Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sales 101 - Listen to the Customer

SALES 101 – Listen To The Customer

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

So many times I take a call only to find that it is someone trying to sell me something.  I hate these calls – not necessarily because I don’t want to buy whatever it is that they are selling (although that usually is the case), but also because the calls usually come when I am busy with something else, or I have a deadline or (and here is the most annoying thing) the caller is not interested in listening to anything that I have to say, but is only interested in making the sale – at whatever the cost!

Sadly with me, it usually is at the cost of the sale and in some cases (depending on how annoyed they make me) at the cost of the customer (and yes they are two different things).  Yet they never seem to learn.

I have had callers demanding to know why I will not invest in a funeral policy to people challenging me when I tell them that I don’t have time to listen right now, to promises of “I’ll phone you back tomorrow because I can make a difference in your life!”  How presumptuous.

Yet still they don’t listen and the more they don’t listen or learn the lesson, the less opportunity they will have to get their itchy little fingers on the contents of my wallet.

You see, it really doesn’t matter to me if I buy from them or not, because . . . . well because there are hundreds and hundreds of little (or big) businesses, selling the same product or service, who would also like to get their itchy little fingers on the contents of my wallet.

So learn the lesson – if you want my business, you have to be the person who irritates me the least, who intrudes upon my time the least and who listens the most.

Listen to your customers – listen to what it is that they need the most from you and then give them exactly what it is that they want – the sale will always then be yours.

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, June 21, 2017

Networking 101 - The Importance of Business Cards

Networking 101 - The Importance of Business Cards

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

In her cards on Networking Tips, Dr Renate Volpe says “Your business card should read like a headline that is promoting your business.”

Ain’t that the truth?  I can tell you I have seen some strange cards out there.  Some really strange shapes and some really strange textures and some that you can only read if you put them against a white sheet of paper!

For me it’s about being able to read the bloody thing!

I hate to admit it, but there are some cards that I have actually thrown away in absolute frustration!  It tells me who they are and all the numbers are there, cell, work, fax e-mail – the whole toot.  The problem is that the writing is so small that I needed a magnifying glass to actually read them – there are only so many times that I am prepared to go downstairs to fetch the magnifying glass to read a business card – so out it went.

Then of course there are the cards that are so different that they do not actually fit into any kind of card holder.  Sure they make an impression, but they also frustrate the hell out of a person – so out they go too.

Please don’t get me wrong – be different, be innovative – make a statement, but for goodness sake make a statement that most people can read and make a statement on a receptacle that we can keep somewhere comfortably.

The card should tell a person, clearly, who you are and what you do and the numbers should be of a size that anyone can actually see (never mind read).   Be different, be daring but most of all be BOLD.  Your aim at the end of the day is to get someone to contact you – they need to be able to read the numbers on the card in order to do so.

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

Networking 101 - The Importance of Business Cards

Networking 101 - The Importance of Business Cards

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

In her cards on Networking Tips, Dr Renate Volpe says “Your business card should read like a headline that is promoting your business.”

Ain’t that the truth?  I can tell you I have seen some strange cards out there.  Some really strange shapes and some really strange textures and some that you can only read if you put them against a white sheet of paper!

For me it’s about being able to read the bloody thing!

I hate to admit it, but there are some cards that I have actually thrown away in absolute frustration!  It tells me who they are and all the numbers are there, cell, work, fax e-mail – the whole toot.  The problem is that the writing is so small that I needed a magnifying glass to actually read them – there are only so many times that I am prepared to go downstairs to fetch the magnifying glass to read a business card – so out it went.

Then of course there are the cards that are so different that they do not actually fit into any kind of card holder.  Sure they make an impression, but they also frustrate the hell out of a person – so out they go too.

Please don’t get me wrong – be different, be innovative – make a statement, but for goodness sake make a statement that most people can read and make a statement on a receptacle that we can keep somewhere comfortably.

The card should tell a person, clearly, who you are and what you do and the numbers should be of a size that anyone can actually see (never mind read).   Be different, be daring but most of all be BOLD.  Your aim at the end of the day is to get someone to contact you – they need to be able to read the numbers on the card in order to do so.

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Business Tips - Politics in the Workplace

BUSINESS TIPS – Politics In The Workplace

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Dr Renate Volpe, in her Nuggets on Political Intelligence says “Good politics advance the organizations agenda as a whole.  They are appropriate and future oriented.  Negative politics maintain the status quo, promote group think and advance the individual’s agenda, usually at the expense of others.”

Being an Internal Auditor in many ways was my saving grace.  You see I had to remain objective, I had to put myself apart and in doing so I was fortunate enough not to get involved in the internal office politics.  What I  did do however was watch the political plays that were taking place and the various agendas that were played out, both transparent and hidden,

Very like the politics in any country, the politics in a company can actually make or break careers and if not controlled and managed properly, could ultimately result in the downfall of the company, particularly if there is a huge amount of in-house fighting and egos that are out of control.

In-house fighting and bad office politics usually has the employees taking sides as they battle for their place in the hierarchy and hold on tightly to the coat tails of the person that they have backed, and this usually results in a split in loyalties.  Focus of the business and its requirements, is lost and quite frankly when your eye is ‘off the ball’, chaos reigns.

Politics that is good for business and positive and for the betterment of the employees as well as management and the clients, usually will result in better and greater achievements.

The bottom line – happy employees and happy customers make good business sense.

For further information regarding Renate please go to her web address at http://www.drrenatevolpe.co.za .

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, June 19, 2017

Motivation - Taking Responsibility

MOTIVATION –  Taking Responsibility

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Gita Bellin says “People fail many times, but they become failures only when they begin to blame someone else.  Experience is determined by yourself – not the circumstances of your life.”

Boy oh boy, does this resonate with me at the moment!  Over the last few years, December and January seem to be the time when I do the most disciplinaries.  For whatever reason, Companies want them done either to start the year with a clean page or to start the year sending the right message.

For the first time ever though, I’ve had to postpone a disciplinary in the middle of cross exam of a witness and the case is postponed until May next year – the reason – well the defendant is pregnant and going on maternity leave – it’s a strange situation to say the least.

What has really come out of the last few disciplinaries though, is really what I want to talk about and that is the defendants absolute inability to accept the fact that what they have done is wrong.  It’s like people refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions or inactions for that matter.  I’ve heard the strangest of excuses – like ‘the work was not completed correctly because I am having marital problems’ or ‘I made a mistake, but it was a long day and. . .’.

I’ve heard how an employee argued with the boss on ‘how’ he wanted something done, I suppose because she thought she knew better, only to end up not performing the task at all, because she ‘forgot’.  The fact that she ‘forgot’ ended up costing the company an additional R6 000-00, but she is still indignant because he dared to question her.

I’ve heard how an employee refused to use a ‘check list’ to perform her tasks and as a result of that an invoice was raised incorrectly and because the invoice was raised incorrectly, customs impounded the goods and apart from the cost of the goods, just the cost of the courier fees (R40 000) has now had to be written off.  The employee is screaming ‘victimization’ because the boss dared to call her into a meeting and chastise her.

Or what about the employee, who confirmed with her boss that the stock was in the hands of an event organizer, only for him to discover (when he arrived in the foreign country) that it had not been sent – but hey, she lodged a grievance against him because he complained!

What on earth has happened to the world?  What has happened to self-respect?  What has happened to taking pride in what it is that you do?  I don’t know hey – I think this new “X” or “Y” generation (whichever one it is) has no fundamental foundation and no backbone.  A few weeks ago, I was moaning about  the school kids today who get everything handed to them – well I think that this inability to take responsibility for one’s actions is a direct result of this.  Well you never did the work, so how can you take the responsibility? Right!

I think in ‘sparing the rod’ we have not only ‘spoilt the child’ but we have created a generation of monsters.  On the one hand they have the longest umbilical cords, because of their inability to do anything for themselves and on the other hand, because they don’t know how to do things for themselves – well how can anyone (including themselves) hold them responsible for their actions.

This, for me is a really sad state of affairs – how will they grow as individuals?  How will they become productive, worthwhile members of the human race?  How will they cope, when all the ‘baby-boomers’ have all passed on to greener pastures and there is no-one left to do the work for them?

