Leadership & Productivity

Speaking the right language – the business value of translations

5 min read

27 December 2017

Former special projects journalist

For businesses operating in several countries around the world, translation services are crucial. Today Translations founder Jurga Zilinskiene explains why.

Today Translations was launched 17 years ago when founder Jurga Zilinskiene was still at university. Currently, the business is comprised of a team of more than 60 people spread across seven countries, with over 3,000 translators and advisors working alongside it.

“In the globalised world we live in today, almost every industry needs translations. Without it, you cannot persuade the client to buy your product or services. If they cannot read the description, they simply will not buy from you,” explained Zilinskiene.
“Equally, for companies operating in multiple countries, such as Shell, language brings disparate teams together. By translating vision statements, articles and policies into the languages of their staff, firms send a powerful message: ‘we are one company, and we speak the language of our team’. It makes members of the team, especially millennials, feel included and valued.”

Seizing opportunities

When it comes to scaling up, Zilinskiene is directed by market forces. There is a real need for businesses to communicate to customers, employees the media across a range of time-zones and cultures.

Global communication without a trusted translations service would be nearly impossible for many businesses, so Today Translations believes it is the right time in the history of communication to scale.

“Interestingly, in the past decade alone, Chinese online traffic increased by 1,300 per cent, Russian by 1,900 per cent, and Arabic rose by a staggering 2,500 per cent – while English saw a relatively modest increase of 300 per cent,” explained Zilinskiene.
That’s not to say the business hasn’t had its challenges, but thankfully Zilinskiene is nothing if not a resilient entrepreneur.

“Two years into the business, I faced a challenge of managing a rapidly growing demand with only a small team,” he remembered. “In short, I needed to scale-up fast and a technological solution was the only option. What I had in mind didn’t exist, and software engineers were convinced that it was impossible to build. So, I did the only thing I could do: I learned to code and built it myself.”

In addition, when you operate a global business you expose yourself to certain risks – as Zilinskiene says, the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit and the value of the pound will be a challenge and an opportunity for businesses.

“Having our headquarters in London, in the centre of the world’s time zones, gives us the global positioning to deliver a range of multilingual services from localisation to language training.

“Risk can be mitigated by focusing on great customer service, planning ahead, accepting and sharing advice, and always striving to be the best in your industry.”

It’s all about the talent

So far, the number one biggest challenge faced by Today Translations is recruiting the right talent. It takes too long for the business to find skilled people who love what they do, and this is a crucial part of scaling up.

“To agree on common values is not an easy task. Hence, recruiting the right people with the right attitude is vital. I don’t expect the new team members just to slot in. I try to build their confidence through being a good mentor. I openly share my experience, encourage mentees to come-up with ideas, and listen to their concerns without passing judgement,” said Zilinskiene.
Over the next 12 months, the business will continue to invest in its Today Academy, which was established to “nurture the next generation of linguists and entrepreneurs”.

Overall, it’s clear that businesses hoping to scale overseas will need translations services, and it could be Today Translation’s time to shine. There may be challenges along the way, but by growing at the right pace and talking the time to build a talented team, there are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of.

This article is part of a wider campaign called the Scale-up Hub, a section of Real Business that provides essential advice and inspiration on taking your business to the next level. It’s produced in association with webexpenses and webonboarding, a fast-growing global organisation that provides cloud-based software services that automate expenses management and streamline the employee onboarding process.