is exactly what it is – lack of discipline because inadequate research has been done and it’s been a case of, “Jump right in honey, the water is just fine!”

You see too often we have an idea for a product or business and without doing the proper research or understanding the full consequences of our actions or inactions, we just jump right in and then of course when we fail, it’s everybody else’s fault, definitely not ours.  We didn’t have the self discipline to sit down, do the research, work out the numbers, calculate the risks against the rewards and then make an informed decision.

Of course, there are those of us who have the information and the know the risks but who choose not to work in a disciplined environment, or who want to ‘cheat’ the system or who thrive on taking risks.  For those too, it’s also everyone else’s fault when they get ‘caught out’.  It’s the VAT/tax man who has killed their business – not their lack of discipline to manage their VAT or tax.  Or how about the Department of Labour, who has imposed a huge fine for non compliance, that may result in the business folding – not their unfair Labour practice or lack of discipline in following the rules, that protect both them and their staff.

In both of these instances (and thousands of others that result in the failure of a business), the implementation of simple policies and procedures and the discipline needed to follow them, would have been sufficient to avoid the problems and their subsequent consequences altogether.

But no – it’s easier to apportion blame than it is to admit that we were in the wrong!

It’s easier to ‘go with the flow’ than it is to set the boundaries and limits and be disciplined enough to stay within these parameters.

Be warned though – those of you who just ‘go with the flow’ usually end up learning and also paying for the hardest lesson of all – the lesson of failure and disappointment.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za.

Friday, October 06, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . You are not sure about Workmen's Compensation - Part 1

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . .  You Are Not Sure About Workmen’s Compensation? – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Please note that this pertains to South African Labour and Best Practice Requirements.
There seems to be a great deal of confusion about who must register, where to register, how to register and when to register, so I thought it would be a good idea to try and demystify it.
So here are the important factors to consider as a Business Owner. Who Must Register With The Workman’s Compensation Fund and How Does One Register:
As a Business Owner in South Africa, if you employ a staff member (and that includes you – so if the only staff member is you) then you need to be registered. The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases (COID) Act of 130 of 1993 defines and employer as:
“Any person, including the state, who employs an employee and includes:-  Any person controlling the business of the employer;

- If the services of an employee are lent or temporarily made available to some other person by the employer, such employer for such period as the employee works for that employee;
- A Labour Broker who against payment provides a person to a client for the rendering of a service or the performance of work and for which service or work such person is paid by the Labour Broker.”

Well that is pretty straight forward – so for example, I as Viljoen   Consulting CC do not have any staff members on the one hand, but ‘pay’ myself a salary on the other hand (to get the best tax benefits), so I will now need to Register for Workman’s Compensation.

The form that is required to be completed is the prescribed (Form WA52 – which can be downloaded from the Department of Labour site or requested from myself) and the employer is required to submit a separate form for each business he/she has.

What Records Are To Be Kept By the Employer

The Act says that the employer has to keep a register or some form of record of the earnings and particulars of employment. This record must be kept for a period of 4 (four) years.

The Act also says that this record must be kept open for inspection, not only for a representative of the Health & Safety fraternity but also for the Health & Safety Representative who must be elected in terms of the Act or also in terms of the Mine & Health Safety Act 29 of 1996 or for any of the shop stewards or similar Union officials.

Next week we will have a look at when to submit the return of earnings, what an assessment is and who may be exempt from being assessed.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za


Thursday, October 05, 2017

Sales 101 - Selling in Tough Times - Part 1

SALES 101 - Selling in Tough Times – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

I keep hearing all around me that we are in the middle of an economic crisis and a credit crunch.  I must say that I am really not convinced!  I mean the interest rates haven’t gone up – so I am not totally sold on the whole concept.  That said, for those who have ‘bought into’ the whole ‘economic crisis’ scenario and also for those like me who want to make life really easy for themselves, here are some tips on the “how to” sell in tough times.

Existing Satisfied Customers.
I have no doubt that even at our worst, we have left some satisfied customers in our wake.  Surely to goodness, logic must tell us that if we have satisfied them once, it cannot be that difficult to satisfy them again.  Reconnect with them, rekindle the relationship that you once had with them and find out what it is they need/want/desire.  If it is something that you can do for them – fabulous, if it isn’t, don’t stress, connect them with who they need out of your database.  This still means that you are adding value to them and they will remember you all the more for it.

Ask for Referrals
What is it about the human race and South African’s in particular, that we find it so incredibly difficult to ask for help?  We find it very easy to help, to assist – I mean, we are internationally known for our friendliness and generosity. Yet we cannot seem to ‘ask’ when we need the help.

It’s very easy you know, just do it – ask for what you want.  Ask your friends, your relatives, your clients (past and present) to refer you to the people within their circle of influence.  It will cost them a few minutes of their time and it will increase your sales exponentially.  How cool is that?  Even more cool is the number of references that you are likely to get out of the exercise.

Putting on the Pressure.
It is said that in the tough times, it is not a good idea to put pressure on a client in order to close the deal.  I would take that one step further and say that it is never a good idea to push someone into a corner in order to close a sale!

Be warned – if you do push a client like this, in all likelihood you will never sign a deal with them ever – not just this one deal, but never another deal ever.

