10 Things I’ve Learned Running A Translation Company

By Leaderonomics|14-08-2021 | 1 Min Read
Source: Photo by Patrick Tomasso https://unsplash.com/photos/Oaqk7qqNh_c
Some tips and advice to use if you're planning to enter the global market!

I have been running Tomedes, a translation company, for more than a decade now, providing services in over 120 languages and 950 language pairs and bridging language gaps for more than 75,000 international clients. I have learned a lot over the years from trials and errors. In this article, I've listed some tips and advice to use if you're planning to enter the global market.
Now, let’s dive right into it!

1. Diversity matters

Being a cookie-cutter company was never the option. I knew that I wanted to have a diverse team from different backgrounds and expertise when I started this business. Several studies have shown that diversity helps in cultivating a creative and innovative working environment. As a translation company, our workplace environment should be reflective of the international community we are serving.

Since we're a business that deals with language services, we have to be versatile in catering to our customers' needs, which is only possible through our remote workers. Through our remote work model, we have access to a broad labour force from around the world like translators, voice-over actors, machine translation technicians, and many more that wouldn't be possible in a normal company setup. Due to this, we can cater to our clients immediately and efficiently whether they're living in South America or Europe.   

Read more:

2. Remote work is the dream work

Ever since this company began, we used the "follow the sun" model for our customer service. So that anywhere in the world, regardless of the time zone, our employed remote workers can accommodate them.

A lot of companies are missing out on having a remote work-based company model. They're not only passing over a pool of skilled workers by not going remote, which we will discuss more later on in this article, but through a remote working structure, our team members can optimise their work-life balance and cut down their travel time.

I think this remote-work model is especially ideal for parents because, in the past, parents would hire babysitters to take care of their kids, or one of them would have to stay home looking after them. Now in this set up both parents can work and watch their kids together. As a parent myself, I can understand why more and more people want this work model.
Plus, who doesn't like the opportunity to work from home at their convenience while spending more time with their family?

Read more:

This may interest you: 8 Tips For An Organised And Productive Home Office

3. Utilise multilingual talent

Since Tomedes utilised the "follow the sun" model, we have various vendors and translators across six continents. We employ native speakers of a target language when we plan to translate our clients' documents. Depending on what kind of services our client wants from us, we match them to our translator's skills and expertise. Because of this, we employ numerous vendors and translators so we can provide our customers with hundreds of languages and language pairs they can choose from.

4. The global talent pool

As mentioned, through our remote work model, we have easy access to various workers with diverse translation and localisation skills and expertise, including several specialists in different cultures and dialects. But like with any company model, there are always challenges that you have to overcome. The same goes for the remote work model. The two main problems that we saw were the culture gaps and the unclear expectations.
Cultural context differs from one country to another. Due to this, I started establishing a transparent communication system in which we set up definite goals and have settled expectations about each other's tasks and our objectives. We developed a culture of transparent communication in which we could openly tell each other concerns and issues frankly but in a respectful manner. From then on, it was easier for us to build a strong team consisting of over a hundred employees that report to our offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. Regardless of time zones and cultural backgrounds, we keep our communications and objective goals attainable and straightforward.
This then brings us to the next lesson:

5. Build a strong team

I firmly believe that good people share the same motivations and values everywhere. This means that anywhere in the world, you can find people with good work ethics and have the same passions in your field. 

At Tomedes, we promote a culture of transparent dialogue, which has helped us hurdle through issues and problems. I've witnessed great relationships and friendships build up over the years, and this is because we've fostered a culture of honest communication. I truly feel honoured to have some great people working in my company. This is only made possible through our hiring system in which we have three managers screen all of our employees. We hire people who identify with our values, such as a passion for linguistics, a deep belief in the future of international relations, and someone who looks forward to broadening their horizons and looking into new perspectives. Due to this, we try to hire people who have the drive for self-betterment and improvement.

Read more: Talent Programmes For Hulk, Iron Man And Thor

6. Be always open to improvement

I highlighted self-betterment and improvement as criteria for the people we're hiring because, at Tomedes, we strongly believe in providing quality customer service to all of our clients. And part of this is through always looking forward to coming up with better solutions or ways to boost our current system. We keep close tabs on the newest trends and challenges in our niche as we pride ourselves on giving the best, which all companies should strive for.

