This blog post helps you understand how to start a translation business which can be a very lucrative avenue. This business is extremely viable in the present world because of the boom in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), which has led to a massive increase in the exchange of knowledge and information between countries.
Since the world is such a diverse place with different communities of people speaking different languages, the demand for efficient translators is at an all time high. While many companies hire in-house translators, several other small and medium businesses prefer to outsource the translation job.
It is this trend that you need to capitalize on if you wish to succeed in the translation business. However, being skilled in translation is not adequate to run a business, although you can become a freelancer and make good money. If you wish to start an agency, there are several other aspects that you need to keep in mind.
What to do in the beginningEvery new business starts with an idea. Translation is the idea here. Next, you need to brainstorm about building on the basic idea. There are three important aspects that you need to ponder about.
Skills – What are your skills in translation? Here, you need to consider your language abilities. How many languages can you translate? In addition, translation requires skills such as strong analytical abilities, attention to details, lots of patience and good time management. When you handle a team of translators, you need to have strong managerial skills.
Investment – How much can you invest? Generally, a translation business can be set up with low investment. However, that said, set your upper limit rather than trying to set up the agency within the least possible expense. Once you know the maximum you can spend, you need to budget the amount. Your major expenses include getting an online presence, paying for permissions and licenses and some amount of working capital needed to maintain your business until you begin to receive your payments.
Conduct market research by checking into portals that offer translator jobs. Check out the current rates for translation so that you can approximately estimate your income. Always consider the income that you’ll receive in the worst case. It helps you plan better.
How to startYou can also set up a profile and start work (i.e. getting some experience) on portals like www.onehourtranslations.com and www.odesk.com. Both of these platforms can help you launch your translation business. You will earn less through these portals in the long run but they are a good place to start.
If you have a professional website, you’ll have to spend some money every month for maintenance and web hosting. Do some math including all expenses incurred on the business. Include the cost of your monthly Internet connection as well. All these aspects are very essential to plan your finances. Once you know how much you can get, you can think about the money you can pay for the translators who you hire.
What you needThe good thing about a running an online translation business is that you don’t need to have an elaborate business premises. You can work from home and at your convenience. The basic infrastructure you need is a computer equipped with a reliable Internet connection and power backup.
How to get paidYou also need a merchant account in order to accept or make payments. PayPal, Moneybookers and AlertPay are good options and are used globally. Open accounts in or more of these portals and get ready for business. If you start in the beginning by using
www.onehourtranslations.com or www.odesk.com then you will be paid via these platforms.
Preparation for responsibility – Are you prepared to take on the responsibility and obligation of running a company? Besides maintaining a team of translators, you need to allot significant time for administrative functions such as keeping track of finances, quality of work, efficiency of the team, renewal of licenses and permits and several others.
You can use a number of online tools to manage your workload, clients and team. One way to regularly update work is to use Google Docs. Time and stress management skills are essential. Remember, you are accountable to clients as well as your team.
Registration, license and permitsBefore you begin the business, you need to register the company for which, you need to mention the type of company you want to start. You could start a sole proprietorship company, a partnership company, limited liability partnership or a corporation. Whatever be the kind of company, you need to register with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) in India. You can register with an RoC located in any state or Union Territory of the country.
Sole proprietorship refers to a company that is owned by a single person. It has the least number of regulations and the owner has complete control over the company. However, the owner is also solely responsible for losses and risks.
If you have partners in business, you need to register the business as a partnership company. The regulations are a bit more complex and ownership is divided among partners. The advantage is that all partners share risks and losses.
To register a Private Limited Company, you need a capital outlay of INR 1,00,000. You need to have at least two members as shareholders and at least a couple of directors.
A Limited Liability Partnership company is a hybrid between a partnership company and an incorporated company. All partners in this kind of company have limited liability and are not responsible for the acts of other partners. Also, there is no minimum number for the number of partners and each of them has a right to take care of business affairs directly.
To begin a translator business in India, you need to register and apply for a PAN (Permanent Account Number), VAT (Value Added Tax) number and TAN (Tax Deductible and Collection Account Number). For translation services provided for overseas clients, you do not require VAT and TAN.
