How to Start a Translation Business

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How to Start a Translation Business Business Overview:

If you are an excellent writer and fluent in another language, you should consider learning how to start a translation business. You don’t need to be a native speaker to be an exceptional translator but you do need to have extensive knowledge of various sentence structures, terminology and idioms of the language you are working with. Accuracy in translation is crucial and is the only way to build your name and expand your business. If you are not a skilled translator but are interested in one of the best business ideas available today, you can hire a team of freelance translators to work for you. Since translation work is done at the computer and requires no face-to-face interaction, it’s the perfect online business idea requiring very little startup capital. You, too, can work from your home office and manage your team virtually. Before you hire your staff, you need to draft a business plan that helps you focus your efforts and outlines what types of services your business will offer. Typical documents that need translation are in commercial, technical, legal and medical fields. If you only want to concentrate on one or two of these areas, this will help you in your recruiting process as you will only go after translators with experience in a particular area (or areas). Another advantage to having a staff of translators is that each one can represent a different language combination so as to attract a larger variety of clients. Websites like Translators Café and Go Translators are good places to start when looking for freelancers. Since you will not be an expert in each and every language you’re hiring a translator for, it’s important that each candidate submit a sample translation that you can have reviewed by colleagues. Once you have a staff established, they can help you review the translation skills of new hires. Next you will need to market your new business to attract clients. One way to do this is through SEO (search engine optimization). This method is relatively inexpensive and helps prospective clients find you on the Internet. Another marketing practice is database marketing in which you build a database of contacts at various corporations and government agencies responsible for the translation of their materials. These individuals will likely work in the communications or marketing department. Follow up phone calls with regular mailings including a letter, flyer, company brochure, etc. The more you contact them, the more likely they are to contact your business when they need translation services. Once you are plugged into the translation network, you will get repeat customers and will be well on your way to a successful translation business.

A Day in the Life of a Translation Business Owner:

This article brought to you by Business Ideas! If you enjoyed this article, make sure to subscribe to the Business Ideas Newsletter to get ideas sent straight to your email inbox.Your day will begin by checking email and voicemail for any new requests for translation services. You will contact these prospective clients and discuss their needs and determine if you and your team can accommodate them. You will communicate with your staff each day to check their progress and see if they have any issues they need to go over. If you are working on any translation projects, you will spend some time on them. You will need to keep track of deadlines and ensure you and that your staff meet them. You will spend some time marketing your business either online or via direct mail and phone calls.

About Your Customers:

Your customers will typically be international corporations and government agencies who need documents and texts translated into various languages. You might also work with publishers looking to market their clients’ books in other countries.

What You Need to Start:

  • Business plan
  • Translation skills and/or a staff of translators
  • Quite office space to work (can be home office)
  • Computer with finance software

The Good:

  • If you are a skilled translator, this should be a simple transition.
  • If you are not a skilled translator, you can hire experienced translators to work for you.
  • Startup capital is low for this business.
  • You can charge top dollar for high quality translation services.
  • You can run this business part-time and from your home.

The Bad:

  • It can be difficult and time consuming to find and hire your team of translators.
  • You will need to be patient and persistent in your marketing campaign to secure your first few clients.


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