Tuesday, January 31, 2017

BUSINESS TIPS – 8 Tips on Stuff you Should know Before you Start a Business – Part 1.

BUSINESS TIPS – 8 Tips on Stuff you Should know Before you Start a Business – Part 1.

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

After attending my “Starting and Running a Successful Business” workshop, many delegates have asked questions about various issues pertaining to either starting a business or running a business.  Over time it has become apparent that there are universal questions that pertain, generically to both.

Let’s unpack them here and see how they impact you as a ‘new’ Entrepreneur or in your established business.


I can’t begin to tell you the number of people who say “I want to run my own business – just a little something to bring the money in!”

What exactly does that mean?

Chances are that if you ask them that particular question they will have no specific answer for you and the reality of course is that such a business is highly unlikely to get started and if by some miracle they got it going, it wouldn’t be too long before it fell over!

Clarity is key!  It is essential that you know exactly what it is that you are going to be selling be it product or service.

The reality is that if you don’t know “where” you want to go, you will not be able to work out how to get there.

This clearly pertains to every aspect of the business, from marketing, to sales, administration, operations, HR or projects -  the works.  Once you know what you want to do it will be easier to do the research to ascertain what you need to do in order to achieve your goals.

Whether you are starting a new business or trying to grow the one that you have, you need to know exactly what you want to do before you can decide exactly how you are going to achieve that.

Business Plans

As with getting clarity on what you want to do, so to do you need a plan to get yourself there.

Business plans are badly underestimated and irrespective of whether you actually need one or not, for funding purposes, it is a good idea to have one.

Writing a proper business plan will ensure that you have worked out a sound strategy for your marketing and branding requirements as well as the calculations on forecasts from both income and expenses.

You will also be forced to look at the cold hard reality of what your costs are, literally before you even earn a cent, providing of course that you actually even sell anything.

A business plan also forces you to investigate and implement an exit strategy at the beginning of your journey before the emotional turmoil of dealing with trying to put together an exit strategy, when you are in the middle of the pain of closing your business down.

Issues around growing the business for sale down the line (or not) can also be tackled here and plans put into place to encompass these.

Remember a Business Plan should be a living, breathing document and it should be updated and tweaked on a regular basis.

Next time we will look at a few more of these points that should be taken into consideration before you even start.

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, January 30, 2017

Motivation - So What is the Secret of Success

MOTIVATION – So What is the Secret of Success

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Let’s first discuss what is success.  What I consider to be ‘success; is usually and can be completely different to what other people see or consider as successful.

Then of course, there are different degrees of success.  Flicking a switch and turning a light on is success.  Finding the information that you are looking for on the first try is also for me a huge success.

We are all exposed to ‘successful’ people on a daily basis.  Turn on the TV and watch successful mega stars, open a newspaper or read a book – more successful people.  There is no shortage of successful people and an abundance of opportunity for us to read about them and how they became successful.

Hell, just watch any reality show like Idols and you can actually watch someone becoming successful.

Many of these people ‘share’ how they became successful or what they consider as their ‘secrets to success’.

In every single successful person that you meet with, read up on, watch on television or at the movies or engage in any way with, you will see and feel the absolute passion and drive that they have to realize their dream.  You will hear, how from (usually a very young age) this is what they wanted, what they hungered for, what every waking (and often dreaming) second of the day and night they lived for.  They lived their dream into being a reality.

With each step closer to the realization of their dream, their efforts intensified and they became more and more focused on what they wanted to do and kept on slowly but surely putting one foot in front of the other, continuously moving forward towards their goal – the realization of their dream.

Nothing stops them, nothing deters them and believe me, nothing gets in their way – they will find a way around, or over, or under any obstacle that you put in their way.  They are determined, hungry and focused on what it is that they want.

And all of it . . . .  starts off with a single dream.

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, January 27, 2017

HR 101 - It's All About Consistency


By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

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

Perhaps the best place to start would be to define ‘consistency’.  My Concise Oxford Dictionary says:

“Compatible, not contradictory, constant to same principals.”

In the working environment it means, quite simply – that the employer treats all the employees in the same manner.  That the expectations for work performance, work output, attitude, attention to detail, attendance (and any other measurable’s that you can think of) are the same for each of the employee’s irrespective of what their position, race, gender etc is.  That people are all treated fairly and with respect, again irrespective of their position, race, gender etc is.

Let’s have a look at some of the area’s where this may be a problem.

1. In the instance where an employee is related to Management and/or they have a relationship other than a Business Relationship.

We’ve all had one of these I am sure – either ourselves or we’ve been on the receiving end.  This is one of the reasons why it isn’t always such a good idea to work with family or friends or have an intimate relationship with someone in the workplace. The perception is always and will always be, by the rest of the staff, that they get preferential treatment.  So you have to be extra careful to ensure that you don’t ‘play the favorite’!  Make sure that everybody has a Letter of Employment and all the other relevant documentation that staff are required to have. Make sure that if the other staff have to say, sign the attendance register, so too does the family member/friend/lover.

2. Consequences

Should it be necessary to hold a disciplinary or a counseling or reprimand an employee (irrespective of who they are or their position in the Company), it must be done in the same manner and carry the same consequences as any previous instances.  If there are no previous instances – be careful how the ‘new’ one is conducted as this will set a precedent for all future transgressions of this nature!

Here’s an example.  When you hire an employee – if you check references for one, you must check references for all. If it is found, at a later stage, that the bookkeeper you hired because you were having a relationship with her at the time, was actually dismissed from her previous company for theft. Your relationship, in the meantime has come to an end and life at the office is uncomfortable and quite frankly it would be better for you if she just left. So you charge her with misconduct in that she “deliberately failed to disclose material information upon employment”.  You hold your disciplinary, find her guilty and dismiss her – lovely – end of problem!  Actually not hey – you see, if she goes to the CCMA you could come unstuck because of an “Unfair Dismissal because the Employer (yes that’s you) failed to apply discipline consistently.”

