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Time for Translators to establish LLPs?
Thread poster: deutschenglisch

deutschenglisch
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:19
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Nov 25, 2018

Want to assess the appetite among specialist/niche freelance translators (freelancers or companies) to enter into an LLP style arrangement familiar to accountants and laywers.

It’s time to save the industry!

Benefits
Company structure unlocks B2B
Formalise training, qualification and experience, style expectations
Partners share profits
Pool resources (knowledge, also technical resources such as dictionaries, termbases)
Pool liability... See more
Want to assess the appetite among specialist/niche freelance translators (freelancers or companies) to enter into an LLP style arrangement familiar to accountants and laywers.

It’s time to save the industry!

Benefits
Company structure unlocks B2B
Formalise training, qualification and experience, style expectations
Partners share profits
Pool resources (knowledge, also technical resources such as dictionaries, termbases)
Pool liability
Charge wholesale fees
Redress power imbalance
....

Message below of interested include language pair(s) and niche/specialism.
(not binding)
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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:19
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
You won't be spending much time on translation any more Nov 25, 2018

SD Platt wrote:

Want to assess the appetite among specialist/niche freelance translators (freelancers or companies) to enter into an LLP style arrangement familiar to accountants and laywers.

It’s time to save the industry!

Benefits
Company structure unlocks B2B
Formalise training, qualification and experience, style expectations
Partners share profits
Pool resources (knowledge, also technical resources such as dictionaries, termbases)
Pool liability
Charge wholesale fees
Redress power imbalance
....
Message below of interested include language pair(s) and niche/specialism.
(not binding)

Who does the admin? Who goes out there and does the selling? Who does the coordination?

What you seem to be describing is an agency, but an agency consisting of people (freelance translators) who prefer translation to the work that an agency must perform in order to succeed. I'd imagine such an entity would be out-competed very quickly by more nimble agencies that actually specialise in the areas just mentioned.

I may be misconstruing what you are saying in your post, but on the face of it I don't see how gathering a bunch of freelancers together in a company helps such people, or that a corporate structure necessarily "unlocks" anything. Freelancers may already set up (at least in the UK) a limited company on their own, or with a few others, if they so wish, but if they're not already successful, I can't see a limited company changing much.

Profit sharing - if you are already a successful translator, why would you share profit with others, especially if they are less successful than you? What do you get out of it that would compensate you for sharing profits?

Liability - same again. Why would I want to take on liability for others, who may be less careful than myself? In the UK at least, I can buy 12 months of professional indemnity for the price of a small job.

Training - I imagine most professionals have associations and CPD plans for that. If you are a beginner, maybe it would help, but beginners don't get to be made partners in most industries.

Resources - I have what I need. Most of what I use is freely available, and dictionaries can be purchased for a trivial amount of money and used for years.

Charge wholesale fees - not entirely sure what this means. Normally the wholesale price of a good or service is lower than the retail price...?

Redress power imbalance - I don't see one in my business. I have something my agency clients want. My clients have something I want, and they take care of the admin bits I don't care to tackle. We work together for mutual benefit.

Accountancy and legal partnerships exist because some jobs are too large for individuals. Two auditors in a tiny office in south London just don't have the reach to service a global company operating in several dozen countries.

In the translation industry, the major agencies already perform an equivalent function, the main difference being that in-house talent (translators) is seldom used, whereas an audit firm has hundreds or thousands of juniors and middle managers on their books. You can go and compete with such agencies if you like - barriers to entry to the agency business could not be lower - but is that really what you want to do?

Regards,
Dan


Christine Andersen
The Misha
Sheila Wilson
Vera Schoen
Jorge Payan
Oleksandr Ivanov
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:19
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
We can save the profession by acting professionally Nov 25, 2018

If translators have recognised qualifications and belong to professional organisations (ATA, AITI, ITI, CIoL, whichever applies where you live...), they can hold their heads up and insist on being treated as professionals.

Dan Lucas wrote:

Redress power imbalance - I don't see one in my business. I have something my agency clients want. My clients have something I want, and they take care of the admin bits I don't care to tackle. We work together for mutual benefit.


That is how I work too.


Fiona Grace Peterson
Oleksandr Ivanov
 

The Misha
Local time: 18:19
Russian to English
+ ...
But why, Spongebob? Why? Nov 25, 2018

Every time someone starts talking about saving the industry, or the world instead of simply minding their own business (literally, in this case), I get apprehensive. If everyone took proper care of his or her respective business, there would be precious few people or things out there that require saving.

Dan Lucas
Richard Purdom
Jorge Payan
Jean Lachaud
ahartje
Fiona Grace Peterson
Oleksandr Ivanov
 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Dutch to French
+ ...
not necessarily a bad idea Nov 26, 2018

SD Platt wrote:

Want to assess the appetite among specialist/niche freelance translators (freelancers or companies) to enter into an LLP style arrangement familiar to accountants and laywers.

