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

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 or

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.”


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


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 or

Friday, May 26, 2017

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

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 or

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

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 or

Friday, May 19, 2017

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

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 or

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

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

Friday, May 12, 2017



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

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 or

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

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 or

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 or

Friday, May 05, 2017



By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

Annual Leave and the various requirements, is something that we hear about time after time.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act – Section 20, deals with some of the conditions that apply to annual leave.

The Act says:
(1) An employer must grant an employee: -
(a) at least three calendar weeks (15 days) annual leave on full pay in respect of each 12 months of employment (the ‘annual leave cycle’)
(b) by agreement, at lease one day of annual leave on full pay for every 17 days on which the employee worked or was entitled to be paid, or
(c) by agreement, at least one hour of annual leave on full pay for every 17 hours on which the employee worked or was entitled to be paid.
(2) An employer must grant an employee an additional day of paid leave if a public holiday falls on a day during an employee’s annual leave on which the employee would otherwise have worked.
(3) An employer may reduce an employee’s entitlement to annual leave by the number of days occasional leave on full pay granted to the employee at the employee’s request in that annual leave cycle.
(4) An employer must grant at least three calendar weeks annual leave on full pay in respect of each 12 months of employment (the annual leave cycle) not later than six months after the end of the annual leave cycle or the year in which the leave was earned.
(5) Annual leave must be taken: -
(a) in accordance with an agreement between the employer and the employee; or
(b) if there is no agreement in terms of paragraph (a), at a time determined by the employer in accordance with this clause.
(6) An employer may not require or permit an employee to take leave during: -
(a) any other period of leave to which the employee is entitled in terms of this part of the Sectoral determination; or
(b) any period of notice of termination of employment.
(7) An employer may not require or permit an employee to work for the employer during any period of annual leave.
(8) An employer may not pay an employee instead of granting paid leave in terms of this clause except on termination of employment.
(9) An employer must pay an employee leave pay at least equivalent to the remuneration that the employee would have received for working for a period equal to the period of annual leave, calculated on the basis of the employee’s rate of remuneration immediately before the period of leave.
(10) An employer must pay an employee leave pay: -
(a) before the beginning of the period of leave; or
(b) by agreement, on the employee’s normal payday.

Let’s have a look at what this all means next time.

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

Thursday, May 04, 2017

SALES 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income – Part 5

SALES 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income – Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting.

How about your attitude and mindset?  Quite frankly, I am sick to death of sales people who make me feel like they are doing me a favour, or how about the sales person who you ask directions to a specific item and they send their eyes heavenwards, let out a huge sigh and then ever so slowly start walking in the direction of . . . well who knows where because I never stick around long enough to find out.

Prospective clients do not come into the store or office, specifically to listen to your trials and tribulations – they come in to buy.  Your personal life is, well exactly that, your personal life and it has nothing to do with the client.

Sitting or standing there with a long face is not going to help your personal situation and it is surely not going to help your professional situation either.  Leave your troubles at home, don’t bring them to work.

Make each prospective client feel like they are the only reason that you have come to work today.  Their wish is your command.  Show them what they need to see, tell them what they need to know about the service or product and do it with a smile and then watch what happens.

Think about how you react in a restaurant.  There you are waiting to try and catch the waiter’s eye because you want to order, but the waiter is so busy chatting to his friends, that you and your needs are totally forgotten – except of course when it is time to leave a tip, then of course you are not forgotten at all.  Focus on the needs of the client, don’t be distracted by the other staff, take care of your clients and they will take care of you in the form of a sale that will in all probability result in a commission, a tip or even a well earned testimonial to the boss.

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

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Networking 101 - Keep Your Focus

Networking 101 – Keep Your Focus

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 fifth mistake he says is “Unfocused conversation.  Networking is a chance to demonstrate focus, drive and confidence.  Aimless rambling is pointless and suggests you’re not a focused professional. Showcase your communication skills by expressing yourself succinctly and ask precise questions.”