This is another reason why you should have documented policies and procedures on how you do things, like interviewing the staff member and checking of references or as it is more commonly known  - a staff procurement policy.

At the very least, you may be forced to accept the staff member back at work or face huge monetary payouts.  Not too good either way.

So the bottom line here is to be consistent in how you treat your staff.  If you have a rule about anything it must apply to everyone, not just the person who happens to be irritating you at the moment.

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

Thursday, January 26, 2017

VAT 101 - Reimbursement From Clients

VAT 101 – Reimbursement From Clients

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting.

This pertains to South African VAT (Value Added Tax) regulations

As VAT vendors we cannot claim VAT on invoices that pertain to accommodation for ourselves or our staff.  But what happens if we book and pay for accommodation for our clients and then we need to be reimbursed by the client?

Here’s the story. . .

Mike owns a training and facilitation company.

Mike is holding a two day workshop at a local conference centre but in view of the fact that Mike has extended the invitation to attend his workshop to his entire database, there are clients coming from all over the country.

Mike has committed to booking his ‘out of town’ clients into several B & B establishments that are close to the conference centre.

All of these B & B’s are VAT registered and Mike is obliged to pay VAT across.  Now, how does he charge his clients for this and can he claim this VAT back?

Well let me answer the second half of the question first.  Yes he can  claim the VAT back.

Now back to the “how” he gets reimbursed by the client.

Let’s say for example that the B & B’s in the area charges R200.00 plus VAT at 14%.  The total cost for each delegate would then be R228.00.

Mike’s invoice to his client would look something like:

Cost of two day workshop per delegate R2 000.00
Cost of B & B                            R   200.00
                                                        R2 200.00
VAT                                                  R   308.00
Total Due R2 528.00

At the end of Mike’s VAT period, Mike would be able to claim the full R308.00 as an offset to his input/output calculation because the accommodation part was paid for on behalf of his clients.  R280 of this would be the VAT portion pertaining to the cost of his workshop and the balance of R28.00, which of course was the VAT portion that he paid for the delegates accommodation on behalf of the his client.

If Mike had also paid for the client’s travel to and from the venue in terms of airfare or even bus and/or rail travel, the VAT of this too could be  claimed back in the same way.

Please don’t always assume that you cannot claim things back.  If you are not sure, contact your nearest SARS office and ask.  Be sure to give them all the correct facts and will often be surprised at exactly what can be claimed back.  Remember to get the persons name that you spoke to and if possible a reference number.

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, January 25, 2017

Networking 101 - More on Branding

Networking 101 – More on Branding

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

I promised to continue this section with Branding.  What is branding?  I don’t believe that there is any functioning human being on the planet that does not understand what Branding is:

You need only look at the adverts on products like Coca-Cola, with it’s unique logo – it is instantly recognisable anywhere in the world.

But what does Branding mean to you as an SMME and to you as an individual?

For me, branding for my business is all about my logo, the name of my company, the layout of both of these.  For example if you had a business that deals with plumbing you wouldn’t have a picture of a mother and a baby.  Similarly you would not call yourself “Mother and Child” – you would have something more appropriate like “XXX Plumbing”.

Once you have decided on the name of the Company, the logo or any kind of artwork that you have, this should be visible and attached to any and all correspondence that you may have with anyone.  Even if you are just sending an e-mail to your buddy down the road, this should be attached – this is advertising for your business.  If your buddy down the road, forwards your message, your joke and/or whatever – your advertising goes with it.

Use every opportunity available to you, to get the name of your business out there.  Don’t go anywhere without your business cards.  Not to the cricket game, or to the pub down the road or to your buddy’s braai.  Take your business cards with you – you don’t know where the next opportunity is coming from and you have to be ready.

Now on the personal branding:  How do you brand yourself on a personal level.  Well this is where the “image” people would have a huge amount of stuff to say, like you have something like 8 nanoseconds to make an impression etc, etc, etc.  Not being a professional on this subject, I will not make any comment on this.  What I can say though is . . .  yes!  You need to make an impression and it needs to be something that will stick in the minds of people, long after they have forgotten your name.  Now that doesn’t mean to say that you need to do a dance naked on the table in front of whomever it is that you are meeting.  It just means that for me, it’s just being myself, which means Always, and I mean Always thinking out of the box.

For those of you who know me, you know that I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl.  I don’t subscribe to the fashion magazines and quite frankly it is far too hot to dress in the obligatory corporate suits that most business women wear (I’m not knocking them you understand – I’m just saying that it’s just not me).  So I wear jeans and if, as in the case of the Business Engage dinners, my friend Geraldine does not allow me to wear jeans, I still wear my golf t-shirts!  I also love bright colours and designs.  Personally I don’t think that we have enough colour in our business lives.  To me, business does not have to be dull and boring, in fact it is fun, interesting and exciting!

The result of course is that I go to the Business Engage (www.businessengage.co.za) dinners and everyone is dressed to the hilt!  The women all look so gorgeous and stunning in outfits that cost the earth and. . . . they all look just the same.  Me, well I stand out in the crowd, because I am different.  Ok, before I go any further with this – you also have to comfortable with ‘different’ – if you aren’t, then standing out in the crowd is not going to be comfortable for you!  Anyway the point is that people remember me because of this.

I am not advocating that everyone looks like me either – heaven forbid. What I am saying, is find out who “the you” is that you are comfortable with and go with that.  We are all unique individuals and our own ‘inner selves’ will shine our own particular light out.

