Small Business Spotlight of the Week: Lingua Franca Traducciones Amanda | June 27th, 2012
This week’s small business spotlight came with a harrowing story about a 700 km taxi ride across western Europe at 3:00 am, racing against the clock to deliver a document on time. Sounds like the beginning of a Robert Ludlum novel, right? It’s actually just another day in the legal document translation business.
Lingua Franca Traducciones is a translating service that is based in southern Spain. Founded originally by one man, Francisco, and his old Toshiba laptop, today the majority of its customers are large European companies and consultancy firms. The office is managed by three people, but in collaboration with over 200 translators. Altogether, the company provides sworn, technical, legal, medical, and literary translations in enough languages to make your eyes cross.
But most impressively, they absolutely love what they do and will go to great lengths to ensure an accurate document and a speedy delivery. They are also firmly committed to sharing optimism and happiness with their clientele. Francisco tells us more about his enterprise below:
How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?
We translate official documents such as passports, diplomas or contracts to other languages to be able to travel, work or make business in another country. We are in Spain and our service is provided in any place in Spain, and even in the world.
What are some industry specific challenges you faced?
1. Personal. It has been difficult to start hiring persons in order for this enterprise to continue growing. Currently, we want to find only the best persons and hire them afterwards, but only if they are fantastic, and that is hard.
2. Make Lingua Franca visible on the Internet.
3. Do not be afraid of changes. Initially in starting an enterprise, we used to observe what others are doing and we immediately believed that we had to copy them to be successful. In time, we have come to think the opposite. Being different without being afraid to change makes us a better enterprise.
4. Perform the best Customer assistance as possible.
What made you use crowdSPRING?
About two or three years ago, there was an article in INC. about crowdsourcing and crowdSPRING in particular. I used to research about successful enterprises (since you can also learn by watching) and when I saw the cS website (still with its old logo ), I was convinced. Perhaps, because I had not been very lucky with designs, because the way cS worked seemed very fair to me. Thus, when the time came, we did not hesitate on trying cS.
What was your biggest learning curve/experience?
Having to solve requests from our Customers which sometimes were very complicated, it makes us think that everything is possible to be done. For that, what is most important and the only way to do it is being surrounded by great people. It is equally important that they are qualified, as well as being great people on the inside willing to give everything to do things right in difficult times.
What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?
It was to deliver a copy of a sworn translation (printed document) to a customer at 9:00 a.m. and for that, we had to send a taxi at 3:00 a.m. of the same day and pay 600 Euros to make a round trip of about 700 km to his home. The actual value of this translation barely exceeded 50 Euros.
If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?
We made many mistakes in the ways we promoted ourselves. Instead of making small and cheap tests, in the beginning we spent a lot of money and effort in advertising and media which did not provide any success. Today, I would dedicate a small portion of the budget, I would observe if the experiment is successful and if so, I would make it big.
How do you see your company growing in the future?
We see ourselves becoming a worldwide reference point for Customer assistance. We want to become a large enterprise for the size of our works and at the same time, keeping the spirit and agility of a small and family enterprise. That is quite a challenge as well.
Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.
Any idea is very good, if done quite right.
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