Mobile menu

Is anyone aware of Translation Partnerships?
Thread poster: Tom Fennell

Tom Fennell
United States
Local time: 19:34
Russian to English
+ ...
Jul 26, 2006

I am returning to translating freelance after working as a paid editor at a law firm. I am interested in creating a company which will be not just an agency owned by me, but a partnership. The idea is for senior translators to own the firm and pool resources, like in a law firm. Does anyone know if there are any such companies already in existence? Any advice would be appreciated.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 21:34
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
It's an interesting idea Jul 27, 2006

Hi

I'm sorry to see that you haven't got any answers (yet), because I'm very interested by the idea.

I have been asking for advice about such a partnership and I've been told that the most dramatic point is when you put together all the clients. Usually each partner doesn't want to share them, and the partnership or association should imply sharing everything.

I'd like to see some experienced answers, though...

Claudia


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tom Fennell
United States
Local time: 19:34
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your interest in a translation partnership Jul 27, 2006

Dear Claudia,

Thanks for your response and your interest.

I actually have a good deal of successful experience in business planning, and would like to put together a detailed business plan for such a partnership.

I am really into underscheduling now, so I am giving myself a full year to put together such a business plan with full operational and marketing plans as well as financial projections and analysis, including return on capital for partners.

It would be an unusual business plan in that it is aimed at potential partners rather than banks or funds, but I think it is worth it.

I think once one thoroughly analyzes the advantages of working together, the benefits become clear.

Sharing clients also means being able to go on vacation, work regular hours, and lead a more balanced life, which I think many people would like.

Sharing clients will take a certain amount of confidence in the project, but there should be real benefits in return at the time the project launches, including access to others' clients.

And we might start with translators who share a vision but have minimal overlapping languages and/or subject areas. T

The fact that you write from Chile and I from Russia (I plan to commute every few months between the US and Russia starting this winter) shows there is potential create a true global Internet partnership, although we need to go slowly at first to avoid legal and taxation problems.

If you or anyone else wants to get put on a mailing list I am compiling to send planning materials to, please write to me at the following e-mail (take out all the 2 letter x's below - I put them in to avoid getting my email picked up by spam-robots which may find this forum): txfennellx63@gmail.com

Very best regards,

Tom


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Francesca Pesce  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:34
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
We are a cooperative Jul 27, 2006

A group of us in Italy chose the cooperative option.

Cooperatives were in line with our ethics and are also somewhat (but not very) favoured in Italy in terms of taxation.

We all in live in the same city and two of us work physically in the same place and help each other (but that is our personal choice). None of our customers are from Rome (our city).

Our system works, but in the years (14) I have noticed that it works because one or two of us work harder on the administrative, marketing, pr side of it. The others tend to delegate decisions, administration, etc. And stick to the translation part. It is difficult to set inflexible rules on this.

I also feel it would be rather difficult to set up a partnership at the international level. It would imply a great deal of reciprocal trust, which in theory is easy, but is rarely sustainable from long distance.

In any case, I wish you luck in this adventure. I feel it is always nice when people get together...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tom Fennell
United States
Local time: 19:34
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Cooperative vs. Partnership Jul 27, 2006

Dear Francesca,

Thanks for your input!

Yes, the "grand vision" certainly could take some time, but it is funny how sometimes big things happen quickly in our world (I used to live in Berlin, and look how quickly big things happened there!).

Interesting - I was just researching legal forms in Wikipedia, and Italian cooperatives came up as one of the most successful examples of cooperatives!

You are inspiring me in my efforts against certain nay-sayers who I have talked to who say translators could never work on a similar model.

I think the drawing line between a cooperative and a partnership is somewhat murky, but it seems a cooperative is more committed to straight-line income sharing depending on work performed, as I understand. Many partnerships would give more weight to seniority and experience, which in some ways seems fair and realistic from a practical perspective.

I greatly appreciate your advise on "pulling weight" with administrative and marketing issues. I am spending time thinking this out.

After working at a law firm, I have become something of a "total time-keeper", and once one develops the skills and configures MS Office, it is not so hard to keep track of time spent on specific administrative and marketing tasks. I would hope to be able to use this as a base for an equitable distribution. Still there is always a subjective factor regarding productivity and timing in these areas which must be dealt with somehow, and I think I have a few ideas.

