If you are currently looking for clear and coherent ways to scale your translation business effectively, this article will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to achieve that no matter what phase you’re in.
During the formative stage of your translation business, you probably devote a lot of your time getting all the work done by yourself, which could become overwhelming at times, possibly leading to burnout.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a business owner with a small team of translators or a solo freelancer, a good rule of thumb is to establish a standard workflow early on. Doing this will help streamline operational procedures, help keep processes in perfect order, and set your translation business for growth in the near future.
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Why Should You Scale Your Translation Business?
Scaling allows you to grow your translation business without you having to trade your time for dollars. But in order for scalability to be within reach, you need to set up the right stage to encourage and support growth.
Scalability is mainly about two things: capacity and capability. This simply means that while business is growing, it should not hamper the operations and cause your company to stumble in the long run. Therefore, having the right system that is simple for you to implement and your team to follow is necessary.
You may be tempted to cut corners to hit your next milestone as your translation business begins to expand, but you have to be careful because taking the easy road without care can potentially cripple your firm in the future.
Your translation agency is more likely to survive when it can accommodate growth. As your business scales, you can focus your efforts on other aspects like:
- Quality control
- Client acquisition
- Supervising teams
- Adding new types of services
All of these are essential to becoming a million-dollar translation business. It doesn’t matter if you’re flying solo now or have a small team. You’ll get there, but not without a plan.
Here are some of the benefits of having a scalable translation business:
- Better quality of service
- Improved efficiency
- Increase in revenue
- Better options for growth
You have to consider the key components that drive the capacity of your business to scale and prepare for sustainable actions to avoid falling short on your goals.
Steps to Grow Your Translation Business
Here are the steps to growing your agency:
1) Optimize Your Business and Cut Costs
As an entrepreneur, you must first envision the means to scale. Having a clear goal in mind helps you allocate resources properly, monitor expenditures, and help cut operational costs as necessary. We all want to spend as little as possible when running a business.
If you’re a one-man band who spends your money frugally, then you may skip this step as it mostly applies to small to medium-sized translation agencies.
In order to cut costs, it’s essential to have a deep enough understanding of your operation so you can determine which areas of your company can be optimized without affecting the quality of services.
Instead of doing traditional marketing campaigns, maybe you could transition to social media marketing instead, which is substantially cheaper, more cost-effective, and free to start. You might also consider replacing some of your non-essential onshore staff, like office administrators or bookkeepers, with virtual workers from a country with a low cost of living like the Philippines, which would allow you to save up to 80% of your payroll.
If you take time to optimize your business as a whole, this frees up dollars for other expenditures. The cost savings may even allow you to hire additional manpower or software that will give your business an edge over the competition.
Always bear in mind that every penny counts. A slight increase in expenses or reduction in revenue can have a meaningful impact on profitability.
2) Determine Your Competitive Edge
“If you don’t understand the details of your business you are going to fail.”Jeff Bezos
If you plan to bring your translation business to a global level, you must determine how your service can stand out in a highly competitive market. Moreover, you also need to know what your competition offers. This will enable you to benchmark and position yourself better in outdoing them.
Consider sitting down with your marketing team to determine effective value proposition strategies for closing deals. It doesn’t matter how small-time you are. Even if you’re flying solo, you must have something that makes you unique. Maybe you could offer rush services with no extra charge. Perhaps you specialize in a specific language, like Chinese, and do it extremely well.
Note that niching down, in the beginning, is an effective strategy to set you apart, which is crucial for growth in a competitive environment. Narrowing your services down to a specific domain within the industry also enables you and/or your team to focus on a small field and master it.
3) Find Ways to Acquire New Clients Without Spending
Tapping into social media is a great way to attract possible clients—for free! It is a powerful avenue when utilized strategically. But choosing the appropriate channel for your translation agency needs to be considered. You need to know your niche market to determine which channels contain your target audience. Then, you need to create accounts on those platforms.
Note that for this step to be effective, you need to have a proper value proposition, as instructed in Step 2. Otherwise, your client acquisition campaigns won’t be as effective.
