Welcome to another brand new small business chat, and this time we’re meeting Amelia Wilson, who runs an editing and localising business. I was excited to come across Amelia online, as I don’t meet many other localisers (if you need to know what it is we do, I wrote an article explaining it). Amelia also, like me, specialises in working with translators, as in editing text that hasn’t been written by someone whose first language is English. Now, you might think the overlap would worry me, but as I’m at a stage of my business where I’m usually fully booked in advance and can’t always fit in new enquiries, I’m always glad to meet people who I can recommend work on to – and so finding someone with a large overlap with my skillset is actually a Good Thing. Anyway, let’s find out how Amelia got started and what she’s learned along the way …
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My website is called Localisation Translation, but it isn’t strictly a business name. I wanted to find something that would explain my niche at a glance, as I specialise in editing translations and localising content for businesses. I launched in February this year.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I wanted my efforts to go into building something for myself. It’s hard work but what I put in I get back, and it’s hugely motivating to know that I’m responsible for all the successes (or failures!) of the business. I also wanted more control over my time, and the option to be location independent
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
Language is my passion and my background. I studied linguistics at university, and I knew I wanted to go into the publishing industry somewhere. It wasn’t until I worked in-house for a translation company that my eyes were opened to a whole new industry sector. I love the challenge that comes from working with non-native speakers and multiple different source languages, I’m constantly learning new things and it keeps it fascinating.
Had you run your own business before?
I’d freelanced a little bit after university, but not to the extent where I was full-time and “properly” up and running. My early experience set me up well, though, because it provided the perspective that setting up a solo business was always a viable career option.
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 freelancing in addition to my full time job, just to put the feelers out and see if it was something realistic. As soon as the time restraints of my full time job started getting in the way of my freelance work, I knew it was time to make a decision. I left to pursue more business opportunities and I haven’t looked back!
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
That there will never be a right time to launch. It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to make the move, I was always waiting for something to get finished, or something else to fall into place. The perfect time will never come, so if you’re going to do something, you have to just make it happen
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Have confidence! When you’re so used to being validated by your boss and your superiors, appraisals and company feedback and all the typical corporate stuff, it’s really important to keep your confidence when it’s just you and your computer. Your clients will provide all the feedback you need, and if they keep coming back, you’re doing it just fine.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
There’s nothing really, it was a big step for me and I know that I did it in the best way that I could have, for me. I wish I’d had more confidence when I finally decided to start making life and career changes, but one way or another I got it done, nervously or otherwise!
What are you glad you did?
I put away some savings before taking the plunge, probably not as much I could/should have, but enough to cover the rent for a few months so that even if I ended up living on noodles, I’d still have a roof over my head! It was a comfort, to start with, not to have to worry about where the next rent cheque was coming from if things started to slow down work-wise.
What’s your top business tip?
So many! I’ve picked up so many words of wisdom since I started, from various entrepreneurs and business books and blogs. We’re so lucky to live in such an age of information. I try to remember that “everything is better than zero” – you start small, taking each opportunity as it comes, and you build and leverage on top of that over time.
I also think it’s really important to constantly evaluate – you must be willing to change the way you work in order to evolve and develop a business. I don’t want to become stuck in my ways to the extent that it becomes damaging. For every Borders there’s an Amazon, for every Blockbuster there’s a Netflix. It’s always necessary to keep moving and to remember that change is good!
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
I’ve grown gradually as I’ve taken on more clients, and I’ve diversified in terms of expanding the material that I work on, which is one of my favourite aspects because it keeps every day different and interesting.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
I’d like to have some products to offer besides the service-based side of the business, whether that be e-books or training courses, I have a few ideas floating around. I’d also like to network more, and build relationships with other professionals in my field working in similar ways. I’d like to outsource some of the less exciting tasks (I hate invoicing!), but overall I’m looking forward to taking a look at the data from being a year in business, seeing what goals were met and finding new ways to improve.
I do like the phrase “anything is better than zero”, and it’s such a feature of the early life of a freelancer / small business – I certainly did some jobs for zero “pay” but a recommendation early on, and it’s good to know that you can shed the lower-paying jobs (or raise the rates on them) as you progress and get a full roster of clients. Oh, and it IS nerve-wracking – I went full time with Libro in January 2012, and I remember having a massive wobble in December 2011, even though, as Amelia found, my day job was getting in the way of my freelancing, I had money saved up and it was time to do it. Oh, and then I got a letter telling me I had jury service the first two weeks of January! I got through that, and we all need to embrace the nerves, examine them to see how well-founded they are, and if there’s a good chance we can prove those nerve wrong, go for it! We wish Amelia all the best as she comes up to the end of her first year in business, and I look forward to working with her on her update this time next year!
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.