This is only possible if you and your employees have the passion and drive to do so. We want our clients to see Tomedes as a global translation company that will empower them to overcome language barriers and help them grow in the worldwide market by broadening their horizons about their target audience. We plan to expand further the language services of our company whether through technology or customer service. We want our clients to know that we have a full range of professional language and content solutions so that they can effectively attract their target audience.

Read more: Why We Need To Do Yearly Employee Assessments

7. Be customer-centric

Everyone is unique in their own way. The same goes for companies. Because of this, we've created a flexible business model to cater to whatever our clients would need from us, from translating legal documents to localizing their websites. We also offer a wide range of globalization services such as international SEO, multilingual voice-over, video remote interpretation, and many more. When I started Tomedes, I was determined that part of our customer service is to minimize the cost of my clients, which is also another reason I set out to have a remote work model for my company. I didn't want my clients to cover high operating costs because I was running massive offices. It's an ethos that rings true today.
Operating globally has taught us to value all our clients, regardless if they're a business or an individual. As a translation company, we have a good mix of both. Giving them the best experience is not only the crux of our business, but it is one of the reasons why we have sustainably fostered our growth throughout the years. Maintaining a 97% client satisfaction while growing rapidly is challenging. By steadily growing without sacrificing customer care, we could save costs on client acquisition while maintaining a healthy public perception.

8. Localise to globalise

Some people think that to globalize, you have to fit into a mould and follow it. But that shouldn't be the case because each country has its own unique culture and perspective. What works in America might not work in Australia, even though they're predominantly English-speaking countries. So, if you want to join the global market, you have to localise. There are many examples on the internet where a marketing campaign failed. Here's a link to a list of some international marketing campaigns that went wrong due to a lack of market research that includes the cultural context of your audience, the current climate of the market you want to enter, and more.
If you want people to get interested in your brand locally or globally, you have to know where they're coming from. That leads us to our next discussion:

9. Cultures may vary

Like I mentioned above, each country has its own unique culture and perspective. I've always been fascinated by languages from an early age. Just by learning a specific language, you get a glimpse of a country's cultural, historical, and social dynamics. You can learn a lot by looking into a different language and culture.
An example of this is the English language. American English is different from UK English or Singaporean English. Language is dynamic. English that's from a different corner of the world reflects that country or region it's from in the form of slang, pronunciation, tone (formal or casual), and more. But it would still be English, and therefore, English-speakers would still be able to understand each other without much confusion. Whereas if you were to compare the grammatical aspect between English and Japanese. English follows a Subject-Verb-Object simple sentence format, but Japanese follows Subject-Object-Verb. If you were just literally translating without arranging the format of the sentence structure, it wouldn't make sense. After considering the cultural context of the original text, you have to find ways to best express the translated text in the language you're translating.
This is why I find languages very interesting to learn. Depending on where the language is from, it reflects the dynamic aspect of a people's culture. From learning different cultures, you get to see the biases and the humanity of mankind. In turn, you will be able to understand your own biases and shortcomings and later on find ways to overcome them. Through exploration, you can discover more about the world and have a better understanding of yourself as well.

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10. Broaden your horizons

Tomedes was created due to my lifelong interest in languages and my firm belief that businesses from different corners of the world will need to embrace globalization as the next step to maximizing their potential. I saw the great need in connecting companies through providing professional interpretation, translation, and localisation services. Our goal is to broaden the horizons of our clients and make them see that we're living in a world of possibilities. When I talk about possibilities, I mean that creativity shouldn't be caged, especially when it comes to international marketing and creating solutions to better cater to your customers. Possibilities and opportunities are around us, especially when you're going global. Sometimes, you have to go out and see things from a different perspective to get insights into where you're heading.

Check out this piece: Broaden Your Horizons


I've listed here some of my observations from running a translation company like Tomedes that has grown in providing exceptional service when it comes to language, translation, and localization assistance. Even though I've only been in this industry for more than a decade, I could say that new trends in technology and the market may come and go, but the essential things remain.
Customer service is at the heart of the international market. I wanted Tomedes to be the first translation company that pops into their minds when they think of localising their websites or translating their business and legal documents. It's only after you learn more about your audience and localize your services to better cater to them that's when you can reach the global market. My tips and advice might not work for everyone, but hopefully, after reading this article, you will better understand the global market and create long-lasting bonds with the customers you will meet along the way.
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