If you were a customer, what would you want? This is a question that you should be asking yourself frequently. Your goal is to make things easy for your customers and to build solid working relationships. If you do not know what a customer wants, just ask. Seeing any business from your customer's point of view is a powerful tool. It is sometimes difficult to find the right balance between what you want and what your customers want.
One of the great pleasures of running your own business is that you do not have to accept every translation job that comes across your desk. If you worked in a traditional, non- entrepreneurial setting before, you surely remember having to do work for superiors, or even colleagues, whose ideas might not have been good or feasible, yet you had to implement them. Now you can decide if you would like to accept or decline a translation job. Neither decision will not cost you a pro­motion.
There are no vacation slips to fill out and no bosses to notify. Just turn in that urgent translation before you hit the road, notify all your clients, and if needed, take your laptop with you. The freedom to make your own decisions and to not have to rely on someone else's decision-making is very important to most freelance translators. Work does not have to be restricted to a specific time, place, or dress code. Feel free to reinvent the wheel: there are no limits to where you can work. The main exception to this is when you meet with customers. You should always dress professionally for face-to-face interactions.However, running your own business comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility.
First and foremost, you must remember that your success will depend on your ability to attract clients and to make them happy. Without clients, you do not have a translation job. Then you would have to put on a power suit, print out some resumes and look for a job as an in-house translator or interpreter. You would most likely work in a traditional office environment, with a boss, a hierarchy, office rules, gossip, and fridges full of moldy lunch containers with labels on them. If you do not want that, then keep your customers happy.
You should analyze each situation separately. Customers want professional translation services from a professional company. This includes answering the phone professionally and having a well-designed website. You should create an environment in which the customer can feel comfortable and well taken care of.
Do not beat around the bush. Answer questions truthfully and clearly. Give customers the information they need in order to make informed purchasing decisions. Customers want their deadlines met. Delivering quality translation work on time is the minimum requirement in any profession, especially if you would like referrals. Customers do not necessarily want to be educated, unless it is very gently. Think of yourself as a customer. Buyers of translation and interpretation services might not know what a source language is, nor do they need to know that. It is your job to clearly define the industry-specific terms that the client might not be familiar with, to explain how the process works, and to enable the customer to make good decisions. Make things simple and easy to under­stand for your customer.
Include as much information as possible in your written price quotes, such as delivery time, precise cost breakdown, documents needed from the customer to finish a translation project, terms and conditions, etc. All this should be put in writing for the benefit of both parties. Be sure to have customers sign the quote before you commence work.