People like to take some time to think about what it is that they want to do.  They like to think about the pro’s and con’s of what they need/want/desire – the more pressure you apply the more they will resist and the more desperate you will appear.  You will not only lose the sale, you will lose the client too.  Don’t do it!!

Next week we will look at some more tips on Selling in Tough Times.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Networking 101 - The Value Add of Referrals

NETWORKING 101 - The Value Add of Referrals

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

At some point you are going to need the contacts that you have met whilst networking.

Today is only Tuesday and I have already referred about 15 people this week, out of my data base – all of whom I have met whilst networking. 

You see in some instances, many of my colleagues ask me to refer people because, well firstly, they know that I have met with and chatted, on a one on one, type basis, every single person in my data base. Secondly, I have listened to what it is that they do and asked questions about their businesses.

Can I guarantee their work, or their commitment – no of course I can’t, but it is certainly a lot more trustworthy than picking someone out of the yellow pages!

So what does that mean for me – well firstly the person who has asked me for assistance, now on a subconscious level feels that they  “owe me”.  What this means is that the next time they hear of someone in need of the type of work that I do, they will be very quick to refer me because that will then even the score.  That means that work will be coming in.

Secondly, the person who has been referred – knows that I have referred them and now on a sub-conscious level they also ‘owe me’.  What this means is that the next time they hear of someone in need of the type of work that I do, they will be very quick to refer me because that will then even the score.  That means that work will be coming in.

There are some instances where people, who I refer, simply feel that they are not in a position to refer me to anyone – now here comes the fun part.  I have worked out a deal with these service providers – I get their time for free!  So now I have my own contractual attorney – I never sign anything without her having a look at it (for free).  I have my own Labour Attorney – I can give advice to clients and check my facts before I give the advice (for free).  I have my own Accountant, who does my books and looks after my tax issues (for free), and so on.

In fact, I am far better off than any Corporate Company – because I have specialists who are passionate about what they do and are committed to giving good service and value for money – where have you ever found a Corporate Company that can make that statement, with conviction and honesty?

The bottom line is that I have built a ‘Virtual Company’ out of my networking.  I have opened myself up to recognize the potential value, to my business, of every single person that I have met.  I did that by meeting one person at a time, engaging in a conversation with that person, by understanding what it is that they do and by listening to what people want.

How strong is your ‘Virtual Company’ – and do you actually have one?

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Business Tips - From Employee to Entrepreneur - Part 4

BUSINESS TIPS – From Employee to Entrepreneur – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC –

So far we have looked at:-
1. The difference between being an employee and an employer;
2. Your Purpose:
3. The People around you and
4. Your Personal Footprint.
5. Knowledge & what you do with it
6. The Generosity of your Spirit and
7. The Role of Technology in your Business

Believe it or not there are a whole lot more – today we will explore a few more.

1. Self Confidence
As an entrepreneur you need a whole bunch of self-confidence.  There will be times when you will be the only person who believes in YOU and what you are capable of doing.

Understand yourself, understand who you are, understand what you are capable of and understand how far you are prepared to go to achieve your dream.

Understand that there will be occasions that you will walk on the road with someone, be they mentor or collaborator or partner or customer or supplier or friend, but there will also be times that you will walk alone – be prepared for it and deal with it.

There will be times when you celebrate your successes and there will be times when it will feel as though you are all alone in the world – in those times, will you still believe in yourself?  That is a question that you have to ask yourself and that is a question only you can answer and it will require a brutally honest answer.

2. Creativity
Understand that as an entrepreneur, even accountants or auditors, are creative.  Yes, you actually read that correctly.  ALL entrepreneurs are creative – they have ‘created’ something, they have breathed life into something that did not exist.  That’s huge!  We are creative when we ‘put the picture’ together in our minds of how we want our businesses to look, to feel and to work. That is also why it is of the utmost importance that entrepreneurs reserve time to dream.  If you cannot dream it, it will not happen and only having one dream is kind of defeating the object – we need to dream all the time.  Take time out to dream, book it in your diary if you need to, but make sure that you take the time to draw pictures in your mind of what you want to happen, to dream the future.  Remember though it will still require an action (well to be honest many actions) to turn that dream into a reality.

3. Focus
One of the quickest ways to lose you way is to lose your focus.  Whether you are working on a document or preparing a presentation or raising an invoice or indeed running an entire business, when you lose focus you veer off the road and all manner of disasters and conflict await you.

Here’s the thing, although women (and even some men) proudly profess to be effective and efficient at multi-tasking, the fact of the matter is that the brain is designed and wired to only hold one thought at a time.  You may think that you are holding two or more, but realistically you are ‘switching’ between thoughts or in effect losing focus, particularly if the two thoughts are on unrelated issues.

Make sure that you always have your ‘end goal’ clearly visible – mine are on ‘post it notes’ all over the office, so I can see them all the time.  That way you will have them in your thoughts constantly and it will make it that much easier to maintain your focus.

Next time we will continue to look at some of the other issues that you will need or be aware of to become a successful Entrepreneur.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Monday, October 02, 2017

Motivation - The People You Don't Even Know

MOTIVATION – THE PEOPLE YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that “your life can be changed in a matter of seconds by people you don’t even know”

For me, I don’t think it even matters as to whether or not you are actually even open to the possibility of that moment or even open to the change that that moment might bring.

