Tell us about your business?
My business, NYA Communications, is a boutique translation and language services company specialising in German/English translations for marketing, business, corporate communications and PR to help companies an agencies to expand into new markets and grow their business through multilingual communication. I launched my business in the UK back in 2003 and have been based in Australia since 2010.
Why did you start your business?
I love what I do, and I love being independent. So when the opportunity to become self-employed arose, I didn't think twice.
What are the major hurdles you experienced when starting your business?
When I started out ten years ago, information on business and marketing strategies wasn't as readily available as it is today, and of course there was no social media. It was hard work to find out every piece of information related to the language industry by myself without any of the modern tools we have at our disposal nowadays. There were also no business-focused mentoring programme like they are being offered through most professional associations today. So there was a lot of legwork involved, and the first few years were a huge learning curve.
What tips can you give other SavvySME members that are thinking or in the process of starting their own business?
Anyone starting their own business needs to think of themselves as just that: a business owner, not just someone 'working from home' or freelancing. No matter how good the service or product you sell, you still need to have sound business skills to run your business and market yourself. It also helps to join a mentoring programme and team up with an experienced colleague, preferably in the same industry, who's been there and done just that.
I also strongly believe that no amount of theoretical preparation can replace first-hand in-house experience. So I recommend spending a few years in relevant in-house roles to pick up the tricks of the trade and build relationships in the industry before launching your own business. Connections made in-house will prove extremely valuable later on.
What made you decide to take the jump and focus on your business?
I started out running my translation business part-time while still working in-house as an account manager and later on project and quality manager. When my part-time income from my own business started to exceed the salary for my full-time in-house role, I decided that the right time had come to take the plunge.
How did your friends and family react?
My husband was very supportive and later on became a stay-at-home dad to our two boys for four years so I could continue to run my business. It would have obviously been very hard to take an extended period of time off without having to rebuild the business from scratch, so I was very lucky to have such great support.
My friends, on the other hand, were quite sceptical and didn't really see a home-based business as a 'real job'. They thought that because I worked from home, I'd be available for mid-morning shopping trips, extended phone calls or other spontaneous activities at a moment's notice. But over the years they have seen that I'm running a real business and are quite proud of what I've achieved.
How has your life changed?
My life has changed for the better 1000%. Running your own business is taking charge of your own life. You are responsible for your own work/life balance and in my case that has worked out wonderfully. I love the flexibility self-employment offers and often spontaneously take a morning off to spend time with my family and then work at night instead. Running my own business is much less stressful than having to drag myself into an office every day. Plus no commuting and no office politics. And of course your earning potential is much higher when you work for yourself than when working in-house. So I can safely say that my life has definitely changed for the better in every aspect.
What is the vision for your business going forward?
At the moment I work almost exclusively with clients overseas on Europe and the US, and I'm considering expanding into the Australian market going forward. I'm also going to be publishing a book for newly established solopreneurs in the language industry in early 2013, so stay tuned.
What tips can you give other Savvy SME about motivating yourself to push through the challenges that rise up while building your start-up?
Hang in there. We all have good and bad days. The first few years can be hard, but I'd say always stay focused on your goal to keep you going. Once you've worked through the difficulties every start-up inevitably goes through at some stage, you'll be enjoying the lifestyle you've always dreamed about and be your own boss. That alone should be motivation enough to push through! And of course don't be shy about utilising all the wonderful resources out there for new business owners: forums, business networks, professional associations, mentoring schemes, etc. And, needless to say, be passionate about what you do!
Nicole Y. Adams