Lesson 132: 7 translation business paradoxes that are surprisingly true

Lesson 132: 7 translation business paradoxes that are surprisingly true

Though the business world may seem paradoxical, especially if you’re facing tough and puzzling situations at various stages of your career, I’ve identified some translation business paradoxes that are in fact true. Even more so, they’re true and helpful. Sometimes looking at sentences that make you think twice forces you to reconsider your beliefs and convictions.

So in this article I wanted to share 7 of such paradoxes with you hoping they’ll provide some food for thought.

1. The more you fail, the more likely you are to succeed.

As business people, as translators, as perfectionists, we’re very tough on ourselves when it comes to failure. We’re often doing all we can to avoid it or even putting ourselves in situations where we may be risking failing. And of course, we’re doing that because we want to succeed, not fail. But what if failing more equals, in fact, succeeding more?

2. The more something scares you, the more you should probably do it.

Of course marketing is scary! Of course going to client events is intimidating! Of course giving a talk gets you out of your comfort zone. What I learned with time was that the more scared I feel in business, the more I should do it. And it pays.

3. The more you try to argue with someone, the less likely you are to convince them of your perspective.

As seen on social media, endless arguments make both sides only more adamant about their own views. One of the most important lessons in business for me was to understand that letting go may not be the quickest, but it’s by far the surest way of getting heard.

4. The more choices you have, the less satisfied you are with each one.

Applies to me, but also my clients. The sooner I “get” the client before he or she looks at several providers and collects quotes from a number of them, the happier they are. It’s subconscious. This one is for the ladies: a few weeks ago I really wanted a new clutch (as in: REALLY). I found the perfect one online and went off to get it at the weekend. Of course, when I got to the department store and I wandered around looking at all the other bags, I ended up liking my perfect bag a bit less. Not that I liked any other one more. I just had too much choice. Simple psychology.

5. The best way to learn how to become a better translator is to become a client.

Believe me, one of the most important lesson in business for me was to buy a few translations from others. You can learn the bad sides, of course, seeing colleagues you trusted before miss deadlines or make typos, or just behave “unprofesh”. But the amount of positive learning experience you can take away from seeing marvellous work is worth it.

6. If we want to educate our clients about translation, we must first educate ourselves about our clients.

Over the years, I’ve heard many colleagues claim that we need to educate clients. Of course, it’s true, but we shouldn’t attempt at doing it knowing very little about clients ourselves, or we’re risking boring the other side or worse – misadvising them. If we want to educate, we need to know the audience first.

7. If we want to make money as a translator, we must concentrate on the work — not the money.

Perhaps quite controversially, in the light of the heated debate on translation rates, I’d like to reiterate: if you want to make money as a translator, concentrate on the work, not the money. Of course, I’m the first person to tell you that you need to do your maths, have your financial goals and track them, but don’t let that make you loose sight of the actual work. Time and time again, analysing my income, I see that I make much more when I focus on translation than when I focus on chasing big bucks.

What about you? What are your paradoxes?