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specialisation Your business plan A business plan is not only for your business. If you are keen to do what it takes to become a specialist, you need to demonstrate (to yourself and others) your commitment. Make an honest projection including essential factors such as how much time and money you can dedicate to this, your shortand long-term goals, what you want to get out of specialising, etc. You can also join ITI’s subject networks and any other relevant professional networks (on LinkedIn, for example). You can probably afford to develop your more specific hobbies when you are more established with a steadier income. Any quiet spells, like maternity leave, gradual early retirement, a mild illness, a gap year or a life change could be used as valuable time to follow your vocation and add another string to your bow. When doing your research, bear in mind factors such as your location and your languages’ most obvious industries (Japanese and German, for example, are linked to the electronic and motor industries). Try to focus on solid long-term specialisations that will not fade once they are out of fashion or be affected by the ups and downs in the economy. Purely from a business perspective, if you have a vision and you can see or believe that a sector is going to grow rapidly in the future, perhaps you could enjoy first-mover advantage. Standing out from the crowd Specialisation has become more important than ever before, as we live in a fast-paced world where almost anything can be found at the click of a mouse. Potential clients need to be able to find us and understand exactly what we do and what we can offer them. We are all unique and we all do things differently. We need to stand out from the crowd and have a clear unique selling point, which may well be the specialisations we choose. Therefore, it is paramount that we make time to consider our options. Some translators will find their specialisations easily, due to their professional background, academic qualifications or personal interests, while others will struggle, either with finding one or with narrowing them down to avoid being misjudged as a ‘Jack of all trades’. There is no right or wrong way to go and translators should pick what suits their careers and personal circumstances. It is important to identify what we enjoy and/or are good at, but it is even more important to identify what we are uncomfortable with or dislike doing. Of course we always ask to see the document before we start a translation, but we need to ask ourselves two further questions. The first question is whether we feel competent enough to execute a seamless translation without having to look up every other word in the dictionary. This will let us inform the customer whether we accept the job or not. The second question we need to ask ourselves is perhaps more profound and it is whether we truly want to do it and see ourselves working in that particular area in the long term. As freelancers, we make all our own business decisions, so only we are able to answer that question and act accordingly. This has to be the ultimate pleasure of being freelance: choosing the direction we want our business and our lives to go in, starting today. 20 ITI BULLETIN CAREERS SPECIAL www.iti.org.uk

ITI How SUFT can kickstart your career Five of our past students give a verdict on what passing the course has meant for them Since its beginnings in 2014, ITI’s Setting Up as a Freelance Translator (SUFT) course has set over 100 students on the road to success. Some have already worked as translators and are looking for advice on how to go freelance or boost their business; others – and these are the majority – are industry professionals looking to harness their language skills for a career change. SUFT, with its easy-to-access format of live webinars, practical activities and online Q&A sessions, provides an invaluable toolkit specially designed to help new translators launch themselves in today’s industry. ‘Self-promotion is key. SUFT is designed to give you the self-belief you need to launch your freelance career’ Delivered over eight weeks, the course covers the practical aspects of running a business, from identifying your customers and pricing your services to writing a business plan. But it goes much further than that, with individual support for every student to help them identify the unique strengths and experience that will help them stand out in the market – and ultimately get work. With the help of the eight tutors, students prepare a freelance-focused CV, learn how to build their online presence, and receive advice on how to start building their experience. “As a freelancer you need a lot of skills, particularly soft skills,” says Ann Brooks, Professional Development Officer at ITI, who designed the course. “Self-promotion is key. SUFT attracts a lot of very highly qualified people, but in many cases they are lacking in self-belief. The tutors have a wealth of experience, and most have made the move to freelancing themselves in the last ten years, so they have a really sharp understanding of what it takes to succeed. They’re very different in their approaches; the idea is that amongst them there will be someone you really relate to, so you know that you can achieve your plan from wherever you are now.” So how effective is SUFT in helping new translators to launch their careers? We caught up with five of the students from the SUFT class of September 2015, one year on… www.iti.org.uk ITI BULLETIN CAREERS SPECIAL 21

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