Tips To Help You Start Your Own All Round Translation Business

Tips To Help You Start Your Own All Round Translation Business



Tips To Help You Start Your Own All-Round Translation Business
There is​ no shortage of​ translators who take the​ plunge and set up shop as​ self-employed freelancers,​ but few have the​ ambition or​ the​ spirit to​ start up their own all-round translation agency .​
This is​ not surprising,​ of​ course,​ as​ the​ establishment of​ a​ full- scale translation agency is​ a​ quantum leap compared with what it​ takes to​ launch a​ viable freelance practice .​
Nevertheless,​ the​ intellectual and financial rewards of​ business ownership can be substantial .​
Below I​ will discuss various aspects you will have to​ take into account should you consider beginning your own professional and all-round translation business.
All-round translations
First of​ all,​ what is​ meant,​ in​ this particular context,​ by the​ term ‘all-round’? Basically,​ it​ refers to​ the​ scope of​ your product .​
As a​ freelancer your output would be confined to​ your own language combination and degree of​ specialisation; as​ an​ agency owner you will be able to​ supply your clients with translations across a​ whole range of​ source and target languages and disciplines,​ including commercial,​ technical,​ medical and legal documents .​
In theory,​ your range would be limited only by the​ number of​ staff you would be prepare to​ contract .​
Internal organisation
If you want to​ establish your own translation company,​ you would be well advised to​ find a​ competent partner first – unless you are willing to​ hire staff right from the​ start (which,​ in​ most cases,​ is​ not a​ recommendable procedure) .​
Ideally,​ your business partner should be a​ person whose qualities are complementary to​ your own,​ if​ only because in​ such cases the​ division of​ tasks is​ usually quite obvious (and a​ potential source of​ conflict is​ removed) .​
There are good reasons to​ separate responsibility for product quality (i.e.,​ the​ quality of​ the​ translations) from organisational responsibilities (order processing,​ account management,​ etc.) .​
These two roles do not go together very well in​ practice,​ and the​ associated skills are not usually combined within one and the​ same person anyway .​
Find suitable office accommodation that includes at​ least two rooms: one library-style room where you can work in​ peace,​ and one nerve centre where the​ business is​ done .​
Make sure you have at​ least three computer workstations (one spare station is​ no luxury) and an​ office printer,​ a​ telephone switchboard with at​ least two external lines and a​ fax .​
Get yourself a​ straightforward high-quality accounting programme with a​ CRM module and document your working methods in​ detailed systematic procedures.
Don’t forget to​ lay down and formalise a​ number of​ essential agreements on​ tasks and responsibilities with your business partner,​ so as​ to​ prevent any misunderstandings.
Business Plan
Once you have gathered all the​ information you need,​ you should draw up a​ Business Plan .​
Examples of​ such plans are available at​ your local Chamber of​ Commerce,​ or​ can be downloaded (for a​ fee) from the​ Internet .​
These specimen copies are structured in​ such a​ way that they will assist you in​ each step of​ your own Business Plan .​
One of​ the​ main advantages of​ having a​ reliable Business Plan is​ that it​ will present you with a​ realistic estimate of​ the​ money you will need to​ get your agency off the​ ground .​
If your capital requirements exceed your private budget (and it​ is​ quite likely that they will),​ you will have to​ present a​ thorough Business Plan to​ the​ bank in​ order to​ persuade them that your plans will pay off.
High-quality freelance translator network
The main asset of​ any translation agency is​ obviously its network of​ reliable translators .​
Incidentally,​ you need not be a​ networking freak to​ build up such a​ freelance network .​
Many freelancers will present themselves to​ you spontaneously as​ soon as​ they get wind of​ your existence; alternatively,​ you can actively recruit them and check out CVs on​ a​ variety of​ collective freelance websites,​ such as​ Translators Café or​ GoTranslators .​
The snag is​ that you will be hard put to​ appraise a​ freelancer’s skills if​ you do not master the​ language concerned .​
CV assessment is​ important,​ but by no means sufficient: you will need to​ be able to​ judge the​ quality of​ a​ freelancer’s actual output before entrusting him or​ her to​ your clients!
To obviate this problem,​ check your own network of​ colleagues or​ friends for highly-educated native speakers of​ the​ language concerned,​ ask several freelancers to​ submit (free) trial translations,​ have them assessed and select the​ two or​ three most promising freelancers for each language combination you intend to​ offer .​
Carefully document the​ strengths and weaknesses of​ each selected freelancer and list the​ specialisations .​
Note that you won’t get a​ truly reliable picture of​ a​ freelancer’s capacity and skills until he/she has had the​ opportunity to​ do several translation jobs for you .​
Once you have a​ pool of​ reliable freelance translators for each language combination,​ you can obviously also ask them to​ check and assess trial translations submitted by other candidates .​
Another point to​ bear in​ mind is​ that the​ freelancers you decide to​ work with should comply with all the​ requirements imposed by your country’s Tax & Customs Administration .​
Each freelancer should be able to​ produce a​ formal statement,​ issued by the​ tax authorities,​ attesting to​ his/her status as​ an​ independent translator .​
Reliable network of​ suppliers
Your freelance translators are obviously your most important suppliers,​ but the​ supply network comprises other parties as​ well that will need to​ be carefully selected as​ you will need to​ use their services on​ an​ ongoing basis .​
These include the​ bank,​ the​ accountant,​ the​ printer and the​ graphic designer.
Marketing
Once the​ internal set-up of​ your agency is​ in​ place,​ your first priority should be to​ recruit clients in​ a​ systematic manner .​
For many start-ups in​ the​ translation business,​ this is​ the​ most difficult hurdle .​
Obviously there is​ a​ multitude of​ strategies that can help you attract clients in​ the​ business-to-business segment (which accounts for most of​ the​ turnover of​ any self-sufficient translation agency) .​
One very helpful tool,​ if​ used correctly,​ is​ Direct Marketing .​
In principle,​ two different Direct Marketing strategies are available:
1 .​
Internet marketing
One effective and relatively cheap method of​ generating business in​ the​ short term is​ Search Engine Optimisation (SEO),​ a​ term that refers to​ a​ variety of​ techniques to​ help you strengthen your presence on​ the​ Internet,​ and to​ help prospective clients find you there .​
a​ strong position in​ Internet search engines will increase the​ number of​ times you are invited to​ submit a​ quote for a​ translation job,​ for the​ simple reason that you will be more likely to​ be selected if​ you are easy to​ find on​ the​ Internet .​
Some Internet facility agencies have specialised in​ Search Engine Optimisation and will be able to​ improve your search engine rating within a​ couple of​ months .​
Most of​ these companies charge annual subscription fees .​
If you want immediate results,​ ask for an​ adword campaign.
2 .​
Database marketing
This a​ rather more expensive client acquisition technique .​
Call large international corporations and government agencies likely to​ produce texts for translation on​ a​ regular basis,​ and ask for the​ name of​ the​ person who is​ responsible for translation services (usually an​ official at​ the​ Director’s Office,​ Communications or​ the​ Marketing Department) .​
Gather the​ information in​ a​ database and mail the​ contact persons four or​ five times a​ year .​
The mailing could comprise your company brochure,​ a​ letter of​ recommendation,​ flyers,​ a​ magazine for business relations or​ any other item that will help remind the​ reader of​ your name and the​ level of​ quality that you offer.
An effective database contains at​ least 1,​000 companies or​ other organisations,​ and should also contain the​ names of​ the​ contact persons .​
It goes without saying that you will also have to​ invest in​ continually updating your database.




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