I have asked my good friend and colleague Linda Hart from Image Craft, who is a Branding Specialist, to make a few comments that can assist you all, with finding out who and what your own particular brand is.  So continue to watch this blog, and get the opinion of an expert. Thanks in advance Linda.

I will continue this saga next time, with why we need to Network.

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Business Tips - Being in Control of Your Money

BUSINESS TIPS – Being in control of your money.

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

Spending is out of control! The need for credit is out of control! Well that is what all the experts are saying here in South Africa.

It appears that we will have to once again pull in our belts.  There is the ever hungry and controversial e-tolling situation and of course the petrol price that bounces around month after month, not to mention the cost of all the strikes that we seem to be having, one after the other and of course let’s not forget the exchange rates that seem to have more “bounce per ounce” than a regular yoyo!

So how do we control our money when there are so many external factors that we have very little, if any control over.

Well the reality is that we very much do have the control over what we do spend, however the problem is that we often don’t know where the money has gone because we are spending money without taking notice of what we are doing.

Sure, most of us usually have budgets in place that cover things like rent or bond or levy and many of our accounts are automatically paid by debit orders and of course we are acutely aware of these, especially if our cell phones ring or ping when money goes out of our bank accounts.

Here’s the thing though – how many of us actually know exactly how much we are spending and what exactly we are spending it on and I mean to the last cent? I know I didn’t until I started keeping a monthly journal.

Once I knew how much I was spending and what I was spending it on, I was then able to make a conscious decision about where I wanted my money to be spent and equally important (if not more so) how much I wanted to allocate. In this way I am able to control what I spend and where I spend it.  This is more of a spending plan – it’s spending your money on paper before you spend it in reality.

Now that I knew where the money was going and how much, I was able to convert my monthly spending plan into an annual spending plan.  What I did then was to create categories (along the lines of my general ledger in my company books) and split up the allocations.  So quarterly requirements were split into 2 (so I could put away money on a monthly basis instead of having to suddenly come up with a lump sum every 3 months) and so on.

Now here is the fun part.  Each and every cent of your income must be allocated!  Yep – that’s each and every cent.  You should have a zero difference between your income and your expenses.

I can actually see the pained expression on your faces, but here’s the thing -  you get to allocate everything and that means it can be allocated to a savings account or a holiday account or a deposit on a home account.  You are the person who tells it where to go.  You are the person who is in control of the where it goes and where it is allocated.

You are the person in control of your finances!

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, January 23, 2017

Motivation - Stand Up & Be Counted

MOTIVATION – Stand Up and Be Counted

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Isn’t it really wonderful, that no matter how much we like to complicate things – the fact of the matter is that life is really quite simple.  As much as there is something like 256 different shades of grey, there are no grey areas in life itself.

You see for every issue that we have to deal with as a society, life only gives us three responses.  Our response then dictates the results that we have to live with as a society.

Here’s the thing – we are either for something or against it or we do not have an opinion.  Not having an opinion is often called “sitting on the fence” or as I like to call it “Splitting the difference”.

Having any one of these three opinions will result in one of two effects.  That is either a positive or a negative effect or outlook.

Now, here’s the problem. Not having an opinion either way usually tilts the scales in favour of the negative effect – not so good hey?

So, waiting for someone else to make a decision for you will in all probability result in the negative occurring.

Therefore, if you want a positive action or reaction, don’t wait for other people to make the decision for you.  Stand up yourself and be counted.  Make a stand for what you believe in and what you know is the right thing to do.

Show the world that you have the courage of your own convictions.

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, January 20, 2017

HR 101 - Who is an Employee - Part 9


By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

The code also has a look at ‘when’ a person becomes as employee.  This should be of particular interest to those among us who hire staff and then change our minds.

Let’s take this example – A person applies for a job (let’s call her Brenda).  Brenda gets the job and her new boss (let’s call him Alan), is really on the ball and the result is that Brenda receives her letter/contract of employment even before her starting date.  She resigns from her previous employer and is in the process of working her notice period in, when she gets a call from Alan to say – the job no longer exists for whatever reason, and he wants to cancel the employment contract.

Let me put it this way – this can and will put Alan in a problematic situation.

You see, it is not necessary for Brenda to have started working at the new job to be regarded as an employee, in terms of Labour Legislation.  Section 26 of the code states clearly that “the definition of an employee” includes a person who has concluded a contract of  employment  to commence work at a future date.

Brenda could take Alan to the CCMA and/or the bargaining council for ‘unfair dismissal’.

There is also a process to distinguish the difference between an employee and an independent contractor.

Let’s explore the reality of this situation as I am sure that most ‘employers’ would be particularly interested in this.

We know for sure that even though a contract or letter of employment may state that a person is an independent contractor, this is not necessary so and will not necessarily make it so.

Section 27 of the code says that the courts follows a procedure called the “dominant impression” test, when they make this type of decision.  These are:

1. All of the aspects of the contract and/or relationship between the employer and the person need to be evaluated and a decision then made on the dominant impression formed during the course of that evaluation.
2. As an added precaution it is also noted that all the different factors do and would not carry the same weight.  This is because there is no single criterion that will determine whether an employment relationship exists or not.
3. The true relationship between the employer and the person needs to be discovered, as the wording in the contract may not be a true reflection of this relationship. So the court would need to look at the reality of the relationship rather than just the contractual nature.

There are obviously many instances where the employer treats an individual as a contractor, when in fact they are an employee.  One of the most common ones is:

Conversions – the employer claims that a person who was ‘previously’ employed has now become a contractor.  If the person is still performing exactly the same or even similar work as they did when they were “employees”, chances are they are actually still employees.

So in closing, the employer needs to be aware of the differences between an employer and an independent contractor and of course make sure that they are within the scope of what the law requires.

It can be an extremely costly exercise, if an employer is taken to court or the CCMA, and it is discovered that they have not followed the law and are therefore in contravention of the Code.

