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Poll: Have you considered starting your own translation agency?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 05:53
SITE STAFF
Mar 20, 2008

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you considered starting your own translation agency?".

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A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 09:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
No way! Mar 20, 2008

I have a strong natural aversion to 'middle-men'.
How could I live with myself if I became one myself?

MediaMatrix


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xxxCynthia Plac  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:53
Czech to English
+ ...
The idea turns my stomach! Mar 20, 2008

That would be like opening up a can of worms, wouldn't it?

I truly respect those who are able to handle the mish-mash of our town of Babel, but to direct it all, and on a deadline? Not for me....

A salute to those who are capable, hats down to you all.


I'll keep doing what I enjoy doing, and with passion.

Cynthia


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not on your life! Mar 20, 2008

This is a great question! It’s food for thought.

Would I start my own agency? Heck no!

Why? Because I discovered from hard experience what it would mean to start one…
Towards the end of last year, I had so much work I couldn’t cope with it all. So, I took on two collaborators. What did I discover? It took tons of time to sort out and organize their work, answer queries from them, look after their invoices, revise their work, etc, etc, etc. It was a nightmare and more work than it was worth.

To tell the truth, I’m really not fond of agencies and I’ll take a direct client over an agency any day, but after walking (I can’t really say a mile. It’s more like a few yards) in their shoes, I’ve definitely gained an understanding of how the other half lives.

PS. Happy Easter holidays to all those celebrating them!!


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:53
English to Arabic
+ ...
You realise it means giving up translating... Mar 20, 2008

John Cutler wrote:

Towards the end of last year, I had so much work I couldn’t cope with it all. So, I took on two collaborators. What did I discover? It took tons of time to sort out and organize their work, answer queries from them, look after their invoices, revise their work, etc, etc, etc. It was a nightmare and more work than it was worth.


Same experience here. When I talk with my husband, he's always trying to convince me that establishing an agency is the natural progression of a career of an ambitious translator - which I should be, in his eyes! I try so hard to explain to him that establishing an agency means dedicating all my time to: 1) Marketing my services, 2) Locating suitable translators, 3) Accounting issues etc. all of which means I can no longer work in translation, my passion and vocation.

Personally I don't think agency work has anything to do with translators, it's not a natural progression of our career. But of course if you're business-minded and love dealing with marketing, legal and accounting issues for a living, then go for it!


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:53
Italian to English
+ ...
No way! Mar 20, 2008

I think Nesrin's husband must have been separated from my partner at birth, mind you.

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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 14:53
Swedish to English
+ ...
Nope... Mar 20, 2008

A client of mine handed me a small part of his agency to look after for two weeks last summer while he was on holiday (which I did appreciate, as an indication of his belief in my competence). It was a good learning experience and convinced me that running an agency is not for me, long term anyway. However, we are talking of doing the same thing again this summer, which I'm quite willing to do - it's lovely to be able to hand the agency back!

I have great respect for people that run agencies properly - I am fortunate to work with some of them and appreciate the fact that they put the effort into finding customers that I would otherwise have to.

I could also point out that my partner stopped muttering about "are you going to expand into an agency then" very quickly after last summer's trial run... new and beneficial insights all round!!!


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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:53
Member (2008)
French to English
Like herding cats Mar 20, 2008

I actually worked for about 5 years in house as an office manager for a translation agency, and found the atmosphere pretty stressful. Clients had outrageous deadlines, translators yelled at me about my clients outrageous deadlines, and so on. Yes people that run agencies well definately earn their money and they are welcome to it.

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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 08:53
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No, thanks, with all due respect. Mar 20, 2008

I already grumble about how much of my workday is spent on keeping the accounts, a task for which I have no natural inclination.

I absolutely love to translate! And now that I'm teaching translation, I find I like that quite well also--except for grading papers.

Translation agencies should be run by business people who do/have done enough translating to understand what it's all about. I am not, nor do I want to be, a "business person."

Jane Translates!


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Maria Wirén-Malo
Local time: 15:53
English to Swedish
+ ...
Very nice... Mar 20, 2008

...to read all your comments, especially those of you who have had the experience of running an agency. Now I know I'll keep on doing what I like the most, translate!

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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:53
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Translators are middle-persons Mar 21, 2008

mediamatrix wrote:
I have a strong natural aversion to 'middle-men'.
How could I live with myself if I became one myself?

MediaMatrix



This is a fantastic sweeping statement, made by a translator who is, by definition, a middle-person in between those who need to communicate. And, as a professional, you trade in words for money.

bye
Gianfranco


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M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:53
English to Polish
I wish... Mar 21, 2008

... I could reply "no, never", but unfortunatelly visa requirements forced me to do so. Too bad that immigrations don't have any visa options for self-employed
So I voted for "yes, I already have one".


Anni


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:53
German to English
+ ...
Could you do it - do you want to do it? Mar 21, 2008

In my opinion, the key aspects are:

"Could you do it?" - and more importantly -

"Would you want to do it"?

Apart from other things, I have worked as a freelancer, in management for an outsourcer (like Joan), and here I am back again.

Very sound experience in resourcing, and since then I know even more people, what they do and how well they do it. I believe that I have adequate business and marketing acumen to easily set up a translation agency. Indeed, I know some who have done it, and done it well. Others less so.

I can easily handle being dependent upon myself, but being dependent upon others is more stressful for all concerned. You can be the big boss, or you can simply be your own boss, doing a job that is fascinating, stimulating, fun and remunerative (if a little anti-social on occasion).

In my case, the decision was quite simple. Do I want to administrate or translate?

That is why I personally never seriously thought about the agency idea.

Consider what you want from life, seize it and enjoy it. It's a very personal decision.

Chris


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 09:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ouffffff! Mar 21, 2008

gianfranco wrote:

mediamatrix wrote:
I have a strong natural aversion to 'middle-men'.
How could I live with myself if I became one myself?

MediaMatrix



This is a fantastic sweeping statement, made by a translator who is, by definition, a middle-person in between those who need to communicate. And, as a professional, you trade in words for money.

bye
Gianfranco


Well, GF, I can understand how you reached that sweeping misconception - but the fact is that as a translator I have never worked 'in the middle' but always as an integral member of a team that is drafting, editing and delivering multilingual content. I know my source text authors personally; their - my - our - readers are the second part of our equation, not the third.

I readily acknowledge that my situation might be an exception in this community, but the fact remains that I'm not - and, indeed, refuse to be - a 'mere' middle-man.

MediaMatrix


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Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 05:53
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
Translators are NOT middle men... Mar 21, 2008

gianfranco wrote:

mediamatrix wrote:
I have a strong natural aversion to 'middle-men'.
How could I live with myself if I became one myself?

MediaMatrix



This is a fantastic sweeping statement, made by a translator who is, by definition, a middle-person in between those who need to communicate. And, as a professional, you trade in words for money.

bye
Gianfranco


...at least not according to how mediamatrix is using the term. Middle man in his context did not mean "a middle-person in between those who need to communicate," but rather an "Intermediary within a channel of distribution used to transfer products from the manufacturer to the end user / A trader who buys from producers and sells to retailers or consumers." In other words, translators are not middle men because they are the direct manufacturers of the product in question (translations) and, come to think of it, this is how most people understand the term "middle man" anyway, at least in the US.


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