Can you imagine a world, where everybody did their own thing, because – well they know better, and then when the smelly brown stuff hits the fan and splatters, everyone blames everyone else.  How will anything get fixed?  When will the work get done (never mind how it gets done)?  How will success be measured – will it be by the number of people you blame for your inability to perform a function?

Its mind boggling and I cannot see ‘how’ to fix it.  Actually, if the truth be told – I am not sure that it can be fixed.

What it does do though, is make me understand how important it is for me to continue doing what it is that I am doing because if just one person sees the light and understands the lesson, then I have succeeded in what I set out to do.

So I guess, “one person at a time” will continue to be my goal.  One person at a time!

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, June 14, 2017

Networking 101 - Be On Time

Networking 101 – Be On Time

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

One of the most frustrating things, specifically in a facilitated or semi-facilitated networking meeting is the stragglers coming in.

Imagine the scene if you will – a person is standing up, telling everyone about who they are and what it is that they do.  How wonderful their product or service is and why it is that people should be purchasing said product or service from them.  Everyone in the room is focused on what this person is saying and hopefully, either deciding that they need the product or they know of someone who may require the services of the speaker.

In the middle of all of this another person enters the room.  So far not a problem I am sure that you would agree.  The room is packed though, and said person wants to slink into the only remaining seat which is clear across the room.  So there is much “excuse me’s” going on with much bending over and head bobbing, whilst they find the seat that they are looking for and finally settle in.

By this time the speaker has lost their thread and momentum, the rest of the networker’s have lost their focus and have forgotten the questions that they wanted to ask – the moment is lost.

If possible make sure that you can get to the venue on time, if not a little early.  Before anyone heaves a huge ‘sigh’ and rolls their eyes heaven bound – I know that no-one intentionally wants to be late, but then for goodness sake, use a little bit of common sense – wait until the person who is talking about themselves is finished and either steps down or sits down – there is time enough at this point to dash off to the seat in the corner that you now have had time to see.  This will cause the least amount of interruption and allow the speaker to say what it is that they need to.

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


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Business Tips - Keeping Yourself Compliant

BUSINESS TIPS – Keeping Yourself Compliant

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Over the last couple of years I have met with several small business owners who run their businesses in a less than moral manner.

In most instances they are well aware that what they are doing is wrong.  In all fairness to them – they are perhaps not fully aware of the extent in which they have put themselves at risk.

That said, they are still very much aware that there are consequences if they run their businesses in a ‘reckless or fraudulent’ way.

In fact, the bottom line and the harsh reality of the matter is that both the Close Corporations Act and the Companies Act have put processes in place that allow the courts to make the members of a Close Corporation or the directors of a company, personally liable for the debts incurred it they know that they are running their businesses in a ‘reckless or fraudulent’ way.

The Close Corporation Act says: “A member of a corporation shall be liable to the corporation for loss caused by his or her failure in the carrying on of the business of the corporation to act with the degree of care and skill that may reasonably be expected from a person of his or her knowledge and experience.”

The Companies Act says: “When it appears, whether it be in winding-up, judicial management or otherwise, that any business of the company was or is being carried on recklessly or with intent to defraud creditors of the company or creditors of any other person or for any fraudulent purpose, the Court may, on the application of the Master, the liquidator, the judicial manager, any creditor or member or contributory of the company, declare that any person who was knowingly a party to the carrying on of the business in the manner aforesaid, shall be personally responsible, without limitation of liability, for all or any of the debts or other liabilities of the company as the Court may direct.”

So what does this mean exactly? Here’s the story . . . . .

Mike owns a CC (Close Corporation) and he is in construction, but because he has been sequestrated he cannot have it in his own name, so he puts it in the name of his wife Susan.  Susan is a shipping clerk in a huge corporation, who has no idea of how to run a business, much less anything to do with construction.

Mike has five projects on the go and in the usual fashion with some construction people he has taken 75% of the fees up front to purchase materials and what have you. The balance of 25% will be paid when Mike completes the project and obtains sign off from the building inspectors and of course the client.
 
Mike has purchased material for project 1 and 2, using the deposit from project 1.
Mike has purchased material for project 3 and 4, using the deposit from project 2.
Mike has purchased material for project 5 using some of the deposit from project 3.
The balance of the deposit from project 3 and deposits from projects 4 and 5, Mike has used to buy a new bakkie.

The materials that Mike has purchased are of an inferior quality and workmanship and Mike is hoping that no-one is going to notice.  Project 1 is about 80% done and just has to have the finishing touches, like the light fittings and what have you done but he has now run out of money and there are no new projects in the pipeline.  Project 2 is about 50% done and project 3 has just been started.  Neither projects 4 nor 5 have been started at all.

Mike has dealing with several suppliers during the course of these 5 projects and they know him and he has been paying cash up front or settling the bills on a pretty regular basis.  A relationship has been forged and Mike goes to get more materials promising to pay as ‘soon as he gets to the office’.  Mike has purchased sufficient materials to ‘finish’ project 1 and he is banking on the balance of the money for project 1 to continue with project 2. The problem is that Mike has used inferior fittings and finishes and both the building inspector and   the client refuse to sign off because this is not what was ordered or paid for.  In the mean time the suppliers are hounding Mike for payment and he is now not even taking their calls.

Mike is now deep in the smelly brown stuff – he has set up and is running a business fraudulently as being sequestrated is he is not allowed to register and/or run a business in his own name.  He has accepted money for work, materials have not been purchased.  Materials purchased are of an inferior quality and workmanship, he has not paid for some of the materials.  Mike has spent the money that he was paid on other things.  The workers have not been paid and there is now no money at all.  Mike is now trying to file for bankruptcy which means that the suppliers will get a fraction of what he owes them. Mike has run this business in a fraudulent manner and the Court can hold him responsible in his personal capacity and actually prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law – this could mean not only fines and penalties, but it could also mean jail time.  Actually of the truth be told, the Court will hold Susan responsible in her personal capacity a well since she is the legal owner of the business and she was complicit in the fraud in that she allowed Mike to register a business in her name.

None of what Mike did, was done by accident, it was all done deliberately and with forethought.  Mike over estimated his own luck and his own intelligence.  You see, by running the business in Susan’s name, Mike thought that he would be ‘outside’ of the law and could not be held responsible.  How wrong could he actually get.

Please understand that the days when less than honest business owners could get away with this kind of behavior are long gone.  Hundreds and thousands of small business owners and individuals lost their businesses and their livelihood and sometimes even their homes because of the unscrupulous behavior of some people – it may take a while, but these days, these people can be brought to justice and be held accountable for their actions.

Remember too, that ‘ignorance of the law’ is no excuse.  Make sure that you understand what your obligations are and make sure that you follow them and that you are compliant.

Being proactive is always a lot easier than constantly trying to be reactive.

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, June 12, 2017

Motivation - Starting the Change with You

MOTIVATION – Starting the Change with You

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

There is a story that goes something like . . .

Once upon a time there was a man who always felt insulted by people around him.  This man went to visit a very wise man and told the wise man all about this problem that he had.

He told the wise man how easily he was insulted by the people around him and how it hurt him when people said bad things to him or about him.

The wise man then asked the man a question that went something along the lines of ‘if someone gives you a gift and you don’t accept the gift, who does the gift belong to?’

The man was thoroughly confused and conveyed this to the wise man.

The wise man tried again saying, ‘if someone gives you a gift and you accept the gift, who does it belong to’?

‘Well it belongs to me’, said the man ‘if it was given to me, then it belongs to me.’

‘So’, said the wise man, ‘if someone gives you a gift and you don’t accept that gift, who then does the gift belong to?’

‘Then’ the man replied, ‘the gift still belongs to the person who is giving it to me’.

‘So there’s your answer’, said the wise man, ‘if someone insults you and you don’t accept the insult from the giver, then the insult still belongs to the giver.’

As usual it’s about choice and how we choose to react to issues and other people’s stuff!

I am often amused at the reaction of people when I say that ‘other peoples opinion of me is none of my business’!  Believe me when I say it, because it is something that I really believe and quite frankly I really don’t give a continental . . . well, I’m sure that you understand exactly what I mean.

That said, I still seem to get angry when people have disparaging remarks to say about the people that I love.  Clearly, that too is my choice and it is something that I will need to look at and process once way or another.

