|[House by junction*]|
This week, I had the pleasure of participating on a panel discussion presented by Proz.com, an important international translation portal, on the subject of attracting new customers. Organized and hosted by Paul Urwin for International Translators Day, the other two panel members were Daniel Coria and Martina Russo, both experienced translators. The discussion was interesting and, based on comments received afterwards, helpful to the audience. To paraphrase Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, we could have talked night.
For me, one of the striking dynamics of the conversation was the diversity of approaches. Mr. Coria is a highly experienced English to Spanish translator comfortable working in the corporate world. Ms. Russo works from German, English and Spanish to Italian, including Swiss Italian, and focuses clearly on her two fields of knowledge, digital and marketing on one hand and sports wear on actions sports on the other hand. She identifies and attains her ideal customers, often medium sized companies. By contrast, I focus on legal and financial material as well as official documents, working from Hebrew, French and Russian to English, both US and UK, and cultivate a wide network of small businesses, end clients and boutique agencies. Each of us taken a different tack but all of us are successful.
The source of these differences is our varying background. Mr. Coria has a formal academic background in legal translation and worked in Argentina, a country with a government-regulated translation industry. By contrast, Ms. Russo, aside from her translation degree, applied her background knowledge in marketing and sports to create her own niche. “Eclectic” is the word describing my background with a BA in Russian Studies, teaching credentials in French and an MBA as well as legal studies and several years of selling and 25 years of teaching English. Each of us brings an entirely different background.
The “moral” of the story for translators and all freelancers is that everybody begins at a different starting point. No two people are identical in any matter, including their professional qualifications. Yet, all of us must capitalize on those assets and qualities life has given us and make them our competitive advantage. Formal education and job experience only two of these assets. Exposure to different cultures and business sectors as well as relatively high social skills in one type of interaction or another are also important. Entrepreneurs must be no less aware of their strengths than their weaknesses in order to determine their best strategy.
At the same time, the world in general and the business world in specific is very dynamic, expanding and shrinking in different directions depending on the sector and time. In this discussion, it became clear that regardless of the strategy we took at the beginning of our careers, we have had to observe and adjust, like big companies. The key to long-term success is that constant awareness of trends even if it is often impossible to identify the cause of that trend. If the great have fallen because of the failure to adjust, the smaller are no less vulnerable.
The goal of all entrepreneurs is to make a living. However, each person defines that in a different manner. The paths to that objective are many and depend on the starting point and circumstances of each person, which by definition vary. Clearly, some roads to Rome are better paved and smoother than others but, as Frost would say, the road less traveled is no less worthy.
*Picture captions are important to the blind. Picture by ariesjay castillo - Pixabay