There’s a saying I love. I saw it a few years ago in a book in Spanish written by the famous soccer coach Jose Pekerman. Not sure if he was the originator of the phrase, but here it is in English: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
It’s easy to start a business. It doesn’t require any particular business skills or math skills. You simply take the thing you love to do and do really well, and sell it to someone who wants or needs it, in exchange for a sum of money mutually agreed on (this makes selling sound like a piece of cake, and it’s not … especially for an extreme introvert like me. But that’s for another blog post). So the simple formula for starting a business is: 1) do something, 2) deliver that something, and 3) get paid for that something.
And you can do this forever, if you choose, provided that enough people or companies choose to hire you for this something that you love to do and do well. I did this for seven years on my first go-round in self-employment, as a freelance translator for clients like MasterCard, Benetton, Microsoft, The Miami Herald, and others well known and not so well known. But at some point the work gets to be too much, and you either start turning work away (which I hated to do, after putting forth all the effort to get work in the first place), or you go in the direction of setting up a business. For the latter, you need help.
It can be difficult to get help when you’re a certified control freak like I am. But once you train yourself to chill out and actually trust, you find that there are lots of really talented, really good people in this world who (surprise!) also want the things you want: freedom to do what they love, freedom from corporate constraints, quality of life. And soon you start subcontracting work to these people, and they find that they not only enjoy the work but enjoy working for you … you provide them with a source of income that they don’t have to try to find for themselves, you appreciate their talent and effort, you pay them on time, etc. etc. And before you know it, you have a team of really good people in different disciplines, and … boom! you have a business.
When I went to work for myself the second time, I knew that I wanted to set up an agency business, as opposed to working as a freelance translator. But those seven years that I spent as an independent contractor were some of the happiest of my life. I had good clients, I got to work in my apartment (I’m somewhat of a hermit) and I made good money. As a freelancer, I made mistakes that eventually sent me back to the corporate world (again, for another blog post), but I learned my lessons and I applied them to building the business I have today, with some really talented, really amazing people that help me and help TransForma look good.
Carmen Hiers is owner and managing partner of TransForma Translation Services. Contact us as firstname.lastname@example.org for a free quote, or call us at 305/722-3827.