In the previous blog post, I talked about the development of the Chinese Translation Agency from the beginning. Now I will tell you why the collaboration with my partner has ended after all.
As Link2China, while we gave the language and culture courses together, I mainly took care of the marketing for our company. This included the management of the website and the course material. We gave the language and culture courses to adoptive parents with children from China, and to companies and entrepreneurs who did business with China. In order to build successful business relationships with China, it is especially important to be aware of the cultural differences between the two countries, not only with regard to communication, but also with focus on building relationships. We, the Dutch, for example, are quite extroverted when it comes to expressing opinions while the Chinese are generally very restrained.
In addition to the above-mentioned work, I also attended network meetings that were time-consuming and actually yielded little results. Whenever I attended such a meeting, I didn’t feel completely at ease either. I was really still a ‘rookie’ in the field and ‘live’ networking was something that I still needed to develop. Looking back, it’s also quite difficult for a newbie without sufficient knowledge of the Chinese language, to interact with a group of entrepreneurs who have become acquainted with one another. As a company, I obviously had a lot to offer at that time, but as an entrepreneur, I had to show how willing I was to go the extra mile. In order to prepare yourself for this kind of experience, ask yourself: “Why should they do business with me? What areas do I excel in?”.
I remember going home with new business cards in my pocket. I was enthusiastic enough to start several conversations and to establish relationships. Despite my efforts to make use of the contacts and to remain in contact with other entrepreneurs via phone or e-mail, it felt like everything went down the drain. If you’re just starting a translation business, it’s natural that you’re deeply passionate about making new contacts and friends. In hindsight, I have the idea that this can sometimes make you seem overbearing and can therefore work against you.
At first, I was inspired by other entrepreneurs. However, soon I found out that if you threatened to get into someone’s ‘water’, you soon got swept out by the waves. With today’s knowledge, I would first have a particularly good orientation on the market and how I could reach it. Where do your talents lie and how can you link them to your marketing activities?
I also found out that it would be better to focus on our online business of translating and giving courses. And so I started working on Search Engine Optimization or more commonly known as SEO. At that time, it was still fairly easy for a small company to get to the top of the search results. Nowadays, you really have to hire an SEO company and/or buy software in order to get a better ranking. Getting your SEO up and running it can quickly cost you a day’s work. Not every starting SEO entrepreneur has the time (and the desire) for this. Fortunately, after a few months, I managed to get on the front page of the search results. Of course, this was beneficial for our company and we got busier with assignments.
End of collaboration
After a while, my partner and I found out that we were no longer on the same wavelength and our collaboration came to an end. Personally, I think the relationship’ demise was caused by challenges in dividing and balancing the amount of activities between us. Simply put, we didn’t know exactly how much time each of us spent in our company. That can be quite difficult when it comes to distributing profits. We didn’t have discussions about profit allocation because we never really had any. However, I think there was a kind of dissatisfaction that we could not continue with. In retrospect, I suggest you use a timetable tracker, which would allow you to record exactly how much time you spend on certain tasks. Then you can also pay the joint income on the basis of these hours and a certain allocation key.
I learned a lot from working with my partner and setting up this translation agency. I am still grateful to her for taking this leap with me. Without her, I would not have been able to develop into the professional translator I am today. After all, developing a Chinese translation agency from scratch on my own, without sufficient knowledge of the Chinese language, would not have been an option. Fortunately, I have kept my passion for this beautiful and fascinating language. After a break of several years, I started Chinese lessons again at the beginning of last year.
Next week, I will talk about the start-up of my then new translation agency, Vertaalbureau Roosendaal. This translation agency looked after languages in all language combinations, but mainly from and into Dutch. In the next blog, you can expect a tell-all story about how I began working with translation freelancers and what stumbling blocks I had to conquer.