As the world becomes “smaller” through remote-working and the increasing use of technology in developing nations, you could look to expand your business overseas to capitalise on burgeoning economies – especially if the home market becomes too saturated.
But how can you make the leap?
Over the past 10 years and over 1,000 clients we’ve seen a variety of approaches to business development overseas and their varying connotations on the translation services required.
Different Service Responsibilities
When you’re looking to move into new markets – there are 3 different approaches to service responsibility that you may wish to choose from.
You can either:
- Take all the responsibility in-house
- Share responsibility
- Outsource the service delivery to another company
Each business model has its pros and cons.
If you’re a company with a lot of intellectual property and work on high-margins in the knowledge economy this may be the best route to international growth. The downside to this is that growth may come organically or via acquisition, rather than speedier ways to market – like partnerships.
The main translation service tasks with this model are around marketing, ensuring your website and brochure translation are on-brand to retain that all-important brand equity. If you are looking at the acquisition route, it’s important to remember that, even though English is the international language of business, a huge proportion do not speak it confidently enough to deal with complex legal matters.
This is perhaps the most common type of international business development tactic seen by many of our clients as it maximises impact whilst minimising initial investment. It’s great way of “feeling” a market out.
This business model relies on shared services, joint ventures and alliances.
Shared services allows businesses to achieve economies of scale by aggregating certain business functions. This could be a collaborative setup where you translate marketing materials to develop sales, but training and consultancy is delivered by a different centralised team. The opposite could be true, where teams deliver projects in local areas then IT and accounts are centralised. In this case, more functional documentation such as processes or technical documentation may have to be translated.
Joint ventures and alliances both rely on contract translation and legal translation to ensure smooth running of the operation. This may also require the adaptation rather than fresh recreation of marketing materials.
Shared Responsibility & Intellectual Property
Intellectual property can be an important part of what you have to offer, helping you stand out from the competition. For many services, a good reputation and a strong brand name is crucial to winning new customers.
If your business relies on its intellectual property, you may have already taken steps to protect it in the UK. But this may not protect you overseas. UK trade mark registration and patents only cover the UK. Copyright material is automatically protected in many countries.
If you think you can profit from selling your services overseas, it’s worth ensuring that you have the right intellectual property protection.
You may be able to exploit your intellectual property overseas even if you have limited time and resources. For example, you could licence your intellectual property to an overseas partner. Instead of selling your own services, you receive a fee for letting your partner provide services using your intellectual property, e.g. trading using your brand name.
If you are going to do this, you need a clear agreement covering issues such as what rights they have to use your intellectual property, who will own any modifications, and what payments you receive. You should take professional advice from an intellectual property lawyer with international experience.
This is the option with the least control for your brand and the most difficult for high-value sectors of the professional service industry but it may be the best option to fully outsource your professional services overseas to achieve faster growth.
As you’d expect, contract translations are important in these situations! But we’ve found many clients actually take time and invest in market research-style translations to ensure correct cultural fit for the outsourcing companies.
Outsourcing can be a scary proposition, so taking every measure to ensure that the outsourced company acts just like an extension of your own is worthwhile.
If you need any type of translation service, from websites and brochures to legal contracts and technical support documentation – we’re here to help.
With over 1,000 clients and 50 million words translated, many of these for market leading professional services consultancies, you can be assured that we speak your language.