Language Startup - Interview with a self-employed translator
- 1. Did you spend a year abroad during your degree?
- 2. Please describe your business
- 3. Describe your light bulb moment
- 4. Did you start your business on your year abroad?
- 5. What do you wish you had known before you started up?
- 6. Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?
- 7. Do you have any other comments about the year abroad and entrepreneurship?
Claire Lucia Grant has a Masters degree in Interpreting and Translating from Heriot-Watt University (2011), and is the Founder of Claire L Grant Language Services, which she started in June 2011.
1. Did you spend a year abroad during your degree?
Yes, I spent six months in Tours, France, and six months in Granada, Spain. I studied interpreting and translating at the universities there and also completed my dissertation in Spanish while in Granada. I used the opportunity to learn as much as I could about the cultures, languages and different ways of life there, as well as doing lots of travelling.
2. Please describe your business
I provide a variety of language services including: interpreting (conference and public service), translation, editing, proofreading, subtitling, language tuition and teaching. I offer all of these services in my languages - English, French, Italian and Spanish. I see my services as a way of bridging the gap between cultures across Europe. I have work experience in a variety of areas, such as European policy, linguistics and recruitment, and so I can provide clients with reliable, useful services which are tailored to their needs. Businesses that are looking to export to Europe also benefit from my services as having a cultural awareness of the countries concerned can help with company relationships - and this is of course something I can offer for France, Italy and Spain.
3. Describe your light bulb moment
I didn't have a "light bulb moment" as such; however, I've always been quite proactive and saw my business as a way to complement my studies in interpreting and translating.
4. Did you start your business on your year abroad?
If so, how did your international experience help you? Did your contacts abroad help you start up? I officially started my business after graduation, however a large part of my research was carried out while I was abroad. As I translate from French, Italian and Spanish into English, a lot of my clients are based in these countries rather than in the UK, so I used my year abroad as an opportunity to research translation agencies abroad. I made contacts while abroad and also widened my network of language professionals, which is very useful in this industry. I get a lot of requests for translations from other languages, such as German, and having this network means I don't have to say "no" to clients, I can simply outsource this work to my fellow colleagues.
5. What do you wish you had known before you started up?
I have only recently been made aware of companies which help startups, such as ESpark, and The Prince's Business Trust. Government Gateway, the Scottish Institute for Enterprise and other organisations also offer great workshops on setting up your own business and helping with finances. Networking events are good for letting people know about your business and I try to attend as many as possible.
6. Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?
Online activity is very important in business nowadays so I'd advise everyone to try and set up a website, or maybe a blog. Write about your industry, use LinkedIn and Twitter to get your name known and make contacts. Financing can be difficult at first, so it's a good idea to have a more reliable job at the same time.
7. Do you have any other comments about the year abroad and entrepreneurship?
Finding a career using languages actively is difficult, especially in the UK, so it's useful to have "another string to your bow" and starting up your own business could be a good way to do this.
Here is a video of Claire speaking about her business at the Royal Society:
For her latest updates, you can follow Claire on Twitter: @grant_claire. To read more interviews and get advice about starting a business to do with languages, travel or culture, download a free copy of the Higher Education Academy's report: 'Languages and Entrepreneurship: a Guide for Students'