It’s also often about negativity.  I have spent most of the year listening to people moan and groan about the economy, the government, taxes, non-paying clients, the recession (insert anything you like hear) and most of the time their comments have irritated me because of what I saw as ‘their’ choice of actions and yet I am doing exactly the same thing when I get annoyed by other people’s remarks about those that I love.  Instead of rejecting their ‘gift’ of insults or disparaging remarks, I buy into them and react negatively.  Clearly that has to change.

Now it is much easier to say than it is actually to do, but that said change can only happen if it starts with me.  I cannot just sit here on my rear end and command that things change.  The change starts with me and in order for it to start, I have to be aware of what the choices are that I am making.  So for me, it is one of those times that I do the ‘note to self’ thing and this article is clearly, my ‘note to self’.

So starting from today – insults will no longer be accepted by me?  What about you?  Will you still be accepting the ‘gift’ of insults?

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, June 09, 2017

HR 101 - Are your Staff Expenses or Investments?

HR 101 - Are your Staff Expenses or Investments?

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

Often when I listen to what is being said by SMME’s in the market place, I am amazed at some of the responses made to this particular question, and I wonder why it is that they employed staff in the first place.

For me, the only reason that I would employ someone is because of my need of their particular skill or talent in the workplace.  Let me clarify this for a moment.

Here I am working an 18 hour day and suddenly more sustainable work flows in than I can possibly deal with (sound familiar).  So I need to employ someone who can assist me with the mundane things that take up so much of my time in the office.  Clearly I need an assistant that has strong administration skills, who would be able to keep the office administration up to date, who could manage my diary, who would ensure that I can get enough uninterrupted time to do what I need to do in order to service the clients, while he or she get’s on with what they need to get on with.  For me this would be a junior office administration clerk, who I could, over time, train up and who could eventually progress to a mini-me.  Well not quite  a ‘mini-me’ because he or she should have attributes that compliment mine as well as be able to do some of the things that I hate doing. So the bottom line is I would not employ a junior hairdresser, now would I?

Now even though I do not go through a recruitment agency or talent lab type experience, there is still a cost to me employing someone to assist me.  I would obviously have to take into consideration that person’s salary and related costs, like commissions, UIF, SDL, the different types of leave pay, workmen’s comp and any other legislative requirements pertaining to the position.

Then of course, there is the extra office space, equipment (such as computers etc), utilities.  Don’t forget things like medical aid, retirement schemes, training, absenteeism and so on.

What about training and perks such as car allowances, cellphone allowance and even travel allowances?

Suddenly I am beginning to feel overwhelmed with all of the expenses, and this is even before I have actually hired the person.

Having more than a little knowledge of the Labour Act, I would also have to start making provision for things like legal fees, for fighting CCMA and Labour Court cases, as well as costs related to “pay backs” or compensation orders that may be granted!  Whew!

There certainly is a lot to consider, and herein lies much of the challenge.  You see, many people when they take on a staff member, don’t think about these at all.  All they see is this huge pile of work that needs to get done and a person who will do it – but we are not working with machines or robots, we are working with living, breathing, human beings.

So now the question is again – is the money that you spend on your staff, in order to acquire and retain them, for the skills that they need to possess, in order for them to perform the tasks that you need performed – an expense or an investment?

Some say that staff are an expense and that often this expense is among the biggest, if not the biggest in the annual budget.

Others see staff as an investment in their company.

I don’t really think that there is a right or wrong answer in this instance as it is entirely dependant upon whether you see your staff as a ‘necessary evil’ or as an asset.  It would be dependant upon your own perception or mindset.

For me, in my personal capacity they are both!

For me it’s about using proactive measures, it’s about minimizing unnecessary costs and avoiding costly legal battles which would make my employees an asset.  I would do this by having the correct procedures, processes and contracts in place and by being fair.

On the other hand, I am also a realist and I do know that things go wrong and that there are other expenses and costs that would have to go into the pot.  Un-measurable costs that are associated with issues around the need for time to prepare cases for CCMA or Labour Court, not to mention the time that is actually spent at the CCMA or Labour Court.

When you take all of this into account, it’s no wonder that so many individuals try, where possible to stay away from hiring employees.  It’s no wonder that many see hiring employees as a cost only, with very little added benefit received from them and usually an utterly horrid experience.

The bottom line is as always – what do you think?

The point that I am trying to raise with this article is that proper investigation and research needs to be done prior to employing someone!  Don’t look at the huge pile of work that needs to be done, have a major freak out and then hire the first person that comes along – you would be in for a huge amount of expense that you hadn’t bargained on.

Stop for a moment and really think about it – would this person be an asset to your company or would they only be an expense?

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


Thursday, June 08, 2017

Sales 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income - Part 10

SALES 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income – Part 10

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Who would have thought it?  Who would have thought that reading books and magazines (other than Heat) would lead me down this particular path?

Now I can understand the confusion about this topic (or lack thereof), so perhaps I should tell you what it is that I am talking about.

Well you see I read a lot – I mean a helleva lot!  I usually can be found reading between four and eight books at a time and magazines, well I have a huge pile of magazines that I religiously read through on a daily basis (not that I ever get to the bottom of the pile you understand.)

What comes out of this is that I find information that I did not know before and being the sharing girl that I am, I usually end up saving the article with the relevant information and after doing a little research at some point, I am able to share the information with everyone in the form of the blogs that I write (pretty much like this one), but also putting my own spin on things.

So exactly why am I telling you this (bet you thought I have forgotten the gist of the story hey?).  It’s like this – all the sales, marketing, business tips, motivation, networking and even the HR tips, are usually sparked by something that I have read somewhere, or heard somewhere.   Yes I have done some additional research (usually on the internet), but the bottom line is that I am the one who has learnt from it.

So read, enjoy and share – there’s enough abundance in the world for everyone to get back a huge amount more than what they put in.

We all sell, every single one of us, every single day.  So read as much as you can, learn as much as you can and soon you will be selling as much as you can!

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, June 07, 2017

Networking 101 - Generosity Rules

NETWORKING 101 -  Generosity Rules

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

In her cards on Networking Tips, Dr Renate Volpe says “Be generous with what you know.  Circulate information.  Connect people.”

I am often amazed at the absolute generosity of some people (Renate included) and then equally amazed at how some people will not share anything.  The mind boggles – well mine does anyway!

Some people hold everything so closely to themselves, they will not give out a lead or a referral, but are sure to be in the very front of the queue if they are sure to receive anything!  Go figure!

Apart from the fact that there is an abundance of opportunity and work out there, they are so busy keeping everything close to them, they do not see what is right under their very noses – the abundance.  They agonise and stress about every little thing and how people are trying to cheat them and the competition is stealing all of their ideas and business is sooo bad because . . . .  Sounds familiar doesn’t it?  Yet if they had only opened their hands and their hearts and gave something back, they would receive hugely.

My late friend and colleague Kevin Foot always said that ‘you have to give to get’.  I agree and have found that you actually don’t have to give too much in order to get a whole lot back.

Look, I don’t mean that you have to give the shirt off your back or give out your IP for nothing.  Not at all.  But put people in touch with one another.  Give out referrals and leads.  Invite your competition to a networking meeting with you – chances are that you will be able to work together on a big project that neither of you could manage to work on alone (now there’s a thought for you).

Share information – where the next networking meeting is, who is going to be there, opportunities that are not for you but you know someone who is dying to do that sort of thing.

When you are in front of a client or even a prospective client, who you are pitching to, listen to the needs of the client – it may be that the client not only has need of your services, but also the services of someone that you know.  On the other hand it may be that the client does not need your services at all, but has need of someone that you know – imagine how impressed they will be when you say “I’m sorry I cannot help you with this as it is not my field, however I can recommend Jane Doe as this is exactly what she does.”

Not only will Jane Doe think you’re great and start looking out for work for you, but the client will also bear that in mind and when they do have work that you can do for them, you will be called in.  That kind of generous behaviour tends to stick out in the minds of people.

This is the best value add that you can have.

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

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Business Tips - How to Manage Cash Flow

BUSINESS TIPS –  How to Manage Cash Flow

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC July 2009 December 2009

Last week we looked at exactly what cash flow is and this week we will look at the ‘how to’ of managing cash flow.  For me as usual, it’s the simplest method of ‘how to’ that I will be sharing, so please just be aware that there are many more components and levels of complexity to this subject.

