No one said it would be easy to create and sell a unique set of services based on our actual “buy side” localization experience. While true, we happily report that we’re (finally) making serious headway as we step into year two. In honor of the one-year milestone and especially for localization insiders & other aspiring entrepreneurs, we want to share some takeaways from our experience to date.
We’re grateful that smart, successful entrepreneurs from a variety of industries were kind enough to provide us guidance and input. The two most repeated bits of information were these:
It takes at least two years before any, and I mean ANY company starts making money.
“Oh, of course that won’t apply to us! We’ve got great contacts and so many friends we’ve helped along the way. Getting up and running will be a snap. Contracts and money will start rolling in as soon as we announce our business.”
Suffice to say our smart, successful mentors were correct. We were overly optimistic about sure contracts and contacts. Organizations change right before the proposal is signed, people move to different companies right in the middle of a deal being finalized, and business priorities morph. It’s what happens. Our glorious pipeline was too thin. Everybody’s glorious pipeline is too thin. We learned.
On day one, you think you know what business you’re in. You’re wrong. It takes a minimum of six months before you begin to understand your true industry value-add, the service offerings you’ll need to develop, and your most effective go-to-market strategies.
When we started, we would have bet our last corporate paychecks that our business was all about helping small/medium sized companies develop rock-solid localization plans/teams and implementing the technology that was best for them. We now understand that we were only about 25% correct.
We had no idea how hungry localization service providers (LSPs) were for our buy-side knowledge. We built a lot of muscle around the fact that both buyers and LSPs sometimes need neutral parties with hands-on experience to review their plans or offerings. We were unaware that our contacts and industry knowledge had implications for companies seeking investment or those wishing to invest. We discovered how we could help LSPs sell more effectively. So we scrambled. We scrambled to create offerings to meet these unserved markets. We scrambled to better understand how to make these offerings as pain-free as possible to our clients. We learned.
1. When getting started, you simply have to make some mistakes on your own…and that’s fine: No book or mentor could have taught us to avoid the mistakes we made. When we look back at our first-month’s proposals and presentations, we see them for the unrefined treasures (aka “way too complex junk”) that they are. We had to make these mistakes all by ourselves.
2. Start just a little bit earlier than you think you can: While we believe that most things happen in their own time, we understand how much smarter we’d now be had we begun the entrepreneurial journey a tad sooner.
3. You can’t see your industry until you step away: Day-to-day corporate admin and tasks take energy. “This is how we do things here” inevitably narrows one’s greater industry thinking and diminishes what’s possible. If financially doable, stepping away from your job – even for a period of months – will help you. It’s amazing how much clearer we can think about bigger issues now that we have the time and headspace to do so.
This PS is purely for localization insiders on both the buyer and seller side of the aisle. Even during our more frustrating sales days, we do our best to maintain a sense of humor. With that in mind, please find below the one-question survey we’d love to ask our potential buy-side clients but are too polite (and not self-destructive enough) to actually pose. We hope you enjoy it. We know you can relate.
How much time and money would you like to completely waste setting up your localization team, processes, and technologies?
A. I’d like to completely waste a small amount of time and money
B. I’d like to completely waste a substantial amount of time and money
C. I’d like to completely waste an embarrassingly large amount of time and money
D. After thinking about it, I’d actually prefer not to waste any time or money. I’d like to make sure these things are set up as efficiently as possible. Does anyone have the hands-on experience and knowledge to help me do this?
(If anyone you know and love would answer “D”, please put them in touch with us)