Make sure that you know what it is that you want and then make sure that you follow the letter of the law – it is much easier (and cheaper in the long run) to start off in the correct manner than to try and sort it out afterwards.

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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

VAT 101 - Invoice Requirements

VAT 101 – Invoice Requirements

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC.

Please note that this pertains to South African VAT (Value Added Tax) regulations.

As a VAT vendor – it’s not just about ensuring that you do the calculations correctly.  It’s not just about making sure that you only claim for what you are entitled to claim for.  There are several other issues at stake and if you are not aware of them, chances are that you are going to end up in hot water, should SARS decide to do an audit.

Firstly, let’s just get the most important issue out of the way.  You need to retain all of your tax invoices.  Whether you retain them in hard copy or soft copy or both, is not the real issue – the bottom line is that you have to keep them for a minimum of 5 years.  So don’t be going throwing anything out!

Here’s a basic checklist for the requirements that MUST appear on your invoice.

The words “Tax Invoice” must appear in a prominent position.  Don’t try and be clever and hide it in amongst the rest of the wording on your invoice.  Rather display it together with the number of the invoice.  That way there can be no misunderstanding
The Name, address and VAT registration number of the supplier.  As a supplier myself, I have found it just easier to have my VAT number quoted on all of my correspondence.  That way there can be no confusion.
The Name, address and VAT registration number of the recipient.  This one is not always easy to get.  Sometimes clients are reluctant to give some of their personal details.  Tip. You can check you client/supplier’s VAT number on the SARS site.  Beware of people posing as VAT vendors.  It will affect your return.
The invoice number and date of the invoice.  Remember that the invoices have to run consecutively and therefore the dates must be consistent with those numbers. There is nothing to stop you from personalizing the invoices, as long as every number follows on from the previous number.
A full and proper description of the goods or the services supplied. Abbreviate if you must, but ensure that your description is understandable.
The value of the goods/services supplied.  It is also a good idea to evidence the cost of the goods/services supplied and then the VAT value as a separate figure and then the total cost of the invoice (which would be the value of the goods/services and the value of the VAT added together).

Remember though that unless you are a Sole Trader and/or a partnership where the partners are natural person, you will have to pay VAT on invoices raised.  This means that irrespective of whether you have been paid by your client or not, you have to pay the VAT portion of the invoice across every two months.

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, January 18, 2017

Networking 101 - Building Your Brand

Networking 101 – Building Your Brand

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

So now you have found your passion and you are rushing around madly trying to find work, build relationships and then do the work.  What’s next?

Since I have discovered that the majority of people are not natural networker’s, I turned to Helen Nicolson’s book “Networking: The Unwritten Rule of Business you need to know” for inspiration, and discovered that it would probably be a great idea to zone into and then emulate what Great Networker’s do.  Helen writes:
 “Great Networker’s:
Identify and zone in on their strengths,
Build their brand around their top 10% strength base.”

So what does this mean to me, as a natural networker.  Giving this some thought – remember I like to simplify things and  I am going to use myself as a case study (God forbid I should use someone else and get sued for something like slander or liable or one of those uglies!)

In my opinion, some of my strengths are (and if you have know me and have a different opinion great!  Keep it to yourself though, because remember – “other people’s opinions of me are none of my business!)

1. I am a ‘doer’ – I get so sick and tired of going to meetings that just go around and around and no decisions are made.  Going to a meeting to set up another meeting, makes no sense to me whatsoever and wastes my time.  So get the ball rolling, make a decision and get going!

2. Making quick decisions, based on the information that I have available at the time that the decision is made.  Another pet hate of mine.  People who agonize over making a decision.  Then before the decision is made they ask everyone and anyone,  what they should do, until they hear an answer that sounds vaguely like what they had in mind.  Then that’s their decision – you see they can then abdicate the responsibility if something goes wrong, because they got advice from somebody else.  For goodness sake, make a decision and if it’s wrong – correct it and move on!

3. Change!  It’s going to happen whether you like it or not.  If you don’t get with the program it will drag you along with it or you will get left behind totally.  For my own part, it is easier on the nerves to keep up and not be like a salmon and swim against the water flow!  Look, let’s be realistic – I am not going to change something just for the sake of change – it definitely has to have a reason and the result must be either the same as what I have or better – or no change.  Be prepared to have an open mind though.  Someone else may be able to do it “better” than you or have a better idea than you.

4. Judgement!  Don’t be so quick to judge someone by the way that they look, or speak (or don’t).  You don’t know them.  You have no idea what their lives are like or what trials and tribulations they have gone through in life.  One of my best clients today is someone who I met in a pub, wearing dirty shorts and a stained, dirty, smelly, torn t-shirt.  He had just come back from a fishing weekend and they had run out of beer and he was dying for an ice cold one.  The man runs 4 businesses, has a yacht, a helicopter and several speedboats!  Don’t judge until you know the person better.

5. Listening.  My friend Geraldine always tells me that her mum used to tell her that “God gave us two ears and only one mouth for a reason”.  If you are talking all the time, you miss out on listening to not only what the other person is saying, but also what they are needing.  Quite often, what they are needing is some help in their business which either you can give to them or one of the people in your database can assist them.

6. Opportunities.  I can go crazy when I hear people saying “ work is scarce”.  Actually it is the other way around – there is a huge abundance of work and an even greater abundance of opportunity out there – it’s just a matter of recognising it.  Once you have recognised it – do something about it.  It’s not going to just fall like manna from heaven!

7. Networking.  Because I am a natural networker – it stands to reason that networking is one of my strengths.  During the course of my ramblings on the subject, you will get to understand hope fully the nature of the beast and be able to work with it.

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Business Tips - What is Security - Really?

BUSINESS TIPS – What Is Security - Really?

