Thursday, 18 August 2016

Don't Have Company Culture/Mission/Processes/Whatever? Generate It.

A while ago Marta wrote a post on her Business School blog asking readers' opinion on whether looking at your translation practice through a process perspective, as a solo practitioner, was a little over the top or still within the bonds.

The lazy conformist in me is inclined to say yes. However, intellectually, I know the answer is more along the lines of: 'why the heck not if that works for you?'

See, in matters that are not somehow moral in nature, it all comes down to whether something works for you or not. That's the pragmatic criterion and only one that really counts in such cases.

On the other hand, being pragmatic doesn't have to mean being a passive, defeatist, complaining lazy person.

Would you call Alexander the Great a dreamer? He had a dream, but… — You get my point.

I've also recently had a nice conversation with the young owner of a small construction company, whom I was mentoring a bit on some business and legal matters (he obviously knew how to do and manage his own work). We realized that being a freelancer was not that much different from running a small company.

With a bit of simplification, on some level it only came down to not having a couple of people to delegate some specific tasks to and then manage and supervise them and register them with the authorities for tax and insurance purposes.

… But picking up calls and dealing with stuff and soldiering on from one month to the next and hopefully landing nicer deals sometime as you grow was pretty much the same on a very basic level.

After eight paragraphs already this finally gets us to the main point: nobody says you can't have your own processes, even if you, yourself are the only person executing them, or your company culture or mission. Even if there is no company — for example because freelancers don't need to be sole-props in your country — there is a still a practice, like a doctor's or lawyer' practice, which is predicated on you being someone with some professional activity if not exactly a business. And that's practically the same for practical purposes.

So nobody says you can't write down a vision — and if someone does actually say that, you don't need to listen. Just go ahead and write it. Consider putting it on your own website. And, for the record, such ideas actually sell more easily than simple products or services. Products and services may be more practical, but it actually is easier to get people hooked on ideas or relate ideas than products or services. Watch this presentation from Marta — which is what made me start thinking about all these things several years ago — to see why.

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