These are the moments, or what, Oprah Winfrey calls “Ah Ha!” moments, that usually come completely out of the blue or when you least expect them and yet quite possibly they are the moments that can and probably will change the direction of your life or be the defining moment when you change intrinsically as a person.

That’s not to say that you will only experience one of these moments in the course of your life time.  I certainly haven’t!  But then of course why would you limit yourself to only one of these deliciously appetizing, soul defining moments?  You don’t have to you know.

That said, like your first kiss or your first love – your first ‘Ah-Ha’ moment is one that you are unlikely to ever forget.  I certainly couldn’t.

My defining moment came in November 1999, when I sat in front of a complete stranger by the name of Vanessa Paige and she was reading my Tarot cards.

Now I can see all of you smiling and nodding your head in unison – a Tarot card reading!

Well let me tell you, this was not a Tarot card reading that you have done by the Gypsies  who live in caravans or the fortune tellers that you engage with at the fun fair.  This was a reading like I have never encountered in my life! And this was the reading that changed the course of my life and who I am as a person.

You see Vanessa told me that I was a worthwhile person.  That I had the right to make my own decisions and my own choices.  That it was my life and that I had the right and the power to live it.  She told me that I had “given away my power” to bosses that used and abused it, to friends who did not appreciate me and to family, who took as much as they could and then discarded me.

Vanessa made me understand that I could take my power back, I could be somebody, a worthwhile somebody, who could make a valuable contribution to this world. All I had to do was to believe in myself and start to love – me.

And you know what else?  Vanessa told me that she believed in me!

This was the first time that anyone had ever said anything like this to me and the effect was quite profound.

It has been a slow and sometimes painful journey, but it has also brought me much happiness and fulfillment.

I now own my own business.  I make a difference in the lives of others.  I write for magazines and newspapers. I have been interviewed and appeared on TV.  I have been the guest speaker at huge functions – but most of all, most powerful of all – I am the master of my own destiny.

And all it took was one brief moment in time, with someone I did not know!

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za.

Friday, September 29, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . Your Staff Member Resigns Before a Disciplinary Hearing?

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Member Resigns Before a Disciplinary Hearing?

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Please note that this pertains to South African Labour and Best Practice requirements.

So you caught the staff member ‘red handed’ with his fingers in the till!  You’ve (for once) followed all the procedures and you have issued him with a notice to attend a disciplinary hearing and you can’t wait for this to happen so that justice can be served, in your favour for once, and then . . . .  he hands in his resignation!  Talk about frustration!  Been there?  Yes of course you have.  Then to add insult to injury you are sent a notification by the CCMA stating that the employee has laid a ‘constructive dismissal’ charge against you . .  now what?

Ok, let’s take a step back and have a look at this one step at a time.

Firstly, it is the absolute right of the employee to tender their resignation at any time, except if that resignation is in breach of a contract – in that instance the employer will obviously have recourse.

There will always be those employees that would rather resign than face a disciplinary hearing, then there are those who will resign during the hearing and even those who will resign once the verdict has been delivered. 

The problem arises, not when the resignation is handed in (although I must admit that that can be pretty frustrating) but rather when the employee then goes to the CCMA.

Let’s bring in the protagonists!

Mike owns a retail outlet in a Mall. George is the Manager of said retail outlet. George has been caught ‘red handed’ stealing stock out of the store and selling it on the side, and of course pocketing the money. Mike has suspended George, pending a disciplinary hearing and given George notice to attend a disciplinary hearing, with the obligatory 48 hours notice. The day of the hearing arrives, so does George, with his letter of resignation. Mike accepts the resignation, with immediate effect and George is paid out his leave pay etc and off he goes. End of story – well not quite, you see George goes to the CCMA and alleges that it was a constructive dismissal.

In this particular instance the CCMA found that since George had resigned and that Mike had accepted his resignation, this had in fact amounted to a settlement between the two.

You see, George had resigned rather than wait to be dismissed. This would mean that George’s record would not indicate that he had been ‘dismissed’ and would therefore appear to be unblemished. This was an informed choice, made by George, therefore George now was not entitled to ‘seek relief by way of reinstatement or compensation’ – talk about having your cake and eating it!

On the one hand George did not want to face a disciplinary hearing, which he knew would result in the termination of his employment, because of his dishonesty, because he did not want the ‘dismissal’ on his employment record and on the other he wanted compensation from Mike because he now no longer had a job. Having made his choice to have the unblemished record, George could not claim to be entitled to both the unblemished record and compensation.

What George has not taken into account though, is that although he “resigned”, this does not necessarily ‘look better’ on his record, because Mike has followed the correct procedures. All the details of the alleged offence (in this case theft) and the details of what occurred will still be on file.

Although Mike did not get the satisfaction of having George dismissed at a disciplinary hearing, Mike still has the right to proceed with criminal charges, even though George has resigned and is no longer employed by Mike. Obviously, whether Mike wants to go this route or not is entirely up to him.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sales 101 - The Joys of Pre-Sold Sales

SALES 101 - The Joys of Pre-Sold Sales

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

What is a ‘Pre-Sold Sale’?  For me it is the sale that I don’t have to sell.  It’s the client who comes to me for my service because I have been recommended by someone that they trust.  Again it boils down to relationships and the building of relationships.

