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Poll: Do you have a written business plan for your translation/interpreting business?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 21:45
SITE STAFF
Nov 11, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you have a written business plan for your translation/interpreting business?".

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Well obviously not Nov 11, 2015

You'd have thought having "find lots of interesting well-paid work and do it well" in your head would be enough

 

DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:45
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Nope ... Nov 11, 2015

and I can't think of a single reason I would need one.

I do have goals, targets, ambitions, dreams .... pseudo-written in a mental wish list - but that is probably not what the asker had in mind.


 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 13:45
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Er.... Nov 11, 2015

Sort of

Make lots of spondoolicks from easy, well-paying work.

Is that good enough?


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:45
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Some of us drifted in, years ago Nov 11, 2015

It wasn't too applicable when I was just doing the "odd translation" for a few local agencies/direct clients to fill in the gaps between EFL students. The amount of translation work crept up so slowly that I really couldn't tell you when I changed my response to the question "What job do you do?".

Would anyone be expected to have a written business plan 10 years in?

Edited to add:

However, I do wish more newcomers to the job would at least think about a business plan, even if they don't commit it to paper. Askng yourself a few questions and considering the answers can be so useful.

What is my USP (or even my not-so-unique SP)?
What am I best at?
How can I convince others of that?
Where shall I position myself in the market?
Who will be my clients?
How will they find me?
What will they expect from me?
What should I expect from them?

The list is endless. Far too many freelancers end up being bullied because they never actually realise one maor fact::

I AM RUNNING A BUSINESS


[Edited at 2015-11-11 09:34 GMT]


 

ventnai  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:45
Member
German to English
+ ...
No - why? Nov 11, 2015

Most of us are not operating as a business as such. Our aim is to do our job as well as we can, build up a good relationship with clients and seek to increase rates where we can. We have limited capacity as translators, so there is no point in drawing up a business plan. We already know what to do. There is no need to write it down. You could set yourself a target of gaining x amount of new clients or undertake networking activities, but when it boils down to it, there is no need to put it on paper. Of course, if you wish to set up an agency, that is a different matter but then you are moving away from what most people who post here actually do.

 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Dear Translators Anonymous, my name's Chris and I'm a businessperson Nov 11, 2015

Sheila Wilson wrote:
I AM RUNNING A BUSINESS


Ian Jones wrote:
Most of us are not operating as a business as such


However businesslike or unbusinesslike we may be, we're all running a business.

I did actually have to produce a business plan about 20 years ago when we bought the farm so we could get a mortgage.

Like all business plans, this involved plucking figures out of thin air and doubling them, but the bank didn't seem to care.

Sheila's questionnaire for beginners makes sense - but quite how somebody could enter the profession without asking questions like that beats me.


 

Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:45
Member (2006)
German to English
Other Nov 11, 2015

I did when I applied for government funding for starting up my "business". Got wads of funding 18 months long, and took everything that I could get and was a great help! Was a requirement back then and never regretted doing that as I already had all the contacts, etc.
And when you see how much money is thrown out on useless projects by politicians over here, I find it a shame that I even have to pay taxes!
But I have never actually "needed" a business plan - they are fictional anyway. How can anyone in the world guarantee that you will get "X" income?


 

Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:45
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
No, Nov 11, 2015

only the plans in my head and they are flexible and change in response to the market and my own circumstances

[Edited at 2015-11-11 11:24 GMT]


 

Natalie Soper  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:45
French to English
+ ...
Good question Nov 11, 2015

It seems lots of people here don't see the point in having a business plan, but if you've got an idea in your head of how much you want to earn and how you're going to go about it...well, that's kind of a business plan.
Of course it doesn't have to be a full-on portfolio of figures and projections, but I like Sheila's suggestions of questions to ask yourself.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 05:45
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Likewise! Nov 11, 2015

Yetta J Bogarde wrote:

only the plans in my head and they are flexible and change in response to the market and my own circumstances

[Edited at 2015-11-11 11:24 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:45
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Beats me too Nov 11, 2015

Chris S wrote:
Sheila's questionnaire for beginners makes sense - but quite how somebody could enter the profession without asking questions like that beats me.

But we see it all the time in the Getting Established forum. Some ask pertinent questions relating to their specific circumstances, and it's clear that they've already got answers to some of the questions. They may even be in the majority.

However, a worrying number say they've been translating freelance for a year or more but without much success. Some have neither training nor experience - in anything at all. Quite a few are hard pushed to form a grammatical sentence in their target language! Those posters have no idea what "risk management" entails, "negotiation" means obeying the client, "payment recovery procedures" involve doing absolutely nothing for a year and then getting mad... But then, to be honest, I don't suppose they expected to "enter a profession" - they were just looking for a job.


 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
File with “Mission Statement” and “Vision Statement” Nov 11, 2015

Ian Jones wrote:

Most of us are not operating as a business as such. Our aim is to do our job as well as we can, build up a good relationship with clients and seek to increase rates where we can. We have limited capacity as translators, so there is no point in drawing up a business plan. We already know what to do. There is no need to write it down. You could set yourself a target of gaining x amount of new clients or undertake networking activities, but when it boils down to it, there is no need to put it on paper. Of course, if you wish to set up an agency, that is a different matter but then you are moving away from what most people who post here actually do.


I am with Ian here. I recently got a call from a UK translation agency, out of the blue. They inquired if I was open to considering a translation agency as a vendor to outsource jobs when necessary. I clarified to them that I am a translator, not a translation agency.

If only they had bothered to visit my website instead of cold-calling me.


 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
An idea only an accountant looking for clients would love Nov 11, 2015

In America, everybody is an entrepreneur or runs a small business these days. The local bakery is not just a baker and his family, it's an “enterprise” in need of marketing strategies, accounting services, tax filing services, advertising campaigns, logos and such.

Also, in America, colleges and universities are no longer halls of learning but enterprises with a mission and a vision statement. Even my local massage therapy parlor has a mission and vision statement placed…in the bathroom!

This is insane. People forget why they set up a practice or started a small business, only to get distracted and busy with inanities such as mission and vision statements and, yes, business plans.

What's next? What's your EBITDA? Are you going to run an IPO anytime soon?

In English, the word business is used for almost anything, noun, adjective. I'm surprised that Americans haven't found a way to use it as a verb.

The word business is currently used to instill some sense of self respect or highbrow importance that does not exist. Instead of a company having production divisions, they have business units, which may sound awesome to whoever came with that phrase, but it does not convey any useful information to employees or clients. Of course, Spanish translators commonly write unidades de negocios, which makes absolutely no sense.

Same with business plan. What is it that you want to convey in an intelligible and rational fashion?

Let's remember that buzzwords appeal to the emotions, not the intellect.


 

Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
Where's the plain "no" option? Nov 11, 2015

As with others, my move into translation was gradual. I was - and still am - running another business which I took over from others. In my head the figures added up. They continue to do so.

But I do have a question, which no doubt reflects my age: "What ever happened to common sense and nous?"


 
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