I would like to send you my business plan when it (if it!) gets finished. Could you send me your email to: txfennellx63@gmail.com (take out the 2 x's: anti-spam maneuver).

Cheers and Ciao,

Tom Fennell


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:34
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Ever thought of employing a secretary? Jul 27, 2006

tfennell wrote:
I greatly appreciate your advise on "pulling weight" with administrative and marketing issues. I am spending time thinking this out.


I haven't really thought this through, but what would the possibility be of employing a secretary/PA/marketing person who works for a small retainer and a percentage of whatever each translator makes? One would have to think about it to ensure that he/she doesn't become, or perhaps one could delegate only "administrative" tasks to him/her and keep the "personal" marketing tasks to the translators. If he/she can blind type, then that would be very helpful too. Such a person would then work full-time (or "office hours"). Don't law firms have secretaries?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:34
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
How do you determine salaries? Jul 27, 2006

Francesca Pesce wrote:
Our system works, but in the years (14) I have noticed that it works because one or two of us work harder on the administrative, marketing, pr side of it. The others tend to delegate decisions, administration, etc. And stick to the translation part. It is difficult to set inflexible rules on this.


How does such a cooperative work? It is a fairly unknown form of business in ZA where I'm from. Do you pool all income and share it equally, or do you only share resources and certain mutual expenses? And if the latter, doesn't that mean that translators who translate less, will earn less, even though they may be busy with essential tasks such as admin or marketing?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tom Fennell
United States
Local time: 19:34
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Secretaries Jul 27, 2006

Samuel Murray wrote:

what would the possibility be of employing a secretary/PA/marketing person who works for a small retainer and a percentage of whatever each translator makes? One would have to think about it to ensure that he/she doesn't become, or perhaps one could delegate only "administrative" tasks to him/her and keep the "personal" marketing tasks to the translators. If he/she can blind type, then that would be very helpful too. Such a person would then work full-time (or "office hours"). Don't law firms have secretaries?


Law firms certainly do have secretaries! They tend to work for a regular salary, which is supplemented annually by a bonus determined by the work results of the firm. For administrative staff who have just "done their job", it is something like a "thirteenth salary" or Christmas bonus.

The bonuses of the professional staff are a hefty part of their annual income (30-70%), and depend on the results of the firm's activity. I should think that in a translating partnership, it should be 20-40%.

There are certain tradeoffs which must be made, especially in the short term, to make this possible, but in the long-term they are better than either: 1) running a one-person shop and/or 2) being dependent on agencies one has no stake in.

Please write me a short note to txfennellx63@gmail.com (take out the x's - anti-spam tactic) if you'd be interested in receiving further information and analysis when it is developed.

Thanks for your input and interest.

Best regards,

Tom Fennell


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Yolande Haneder  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:34
German to French
+ ...
A matter of trust first Jul 28, 2006

I think the matter about associates is that you find a person who you know and trust first and then make a company with him/her.

There must be a clear picture where the agency should be leading, especially when taking important decisions or somebody deciding and somebody abiding.

If the two partner go on their own way it won't be much better than an office sharing under the same name.

There are many ideas about how the translation business has to be conducted - from a point of view of a lawyer, a senior translator, a businessman. If you are altering too much your image because of a partner, you may loose your clients.

Once I read on the Internet about co-branding, the positive side and the risks. You may derivate some view for making a business with two persons with different experience and different pools or client (or you may have no client yet and the senior translator should bring for you his/her old clients).

The positive side is there can be a synergy effect. The negative side is if the two are two much different, it can confuse the client about what you are really offering. At the worst, if something goes wrong with one, it will shadow on the other.

In my opinion then, you should only start a business plan once you have found your partner and develop it with him and not making a plan first and then imposing it on your partner who may in your case be bringing is pool of clients and taking more risks than you to loose his long-term clients ( I am assuming that you will have less clients than a senior translator because you have been employed in another business beforehand).

Good luck!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tom Fennell
United States
Local time: 19:34
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Trust and Planning for a Translation Partnership Jul 28, 2006

Sehr geehrte Yolande,

Vielen dank fuer Ihre input and insight.

