Don’t you wish you are given a self employment guide the moment you decide to strike on your own?
The truth is most of us were taught how to speak and write a second language at school. But nobody taught us how to run a business, especially how to run a solo business such as a translation business.
The biggest mistake translators make when they start on their own is that they don’t realize they are running a business.
Some even openly admit that they hate the business part of their practice. They hope that as long as they take care of the translation process that they enjoy so much everything will eventually work out.
I hate to break this to you, but if you don’t take care of your business your business won’t take care of you. I hope the following few tips may serve as a self employment guide for translators (or maybe just some self employment ideas):
1- Find a profitable niche
Interestingly I’ve heard people say, “the language industry is such a huge market. Even if I just get a tiny percentage of the business, I will be fine.”
The thing is – this is also a high competitive business. If you are new to the market, you may not be noticed. The only thing that can set you apart from the rest is your uniqueness.
Please don’t feel that you have to claim to be an expert legal translator or a medical translator when you are not. Profitable niches are everywhere. You just need to take a good look at your strength and weakness. If you haven’t had any translation experience at all, look at your other skill set and qualifications.
For example, if you’ve worked as an administrator before, why not build a niche in bilingual virtual assistance? As economy is taking a downturn, more and more companies are downsizing. As a result, they often outsource their administrative duties to independent contractors.
I know people who make good money working as virtual assistants specializing in translation.
(Read more on virtual assistant jobs)
2- Make a profit plan
It is my opinion that any self employment guide that focuses too much on the technical part of the business is a waste of time. No, you don’t have to learn how to build a website or how the latest accounting software works. You can get these services from others very inexpensively these days.
What you need is a strategic plan for your business. How are you going to make profit? What are the services and products you’re going to offer? How do you reach your target market? How do you make the best of your limited resources and time?
One thing I haven’t seen being mentioned in any self employment guide is to make at least a part of your business repeatable. No business will have significant success without selling anything repeatable.
Although many people who’ve become freelancers say they love the freedom of being self employed, I have to say there’s no freedom if you simply trade one boss for many other bosses who happen to be your clients.
Don’t get me wrong, personal businesses can be profitable too. But if your business depends solely on how much time you can devote then it’s on a very risky ground. What if you are sick? What if you have a family emergency?
You need find a way to take yourself off the clock. Outsourcing your work and creating repeatable products is the option you need to seriously consider.
3- You can’t avoid selling
A critical part that should be included in any self employment guide is how to sell. In today’s world, selling is not about forcing people to buy from you anymore. It’s about becoming a trusted advisor.
Your clients are looking to be inspired, encouraged, taught and heard. For language professionals, that means you have to go out of your ways to become known through networking and getting involved in the community where your target market is.
This also means you need to offer something different from what your competitors are offering. (Read more on how to sell).