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Amazon. The mere mention of the name brings to mind enormity. When you think of Amazon you think of gigantic warehouses humming along busily, night and day. You imagine packages being delivered to all corners of the globe, some of them literally dropping down from the sky. You may even wonder how many people are browsing and buying from Amazon that very second.And then, if you’re like me, all those thoughts crystallize into one tantalizing question: “How do I get into that business?”Here’s what a lot of people don’t realize: You actually can get into that busines
There's a lot of focus on people who start their own businesses in college, but many successful entrepreneurs start their own businesses after years of work experience. Check out these blockbuster entrepreneurs who struck out on their own in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
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Any company wondering if they belong in the global marketplace only needs to crunch one number: 95.
As in “95 percent of the consumer population lives outside of the United States.”
If you’re an exporting veteran, you may be nodding your head.
If you’re not, you may be at a loss for words.
In which case, Linda Richardson would like to talk.
Richardson, U.S. director of business development for translation company GlobalDoc Inc., wants to help the Hampton Roads business community get involved in the global conversation. And a prerequisite of every productive conversation is that both parties speak the same language.
“I love watching manufacturers start to export and then watch their sales really grow,” Richardson said. “Virginia is really proactively helping their manufacturers look for new commercial markets abroad. It seemed like a perfect fit for us to open an office here.”
In 2010, Richardson founded her own translation company, All Clear Translations, in the Pittsburgh area.
“It’s a roller-coaster ride being an entrepreneur,” Richardson said. “After five years, I saw opportunities in working with a larger company.”
In August, All Clear Translations became part of Atlanta-based GlobalDoc Inc., a provider of translation, localization, and software development services for multinational companies such as IBM, Lenovo and Xerox.
The partnership opened an opportunity for Richardson’s client base, mostly small- to medium-sized manufacturers, who used All Clear to translate operating manuals, process documents and safety information.
As her clients’ businesses grew, so did their need for efficiency. Translation takes time. When that translation involves page after page of technical documentation, it can take even longer.
There’s a huge difference between learning how to say, “Where is the bathroom?” and explaining the maximum allowable runout for solid carbide drills.
“My clients were asking me, ‘How do I streamline this process?’” Richardson said. “I saw the need for enterprise portal systems, and I didn’t have that ability. So when GlobalDoc approached me, it was perfect timing.”
What is an enterprise portal system?
According to GlobalDoc Inc., “LangXpert is an enterprise-level software application allowing internal and external users online access 24/7 to an automated system to manage workflow within GlobalDoc’s translation processes and procedures.”
Simply put, it gives businesses instant, cloud-based, worldwide translating superpowers.
“You can do everything faster and easier,” Richardson said. “Technology and the Internet have enabled companies to do a lot more global business.”
The LangXpert application connects GlobalDoc Inc. clients with their translation teams in real time, one-on-one, where they live and where the companies want to do business.
“It’s really important to understand the culture,” Richardson said. “Cultures and languages constantly change, so it’s best if our translators are located in country.”
Richardson has been tasked with increasing the visibility of GlobalDoc and acquiring new clients in Hampton Roads. But while adding customers is important, Richardson believes that her first goal is help educate the business community.
It’s a goal she shares with GlobalDoc Inc. President and CEO Mike Cooper.
“It’s very important to Mike to give back,” Richardson said. “We’re reaching out to the state and to the cities. We want to be a resource for the region.”
GlobalDoc operates in the business-to-business market, with a focus on industrial and manufacturing companies. Richardson says that a big part of the education process involves teaching manufacturers the scope of information that needs to be translated.
It’s a daunting list that includes everything from marketing materials and websites to technical manuals and safety labels.
“I had a client once, and his machinery was on the dock waiting to be shipped,” Richardson said. “They didn’t realize that they had to translate all of their safety labels. We’re talking half-a-million-dollar machinery just sitting on the dock. That’s a lot of money.”
She understands that the idea of making hundreds of pages of technical copy make sense to someone in Tokyo, Austria or Dubai seems daunting. But she also understands that the sooner a business begins the process, the sooner they can boost their bottom line.
“If you want to make sales, then you translate,” Richardson said.
For businesses concerned about cost, Richardson recommends coming up with a strategy to make small steps. Don’t worry about translating for every man, woman and child on Earth. Focus on one language and one market at a time. Start with adding voiceovers to videos or translating your website.
But she warns against cutting corners.
“People ask me about putting Google Translate on their website,” Richardson said. “But Google Translate doesn’t understand a lot of what they’re translating. So someone uses it and comes out with all this gibberish. You’re not going to make a sale with gibberish. You’re better off just keeping it in English.”
Her advice to companies interested in starting a conversation with consumers all over the world?
Ask for help right here at home.
“For small manufacturers, there is a lot of assistance out there,” Richardson said. “ Especially here in Virginia, there is great assistance and expertise to help you start translating your information, to help you figure out what you’re exporting plan is and how to make it happen.”
But look closely and you'll see that in a few ways they are very, very different--and so is how they start and run their businesses.
1. They always prefer action to thinking.
A detailed plan is great, but stuff happens, and most entrepreneurs don't make it past the first three action items before adapting to reality. (I started a company assuming I'd provide book-design services to publishers; I ended up ghostwriting those books instead.)
Spend some time planning and a lot more time doing. If you're unsure, do something, and then react appropriately. It's easy to ponder and evaluate and analyze yourself out of business.
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