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Off topic: Meeting new people: entrepreneur or freelancer?
Thread poster: Marion Rooijmans

Marion Rooijmans
Netherlands
Local time: 00:25
English to Dutch
+ ...
Jul 17, 2007

Hi all,

A couple of weeks ago, I had a discussion with a friend of mine who is a freelance translator, just like me.

I told her that whenever I talk to someone I have only just met and this person asks me about my work, I tell him or her that I am a freelance translator, or that I work from home. However, my friend always tells people she is an entrepreneur. To me, that seems like you're in charge of 5/10/100 employees and that you have an office building somewhere. She said to me I should be proud of what I'm doing, that it's quite an achievement to be working on your own and that, after all, I AM an entrepreneur.

Trust me, I am proud of what I'm doing, but I think that if I tell someone I am an entrepreneur, he or she will automatically think that I have a couple of people working for me. My friend does explain later on that she works from home and that she is all by herself, but I'm always afraid people will think I'm trying to impress them.

So, purely out of curiousity, what do you say when somebody asks you about your work? Are you a freelancer, or an entrepreneur?


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 18:25
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
Moving this topic to the Being Independent Forum Jul 17, 2007

Hi Marion,

I thought this topic might be of interest in the Being Independent Forum.

Best,

Nancy


BTW at the college where I teach, the SEA (Self-Employment Assistance) program refers to all those taking this course, starting their own businesses, as "entrepreneurs", even though the great majority of these are starting out on their own, working alone.

Nancy


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:25
English to Dutch
+ ...
Entrepreneur Jul 17, 2007

I have a VAT-number, I make investments, I take (sometimes substantial) financial risks, I communicate with people all over the world, and I deliver products (services) to my clienst/customers that are worth their money - and that they depend on.

So, I do call myself freelance-translator, but I always hasten to add that I am working for my own company/business, and thus I am an entrepreneur. I do own a business, you see. Even the tax office agrees to that, or I would not have a VAT-number.

And yes, I also work from home. Not at the kitchen table, though


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Erika Cenefels  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:25
German to French
+ ...
right Jul 17, 2007

Margreet, good point, I didn't think about VAT and you are right, it does make a difference.
Or would you still feel like an entrepeneur if you had no VAT number ? (if possible at all in your country)


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:25
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Entrepreneur = unemployed Jul 17, 2007

Marion Rooijmans wrote:
However, my friend always tells people she is an entrepreneur. To me, that seems like you're in charge of 5/10/100 employees and that you have an office building somewhere.


The word "entrepreneur" has become a vogue word, and because it is so overused, it has lost much of its original meaning. To me, an entrepreneur is someone who is unemployed. It is someone who dabbles in various money-making schemes, hoping to get rich quick.

Yes, I am an entrepreneur in the original sense of the word, but I wouldn't call myself that. Besides, if I tell people that I'm a translator, then they know exactly what I am. If I were to tell them some fancy vogue word, they still wouldn't have a clue about what it is that I'm doing.

And chances are half of them won't fish for more information, which means... lost opportunities for business.


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:25
English to Dutch
+ ...
This is what makes translation interesting - the meaning of entrepreneur Jul 17, 2007

Samuel Murray wrote:

The word "entrepreneur" has become a vogue word, and because it is so overused, it has lost much of its original meaning. To me, an entrepreneur is someone who is unemployed. It is someone who dabbles in various money-making schemes, hoping to get rich quick.



In Dutch, the word 'ondernemer' does not have these connotations. So no problem there. Just make sure to translate this word correctly - 'Undertaker' just won't do

(To those who don't speak Dutch: ondernemen = to undertake, ondernemer = entrepreneur, (small) business owner)

I usually say I own a translation agency, to end all confusion.




[Edited at 2007-07-17 16:41]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:25
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Entrepreneur in other languages Jul 17, 2007

Margreet Logmans wrote:
In Dutch, the word 'ondernemer' does not have these connotations.


I wonder which other languages use the word "entrepreneur", and what the connotations are.

In Afrikaans, for example, we also have "onderneem" (undertake), "onderneming" (enterprise), and "ondernemer" (business owner), but we also have "entrepreneur" (entrepreneur), and we don't use "entrepreneur" as a generic term for any business owner.

When I said that entrepreneur = unemployed, I didn't mean to indicate that that is the current meaning of the word in South Africa. But that certainly is the impression I would get if anyone were too shy to say what they really do and hide behind the word "entrepreneur" to describe their vocation.

Entrepreneurs are risk-takers, and consequently many entrepreneurs are losers (not because there's anything wrong with them personally, but because there may be something wrong with their enterprise).


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Jana Teteris  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:25
Latvian to English
+ ...
Translator - and have my own company Jul 17, 2007

In the past I used to say that I'm a translator, but now I always add that I run my own company. Why? Well, it may just be Latvia, but I'm getting fed up with having to justify myself.

When I say 'I'm a translator' I get an 'oh....you translate then, do you...so do I' reply (the underlying meaning being that it's very much a sideline and that I do actually have a 'real' job, or am 'between jobs' - hence the translating). Furthermore - and no doubt many of you will understand where I'm coming from - the fact that I work from home (separate office, mind you) means that other people get the distinct impression that I'm always available for lunch, babysitting and running errands....'but you're not working, you're at home...' (I'm sure we've all heard that before).

Apologies for veering off-topic. In answer to Samuel's question, I wouldn't say that 'entrepreneur' is perceived as negative in Latvian - in fact the Latvian for 'entrepreneur' has quite a positive ring to it. However, it's vague and not something I would use to describe myself. If I were to drop the 'I'm a translator' bit, I would still say that I run my own business (and that does tend to impress people), rather than say that I'm an entrepreneur.

[Edited at 2007-07-17 17:20]


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:25
English to Dutch
+ ...
@ Erika: Yes, I would; @ Jana: the same here Jul 17, 2007

Erika C wrote:
Or would you still feel like an entrepeneur if you had no VAT number ? (if possible at all in your country)


Yes, I would!
I believe it is possible to be a freelancer in the Netherlands without VAT-number, but one would be deprived of certain advantages.

With or without VAT, I own my own business (being a bit careful with the word 'entrepreneur' after Samuel's comments), and I am proud of that. Recognition by the tax office is a good thing, but it does not really affect my every day work.

Maybe this attitude has to do with the fact that a number of people in my family (including my father) are/were small business owners. It's in my blood....

It did take me a while to get to this point, however. At first I felt like a little kid pretending to be all grown-up. So in the beginning I put up a show of confidence to the outside world, and now this confidence is becoming 'internal', so to speak.

You know what helped me the most? To see my own business card in print.

@ Jana, you're right, I've heard all that too. Indeed, people tend to be impressed when they hear I run my own business. Funny, isn't it? So I guess it isn't just Latvia.


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ALSTranslations  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:25
English to Russian
+ ...
Does this cause problems? Jul 17, 2007

Margreet Logmans wrote:


I usually say I own a translation agency, to end all confusion.




[Edited at 2007-07-17 16:41]


What do you do if someone says they want a bunch of material translated from Dutch to Korean (or some other combination you don't do yourself)?


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Leyla Mehdiyeva
Local time: 02:25
English to Azerbaijani
+ ...
A Physical Person, engaged in translation business" Jul 17, 2007

Hi - I am new here at ProZ.com, but worked as translator -interpreter nearly 12 years now

Recently, I got registered with the Ministry of Taxes of Azerbaijan as a Physical person and in the registration documents, specifically in the area, called "What kind of entrepreneur activity do you envisage to carry out?" I marked "translation". So obviously, entreprenourship is a kind of registered freelance translator activity as it comes to our occipation. At least in my country


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Harry Hermawan  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 05:25
Member (2005)
English to Indonesian
Same here in Indonesia when uttered "I run my own business" Jul 18, 2007

Margreet Logmans wrote:
...
...
Indeed, people tend to be impressed when they hear I run my own business. Funny, isn't it? So I guess it isn't just Latvia.


In Jakarta, Indonesia, too, when you utter the words "I run my own company" people tend to have a positive way of seeing our profession added of course that you cater the world.

In a sense this would further create an environment, an atmosphere where we are much comfortable in continuing talking about our venture in this "word industry".

If we can create a good rapport people might pass on the word and potential job may come in our way. And even trigger followers. Wouldn't this be a good thing for us?

My two cents.


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:25
English to Dutch
+ ...
Tell the truth Jul 18, 2007

ALSTranslations wrote:

Margreet Logmans wrote:


I usually say I own a translation agency, to end all confusion.




[Edited at 2007-07-17 16:41]


What do you do if someone says they want a bunch of material translated from Dutch to Korean (or some other combination you don't do yourself)?


I tell them the truth: I only do English to Dutch, etc. but I can recommend/help them find someone who can do the job for them. So far, this has only happened once. No problem at all.


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Marion Rooijmans
Netherlands
Local time: 00:25
English to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The difference between the city and a small village Jul 18, 2007

Perhaps it also has something to do with your upbringing. My friend comes from the city, but I come from a small village. I feel that people in rural areas tend to be more modest about their life, whilst people from the city perhaps feel the need to prove themselves. I've thought so on various occasions and on various subjects that had nothing to do with work, but for instance with social life.

But please correct me if I'm wrong!

[Edited at 2007-07-18 10:39]


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:25
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Word sales Jul 18, 2007

I tell them "I have a business". They ask what kind of business. I say we do translations. They ask what kind of translations. By now the questioner is also using the plural "you", since we're not usually speaking Eeengleesh around here, but Spanish or Basque, and this helps build up a better image - cf. the "I/we" dilemma discussed on a thread yesterday.

However, lately I've been saying I'm a salesman. They ask what I sell. I say I sell words. They either say, "What, are you a writer?" or "What do you mean, you sell words?" etc etc. The idea is that either way it arouses an interest and leads to impossibly huge amounts of work.

I suppose I've started doing this because, hey, everyone "runs a business", and maybe it sounds more interesting. Or not. But we do sell words - we get paid by the word or the line.

Got to buzz off and sell some words here ...



Mervyn


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