It is important to understand that most of the money that you generate as an inflow should be from the sale of your product or service.  It cannot be from investing or finance – if this is the case you are going to be very deep in the smelly brown stuff without a shovel to dig yourself out.  So sales are obviously key, irrespective of whether you are selling a product or a service.

It is also important to understand that the inflow and outflow of your business tells the story of how healthy or unhealthy your company is.  That is one of the reasons that I believe it is so important to have the services of a really good accountant to assist you.  The understanding and ‘reading’ of the story of your business can only be done by someone who is experienced in these matters and someone who will tell you where you are going wrong and guide you back onto the correct path.  My someone, is Nico Labuschagne of Labuschagne & Associates and I am quite happy to share his contact details if you ask for them.

That said it is also very important to understand that cash flow is a ‘real time’ issue as opposed to having your books done on a monthly basis – by the time they get to the bookkeeper/accountant they are already a month or so old and are therefore a ‘reactive’ issue.  You cannot wait for a whole month to then realize that you have no money to pay the bills that are coming in and are due, right now!  In terms of cash flow, you have to be proactive – you have to know what is happening right now!

To create a cash flow statement, and remember that it is a living breathing document and it changes all the time, you need to take all the business inflows and subtract all the business cash outflows.  This is usually done on a monthly basis but it can be done for any specific period.  Obviously doing this manually is a pain in the rear end and by using an accounting package to generate financial statements and thereby producing a Cash Flow statement, would be the simplest way to do it (another reason for a Nico in my life, I don’t have to invest in expensive software accounting packages.)

When you work out your budgets, it is extremely important to use ‘cash flow projections’, because if you as a business owner, do not understand the way that your cash flow operates, you will find yourself in a cash flow crunch, where you will be waiting for funds to come in, but have operating expenses that need to be paid now.

This is particularly true if you have or run sales on account (hopefully you are then registered with the National Credit Authorities as a service provider), or alternatively have clients who pay 30 or 60 or even 90 days.  You need to make provision to ensure that you have enough cash on hand to pay your bills while you wait for monies to come in.

As SMME’s, I am sure that you will agree that this is a very difficult position to be in  and this is why it is vital to firstly know, what is happening from a financial prospective, in your business and secondly to understand what happens when you have cash flowing both in and out of your business.

Understanding and knowing where your money is coming in from and where your money is going out to, is key to controlling your cash flow.

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, June 05, 2017

Motivation - Prepare the way

MOTIVATION – PREPARE THE WAY

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

This week quote comes from Ralph Marston.

"Prepare the way


On its own, this day is filled with immense value. And in addition, this day gives you the opportunity to prepare for the days and the years to come.


Living this day with purpose, gratitude, love and integrity will provide you with a double reward. Not only do you make this day the most fulfilling it can be right now, you also prepare yourself in the best possible way for the days that follow.


Nothing is more frustrating than to have the opportunity of a lifetime come along when you are not prepared to seize its promise. You don't have to let that happen to you.


For each day is an opportunity to live fully and to prepare diligently. The two go hand in hand.


By making the most of every moment, you are putting yourself in position to fulfill the best possibilities when they open up to you. Always keep in mind that what you do today sets the stage for your tomorrow.


Fill this day with positive purpose, focused effort and all the joy you can give. And you'll prepare the way for an even brighter future."

I am often told that it is important to live, not in the past and not in the future - but in the present.  This article just proves that by living in the present, the future will be prepared for!
Having said that however, the fact of the matter is and remains that we still have to make things happen for ourselves.  So often we sit around on our backsides and wait. . .  wait for God knows what, because all the waiting in the world will not make it happen.  We have to do that for ourselves.
So on a daily basis, prepare what you need to do for the day (note that was not 'wait' for the day), do them and watch what happens in the future.
Hope you all have an awesome day.
Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za.

                                                               


Friday, June 02, 2017

HR 101 - What to do when . . . You Have A Witness!

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . YOU HAVE A WITNESS!

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

Having a witness, when dealing with a disciplinary, an arbitration, a CCMA hearing or even a court hearing is often the difference between winning and losing!  Doing it all by yourself is often very difficult, but if you have someone who can back you up and vouch for your story, this is usually a winning factor!

Let’s bring in my favorite pair – Mike the employer and George the employee.

Mike and George have had their usual tiff and now they are at the CCMA for an arbitration hearing.  Mike has not only sent his representative (which in this case would be himself), but he has not sent Sue, who can corroborate his story.  Mike is going to find it extremely difficult to win the case, because the testimony of the witnesses (both for the employer and for the employee) forms an important part of the procedure at any arbitration hearing.

The arbitrator (let’s call him Charles) has to start the proceedings, by explaining the arbitration process and the rules – these are (but not limited to):

That opening statements have to be made by both parties (both Mike and George) to outline what it is that they intend to prove.
Charles may decide to have Mike present his case first.  This would mean that Mike, at this point should have all of his witnesses come in one at a time to give their testimony.  It is also at this time, that Mike would present any documents and/or other evidence that he may have to prove that George did whatever it is that he says that George did.
Each time that Mike and/or his witnesses give testimony, George is entitled to cross examine Mike and/or his witness.
Charles also has the right to ask either Mike and/or his witness any questions but only pertaining to clarity – in other words if Charles is not sure of what Mike is saying, he can ask to have that particular point explained in more detail.  So for example if Mike’s witness Sue says – “George did not follow procedures” – Charles could ask what those procedures entailed, so as to get a better understanding of the situation.
Mike also has the right to question his own witness, but only on issues that were brought up in the cross examination of the witness. So for example, if Mike’s witness Sue stated that George was late for work – Mike could ask her exactly how late George was for work.
Once all of Mike’s witnesses have been heard, been cross examined and questioned by both Charles and Mike, and Mike has presented all of his documentary evidence, visual and/or auditory evidence, then George has his chance to present his case – in exactly the same manner.

Once both sides of the story has been told, in graphic detail, the following will take place.

Charles will hear closing statements – this is when both sides (just like in a court of law) make a final plea as to why they should be awarded or win the case.
Charles then needs to take himself off to his office, go through all the evidence again, so that he is sure that he understands everything and then make the award.  In other words, at this point he will decide who has won the case.

The evidence that Charles needs to mull over and assess, before he makes his decision usually falls into 3 distinct categories.  They are, but not limited to:

Documents
Items such as, video tapes or clips, stolen goods, photos and other such items that would be relevant to the case
Witness testimony.

Witness testimony is always the most crucial.  For example, if Mike says that George told Sue that he was not coming to work because he wanted to stay at home and watch the soccer on TV, it stands to reason that Sue should be there to confirm and say exactly what it was that George told her.

So having your witnesses there means that they can corroborate each piece of evidence thereby giving it more weight.

Make sure that when you attend any of the above hearings or arbitration that you have all your evidence in order and everyone present who can back everything up.

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, June 01, 2017

SALES 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income – Part 9

SALES 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income – Part 9

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting May 2009.

We keep hearing about the ‘recession’ that is happening at the moment – I am still not completely convinced.  That said there are a number of people who have left the corporate world for whatever reason, and now they are looking for innovative ways to make money.

So why no do things a little differently?

Instead of hiring a staff member with all the costs and hassles that that entails, why not get an entrepreneur who has their own business who is prepared to and can add what you are selling, onto whatever else it is that they are selling.

What they then sell for you comes at a commission only cost to you, without all the other costs that are incurred by someone who actually works only for you.

That will bring down your ‘cost to company’ whilst increasing your turnover.

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, May 31, 2017

Networking 101 - Be Respectful

Networking 101 – Be Respectful

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Craig Harrison says that the reason that Networking may not be working for you is because of the basic 9 mistakes that Networker’s make.  I have been going through these over the few weeks and let’s see if this is what is holding you back.

The ninth and final mistake that Networker’s make, according to Craig is “Disrespect the Tao of Networking.  Networker’s who are obsequious to those they believe can help them, yet rude to those they believe can’t help them, disrespect networking.  I’ve had networker’s disparage the last person they met whilst in conversation with me.  I was afraid to let them go for fear of what they would next say about me!  That’s the antithetical to the spirit of networking.  One networker took my card and in front of me, wrote the letter A on it, and boasted he was “putting me in his A list.”  Let’s just say he was clearly the biggest A I met that night!”

