With great pleasure I announce the launch of my new company and website: www.linguagloss.com.

Just under six months in the making, I am delighted to announce the launch of Linguagloss.Image

Linguagloss was established to offer a range of 21st century solutions for the language service industry in order to make the translation process quicker, cheaper and provide the quality required for the particular type of content.

We actively embrace and exploit the opportunities offered by new technologies, such as CAT tools and machine translation, in order to lower your costs, speed up turnaround times and provide a level of quality that will delight both you and your clients.

There is a lot more information on the new website so why not take a look!

 

 

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Punitive

So back in January I translated part of an annual report. Job done, job paid – onto the next job, or so I thought until March. My translation agency client tells me that I made an error and that error is going to cost me over EUR 1000 (more than the job was worth). What error did I make? I (allegedly) typed EUR 1.6 billion instead of EUR 1.5 billion. My client says the error wasn’t picked up until after their client had printed the report, incurring costs of over EUR 3000 of which my share would be over EUR 1000. So a little investigation shows that the way they use the software disables the automatic checking of numbers, their proof-reader didn’t pick it up and the end client didn’t pick it up. They have provided no proof that the report was reprinted, no proof that they incurred damages (despite asking me if I had liability insurance – which I don’t but I’m sure they do) and no proof that I typed the wrong number.
So here’s the thing: the power relationships in this business relationship push the responsibility onto the translator. I pointed out the failures in their system but they are not interested. Were they satisfied with the work I did? Yes, apart from this one number. Did they know they had disabled the automatic number checking in the software? No, but if I did it’s my responsibility to change the setting. So the agency takes its cut of the fee but does not bear the responsibility for the failure of the systems it puts in place – or doesn’t put in place. It’s apparently the translator’s job to know the software better than the agency and ANY mistake is the fault of the translator. I have no contract with their client – my client accepted the work I did and paid for it.
I refused and since the amount of unpaid invoices from this client is around EUR 350, I deployed my BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) and said we should just break off the business relationship at this point – which would be a real shame over one (allegedly) incorrectly typed digit. They threw their hands in the air – how dare I not agree to pay the EUR 1000?
Well, dear client, you apparently want to work with me more than I want to work with you. Your rates are low and I don’t like your attitude. Maybe you should only work with translators who are desperate to work with people like you…

Enough is enough!

Hi ABC, thanks for your reply and the recommendation. There are several indications that you are slow payers. I admit some of those go back years. It is the busiest season of the year with lots of jobs to choose from. I’m tired of fighting to get paid. I work my guts off on a daily basis to meet tight deadlines. The perfectionism demanded is exhausting. And if the customer objects to a few mistakes they simply don’t pay. I don’t agree to 60 days because I think it’s unreasonable. 60 days end of month probably means more than 90. Could you live if your salary was delayed for 3 months after you started working for your company? I’m sure you wouldn’t accept that either.
So, on this occasion I respectfully decline. Freelancers are also independent business people and the relationship should be mutually beneficial.

Dare to succeed – clarify the mission

One of the best speakers at our Cranfield EMBA Capstone Conference was John McFarlane, chairman of Aviva (and other companies).

Here are some of my notes from what he said:

Set a personal mission statement – where do you want to end up? This sets the direction. Lock on to what you want – that is the real you. What do you want? What do you have? Then set goals with timelines. Do the things that are relevant to what you want – and nothing that isn’t relevant.

Risk takers set a mission beyond what they themselves know how to do. Do not allow the vision to be restricted by what you know how to do. There has to be no escape route for you – are you fully committed or only partially committed? If you have low confidence – be cautious. It may not be the right thing for you. Investigate the reasons why your confidence is low.

You learn more from failures than successes. Accept failure, learn the lesson and move on.

Strategy is managing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Take inspiration from wherever you see it – don’t hunt for it in big leaders.

Don’t make life about the business – family is MORE important.

The sun is rising over Cranfield this morning – and the rain is ice cold…

I was struck as I drove in for my final time how the dawn was breaking with the bright hope of a new day and yet when I opened the car door, the rain was ice cold. A perfect analogy for my 2 years spent here. The rain represents a time of blood, sweat and lots of tears. Time of self-doubt, confusion, no confidence, no sleep and the exhaustion of trying to get it all done. The efforts to work with and even lead teams here and the slow, painful journey of personal growth. The sun? Today I am confident enough to tackle any task, work with any person and handle the toughest of situations. I have learned so much about myself and others. Was it worth 2 years of my life and somewhere between £30,000 and 50,000? Yes, every painful, exciting, tear-filled and amusing minute and every hard-earned penny.

So we start 2 days of reflection and fun and then this mammoth journey is over. What does the future hold? I’m not sure exactly but what I can tell you is that I’ll never be “just a freelance translator” again. The fact is I never was “just” anything and there is still plenty of future to grab hold of and enjoy.

Is work everything? No, certainly not but it makes up a huge part of our lives since most of us still need to earn a living. Each of us has a dream, a goal, a God-given purpose and although translating has been a huge part of that over the past 13 years, the time has now come to move on. The future for me will be much less isolated, be filled with people – whilst still giving me enough time alone so that I can dream my dreams and set the plans in motion to make them a reality.

So here’s to the future – onwards and upwards…

 

Do you really want to grow the business?

So your microbusiness is doing well – you have customers, you are making sales and earning money. Life is busy and there never seem to be enough hours in the day. Now what? What’s the next step? Do you want to grow the business more?

My interviewees were in one of two groups when it came to their attitude to growth. One group frequently and repeatedly talked about the risks involved in growing the business. They also expressed their satisfaction with the status quo, their unwillingness to make further changes, the desire for a break – after all growing a business is hard work. But they also expressed some deeper issues too – some were afraid of failure and others of success. In other words, doing more, growing the business would involve greater commitment and effort and they weren’t sure whether they wanted to put the effort in.

In contrast, the other group saw growth as both necessary and desirable. They emphasised growth as being integral to their definition of success. As a consequence they concentrated on the growth and made efforts to grow their business – which paid off. The business grew.

If you think you can’t – or shouldn’t – grow the business – you won’t.

If you think you can – or must – grow the business – you will.

Work/life balance is so 20th century. Role integration grows businesses.

Now we come to one of the most interesting findings from my research project. Many women leave employment with the aim of achieving a level of flexibility that working for others does not permit. This desire is frequently the primary reason for setting up a (micro-)business and applies in particular if there are family demands too, such as bringing up young children. Oh yes, ladies, we are still asking ourselves “can I have it all?” And the clear answer from the interviews is “yes – but you have to work at it!” What does that mean? The women I interviewed were making clear decisions about what would take priority in their lives at the current time – and it all depends on the number of priorities, their importance to you and how you divide up your life between them.

Let me give you an example. One of my interviewees has a teenage son on the autism spectrum and was wondering how he would ever find work. She decided to set up a social enterprise that makes the most delicious handmade chocolates – and would employ her son and others on the autism spectrum in roles that would be ideally suited to them and their needs. Her daughter is involved in designing the packaging and her husband offers his complementary skills, especially relating to financial planning and other matters, in addition to his full-time job. The business and family are one and the same thing – there is no separation or conflict. The whole family is working on the business to a certain extent.

Here’s another one of my heroines: she grew up in a home with an absent mother undertaking a high-flying job and was determined that she would be available to her children. She started her business when she had a couple of very young children and would work around their needs. As time went by she was home-schooling 4 children and running a growing business from home. In fact the business (internet retailing) was taking over the whole house. The children learned their multiplication tables counting off stock for example until one Christmas they reached a crisis point. Her husband took redundancy from work, they hired a small warehouse and moved the business out of the home. With both parents working in the business, this gave them the flexibility to share family and business roles and continue home-schooling. Later, their business was hit badly – firstly by the recession and then by personal tragedy. She told me that it was extremely important at that time for the whole family to be together to recover – which would not have been possible if one or both parents had been employed. Now, some years later, the business is growing again and she felt it was the right time for the children to go to school. The family still have one toddler at home and all the business and child-care duties are shared. Their business is completed integrated into their lives. Again there is no separation between the two.

Women whose businesses had not grown had not achieved this level of integration. They felt they were juggling a wide range of responsibilities and were not able to dedicate their full energy to the business.

So this is where tough decisions are called for – and there are no right answers. To what extent do you want to integrate your life and business? Do you want to give the business your single-minded attention? Is it important for you to be involved in a wide variety of things, e.g. charities, social groups, involvement in partner’s/spouse’s business? Are other things more important than the business? How can you achieve the level of integration that gives you the flexibility you are looking for?