My Journey (Part III)

31 10 2012

You can read part I and part II of this My Journey by clicking on them.

Generally speaking I would not describe myself as business oriented. I am communication-oriented, it gives me more pleasure to write a sales pitch than to deliver it. Fortunately, though I didn’t think so at the time, being in bed allowed me to do just that. I literally spent three months researching and writing…I wrote and sent my CV to several agencies, created profiles on several freelancer websites, created brochures to send to prospect clients and translated.

There was no spark. I didn’t have a fantastic business idea from my bed that made me rich overnight (I am still not rich by the way). I didn’t find a client who needed 100,000 words translated a month and was sorted for life…It happened slowly, as I recovered physically my numerous cold e-mails and CVs began to show results. I  started working with a couple of large translation agencies,  through which I worked with some of the largest companies in Brazil and worldwide. These translation agencies were actually so pleased with my services that they started investing on me, awarding me with translation software licenses and courses and increasing my responsibilities as translation projects manager, editor and coordinator. Very quickly I was up-to-date with the latest technology in computer-assisted translation tools (spending virtually no money) and earning more than I had done as a teacher (not to say that that was very hard!). I was offered a couple of jobs in translation, but decided that I wanted to be able to be my own boss from now on.

In 2010, I married my British boyfriend of four years and moved to the UK. I thought that being in a different country I would not be able to earn enough through translation, so I (panicked a little) shut down my company in Brazil and went back to looking for a job… I know, all that soul searching, going through the motions of becoming self-employed and I was ready to give it up just like that. This is one thing that most successful self-employed people won’t tell you (and perhaps it is not the case of the business-oriented minds), but one of the challenging things of becoming self-employed is that you have to deal with everything. If you are in a job and you don’t have much to do one day, you are happy to skive, to chat to a colleague, to shop online…but if it is your own business, you know that means no income and that is your fault! It is hard to keep yourself from questioning your choices when things don’t go as you planned.

Well, I did get a job with an insurance company, and again I was more interested in learning all the terms related to insurance and etc. than in the actual job. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take me long to become frustrated with the job… With my husband’s support (and business acumen) I quit my job again and founded EAP.

Initially, I focused on doing what I had done in Brazil, sending CVs to translation agencies, contacting prospect clients and translating for my former clients. Only this time I was starting with a larger portfolio of clients; businesses and translation agencies, who had known my work for years were happy to give me as much work as I could take and the new leads were converting into businesses. It did not take me long this time to realize that I would need help.

I began recruiting, researching better pricing strategies and soon we were handling a large volume of translation, transcription and localization jobs with a small team of translators specialized in different areas. I realized that what had kept my customers loyal, despite my questioning of my decisions and etc. was the quality and professionalism of the work they were getting. I think I can count on the fingers of one hand the amount of times I have had to delay a job delivery in more than 10 years and I have NEVER had a complaint about the quality of my translations. So I decided that the only way I could ensure that was by focusing on what  I could control. My company would only operate with the two language pairs that I am knowledgeable about and I would keep my team small to ensure that I can keep a close eye on the work being delivered by my translators.

Today, 2 years after having launched EAP (English and Portuguese), I can gladly say that I have enough demand to work every single day of the year and to allocate work to several other translators. My company has helped many large and small global businesses with their communications. I have clients in Brazil, in the UK and worldwide and operate everything from my living room. We have also helped many translators in progressing their careers and growing as translators.

This is by no means the end of my journey, it is definitely the end of my wandering. I have big plans for EAP now, I want to make it renowned for being the best provider of translations in my language pair, both into  English and Portuguese. I want to establish mutually beneficial partnerships with my translators, helping them grow and evolve in their careers. I want  to provide increasingly better services to my customers and an increasingly better customer experience – i.e. in which customers feel that we are as committed as they are to conveying their message. I want to have channels, like this blog, to help improving the overall quality of the translation profession. I want to raise awareness of the importance of quality translations and quality communications for global businesses…and why stop there? Who know where this journey will lead?! I am certainly in for the ride (at last)!

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My Journey (Part II)

31 10 2012

For My Journey Part I please click here

Coming back home with my new found independence, language skills and a love of nature…I was dumped back into the reality of finding a job and passing University entrance exams (again, as I’d already done it in Australia). I enrolled in a prep course and got not one, but two jobs teaching English (my first “proper” jobs).

I wanted to study biology at University to become a marine biologist, so I decided that a scuba diving course would be a good head start. My scuba diving instructor at the time was helping an American diving insurer (Diver’s Alert Network) set up in Brazil and they needed all insurance brochures, articles and etc. translated into Portuguese. My instructor, who knew I was fresh back from Oz and a teacher, offered me my first translation job.

You would think that I would have fallen in love with it there and then and been a translator since…But, no. I did love it and the fact that I could earn a lot more than teaching, but I still fancied myself a biologist. So, when I managed to get into one of the top biology courses in Brazil I put the translation career aside and focused on that.

Well, I got a new job teaching English nearer the university and thought that was the end of my brief translation career. However, my knowledge of English seemed to stand out more than my interest in biology with some of my teachers, and they started asking me to translate their academic articles into English. Before I knew it, there I was translating again…

If you thought that this would make me realize that I was supposed to be a translator. Well, not really… In my four years as an undergraduate student I realized that marine biology wasn’t for me (at least not the field work) and started working as a medical researcher in the university’s hospital.  I quit teaching, quit translations and focused solely on medical research for four years.

However, once again my knowledge of languages superseded my biology skills and other researchers and physicians in the hospital started asking for my help with translating and correcting their articles in English. When I finished my second research grant and it was time to take the plunge and go for a doctorate in medical research, it finally dawned on me that I had loved the last four years not because I loved working in a lab, but because I had the opportunity to read, translate and work with languages – i.e. learning and communicating important medical research to worldwide audiences. And that was my calling!

But how do you go from being the “weekends and spare time” translator to a full time translator? My first step was quitting the research job and taking a job as an English teacher, at least then I would be working with languages and more likely to find good contacts (or so I thought).  As good an idea as it was, teaching didn’t really leave much time for me to pursue the translation career (it is somewhat underpaid required me to work several hours) , and very quickly I got side tracked. I kept taking the odd translation job from my former teachers, professors and now from my pupils, but did not really focus on becoming a full time translator.

I continued doing that and working as a teacher for another couple of years until I decided that if I didn’t focus on creating my own business I would end up teaching English forever (which I loved, but did not fancy struggling for money forever). Again, very courageously, and perhaps very naively,  I quit my teaching job, sold my car to buy a laptop and pay the initial costs and, in two months, I had opened a company.

I thought now I was on the right track… I had a few clients for whom I’d been translating for years, particularly in the academic world and it was only a matter of time before I would be working full time again. Little did I know…That same year I was diagnosed with a malignant skin cancer and was literally confined to my bed for over 3 months (which as far as cancer timelines go, it was not long at all!).

Lying in my bed, with only my laptop to hand and no money, I was faced with the daunting reality that I couldn’t just give up. So I didn’t…

(Continues in Part III)