Starting a new business is a difficult process, requiring careful thinking and planning.

Luna Ntsume, executive chairman and owner of the Goldex group, is well aware of the dangers of becoming an entrepreneur, particularly in the current economic climate.
To minimise the risk of starting your own business there are five key areas that need to be addressed:
* Be in business for the right reason – Don't just go into business because you have a colleague or friend who did. By rushing into business unprepared you are setting yourself up for failure. Call centre managers often make what they thought was the logical progression and fail because they didn't think it through. The BPO sector is tough and competitive, if you are there for the wrong reasons you will be caught out.
* Assess yourself and your business – Before you do anything, asses yourself and your business, look at what opportunities are out there. What makes your business special? Are there any unique opportunities out there, and where are the best areas for growth? Have a vision and make sure it goes hand in hand with your business strategy.
* Avoid risky contracts with claw-backs – Too many SMEs starting out in the call centre space look for lucrative contracts in the financial industry. The rewards can be high with these, but the risks attached are often far greater. The main reason for this is that these contracts are often based on how much the call centre is able to sell, if you don't sell, you won't get paid. As a small business starting out, the ramifications of this can be huge, so make sure you assess your financial capabilities before deciding on which sector to focus on.
* Patience – If you are after a quick buck, the BPO sector is not the industry to be in. Traditionally it takes between 12 to 18 months to breakeven; this is due to the high start-up costs, which include; telephone bills, rent and of course salaries. It's very easy to look at the long term benefits of business, but until you can be certain of short term success, you are setting yourself up for failure.
* Align yourself with relevant organisation bodies – The call centre industry has various bodies that can assist you. As an SME you need all the help you can get, find out which body you need to be aligned with. CallingtheCape in Western Cape for example has numerous members which it serves, but it can't service all of them all of the time. Don't always expect supporting bodies to do the work for you.
Making a successful entry into the BPO sector is not easy; it requires passion, dedication and above all patience. Becoming a successful call centre entrepreneur is difficult, but if you are prepared to work hard and lay the foundation, the potential rewards will make it worthwhile.