Learn the potential perils – and possibilities – of business diversification

Is it time to diversify your business? You may be considering expanding what services you offer, but making that change is a serious commitment.

Let Jenae Spry, founder of Success by Rx, share her experience with you in the following interview.

Melissa Kamenjarin, Success by Rx Copywriter: Tell us about expanding the services, besides translation, that you offer. What services exactly do you offer? What have the pros and cons been?

Jenae Spry, founder of Success by Rx: I have been fortunate that I have been able to pursue my passions, including coaching translators and moving into consulting on growth strategy, as well as social media marketing and advertising, BUT having so many different streams definitely makes things more stressful and hectic than it was when I was just translating and I could simply use my time efficiently.

Now there are tons of networking events, meetings with people and lots of things I do for “free,” and the expenses are far higher.

I’m happier, so I’m happy with my choice, BUT it might not be the right option for everyone, and I think sometimes people start thinking the “grass is always greener” and adding another stream of income can only make your life easier, but it’s not that simple.

Kamenjarin: You mentioned that you now do the following: translation, translator coaching, growth strategy consulting, social media marketing and advertising. What kind of work do you do in those fields? Does your work all tie in with translation?

Spry: It doesn’t all tie in with translation. In a way, growth strategy is similar to what I do for my Success by Rx members, except in other industries and with a focus on marketing and scaling that marketing – in other words, making sure that the companies are building repeatable sales and marketing systems.

Kamenjarin: Do you find it helpful to try to make sure the different fields you enter are all connected to translation in some way? Or can you make a switch to offering services unrelated to translation and interpretation completely? Is that even advisable?

Spry: It’s definitely challenging, and I think it’s extremely important to LOVE the work involved in the new stream of income you’re building. It’s not something you can do casually and still see results, so it’s important to really consider the return on the investment of your time, energy and money. I love the things I do, so from that perspective, it’s worth it to me, but I certainly underestimated the challenging aspects when I began diversifying.

Kamenjarin: Besides simply having to take care of so many different things with all your new types of businesses, is there anything else that presents challenges?

Spry: You can’t use the same sales process, because the clientele is slightly (or extremely) different (for example, landing a translation client isn’t the same process as landing a coaching client, etc.), so those strategies have to be recreated from scratch.

Kamenjarin: How do you find out what works? Do you work with coaches, just as freelance translators might turn to you for coaching?

Spry: Absolutely. I really believe in coaching and mentorship, so I am more than happy to spend time, energy and money on support, coaching and education for everything I do. There’s no way I could have done it without help. I also keep statistics of everything so that I can be aware of what is working and what isn’t on an ongoing basis.

Kamenjarin: Are there any other particularly difficult aspects people may not be aware of?

Spry: One thing that I wasn’t fully prepared for is that while for me, it’s not that hard to switch from translation to e-mailing clients in a given day or even hour, helping a customer with growth strategy or advertising feels like a completely different part of my brain than translation, so I realized pretty quickly that I’d have to block off chunks of time, including entire days or half days, for each. Going back and forth seemed to reduce my ability to be effective, so I’ve had to make even larger efforts in the areas of organization to ensure I’m operating at my best in all cases.

Kamenjarin: What prompted you to diversify your business?

Spry: I realized that I loved helping translators and interpreters who were struggling when I was asked for help by some colleagues years ago. I was more than happy to do this for free until I started turning down paid work to help them, and then I had no choice but to charge them or stop doing it and prioritize my paid work. They had actually been hounding me to pay me the whole time, but I’d previously refused. After I started coaching as a paid service, I found a sort of renewed passion – like a fire burning. Fast-forward a few years and the more I worked with these small translation/interpretation businesses, the more I wanted to work with other small businesses in other industries, and that’s what led me into growth strategy and marketing/advertising. I love the puzzle of looking at a business, service or product and helping the entrepreneur be successful at selling it and getting their customers just as excited about their awesome product or service as they are. It’s incredibly rewarding.

Kamenjarin: What can translators expect if they decide they want to enter another field in addition to translation?

Spry: A lot of work! Kidding – somewhat. I think it’s important to have a lot of self-awareness on the one hand and a huge amount of drive to make it work no matter what on the other. Sometimes it feels like trying to keep several plates spinning and it had been a REALLY long time since I’d felt that in my translation business since I had everything so streamlined. I think it’s also important to consider what kind of bandwidth you really have. For example, if you are already struggling to meet the demands of your translation career, it’s important to realize that adding to that will not make it easier, but rather harder.

Kamenjarin: What else do you wish people knew? Any closing thoughts?

Spry: Having multiple offerings can be rewarding, but it can also be a ton of fun. I love that my weeks have so much variation. That’s not something I was getting from translation anymore after working in it for well over a decade. On the other hand, variation means that you’re constantly switching from one thing to another and sometimes having to get your brain to quickly change gears and that isn’t always easy, so it’s important to be prepared for the difficulties and not just focus on how exciting the new idea or new stream of business might be.

Kamenjarin: If people want to work with you for any of the fields you offer, how should they contact you?

Spry: They can e-mail me for any translation/interpretation related coaching at j.spry@rxtranslations.com and for growth strategy, marketing and advertising they can e-mail me at j.spry@crushconversions.com (or check out http://crushconversions.com).

Kamenjarin: Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. It seems like before any of us decide to enter new fields to expand our services, we must consider our motivations and our willingness to sacrifice for it.

Melissa Kamenjarin

Author: Melissa Kamenjarin

Melissa is a Success by Rx copywriter and Spanish/English translator, writer, editor and proofreader specializing in educational materials, health insurance, non-profits, and published fiction and non-fiction books, blogs and websites. Melissa is the Secretary and blog writer for ATISDA (Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area). An American Translators Association (ATA) member, she is also the Copy Editor for the ATA Medical Division’s publication, Caduceus.

Posted in Business.

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