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

So what does security mean to you as a small business owner?  Does it mean that your success will be guaranteed?  Does it mean that Joe Public will be blown away by the widgets that you want to sell or desperate for the services that you provide?

Whatever your idea of what your security actually is – how long will it last?  Is it long term or short term – seasonal or here for the duration?

Well here’s the reality – the answer to all of the above is actually ‘who knows’!

Security is more fickle than the most high maintenance person that you know or probably are ever likely to know.  What may be absolutely fabulous today and selling like hotcakes may die a brutal and lonely death tomorrow.

So how do we protect ourselves from this ‘lack of security’?

Well quite honestly there are several ways and I am going to share some of them with you now.

1. Firstly we have to keep evolving, growing, changing, morphing – looking at new ways to do things, keeping up with technology or business trends.  We do this by researching, reading (not the heat type magazines), but what is in the newspapers and business magazines.  Read blogs and articles on line.  Take a course or two – meet with like minded individuals and discuss what is happening around you. Keep up to date with what’s in and what’s not.
2. Don’t ever give up – be tenacious – find ways around obstacles (whether that means you go around them, under them, over them or even through them).  Collaborate with people who do/sell similar things or team up with people whose strengths are your weaknesses and visa versa.  If it is worth fighting for – fight back.  If it isn’t then perhaps you need to change direction or owning your own business is not actually for you.  Make a decision one way or another.
3. If you have staff or are part of a team, work together.  Pull in the same direction and not against one another!  Be clear on what everyone has to do and choose people who have the same goals and aspirations.  It’s a lot easier than you think and a lot more productive that you on your own.
4. Be ready for the unexpected!  Things often happen that were not factored into – don’t let those things trip you up.  Stop – look at the situation calmly (and without any drama and emotion), do the research and make an informed decision.
5. Understand that there is nothing to be afraid of.  My friend and mentor Vanessa always tells me that the only thing I have to be afraid of is my own fear.  Face it, head on and squarely and I promise you it (the fear) will back down!

Remember that you are a special person and the mere fact that you have gone into business on your own, should tell you that you are stronger than you have ever given yourself credit for.

So be proud of yourself, proud of your achievements and go forward knowing that you can do this!  Oh and of course – don’t forget to have fun!  Always, always, always – have fun.

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, January 16, 2017

Motivation - Process


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that  “it is a process, not an event, for one to become the person I want to be.”

How logical is that.  It really would be a case of suspending belief, if you thought that one day you would wake up and be a completely different person to the one you were when you went to bed the night before.  You don’t just become someone else over night.

Like most things in life, changing who you are into who you want to become, is a process.  Like most things in life it is a process that has to be consistently worked on, tweaked, molded, cried over, laughed about and then at some stage either abandoned as a bad idea or embraced and celebrated as a victory.

Whether you cry in defeat or celebrate in victory is largely dependent on the simplicity and/or complexity of the process and your commitment to the changes that you want to take place.

The level of your commitment to the changes that you would like to make to yourself is dependent on the internal hunger that you have, to see yourself in a different light other than who you currently are.

It’s that hunger that drives you to achieve.
It’s that hunger that makes you strive to attain greater heights.
It’s that hunger that keeps you focused with your vision clearly before you and visible to you at all times.

Process for me is one of the most simplistic things on the planet to put into place.  Yet I am constantly amazed at some of the processes that some people put into place in order to achieve the most basic of results.  Some of them are so complicated that you would probably need a degree of some sort to just be able to read it, let alone understand it on any level.

I think that we, as human beings, on some level seem to think that if things are easy and not complicated that they are not worth anything.  We couldn’t be further from the truth if we tried.

Instead of thinking “Well it can’t be that simple, can it?” we should be saying – “It is just that simple!”

So simplify all your processes, get where you want to go and enjoy life the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

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

Friday, January 13, 2017

HR 101 - Who is an Employee - Part 8


By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

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

Now you have all the details of who an employee is, however human nature being what it is, both you and the person agree that although they fit into at least one of the categories, they are in fact – not an employee.  Well the law makes provision for this too.  Here are some examples of what you may think and what the law says!

You have a contract with a person that clearly states something along the lines of “this is not a contract of employment” or “this is an independent contractor contract” or “it is agreed by both parties that the person is not an employee” and any other variation on a theme that you may have that means this.  Please take note – you cannot do this, well I suppose you can, however that said, it is meaningless because the Code says (and therefore the law says) in paragraph 16:

“a statement in a contract that the applicant is not an employee or is an independent contractor must not be taken as conclusive proof of the status of the applicant.”  The code also says “The fact that an applicant satisfies the requirements of presumption by establishing that one of the listed factors is present in the relationship does not establish that the applicant is an employee”.

So as usual the law is as clear as mud!

However an employer can use whatever evidence that they have in order to show that the person is not an employee, despite the fact that they meet at least one of the requirements.  If the employee  cannot give any evidence proving that the person is not an employee then the person will be considered an employee and that is the end of that.

So be very clear about what you mean when you draw up the contracts.

Let’s have a look at what the Definition of an Employee is.

The Labour Relations Act gives us several definitions of an employee.

Section 78 has a definition that is ‘specifically for the purpose of excluding senior managerial employees from the definition of an employee’.  It says:

“employee means any person who is employed in a workplace, except a senior managerial employee whose contract of employment or status confers the authority to do any of the following in the workplace:-
a. represents the employer in dealings with the workplace forum; or
b. determine policy and take decisions on behalf of the employer that may be in conflict with the representation of employees in the workplace.”

This means that a senior managerial person, who can make the above-mentioned decisions is by definition – not an employee.

