The attractiveness of the translation business is due to its accessibility and low entry threshold. But small initial investments also create fierce competition in this market. A translation agency is a small business, with all the ensuing consequences.
In general, your own translation agency is a rather tough business and amateurs do not stay in it for a long time. Theoretically, any talented entrepreneur can become the head of a translation agency, but then he will definitely have to find an assistant with a specialized education, whom he can trust, otherwise the search for professional employees will be impossible. This business is “recommended” to those who have received a higher linguistic education.
Before opening your agency, you must register a legal entity. You can do this yourself and keep within a couple of thousand rubles, or you can contact a specialized company that will quickly and without problems for a moderate amount of $ 200-300 do the entire procedure itself.
Next, you need to decide on the premises. To start an office of several tens of square meters with one phone is enough. A modest room somewhere near the ring metro line can be found for 600-900 dollars a month, but if you want to settle in a more prestigious place, in the center, then the price will increase by an order of magnitude.
Of course, the office must be equipped with the necessary equipment for work – computers, fax, scanner, printer (high-performance), copier. Today, you cannot do without the Internet, so it is advisable to take care of a dedicated line if it is not available in the rented office.
The next step in organizing a business is staff recruitment. In this business, personnel is everything, so recruiting them is not an easy task. The problem is greatly simplified if the entrepreneur himself is a translator and is able to at least assess the qualifications of potential subordinates. Otherwise, you can shift the task to the shoulders of recruitment agencies. But you will not immediately get full confidence in the competence of your employee, only clients at work will be able to evaluate his professionalism.
Entrepreneurs have not come to a consensus about which employees – full-time or freelance to hire. Both have their obvious advantages and disadvantages. Freelancers do not have to pay a salary, with their help you can respond more flexibly to incoming orders, they do not need jobs in the office – significant savings. Although the disadvantages of this approach are also clear. A freelance worker may be busy with other work, just at the moment when he is absolutely necessary, and it is difficult to control the progress of his work. The severity of the problem can be reduced by creating a large database of translators, but this takes time.
A good specialist for translating a text of average complexity from one of the main languages will require 4-6 dollars per typewritten page (1800 characters, usually with spaces), for a working day he can make a text of 10-15 thousand characters without overstrain. Although in the case of emergency work, such figures have to be multiplied, for example, by two, with an inevitable loss of quality, which is better to warn the customer in advance. For simple and non-urgent orders, you can find students of language universities for a couple of dollars. An additional (but in some respects dubious) plus of freelancers is the possibility of tax optimization.
A full-time translator looks more attractive in many ways, but it costs more money. A decent specialist in Moscow will cost 500 – 600 dollars or more, up to a thousand dollars – it all depends on qualifications. It is necessary to have at least one competent specialist at hand, even if at first he cannot pay for himself.
When carrying out large orders, when coordination of the actions of a group of workers is required, an editor is needed, which costs even more than a translator. In addition, administrators will also be required – people who meet the client, work with order fulfillment, and select translators. It is they who are responsible for the quality of work, deadlines, supervision of the activities of editors and translators, etc.
Advertising is needed to find future customers. Placing free ads in newspapers and putting up leaflets will not attract serious customers. Therefore, it is worth forking out for advertising in business publications, for getting the company’s phone number into the directory and for mailing lists. The advertising budget for a start-up company averages 300-500 dollars a month.
Advertising also includes a company page on the Internet. If the budget allows, you can turn to professional website developers, such simple work will cost within a few hundred dollars. If there is no money, you can use free website builders and do everything yourself.
But of course the best advertising, according to the unanimous opinion of all market players, is word of mouth. The fact is that reputable clients will never choose an advertising company, they will turn to a trusted company and on the recommendation. Therefore, the quality of translations comes to the fore.
In order for a new firm that does not yet have customers to win a major client, you need to use personal connections, make new ones, try to be in the right place at the right time. And, of course, do not miss the chance if he turned up.
The usual fee for popular languages ranges from 7-12 dollars for translation into Russian and 8-11 dollars – from Russian. It is not worth dumping a start-up company, low prices will attract insolvent customers who will not ensure the company’s prosperity. But this is more likely to scare off solid consumers. In addition, in order to survive, the firm needs to have at least 40% of what the translator receives.
Rare languages can be much more profitable than English or German – the price per page in Japanese or Vietnamese can reach up to 20-25 dollars. But rare languages are rare because they are not required so often. In the popularity layout, English takes 100 points, German and French – 30 points, and all the rest – 10. So rare languages can only be a pleasant addition to the main “English” stream.
There is no consensus on the issue of grading prices depending on the complexity of the material; the market also has a policy of uniform prices for any material, and ranking the cost of work depending on the text. But there is unity in the price for the urgency of the order, which is paid at a double or even triple rate.
A special topic is interpretation, consecutive and simultaneous. As a rule, such interpreters are in demand for interpreting lectures, presentations, as well as accompanying foreign representatives of companies interested in seamless communication with native speakers of another language. Simultaneous translation is considered top notch and is priced accordingly – the price per hour of work can be 70-80 dollars. As a rule, simultaneous interpreters are not kept on the staff, since they are expensive and are not used so often. Consecutive interpreting is estimated more modestly – from 10 to 30 dollars per hour, about the same is the cost of a guide-interpreter.
In addition, such a service as an apostille, or notarization of translated documents, that is, the legalization of a document issued abroad with certification of the document in consulates or the Ministry of Justice, is in steady demand. For this, there are not enough proven full-time and freelance translators who are ready to perform their work at a high level. You will also need a full-time lawyer who understands international law and is ready to provide notarization of the authenticity of the translator’s signature, legalization and apostille on documents intended for use in foreign countries. Prices for legally significant documents depend on the complexity and speed of work – you can charge 20 rubles for the translation of one seal in a document, and 150 dollars for an urgent consular certificate (within a day) .
As additional services, the agencies offer the preparation of abstracts, annotations, as well as layout, preparation of original layouts, etc., up to working with a printing house at the request of the client, and in some cases even photocopying. However, an enterprising entrepreneur will always find a way to make money.