Trust and good relationships are definitely key to the success of a partnership.

You are right about me being the "junior" partner in terms of clients: in addition to translating and editing experience, what I bring to the table is business planning and administration experience and skills.

I am pleased to advise that I am already talking to several experienced translators here in Moscow as I get ready to form the business plan, and hope to meet with additional interested partners in the USA this winter, and maybe in Europe in the spring.

I think it will be most productive if I work on a "first draft" of the business planned based on my discussions with senior translators, but rest assured, I have no intentions of "forcing it upon them". I will most certainly offer it to them for their input and critique. Ideally, in the end it should be "our" business plan, something we all sign off on, even if I am doing the actual compiling work for the various editions of the business plan.

I really believe in this idea more and more, and am willing to do all this work "on long-term credit". I have done such project work in the past, and my projects have so far always launched.

You are more than welcome to keep updated on developments and proposals in the project by sending a brief mail to me at txfennellx63@gmail.com (take out the x's: they are an anti-spam device).

Ich wuensche Ihnen alles Gute, und bedanke mich nochmals fuer Ihre Kommentare.

Mit herzlichen Gruessen,

Thomas Fennell


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Yolande Haneder  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:34
German to French
+ ...
Danke und alles Gute! Jul 28, 2006

Ich weiß selber wie viel man davon gewinnt, wenn man verschiedene Kenntnisse zusammenbringt.

Wir führen selbst mit meinem Ehemann als Geistpartner (er hilft aber involviert sich nicht direkt in der Agentur) eine Agentur und das Ergebnis ist mehr als was wir einzeln tun könnten.

Ich bringe meine allgemeine Kenntnisse der Sprache durch meine Sprachausbildung und meine Erfahrung als Übersetzer (was mir eine bessere Hinsicht gibt, wenn ich Übersetzer auswählen muss), meine Betriebswirtschaftlichen Kenntnisse (inklusive Buchhaltung), meine Kenntnisse von Suchmaschinenoptimierung sowie alles was mit Sekretariat und Ämter lauf.

Er bringt die Erfahrung im Ungang mit direkten Kunden, Problemlösungenkenntnisse, technische Kenntnisse rund um alles was mit Computer, DTP, technische Einsetzung und Automatisierung von Prozessen (sodass ich weniger Zeit damit verliere) sowie die technische Anwendung der Suchmachinenoptimierung (ich kann nur bedingt die codierung verstehen aber nicht neue Ideen anwenden - das tut er), sowie direkten Marketing (er kümmert sich um Plakarte bei Feste sowie direkte wie man sich lokal bekannt machen kann).

Alle zusammen sind wir mehr als wir jemals getrennt geschafft hätten und unser Erfolgt genügt uns (oder andere neidig machen könnten, weil auch wenn ich im Herbst ausfallen werde, haben wir bereits unsere 2005 Umsatz verdoppelt). Man nennt es synergieeffekte. Ein Übersetzungsbüro ist nicht nur über das Übersetzen.

Damit hast Du auch gute Chancen, auch wenn Du nicht nur übersetzen kannst.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:34
English to German
+ ...
English, please Jul 28, 2006

Hi all,
Please remember that most participants in this forum do not understand German. Hence, I would appreciate if we could stick to English, which is the working language of this forum.

Thanks for your understanding and cooperation!

Best regards,
Ralf


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:34
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Being highly efficient, a sin in a cooperative Jun 8, 2008

I think this is a tremendously interesting idea. Now, let's assume one of the partners like to work harder than the rest, and produces 7.000 words a day where the rest do 3.000. Or a situation in which one partner is a fast thinker or typer and produces 9.000 words per day every now and then in urgent projects.

How do you think the higher efficiency would be compensated?

Do you think that a 7K-er and a 3K-er of the same language pair can coexist in the same cooperative? If the 7K-er only required 3 hours to take care of his/her 3.000 words, wouldn't it create a problem when comparing the effort with that of the 8-9 hours of the 3K-er?


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Is anyone aware of Translation Partnerships?

Advanced search


Translation news





SDL Trados Studio 2017 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2017 helps translators increase translation productivity whilst ensuring quality. Combining translation memory, terminology management and machine translation in one simple and easy-to-use environment.

More info »
Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs