Presentation on theme: "Presents Webinar at on the theme of How to start a Language Services Agency and to grow."— Presentation transcript:
Presents Webinar at on the theme of How to start a Language Services Agency and to grow
Discussion Schedule and Tone Two modules will be covered in the duration of approximately an hour Q/A session would be at the end of the webinar. Few e-books and short essays by me on running an Agency will be provided at the end of the session under the head of Further Reading. A FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) being enclosed at the end. These questions were complied after few webinar and in-person sessions on the theme. A Free e-book entitled Wordsmith Book of Business – my own transformation from a freelancer to an agency owner is enclosed. This is our story in a story-format.Wordsmith Book of Business Module One will be focussed on Role Change and Module Two will focus on practical issues that this change would bring forth. The tone of the presentation would be informal and anecdotal. The presentation also makes some presumptions which will be told in the next slide.
Welcome to Module One Highlights : Fundamental differences between a Freelancer and an Agency Owner. How does an agency function and classifications of existing agencies. What will happen to my freelancing career once I become an agency owner ? What are the rewards of making this change of role ? What are the Challenges ? Presumptions 1.All of you have number of years of working as a Freelancer 2.All of you are successfully running a business (= being in business ) 3.From 2 above, it implies all of you are successful CEOs and Business Owners 4.This sphere of this success needs to be extended in terms of languages, services, scope – taking care of your career and future of the Market.
Module 1 : Freelancer vis-à-vis Agency Owner A freelancer essentially sells products and services, an Agency essentially sells value-added-convenience. A Freelancers risk can be internally contained but an agency owners risk is a business risk and cannot be completely managed. A freelancer working alone has a fundamental constraint of time and tolerance but an Agency uses suppliers and employees to multiply time and man-hours. Since an agency sells convenience, it is competitive advantage if it has got the ability to become available in as many as time zones as possible.
Freelancer vis-à-vis Agency Owner..contd A freelancer working in his own languages and in his own factory [ his computer ] knows ins and outs of the product it produces. An Agency owner, accepts produce [ translation ] from other factories all over the globe with virtually zero self-knowledge about the quality of the produce. As a Bengali linguist, while I work with other languages, I have no idea, with my internals to know whether the translation is of quality. Hence, an Agency Owner has to TRUST someone else. Such many else in tandem constitute the supply chain. Signpost : In Module II, we will discuss some practical means and will share some tips in terms of trusting and be trusted with regards to vendors and clients. And finally, you have to accept the fact that people have different priorities Signpost : Module II will relate this to Project Management and Stress Test of Projects
The Anatomy of an Agency Please note that an Agency essentially sells value-added-convenience. Or VAC The premium commanded by an agency is NOT for the product and services only but for the value added and packaging done. If an agency cannot sustain delivering value-added-convenience to its clients, it would not exist for long – Substitution Effect, Unregulated Market and Easy availability of source material, Competitive pressure would not allow it to remain in marketplace. Roughly and little loosely speaking, there are 3 types of agencies : Seasonal Post-Office Box VAC centre
Agency Classifications Seasonal – This type of Agency depends on the whims, caprice and situational factors of the linguist [ person] who launches it. It has little commitment, lesser strategic thought and is a fly-by operator. Very risky for reputation. Post-Office Box - Most common type and a trading station. The Agency sources from a linguist, cuts the email headers and sends to another email [Client]. The whole operation is margin based with little investment on anything else. For all of them, only differentiator is price. At their core, the philosophy is looking at translation as an assembly work. Value Added Convenience Store - The toughest one to build but that commands premium. Functionally it does the same as a PoB above but it adds value by putting tangibles [ quality check, review, localization] and intangibles [ updates, availability, ethical aspect, comfort, charm] Signpost : In Module II, we would stress on making a VAC agency. Other two do not need much effort !!!
My Freelancing Career – what happens ? Your Freelancing Career which you have built after so many years and so much efforts will actually help you in your role ONLY if you allow it. You need to come out of the comfort zone of being and working in the known areas. Thought to ponder : How many top film stars make it equally big in their directorial or producer stint ? Once you start and run an Agency and if you do it well and luck is there, you will have surplus time within few months to an year [ without income loss ] This time surplus you can use to market your agency, diversify into other related or unrelated areas or if you need to supplement income, work in those time slices as a pure-bred freelancer. Online Social Networking with caution. Be creative and do something in between your role switches.
The Rewards from the Change of Roles You will be buying and selling now and being a buyer, you would command power in the marketplace apart from your reputation as a freelance professional. Your core leadership skill will be tested on all fronts and by people – your inner ring of suppliers, customers and employees would expect not mere professional work but leadership from you. You will have the joy, elation and the high (and low) of running a full- fledged business enterprise. You will see more closely and viscerally how the Reality is shaping place out there. You will be a changed person.