It’s time to save the industry!

Benefits
Company structure unlocks B2B
Formalise training, qualification and experience, style expectations
Partners share profits
Pool resources (knowledge, also technical resources such as dictionaries, termbases)
Pool liability
Charge wholesale fees
Redress power imbalance
....

Message below of interested include language pair(s) and niche/specialism.
(not binding)

Many of those who have set up an agency 10 years ago have become rich.
Some have earned more euros than the total wordcount claimed by some freelance translators during the same period
But who knows? I guess some people here prefer 20 million words plus 20 million KUDOZ points to 20 million euros.
The real loss would be to become unable to post on forums, to launch translation speed contests and to answer KUDOZ questions...

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:19
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
@Simon Nov 26, 2018

Simon Platt wrote:
Want to assess the appetite among specialist/niche freelance translators (freelancers or companies) to enter into an LLP style arrangement familiar to accountants and lawyers.


In which country? I see you're from Germany, but Germany's limited liability partnership (LLP) legislation is different from e.g. the UK's of the USA's legislation. In fact, I don't even think one can speak of "USA" in this regard because the different states all have their own laws regarding LLPs.

If Wikipedia is to be trusted, in Germany an LLP (called an "PartG mbB") requires all partners to contribute capital to the partnership (I'm not sure how), and then their liability is limited to that capital amount only in cases of misconduct (in other cases not involving misconduct, all partners remain fully liable). From my perspective, this would mean that a German limited liability partnership is identical to a normal partnership in all aspects that matter. In addition, German LLPs can only be "engineers, lawyers, patent attorneys, tax consultants and auditors" (Google Translate).

From what I can see, a private limited liability company may be a more suitable option in many countries for groups of translators who want to work together. In some countries (e.g. my own country of residence), this requires almost no start-up capital. The only downside is higher taxes on profits.

Benefits
Company structure unlocks B2B
Formalise training, qualification and experience, style expectations
Partners share profits
Pool resources (knowledge, also technical resources such as dictionaries, termbases)
Pool liability
Charge wholesale fees
Redress power imbalance


Even if translators band together into LLPs or PLLCs, it will unlikely involve more than 10 of them per partnership, which does not improve their collective power by much.


Jorge Payan
 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:19
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
A fundamental question to ask Nov 26, 2018

Will I get much more income for working much less hours if I became a partner of your LLP? If so, how? If not, why bother?

[Edited at 2018-11-26 11:57 GMT]


Jorge Payan
Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
Kay Denney
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
on equal terms Nov 26, 2018

As some noted, such an organization is already as an agency, but with translators and mutual benefits in mind, which makes it much better than money-mad brokers. While the income is shared too, mutual assistance and a stable flow of jobs improves the exp. It's more like working in a team [with colleagues] than dealing with middlemen. On the other hand, it's very similar to associations with active comprehensive support. Perhaps, I would be interested, but locally--with trustworthy people ... See more
As some noted, such an organization is already as an agency, but with translators and mutual benefits in mind, which makes it much better than money-mad brokers. While the income is shared too, mutual assistance and a stable flow of jobs improves the exp. It's more like working in a team [with colleagues] than dealing with middlemen. On the other hand, it's very similar to associations with active comprehensive support. Perhaps, I would be interested, but locally--with trustworthy people and specific terms.

However, it makes little sense for freelancers working with direct clients, alas

[Edited at 2018-11-26 12:52 GMT]
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Oleksandr Ivanov
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 23:19
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It’s not worth it (that's my experience) Nov 26, 2018

I sort of did that in 1985. We started out as a small cooperative society of Portuguese translators (only European Portuguese native speakers) set up in 1985 in Brussels in the wake of Portugal’s adhesion to the European Community in 1986. After 30 years in Belgium, a lot of ups and downs, endless discussions, arguments and disagreements, translators who decided to leave taking part of the clients with them, etc., etc., we decided to part ways and I moved to Portugal in 2015. We are now a two ... See more
I sort of did that in 1985. We started out as a small cooperative society of Portuguese translators (only European Portuguese native speakers) set up in 1985 in Brussels in the wake of Portugal’s adhesion to the European Community in 1986. After 30 years in Belgium, a lot of ups and downs, endless discussions, arguments and disagreements, translators who decided to leave taking part of the clients with them, etc., etc., we decided to part ways and I moved to Portugal in 2015. We are now a two women’s enterprise: I am the main translator and editor and my associate deals with the administrative side of the business. Peace has NO price!!Collapse


Gareth Callagy
Emma Page
Oleksandr Ivanov
Ultan Mulhern
 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:19
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
One more point Nov 26, 2018

The doctors/lawyers/accountants working in a LLP use the same customer service/support staff, and share the front desk and other common office spaces (such as conference rooms). We, as freelancers working at home, don't usually need a support staff nor a front desk. If we follow suit, we may end up with more expenses.

