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Time for Translators to establish LLPs?
Thread poster: sdvplatt

sdvplatt
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:02
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
excellent post Nov 30, 2018

Dan Lucas wrote:

SD Platt wrote:
Its pure theory. What matters is how things play out in reality

The reality of my working life is that I turn down clients and work that does not suit me. I control my professional environment.

To be sure, in most fields of commerce, price-takers make up a substantial part of the lower end of the market. If you cannot differentiate yourself from others, you too will become a price-taker. Both freelancers and agencies need to offer something extra (or a blend of somethings) that elevates them beyond the status of price-takers, whether it be specialist knowledge, prompt turnaround, aggressive marketing, or superior client service.

Too many freelancers don't have that "something". They don't understand how business works in general, or they neglect marketing, or they are difficult to work with, or they have no domain-specific knowledge. Then they end up on ProZ or in a Facebook translation group complaining about a lack of business.

Life is difficult. Work is hard. Success is the exception, not the rule, and the burden is heavy even for those who succeed. My own business is doing well at this stage, but that has not come without a cost to myself. For example, I regularly work into the small hours to hit my deadlines and deliver the substantial amount of work I take on. How many of my would-be competitors would consider such hours acceptable?

The key issue is not necessarily what course I choose - whether I opt to work long hours or not - but that I acknowledge that I do have the luxury of choice. I have agency. I take responsibility for my life. I believe that conversely most freelancers fail to accept that they have a choice and they too often say "yes" when they should be saying "no".

If freelancers refused to work on poor terms more often, then they would raise their chances of success, not least because the mindset of saying "no" until the terms are right is more likely to be indicative of business acumen than the "freelancers are victims" mindset of resigned capitulation.

To go back to your original point, If a freelancer is already successful then they don't need to do change the way they work, and entering into a partnership would arguably dilute their existing franchise, and if they are not already successful an LLP is unlikely to change anything.

Regards,
Dan


All I would add since you mentioned it at the end is that I would consider the partnership to be domain- rather than language pair specific so there would be no dilution as such.


 

sdvplatt
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:02
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
good point Nov 30, 2018

Chris S wrote:

I used to do work for a couple of translator co-operatives/partnerships. They were just agencies in a very slightly different form.

Remember that the reason why many of us work alone is that we want to work on our own terms. As soon as we start working with others, that changes.

I would agree that it's best for everyone when agencies are run by translators, but they all seem to be getting bought up by the big boys now.


Reading these comments, I am thinking it would have to be approached from a slightly different angle.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:02
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
In some cases, I agree Nov 30, 2018

SD Platt wrote:
Plus, its not really a pretty translation clients are asking for but information.
Perhaps this is already happening.

It seems to me that it depends largely on the situation. For internal documents, the main issue tends to be accuracy and consistency with the style guide, if any. "Prettiness" is not so much of an issue. I suspect a good deal of such material is translated in-house and is never seen by external translators. Nobody is going to much care if the English in an email reporting on the performance of the company softball team during a weekend competition is not perfect.

In the case of documents written for public consumption, which make up the bulk of my work, accuracy and consistency do of course remain important. In addition, one now has to take a serious view of the way the quality of the English (whether it is smooth, natural and easy to parse) affects the public perception of the company.

For example, if that reader is a fund manager owning 2% of your shares, then a poor translation of important materials runs the risk of generating an impression of managerial indifference to shareholders. (And in Japan, that was traditionally often the truth, though things do seem to be improving.)

Obviously, as a freelancer, you want to be involved in the latter case, not the former. You want to be involved in situations where the company, as Nicholas Taleb puts it, has skin in the game - that is, it has something to lose if things (such as the translation) go wrong. Hence the attraction of financial, medical and legal. They all tend to involve substantial risks.

Regards,
Dan


Arkadiusz Jasiński
 

sdvplatt
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:02
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Which suggests you need to have professional liability Nov 30, 2018

Dan Lucas wrote:

SD Platt wrote:
Plus, its not really a pretty translation clients are asking for but information.
Perhaps this is already happening.

It seems to me that it depends largely on the situation. For internal documents, the main issue tends to be accuracy and consistency with the style guide, if any. "Prettiness" is not so much of an issue. I suspect a good deal of such material is translated in-house and is never seen by external translators. Nobody is going to much care if the English in an email reporting on the performance of the company softball team during a weekend competition is not perfect.

In the case of documents written for public consumption, which make up the bulk of my work, accuracy and consistency do of course remain important. In addition, one now has to take a serious view of the way the quality of the English (whether it is smooth, natural and easy to parse) affects the public perception of the company.


Which furthers the case for incorporating or at least joining a legal partnership to transfer some of that risk

For example, if that reader is a fund manager owning 2% of your shares, then a poor translation of important materials runs the risk of generating an impression of managerial indifference to shareholders. (And in Japan, that was traditionally often the truth, though things do seem to be improving.)

Obviously, as a freelancer, you want to be involved in the latter case, not the former. You want to be involved in situations where the company, as Nicholas Taleb puts it, has skin in the game - that is, it has something to lose if things (such as the translation) go wrong. Hence the attraction of financial, medical and legal. They all tend to involve substantial risks.

Regards,
Dan


Dan Lucas
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:02
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Liability Nov 30, 2018

SD Platt wrote:
Which furthers the case for incorporating or at least joining a legal partnership to transfer some of that risk.

That's one way. Set up a limited company, if you wish, by all means. I'm not exactly sure what benefits a partnership would have? (The move over the past couple of decades seems to have generally been away from partnerships and towards limited companies.)

As for professional liability insurance, that costs less than £100 a year. I'm happy to pay that.

Regards,
Dan


sdvplatt
 
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