I recently experienced someone who disrespected me and my time and quite frankly I am still peeved about the whole incident.  This person, let’s call him George, was happy to set up an appointment with me and I sat with him for an hour, listening carefully to what he did and who his target market was and then put together a list of people out of my data base that I felt could help him or even, in some cases who he could pitch his product to.  It took another hour to sit down and mail him with the names and contact details of all these referrals and copy them on the mail, telling them who he was and what it was that he did – so that they knew he would be contacting them.  I call this a warm lead.

A few months later George and I met at another networking meeting.  After the meeting he, another fellow and I sat having a drink and discussing how networking was ‘working’ for us, when George asked me if I had any additional folk that I could recommend him to.  I again made a list of people and a few days later repeated the exercise of mailing him and the people that I was recommending him to.

Imagine, my disgust when several months later George and I hooked up, again at a networking event.  George had had a few too many glasses of red wine and was clearly not in control of all of his faculties as he smilingly told me that he had not bothered to contact a single person that I had referred him to.  I was absolutely astonished, and he ‘sort of realising’ his mistake, actually asked me to re-send all the information and contact details that I had so painstakingly already sent to him.

This for me was the highest form of disrespect to me as an individual.  George had not only wasted my time, but in not contacting anyone, he had basically told me that my contacts and referrals were not worth the paper that they were written on.

You see, George had a mindset that he himself couldn’t get past.  George had decided in his own mind that I was not worthy because he could not sell me anything and therefore there was no-one that I knew who could possibly be worthy of his product.

The worst of it is that George believes that he is a networker of note!

Needless to say, George will never get a name or a telephone number out of me again, let alone the time of day.

Understand that although the individual with whom you meet, may not be able to use or need whatever product or whatever service that you are selling, they have, without a shadow of a doubt though, someone in their own database that will need that product or that service.

Don’t be quick to judge someone.  You have no idea who they are and more importantly, you have no idea who they know.

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Business Tips - What is Cash Flow

BUSINESS TIPS –  What is Cash Flow

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

We all hear the words every day – “Cash is King”!  Clearly it is preferable to have physical cash in your hand, than say a cheque or even money in the bank.  Why do you think that that is?

Firstly if the money is in the bank, then there may be expenses that still need to go off your account, you would still need to go to the bank to draw money or alternatively you may not have the card or the correct access codes to get the money out of the bank.  So having physical cash in your hand is always a good thing.

Let’s have a look at what cash flow is – exactly.  Quite simply, it is the physical money that you have access to at any given time.  It’s not the money that you are waiting to be paid.  It’s not the stock that you are waiting to sell – it’s the physical cash that you have access to at any given time.

Having a good cash flow is absolutely imperative.  As SMME’s (Small, Micro, Medium Enterprises) we need a good cash flow in order to purchase our supplies, to pay rent, to pay our staff and to pay our way in the every day manner in which we conduct our business.  In short it is that lifeblood that we need in order to earn our livelihood, without it we would whither up and literally die.

So how do we get this ‘cash flow’?

First of all we need to get money into the business – this is usually referred to as a “cash inflow” and it is usually made of up four different components, these are:
Sales of our products and/or services – well that’s pretty self explanatory.
Loan or credit card proceeds – this is either money that we have loaned from a bank or financial institution or indeed money that we have loaned our business in our personal capacity and/or money that is coming to us from sales that were paid for by means of credit cards or indeed money that we have ‘borrowed’ on our credit cards, even money that is owed to us by our debtors.
Asset Sales – this would be when we sell assets (such as old computers or vehicles etc) that were previously purchased by the company that we are now upgrading and/or even just getting rid of.
Owner investments – these would be property and/or financial and/or business investments that we have made on behalf of our company.

Then of course money goes out of the business – this is usually referred to as “cash outflow” and again it is usually made up of four different components, these are:
Business expenditures – these are of course the expenses that are raised in the normal day to day running of the business.  This would also include salaries and wages etc for the staff.
Loan or credit card principal payments – just as you got the money either from a loan or your credit card, now you have to pay that loan back or pay your credit card back.
Asset purchases – again, just as you sold old equipment or equipment that you no longer needed, so now you have to buy new equipment and/or assets for the business.
Owner withdrawals – again that is pretty self explanatory and it is when the owner takes money out of the business for personal use.  These drawings are usually offset against the money that the owner has lent to the business out of his/her loan account.

Both the ‘Cash Inflows’ and the ‘Cash Outflows’ also fit into three main categories within the business and these are:
Operating – this covers the sales of product and/or services of your business, together with the business expenses that you incur in the selling of your product and/or service.
Investing – this would be all the assets that you buy and sell and
Financing – this obviously covers all the loans and the repayments of the loans as well as the money that the owner has invested into his/her business and the withdrawals that he/she makes for personal use.

So there you have it, basically what cash flow is and the ‘how’ and ‘what’ it relates to.

Next time we will have a look at some simple tips on how to manage your cash flow.

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, May 29, 2017

Motivation - Self Esteem - What is My Reality

MOTIVATION –  Self Esteem – What is My Reality

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

What is self esteem?  When in doubt, look it up – so here is what ‘google’ and some of the other search engines say:

Self esteem is : “how much a person likes, accepts and respects themselves overall as a person.”

Or

Self esteem is : “what our unconscious believes to be true about how worthy, lovable, valuable and capable we are.”

Or

Self esteem is : “generally considered the evaluative component of the self concept, a broader representation of the self that includes cognitive and behavioral aspects as well as evaluation or affective ones.”

So what does all of that mean?

Well, in my opinion there are two types of self-esteem.  The one type is a widespread, general type of self esteem and there is self esteem that is related to or about a specific situation.  Clearly a lack of self esteem is the opposite. So for example, you may be a person who has little or no self esteem in general.  These are people who are naturally shy or even introvert, who try and melt into the background.  They are people who do not excel in anything – not necessarily because they can’t, but because they don’t believe that they could excel in anything or indeed that they believe that they are not worthy to excel in anything.

On the other hand a person who has self esteem issues that are related to a specific situation, may be for example, a person who is bright and energetic and who, generally speaking is successful.  That person may, for example have a fear of public speaking.  That person would find it excruciatingly difficult to give a speech and their fear of talking in public may be related self esteem issues around how that person thinks that they are being perceived by crowds of people.

There are many myths about how your self esteem is manifested.  Some of these are (but not limited to):

“Your level of self esteem is fixed, it is a given.”  This would then mean that you, as an individual, are not able to change your mind set or that you cannot change how you feel about yourself.  Quite honestly, this does not work for me at all.  I really believe that we are who be are and we can become who we want to become.  Yes our mindset would need to change around the issues of our own self esteem, but it is definitely something that we can change.

Another myth is that is quite common and that is that “only poor and uneducated people suffer from low self-esteem issues.” What a load of absolute poppycock!  Bad self esteem is not about money, it’s not about possessions, its not about where you were born or when you were born.  It’s not about your background, or how your parents thought about you.  It’s not about how other people see you.

What it is about, is how you see yourself, it’s about your interaction with yourself.  So open your eyes – see you for who you are and not how you think other people see you.  In fact, see yourself as others do actually see you?

Be kind to yourself and stop beating yourself up.  Change your mindset and rather start praising yourself.  Start patting yourself on the back for the things that you are doing right.

Start looking for the rainbow in the storm, rather than the storm clouds

Start looking for the sunrise rather than the darkness.

Start seeing yourself, for who you are – an extraordinary person, living an extraordinary life.

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, May 26, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . You are Battling with Power Outages

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . YOU ARE BATTLING WITH POWER OUTAGES

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

Here in South Africa, we have an electricity problem – we know it, the staff know it, the government knows it!  It is no longer a secret.

Whilst Eskom has stated that there will be no more ‘load shedding’, and most people sighed and thought ‘well it’s over now’, the fact of the matter is that it’s not over.  What will happen now, is that instead of planned load shedding, we will have to contend with whatever happens when the power stations just ‘fall’ over!  It will be pretty much the same as ‘load shedding’ only we will not know when to expect it!

Our protagonist’s, Mike who owns the business and George who works for him, also feature in this story.  You see Mike is a small business owner, who has not been in business for very long.  He has to count each and every cent, twice – in order to ensure that he is getting the best possible value for money and that he keeps his expenses and overheads as low as possible in order for him to maintain the margins that he is working on, and still give his clients the best possible service and also value for money.

