Whether you’re thinking of becoming a freelance translator, or have already been working as one for a while now, you should definitely consider making a comprehensive business plan to help map out your career.
Having a well thought out business plan has a number of practical benefits, and will give you a sense of direction when things get tough or mundane. Let’s discuss the business plan in more detail, and explain why it’s important to have one.
Motive: Identify an area of the market that matches up with your skills and also has relatively little competition.
Constructing a business plan will require you to research the specific market that you’re planning to enter, giving you some insight into how lucrative your experience, skill-set and known languages might be. Extensive consideration of the market will also advise how you should best promote yourself to clients, informing you on how to best distinguish yourself from others.
Motive: It will be useful to have an indication of the amount of money that you might be able to make over annual and monthly periods.
By researching the market, you’ll be able to decide on how much you intend to charge for your services, giving you an estimation of your potential income. Ideally, you’ll be able to position yourself in a translation field with high demand, and thus the potential for a consistent stream of clients.
Motive: Accounting for expenditure in your business plan will give you an accurate estimation of how much necessary costs will eat into your earnings.
Thankfully, freelance translation is a line of work that has very low initial start-up and ongoing running costs. After all, you aren’t required to buy stock or rent additional premises to conduct your business from. However, it’s still vital to consider everything that you’ll need to spend to operate your business, and things like admission to conferences, a reliable computer, software, a quick internet connection and office furniture all add up.
Motive: Secure external funding if needed.
If you decide to approach another party to ask for funding, then your business plan will prove that you have a sense of direction and an expectation of profit that the funding will help you attain. Whilst you could use some of your savings to cover initial or unexpected costs, sometimes it’s necessary to request a loan or apply for other methods of funding to assist with running your business.
Motive: Plan and fund your personal and professional development.
The goal of your translation career will be to continue to expand your skills and push into new markets, increasing your profits as you do so. You can work small growth milestones into your business plan, giving you something to aim for and a sense of progression to your career. For example, after a year you might choose to invest some of your earnings into taking a paid course, specializing your skills further so that you can offer new services to existing clients.
These are some of the most important reasons for having a good business plan, but there are many other reasons for keeping one too. If you spent time constructing a robust business plan before embarking on your freelance career, then we’d love to hear you thoughts about this in the comments – feel free to share!