However, you should have them in case you happen to find a good project in India. You also need sales tax registration. If you wish to set up a physical office and hire full time employees rather than freelancers, you need to register for ESI (Employee State Insurance). From the ministry of Corporate Affairs, you need to obtain a Director Identification Number (DIN) and a digital signature certificate. DIN is allotted to the director of a company by the central government.
Since you are providing content, you can apply for an intellectual property rights protection and trademark protection so that your work is not used by any other company or by any member of your team. These also protect your logo and other company trademarks.
The most crucial certification you need is ISO 9001: 2008. This is to certify the quality of your work.
Create an online presenceYou need an online presence. If your budget is meagre, you can begin with a blog or a free website. Several open source platforms such as WordPress, Blogger and others offer free domains for blogging. Choose an appropriate name for your translation service and register a blog. You don’t have to spend even a rupee for it. As you develop your business, you can have a more professional website by hiring a web designer. This way, you can start the business very affordably.
Finding translatorsIf you are proficient in two languages, you can start an online business. However, if you wish to expand the scope of your business, you need to hire translators. You can find translators by posting advertisements in online job portals and classifieds.
Since all your business takes place online, you don’t have to physically meet your staff. So, you can hire foreigners who are adept at multiple languages. The other option is to hire full time staff and set up a physical business premises. Although such businesses are easier to coordinate, they require a lot more expense.
So, for a start up, freelancers are a good option. But you have to be very clear about payment channels. With merchant accounts available, international money transfer is easy.
All these aspects are the groundwork that you lay for starting the business. If you know someone who has an established online translation business, you can contact them for precise details. Once these are done, you need to find clients.
Finding clientsThis is the difficult part. To begin with, you need to register in some of the major freelance employment sites such oDesk.com or Onehourtranslations.com. Creating an attractive profile is very important. The profile needs to have a title that is very concise and conveys your efficiency. Come up with an attractive profile statement. Next, fill in all the details accurately. In oDesk, for instance, you can strengthen your profile by taking a few tests and gaining merits. These merits increase your value as a service provider.
Most of these websites ask for your hourly quote or per word quote. The amount that you enter in this column refers to the minimum pay that you are prepared to work for. Make sure that you fill in an intelligent amount. It should be based on the math that you did at the beginning. A quote that is too high does not get you many customers and one that is too low will result in loss of precious time because you’ll ending working for less than standard rates.
Some websites require an Objective Statement, in addition to a profile statement. While a profile statement is a single line, an objective statement is lengthier. You can use this space to outline your skills and make a positive impact on every reader. In the objective statement, make sure that you mention your country of origin, your lingual expertise and credentials that authenticate your claim about expertise.
When you are hired for a job, make sure that you clarify payment terms and conditions.
Things to be aware of The biggest challenge is quality control; otherwise you’ll end up losing good clients. You should focus on ensuring that clients once served keep coming back to you.
- Never breach deadlines. It could affect your reputation, and dissatisfied clients could recommend people not to hire you, which could be a disaster.
- Always be easily accessible to both clients and translators so that no problems arise due to lack of proper communication.
- Always double check the work before submitting. This is crucial because translation is a tricky job. Any mistake in translation can change the meaning of the entire work.
- Always keep track of renewal periods for permits and licenses.
- Always have spare money with you so that you can pay your team on time even if the client delays payment.
- Website maintenance is crucial. See that the site works meticulously and is secure. As you begin to earn profits, allot some money for SEO so that its web ranking improves.
- It takes a few months to get a hold on the market and get regular work. There could be gaps and delays in allotting work to translators, in which case, they might consider leaving your team. In order to avoid this, schedule workload such that all translators have work, however small, continuously. Also, make it clear that you are a startup company so that the translators are more considerate. You HR and PR skills should kick in here.
- Be aware of changing laws, such as taxes and other stipulations.
Be prepared for the increased loadWhen you begin receiving a constant flow of work, your responsibilities increase. So, be prepared for it and go forward with full throttle. Make the most of not only your translation skills, but also managerial and entrepreneurship skills.
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