The two most pronounced factors here are ‘relationships’ and ‘trust’.  You see me being recommended by someone that you trust, means that I don’t have to do anything about the sale – it’s already done, because the person who has recommended me has already tried my services.  The services have been tested and found to be acceptable and they have given me their stamp of approval!  All I have to do is deliver what the client wants.  It’s the best sale that there is.

So don’t be scared to go back to your database of past and present clients and ask them to recommend you.  Don’t be scared to ask them to ‘listen’ out for people who need your product or service.  By recommending you they are also adding value to what it is that they do and to their clients too.

Yip, Pre-Sold Sales for me are the very best kind!

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Networking 101 - Focus is Key

NETWORKING 101 – Focus is Key

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Don’t you just hate it when people are talking to you and they look every where except at you?

It’s like the guy who chats to the ladies whilst clearly focused on their cleavage!

Apart from the fact that it is really rude, it’s also very distracting.  It makes me feel like I’m missing something, which usually means that I also have to have a look at whatever the other person is looking at.  Usually that means that I am doing the ‘rubber necking’ thing to look at whatever it is that they are looking at and often I really don’t ‘get it’.  The result of course is that I lose focus – they never really had any focus and frustration sets in!

So what’s the point of going to a networking event if you cannot focus on what you are doing?  In fact, what’s the point in talking to anyone, if you can’t focus on either what you are saying or what they are saying?

Be sure to focus on the person that you are speaking to – give them your full attention.  You are bound to reap the rewards in the long run.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Business Tips - From Employee to Entrepreneur - Part 3

BUSINESS TIPS – From Employee to Entrepreneur – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

So far we have looked at:-
1. The difference between being an employee and an employer;
2. Your Purpose:
3. The People around you and
4. Your Personal Footprint.

Believe it or not there is a whole lot more – today we will explore a few more.

1. Knowledge – we all know the statement “Knowledge is Power”!  Well I would like to challenge that particular statement – you see I personally don’t believe that “knowledge” itself is power – I believe that it is “What” you do with that knowledge that makes it powerful.

Now that I have gotten that out of the way, let me say this – you need to continue learning, you need to ‘grow’ yourself.  You need to research and plan and strategize and develop and you can only do this if you learn about new things, expand your knowledge and understanding.

Remember though that knowledge without the utilization of that knowledge is useless.  Just like a thought without action remains a thought – knowledge without the action remains powerless.

2. Generosity
Now generosity is not limited to putting your hand in your pocket – actually if the truth be told, that’s the easy way out.  There is generosity of spirit where you share with others, things like your time, your knowledge and your expertise.  You may not be giving out money but you may be giving of yourself.

The truth of the matter is that the more you give the more you get and more especially, the more that you give without thought of what you could get – the more you will get, the more you will attract to yourself and the more that you will receive.

Of course that is not to say that you have to give everything away for free – that would certainly not be good business acumen, but if you can lend a helping hand to give some good advice or have even just listened and been a sounding board, then please pause for a moment and help out.  You will find one day, that when you need help, it will be offered or arrive unexpectedly and in great abundance.

3. Technology – now this one brought a huge big smile to my face – the proverbial ‘technophobe’ that’s me.  Technophobe or not, the fact of the matter is that todays’ technology does things faster, more efficiently and more accurately, than we can do things manually. Look at the way manual books were done in the past and how accounting packages now deal with entries, and double entries or how we used to ‘dial’ a number on a landline and nowadays how many of us no longer even have landlines but conduct business and even run our businesses, manage our diaries and communicate with the world on cell phones or tablets or laptops or notebooks.

Nowadays there are gadgets for girls and gadgets for boys – electronic devices that are geared specifically to make life easier.  Remember though that ‘easier’ often also means ‘faster’.  Be aware of what is new and what’s improved, it doesn’t mean that you have to buy everything that hits the shelves, but at the very least, be aware of what is hitting the shelves and invest in what can be of the most assistance to you.

Next time we will continue to look at some of the other issues that you will need or be aware of to become a successful Entrepreneur.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Friday, September 22, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . You Want To Suspend an Employee

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want To Suspend an Employee?

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Please note that this pertains to South African Labour and Best Practice requirements.

Firstly, let us understand when and employee can be suspended.

Usually (but not always, so be careful here) and employee is suspended during pre-disciplinary investigations or pending the outcome of a disciplinary action.  I would like to make it quite clear here though that the reason(s) for suspension should be documented and controlled by the terms and conditions of the Employment Contract or Letter of Appointment or the Company’s Disciplinary Procedures or The Company’s detailed suspension policies.

Suspensions can, and often do cause a huge amount of problems, so you really need to make sure that you are suspending the employee for the right reasons.

Issues that need to be taken into account when suspending an employee are, but not limited to:
- the need for the suspension
- the duration of the suspension
- prejudice suffered by the employee
- demands for disclosure of information
- constructive dismissal claims lodged due to resignation during lengthy suspensions etc.

Let’s go to my favorite protagonists for the type of situation that can arise.

Mike is our Business Owner.  He has a retail store that sells cell phones and accessories.  George is the Manager of the store in question and as such he is the sole key holder.  Stock has been, steadily but surely going missing on a monthly basis.  There are 4 staff members in the store and since clients do not have direct access to stock, it can only be one of the employees.

