How to start a home based translation business?
There are many successful companies out there offering translation business to their customers worldwide. They have good brand names, big offices, a significant number of full time workers, a large customer base and of course, big money.
One thing to keep in mind though. They didn’t always start big.
Many of today’s established translation companies began very small and in fact started from their home and they worked their way until they joined the ranks of the so-called big brothers. So if they can do it, anyone with the right frame of mind would be able to do it. In fact, starting a translation business from your home allows you to discount the hassle of paperwork, ignore the ridiculous office set up expenses and cut the risk going bankrupt before you reach your 35th birthday.
Here’s how you can start a home based translation business:
1. Plan your operation
Take a deep breath, sit down and start planning how your home based translation business will look like. What language (or languages) will be involved in your translation business? What will be the rate you’ll be charging your customers? Is the charging rate going to be based on the number of hours, number of words, or type of documents? What would be the payment system you will put in place for your service? Is it universal enough to cater customers from various regions in the world?
Make sure you make enough due diligence so that you are charging a sensible figure, especially when you’re a new player. It is always better to start with a lower figure than the market rate or the rate offered by your competitors. As the time goes by and as you increase your customer base size, then it’s acceptable for you to increase your rate, for as long as you are able to maintain the quality of the work delivery.
Are you going to embark your business on a full time basis, or is it gonna be a part time job until a certain milestone is achieved? A full time business will require a full time commitment, hence you will need a proper space to handle your daily business. At the very least, a comfortable work station would be required so that the everyday’s hard work won’t break your bones or even kill you.
2. Prepare your marketing tools – card, profile, web, brochures etc
Before going to the business battlefield, make sure you have all the necessary weapons and tools in your marketing arsenal. Get the business card, company (or business) profile, brochures, flyers and so on ready to be handed to your prospective clients, contacts and circle of network. All necessary information such as your translation services, contact details and website must be there to make the job of hiring you easy.
If you’re web savvy (well, with today’s rapid development, you do not need to be that tech savvy to create a web now), create a website or blog that showcases some of your work as well as update news and happenings related to your field of work. Jump into the blogging bandwagon and watch the power of internet search engine growing your blog, your business and ultimately your pocket. Remember that when you continuously write or blog about your field of work, eventually you’ll be regarded as an expert in your field and will be surprised how many opportunities knocking in to your door.
3. Set milestones
Always remember to start something with the end goal in mind. A drifter’s mentality is the last thing you need to have at this stage. After all, you’re a grown up and is starting a business, not going out for a walk. Set long term and short term goals and milestones that would guide you along your way in achieving your final aim – freedom. The goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and can be achieved within a specified timeline (remember S.M.A.R.T?).
What would be your business income like in say, 6 month time? RM1,000? RM5,000? Or RM10,000? You decide. Once you have decided on this goal, go crazy and work like there’s no tomorrow until you achieve the specified goal. And after reaching your next goal, set new, challenging yet attainable goals to push you towards new heights. Keep creating new barriers to break.
4. Start with your close network, and then expand
Capitalize your own current network in getting your first batch of businesses. At least, your network has established some degree of trust with you and some of them are aware of your skills and reputation in class or among colleagues. Hence, it will be relatively easier for you to convince them that you’re the right person to do translation job whenever needed. Also, utilize your network to send messages and buzz to their own circle of friends so that they are aware you’re in this business for real.
Next, visit your former institution and start advertising your services to the students, graduates and even lecturers over there. A tertiary institution is one of the few places where translation service is very much sought after. Since everyone is busy preparing for exams or completing their thesis, some help in translating their documents or presentations would do. Well, it is not just help. It’s money. Continue expanding your market of reach.
5. Get testimonials
Every time you are hired for a job, give your best shot and produce a quality product that surpasses all expectation, wow your customers and convince them that you’re the only one who can solve their translation headache. Let them come back to you every now and them so you won’t spend too much time on marketing. With great service and great product, it won’t be hard for you to do the next most sensible thing, which is asking for testimonials.
Testimonials are testaments that show you’ve worked with real people providing real products and services. It’s a great way to showcase to your potential customers that you’re not new in the market and that you are establishing long term relationship with your existing clients. What better way to promote your business other than letting your past customers talking about you?
6. At the sign of growth, use leverage
Even before starting this home based translation business, It is particularly important to note that translation work belongs to the per-hour work or per-piece work, depending on how you define your rate. What this means is that, your ability to produce more translation jobs will be limited by the amount of time you have. More translation job means that you’ll be spending more time and eventually, you will reach a plateau and would be unable to accept more jobs.
This is not good.
However, by using the power of leverage, you can outsource some of your work to other people while focusing on other task such as final editing, proofreading and marketing functions. In other words, you can now start hiring other people to do the translation job for you (yes, of course you need to pay them.
Make sure you work out the Maths to ensure you’re still profiting) while you look for more business and maintains the quality of the delivery. By using leverage you’re now on your way to convert your home based translation business into a real business with real office and hire your first full time workers. You’re ready to go big.