Bottom Line for Translation Entrepreneurs
They know green chili in Denver, so close to New Mexico, so far from God.
One relleno per margarita is the ancient law of The Land of Enchantment, a tradition I am proud to uphold as I stab my fingers at you, pushing up against the guacamole-greased touch-screen of my iPad.
I’m in Mile High for some client grooming on behalf of 1-800-Translate and to get my next business off the ground. (Still top secret, but this sneak peak is a good opportunity for me to come out to readers: I am a serial entrepreneur.
I know many of my readers share the same dark secret, since the translation business is rife with independents. Tip over any corpus and you’ll see a swarm of sole proprietors and micro-businesses squiggling their way to profit.
Oh yeah. Profit. Anyone as bad at languages as me knows that the literal meaning of “entrepreneur” in French is “cash-flow problems.”
In the fairy land of Profit and Loss, black is good and red is bad, so it’s no wonder that most entrepreneurs develop a green-laser focus for greenbacks. That’s how we keep score. Now a sad-faced mime steps into this essay and draws two fingers across his chest as he asks this question:
Q. “In the rat-race climb to the top, does the one with the most money always win?”
A. Wait a minute. Mimes don’t talk! So bum’s rush for this fraud. After I kicked him down the stairs I got to wondering if I really was just an overworked entrepreneurial drone with mime issues? Hmm.
On this trip, I spent some time in Denver with my high-school pal John McDonough, now an entrepreneur coach with Crankset. He was talking on the entrepreneurial life lived beyond the bottom line. How we spend the precious coin of now is is much more bottom-line than the number on the earnings statement. Better to live a living while you earn a living.
It’s particularly tough in the translator’s trade. Small-timers who start punching their own time clock quickly learn the first rule of business success: Identify a profitable transaction and repeat. Ka-ching! Do it often enough and the money begins to add up. For the pennies-a-word translation tribe, that can take all day and all night. So lots of money means not much time. No time to learn, to plan, no time outside the box of day-by-day
Bottom line-dwellers may scoff, but just grinding it out can devolve into some pricey hidden costs. Question #2:
Q. Just how smart are you really working?
A. Not as smart as you think you are.
Most of the translation operators I know work alone. Either at the kitchen table with only a laptop, or alone at the top, in a little management cocoon of deference bubble-wrap that staff wisely refuse to pop.
John uses the Crankset program to gather in these entrepreneurial undead into a council of Three Musketeer peers, all for one and one for all. Then add a simple system of management best practice to improve efficiency and performance. The group has the emotional authority to get a lone entrepreneur saddled up even if he/she isn’t ready to admit he’s/she’s a horse’s ass.
Thus lone-wolf entrepreneurs learn to run with the pack and are compelled to keep to timelines of accomplishment through group support/peer pressure.
Interesting. This kind of work is important for the personal development required for entrepreneurial success. My own work with Gary Cohen on similar issues has been the key to my own happiness and a more balanced life. I did my work one-on-one, but the benefits of a group approach are obvious. Thoughts?