When Should You Consider Adding a Language to Your Business

In this day and age most companies, big or small, offer a few alternative languages when communicating with customers. Either because they are international, or just because they’re looking for a way to level up their image. Because after all, once you’ve found your passion and successfully built an empire on it, it’s time to retire to the next best thing. But whether it’s your website, social media, or e-mails, choosing the right languages and hiring translators is a big ask for a startup. Here are some tips to help you know when you’re ready to take that leap.

Photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash

Financials

Looking at it from a solely materialistic perspective, adding a language to your repertoire will cost you some money. And if you’re not willing to spend on it, or if you don’t have the budget, the overall final product will look sloppy and lacking for those speaking the language.

So firstly, take a look at what you need to translate, and to what language. You can start by translating only your webshop, website, landing page, or frequently sent emails. These are all big projects that need a professional translator. And once a company has the budget for it, a translator can be hired full-time to take over social media, and other types of constant communication.

Choosing the Language

Another tale-tell sign that you need to take this step is if you live in an area where being bilingual is a given. For example, more than 25% of California speaks Spanish as their native language. This means that if you want to start a company in California, you will need to consider your Spanish-speaking clients and their needs because chances are, 10-20% of your clients will be native Spanish-speaker. It’s also important to know and adapt to the culture because that will dictate a different style of marketing you need to implement.

For people living in countries that speak solidly one language, this step can be put off until you start branching out. But whatever the motivation is, choosing the right language is crucial. For those who add a language because of a day-to-day language barrier, it is easier, because it’s clear what is missing.

For those adding a language to reach out to a wider audience, perhaps overseas clients have to choose the right demographic for their company and product to win back the money that goes into translation and possibly additional postal fees.

Branching out

Most companies looking to branch out usually have a budget to back up their plans. Branching out means a lot of things, but always ends up widening the horizon of the company. Either by reaching out to an entirely new audience, or adding a new headquarter in a different city, branching out is about the growth of a company.

And for a lot of people – especially those located in Europe – branching out means adding a new language to your arsenal. Taking into consideration the costs and headache of a new language, you have to choose wisely where you want to branch out. You need to consider the social aspects of the entire country, in fact, every speaker of the language. Not all Russian speakers live in Russia, and maybe after adding the language, you’ll be a hit among Russians living in Amsterdam.

The Most Obvious Answer

Sometimes the most obvious answer is the right one. A lot of companies after a few years decide to take it a step further, but they don’t exactly know how. Adding a new language to your image can be the best and most cheap decision when thinking about growing professionally. But if your language of choice isn’t that obvious, it can be overwhelming choosing the right one to add.

The smartest decision here is choosing from the few languages that are either in demand today or are soon to be widely known worldwide. These currently are English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and German. Choosing either one is a solid win because you simply can’t go wrong by adding your company to the browsers of these native speakers worldwide.

While Google Translate mostly does the job, companies, and especially startups can’t afford to prioritize quantity over quality, because people today are craving for actual value when they reach out to someone. This is why even today translators are in such high demand because sometimes a robot just can’t do what a human can (thankfully).

So if you think you’re ready to add a new language to your arsenal, consider the value you give to your new customers and try to be as human as possible by hiring a professional, or a native-speaking student if your budget can’t allow it anything else.

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