Mike has requested and received a printout of ‘activity’ from the security company.  This evidences when the store ‘opens’ and ‘closes’ and also if the store has been entered after hours.  Mike notices that at least once a week, the store is ‘opened at’ around 10pm and then ‘closed’ again at around 10.10pm.  Since George was the only one with store keys and the alarm codes, it was a reasonable assumption for George to be considered the ‘guilty’ party.

This hearing was scheduled to last for five days.

George insisted that he wanted his attorney Alex to represent him.

Alex could only be available for the 5 days over a 3 month period.  This of course, was not practical and unacceptable and George was given various options in order for the hearing to be expedited.  George was offered, (amongst other things) a 4 day postponement in order for him to find an alternative attorney and he was also offered the option to have the hearing held over the 3 month period on the condition that the suspension would be unpaid.  George declined all the alternative offers and the hearing proceeded without him being represented by an attorney.

In this instance it would have been ‘unfair’ to expect Mike to pay for 3 months suspension because it was George’s insistence to have a particular attorney represent him and also because George declined all other offers made by Mike

Be careful though as an employer, not to insist on non-payment for all postponements requested by an accused employee.  Not all instances will be regarded as procedurally fair.  Each case must be judged on its own merits.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sales 101 - Understanding the Client's Requests

SALES 101 - Understanding the Client’s Requests

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC  October 2009.

Perception, or perhaps I should say the wrong perception often results in a client’s or prospective client’s unfulfilled expectation and that I’m afraid to say will result in either the loss of the sale and in the extreme – the loss of the client.  Neither of these instances will serve any kind of purpose for you.

So it makes sense for you to take the time and the trouble to ensure that you know and understand the basics and essence of your client or prospective client’s expectation.

It is often a good idea to have a standard set of responses to normal questions that may be asked. This will help you to respond instinctively, naturally and with conviction and which will also give your client or prospective client assurance that you do indeed know what it is that you are talking about.

For example, should your client ask you to ‘send some information’ you may very well respond by saying something like ‘there is a huge amount of information – is there something specific that you are wanting to know or could I give you a breakdown of each area/division/subject/product and then you can tell me which one you are interested in?”

Having all the information pertaining to all the different aspects of your business, close at hand is great, but being able to relay that information eloquently, smoothly and without any hesitation, will not only boost your own confidence, it will also boost the confidence of the client and/or the prospective client that may be wanting to do business with you.

You come across confident, your responses are quick and to the point and easy to understand, it sounds like you know exactly what it is that you are talking about and this will usually translate into ‘You know what it is that you are doing’ or ‘You are passionate about your business and your are competent in what you do.”  That usually translates into a sale and probably a client for life!

Understanding your client’s expectation certainly goes a long way in the right direction when building a relationship with a client or prospective client.  Meeting that expectation will elevate your credibility on a personal level and the credibility of your company.

So clearly it is in your own best interests, not only to take the time and trouble to understand exactly what your client wants and what your client expects, but then to deliver that expectation, on time, in the manner in which you promised and professionally.  Not only will your client come back time after time, but they will usually bring more business to you as well.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Networking 101 - Be Prepared to Listen

NETWORKING 101 - Be Prepared to Listen

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

My late friend Geraldine Bunting from Cheyenne Financial Services always told me that one of the things that her mother  used to say is “There is a reason that God gave us two ears and one mouth!”

Frankly, I agree – we don’t listen enough.  We are so busy, thinking about a clever thing to say in response to something that someone has said, that we don’t listen to all of what the other person is trying to say and yet conversely we become offended if someone doesn’t listen to what we have to say.

I am always reminded of an incident that happened to me at the garage.  The petrol attendant asked me 3 times whether I wanted unleaded or leaded and each time, when I answered him, he was so busy talking to his mate that he didn’t listen – the result of course, is that he put the wrong petrol into my car.  When I pointed this out to him, he immediately stopped the incorrect petrol pump and started putting the correct petrol into the tank.  When it came time to pay, I was presented with a bill for xx amount of litres of leaded petrol and yy amount of litres of unleaded petrol – I refused to pay for the leaded petrol.  The Manager entered the debate and tried to insist that I pay for the leaded petrol as “it was already in my tank” – I refused and invited him to remove it from the tank as I had neither asked for it and nor did I want it – in fact, I requested his name and contact details, because  if anything untoward happened to my car, as a result of the wrong fuel being put into the car, I would be holding him personally responsible.

In this instance, not only did the petrol attendant not listen to the instruction, but when the result of this could have cost the garage money – suddenly it became my problem!  How bizarre!  Anyone who knows me though, knows that I did not pay for the leaded petrol – in my opinion, the petrol attendant and the garage needed to be responsible for their own shortcomings – but that is another story for another day.

The point that I am trying to make is that there is usually a consequence for not listening and when you are in a networking environment this is usually the loss of a lead, loss of a sale and invariably – loss of a client!

A bit harsh, you may think!  But think about it logically for a moment.  Let’s say you are telling someone who you are and what it is that you are doing – he on the other hand, whilst appearing to be very interested in what you are saying, is watching the nubile young waitress who is serving a table nearby and clearly by following his glance and the glazed look in his eyes, he is not paying attention.  He sells motor vehicles.  At the same meeting, there is another chap who also sells motor vehicles.  He on the other hand not only listens carefully to what you are saying, but also takes notes and asks pertinent questions and really tries to understand what you are all about.