Conduct some research to determine your market and its behavior. Ask yourself, “where do my target customers hang out online?”
For most translation businesses, LinkedIn is the primary platform to reach out to potential clients for free. But you need to be strategic in your outreach; don’t just add people at random and pitch your services. Again, to make your outreach effective, you need to narrow it down to your target audience.
Facebook and Instagram
Besides LinkedIn, there are many other social channels. Facebook and Instagram are also great avenues not only for acquiring new clients but also for branding and getting customer feedback. However, you need to consider that the rules are different for each platform, hence, you should tailor your strategies accordingly. For Facebook and Instagram, the key is to provide value for your audience to drive engagement.
Social Media From Specific Regions
If you want to be truly strategic, you better check out social platforms from countries that you serve. For instance, if you primarily offer Chinese to English translations, you better double down on Weibo, WeChat, and other social media in China.
This list is by no means exhaustive. You and your team need to do your research and execute. Don’t second-guess, just do it! The key to obtaining favorable results is by doing the work consistently and adjusting as you see fit.
If the task becomes too tedious for you to do, consider hiring a social media manager to oversee all related campaigns.
If you already have a solid clientele, you can offer them a referral program, allowing them to earn as they bring you more clients.
4) Invest in marketing
As a freelance translator or business owner, marketing and promotion can position your services in front of your target customers. With that said, are you 100% confident and clear on the offerings of your translation services? You need to!
If not, you need to go back to step 2, which is to determine what exactly makes your service great and different, and then 3, which is to test out your newly-learned value proposition by reaching out to your target customers on social media and pitching your services. Optimize as your value prop as you learn more about your target customers.
Remember, money is involved now. Be careful not to burn your capital while spending on marketing.
Here are some ways to market a translation service:
- Search engine marketing (Google Adwords)
- Social Media Advertising (ads on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
- Email marketing
- Content Marketing
In recent years, social media has become an absolute must for marketers due to its ability to provide extensive reach without spending too much. Moreover, it has made the foreign markets more accessible than ever before, which is amazing for localization and translation companies.
5) Add New Services
As a translation service provider, you must constantly be on the lookout for new opportunities to provide services to stay competitive. Diversifying your offers enables you to broaden your target market, which could translate to an increase in revenue.
The most common way to add to your existing services is by offering a new language. This is easy as all you need to do is hire new translators who have experience in said language, ensure that they are of quality, then start offering the new language to your customers.
Another option is to add translation services to different types of documents. For instance, if you currently specialize in website translation, perhaps you might want to consider offering translation services on scientific journals or legal documents.
While adding new services can be beneficial to your business, be careful not to lose focus on your primary services, which you should commit to for as long as you can.
6) Hire More Translators
As your translation business grows, you will need more translators. But how would you know when is the right time to hire more? It’s simple. If your current team can no longer keep up with deliverables, then it’s time to grow.
Hiring translators for your agency may seem like an easy task, but there are things you need to consider before bringing in new employees. You definitely should hire someone with experience and expertise in their field. Beyond that, you need to prioritize people who can resonate with your company’s culture and have passion for what they do.
7) Hire Employees for Miscellaneous Tasks
Once all the rest are taken cared of, you’ll need more manpower to handle all the day-to-day tasks involved in running a translation business. You need to have systemized workflows for:
- Onboarding new customers
- Managing emails, calendars, and other administrative tasks
- Managing the translation workflow from end to end to ensure quality control
- Handling all social media accounts for branding, marketing, client acquisition, etc.
- Payment and invoicing
- Market research
Before you know it, these miscellaneous tasks could take up so much of your time. While spending time on client acquisition and macro-management might be worth your while, a CEO like you shouldn’t have to deal with answering phone calls, booking appointments, and other non-core tasks.
There are many agencies that you could easily outsource to if you want professional help. Perhaps we can even help you. Reach out to us!
Virtuale Staffing is a virtual staffing agency that works with solopreneurs and small businesses to provide them with specialized staff that could handle their administrative and social media tasks, allowing them to focus on their core business.