I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the Association of Estonian Translation Companies conference about how I’ve managed to develop my one-woman operation into one of Finland’s largest language service providers. Instead of listing chronologically how it all came about, I decided to talk about the things I’ve learned along the way.
As those lessons are easily implemented in other industries as well, I’ll share them here:
If a business or an entrepreneur doesn’t have self-awareness, they cannot further develop and improve their service. This is the most important lesson of all.
2. Find (top)professionals to work with
From the very first person I employed, I’ve always sought to recruit people who complement my own strengths and who fit in well with our team. At Delingua, we are always looking for new ways of working as well as new talent.
3. Learn how to delegate
For an entrepreneur, leaving someone else in charge of a job is often like leaving your own child in somebody else’s care. Once you learn to trust that your colleagues will get the job done (probably at least as well as you would), you can focus on developing your business.
4. Strength in numbers
A good team is one where the skills and personalities of all its members complement each other. All team members must rely on each other for help and challenge each other constantly for even better results. As none of this can be taken as a given, I consider enabling successful team work as one of my most important responsibilities.
5. Corporate culture
When your corporate culture relies on a shared sense of getting things done and a clear direction, there’s no real need for heavily formal procedures. This is perhaps what lies at the heart of Delingua’s success.
6. Create new processes (and change them when needed)
Of course, the growth that Delingua has experienced would not have been possible if all our assignments were still written down by hand in a notebook. Tools and processes have an important role, but I also believe in questioning them from time to time. One must be able to change established processes and swap tools for new ones if customer needs require it.
7. Try out new things and adapt
If something is not working out, change it! I love a sense of curiosity in trying out new things, and my motto is: The more ideas you have, the more likely one of them will turn out to be brilliant. Of course, with trial inevitably comes error. However, I believe that failure is just one step towards success if you are willing to learn from it.
Do I believe that anybody in any industry can succeed by following these lessons? Yes and no. To be an entrepreneur you also need to be passionate about what you do and have the professional skills to match. Professionalism can be built up along the way but without the passion for entrepreneurship you cannot make the break from just employing yourself to employing others. Furthermore, even with the right attitude and organization, you still need to win your customers’ trust. However, that’s a whole other story for another time.