The very next day, your friend Geraldine Bunting is looking for a car, but wants to talk to someone who is not going to rip her off and who will tell her the truth – which of the two guys above are you going to refer her to – for me it’s a ‘no brainer’!

In my opinion, there is a consequence, each and every time that you do not listen – the question remains however, whether you are prepared to bear that consequence or not.

It’s a conscious decision that only you can make!

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Business Tips - From Employee to Entrepreneur - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – From Employee to Entrepreneur – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – March 2012

Last time we looked at some of the basic differences between an employee and an entrepreneur.

Now let’s have a look at some of the issues that you will have to explore and questions that you will have to ask yourself and answer honestly as you travel on your path to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

1. Purpose
What is your purpose? I have no doubt that on some level we all understand that we are not only here on this planet called earth, merely to survive during our time here. We all have a purpose in life (whether we actually know what it is or not) and knowing what that purpose is and aligning it to what we want to do, will ensure that we achieve what we want to with a minimum of fuss and bother.

Understanding our purpose and aligning it to what we do will also ensure that we are able to live the best life that we can and become all that we are capable of being.

No one ‘life purpose’ is better or worse than another and our own success will be attained by being all that we can be rather than all that others think we should be.

2. People
Like it or not we are all here to serve people.  Whether those people are our customers or our staff or our suppliers or our families, the fact of the matter is that we all need to serve and be served.

We are no better than those that serve than we are less than those that we serve.  The more we serve, the greater our reward will be and the greater we will become as individuals.

I’ll say it again – we serve!  Get your head around it, get used to it, get good at it and get on with it.
3. Personal Footprint
Let’s face it – there are all kinds of characters in the world of business.  Some are grumpy, some are sunny, some are introvert and some are extrovert.  The point that I am trying to make is that your success, as an entrepreneur is not dependent upon that particular part of yourself.  Your success is dependent upon your credibility as an individual.  It’s dependent upon whether you can deliver and/or whether you are honest in your dealings with people.  It is dependent upon who you are intrinsically as a person.

Let me ask you this question (and please answer yourselves honestly), if you were in the market of looking for a mentor – someone you would look up to or aspire to be – would you look at yourself as being that person?  If your honest answer to that is “NO”, well I guess that you know what your personal footprint will be.

Next time we will have a look at some more of the issues that you as an entrepreneur should be looking at.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Monday, September 18, 2017

Motivation - The Powerful Person

MOTIVATION – THE POWERFUL PERSON

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from Lao Tzu who says, “He who gains a victory over other men is strong; but he who gains a victory over himself is all powerful.”

I recently heard a woman, who was being beaten by her husband say something along the lines of, he says ‘I force him to hit me because of the way that I speak, act, dress, walk (insert anything you like here)’.  Not only am I amazed at how influential this woman is (and the many thousands like her) over her man – that she can make him lose control!  I mean really!  I asked her how she managed to do that – did she hold a loaded gun to him head and tell him he had to hit her, now?  Did she stand with a knife held to his throat and say that she was going to ‘gut him like an animal’ unless he raised his hand and beat her senseless?

Don’t be daft!  This is a man who thinks that because he is physically stronger than her, he can control her actions or vent his frustrations, by beating her up!  Yes this man has gained a physical (and often a mental one too) victory over her – but nothing else!  He hasn’t shown me that he is a man.  In fact quite the opposite – he has proved himself to be a bully of note.  So ok, now he has proved that he is strong – and now what?

What perhaps would have impressed me is if he had controlled his temper and his emotions to such an extent that he just walked away!  Now that would have made him a powerful man, in my opinion!

What are you in your personal life and in your professional life?  Are you a strong person or are you a powerful person?  Perhaps the question should be, which would you like to be – a strong person or a powerful person?

I know which one would be the most comfortable one for me to live with – do you?

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za.

Friday, September 15, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . You Want to Retire Staff

HR 101 – What to do when . . . . You Want To Retire Staff?

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Please note that this pertains to South Africa Labour Relations & Best Practice requirements.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) stipulates that each employment contract should stipulate the age of retirement.

The problem of course arises when employers have not given employees Letters of Employment, or worse – they have issued Letters of Employment, but the letter does not stipulate the retirement age.

This of course is where things usually go pear shaped! You see the generally accepted age is 60 or 65 years and if nothing is stipulated in the Letter of Appointment you cannot suddenly retire someone at, say aged 55.

Once your Letters of Appointment have gone out to staff (with or without the relevant retirement age), you now cannot all of a sudden decide that you want to make the retirement age 57.

This now has to become a negotiation or at the very least, a consultation with your staff in order to reach a consensus.

Should you decide on your own, what age you wish for them to retire, this will be considered a ‘unilateral amendment of employment conditions’ and your employees then would have the right to either refuse the age or comply with forced retirement at the age that you have decided upon.

That said, as an employer you do have the right to enforce a formal retirement age, at a certain stage, even if this has not been done consistently in the past, as long as you go the necessary consultation or negotiation course with your staff.

If, for example the employer has not indicated the retirement age at say 60, then after a negotiation process the retirement age is fixed at 60, the employer now cannot go and ‘retire’ all of those employees who are already 60 and over.  This would be seen as ‘unfair’ dismissal.  What would need to occur is that the retirement age of 60 would need to be phased in over a period of say two years.  This would give the affected employees time to sort their lives out and plan for their retirement.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or www.viljoenconsulting.co.za


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Sales 101 - Increasing the Number of Units Sold

SALES 101 – Increasing the Number of Units Sold

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC  January 2010.

