How I started my business from scratch
If you are thinking about starting your own business but you don’t have any idea where to start, I am going to tell you something: I felt the same way. But don’t panic! I am going to tell you about my experience and how I started my business from scratch.
When I started to think about going freelance and starting my translation business I felt very lost; I didn’t know where to begin, what I had to do, if I had to find a part-time job during the first two years (that was the amount of time I gave to myself to start running my business), etc. I knew a lot about translation and languages but nothing about business! And I had no job at that moment.
I live in the UK, so I went to a Job Centre, I was assigned to an advisor and I had to look for a job and prove my advisor every two weeks that I was looking for a job. In one of my appointments with my advisor (she knew I was a translator) she told me about New Enterprise Allowance, a kind of program for unemployed people who wanted to start their own business. She explained everything to me and booked an appointment at the Chamber of Commerce of Edinburgh, where I had to convince them that I was a good candidate to receive their help (I mean help because they offer business advice, not only funding).
My advisor informed me about what I had to bring to the appointment at the Chamber of Commerce and how the process would be. One of the scariest things for me was that I had to prepare a business plan (a business plan???!!!! Really?!) As I mentioned before, I had no idea about businesses or anything related to them, so having to write a business plan was very challenging at that point. Luckily, these days we have an excellent tool called Internet, where we can find almost everything. And yes, you can find business plans templates for newbies like I was at that time.
I didn’t have to present a 400 pages long business plan, just a plan outlining the main areas included in every business plan: who am I? Why I wanted to start a business? What kind of business I wanted to start? How much funding I needed? What type of business I was going to establish (sole-trader, limited company, etc)? And so on… So it wasn’t such a big deal.
The appointment day arrived and I was honestly very nervous (which I didn’t know why). I had a brief interview with the person who would be my advisor in case I was successful, and it went very well. She was very nice and friendly and at the very first moment after I finished my little presentation she told me that I was successful and how the process would be from now on.
I couldn’t believe it! That was real and I was very happy and excited about starting my freelance translation business!
From that day, I had a meeting once a week with my Mentor at the Chamber of Commerce of Edinburgh. She gave me business advice, materials, resources, etc. But the rest was on me. I had to build a website, a logo, social media accounts, learn about marketing and how I was going to promote myself, order business cards, what my expenses would be so I can get an idea of how much I need to charge (both personal and business expenses), etc. So during a period of 8 weeks, I was receiving help from my mentor and meanwhile I was preparing everything else.
I had no idea about how to create a website, how to promote myself, find clients…nothing! As I told you in a previous post, I did Marta Stelamaszak’s course Business School for Translators, and it really helped me with all my doubts.
Regarding the website, I had no idea about creating a website, not even what a server was! So I started my research and with the help of my designer, I went for a website in WordPress and a business template. She designed the logo and my business cards, and I focused on building the website. I thought it was going to be very easy, as nowadays almost everyone has a website, but it was more difficult than I thought.
What was I supposed to write on the home page? How many pages did I need? What kind of images? Should I publish my prices? So I continued doing my research and getting inspiration and ideas from other websites until I was happy with the result.
When the 8 week period finished, I had a final appointment with my mentor, I showed her everything I prepared, including the website and business cards and she explained what the next was.
From that moment on, I had to continue visiting my advisor at the Job Centre and proving that I was trading and that everything was going well.
I can’t believe this was two years ago. Two years that have passed so fast but the same time it feels like doubled the time due to all the things that had happened. I learnt a lot, I fell, I started over again and I grew as a person and as a business.
So, if you want to pursue your dreams and start your own business, work hard every day, don’t be afraid and carry on! At the beginning use all the help you can get, it will be extremely handy! What I really learnt is that I can accomplish a lot of things by myself and everything I have achieved was because I worked hard to get it. I learnt how to build a website (everything is on the Internet), I read a lot about marketing, freelance businesses and entrepreneurs to keep learning and growing.
I hope this post helps you with some ideas and reassures you that it is ok to feel overwhelmed by the idea of starting your own business. So don’t be afraid, look for information and help and go for it!