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Business growth: regularities and chance.
Scaling a translation agency


In the last article, we talked about why it is vital to set up processes in your company as early as possible. Now let’s move on to another problem for growing companies—scaling.

Scaling is a challenging problem for any business undergoing growth and not just translation agencies. Let’s say you have 10 translators who deliver high-quality work. Your regular customer is so happy with your company’s translations that one day he offers you double the workload. You are faced with an unpleasant choice:

  • Take a careful approach: accept only the usual volume (half of what is offered) and immediately inconvenience your customer.
  • Take a risk: accept the entire volume of work and inconvenience the customer later.

In the first case, you do what you promised while consolidating your reputation as a good, but small team. In the second case, if you fail, your reputational losses will be much higher—because later the customer will find out that you cannot meet the deadlines or adhere to the quality standards they are accustomed to.

You need to prepare for the rapid scaling of your team in advance—for example, to train experienced full-time translators to oversee the quality of the work of newcomers. Then a large order will not leave you floundering.

But more often agencies only start looking for translators after receiving an order. This approach is a form of Russian roulette, in which the manager reacts to a situation instead of anticipating it. The whole thing could go either way: sometimes it may be possible to complete a large project on time, other times it will not be.

The question arises: how to retain backup translators if there is no work for them? It is important not so much to retain everyone, but to enhance the skills of the translators who are already working for you so that with an increase in volumes they can oversee the quality of work submitted by newcomers. Simply put, you need to prepare your translators to work as editors.

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