As a freelance translator, you are a business owner and I commend you for that. But is your business great?
When I moved to the US 15 years ago I had no idea that I would start my own business.
I was pregnant with our daughter and busy chasing my toddler around. I was used to being an employee and marketing manager at a big telecommunications company, but the situation in the US made me realize that if I wanted to be available for my children, I would have to change my lifestyle. So I ventured off as a freelance translator, starting my own business, and later developed it into a marketing training business, too. But when I first got started I had no idea how to make it successful and wanted to throw in the towel many times. I have experienced unhappy clients, months of dry spells with no work – I’ve even been sued for using an image that was copyrighted without being aware of its status. But I was determined and worked hard, and happy clients and a healthy income have kept me going. Now I can honestly say that business is great. I have clients all over the world and more jobs than I can handle. The most important thing I have learned over the years is that my mindset and outlook has been one of the most important factors for growing my business into a successful enterprise.
Let me illustrate this with a story I found online:
The Gardener’s Badge
There was a landscape gardener that ran a business that had been in the family for two generations. There are many landscape gardeners and garden stores, but at this one staff were happy and customers loved to visit the store and have staff work on their gardens. They frequented this garden store and landscaping business for anything from plants to lawn mowers. Mind you, this was no Home Depot, but a local, family owned business.
For as long as anyone could remember, the current owner and previous generations of owners were very happy and positive people. Most of them assumed that it was because they ran a successful business. But the truth was, it was the other way around…
There was this tradition in the business that the owner always wore a big badge that said, Business is great! Now, business was indeed generally great, but this business had also gone through tough times, just like any other business. However, what never changed during good and hard times was the owner’s attitude, and of course the badge saying, Business is great!
People who came into the store and saw the badge for the first time often asked, “What is so great about your business?” Sometimes people would also comment that their own business was not great, that they were stressed out and that the economy was bad.
Still, the ‘Business is great’ badge tended to start a conversation, which typically involved the owner talking about the positive aspects of the business, and work in general. For example:
- The pleasure of meeting and talking to different people every day
- The reward that comes from helping staff take on new challenges and experiences
- The fun and laughter they had in a relaxed and healthy work environment
- The fascinating work itself, watching things grow, helping people create beautiful gardens
- The new things you learn every day
- The thought that everyone in business is blessed – because there are many millions of people who would swap their own situation to be able to have the same opportunity to do a productive and meaningful job, in a civilized, well-fed country, where we have little to no real worries.
And so the list went on. No matter how miserable a person felt when talking to the owner, they usually ended up feeling much happier after just a couple of minutes listening to all this enthusiasm and positive thinking.
Now – it is impossible to quantify or measure attitude like this, but it is probably a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If asked about the badge in a quiet moment, the business owner would confide:
“The badge came first. The great business followed.”
It’s something worth thinking about. How do you look at your business, and life? Would you benefit from a badge like this?