Starting a new business from scratch is a risky venture. As in any industry, if you hope to establish a successful translation business, there are certain guidelines you should follow to give yourself the best chances for success. Some of these decisions are purely financial, while others may not appear money-related on their surface but can nevertheless have significant implications for your company’s financial viability. Heed these suggestions, and you will increase the chances of long-term success for your new business.
1. Avoid borrowing at all costs
Whether it’s credit card debt, a term loan or a line of credit, borrowing gets expensive over time. Debt servicing costs can really drag down your financial bottom line. In addition to interest costs, many debts come with application or underwriting fees, which can also get expensive. If you want to maximize the staying power of your new business, avoid borrowing or running up credit card balances. Instead, pay whatever expenses you have out of ongoing earnings, and make sure that your bills are paid in full each month. Build up reserves over time that you can use for investment in new equipment or software when appropriate. In the meantime, rely on the tools of partners, contractors, employees and freelancers.
2. Learn to handle as many aspects of your business as you can
In your new business, the more you can take care of yourself, the less need you’ll have to expand payroll or pay independent contractors. Learn to tackle things like bookkeeping on your own. Start researching call-answering services so that you know what company you might use once your phone starts ringing. Once projects start coming in, not being interrupted by a ringing phone will allow you more time to focus on your work. You can let someone else gather information from a prospective client about their project, and then follow-up with them yourself once you’ve finished more pressing tasks.
3. Define your niches and core competencies
Think about what types of work your new business will focus on. Whether it’s marketing materials, books, articles, or some other types of projects, it’s impossible to do everything well. You certainly don’t want to try to do everything, only to end up delivering clients less-than-satisfactory work. Understand that your offerings can expand later, but know what types of projects you’ll focus on in the early stages. Focus on those things that you think you can do particularly well.
4. Decide what languages you’ll translate
This will be based largely on your own knowledge of specific languages and dialects, as well as those of any partners or freelancers you intend to use. Again, it’s better to narrow down your offerings early on, rather than trying a bunch of different languages with random freelancers who may not be as skilled as you’d like. Whatever type of work you intend to do, in whatever languages, make sure that you put yourself in a position to deliver dependable, high-quality work to your clients.
5. Think about where you’ll find your customers
Some businesses advertise in regional publications, while others focus on signage or television. Many new companies do their marketing exclusively online and through social media. Spend some time thinking about how you intend to attract customers. That way you can focus your marketing efforts on the areas where they’ll do the most good. No matter where you do it or in what form, marketing generally costs money, so focusing your efforts will maximize the impact of each marketing dollar spent.
It can be incredibly rewarding to start a successful translation business. You get to help clients reach new audiences, adapt their work to assist them in spreading their message. The challenge, then, is in creating a business that has staying power – that can be sustained until revenue starts coming in – and to structure the business in such a way that it not only has long-term viability, but will be profitable and financially rewarding for its owners.
While this can be a daunting task, especially to someone just starting out in a new endeavor, it is not insurmountable. Reaching your goal of starting a successful new business is within your reach, if you can start off on the right path. Following the tips above is a great first step towards getting your new company off the ground and positioned to be successful in the long term.
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