Want to Start a Translation Services Business? Here’s What You Need to Know
By: Shahzad Bashir
There is no such thing as a perfect business idea. But there’s always that one idea that hits the bull’s eye and you are ready to take action for it.
But what is this glorifying idea in your mind?
Turns out you want to open a translation service! Which is a great choice by the way. Little investment and a high linguistic skill set are the two most common attributes of a translation agency.
So why not give it a try right?
Languages are a primary need for any business. Whether it’s in English or a local language, sooner or later other businesses feel the need to expand and tap into local markets
A translation service is your road to success but only if you understand the prospects that will lead you to success.
In this article, we will go through the important factors that can help you in starting your very own translation service.
Get started with your Translation Business in 10 Easy Steps
Before you jump into the practicality, weigh up the pros and cons only then its a smart decision to open up a translation agency.
So the next step?
The basic things you need are a computer, good internet, email address, a website, and loads of linguistic skills to be able to translate the content.
Following are the 10 steps you can use to start a translation service. These steps will ensure that your business is well planned out and legally compliant too.
1. Begin with a plan
No business is truly complete without a plan, is it? It is essential for every startup, even remote work, to be properly planned.
A business plan helps to map out the specific parts of the services you want to offer as a translator. Usually, translation agencies are more than just standard translation. It can include localization, transcription, subtitles, etc.
So you see? You have a lot to decide.
Here are a few important things you must be clear about when creating a business plan.
● The costs involved in translation services
Lucky for you, a translation agency does not require heavy expenses as compared to other startups. The starting costs are minimal ranging somewhere between $200 and $1000. It is not necessary to have a proper office setup. So you save a lot of rent space too.
What you will need to invest is in a lightning-fast internet service, a quality printer, and of course a computer.
It is highly recommended to build your library with reference materials like dictionaries, grammar books. They are a handy tool. Also, keep the cost of the professional translation software in mind as a future investment.
Besides some of the common expenses for translation services also involve:
➔ Payment for freelancers
➔ Advertising and promotions
➔ Education (skill learning)
➔ Certification etc
● Identify the target market
Who is going to be your preferred client? Identifying your target audience is crucial before selling your translation services. Once you have made a list based on research and demographics, you can communicate and effectively negotiate the terms of the contract for the translation project
● Cost per translation project
Every type of document has a different fee. Based on various factors like content type, language pair, deadline, etc. can affect the cost per translation project.
According to the American Translators Association, an average freelancer makes approximately $64,000 per year. The annual amount varies but 11 cents per word is an average estimate. Sometimes a translator charges by the page or word basis. Also, the rate of translation is also affected by the length of the document. So keep this factor in mind.
● The brand name
Choosing a name matters the most. It seems like an easy task. But it can be challenging as well. There are certain factors you need to think about like the name should be simple, easy to remember, precise and not mouthy, and so on.
The uniqueness of the brand name is also a major factor in sales contribution.
2. Legal structure
As a startup, you need to decide the type of legal structure you want it to become. Sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC (limited liability company) and corporation are the common types of legal structure you can choose from.
If you choose an LLC or corporation then you are safe from being liable in case your translation services are sued.
3. Tax registration
Once your legal structure is set up you need to learn about the related taxes as well. Every startup pays taxes at the end of the accounting year. You will need to register for several state and federal taxes even before you open your business.
For this purpose make sure to get your EIN. It is easy and free. All guidelines are available on the IRS official website.
4. Bank account
Even if you decide to be a sole proprietor you need to keep the business and personal account different. A dedicated business account is essential to protect your personal assets.
Otherwise, your home car and other valuables might be liable to the loss in business. To avoid such a risk, open a business bank account, apply for a credit card as well. A different bank account also makes the tax filing a lot easier.
5. Permits and licenses
Are you planning to sell certified translation services? One thing important to remember is that not all translation agencies are certified.
Every industry has a specific set of permits and licenses they need to get through before claiming as a legal seller. Customers usually feel more satisfied with a translation agency with a certification.
A translation business still requires a license to operate. Besides, it is important for clients to sign a service agreement. The agreement is your defense against any legal disputes, payment terms, and conditions.
Even translation services need insurance to operate lawfully and safely. The purpose of business insurance is to protect the company’s wellbeing in case of loss.
You can choose from different types of insurance policies according to the legal structure of your translation business.
7. Brand identity
Your translation agency is the brand identity. It will create the prospective customer’s mind. Strong branding will make your translation business stand out among the competitors.
The global marketplace is always expanding. Translation services are always high in demand among all industries. You can create a database for all clients in various industries like healthcare, financial institutions, law firms, etc. send them emails, brochures or keep in touch with them through social media.
Focus on the types of translation services you are offering and areas of expertise. And also, do not forget to provide excellent customer service.
8. Official website
Online presence is what keeps businesses afloat these days. To define your brand’s identity, you need to have a well-structured layout.
A thoughtful website makes the brand look sophisticated and improves the visibility on search engines’ search results.
Every legitimate business has an official website, social media accounts like Facebook or LinkedIn, and has a website builder tool. Remember, a social media account is not a substitute for a website. So one does not work without the other.
9. Translation tools
The very first tool you will need is a CAT (computer-aided translation) tool.
It helps the translator to format, be productive, and able to save translations in a translation memory. Once you get loads of projects you can expand further using a TMS (translation management system) to keep track of the projects.
This helps you to communicate effectively with other translators who might be working from other corners of the world.
You also need quality control and monitoring systems, a trained machine translation engine, editors, layout programs, and converters once your projects start expanding.
10. Source the linguists
If you are a small translation service you need your own source of translators. You can post ads on various platforms like LinkedIn or Fiverr, to get the best translators. You can hire a language specialist after careful screening.
Ask for their samples, if they hesitate to provide one, it’s a red flag. Make sure to go through the two-step process, where a professional proofreader or editor checks the candidate’s work before the final delivery to the client.
Of course, it goes without saying your team of translators should be the best one.
Our 10-step guide barely makes a dent on the surface of what you need to know as an aspiring language service provider. The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities to learn from. Collect all the relevant data you need to before chipping in your first investment.
Follow these steps and see where it takes you in the near future. Don’t forget to set goals for your short-term and long-term translation projects.
Our blog posts are filled with helpful data that will also help you clear any ambiguity you have or want to earn a new point of view being the future entrepreneur.
So arm yourself with strong determination and a dose of adoption with the business world.