It can be no surprise that the ‘load shedding’ and soon to be power outages will have a huge impact on Mike’s business.  To make matters worse and kind of ‘in his face’ Mike has to watch his staff, like George – sitting doing absolutely nothing for hours on end when there is no electricity!  That has really got to stick in a man’s throat.

Mike thought long and hard about the problem, and decided that he would change George’s (and in fact all the staff member’s) conditions of employment in such a way that the staff would not be paid for the periods of the power outages.  So actually what Mike wanted to do was change the number of hours that his staff worked (to shorter hours for the days that there was load shedding) and then obviously pay them less.

Fortunately Mike, in his old age – has learnt to ask questions first and then act!  If Mike had just unilaterally just changed the Conditions of Employment, he would have been in breach of contract and that means that Mike could have gotten himself into a huge amount of trouble with the Department of Labour and it could have cost him a great deal of money!

The rule is this, as an employer, Mike cannot just change any employee’s employment conditions.  Mike would firstly have to have a consultation or discussion with the employee and if an agreement to the change was agreed upon by BOTH parties, the change could then take place – it is however, very definitely a negotiation process. If Mike and George could not come to some sort of mutual agreement, the only road then open to Mike would be for him to then retrench George.  Mike would have to remember, of course, that he would not be able to employ anyone else in George’s position for at least 6 months!

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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sales 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income - Part 8

SALES 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income – Part 8

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

What are your sales people up to?  Are they making sufficient calls?  Are they engaging with clients and doing presentations?  Are they setting up appointments with prospective clients?  Are they out and about looking for new clients?  Are they going through the archives, finding clients that have not been serviced in a long time?  Are you actually checking up on them to see what it is that they are up to?

Quite frankly, if your staff are just sitting around waiting for the phone to ring or someone to walk in, then you have a problem – waiting for things to happen usually leads to nothing happening!

Sales is a numbers game – I am sure that you have heard that term, time and time again and believe me it’s true.  That said, in order for the game to be played, action needs to take place.

So use the toe on your boot and use you boot to kick the butts of your sales team and ‘kick start’ them into action.  Get them phoning, old clients, clients that were interested in something years ago, but that never quite panned out because you didn’t have exactly what they wanted – perhaps you have what they need now, and of course cold calling.  Get them out and about, going to networking meetings, setting up appointments and doing presentations – even sorting out and setting up new presentations.  Make sure that they have a minimum quota to get through each day and believe me the business will come in.

The more ‘action’ that they engage in, the more business that will come in.

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, May 24, 2017

Networking 101 - Effective Communication is Key

Networking 101 – Effective Communication is Key

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Craig Harrison says that the reason that Networking may not be working for you is because of the basic 9 mistakes that Networker’s make.  I will be going through these over the next few weeks and let’s see if this is what is holding you back.

The eighth mistake, Craig says is “Slinging slang.  Many networker’s profess to have excellent communication skills yet use slang or mispronounce big words when little words would have been better.  Beware the use of contractions, excessive acronyms and name-dropping too.  Don’t tell us what you’re gonna do!  I would like to hear what you are going to do instead.”

This is also one of my favourites and I must say I am often hugely amused when people used words that they don’t know how to pronounce and then given time, once I have worked out what they were trying to say, I have lost most of what they did say.

The one that springs to mind right now is the chap that said ‘a certain’ instead of ascertain!  Obviously the meaning of ‘a certain’ is completely different to ascertain and the result of that was that what he was saying made no sense at all.  By the time I had figured out that he had meant to say ‘ascertain’, I had lost the rest of his speech, on what he was trying to say and what he did.  Make no mistake, I had also lost the will to try and do any kind of networking or business with him as well.

I know that we live in the ‘new’ South Africa and that there are 11 official languages out there – 10 of whom I have no idea how to communicate in, and yes I am often amazed that the fact that many people here can speak four or five of those languages, clearly I am not one of them.  The bottom line is that most business is conducted in English and if you cannot speak English so that it can be understood, by the people who do speak it, you will have a very difficult time and you will miss out on opportunities that will be snapped up by others.

Make sure that the words that you do want to use, are pronounced clearly and in the manner in which they are supposed to be pronounced.  Practice what you want to say in your delivery speech and if need be, get someone who is fluent in English, to listen to your delivery and make corrections where needed.

Most of all, have fun!  Having your own business should not be all stress and seriousness.   Remember why you went into business for yourself in the first place.  It’s an intergral part of your life and you should be enjoying it to the hilt.

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




Tuesday, May 23, 2017

BUSINESS TIPS – Common Mistakes Start-up Businesses Make - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Common Mistakes Start-up Businesses Make -  Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Following on from last time, here are some more of the common mistakes that are made by SME’s (small, medium enterprises) and start-ups.

Under charging for products and services.
This one I certainly can relate to as it was one of the mistakes that I made when I started out and it became a really big problem.  You see firstly, the way that you ‘charge’ (especially for services or hourly rates) tells people who you are and even what you think of yourself.  Secondly, it all goes to selecting, in part, who your target market is.  Obviously, if your charges are too high, or not in line with the rest of the industry, this could also have quite an effect on your turnover and obviously your cash flow.

My biggest problem was that I could not find anyone here in South Africa who was doing what I wanted to do – great opportunity for me, but a bit of a ‘thumb suck’ when it came to fixing prices and costs.  So I used my ‘corporate monthly salary’ as a guide line!  What a mistake that turned out to be.  I also did not factor in a whole bunch of stuff, such as (but not limited to), that although there are (well there should be) eight working hours in a day, five days a week to get the work done (well that’s what I got paid for in the corporate world) – the reality is that some of those hours will be spent on marketing and finding those clients – you can’t charge anyone for that and some of those hours will be spent on admin – you can’t charge anyone for that either.  So the bottom line is that you don’t have 22 days in a month that you can charge out at an hourly rate – more realistically it is around 10 days.  Now that sure messes with your calculations.

The second problem was that because I had come in at such a low cost (R200 per hour), I attracted pretty much all the wrong target market.  Yes, they were the SME and start-up market, which was exactly where I wanted to be, and yes they were in desperate need of what I was offering, just like it should be – the problem was that they could not even afford to pay me at that low rate.

Instead of cutting my losses and walking away from the problem, I compounded it by becoming all emotional and feeling sorry for them, so I offered them a) discounts if they paid me cash and b) terms if they couldn’t!  Bad move on both elements.  By offering them discounts on charges that were already too low, I was not even breaking even and of course I was telling them that I did not value myself very much and quite frankly, if I didn’t value myself very much, why on earth would they value me?  Offering them terms . . .  well let’s just say that that wasn’t my finest decision, especially as I continued to work for them, even while I was trying to get money out of them for work that had been done months ago. I am sure you can see where that went – they disappeared and I never got paid and it got quite ugly.  In my first two years of trading, I wrote off tens of thousands of bad debt that I could ill afford.

Finally I got over my emotional self, upped my prices considerably and found myself a better quality of client . . .  One that could pay.  Are my prices still reasonable?  Of course they are, they have to be in order for me to make any impact in my chosen market, but they are no longer ridiculously low.

So this is very important people, you need to make sure that your charges are reasonable enough to evidence good value for money, but you also need to cover all of your costs as well as leave something over as profit.  It needs to be looked at very closely and very honestly and more often than not, very brutally.

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, May 19, 2017

HR 101 - What to do when . . . You're not sure About Leave - Part 3

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . YOU’RE NOT SURE ABOUT LEAVE - PART 3

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

I promised that we would have a look at the subject of accumulation of leave.

This is not a good idea people – not good for the Business at all! Actually the Letters and Contracts of Appointment that I have, deals very clearly with this point. Let’s examine why it is not a good idea and then I will let you know how I deal with it in the employee contracts.

So George has been working for Mike now for a period of 17 years.  Both George and Mike are very ‘proud’ of the fact that George has not taken a single days worth of leave in that entire time.  The perception of course is that George is so dedicated to his work that he will sacrifice himself  in order to make sure that the business works . . . well! Seventeen years – that’s a long time not to take leave, in fact it is a whopping 255 days leave that is due to George – almost 9 months worth of leave due!  Incredible wouldn’t you say?  Well not for me, I would say “EEEeeeeeeekkkkk!  Houston we have a problem!”