Challenges (Pre-cursor to Module II) You may never meet in person the people whose work and behaviour would influence and impact your life profoundly. In such a case, how to trust and be trusted ? How to spread, hedge and manage business risks ? How to choose hi-value suppliers and employees ? How to develop your Agency Brand ? How to face temporary setbacks and more dangerous – early success ? How to manage the bi-polar financial world – where you get paid as well as need to pay your employees and suppliers ? Understanding and harmonizing various conflicting interest groups To protect the interest of the Agency above all else.
Summary of Module I As a freelancer, you are in natural advantage to start an Agency As an Agency owner, you need to ensure that you deliver value and convenience to your clients in the entire life cycle of the agency You need to be prepared to undergo the high and low of running a business enterprise Trust is your core asset You need to build, reinforce and monitor this all the time You need to change not only professionally but internalize some of the core values of being a founder or custodian of a new Beginning Your new role will affect you and people around you. You need to be aware of this as a living thing You need to understand, be aware and responsible to your new role as a Leader from a very good professional. [ freelancer ]
Module II Highlights : How to be trusted by your suppliers ? How to trust a supplier ? What happens if you fail in your venture ? How to build your agency brand ? How to remain healthy in a bi-polar financial world ? How to make steady growth for your agency ? How to manage your teams ? How to protect your agencys interest ? How to : which each one of you will write soon…
TRUST Until we become like robots, the best way of trust is in person exchange of sight, smell, speech,accent. gesture, warmth of hand-shake. Travel and Meet your suppliers at the initial stage. The best way to be trusted is to trust first. Be fanatically regular and disciplined while paying your suppliers. Be unambiguous and frank with your suppliers. Dont let your ego come in between your Agencys interest and you.
How to : Trust a Supplier Use Googles algorithms philosophy : Trust them whom many people trust Price is a Signature : Penetrate the mere arithmetic of the Pricing Check all recommendations and feedback Make personal check of a lead or vendor by calling / meeting the referees Creatively destruct supply chains : If your suppliers are not going to walk the extra mile for your clients, you wont have your clients for long Make sure that you choose those suppliers who have a stake in your success – If you succeed, they succeed Your suppliers and clients are your best banker : Use that Bank. Let an one-off failure or miss should not influence your judgment with regards to a supplier Be honourable, gentle but be a clients advocate to your suppliers
What happens If I fail…. You would bounce back again next time, if you prepare before – practically The old concept of Provident Fund Dont build your business on credit. Debt clutters mind and you need the most clear mind while you are building your agency Revenue first, Investment Next. You will never fail if you dont want to win what common people believe as winning or success. If you work for your clients to succeed, there is a hidden power in the Universe that would look after you This intense concentration was called Prayer in more religious times. Work for the success of your clients. You will never fail.
How to build your Agency Brand If you are already an established freelancer, there is no need to build a brand, but only re-positioning Re-positioning means communication, permission and building and linking the permission asset For any project, promise less, deliver more Do a stress test for any project
Bi-Polar Financial World As an Agency Owner, it is your responsibility to pay your suppliers, absorbing most of the credit-risk yourself. Cash Flow is the propellant of your Agency. During initial days, be your own accountant Dont compromise on certain core financial ethics to make a sale Target hi-value clients instead of the commodity priced ones Price as a Signature : Your price reflects many things to discerning people and who matter Keep a reserve fund where you can give some credit to your clients but pay your suppliers within due date
Less is More Pareto Principle says that 20% of our activities give 80% of outcomes. Same principle implies that 20% of your clients would give 80% of your revenue [ Not all clients are for all. Dont suffer from winning the world syndrome ] Keep watch over all Job Portals and see those posts where the poster has been new in posting. Target them. Target those clients who have high reputation and people are talking about them. They have more chance of recognizing a fresh talent rather than Post office varieties whose only differentiator is price As an employee you may not choose your boss but you can choose your client Discipline your personal and living expenses : every penny saved goes into building your business. Get changed slowly : You are in a Mission.
Managing your Teams The interest of your clients, your suppliers, your accountant, your employee not only vary but sometimes conflict You are the Leader whose interest is beyond these individual interests You have to harmonize all these interests to protect the interest of the Agency. Delegate, Diversify and Build Teams – Reverse Franchisee Model Act big when needed and act small when so needed You cannot please everyone Be brutally honest with your inner team members Make sure that your Agency is not ruled by the tyranny of Process, Technologists or Accountants or their combination Being a small business unit, you can always use the inefficiencies of the Bigger Players at your advantage
Testing New Role Plain Test : Give a name of your agency, register in few Job Portals and Bid to find out first-hand. Local Testing : Print a Letterhead of your Agency and send some 20 marketing letters to your local agencies / organizations and see what happens. Acting : Take a week-off during some holidays, dont translate a single word and market your agency and see what happens Franchisee : Figure out whether an established agency in your geography / other geography is interested to have a Sales presence through you. You learn Sales, Marketing and Communication in uncertain environment : the critical aspect of being a CEO. Earn and Learn : Be an employee of an Agency with the core objective to learn how you can build and lead one. Use the earning from the employment as a seed fund for your Agency. ------------------------------------ For you to find out ----------------------
The Most Important Practical Input The best product or service you can give to your clients and the larger world….
