Soon, Exactitude Translations will enter its fifth year. I started it in the smallest studio you can imagine, situated in the illustrious Notting Hill. At that time, the kitchen table, which took up 1/4 of the entire studio, doubled as my office space.
From the get-go, I have kept encountering four key lessons for a successful freelance translation service. On one hand, I've come to consider these lessons as my imaginary friends. On the other hand, they have a habit of sneaking up on me, reminding me of their importance just when I’m getting a bit too comfortable.
Through this blog series, I'm delighted to share some decisive, incisive, and precise reasons for why my freelance business is thriving.
"Growth goes hand in hand with change as per definition
you can't actual grow without changing, at least a bit."
Growth goes hand in hand with change, as per definition you can't grow without actually changing. I quite enjoy change, and that trait has become integral to my business. As the German linguist Annette Hilgendag puts it:
If you don't respond to changes on the market, then other people will do it for you #diversifying#ciol
Growth is a multidimensional and perpetual need. The first post of this series is dedicated to demonstrating how your commitment to professional development can keep your business growing.
Expand your specialities
When I set out four years ago, my brief was: “Offer services to clients in need of Norwegian language skills". When you think about it, the scope of that brief is wide, which was – and is – my intention. I pin a large part of my success down to my appreciation for a diverse workload, and my willingness to take on a challenge. I would of course never suggest for anyone to agree on a job you are not sure you actually can do successfully. That being said, allow enough flexibility within your business to undertake completely new tasks
The tweet above is directed towards writers, but its underlying message should hold value for any creative freelancer. Often, all it takes is mixing a “learning-by-doing” attitude and a dash of lateral thinking, and the result can manifest itself in you having reasons to market your self anew.
Engage new clients
I have an automatic alert in my work calendar that goes off every three days: “Market your business to a new client”.
Just like you, your clients are facing constant changes, too. The fluctuation in their demand for your services is inevitable. If you are constantly forward thinking, sudden changes in client relationships won’t hurt you.
Hence, always engage in the pursuit of future business relationships to prevent yourself from falling victim to the twist and turns of your existing clients. The German to Swedish translator Erik Hansson tweeted:
Translator's wisdom: No matter how happy you are w/ your present clients, never stop searching for new ones. #xl8
I have had to learn this lesson more than once since starting my English to Norwegian translation service. Now, I have an automatic alert in my work calendar that goes off every three days, and reads: “Market your business to a new client”. That’s one small task with big positive implications for a business.
Looking back, I’ve been fortunate that some of my new connections instantly turned into on-going linguistic work. That's of immense value, because developing new relations to the point of them trusting you with profitable work can take a great deal of time. Moving forward, my goal is that I will never need to re-learn this lesson.
I’m never as happy professionally as when languages can be my hobby in addition to my profession. Plenty of translators participate in various activities outside their office for that very reason. Some will prefer to read for pleasure, some will attend professional meet-ups or events. My preference is to attend language courses. The latest course I did was in Italian, hosted by an enthusiastic linguist at the University of Bath. Even if I don’t work with Italian, attending the course re-inspired the way I carry out my daily work. I was almost surfing through my workload due to the personal growth I felt when learning languages for fun.
"If we don't change, we don't grow.
If we don't grow, we aren't really living".
The American author Gail Sheehy once said: "If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living". Aid professional growth by embracing change, and your business will change – and grow – with you.