Over the last two weeks we have looked at the how to increase the number of your clients as well as how to increase the frequency of the sale.  Today we are going to deal with increasing the number of units sold.

Now logic must tell you that by merely increasing the number of customers and increasing the frequency of the sales, you will automatically increase the number of units that you have sold.

Understanding how to add value to this equation will mean that you will also increase the number of units sold even more.  Think about it for a moment – if you have say 100 new clients, that’s 100 more sales, but if your product or service requires that they are used more frequently, say every two weeks, instead of once a month, that means that you have  200 more sales.  Now add to that a product or service that can be used in conjunction with another product or service and now suddenly you have 400 sales.

Obviously the more value that you add to the deal, the more units per sale you will sell.  How cool is that, and how perfectly simple too.

Actually the beauty of this is several fold – you see you are not only adding value to you customer, but you are also building a strong sustainable relationship with that customer and in building the relationship you are also building customer loyalty.

Finally, don’t forget that you need to see real results in order to measure your success.  So start with what you actually know about your customers,  add your market research to that and you will have a winning formula.  The more relevant customer-focused type information your have on your clients, the better your platform for generating new clients, retaining current and ‘old’ clients and generating more sales.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Networking 101 - No Longer Lonely in Business

NETWORKING 101 - No Longer Lonely in Business

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

I once sat in a meeting where one of my colleagues stated that she had been in business for over 10 years as an entrepreneur and that networking for her meant that she was no longer ‘lonely’ in business.

At the time I found this quite hard to understand as I am, by nature, a loner – not a lonely person you understand, but very definitely a loner.  So the concept of someone being ‘lonely’ is hard for me to grasp and someone being ‘lonely’ in business, is something that is very foreign to me.

You see on a business level, I meet people and with people on a daily basis.  There are of course my clients that I meet with when we discuss what needs to be done, how it will be done and in what priority it will be done, then of  course are the prospective clients that I meet when I try and understand what their business is and whether they need my services or not and finally there are the people who I meet at Networking events and who I make appointments with to meet on a ‘one on one’ in order to expand my ‘circle of influence’ and my data base, whilst adding value to them and they to me.  So the question begs to be answered – how can you be ‘lonely’ in business.  I mean surely she would also be meeting clients and prospective clients and networking?

I have, over time, understood exactly what it is that she meant, not that I have experienced that feeling, but that is probably because I am a natural networker.  It is being able to use other networker’s in order to bounce your ideas off them.  It is being able to sit in a room full of people who understand your frustration(s) because they too are entrepreneurs and they face the same challenges as what you do.  It is about seeing the same kind of passion on the faces of people, that you know shines off your face – because they are as passionate about what they do as you are about what you do.

Again, the question begs to be asked – why wouldn’t you want to be in the company of a group of people like this?

I certainly want to be – but then again, that is probably why I am!

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Business Tips - From Employee to Entrepreneur - Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – From Employee to Entrepreneur – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

I have, of late, been mentoring several young ladies who are currently employed, but who dream of owning their own businesses.  The more I talk to them, the more I become aware of the huge mind shift change that has to take place.  And this is how this particular series was born.

Firstly, I would like to explore some of the differences between an employee and an entrepreneur – just so that we can all understand the basic differences and understand what we are getting ourselves into.

1. An employee is paid to work, they are paid, often irrespective of whether they put in a full days’ work or not.  They are paid irrespective of whether they have given 100% effort or done ‘just enough to get by.  An entrepreneur pays others to work and often works for free themselves.  Entrepreneurs pay their staff and the bills first and then if there is anything left over they get to pay themselves.  This is particularly true when they are starting out.  They are passionate about the product or service that they are providing and need to consistently give 100% (or more) effort into what they are doing in order to build the brand and the business.

2. Employees are managed.  They have someone that they report into, there is always someone else who is ultimately responsible for what they do (or don’t do as the case may be).  Entrepreneurs manage others and themselves.  That means that ‘the buck stops’ with them and they are responsible for everything that happens at the end of the day.

3. Employees have a specified ‘end of day’ time.  Irrespective of whether they have an employment contract or letter of employment, the number of hours that they work is governed by the BCEA (Basic Conditions of Employment Act) and they cannot be forced to work overtime unless they have agreed to do so in writing.  An entrepreneur has no specific closing time – they often work long grueling hours and even through the night, to meet deadlines and get the work out.

4. Employees are only responsible for developing themselves, provided of course that they want to grow or improve themselves – many have no interest in this at all.  Entrepreneurs, on the other hand not only develop themselves (and that is an ongoing challenge), but they are also responsible for developing their staff.  Actually, if the truth be told, you will find that entrepreneurs try and develop everyone that they come into contact with.

I am sure that you can see from the few points that I have highlighted that the list could very well be endless.  The point that I am trying to make however, is that the mindset is very different.  It has to be!

This of course means that if you are wanting to start your own business and do your own thing, you have to step up to the plate and stop thinking like an employee and start thinking like an entrepreneur.

