The secrets of the business world are now available to all interpreters.

February 6, 2015 § 1 Comment

Dear colleagues:

Most interpreters are (or were) freelancers in the past. Even many of my colleagues who work as staff interpreters for the government or the private sector do some freelancing on the side: After hours and weekend assignments come to mind.

Although most of us do freelance work, it is also common to run into a colleague who is terrified about the business aspect of the profession. There are so many times when I have listened to my interpreter friends describe themselves as “good interpreters, but bad businesspeople”. I know colleagues who have turned down an assignment because the negotiations with the client were too intense or because the paperwork was so demanding. I understand. I have been lucky and I enjoy the business aspect of the profession, but I recognize that sometimes even the most experienced professionals face scenarios where some specialized knowledge comes in handy. Fortunately, I am going to share some good news with all my interpreter friends and colleagues: Help has arrived!

Today I want to talk about Marta Stelmaszak’s new book: “The Business Guide for Translators”. Despite the title, this is a book that speaks directly to all interpreters, as it covers all of our problems, addresses all of our concerns, and lives up to our expectations.

As most of you know, Marta is a professional interpreter and translator, accomplished author, teacher, scholar, and an entrepreneur. She has been a superstar of the profession for quite some time, a popular blogger, and her online “Business School for Translators” is one of the most popular educational tools for interpreters and translators. I should also disclose that Marta is a friend, that I admire her immensely, and that I got the book as a present.

“The Business Guide for Translators” is a 158-page book that reads easily, it is well-written and throughout the book you get the feeling that Marta is having a conversation with you. It is remarkable how so many complex concepts are explained in plain language so that lay interpreters can relate to the issue, and to the proposed strategy to avoid or solve a problem.

Marta divided the book in four chapters: On the first one: Economics, she deals with the basic concepts that all businessperson should know and understand. After reading the chapter, even the most business-challenged individual will be able to grasp the essentials of capital, supply, demand, investment, inflation and competition. The second chapter is entitled: Strategy. Here, the author explains the ideas of core competence, competitive advantage, value curve and chain, as well as customer segmentation; next, she shows the reader how these principles act in the language industry world, and she presents some well-known strategies while at the same time she encourages the readers to take action in their own lives. The third chapter is called: Business Management. In this part of the book, Marta assumes that the reader has become acquainted with all the basic concepts and strategies, and she is ready to take the language professional by the hand from the beginning. The chapter addresses everything from market research and a business plan, to the delivery of a service that represents an outstanding value, and the growth of the business. The last chapter: Business Practice, is a practically-oriented chapter full of advice, suggestions, and examples on how to contact the new client, how to negotiate the terms of the professional relationship, and how to provide the service, including the follow-up phase.

This book applies to what we do. As an interpreter herself, Marta writes from the start that the book is addressed to all language professionals. You can order the book from http://www.wantwords.co.uk/school/business-checklist-book-translators/ I read the book in one day and I recommend it. I also invite you to order it, read it, and keep it handy for future reference. Marta has given to all interpreters and translators a “Rosetta Stone” for language-related business. I now invite all of you to share your interpreting business-related experiences and how you solved them, and I especially would like to hear from those of you who already read the book.

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§ One Response to The secrets of the business world are now available to all interpreters.

  • André Csihás, FCCI says:

    Hi Tony, and thank you again for yet another very valuable contribution to your invaluable blog!

    I’ve not yet had the opportunity and / or privilege to read Marta’s book, however in my last 10 years of interpreting and translating, I’ve done the same thing I did for the previous 15 years in my freelance graphic design and marketing business, and that was to always keep flawless records, everything very organized (receipts, expenses, etc., and I mean to the last receipt!), and ultimately hire the services of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to prepare the required forms for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at tax time.

    I realize that some individuals may not agree with me, however the flip side of hiring a CPA is that they are aware of all the latest changes the IRS makes on a yearly basis and they can actually inform you of situations that may be beneficial and / or favorable to you, and by that I mean deductions and exemptions that we might not be aware of, as the IRS constantly changes the tax rules and the laws.

    I’ve always believed in using the right tool for the right job, and i can’t think of one more appropriate than this one. By the same token, that’s why they hire us as interpreters and translators: Because we know our business and we’re professionals.

    I personally don’t know much about accounting, but I’m very organized.

    My job and those I’m beholden to, expect me to deliver a top quality product and therefore I must do so, hell or high water.

    I can’t worship two gods at the same time.

    Cobbler, stick to thy last!

    André Csihás, FCCI

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