Afrinection recently interviewed Nikki Viljoen, founder of Viljoen Consulting Ltd. operating for the past 15 years. She has worked with hundreds of African entrepreneurs and start-ups, where she shares her expertise on the ‘how to’ of starting and running a sustainable business. Read more of our engaging interview with her below.
Q. Where did you grow up and what/who inspired you to set up your start-up, social enterprise, or innovation?
I grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe and it was while I was working for Glomail in South Africa, as the HOD of the Internal Audit Division that, where many of the 'franchisees' had to be rescued over and over again, that I realized that most Entrepreneurs have no idea "how to" do all the Compliance, Administration, Operations and HR requirements that need to be done generically in every business. These four aspects are what I consider to be the foundation or the infrastructure of a business and although they carry the highest risk in the business they are given the least amount of care. So in 2003, armed with only my last months pay check and at the ripe old age of 46, I left my very comfortable job in the corporate world and stepped out into the world of the Entrepreneur. I have several workshops that have been designed specifically for Entrepreneurs and that are written by Entrepreneurs. They are designed specifically to deal practically with the challenges that are faced by most Entrepreneurs, irrespective of whether they sell a product or a service.
Q. In what year did you start your start-up, social enterprise, or innovation?
Q. What does your start-up, social enterprise, or innovation do? What problem does it intend to solve?
I am an Internal Auditor & Business Administration specialist and I work here in South Africa (and in some other parts of the world from time to time), with hundreds of Entrepreneurs and Start-ups, where I teach them the ‘how to’ of Starting and Running a sustainable business. My business has been going for over 16 years now but I have over 47 years’ experience in the Operations and Administrative field.
I run workshops for entrepreneurs and Start-ups on the “how to” of several aspects of business, such as (but not limited to):
How to Write a Business Plan;
A Basic Practical Guide to Starting and Running a Business;
Financial Literacy for Non-Financial Entrepreneurs;
Contract, Proposals and Tender Documents - The How To for Entrepreneurs;
HR 101 for Entrepreneurs;
Corporate Governance, Compliance & the New Companies Act - for Entrepreneurs;
How to Export – for Entrepreneurs.
I also work with big corporate companies, especially with their procurement processes and their supply chains. The Corporate uses their CSI spend to upskill their supply chain. It means a more effective and efficient supply chain, they get additional points for using their CSI spend on Entrepreneurs and again additional BEE points for using Entrepreneurs. I am also an automatic Level 4. Additionally, I work in some of the Corporates to help them, firstly to identify their own problem areas within their businesses and then assist them with putting processes and procedures in place to correct the problem areas. This of course, means that they too will become more efficient and sustainable. On rare occasions I get to perform forensic audits, which I particularly enjoy.
I have also written and shared over 2000 blogs on a variety of topics that are geared specifically for Entrepreneurs, but can also be used by Start-ups and even Corporates. This led to me being rated and ranked by Blogger.Com who rated me 8.9 out of a possible 10 and this ranked me 5th in the world in my category. I have a by-monthly column in the Your Business Magazine and have been writing for them since 2010 and am interviewed on a regular basis on the Big Small Business Show and am able to give out valuable business related tips.
Lastly, I am one of a hand full of individuals who has been certified by ILO (International Labour Organisation) to perform Gender Audits and finally, I am an Alumnae Mentor for the Cherie Blair Foundation, where I have been mentoring women Entrepreneurs from all over the world, since 2012.
Q. In which country/countries/regions does your start-up, social enterprise, or innovation operate?
Currently here in South Africa, but as soon as I have mastered the art of doing workshops/courses online, I will be able to expand firstly throughout the rest of Africa and then eventually globally.
Q. What has been the highlight since you started your start-up, social enterprise, or innovation?
Seeing the 'ah-ha' moments on the faces of my delegates and watching some of my clients achieve awards.
Q. What has been a key lesson learned so far?
Never stop learning! Never stop teaching! Always be your own true quirky, authentic self.
Q. Where do you want your start-up, social enterprise, or innovation to be in five years?
Doing exactly what it does now but in far more countries.
Q. What are your 3 key tips for aspiring and budding (social) entrepreneurs? Be specific and explain us why.
1. Your product or service is important. Your sales and marking is important. Your infrastructure is imperative. It doesn't matter how awesome your product or your service is, it doesn't matter how fantastic your sales team is or your marketing is, if you cannot deliver what you are selling or your cannot collect the money that you are owed or you are constantly being fined for non-compliance, or you have no idea where you are financially, then you may be spending more that what is coming in and you will bankrupt yourself.
2. Clarity! If cash is King the Clarity must be Queen. If you don't know where you want to go, how on earth are you going to get there!
3. The four most dangerous words in the dictionary are 'Assumption, Expectation, Perception and Interpretation' because they very seldom meet reality. Think about it for a moment, how many times have you heard someone on the other end of a phone? How many times, when you meet that person do they look completely different to the way you pictured them to look? Don't Assume things. get the facts. Don't just expect things to happen they way you want them to, get the facts. Don't presume that people know what you are talking about, make sure. When you interpret things, make sure that your interpretation matches the other person's intent. Ask questions - lots and lots of questions. Dr. John Demartini (one of my gurus) always says "The quality of your life is governed by the quality of your questions? Make sure you understand, not only from your own perspective but also from the other persons.
Q. Why did you join Afrinection and why should others join as well?
I connected with Afrinection on LinkedIn. I don't remember if I was the one who did the connecting or if it was the other way around . . . when I had a look at the website, I was impressed with the potential.
Q. Is there anything you would like to add?
Entrepreneurs have to the grow the economy of any and every country, that not a perception it is a well known, documented fact. That is our reality. That said a huge number of Entrepreneurs never even make it out of the starting gates . . again, that is a fact and that is a reality. The statistics prove it. I am passionate about empowering Entrepreneurs so that they can go out there in the world, in whichever country they come from and to whichever country they want to sell their product or service in, and be successful because they have set their infrastructure up correctly.
Connect with Nikki on Afrinection today by visiting her company profile on Afrinection. If you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog plost, please create a free company or individual profile then click on the following link to complete an interview questionnaire: