It may come as a shock when I tell you to get a lean business plan for your translation business.

No one talks about getting a business plan to talk less of a lean business plan for any online business or from-home business.

The reason I insist on having a lean business plan for your translation business is: you will understand your customers and why customers want your translation services, you will plan your business for profits and you won’t feel shy hunting/prospecting for customers.

A lean business plan makes you develop a business mindset – which is, you are running a business and have to think like a business.

Just because you will work from the comfort of your home doesn’t mean you slack or don’t take your translation business seriously.

Also, a lean plan helps you become focused instead of wasting time writing pages upon pages of the traditional business plan, you answer the questions and move on to your translation business. 

Translation and translating are becoming one of the biggest freelance businesses/work to start online.

People are bilingual, travellers, multilingual or digital nomads.

Some like me want to learn a new language to keep their brain sharp or because of a new insatiable interest in watching Netflix’s series in Korean. 

12 Tips for Running a Successful Translation Business Online

The following are tips for running a successful freelance translation business online and they include:

  1. Know a language thoroughly – there are no shortcuts in translating if you are to earn customers’ trust. 

2. Always keep the deadline – freelance translators work on their own time and the pace doesn’t mean you can sloth off. 

3. Gain translating experience first before starting – this can be on freelance sites or by ‘hunting’ your own customers. 

4. Don’t wait for customers to knock on your door – knock on theirs by pitching. 

5. Find translation clients on platforms like Upwork – have a portfolio that makes you stand out. 

6. Have the right tools like headsets with noise-cancelling abilities to make your work easier.

7. Take translation courses in order for you to learn how to get customers or run a business 

8. Know what clients want. 

9. Do your best to keep clients happy. 

10. Know how to price your translating services for profits 

11. Listen to your customers 

12. Always have records of transactions to keep things professional between you and your customers. 

TAKE NOTE: Any business idea has the potential to flourish 

A business plan gives you passion for your vision 

I want you to adopt a new mindset with a business plan = planning to success. 

Why Write a Lean Business Plan for a Translation Business?

A business plan lean or traditional forces you to be: 

Realistic = not overcrowded with excitement you forget that a business must make a profit. You have to know how to sell 

Take steps = not shelve your idea 

Ask = what are other ways/available options of doing something? 

What are the obstacles? Like legal requirements, patents, competitors 

What are resources required e.g financial, human, physical, or industry know-how

Anticipated costs 

What does the customer want and how do you fulfil customers’ wishes?

How to Use the Translating Lean Business Plan

  •  Use this plan for any startup
  • If you have had troubles understanding or writing the traditional plan, this plan makes businesses a breeze 
  • A lean plan isn’t static so adjust and change according to your business needs 
  • I use this lean plan as a template = adjusting it according to your business. 
  • I have complete guides to help get started on the businesses discussed in the lean business plan e.g how to start a freelance translating business and freelance translating lean business plan to make your life easier 
  • I use questions to make work easier for you. If something is unclear, I expound on it. Have an answer sheet ready 
  • I recommend downloading this template so it’s easy for you. The download is 500 shillings. Whatsapp me on 0721616366. Pay then I send the PDF file. Email me: gertrude dot akinyi at gmail dot com 
  • Using the Mpesa payment method is the best option for Kenyans. If outside the country, I use Paypal and it’s $10 – further instructions on this one coming. 
  • I am also simplifying the traditional business plan with simple questions, for each component. And the price is $10 worldwide. 

The One-Page Online Translating Lean Business Plan

  1.   What does your translating business do? /What do you plan to do and why?/ What are your products/services or both? 

 How does your translating business plan on creating value? 

What’s the main solution to the problem? 

What are other potential solutions? 

Is there a business in your idea? 

NOTE: Businesses can have more than one problem/solution. 


Does your business idea solve a problem? 

What are customers going to use this product for? 

Does your product improve the customer’s situation in any way? 

Why is your product useful? 

How will the product help in solving an existing issue? 

What gap is the product filling in the market? 

In what way is your product better than existing products in solving this issue? 

Will people pay for the product? 

How much are they willing to pay? – NOTE: PUT YOURSELF IN YOUR CUSTOMER’S SHOES

Is your product capable of generating value for the business? 

NOTE: The price customers are willing to pay should be below the cost incurred by the company to develop and deliver the product. 

How substitutable/optional is your product? – Aim for uniqueness, always. 

Is there a sizeable market for your product? 

How is the value you create with your business delivered? 

How is the value captured by the business? 

NOTE: Value is created when a customer cannot live without your product. 

Value is created by providing a smarter, more effective and more efficient way of doing things. 

Value is created by usefulness. 

Why should others work with you? 

KNOW:  Make the benefits of your products/services clear 

What do you want your customers to experience? 

  1.   Who are you as a person? 

NOTE:  Revealing or understanding yourself helps you to uncover values within yourself. These values help you stand out from the competition. 

ASK: Why did I start this business? 

What breaks me? 

What do I love the most?

What drives me? 

What am I great/good at?

What motivates(d) me to start this business? 

Why do I feel motivated to start this business? 

How do I handle crises? 

Do I know how to sell my idea to myself and my prospects? 

  1.   Who are your competitors? 

Why are your competitors preferred by customers? 

What’s the marketing message your competitors use?/How do they win customers over? 

How and what’s the response on social media or Google about the marketing message your competitors use? 

How do your competitor’s customers receive the marketing message or products/services? Are customers getting converted/buying? 

Is there a market your competitors miss? 

Are your competitor’s prospects converted into buyers? 

What’s the call-to-action your competitors use? 

Call-to-action = ‘BUY NOW’, ‘SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE’. 

Are customers clicking on the call-to-action your competitors use? 

  1.   How’s your freelance translating business structured? 

Do you understand the business environment and how to use this environment to choose partners?

NOTE:  Business Environment = processes/chains and all involved organisations e.g suppliers, distributors, competitors, government agencies and customers. 

What are the permits required before, during and after starting your business? 

What are the regulations? 

Do your products meet specified health standards? 

Are there zoning laws? 

Do you need financing? 

Will you get subsidised interest rates? 

Are the suppliers ready? 

How vulnerable are you as a firm? 

NOTE: Knowing your weaknesses help you solve problems before they arise. 

What non-key activities can you outsource? 

What are time-consuming tasks to outsource? 

  1.   Do you have a marketing strategy for your translating business? 

A strategy = describes how you will accomplice a particular mission or goal. 

What campaigns/content or marketing software will you use to reach your target customers? 

Who buys your products/services? 

Do you understand how to motivate target customers to buy your products? 

Do you know your competitors and what they do? 

Do you know how to measure the success of your marketing campaigns/efforts? 

NOTE: Marketing strategies include SEO, public relations, internal marketing, digital marketing, editorial, content, inbound, email and social marketing. 

Do customers know about your marketing strategies? 

What marketing strategy converts customers into paying customers? 

Why did customers choose one marketing strategy over another? 

What do customers say about different marketing strategies? 

What marketing strategy is affordable, long-term and flexible and preferred by customers and you? 

Do you have a marketing plan? 

Do you understand consumer resistance and how to deal with it? 

How will you conduct market research?

Do you understand that coming up with a product means working with a product development team? 

Do you have a marketing plan? Aligned to the business goals? 

Do you have a sales team to create and develop leads and convert these leads into sales? 

Do you have a strategy to ensure customers who purchase products are retained? 

  1.   Will you advertise your translating business on digital platforms? 

Which digital platforms are your customers using? 

How will you sell to them/do social marketing? 

Do you have the budget? 

  1.   What are the accounting services? 

NOTE: Accounting services are crucial for creating financial forecasts

Understanding cash flows patterns 

Maintain up-to-date bookkeeping records 

Creating flexibility to scale up or down 

Receiving financial advice that’ll steer the company toward success 

  1.   How do you choose the right key partners for a translating business?


What are your business goals? 

Will your partnership appeal to the target market? 

What’s your partners’ industry experience? 

Do your partners understand industry best practices, rules and regulations? 

Are your partners competent to complete the project? 

Do your partners understand you? Consider industry(industry jargon) language barriers/language barriers in general

Will the time zone affect your partners’ productivity? 

Does your partner’s work agree with yours? 

  1.  Does your translating business understand activities it must not outsource? 
  1.  What’s your competitive advantage as a translator? 

NOTE: Competitive advantage = attributes that enable you to outperform your competitors 

Competitive advantages are short-lived because of changes in technology and the business environment. 

  1.  Is the business capital intensive? = requiring large sums of money? 
  1.  What kind of human resources does your translating business need? 

How can these resources be acquired? 

Is it better to lease resources or find a business partner with access to these resources? 

What resources do you need to make it possible to deliver the product? 

What resources do you have that will give you a competitive edge? 

Is it possible;e to develop the capabilities of some of these resources and make them unable to be replicated? 

What’s the best way to develop these key resources? 

NOTE: RESOURCE = stock/supply of money, materials, staff and other assets that can be drawn on by a person/organisation in order to function effectively. 

Resources include physical assets, key intellectual resources, human resources and financial resources. 

  1.  Why are customer segments important in a translating business? 

NOTE: CUSTOMER SEGMENT = breaking a market into subgroups of customers with similar characteristics and as a result may have the same product needs. 

Are you going to sell to the mass market or niche market and why? 

Is your segment big enough to be measured? 

Is the segment profitable? 

Is it stable? Can you profit from it or is it a short-term market?

Are you aware of factors like geography, demography(gender/age groups) or psychographics (social status and lifestyle) that can be used to segment a market? 

Where do your target customers live? 

What do they do? 

How much can they afford? 

Where do they shop? 

How are the services/products where they shop? 

What do these customers say about where they shop? 

What’s the disposable income of your target market? 

Are they men, women, teens, or kids? 

Are there enough customers fitting your criteria? Are these criteria profitable and sustainable? 

Will your target customers see a need for your product/service? 

Will they benefit from your services/products? 

Do you understand what makes your customers make a BUYING DECISION? 

Can you reach the market with your marketing message? 

NOTE: The users of your products grow over time due to marketing, word of mouth, customer service, and customers’ changing buying preferences. 

  1.  What are the different ways/channels your customers can access your translator services/ products? 

Is your product reaching the end-user in the most efficient and cost-effective manner? 

Will you sell directly to customers without intermediaries/middlemen? 

If you’re selling directly to customers do you have the capacity to produce and package in a timely manner? 

what/which channels are preferred by customers? 

What channels are my competitors using? 

What are the strengths, threats, weaknesses, and opportunities of each channel?

NOTE: CHANNEL = different ways that customers can access your products. 

  1.   How do you get customers/initial customers as a beginner translator? 

How do you manage and retain them?

How do you maintain and grow these customers? 

How will the target group become aware of the business and its products? 

How do customers evaluate whether to buy the product or not? 

What needs to be done to make the first procurement and maintain the product after purchase? 

Do you know your customers and why it’s important to know them?

a). Are customers prepared to pay for the product? 

b). Which customer segments are likely to pay the most? 

c). How much are they willing to pay for the product? 

d). Are customers willing to pay a premium for this customisation and how much are they will willing to part with? 

e). How does serving these customers impact the business’ vision, mission and core values? 

  1.   Do you know what your costs are in your translating business shop?

Does your budget cover all the expenses?

 Do you need external funding?

 How will you get the funding? 

Do you know the terms and conditions for the funding? 

How will you get the money to pay back the money?

 How will you advertise your business to get more customers and grow your business? 

How will you encourage investors and venture capitalists in the future? 

  1.  What are your revenue streams? 

Think will you use subscriptions, asset sales, leasing, usage fees, licensing, advertising and brokerage? 

NOTE: REVENUE STREAMS = cash originating from customers as opposed to the profits 

What products will you offer to generate your revenue?

What’s the value a business is going to deliver to achieve this revenue? 

What’s the price the product is going to be offered? 

Who are the customers and are they willing to pay for the value? 

What if the business has resource constraints or a limiting factor?

What if operating costs increase? 

What if demand increases/decreases? 

What are the risk analysis e.g political, economic, exchange risks and business risks? 

What are the types of revenue streams? E.g recurring, fixed pricing =stable pricing 

Transactional = produced from a one-time purchase and payment for service/product e.g an ordinary sale 

Dynamic pricing  

  1.  Sales Strategy 

Will you sell online or physical or both? 

Will you sell to companies? 

Sales strategy = communicating a value message 

What differentiates you from competitors in terms of positioning your product? 

Why should customers buy from you? 

How will you connect with customers? 

Sales strategy = developing a means of telling customers to choose you. 

What motivates your target market? Money, lifestyle or change? Note: focus on the problems your products and services solve for customers. 

What are those things/needs you never considered your product/services to meet? Are they helpful to the customers? 

  1.   If you are thinking of having a team in your translating business, who are they? 

Why did you choose this team/person? 

What are the qualifications you checked to know you preferred one person over another? 

Do you know the tasks your team has to complete? 

TIP: DON’T hire people because they’re the cheapest or because of their educational qualifications only. 

Hire people that believe in your company values.

 During the hiring process, ask potential employees, if they love what your mission and vision and business goals are.

 If you have them on the website, test them to see if they know what they are. 

The best employees don’t necessarily have degrees; the best employees carry passion, enthusiasm and belief in what you do and want to be a part of the change. 

Are you prepared to train your team? 

Do you have the resources to help train your team? 

How much will you pay your team while they’re in training? 

Do you know the means you have to use to retain a staff member? 

What happens when an employee quits? 

Do your employees understand what values you hold close to you? 

Where will you get these employees? 

NOTE: You will hire, train, and lose employees.

 Some employees will become your competitors. Plan on how to deal with such eventualities. MY MANTRA: I don’t hold onto anyone no matter what; I’m happy when an employee leaves. It’s a loss you plan for but cannot be prevented. 

Train the next person or best yet train members of staff.

  1.  What’s your location?

Do customers know of your existence in this location? 

If customers disagree with your location, how do you intend on reaching them? 

Will you use door-to-door delivery?

 If customers love the chosen location, is the parking sufficient? 

Do they love this location? 

  1.  What are the financial projections? 

The most confusing part of the traditional business plan is answering financial forecasts. 

Why? If you don’t understand your target market, and your pricing then, it’s hard to project. 

Remember your projections will never be true. Remain realistic. 

How will you price your products? 

Will your customers afford the prices you set? 

Have you done enough market research to know if your customers are willing to pay this money? 

Are customers asking for a price adjustment? 

Do you offer quality unique products to pay what you ask them to? 

Are the customers enough to help your business turn a profit? 

Do you need more customers? 

Are customers asking for additional services? 

Do you need funding? 

Do you know your numbers? 

Do you know why you need the funding? 

What will you do to appeal to investors or venture capitalists or banks? 

NOTE:  Asking for additional services is a cue for expansion. Customers need more. 

  1.  What are you planning for the future? 

What, how and where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years? 

What were your plans for getting started? 

  1.  Review your plan monthly 

Understand the milestones you achieved. 

Are you where you wanted to be? 

Have you achieved the number of customers on the date you set?

 What will you do differently if you haven’t achieved your milestones? 

Do you need to add your target customer? 

Do you have the funding to get more customers? 

Is the source of funding from your pocket/profit or from investors? 

Do you have the plan to repay them? 

Are your sales growing according to plan? 

Do you need to change your plan? 

What marketing and sales strategies must you test? 

Where do your customers come from? Website traffic, landing pages, foot traffic, tweets, subscribers, contacts made?  

  1.  What will happen when you decide to close shop or start other ventures? 

Plan an exit strategy always. 

Train others and let your business run while you’re away. 

A business is like a lego house – beginning with a foundation. 

A foundation = a business plan 

The more you learn about your business, the more the success 

A lean business plan doesn’t guarantee success.  

Starting a business requires passion, commitment, technical expertise, business knowledge, willingness to listen, observe, learn and the ability to adjust to market prompts.

Keep in mind you have to recreate and change things. 

Having a lean plan means you get started with your translating business fast. 

Most translators don’t think of having or taking time to write a plan let alone a lean business plan.

Therefore, they lack customers that want to work with them or end up working one-dollar translating jobs on platforms like Upwork.

The purpose of a lean business plan for you as a translator is to provide you with clients that you are happy with and also to learn about the direction you want your translating business to go.

For example, you may want to start a language school or start a translating agency, the lean business plan helps you get focused on your direction or ambition. 

A lean plan helps you take the necessary steps in order to begin your translating business.

Are you a translator in need of turning around your freelance/online translating business?  




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