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How to Scale Your Business to Languages You Don’t Speak

Nowadays, any organization looking to thrive needs to think seriously about global expansion. However, to achieve this, you’ll need to be able to communicate effectively with customers, vendors, and stakeholders in multiple languages. In other words, there’s no place for an English-only mentality in the business world of today. 

According to a recent study, around 68% of consumers prefer to engage with brands offering content in their native language. For any business looking to enjoy sustainable growth internationally, embracing a multilingual approach is the only way to go. Global translation companies and advancements in translation technology are making it easier than ever for businesses to localize marketing messages, online content, and customer support. 

It’s also making it simpler for businesses to streamline internal communications, overcoming the language barrier that once kept international teams at a distance both geographically and linguistically. If you’re thinking about scaling your business to access international markets, investing in the services of a global translation company is a must. 

How do global companies benefit from language solutions?

A major advantage of investing in global translation is the ability to reach customers in new territories. In an ideal world, most businesses want to be able to grow beyond the confines of their home country. Sometimes, it’s vital for continued operation, especially if businesses have exhausted the domestic market. 

To achieve this, multilingual communication needs to be at the forefront of expansion efforts. Language solutions also make it possible for businesses to attract top-tier talent. Too many companies settle for second-rate professionals, simply for the reason that candidates speak English with a high degree of language proficiency. 

Linguistic solutions mean that companies can always choose the best person for the job. It’s becoming increasingly useful now that remote working is a staple of most businesses, from medium-sized organizations to international enterprises. 

Being able to capitalize on remote working also makes it possible for businesses to test new markets, without having to invest in traditional offshoring. While expenditure and risk are relatively low, the potential reward is substantial. 

8 ways to scale your business to languages you don’t speak

Just because a business doesn’t have the right language skills in place, doesn’t mean it can’t think seriously about international expansion. Recruiting local talent who can provide foreign language support is one way to go while using a dedicated service to translate business-critical communications is also something to consider. Below, we spotlight 8 of the most effective ways a business can scale, even when dealing with unfamiliar foreign languages. 

1. Acknowledge that you are an international company

This is an important one. Even small to medium-sized businesses can now compete on an international scale. For industry sectors like e-commerce, being able to operate internationally is no longer a nice-to-have. Instead, it’s a prerequisite for continued success. 

If you’re still thinking small and looking no further than your home country, you’re dooming yourself to slow growth. In a worst-case scenario, you’re consigning your business to an early death. Advertising products and services to a global marketplace is surprisingly straightforward. What’s more, online merchant services make it convenient to operate in multiple currencies. Even if an operation is modest in size, there’s no excuse for not adopting a global mindset. 

2. Using free tools isn’t always cost-effective

Admittedly, there are many free translation and localization tools out there today. While machine translations can prove useful for small tasks, free-to-use solutions are fairly limited in features and functionality. 

For any business looking to market itself on a world stage, free translation tools aren’t really practical. You can’t expect to rely on something like Google Translate to scale your operation. While a useful choice for everyday tasks, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the consistency you need to deliver large-scale translations. 

3. Learn about the latest in translation technology

Investing in the latest translation technology will quickly pay off. The best translation software needs to be able to understand the nuances of foreign languages, not just provide you with a word-by-word translation. 

Look for solutions that handle complex grammar rules and capture the context of the original message. While translation software is currently in no position to replace human translations entirely, they’re becoming increasingly sophisticated and able to produce natural results. 

4. Consider translation as the opening portal to relationships with other markets

Don’t think of global translations as a hurdle that needs to be overcome when exploring new markets. Rather, consider it as an important aspect of forging rewarding relationships with new clients and partners. By being able to target new markets fluently, you’re adding value to the relationships you’re making. 

Many customers might be tempted by what you’re offering because of competitive prices and great products. However, the fact that you’ve invested in tailoring content in their native language will elevate your brand and stand as a key selling point in its own right. 

5. Learn to handle business nomenclature in another language

Corporate nomenclature is a fundamental part of the business world. For businesses looking to broaden their reach, getting to grips with corporate nomenclature should be a priority when making the first forays into a foreign language. 

This could be as simple as mastering the business lexicon for your chosen industry. What terms are you going to be using regularly? What phrases will be used time and again during pitches and vendor meetings? 

Think about internal communications, phrases needed for client procurement and acquisition, employee correspondence, and more. Getting a handle on this earlier will provide you with a solid foundation that you build upon. 

6. Managing communication on global teams

When operating internationally, companies need to be careful when prioritizing talent with foreign language proficiency. Just because someone speaks a language that’s useful to your operation, doesn’t mean they should be put on a pedestal at the expense of other employees. 

Once you’ve decided on a shared language, be aware that those who don’t speak it with native fluency may have a hard time adjusting. However, this doesn’t mean that their other skills are any less relevant. 

Employees that feel like they’re being undervalued because of language proficiency are more likely to search for opportunities elsewhere. When going global, managers need to be particularly sensitive to this issue and the friction it can cause. When hosting meets, consider who will be attending, what languages are going to be spoken, and what levels of proficiency are represented.

Who is more likely to speak up during a meeting? If someone isn’t making any significant contributions to the discourse, is it likely that non-native fluency is the reason behind them keeping quiet? 

To mitigate this issue, ensure that agendas are prepared and shared ahead of time. If language barriers are going to be a concern, consider localizing pre-meeting content so everyone is up to speed. 

Sometimes, a little flexibility is required. Consider switching between languages during important meetings if you think it will help. If this proves too disruptive, hosting debriefing sessions for native speakers in their primary language is something to think about. 

7. Think about adopting a shared language

You should consider adopting a shared language if your teams are now dispersed across multiple countries. If daily information transfer is a staple of your workflows, embracing a shared language will make life easier for you and your employees. 

For businesses looking to merge with foreign enterprises or acquire companies elsewhere in the world, adopting a shared language will streamline the process. You’ll be able to more readily share resources and use the same platforms. What’s more, more robust internal communication will become the norm. 

A shared language also makes it easier to standardize enterprise software. If you’re using multiple languages, you won’t be able to get a handle on things like consumer insights, operational issues, fiscal reports, and other useful metrics. Adopting a shared language also ensures international partners can more effectively engage with one another.  

While deciding on a shared language is important, this doesn’t mean a business should forgo using local languages entirely. When it comes to delivering first-class customer support and deploying effective marketing messages, using a local language is the only way to go. s 

8. Automate the translation process with a translation and localization company like BLEND

Automation is always useful for businesses thinking about scaling their operation. If you need to translate big data quickly, it’s a cost-effective and practical option. Do you need to translate hundreds of product descriptions for an e-commerce platform? Are you having to regularly tailor email marketing messages to customers? These tasks can be automated, with human translators stepping in to ensure the final results are always fit for purpose.

Looking for a reliable translation and localization company to help you realize your expansion plans? At BLEND, we offer industry-leading translation, localization, and post-editing services. Our network is made up of thousands of professional linguists, providing services in more than 120 languages. Want to discover more ways we can help you? Get in touch with the team today.

author post

Eilon Gueler

Eilon is a Customer Success Manager at BLEND. He helps global brands find the best localization and translation solutions for their business.


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