Real world commentary on starting a call center BPO business plan
How to blogs are easy to write, and popular too. But, how practical is the generic advice really? Does general advice cover “what if” scenarios? In real life, does business ever go as planned? Does your text book always, sometimes or never cover what to do in situations that really do happen? The answer is that generic advice will only give you a general framework of ideas of what to do to start out in a BPO business. The rest should ideally be covered in detailed tutorials, but rarely is. Part of the problem is that there is no market for nitpicky business advice — few want to read it unless it is juicy and drama-packed. So, here is my commentary about generic how to start a business advice.
Create a business plan
It is a well known fact that individuals who succeed are much more likely to have written plans than those who do not succeed. The fact that you wrote your plan down indicates that your though is more decisive, and also better thought out. A BPO business without a business plan is like a road trip without a map or idea of where you want to go. You need some type of plan, and the best plan incorporates all of the variations of what you might do. In real life, you have no idea of what direction your business will go if you are successful at all.
Real World Advice
The most important real world advice I can give you is to be receptive to what people want from you, and don’t be fixed on what you think you want to do. If you want to do customer support in call centers, but your clients want you to do Android technical support for 70% of their accounts, it’s time to learn Android. If you only have one request for Android, then it might not be worth pursuing. Basically, you have to be ready, willing, and responsive to shift directions when you feel it makes sense to do so. Being too rigid can kill a small call center startup.
If you wish to attract investors to your BPO startup, a professional and formal business plan will be necessary. You should have it done in conjunction with a professional who specializes in formal business plans who can guide you through the process. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail, so don’t skimp on planning. Without the head of the company having a solid background in BPO work and management, investors will not give you the time of day — nor should they. A company without a foundation will likely not get off the ground. But, there are plenty of opportunities to pay your dues at call centers in the Philippines and India and get experience.
Specify how your company fills a need in the market place and why you feel you will be successful. If you have already been successful in the market previously, that is a type of indication that you will do well again.
Write a quick description as to what your services will include. The critical aspect here is to specify what your company will do better in terms of hiring, training, hours of operation, and specialized, customized or tailored services. Companies that do well tend to focus on particular tasks and be experts at what they focus on in addition to having a few supplementary and related tasks they do as well.
You need to document and research how large your market is, how large the market is projected to grow, how big your niche market is, etc. You need to include market pricing, government regulations, operating costs, and more.
Real World Advice
Market analysis is all find and dandy. But, what is more important is knowing how you can penetrate the market yourself, and what people will pay you. They might pay you a lot less than others are charging until you build a reputation and steady clientele. It is hard to pay employees, pay rent, and make a profit when you are being paid 20% less for the same work the other guys get full price for. Temporary as that situation is, take it into consideration.
In addition to specifying the wide variety of services you wish to offer, you need to specify this clearly on your website. Many websites go on and on about high and lofty company missions without ever mentioning what the company actually does! Fluff vs. facts. If you offer too many services which you know nothing about, you might look good on paper until someone actually uses you. If you focus on doing particular services well, and don’t do what you can’t do well, your reputation will precede you.
Marketing & Sales
You need to know how you plan on selling services. How many salespeople will you have? Will you have a website or online advertising (recommended.) Who are you going to contact for jobs? You should make a very long list. You need to know the analytics and metrics of service sales as well such as how many calls you’ll have to make to get a single contract. In a small startup you will be the sales, management, training, marketing, and finance department. If you don’t know how to do all of these things you’ll have to rely on a partner who might easily betray you, quit, or slack off leaving you high and dry.
If you are just starting out, it is hard to know how much money you’ll need. You need staff, an office, phone lines, computers, utilities, consultants, and more. It is better to overestimate how much you’ll need as running out of money will shut you down permanently.
The advice I read online is that you should have a projection of financial data for the first five years. In real life, you have no idea of what will be going on in five years, even if you are very established. Markets change fast, you will change, and you probably won’t even be in business in five years (a cheerful thought.) Whatever your financial projections may be are just guesses. I tend to suspect that those who do financial projections for Coca-Cola Corporation are the best in the business and yield a lot of accuracy for their statements. You unfortunately do not have Coca-Cola’s highly paid experts. So, just do your best and don’t invest any faith in your numbers as they are no more permanent than clouds in the sky.
Include any supporting documents, important information, credit history, reference letters, licenses, permits, contracts, etc.