Which is that Product and Service ? IT IS YOU. The New You. As a Founder and Architect of a New Thing, You belong to whole Humanity. Best of Luck
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions Q1 How do you find time to run/start agency while being working as a Translator and being immersed in TM, Deadline, work pressure ? You need to start building a team of translators whose work quality and professionalism you trust (after validation) so much that these can be considered as your own work. Hence while your projects will be done as per deadline, you will be free to pursue your other work – running an agency. This will also protect your core revenue. Because with all the best intention of doing hard work, things will go nasty sometimes and your clients (who came to you as a freelancer) would leave you. Please understand that you are going to build the foundation of your agency on the reputation of yours as a freelancer, not otherwise. Ideally, these team of translators be in your own native pair. For two reasons : you can judge the quality best and secondly, most serious clients would work with translators and agencies working in native / speaclized pairs.
FAQ– contd Q2 : How to retain your freelancer time clients while you become an agency owner ? In the initial stage, you HAVE TO retain them at any cost. Some clients may consider [ Man is not completely Rational animal] that once you become an Agency Owner you have divided attention and they wont get the quality [mostly intangibles] of service from you. For that sometimes you need to masquerade. Tell only on a need to know basis. Some people have got a higher state comfort zone, i.e. they prefer to consider themselves to be treated with esteem. [ Like those who would not like to see a salesperson in a store more elegantly dressed then them ] These kind of clients will psychologically prefer a freelancer rather than a CEO. Hence, the CEO needs to become the Call Centre Agent for some clients. These are one of the intangibles. These are critical during initial days and as you grow, you can later on have options.
FAQ– contd Q3 : How do I show someone with whom I am going to work as I trust him /her ? Although trust is a complex affair in business (and everywhere else), you can always send a 10% advance to a freelancer by paypal / moneybookers during first engagement. For a high value work, send 5% advance to the freelancer telling that you TRUST and care. Make a policy that for any first engagement, you will pay immediate on receipt. If a freelancer shows suspicion and voices this in a strong language, dont let your ego overcome you. Dont be angry. People iterate their experience. Every freelancer in his or her career has encountered fraud and baloney. Send an advance and tell that you understand how there are some scoundrels there. [ And the advance payment most loudly and most effectively tells that your are not one among them ] Engage them in other areas of human interest.
FAQ 4. Where do I get clients / How do I acquire new clients ? (as An Agency Owner) At the very start, dont think much about Agency, Ownership etc. If you are a freelancer and planning to become an Agency Owner, it is not you who would actually and completely decide that but your clients – old and new. Tips : 1.Concentrate first on your NATIVE language pairs. You would become an AGENCY OWNER first for your NATIVE pairs. Build supply chains so that you can handle higher capacities per day. 2.Tell casually your clients and inner rings of professional acquaintance something like this : You have made friendship with excellent linguists in some languages and if they need, they can test them. This is permission marketing. 3.Scan your local geography. For example, recommend people of building their own websites in multiple languages. Use favour method : No linguist of sense would deny you [ an Agency Owner ] some 3 sentences as a favour. Use these favours to build low-start-up-cost but hi future value relationships [ See Next Page ]
FAQ – Client acquisition 4. Everyday, try to send at least 5 emails / calls /visits / connections /engagements with new people. E-mail was discovered to make connection frictionless. Use the core of this discovery. 5. Monitor all your communication channels – mail,. Email, website, mobile, skype, ear, mind, eyes. 6. The moment you succeed moderately, diversify and use the client acquisition skills acquired. Because, in spite of all hard work, intentions and discipline, there will be churn in your client base – with or without your knowledge and worse, without any cause understood by you. You need to replenish the client base all through the life cycle of the agency. 7.Write, Read, Write, Paint, sing, dance, shoot videos and dont forget to showcase them. Dont wait for perfect ones. Internet rewards the first shipper rather than the best shipper. 8.Be human in communication while writing to strangers [ potential clients ]. Since we are so much immersed in controlled, structured and uniform-ized and standardized environment of technology, any human approach will be catching attention. 9.Attention engagement dialogue relationship Doorstep of a Sale 10.Answer each and every email of yours. If you are not sure what to say – instead of forgetting, dont forget to reply that you dont know what to say. People would appreciate your intention more than your action. 11.Be a true lover. A true lover accepts rejection as 50% acceptance [ because he has accepted ]. Move on. KEEEP MAILING