Now is the moment to talk about the real heart of your business: YOU. You are your own business, so you should have, in my opinion, two crucial features: the right business mindset, and self-confidence. Let’s start with the former.
Everything that I have said so far in my blog posts highlights the fact that you need to think and act as an entrepreneur.
Having business and financial goals, planning, being organised, acting professionally with clients and prospects alike, keeping up to date with industry norms and practices, continuing your professional development through seminars, courses and reading, negotiating, networking with clients and peers are all aspects of good entrepreneurship.
Committing fully to your work and your business is thus crucial: you can work as a translator or interpreter and stop there, but your business will never grow to fulfil its potential. In order to succeed and grow your business, you need to work on all the aspects we’ve talked about in the previous posts.
You need to rethink everything that you do, understand and exploit your strengths, find your weaknesses and look for ways to turn them around. Get creative! Find new ways to promote your business, add value to your work by strengthening your capabilities and developing new skills. Network with your peers, as they can be a source of information, inspiration and possibly work. Moreover, if a client asks you to perform a task you don’t have the right skills for (such as a translation in a language pair you don’t work with), your network might come in handy: you may have a trusted colleague who’s right for the job, and this way your client will know that you act professionally and that you support them.
Secondly, you need to know yourself.
You need to know what your skills are and exploit them. You need to know what skills you don’t have and avoid tasks that require those skills. You need to know what skills you should have and work to achieve them. This will help you deliver better quality work, satisfy your clients and earn their trust.
You also need to know the value of your work and your time in order to set your rates and feel rewarded. If you don’t know your real value you might set your rates too low, work hard and earn less than what you deserve, and consequently feel frustrated and lose confidence in yourself.
Thus, you need to know your potential, and you need to work towards its fulfilment. If you know that a new skill can add value to your work and allow you to expand your pool of clients, then go and learn it. If you know you can speed up your accounting by implementing new processes, go and develop them. If you know you have expertise you can share to enhance your reputation, then find a way to do it and promote it.
But you also need to know your own limits. Don’t commit to more than you can deliver, or you’ll end up disappointing your clients. If you know that your daily turnaround is, say, 2000 words, don’t accept a 4000 words job for tomorrow – the quality will be compromised, and so will your reputation and relationship with the client. Never accept jobs you know you can’t do! As I said before, rather recommend a colleague and suggest a viable solution to keep your business partners happy. Don’t be afraid to say no.
My last piece of advice: be confident! If you know yourself well, you won’t have anything to feel insecure about. If you work hard for your business, it will grow. It may take some time, but it will grow. Trust yourself and your efforts: you will get results. If you trust yourself, the rest of the world will feel confident to trust you, and your business will benefit from it.
The moment is now. I wish you the best of luck for this new year, and I’ll see you soon again on these pages with new articles about the translation and interpreting world!