This is also one of my greatest pet hates!  The only way that I can describe this to you is by telling you an actual story.

There is a young chap, let’s call him John, who faithfully comes to as many meetings as he possibly can.  He is passionate about what he does, he is passionate about networking meetings and he really does see the value in them.  What can possibly be the problem, you may ask – well it’s like this – I have no idea what it is that he does!

I have been seeing him at networking functions now for the better part of almost two years, he is still doing the same thing (I think – there is no way to tell) and I still have no idea about what he does.  I have tried meeting him on a one on one so that he can explain it to me in greater detail and I was more confused than ever!

You see, when he gets up to tell his story, it changes all the time and it hops about.  It is so bad that I am not even sure if it is a product or a service and I am not alone in this, as everyone that I have spoken to is as confused as I am!

Sadder than that even, is the fact that he knows that I do not understand what he does and instead of trying to assist me to ‘get the point’ he is amused by my confusion.  So amused, in fact, that his latest introduction of himself, starts off by him telling everyone that he will try and keep it short so that they will not be as confused as what I am.  How bizarre!

Perhaps a good way to deal with this is to set down points of what it is that you are trying to sell (product or service – let’s get that right from the beginning) and from there what the advantages are and the value adds.

Confusing the very people you need to assist you with contacts and referrals is just is not the way to go about things.  People need to understand what it is that you do in order to hook you up with the right people.

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

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Business Tips - A Start-Up Never Closes

BUSINESS TIPS – A Startup Never Closes

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Judging from some of the queries and e-mails that I have been getting over the last couple of months, it is abundantly clear that the perception around business startups is really, really, really skewered.

I know that at the moment, everyone wants to be a “CEO” or a “Director” and that on the face of things it is not a bad thing – it’s good to dream.  The reality though is that having a title won’t make your business a success and having a title doesn’t mean that you can sit back and delegate all the tasks and that’s the extent of your involvement in the business.

The reality is that as a startup – more often than not, you are not only the “CEO”, but also the PA, the marketing department, the admin department, the tea lady (whether you are male or female) and the delivery driver.  The reality is that although your ‘doors’ may close to customers at the end of the day, it is highly unlikely that your business duties will allow you to pack up and have the luxury of putting your tools down for the day.

Sadly many corporate employees look at their bosses and/or directors and see only what they want to see – the afternoons playing golf or the expensive cars or expensive clothes. What they don’t see is all the hard work, the 18 hour days and no week-ends to public holidays, the loss of family life.  They don’t see the working while you are under the weather and sick, and oh . .  don’t forget the trying to convince yourself that you were in bed for two days recuperating from a surgical procedure and those days amount to your time off for the next 6 months.

When you work from home, unless you control it, it actually becomes worse.  Going upstairs to bed at night, I more often than not turn right at the top of the stairs – into the office, instead of left into the bedroom.

I soon realized that no matter how ‘smart’ I worked, I needed to put in the long hours in order to set things up and get ahead of the competition.  I knew that I had to make the sacrifices then, in order for me to reap the rewards further on down the line.

Needless to say, many would be Entrepreneurs give up and fall by the wayside, disillusioned by the world of business – the reality of what it takes to grow and run  a sustainable business, victims of their own shortsighted, un-researched, rose-tinted expectations.

Most return to the types of bosses from whence they came, blaming the government, the red tape, the economy and in fact everyone other than themselves, unwilling to take the responsibility for their own lack of judgment.  Some forage forward to the next pipe dream or hare brained scheme of ‘instant riches’ that can be amassed, again without any idea of ‘what it takes’ to achieve the type of success that only successful people can make look so easy.

Understand though – in order for them to have achieved that level of success in their businesses, they have had to put in the time – they have had to make the sacrifices, often at the cost of their marriages, their families and their loved ones and they have had to remain focused on their goals. Ultimately they have had to believe in themselves.

Question is – do you believe enough in yourself and are you willing to make this kind of sacrifice?

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