The definition of an Employee in Section 200A, however says:-

“a.  any person, excluding an independent contractor, who works for  another person or for the State and who receives, or is entitled to receive any remuneration and
c. any other person who in any manner assists in carrying on or conducting the business of an employer, and ‘employed’ and ‘employment’ have meanings corresponding to that of ‘employee’ – (This definition is also found in the BCEA, the EEA and the SDA.)

This means that the employer can show evidence that the person is an independent contractor who was contracted for particular task, even if that task has taken or will take longer than an average 40 hours over the last three months.

It would then be up to the Court and/or the Tribunal to decide if the person is then in fact an employee.

Next week will be the last one in this particular series and I will continue with when a person becomes an employee.

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

Thursday, January 12, 2017

VAT 101 - Claiming VAT Back on an Employee's Telkom Account

VAT – Claiming VAT Back On An Employee’s Telkom Account

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC.

Please note that this pertains to South African VAT regulations.

There are instances where employees are obliged to use their own resources on behalf of their employers.  The VAT that has been charged in these instances can also be claimed back.

Here is the story.

Mike owns a chain of retail stores throughout South Africa.  Mike employs a team of individuals who are area or regional Managers, whose function it is to spend most of their time in the stores to ensure that they are compliant in terms of the Company’s policies and procedures, that staff are trained and informed on new products and motivated to sell and that targets are achieved.  George is one of these regional Managers.

Part of George’s duties is to compile and file reports to Head Office on each store that he visits.  Due to the number stores that fall under George’s responsibility, time is of the essence and in short supply and there are often many weeks that George does not have time to physically get to the office and he must communicate with Head Office and his stores via e-mail from home.

Obviously in this instance, George is entitled to claim these Telkom calls and Internet expenditure back from Mike’s Company.  These claims would also include the VAT portion of the amounts to be claimed back.

In fact, if the truth be told, any expenses that are incurred by an employee, on behalf of the employer must be reimbursed to the employee, inclusive of VAT (of course this only applies where VAT has been charged).

The employer then would be entitled to claim (where applicable) the VAT portion of these reimbursements when they calculate their VAT from the offset between the input and output VAT.

If you are not sure about what can and can’t be claimed contact your nearest SARS office.

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, January 11, 2017

Networking 101 - Networking with Passion

Networking 101 – Networking with Passion

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

I have been asked several times, over the last two years or so a question that has caused me great pain in my personal capacity.

The question is : “How do you find your passion?”.

For those of you who know me, you know that my passion is possibly one of my greatest strengths.  I have been doing what I do best for in excess of 30 years now, and I have no idea and cannot even begin to think of what it would be like to do something else!  So living my passion as it were, is something that is natural to me, and whilst I can understand to some extent that many people  do work or operate in a field that they are not passionate about, due to financial constraints, lack of education and/or opportunity (or whatever other reason there may be), I still find it terribly difficult to understand how they could not know what their passion is.  My question in return is always “How do you go through life, without a passion”.  On some level, I understand that I am very fortunate to be able to do the work that I am passionate about, but then I guess I also believe that to some extent, you make your own “luck” and that you are drawn in some inextricable way to what you are best suited for.  For me that was a ‘no brainer’ for others it appears that it is something that they haven’t even thought about.

My answer to the question posed above, is usually “Well if you had to win the Lotto and money was no longer an issue, what would you do for a living?”  For me the answer is very easy as I would continue to do exactly what I do now – there is no question about it!  For some the answer has been a ‘blank stare’ which leads me to believe that they don’t even dare to dream, let alone have any dreams.  Again this is very sad and difficult for me to understand.  What do you have in life, if you have no dream?  In my opinion – you merely exist!  For others the answer is “Well, I would never have to work again, so I would do nothing”.  Again for me this is a very confusing answer – I could never do ‘nothing’ and even going on holiday and leaving my laptop behind, poses quite a challenge for me.

So how do people find their passions – perhaps you all can assist me with this one?

You see, without your passion, you cannot brand yourself properly and until you are in the branding process, networking effectively just doesn’t happen!

Pause for a moment and ponder, how would I refer someone who had no ambition and/or branding and/or passion – in short someone who has no idea who he/she is and what they do – to someone who may need a service and/or a widget?  What kind of work and/or service would that person give.

In referring someone (let’s call her Jane) to perform say a bookkeeping function to someone else (let’s call him Mike), what I am doing in reality is telling Mike that Jane is a good bookkeeper and that she reliable and that she will take pride in her work and will work diligently on his books and will not steal from him.  I am giving Jane my credibility and endorsement.  I am adding value to the service I supply in my own personal capacity, to Mike.  Because I am passionate about what I do, I am diligent in what I do and my deliverables are of a high standard.  That is the only measure that Mike has, so he will automatically assume that because I have referred Jane, the standard of Jane’s work will be the same as mine.

Now the next question of course, would have to be – “Is the standard of Jane’s work as high as mine”.  The reality of this is that, it would be highly unlikely that it is.  Why?  Well because Jane does not really enjoy what she is doing, she is not going to give it her full attention and/or focus, which means that the work will probably be half hearted and mistakes would probably be frequent.

What does that do to my credibility?  Will Mike take a referral from me again or will he wonder if I am going to send him someone who is of no use to him as he has to double check everything that she produces?  I doubt it!  Where is my ‘value add’ now – pretty much down the toilet!

So quite clearly, in my opinion, the first thing that you have to know before you even start to think about networking successfully, is what your PASSION is.

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

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Business Tips - When to Give Up Control

BUSINESS TIPS – When to Give up Control

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines ‘Entrepreneur” as ‘Person in effective control of commercial undertaking; one who undertakes a business or enterprise with chance of profit or loss; contractor acting as intermediary’ and “Manager” as ‘Person conducting a business institution.’  As you can see they are quite similar, but very different.