Let’s have a look at the real reason that George has not taken leave.  You see, personally I don’t believe that anyone could be that dedicated!  Even people who own their own Businesses or work for themselves take a break from time to time and there is anyone ‘dedicated’ to what they do, it’s them.  Wouldn’t you agree?

One of the biggest frauds that I have come across in my career as Internal Auditor (a career that spans more than 35 years, I might add) ‘popped’ up when we put a stop to all overtime and insisted that people within the organization took their leave.  You see, the people who are committing fraud, or who (as in this case) were ‘in charge’ of all the people that they had coerced into committing the fraud, had to be around in case a question or two was asked – so that they could cover their tracks, make the appropriate excuses or make a timeous exit, should the need arise.

That is one of the reasons that the Basic Conditions of Employment Act is quite specific about leave and how it should be taken.  Taking a day here or there doesn’t cut it.  Your employees need to take their leave in blocks/weeks/chunks or any other way you would like to describe it.

Let’s be reasonable, apart from anything else, everyone needs a break, everyone needs to rest and honestly speaking, you are not doing yourself or your business any favours by having people around that are dog tired.  Contrary to popular belief, they do not work to their best capacity and neither do you.  So let them take their time off and make sure that you do too.

So that’s the first reason that your staff MUST take leave – let’s have a look at some of the others.

Although George has been with Mike for seventeen years now, he has been headhunted by Mike’s rival company.  Apart from anything else, they are prepared to give George, double the salary that he is earning right now and they are also going to throw in a car, a petrol allowance and a cell phone.  George of course, being the loyal employee that he is turns down the offer!  Yeah right!  George hands his resignation in so quickly, it’s written and handed in before Mike can even blink!

Think about this one for a moment -  Mike now has to “pay out” the 255 days leave that he owes George and get this – it’s not at 15 days at the rate that George was paid in the first year and then 15 days that George was paid in the 2nd year and so on.  It is 255 days at George’s current rate of pay!  What exactly do you think that this is going to do to Mike’s cash flow, presuming of course that he has one?

This is the kind of stuff that ‘closes’ businesses down – fast.

In the employment contracts that I use, it is stipulated that employees have to take a minimum of 80% of their leave as at 31 December of each year.  The balance of 20% may be accumulated until 31 March of the following year and if not taken by then is forfeited by the employee.

As you can see, it is in your own best interests to ensure that your employees take their leave every year – all of it.

Next week, we will look at a whole new topic!

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


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Sales 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income - Part 7

SALES 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income – Part 7

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting May 2009.

Everyone in South Africa is talking about the skills shortage.  Actually the skills shortage is not only linked to South Africa, but appears to be a world wide problem.

When we talk about skills shortages we immediately think of people in the engineering or financial type world.  Sadly they are not the only skilled shortages we have.

The majority of my clients who have product to sell are really battling to find skilled sales staff.

Gone are the days when people just left school and walked into a sales position that then served them well.  Gone are the days that when just anybody could become a sales person.

Clients today are a lot more sophisticated in their requirements.  There is a lot more choice available and people have a clearer picture of what it is that they want and they want to be given what they want rather than what the sales person think that they want or alternatively what the sales person may have available to sell.

The bottom line therefore is that your sales team need to be taught the skills and techniques that they will need in order to secure a sale.

So teaching them the skill (if you yourself have it) should become a matter of priority or you should make the decision to invest the time and money in insuring that they are adequately trained in the skill of selling and that they have the basic requirements of product knowledge.

Once they are trained, ensuring that their expectation and yours meet in the middle and that their perception is same as yours will also assist exponentially in ensuring that your sales force is moving in the direction that you want them to go.

Defining their roles, giving them realistic targets and rewarding them on the standard of their performance will usually motivate them to achieve even larger targets.

It’s just a matter of you ‘reap what you sow’ – so give them the right tools and the right training – you are the one that will reap the rewards.

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, May 17, 2017

Networking 101 - Mind Your Manners

Networking 101 – Mind Your Manners

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Craig Harrison says that the reason that Networking may not be working for you is because of the basic 9 mistakes that Networker’s make.  I am going through these over the next few weeks and let’s see if this is what is holding you back.

The seventh mistake, Craig says is “You don’t mind your manners.  Networker’s can’t make small talk, don’t show an ability to exchange pleasantries and interrupt others.  Can you gracefully engage and disengage from conversations?  Are your questions intrusive and your answers curt?  Are you showing proper respect for the stranger you’ve just met?  Or are you singing Opera?  If so, your tune is familiar: It’s ‘me-me-me-me!”.

Well that one certainly is familiar to me.  Why is it that people seem to think that their time is more important than mine.  That what they have to say is more important than what I have to say.

Often, when I am engaged in conversation with someone else, they rudely push in, shove something either into my hand or the hand of the person that I am busy in conversation with and demand to be heard there and then!  How rude!

I must admit, that although I will get to them eventually, I usually leave them until last.  I find it difficult to be pleasant to someone who has treated me with such disrespect.

Going to a networking meeting with the only thought being what you can sell to someone is not going to work for you at all.  Remember, everyone is there for the same purpose – we all want to sell something.  I mean, think about it – who goes to these things will the sole purpose of buying something – certainly not me and if you are all honest with yourselves, neither do you.

The mindset needs to change though, because you need to go to the meeting with the idea of helping others – through connecting others with each other, you yourself will become connected.

That’s how it works for me and that is how it will work for you.  You have to give, in order to get.

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

Motivation - Sharing Life

MOTIVATION – SHARING LIFE

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from Erin Majors, who says:

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”

This is so true of so much in life.  I am often astounded at how incredibly scared (or perhaps selfish is the right word) people are to share, especially in the business world.  It’s almost as if, people are scared to give someone a helping hand because that may mean that  they will lose out on the deal.  How bizarre!  To my mind, sharing something with someone, just makes my business just that much stronger – pretty much I guess, like the brighter light of two candles as apposed to just one.  Yet many people look at me, with a really puzzled expression on their faces when I ask “How may I be of assistance to you?”  Strange that don’t you think?

Then of course, you have those individuals who ‘help’ others, but only with some sort of hidden agenda, or a ‘what’s in it for me’!  I must say, I really don’t get that one – because sooner or later, any deviousness will come out, and usually when you least expect it!  Why does there always have to be some sort of ‘pay off’?

For me the Universe, is a really, really fun place.  I have been helped along this pathway of life, many times by complete strangers. People, whose names I never even got to know and thankfully, I have been in a position to help some along the way – again often people whose names I never got to know and quite honestly it gave me a great sense of satisfaction.  I was giving back you see – giving back to the Universe that has given so much to me.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking about people, who only have one purpose in life, and that is to get as much as they can out of somebody, whilst giving as little as they can in return!  I’m not talking about the people who make a career out taking anything and everything that they can.  I am not talking about the people who continually whine and moan about how badly life has treated them and how all they need is a little bit of help and then sit on their fat backsides and do nothing for themselves, whilst all around them people running around frenetically, doing everything for them!

I’m talking about empowering people to do for themselves, just like a candle – once lit – burns for itself.  Sometimes people just need a helping hand to steer them in the right direction or a little advice or a word of encouragement.

So what kind of person are you?  Do you give back to life or are you the person that just takes from it?

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







Friday, May 12, 2017

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . YOU’RE NOT SURE ABOUT LEAVE - PART 2

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . YOU’RE NOT SURE ABOUT LEAVE - PART 2

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

Ok, here we go – now we have exactly what the Act says, now let’s find out exactly what it means!

Let’s get my favorite protagonists back.  George the employee and Mike the employer.

George has been working for Mike for almost a year now and it’s time for him to take some leave.  George is reluctant to take leave as he is really in need of some additional finance.  The roof of his house in Soweto has blown off and he needs the additional finance to do the repairs.  Mike on the other hand, can’t really do without George because he has landed a deal that has stretched his resources really thin.  So they come to a compromise – George has requested that Mike pay him out for his leave and since Mike has the new deal he is in a financial position to pay George for the leave that he does not take!

Sounds like a win, win situation doesn’t it?  Look again!

Firstly the only person to really win out of this situation is SARS - you see the extra finance in George’s pay packet means that he has gone into the next tax bracket, so he is actually paying more tax out to SARS than the leave pay is actually worth.

