Welcome to Saturday Small Business Chat! Today we take our first trip to the Antipodes, to chat to Nicole Y. Adams from translation business, NYA Communications. Nicole has combined two skills, translating and business writing, to create and hone her own job role and business sector. And she’s “giving back” by mentoring newly self-employed people, something I really respect and admire.
Because she launched her own business ten years ago, Nicole has a wealth of experience to share with us – what a great resource for fans of this series!
Do you like my new image for this series, by the way? I’ve been playing with the camera apps on my phone and really enjoying capturing some interesting images. I think this one gets across the idea of these chats as being cosy and mutually supportive …
Anyway, let’s meet Nicole!
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My business is called NYA Communications, a boutique translation business specialising in German/English marketing, PR and business translations around the world. I set it up as NYA Translation Services back in England in 2003 and now operate out of Australia.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I came about the translation industry by chance and was hooked immediately, given that I’ve always been very enthusiastic about languages and linguistics. I also really enjoy working for myself and making my own decisions, and I knew right away that self-employment was the right choice for me. No more office politics, no more commuting, and where else can you work in your pyjamas on a Sunday night if need be?
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
Over the years it became clear that I enjoy working on marketing, PR and business texts more than any other subject area. It’s fantastic to help companies expand into new markets and grow their business in part owing to the material I have translated for them. In the last couple of years I have also started to mentor newly self-employed colleagues through a couple of professional mentoring schemes, and I have become a qualified business mentor through the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs. It’s really rewarding to see your mentees getting established and becoming successful.
Had you run your own business before?
No, this is my first – and hopefully last – attempt.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I started out on a part-time basis while I was still employed as a translation project manager and later a German and English quality manager back in the UK. Once I realised that my income from running my business part-time was higher than the income from my in-house job, I decided it was time to resign and go for it full time.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
That it’s OK to negotiate and that you don’t have to accept any rate proposed to you by clients or agencies. A bit of confidence in your skills goes a long way.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate, and be confident in your skills. And be selective: have the confidence to decline projects you don’t enjoy or stop working with clients that make you feel uneasy. You’re your own boss and in charge of who you want to work with and what projects to take on.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
I would have negotiated a bit harder in the early years, and I would have specialised a bit sooner. It took me quite some time to figure out exactly what fields I want to work in and obtain additional qualifications in those areas.
Secondly, I should have probably hired someone to take care of my admin a long time ago – that’s definitely my weak point!
What are you glad you did?
I’m glad I resigned from my in-house job 10 years ago!
What’s your top business tip?
Start thinking of yourself as a small business rather than ‘just’ a freelancer. It’s not enough to just be good at what you do, you also need to sell your services and make sure you’re found by clients. Be visible and market yourself wherever you can. This includes networking and getting referrals – most business is generated by referrals, so start connecting with other professionals and get testimonials from satisfied clients.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
My business has changed a lot since I started out back in 2003. I’ve gone from generalist to specialist, specialising in marketing, corporate communications, PR and business translations. Additionally, I have recently added business mentoring to my range of services to support new colleagues in getting established. And not least I have relocated my business (and personal life) from the UK to Australia in 2010 whilst retaining all of my European clients, which proved quite a challenge due to the time difference.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
Hopefully, I’ll still be doing what I love: translating and editing marketing and PR texts, and mentoring new colleagues. I’m also planning to publish a book for freelance translators in early 2013. So stay tuned!
Many thanks to Nicole for sharing such honest and insightful information! The mention of time differences is interesting: I find that many of my clients like the fact that I’m in a different time zone from them, as my working day meshes well with their deadliines. But it can sometimes be tricky, less so now I’ve got all my major clients’ time zones set up on my phone (really, I’d like a line of clocks on the wall …). And I’d like to wish Nicole all the best with her book!
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more freelancer chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured.