- The main things you need to know when starting a global translation brand
- Smart ways to market a new translation business
- Using action planning to position your translation agency for success
Starting any new business venture is both exciting and daunting. It requires careful planning, an entrepreneurial mindset, and a dose of courage. Building a professional translation business takes all of these and more. It requires vision, focus, and a firm grasp on the needs of customers around the world. This article discusses five important things to consider when building a global translation brand.
Recruitment: Staffing Your Business with Professional Translators
Your translation agency is only as good as your translators. To ensure the quality of your new brand, you will need a well thought out, carefully planned recruiting strategy. Your staff needs to have a good range of capabilities and knowledge in order to provide the best translation services to your clients. They need to be proficient in at least two languages. However, bilingualism alone does not guarantee a quality translation product.
ASTM and the European Committee for Standardization have developed quality assurance standards for the translation industry. These provide a good starting point for your recruiting process. Key recommended competencies are target language, subject matter, cultural knowledge, and knowledge of translation technology. Skills like these, plus higher education in translation, relevant experience, or a combination of both, are essential.
Another important decision is how your communication and payment systems will work. You also need to work out what your translation pricing will be. Your translators will most likely work remotely, so you will need to set up digital tools for collaboration, communication, time tracking, and payroll. Fortunately, in our increasingly global marketplace, there are many excellent options available.
Marketing: Promoting Your Global Translation Services
Marketing can present some unique challenges for a translation company. Many people don’t understand what high-quality translation services entail. Clients may need you to educate them on why they need your services before they purchase, so the creation of an informative website highlighting what you do is essential. Additionally, you should explore all of the social media channels available and consider appointing a social media expert to help you with this aspect of marketing.
Attending industry events, like the annual ATA conference, can be helpful. Joining local organizations like the Chamber of Commerce is also a great way to network. Furthermore, attending international business conferences and events can be a remarkably effective way to reach your market. Participation as a vendor can increase the value of these efforts as well, giving you an opportunity to talk to potential clients face-to-face and showcase your translation services.
Another way to market your company is by utilizing personalized direct mail. Stay abreast of promotions and hiring that happens within companies like advertising agencies and marketing firms. When someone receives a promotion or award or joins as a new team member, send a personal, sincere note of congratulations.
There are hundreds of other ways to market your translation agency. A personal touch and attention to detail are always important. Answering client inquiries in a prompt and friendly manner and giving your full attention to understanding their translation needs is key to your success.
Finances: Time to Plan Ahead for Your Translation Company’s Finances
When you open a translation company, you dive headfirst into the world of small business financing. Having your business’ finances in order is critical to your success. You will want to start with a well-researched business plan. This is true whether you are planning to finance your business on your own, or whether you are seeking a loan, a grant, or investors. As a minimum, you should know:
- What you need to pay your translators’ salaries and any on-costs
- Your business expenses
- Your marketing costs
- Any other incidental costs
You will also need to know what to charge for your translation services to maintain a steady cash flow. If you are unsure of how to find all this information, the help of a professional might be your best option. A small initial accountant’s bill could avoid a financial crisis due to a lack of proper planning.
Once you have taken these steps, you can automate your translation business finances by using software designed for small businesses. There are many programs (like FreshBooks, QuickBooks, and more) that can help you with accounting tasks like payroll, invoicing, and tracking expenses.
Values: Integrate Your Beliefs into Your New Translation Business
Successful businesses have values based on the beliefs of those who run them. A strong set of values can enhance the reputation of your translation agency, attract the best talent and clientele, and create a healthy and happy company culture.
Values let the outside world know what you stand for. It’s a good idea to work as a team to determine company values and incorporate them into a mission statement. Some examples to think about might be:
The Future: A Long-term Strategy for Your Translation Company
After you have determined the core values and mission statement of your business, you can use them to focus on a long-term strategy. Coming up with a strategic plan that contains your translation company’s five or ten-year goals will assist you with everything from motivation to key decisions.
A long-term strategy is essential to keep your company on track and help it grow. It should contain milestones for measuring your company’s accomplishments. It should also be flexible enough to allow opportunities to build on the strengths of your new translation company, while pursuing opportunities to correct weaknesses right away. From this vantage point, you can set your future objectives and get specific about the actions you are going to take to move your business forward.
While this list is not all-inclusive, it highlights the five main things that can serve as a framework for building your brand. This approach has been used by many companies, such as Tomedes translation services, to create successful global brands. Following these basic guidelines will ensure your new translation agency gets the best possible start.
Louise Taylor is the head of content at translation company Tomedes, which covers more than 90 languages and works with clients around the world. Louise manages the company blog and the Tomedes business translation center. Languages have fascinated her since childhood, and she has qualifications in Latin, French, German, and Spanish, as well as an excellent working knowledge of Portuguese.