All the Entrepreneurs that I know have a dream.  They are also particularly skilled in whatever it is that they do – but here’s the question – does that mean that they are skilled in ‘the Business of Business’?  The answer, if I am to be honest is most definitely not.  It’s not from a lack of passion you understand – it’s just that they are usually not particularly interested in the ‘running’ of a business (unless that is what their passion is) and there in lies the dilemma.

You see, at some point they are faced with a decision and that is ‘should I continue to manage the company or stick with the dream?’

Whilst the company is small and they’re working out of their garage or one of the bedrooms in their home, this is not really a problem – as the business grows however, more and more time will be spent on ‘the business of business’, which is the running of the business and less and less time will be spent on doing what they love, which is what fueled their passion in the first place.

So when is the right time to hand over the reigns and the running of your business?  Many folk say that there never is a right time, some say when you are looking for investors or outside capital.  To each individual who has faced this particular dilemma the timing and when it should be done, may differ, but what does not differ is the difficultly in making the right choice.

Part of the problem is that many Entrepreneurs are themselves good managers, but that may not be their passion  or their dream and most of them think that they can ‘do it all’ themselves.  Personally, I think that the first decision that has to be made is ‘how big do you want to grow the company’.  How big is the dream?  Is it one that will provide you and your family with enough income for you to live adequately or is the dream to own an empire – perhaps it is somewhere in between.  Whatever your decision, it is really tough for anyone to relinquish their dream and hand it over to someone else to manage.

Once the decision has been made though, finding the right manager or management team to help you realize your dream is the next step and that often comes with it’s own particular set of headaches, so  making sure that you are clear about what you want and where you want the business to go is of paramount importance.

Ultimately though, it will allow you, the Entrepreneur to do what you do best and that is to ‘dream’ and to turn those dreams into realities.

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, January 09, 2017

Motivation - Profound Success


By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote or rather piece today comes from Ralph Marston, who says:

“Real success is not merely a matter of getting what you want. After all, a newborn infant with a loud cry can accomplish that.
Real success comes from fully being who you are. Real success comes from giving your own unique value to life.
The less you need, the more fulfilled and powerful and effective you are. As your peacefulness increases, so does your energy level.
Choose not to let the small things anger you, or annoy you, or distract you. And keep in mind that most things are small things.
Stop fretting so much about whether or not you're getting your way. Seek instead to relax your judgment, and to find the unique value that is in each moment.
You cannot ever fully control everything that happens, and in fact you would not want to do so. Enjoy true success by learning how to take whatever happens, and to make it work for the good of all concerned.”

Wow!  Powerful words indeed and as I read through them, I can see once again, that I really need to work on my anger around small issues and control issues.  I seem to be getting angry all the time and it’s over things that I really should be walking away from – such a time waster – anger over silly things.

I think however, that it is important to examine ourselves from  time to time to see where we are at that point in time.  To try and find the root or cause of what it is that is making you react in the way that you are currently reacting.

For me at the moment, I am aware of the spurts of anger, and then usually get annoyed with myself for being angry at silly things!  So it is really time to ascertain what is at the cause of the anger – a time for self examination – a time to deal with issues, so that I can move forward.

So, tell me – do you know what is impeding your advancement towards your own personal success?

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

Friday, January 06, 2017



By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

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

If you will remember, the sixth indicator of how to determine if the person is an employee is:

6). the person is provided with the tools of trade or work equipment by the other person.

Well that seems to be pretty straight forward, doesn’t it.  Obviously they are not talking about pens and pencils and the like, being supplied as tools of the trade, but it would include things like telephones and computers etc.

Should the person be provided with the tools of the trade free of charge or even if the person pays for them at some stage, this would make no difference at all.  They would still be considered an employee.

The seventh and final indicator of how to determine if the person is an employee is:

7). the person only works for or renders services to one person.

Clearly someone who has their own business, would not be working and/or rendering their services to only one company, so this is a really good indicator and easy to spot.  The code is also really clear on the fact that is makes no difference whether that work is permitted in terms of the employment relationship or whether the employee is ‘moonlighting’ and is therefore contravening the terms and conditions of their Letter of Appointment.

Don’t forget though that it if any one (and not necessarily all) of the indicators is present, then the person is presumed to be an employee until the employer and/or the person proves otherwise.

I trust that that makes it a little clearer about who an employee is.

Next week, we will look at some of the different types of rebuttable presumptions, should the employer and/or the person decide to challenge the ruling(s).

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

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Tax 101 - Does the Small Business Rates Apply to Sole Proprietors

TAX 101 - Does the Small Business Rates Apply to Sole Proprietors

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC.

Now here is one for the history books – me writing about tax!

Firstly let it be understood, I am no expert on Tax and I am not a Tax consultant.  That said, there are issues that even I understand on how we as SMME’s (small, medium, micro  enterprises) can save ourselves some money.

Where ever we go, we hear people talking about how the tax man is messing with us, how our businesses are being ‘strangled’ by the tax man.  How difficult it is for the small business owner to survive because of the taxes and how Government should assist the SMME.

Well to be quite honest, every year I see evidence of just that!  Government relaxing criteria on the SMME, SARS relaxing tax for the SMME.  What I don’t see, is the SMME taking advantage of what has been offered. Perhaps it is just easier to moan and groan and blame someone else for our misfortune or the fact that we often don’t think about what we are doing.

Small businesses have preferential rates that are applicable, but one of the requirements is that the business must trade either as a (Pty) company or as a Close Corporation in order to qualify.

Now already I can see the eyes moving heaven ward.  Think about it for a moment.  If your company is not registered as a company, how is SARS expected to know if your personal account is being used for a legitimate business or if on the face of it you have ‘created’ a business – which runs through your personal account, in order to claim the preferential rates?  Come on now be fair – registering your business, tells SARS that yours is a legitimate business.