Secondly although George now has the additional funds that he needs to repair his roof – the additional work, without him taking a rest, means that his body and his mind is tired and it will be a whole year before he can actually take some time out again.  His judgment is slow, his reflexes are slow and he is not only putting himself at risk, but also his work mates because he could actually be the cause of an accident.

Thirdly, although Mike has been able to complete his project on time, George will probably only be half as productive as usual for the rest of the year because he has not had time to rest.

Finally, if the Department of Labour or the CCMA found out that Mike had paid George’s leave out – Mike could be in serious trouble and face a huge fine for not obeying the law.

The only time it is legal for Mike to pay George out his leave pay is if George resigns, is dismissed, retires or is retrenched – then all of the leave pay would need to be paid out in full.

Next week let’s have a look at accumulation of leave.

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


Thursday, May 11, 2017

SALES 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income – Part 6

SALES 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income – Part 6

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

Why do your clients come back to you time after time?  Perhaps I should be asking, do your customers come back time after time?  There must be some sort of reason why.

Once you know what that reason is, your business will be going in a different direction altogether. Once you know what captivates your clients you will be able to capitalize on this knowledge and use it to its fullest potential.

Refine that reason, explore it, expand it, grow it, morph it into different aspects and then sell it for all that it is worth!

Take note, Discovery Health for example – it started out as just another medical aid.  Then came the Vitality program (where you compete against yourself and the program) and the gym subscriptions.  Then the Discovery credit card and now the health foods that you can buy at Pick ‘n Pay.  All are variations of a theme – your health.  All make a difference (if used correctly) to your health and all of them make a huge amount of money for Discovery and their respective partners.

So once you have found your unique selling point, capitalize on it – make yourself different and stand out from the crowd.  Remember though, you can’t just sit on your laurels, you then have to do something about what it is that you have discovered.  Find new innovative ways to expand your business and grow it.

Innovation and action will always result in success.

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, May 10, 2017

Networking 101 - Beware of Mixed Messages

Networking 101 – Beware of Mixed Messages

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Craig Harrison says that the reason that Networking may not be working for you is because of the basic 9 mistakes that Networker’s make.  I will be going through these over the next few weeks and let’s see if this is what is holding you back.

The sixth mistake he says is “Leakage.  Is there an inconsistency between what you say what you do?  Your card may say one thing about you, your clothing suggests something else and the language and vocabulary you use further confounds strangers in getting a fix on who you are, what you’re about and your skill level.  Strive to send consistent messages verbally, non-verbally and in your materials and correspondence.  When everything works together the sum is greater than the parts.”

Whilst I agree that this may have some bearing on whether you are a good networker or not – my biggest gripe in this area is that of pre-judgement.

Personally, I don’t really care what your card says, how you dress or what you look like, I am going to hook up with you to find out more about you, what you do and most importantly, who you know!

Too many times, I have watched people pre-judge someone only to discover (often when it is far too late) that the person that they dismissed ‘out of hand’ is someone that they really should have hooked up with.

One of my biggest clients today, is a chap that I met in a bar.  He was dirty and smelly, his t-shirt was torn and dirty and his shorts hadn’t seen the inside of a washing machine in a very long time.  We got to talking and I discovered he had just gotten back from a fishing trip and was having an ice cold beer before going home to off load the boat etc.  He actually owns 4 different businesses, several boats, a ‘holiday/weekend’ home on the Vaal and his own helicopter.  When he travels nationally, he ‘charters’ a plane as he hates having to ‘wait’ or be dependent on airlines.  Sounds like someone you would like to do business with, doesn’t it?

So my advice to you on this one is, don’t worry too much what it says on the business card, or what the person looks like.  Talk to them and find out who they are and who they know!

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

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Business Tips - Customers, our Invited Guests

BUSINESS TIPS – Customers, Our Invited Guests

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Jeff Bezos says “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts.  It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”

Actually, if the truth be told, I really don’t think that we see our customers as anything like invited guests.  Certainly not the way that I have been treated lately (although in all fairness I have to be the world’s worst customer).

I think we have panic attacks when we perceive that there is a lack of clients, but the minute we have them they become an irritation and I know I feel that some of my services providers feel that they are doing me a favour just to give me any type of service.  In fact in the last couple of days, I have stated on several occasions that if I were to treat my clients the way that I was being treated there would be no clients!

Think about it for a moment – when you invite guests into your home, there are those that you feel comfortable around, that you have perhaps had as friends for many years.  These guests have a great deal more freedom than say new guests.  They are encouraged to make themselves at home, they potter around your home, perhaps follow you into the kitchen and help with the cooking or keep you company whilst you cook.  The conversation may become playful and the feeling is one of easy wellbeing.  So too should it be with your customers that have been with you for some time.  Relationships have been built and the feeling is one of mutual respect and well being.  Still, even these guests you would not expect to wash the dishes (even if they offered – they are guests after all, not family or extended family or even good friends).  You would not go to bed and leave them wandering around your home unattended.

What about your new clients or guests that you have only just met?  Whilst you are not strictly formal with them, the atmosphere is still a lot more formal than with your guests that you have known for some time. I mean, I am sure that you would not let them get their own drinks, you would serve them.  They would not be in the kitchen with you as you cooked or prepared the meal and they certainly would not be encouraged to wonder around your home on their own.  Yes you would try and make them feel comfortable but there would be limits.  Isn’t that exactly the way that it is with your new clients – are you not a whole lot more wary around them, trying to put your best foot forward, trying to give them exactly what it is that they ask for?

Actually, perhaps the question should be, isn’t that the way that it is supposed to be happening, rather than the constant irritation that I have been experiencing of late.  The sullen faces, the less than interested attitude and the glances and sighs that make me feel that they are actually doing me a huge big favour and I had better just accept what it is that they give me and I had better not say anything about the manner in which I have been treated or that they have given me inferior service and useless product.

Perhaps it is time that we have another look at who and what our customers are and why they are in our lives.  Perhaps if we treat them a little better, they will stick around a little longer and buy some more product or give us some more work.

Perhaps . . . .

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, May 08, 2017

Motivation - Self Image

MOTIVATION –  Self Image

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Dr Joyce Brothers says “An individual’s self concept is the core of his personality.  It affects every aspect of human behaviour, the ability to learn, the capacity to grow and change.  A strong positive self image is the best possible preparation for success in life.”

This just reminds me how many thousands, in fact millions of people throughout the world there are, who live with little or no self esteem.  It reminds me of the damage that parents have inflicted on their children or that teachers have inflicted on their students or employers on their employees.  Even more sad, I see on a daily basis how we, as individuals, not only drive self esteem from the lives of our colleagues and friends but also from our own hearts.

A few years ago I employed a young lady who I put through a bookkeeping and later on an accounting course.  Although extremely bright and intelligent she had not completed matric due to circumstances beyond her control.  Having left school a number of years before I met her, I was pleased at her agreement to ‘go back to studying’ and very proud of the commitment she had made.  I was so excited about this undertaking that I told everyone who would listen.

She was devastated and insulted!  Her take on this was that she had to  ‘go back to school’ because she was ‘stupid’.

Sadly there are many similar stories such as this one and I was recently reminded of this just last week.

A friend of mine had entered a dance competition.  She was nervous and excited as she watched some of the other contestants dance.  Her turn came and she executed all her dance moves with elegance, passion and precision.  Chatting to her later, while we watched some more of the contestants, she was again extremely nervous and very critical of her performance.  I pointed out to her that the lady who was dancing at the time was ‘out of sync’ with the music, her music in fact, did not match or compliment her costume and her movements were not fluid but stiff and unyielding.  My friend turned to me, the pain evident in her eyes and said something along the lines of “I don’t see myself the same way that you see me.  I don’t see myself the way anybody else sees me!”

Here is an intelligent, beautiful woman, with her whole life before her and the world at her feet, who does not see her talent or her potential, who does not see her ‘worth’.  My heart went out to her and I was suddenly angered at the person or persons who had caused this pain and damage to her.  Her perception was one of that she was not worthy, that she was not good enough and this had created her reality.

The true reality is that she will, in all probability win the competition – she’s that good!  The true reality is that she is incredibly talented and her potential is huge and she is limited only by her own perception.

The lesson here today is that we, as individuals need to be positive, not only in our own lives but also in the lives of the people whose lives we touch.  We need to encourage and uplift the people around us.

In essence we need to let them look at themselves through our eyes.

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