Transforming translator into a translation business owner

Transforming translator into a translation business owner

Turning an employee into an employer

A career of a translator is among one of the most unpredictable – there are so many possibilities, development opportunities and improvements to be made. Majority of people working in the field, though, follow the same narrow path that their colleagues have laid; starting as an in-house translator at a company and turning into a translation business owner afterwards. This life-changing transformation requires thorough preparation, a great amount of patience and persistence. Quitting your job is stressful enough; having to face your former employer as a competitor is a whole other thing.

The formal aspects of leaving your current position

In-house translators are usually bound to their current employer by some kind of a contract. Thorough reading should precede its signing – and this step should be repeated before officially making a decision to quit. Read through all of the contents, paying special attention to the non-competition clause; it is of crucial importance in your further endeavours, as you quite probably won’t be able to use the resources, translation memories and databases gathered during your employment at a given company. As far as this is concerned, you are back to square one – and not everyone seems to like it. Make sure that your financial cushion is big enough to support all of the ideas and necessary costs related to starting a business, covering employment costs (tax, as well as monthly remuneration; both cannot depend solely on your current income from orders) and current expenses. Last but not least, prepare a reliable and precise business plan and cost estimate.

managing team

Becoming your own boss – as well as managing other people

There is a fundamental difference in being a part of a team managed by someone else and being a manager yourself; one is suddenly required to employ completely different set of skills and use various strategies in order to efficiently manage a group of collaborators. Get to know your co-workers as this is the shortest way to achieve balanced cooperation. Learn more about their motivations, interests, hobbies, career paths, and discover their hidden talents; do not be afraid to participate in seminars, webinars and conferences related to your field. At the very beginning you might be the only person responsible for accounting, delegating tasks, quality assurance and customer service. As your company will grow, though, lots of these duties will become a part of someone else’s range of work responsibilities.

Making use of modern technology and employing lifelong learning strategies

Being a translator yourself, you have a great advantage over your competitors who have no expertise within this field besides managing a given agency. You are perfectly aware of the needs of your employees, especially when it comes to language resources, technical equipment and CAT tools. This insight facilitates the choice of further training – and makes it also easier to communicate with your employees as you understand their hopes and expectations. However, there is also a less glamorous side to such endeavour; as a former employee, the translator quite possibly did not have to spare much thought for accounting, tax and other formal aspects. Lack of expertise in this field might be catastrophic, therefore finding a person to guide you through these issues is vital.

With careful preparation, wise usage of one’s experience and available resources, a translator can surely successfully transform into the owner of a translation agency. Patience, persistence and careful selection of co-workers – as well as their further appreciation – comprise some of the most important factors in building a prosperous brand. 


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