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Poll: Do you feel you have the necessary skills to run your business efficiently?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 14:00
SITE STAFF
Apr 16, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you feel you have the necessary skills to run your business efficiently?".

This poll was originally submitted by Julianne Rowland

View the poll here

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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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
Lack of selling skills Apr 16, 2009

The key skill that many translators lack is the ability to sell and negotiate. Agencies have prospered because many translators cannot bring their own services to the market.

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:00
English to French
+ ...
Wise words, John Apr 16, 2009

John, you are absolutely right. Agencies market themselves, while only a fraction of freelancers does the same.

This is why I am surprised that as many respondents consider they have adequate business skills as those who consider they need improvement. I have taken several initiatives to market my services. These initiatives are classic in other industries, so nothing revolutionary here. Yet, I don't see other translators doing these things, and about one prospect out of two is surprised when I approach them, saying they didn't know there were translation services specialized in their industries (which suggests they were never approached by a specialist freelancer before). I visited an event recently and, from what I have observed there, I was the only translator attending. This is contrasting with the current poll results.

Could it be that many of us believe we have good business skills when we don't? Could it be that the term business skills isn't interpreted the same way by everyone? Could it be that some of us think that business skills merely mean timely accounting?


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linguistpt
United States
English to Portuguese
+ ...
great clues! Apr 16, 2009

Dear ViktoriaG

I agree with you in every possible way!

I know that my skills could use a lot of "training"!!

It's like I have ideas, but don't know what to do with them!


I believe you are right when you say:


Could it be that many of us believe we have good business skills when we don't? Could it be that the term business skills isn't interpreted the same way by everyone? Could it be that some of us think that business skills merely mean timely accounting? [/quote]

Thank you very much for your post!

Rita


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Laureana Pavon  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 19:00
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Completely agree Apr 16, 2009

I think that, as Viktoria says, there may be some confusion as to what each of us considers "business skills".
Having been a full-time freelance translator since 1992, I can certainly say that the ability to market myself is something I picked up along the way, many times at great cost in terms of personal effort, disappointment, etc., mostly using a "trial and error" approach. I did not have any business skills whatsoever when I graduated.
Most translators, specially when we are just starting out, have no clue as to how to market our services, meet new clients, approach translation agencies, and so on. I wish I would have had someone to help me understand this aspect of our profession early on, but this type of training has only recently become available and I wasn't fortunate enough to have a mentor. Until recently the only training available for translators (at least in my part of the world) were in the field of linguistics, terminology, CAT tools, or other technical areas.
No translator can make a living without proper business skills, and that includes marketing our services. I think that our business is constantly evolving, and therefore there's always room for improvement.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:00
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I don't know how to say it Apr 16, 2009

... but it seems to me anyone who has survived in translation for ten years would have the necessary skills, while possibly still having a lot of room for improvement...

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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:00
Member (2008)
English to Italian
Agree, but.... Apr 17, 2009

John Rawlins wrote:

The key skill that many translators lack is the ability to sell and negotiate. Agencies have prospered because many translators cannot bring their own services to the market.




I agree, but there are two things to be considered:
1) if a translator spends time to put him/herself in the market, to advertise his/her service, well it is translating-time, which means less money at the end of the month.

An agency has means, time, resource, people to do that.

2) a lot of people are impressed by the agency presentation of the translation, and do not even consider freelance translators, as they think that the final translation has a different quality.

So again, you're right, but I never have the time to improve my business skills


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
Who needs business skills? Apr 17, 2009

After reading lots of posts in various fora over the last couple of years, I've come to the conclusion that many translators don't have the necessary business skills to run a or any business efficiently. I say "a" business because it seems that they don't see themselves as business people but more as "artists" who don't want to sully and defile their art with matters involving "filthy lucre". The evidence can be seen in the low response to this poll.

In that regard, my impression is that there's a fair amount of business naiveté on the part of many translators, who prefer to gush about how much they looooove translating and then turn around and moan about the big bad agencies and outsourcers who are business people and who work in the dog-eat-dog business world.

I’m obviously generalizing, but I think the translation “business” is heavily populated with artsy, flower-power types who could care less whether they have any business skills or not.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:00
Flemish to English
+ ...
Business is... Apr 17, 2009

Kill with a smile or be killed. These are the "guns" : Some knowledge of marketing, accounting, basic project management, basic finance, basic math.
i.e. not looove of words, but looove of figures. In the end it always boils down to how much €,£,$, rupee, etc one makes.
Other guns: knowledge of IT and tools and knowledge of languages.


[Bearbeitet am 2009-04-17 07:20 GMT]


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ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
Business skills' evolution Apr 17, 2009

Though I agree in general with what has been said so far, but especially with what Parrot and John Cutler have commented, one important factor to also take into account, for those of us who have been working as freelance translators for a long time, is that the way of doing business keeps changing every year, since technology keeps evolving every year.

Although some of the traditional business tactics are still valid, some can become outdated and can be almost useless (or at least that is my experience).

For example, social/business network websites are lately a new way of marketing yourself and making business contacts, instead of the usual "door-to-door" emailing/cold-call that proved to be more effective a few years ago.

Although obviously the Internet is becoming more and more the land of opportunities for everyone, we now have to invest some major time trying to figure out how to use it more wisely and effectively.


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Oliver Lawrence  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:00
Partial member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
Nuts and bolts Apr 17, 2009

Having worked in an IT business for a number of years before starting out as a translator, I have picked up a good feel for how to deal with customers from a marketing perspective, but 'nuts and bolts' issues like how to comply with all the tax obligations when you start working in a foreign country, are not always the easiest things to get to grips with.

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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 19:00
Two discussions for the same question Apr 17, 2009

Has any of you noticed, that there are two discussions for the same poll question?

Something went wrong.


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Apr 17, 2009

Bin Tiede wrote:

Has any of you noticed, that there are two discussions for the same poll question?

Something went wrong.


It thought it was a problem with my browser. It's like there are 2 simultaneous but different polls.


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ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
Weird Apr 17, 2009

John Cutler wrote:

Bin Tiede wrote:

Has any of you noticed, that there are two discussions for the same poll question?

Something went wrong.


It thought it was a problem with my browser. It's like there are 2 simultaneous but different polls.


This morning when I visited Proz.com for the first time I saw this thread on the home page, not the other one, so I had not realized this was happening. It looks like one of those technical gremlins...


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:00
English to Dutch
+ ...
How do I get to see the other one? Apr 17, 2009

Bin Tiede wrote:

Has any of you noticed, that there are two discussions for the same poll question?

Something went wrong.


I can only find this one. Can anyone help me find the other one?
Or could someone from ProZ.com staff perhaps merge the two?

TIA!


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