Translation and Your Small Business
English is the dominant language for global business, and many smaller firms feel that English language advertisements and websites are all they need to succeed. However, ignoring the billions of potential customers worldwide who speak languages other than English can mean forgoing a lucrative source of potential revenue. This is especially true for small businesses, which can't afford to ignore any potential customers who may want their products or services.
Worldwide, 400 million people speak English as their first language and as many as a billion more as their second language. However, that means that five billion people don't speak English at all. Moreover, many of those who speak English as a second language prefer to do business in the language they are most comfortable in, their first language.
Online, the situation is even clearer: Today, 2 billion people are using the internet, but only 500 million of them use the internet in English. If your business is English-only, you're leaving out 75 percent of internet users looking for your product or service, and as many as 80 percent of all the people in the world. That's a lot of potential business to leave behind.
But, you may say, what if I'm not running a global company? Even at home, a large number of potential customers and clients will be speakers of languages other than English, and you don't want to leave them behind.
In the United States, 82 percent of residents speak English, but that means that 18 percent–nearly one in five–prefer a language other than English. The most common of these is Spanish, followed by European languages such as German, Polish, and Russian, and then East Asian languages, including Korean and Vietnamese.
In Canada, only 67 percent speak English, with speakers of the country's other official language, French, making up almost 22 percent of the population–more than one in five Canadians. Beyond these two languages, a further 3.5 million Canadians speak a language other than English or French.
We're about to break into North America's busiest spending season. Right now is the perfect time to take advantage of increased revenue by reaching out and expanding your market through translation.
Read why Technovate Translations should be their first choice.
In This Issue
Translation and Your Small Business
Professional translation isn't just for big corporations – see how your small business can use translation to flourish.
A guide to the language laws and common practices in North America.
Client Spotlight: Route1
Global network security requires a global approach to communication, and that means translation.
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What all of this means is that whatever your business, and wherever you do business, you will have potential customers and clients who either don't speak English or would prefer to do business in a language other than English. As a result, in order to capture this expanding non-English market, it's vital to employ good translation services to provide your customers with the kind of service that will attract new business and then keep them coming back for more.
Offering your website in multiple languages keyed to the major demographic groups who live in your area or would search for your product or service is a great place to start. This simple solution can be accomplished with professional translation and localization services that are keyed to the needs of your non-English customers. This type of service goes beyond simply translating your website word-for-word; instead, it creates a culturally- and linguistically-appropriate experience for your customers to show them you are sensitive to their needs.
Translation services can also help you provide your customers with customer support in their chosen language, and it can also help you improve understanding among non-English or English as a second language employees who may be more comfortable reading policy and instruction manuals and materials in their chosen language.
No matter the size of your company, translation services can help you to grow your business by appealing to and providing superior service for the ever-growing population of customers and clients who speak languages other than English.
It's common sense to speak the language of your customers–if your market is 40 percent Hispanic, invest in Spanish translation; if half your target audience speaks French, speak French too. But in some jurisdictions, watching your words goes beyond common sense. There are local and federal legal and statutory linguistic requirements that can affect North American companies, and it makes good business sense to familiarize yourself with these laws.
In the United States, you can conduct business in any language you prefer, without legal obligations. Over half of the states have English as the official language, but this affects government, not private business. Canada, on the other hand, is officially bilingual, and although businesses are not required to provide all services in both languages, some aspects of commerce–such as packaging and labelling–involve bilingual requirements.
If you intend to sell your products in Canada, you should be aware of the basics of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (CPLA). Under its terms, if you package and sell a product in Quebec, most mandatory information must be provided in both English and French, the language of over 80 percent of the province. Every label must name the product, give its net quantity (where sold by weight or number, for example) and provide the dealer's name and place of business. This last piece of information may be in French or English.
(The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has yet further regulations regarding labelling of food. See inspection.gc.ca for more information.)
The law does not apply only to packaging. The CPLA also covers commercial documentation, signs and software. Commercial documentation includes catalogues, user manuals, directories and brochures that advertise or accompany your product. If you produce electronic equipment that comes with an instruction booklet, for example, you are bound by Quebec law to provide French translation if you want to sell it in the province. Promotional signs and displays in Quebec must also be in predominantly in French. If one or more languages, including English, are used, French must be more prominent, eg, in terms of colour, size or location.
Canada, and in particularly francophone Quebec, takes its language laws seriously, and there can be hefty consequences for businesses that fail to comply. Since the adoption of Bill 115 earlier this year, fines for individuals who breach the Charter of the French Language begin at $600 to $6,000 for first offences. Companies may levy fines of between $1,500 and $20,000 for a first offence. A second offence can double the first fine.
Most large U.S. and Canadian companies distributing products in Canada choose to convey information in both languages, even when it is not required. And why not go the extra mile to take advantage of 25 percent of the Canadian market? Sometimes the law insists on it, but sometimes investing in translation is just plain business sense.
Client Spotlight: Route1
The Internet was designed to make natural barriers to information obsolete. We celebrate the Internet's ability to cross borders, oceans, mountains, pass through walls, penetrate concrete buildings and bypass physical security checkpoints. Thanks to the Internet, the world is smaller, moves faster, and shares more. But protecting personal and corporate data has all of a sudden become more difficult – especially when you want to enjoy the benefits of the Internet to access your data.
Route1 is a world leader in digital data security – providing solutions that allow for remote access to secure networks with complete integrity. Route1 ensures that you, and only you, can access your data anywhere.
Because of the nature of the Internet, and the way it is changing the borders of business, Route1's services are sought out all over the world, in countless different languages. Route1 is one of Technovate Translations' most trusted clients – and that trust is mutual. It's vital that Route1's translation projects are completed with high accuracy and clarity of language – and that's exactly what Technovate Translations delivers.
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