Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sales 101 - Listen to the Customer

SALES 101 – Listen To The Customer

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Networking 101 - The Importance of Business Cards

Networking 101 - The Importance of Business Cards

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Networking 101 - The Importance of Business Cards

Networking 101 - The Importance of Business Cards

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Business Tips - Politics in the Workplace

BUSINESS TIPS – Politics In The Workplace

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Motivation - Taking Responsibility

MOTIVATION –  Taking Responsibility

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Networking 101 - Be On Time

Networking 101 – Be On Time

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Business Tips - Keeping Yourself Compliant

BUSINESS TIPS – Keeping Yourself Compliant

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

Motivation - Starting the Change with You

MOTIVATION – Starting the Change with You

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

There is a story that goes something like . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 09, 2017

HR 101 - Are your Staff Expenses or Investments?

HR 101 - Are your Staff Expenses or Investments?

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others see staff as an investment in their company.

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

For me, in my personal capacity they are both!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, June 08, 2017

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

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

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Networking 101 - Generosity Rules

NETWORKING 101 -  Generosity Rules

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the best value add that you can have.

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

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Business Tips - How to Manage Cash Flow

BUSINESS TIPS –  How to Manage Cash Flow

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC July 2009 December 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 05, 2017

Motivation - Prepare the way

MOTIVATION – PREPARE THE WAY

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

This week quote comes from Ralph Marston.

"Prepare the way


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

                                                               


Friday, June 02, 2017

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

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

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, June 01, 2017

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

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

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting May 2009.

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

So why no do things a little differently?

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

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

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

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