[Edited at 2018-11-26 13:15 GMT]


Dan Lucas
Jorge Payan
 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:19
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
You may have a dual status - being a company owner and an individual translator Nov 26, 2018

David GAY wrote:

The real loss would be to become unable to post on forums, to launch translation speed contests and to answer KUDOZ questions...


As an individual translator, you can still do all of those you mentioned.

I wonder if you wrote your statement in a humorous manner.


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:19
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I think the OP's idea was not about setting up an agency as a businessman Nov 26, 2018

David GAY wrote:
Many of those who have set up an agency 10 years ago have become rich.
Some have earned more euros than the total wordcount claimed by some freelance translators during the same period


He was talking about working as a translator while being a shareholder of a LLP. The participant's job is more in translating than business management


 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:19
German to English
+ ...
looking at this item by item Nov 26, 2018

SD Platt wrote:

It’s time to save the industry!

Save it from what?

The first problem for me is that it seems an LLP must have at least 2 partners. Suddenly life gets a lot more complicated. I like working solo. in fact, that's why I freelance.

Benefits
Company structure unlocks B2B

What does this mean specifically? Google suggests it means you work with businesses rather than consumers. Do you mean that the only customers we work for are businesses and not private individuals? I don't know if that is what you mean. At present I have a broad spectrum of clients: businesses, individuals, law firms (a business), agencies. I want that broad client base. Since businesses are already among my customers, I see no change. Actually I don't understand how becoming an LLSP would change this. But I'm also lost.
Formalise training, qualification and experience, style expectations.

My own training and qualifications are pretty complete. It includes university training in both languages and translation, followed by certification by a pretty robust body in Canada. I don't know how i would want to "formalize" my experience. (?) It's close to 30 years. Style expectations: This really depends on where it's going (country, institution etc.), what the purpose is, and often enough this is in consultation with the client. I don't think I'd want to get locked into something by a group. I also don't understand what the purpose of this is.
Partners share profits

I kind of like keeping the fruit of my labour.
Pool resources (knowledge, also technical resources such as dictionaries, termbases)

Generally speaking my resources are pretty complete, and there are a lot of resources online, not to mention the ability to network without needing a partnership.
Pool liability

I don't understand this one. Being liable for anything as a translator is rather rare. Do you mean liability insurance? I am very careful with my work. Can I be sure that my partners are so as well?
Charge wholesale fees

I'm trying to think of how wholesale and retail applies to translation. Do you mean the scenario where translators get persuaded that they should charge agencies less than their end clients? In that case, I already charge "wholesale". I do the same quality work for all my clients, whether agency, individual end client, or a company - so I charge the same.
Redress power imbalance

Power imbalance between which two parties? Do you mean between translators and some kinds of customers. I have seen, in discussions, imbalances because of wrong assumptions and acceptance of the same. But it need not be


Teresa Borges
Richard Purdom
 

Richard Purdom  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 23:19
Dutch to English
+ ...
creating new 'imbalances' Nov 26, 2018

It's about time that this dogma and attempts to create a cartel were left in the dustbin of history where they belong.
An LLP as proposed would only create new divisions between those jealously guarding their territory, and those they regard as 'bottom-feeders' who are not fit to join the gang.

It's the 21st century, the old conceptions of employer/employer, vertical hierarchies etc., are irrelevant, we've moved to a project-based system, often remote, where peer approval is
... See more
It's about time that this dogma and attempts to create a cartel were left in the dustbin of history where they belong.
An LLP as proposed would only create new divisions between those jealously guarding their territory, and those they regard as 'bottom-feeders' who are not fit to join the gang.

It's the 21st century, the old conceptions of employer/employer, vertical hierarchies etc., are irrelevant, we've moved to a project-based system, often remote, where peer approval is more important than academic qualifications which are often outdated and not applicable to actual practice. We work with clients and agencies, nobody is obliged to accept anything they object to, and there's a scale of talent and rewards for customers to choose from. Just how it should be, and how e expect to buy everything else.

Besides, the only legal point of an LLP AFAIK is to limit liability! Who would advocate that?
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Dan Lucas
Oleksandr Ivanov
 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:19
English to French
+ ...
Data, please Nov 26, 2018

Is there a verifiable source for this statement (let not even get into defining "many of"), with hard numbers? Like how many?

David GAY wrote:

Many of those who have set up an agency 10 years ago have become rich.



[Edited at 2018-11-26 21:57 GMT]


 
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