Next time we will have a look at some of the issues that you have to look at, understand and more often than not, follow.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Monday, September 11, 2017

Motivation - Passionate About Life

MOTIVATION – Passionate about Life

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from an anonymous person who said “It takes a strong man to swim against the current; any dead fish will float with it"

I had to smile when I read this and thought about what I am going to write today – I had this instant video in my head, with all these lifeless fish just floating along!  Smelly and unpleasant to say the least!  Oh the movies that my head produces – not all of them pleasant and many of them could very well turn into absolute nightmare!

And nightmares are what a great number of business owners will have if the majority of the people that they employ are “dead fish” – you know the ones that I mean.  Yes, it’s those that come to work because they have no place else to go, they put in the time – just barely – they don’t put in more effort, than the bare minimum that it takes to allow life to be sustainable.  They don’t work a second more than they are required to and God forbid that they should ever be passionate or even care about what it is that they do!

For me, working with people like this is very, execruciatingly, very painful.  They are the ones that you sometimes want to shake, just to see if they are actually still alive!

I mean, exactly what is the point?  Why do anything at all if it’s not worth going the whole hog, and giving your best effort?  Why attempt anything as if you can’t look at it, once the job is done, with pride or even with understanding, because of the lesson learnt? It’s just this complete indifference that gets me every time.

I understand that there are a great number of people out there who are fearful of making a mistake, scared of what people may say or think about them.  I could not live like that either – in constant fear - that would be a total waste of effort and emotion to for that matter.  Can you imagine living life, constantly looking over your shoulder to see if anyone is watching you – constantly  straining to hear what people are saying, because they may be saying something about you!  Oh good God no!  That would be just too weird for words.

For me, life is about the living of it, of every moment!  Taking it in both hands, enjoying it, savoring it, pushing it, tasting it, loving it!

It’s about trying new things, even failing at them – as long as you learn the lesson.  It’s about pushing the boundaries, to see how far you can go.

It’s about testing my own limits.  It’s about learning new things. It’s about laughter and yes even tears, it’s about life!

Floating about like a dead fish is not for me – it’s, well, it’s “for dead fish”!

Give me a staff member with a bit of life in them any day – they may test my patience (what little I have), they may make me mad and drive me crazy, but they will always pleasantly surprise me too.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za







Friday, September 08, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . You Want to Dismiss Staff - Part 9

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want To Dismiss Staff - Part 9

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practices.

So the final piece in this particular saga is that of dismissal due to incapacity, ill health or injury.

The first thing that we need to understand is that the employer is not obliged to keep someone on because they are ill or have been injured.  The employer also has rights and as long as the proper procedures are followed, these employees can be dismissed.

The employer would need to ascertain whether or not the incapacity of the employee on the grounds of ill health or injury is temporary or permanent.

If the employee is unable to work for a while, which would make it temporary, the employer would have to investigate all the different possibilities before considering dismissal.

When checking out what other measures may be taken into consideration, it would be a good idea to have a look at factors such as, but not limited to:
a. the nature of the job;
b. the period of absence;
c. the seriousness of the illness or injury; and
d. the possibility of getting a temporary replacement to take the place of the ill or injured staff member.

When the disability or injury is of a permanent nature, the employer would need to decide if there was any possibility of securing alternative employment within the company or if the work could be adapted to fit the capabilities of the employee.

Remember that in all instances the employee must be allowed to state their case or respond to any suggestions put forward or be assisted by a colleague or a union member.  The employee also has the right to request assistance from the HR department.

The extent of the injury or nature of the illness also needs to be taken into account and this too must be taken into consideration when deciding on whether the dismissal is fair or not.

Injuries that are sustained in the workplace are more difficult to process in terms of being fair or unfair as the courts appear to have more sympathy with the employee in these circumstances.

The guidelines for dismissal for incapacity due to ill health or injury are:

As usual there is always a recommended process or procedure to follow.

In order for the dismissal not to be considered unfair, the employer needs to decide whether or not the employee is capable of doing the work.  If the employee is not capable, the following needs to ascertained;
i) The extent to which the employee is able to perform the work – for example, John works in the warehouse.  His job is to pack stock onto the pallets.  Some of the bags or boxes weigh in excess of 40 kilos.  John lost his leg in an accident that occurred in the warehouse, when a number of pallets were not correctly stacked and they fell over, pinning him underneath and severing his leg.  There is an opening in the administration department for a filing clerk.  If John is dismissed in this instance you will be inviting trouble in through the door.
ii) The extent to which the employee’s work circumstances might be adapted to accommodate disability, or where this is not possible, the extent to which the employee’s duties might be adapted – for example Jane is the tea lady, who has suffered a stroke and as a result she is semi paralyzed down her right side.  She is no longer able to carry trays of tea or refreshments and the company refused to buy a trolley that she can push around.  If Jane is dismissed in this instance you will be inviting trouble in through the door.
iii) The availability of suitable work – for example, Alex is an Accounts Manager and he has had a heart attack and can no longer work under stressful circumstances.  There is an opening for an accounts researcher.  The hours are fixed, there are no deadlines and no interaction with clients, however, it is a junior position.  Alex is willing to take a reasonable cut in pay but the employer feels that he is far too qualified for the position and even with a reasonable cut in pay it will be more that they wanted to pay.  If Alex is dismissed in this instance you will be inviting trouble in through the door.

This concludes the series on Fair Dismissals.  Next week we will be starting a new topic.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za