As a registered business, SARS is now able to award you the preferential rates.  This means that instead of paying maximum of 42% as an individual or Sole Proprietor, as a registered Close Corporation or Private Company you get to pay a maximum of 28%.  The reality of this is a saving of 14% on your bottom line and I am sure that you will agree with me that that is not to be sniffed at.

Now I can hear all of you saying, “yes, but now I am paying 42% as an individual and 28% as a business!”  Well not really hey, especially if you are doing your books correctly!

Firstly, you should be claiming all of the expenses and allowances that you are entitled to, through your business.  This should leave you in your personal capacity, with only the personal expenses and incidentals that you cannot claim through your business and then this should form the ‘salary’ that your business pays you on a monthly basis.  Now here comes the interesting part – if your ‘salary’ is less than the minimum, then you don’t pay tax as an individual at all.

So I urge you as SMME’s to go and register your business, then register your business as an employer and employ yourself.  Following the rules and the guidelines, will mean huge savings in taxes.

Huge savings in taxes will also increase your productivity too!  Why increased productivity you may ask?  Well that’s a simple one to answer – you see all the time that you used to spend moaning and groaning about how badly the tax man is treating you can now be used to sell more product and/or your services.

The bottom line of course is that you – yes you – need to change your mindset and work with the system.  You will find it far more rewarding than the constant butting you head against a brick wall that you all seem hell bent on doing.

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

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Networking 101 - Why I Network

Networking 101 - Why I Network

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

Networking is a daily part of my life, in fact I could not imagine how my life would be if I were not able to ‘network’! I am a ‘natural’ networker and it is at times excruciatingly difficult for me to understand that this is not the case with many people!  How they ‘manage’ is beyond me, which is probably why I keep threatening to write a book which I will entitle ‘The Reluctant Entrepreneur!’   Most people burst into nervous laughter when I make this statement, I suspect because they never know what next to expect from me, but to illustrate my meaning, I would like to relate the following true story:

During the latter half of 2005, I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop that included Nadia Bilchik as the main speaker.

For those of you who can remember that far back, Nadia used to be an M-net Anchor Lady during the 1980’s and 90’s.  My favourite memory of Nadia was her character in the “Crunchie” ad’s although she also appeared in several South African movies over the years.

The story goes (and this came from Nadia herself) that Nadia has always been a ‘people’s person’ who chatted easily with everyone with no thought of race, colour, social standing or gender.  A real networker!  Nadia made friends where ever she went.  During this time one of the people that Nadia always touched base with was the Security chap at M-net.  What possible reason would she have for doing that, you may wonder, read on and find out!

During 1997, Nadia’s husband was to be relocated to Atlanta Georgia, in America and Nadia’s little world fell apart!  Her whole support group of family and friends’, that she had built up over the years were here in sunny South Africa and now she would have to move to an unknown part of the world, where she knew no-one! Not only that, but being a ‘big fish in a little pond’, Nadia would be moving somewhere, where she was not known at all!  Imagine if you will, her distress.  Where would she work and how would she get into the kind of work that she was used to?

Nadia told anyone who cared to listen of her dilemma, including the security guard.

The security guard (let’s call him George), unbeknown to Nadia, had been on some or other course, with security guards from all over the world.  Don’t ask what the course was …… I have no idea!  Anyway, I digress – George had, during the course of his course, met a security guard from . . . .  you’ve guessed it, Atlanta Georgia (let’s call this chap Mike) and not only was Mike from Atlanta Georgia, he also worked at the CNN studios there!  The rest as they say is history!

What happened was, that George contacted his buddy Mike and told him all about Nadia back here in South Africa.  Mike promised to help.  George got Nadia to do a video tape of herself in glorious technicolour and when Nadia got to Atlanta, Mike handed said tape to the people who count at the Studio’s there.  Nadia landed herself a fat job and now has her own slot on CNN, all because Nadia was a friendly, natural Networker!

Powerful stuff wouldn’t you say – who would have thought!

Now because I have discovered that not everyone knows how to network, I have decided that I will be giving out some useful tips on the blog on a Tuesday – Tuesday will become “Networking Tips day”.  So you can either log into my blog every Tuesday or alternatively, you could get the book!

I recently had the privilege of meeting Helen Nicholson, the Guru of Networking.  Helen has written a book entitled “Networking: The Unwritten Rule of Business you need to know”.  Although I consider myself a ‘natural networker’, meeting Helen in person the other day for a chat and then reading her book, without pause, showed me that I too have a lot to learn!

I have my own signed copy of the book and strongly suggest that you get your own copy.  For those of you who would like a copy of Helen’s book, please e-mail your request to her on helen@helennicholson.co.za.

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

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Business Tips - When is "too much" Too Much?

BUSINESS TIPS – When is “too much” Too Much?

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

It was really interesting for me to realize that the 80/20 principal works, not only in specific areas such as 80% of your clients often only bring in 20% of your revenue, but also in general.  I have come to realize that generically speaking, 80% of my results come from 20% of the actions that I perform.

How cool is that?  Actually the reality is that we should simplify it even more.

Whilst many of us have several irons in the fire, we function better and are more successful when we focus on one or two things at a time and make them work instead of giving only a ‘fleeting’ attention, time and effort to a great number of things that we are involved in. Often the greater number of things that we see ourselves as involved in don’t even see the light of day.

Simplicity is the name of the game as I have learnt time and time again.

Often complex and complicated problems are best served by simple solutions and often these simple solutions are actually right under our own noses.

Living life in the middle of clutter and in the middle of a hubbub of activity only makes it more difficult to see the simple solution.

Don’t get me wrong, at no time should all the opportunities and ideas just be discarded – there will be room for many of them to blossom and grow at some stage – just not all at once and just not right now.

So as the KISS acronym goes “Keep it simple stupid”!

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