Lesson 38: Review and summarise to track your translation business development

Lesson 38: Review and summarise to track your translation business development

Here it is, la rentrée. We’re all coming back to work. Early September has always been an energetic and active period for me. Holiday mood is over, minds are sharper, and the heat is not so bothersome. It’s easier to translate, and even late payers finally process the invoices.
There’s something about this period that makes me want to jump ahead and do it all. And I will do it. But I also appreciate a little bit of retrospective.

In any sort of small business, looking back at what you’ve done is crucial. Sometimes it’s the only measure of your achievements, success and development. On a micro scale, I summarise every day of work when I call it a day. I check what’s been done, what hasn’t, what’s been planned and what was postponed. By doing so, I have this powerful feeling that I am moving forward day by day.

On a macro scale, I summarise my business every three months, when each quarter ends. I look back and check what I have done, what I haven’t, what I’ve planned, and what will have to wait. Here it is, my honest summary.

What have I done?

Holidays – I had a few holiday breaks and I managed to get a fresh view on some of the most important things in my life. I also realised some things about our job, and how important translation is. I also practiced working holidays. May come handy next year!
Rearranging the office – I finally had the right circumstances to set up my office the way I want it. I have a lot of space now: two desks, 4 bookcases, a sofa, two whiteboards and a fireplace. My productivity has already increased!
Redesigning branding – I worked closely with my designers to reflect what I think about translation and how I want to provide my services. Some aspects are still being developed, but the major change is from red to brown. That’s it, I like it this way.

What haven’t I done?

Networking – A bit hard to do when everyone’s on holidays! But I planned to do things I didn’t manage to do in the end. And I think my online networking could’ve been better.
Learning – CPD during holidays is a real challenge! First of all, there are very few events and opportunities for development in summer. And with this weather it’s really hard to keep your motivation and self-discipline up to the same level.
Blogging – I found it difficult to keep to my routine and write one blog post a week. Why? I guess it was the summery atmosphere out there, and spending much more time outside. Unexpected trips didn’t help either.

What have I planned?

Qualifications – I decided to take DipTrans this year. My registration card is now sent off and we will see in January. I’m also starting a Postgraduate Certificate in Law. So far so good!
Presentations and webinars – There’s a lot of them planned! Follow my Facebook page not to miss anything. The first one is about social media – 25th of September.
Learning – I’m doing two or three free courses at Coursera, and I cannot recommend them enough! I was very disappointed when I had to stop one of them last year due to other commitments. I’m determined to keep up with them this year.
Business development – some nice things on the horizon here! I’ve planned a serious business development strategy and prepared a real marketing plan.

What will have to wait?

Languages – Originally I was supposed to be taking some language exams in September. Sadly, I don’t see it happening this year. I tried very hard to spend Saturdays working on my French and Norwegian, but there’s always something more pressing. If it’s not the right time, I’ll wait.
Moving – I really wanted to move this year before Christmas, but it is very unlikely now. I will have to stay where I am for now, even though it’s not the best location business-wise (I should move closer to the Polish cultural centre!).

Why don’t you look back over your shoulder and summarise the last quarter? Track your translation business development!


  1. Susanne Schmidt-Wussow , on Sep 4, 2012 at 07:17 Reply

    Thanks a million for the Coursera tip, Marta! I’m always on the lookout for CPD resources, “online” and “free” being my favourites. 🙂 I’m not sure yet how to squeeze that into my already very tight schedule, but I’m definitely glad to have an option to do so.

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Sep 17, 2012 at 18:01 Reply

      Thanks for your comment! Coursera can be very addictive! I’m trying to find some time, but… 🙂

  2. Oliver Lawrence , on Sep 4, 2012 at 08:59 Reply

    Hi Marta, I actually find August a good time for CPD, because I tend to accumulate books, ebooks, ideas to follow-up on, etc., and the summer seems to be a good time for catching up. Also for getting to grips with new tools, reviewing my marketing plan, etc. There’s always lots to do :).

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Sep 17, 2012 at 18:00 Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Oliver! To be honest, if I had no set time to review how my business is doing on a monthly basis, I’d feel lost. I’m obsessed with control, setting goals and watching the progress.

  3. Carolyn Yohn , on Sep 4, 2012 at 14:15 Reply

    Looking back is a great confidence booster. I’ve kept a paper journal pretty much since the inception of my freelance business. Once a week or so, I write a little summary like this. It’s done wonders for keeping me happy during slumps, focusing my efforts, and motivating me to continue. There’s nothing like seeing your accomplishments in print!

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Sep 17, 2012 at 17:58 Reply

      I don’t usually write such entries, but I always look back at a whole week in my calendar. It certainly reassures me that I’m doing a great job!

  4. Melisa Palferro , on Sep 10, 2012 at 03:15 Reply

    Coursera is GREAT!! Glad you mentioned it, Marta 🙂 I’m taking 2 courses right now. Maybe, when (and if) you write an entry on CPD for translators, you could present Coursera as a good option to start specializing oneself in a specific area. I think it presents a good variety of good options. If I were to write a blog, I would definitely write about this! You probably have a bigger audience though xD and I think there’s many translators out there who don’t know about it yet.
    Congrats on all your work btw, you’re an inspiration!

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Sep 17, 2012 at 17:57 Reply

      Thanks, Melisa! I just added another blog post idea to my Ideas Box. I’m sure I’ll write something about it at some point. Coursera is superb!

Leave a Comment