Starting Your Own Translation and Interpreting Business
If you run your business well, having a sole-proprietorship translation and interpreting business can be more lucrative than working for a company or translation agency. Owning your own business also gives you the option to pick and choose your projects and to bring on independent contractors if you find your workload is too heavy.
Establishing a Web Presence
The first step is setting up a website. In this technological age, it is essential to have some sort of Web presence.
Marketing Your Skills
Tell everyone you know (friends, family, co-workers) about your new business venture and ask them to spread the word. Have business cards printed up and leave them at coffee shops or in other public areas that may attract potential clients. Contact other translators you know who work in different language pairs from yours and ask them to send clients your way (of course you should also return the favor). Join a small business association and attend their monthly meetings (be sure to bring your business cards). Contact companies with whom you would like to work either by email or snail mail and direct them to your site. Remember that every social event is a potential marketing goldmine - don't be shy to talk about your business and hand out business cards. As you become more established, most of your clients will come through referrals or word-of-mouth, but it's always good to continue to carry around a stack of your business cards and continue to market. Even look into starting a business franchise as an option.
Building a Team
Sure, you're a one person show, but you still need a support team. This could include other freelancers with whom you network or share tips, childcare (if you are a parent), a technical support person for the day your laptop dies in the middle of a huge project (because odds are it will) and, perhaps most importantly, a good accountant. Enlisting the services of a good accountant will end up saving you thousands of dollars in taxes in the long run. Moreover, if you ever get audited, it's extremely important to have a good accountant who knows your financial history to help you through the process. Speaking of taxes, before starting your business, do some research on what types of things you are able to write off your taxes (travel expenses, home office, office supplies, etc. and start saving receipts right away).
Etiquette and Payment
You should always respond to client emails within at least 1 business day of receiving them. Always be up front about the costs associated with a particular project and draft a contract that both you and the client sign before beginning any project.