Opening a small business is not always easy, but it’s more difficult to make it a successful one.
If you are a translator, chances are you may have been thinking of starting a business from home.
Now retired, Montserrat Pamies was a linguist turned entrepreneur based in Vancouver B.C. Canada.
She bought an unknown translation agency and turned it into the go-to name for high end service users. The degree of her success made her the envy of her competitors in the industry.
As one of her contractors, I was always impressed by her profound knowledge of the industry and her professionalism. I loved working with her. She shares her self employment tips with us in the following interview:
Q: 1)Tell us about yourself. How did you become a translator? How and when did the idea of opening a small business i.e. Starting your own translation agency come to your mind?
A: I became a translator and interpreter in 1980 as a part time job to supplement my income. STIBC (Society of Translators and Interpreters of BC) did not exist at the time and there was no emphasis placed on certification, just in professionalism and a job well done.
I worked for the Geneva Institute, an agency that, at that time, also offered diploma courses in Court Interpreting. I did that until 1985 at which time I was offered a senior position at my place of employment.
I abandoned translation and interpreting altogether until 1996. In that year the opportunity presented itself to purchase a business called B.C. Legal Interpreters which had been a small player for a few years in the Vancouver interpreting and translation market.
This is how it all started. I kept my regular job for another three years and then in 2000 I decided to work full time at my own business.
Q: 2)What were the challenges you faced as an agency owner just opening a small business? How did you overcome them?
Q: One challenge was to seek out and establish solid relationships with the best reputed translators and interpreters in the market and make them trust my agency.
The beginning was a bit rocky but they soon realized that I was a serious and professional operator who respected their knowledge and expertise and paid them a good rate and on time.
Another challenge was to expand the client base and solicit the business of major law firms and business requiring translations and interpreting, get them to try my services and compare what I could deliver against what they had been getting.
The experience acquired during my previous career in sales and marketing was very valuable in accomplishing this.
Q: 3)We all know that it’s not easy opening a small business. You ran a home based business and yet had a very strong reputation among high end service users such as lawyers and corporate clients. What’s the secret to your success?
A: I don’t think that a home-based business is any less capable of rendering outstanding service than a business with fancy offices.
In my case, I had a solid business background, I had been dealing with professionals of all kinds for many years and I knew how to present my case in a language (so to speak) they could understand and trust.
In time, clients also realized that with BCPLI they could have peace of mind. Furthermore, they soon saw that it made financial sense and that it was more cost effective to deal with BCPLI for all their translation and interpreting needs instead of going to various sources.
The business grew steadily with just word of mouth.