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Tough times call for tight measures

The global recession may be coming to an end, but it’s not time to crank open the bubbly quite yet; unless, of course, it’s a bottle of Walmart’s cheap sparkling wine.

You see, if anything is to be gleamed from the past twelve months, it’s that we shouldn’t take anything for granted. Whilst things may be rosy one day, they might not be tomorrow; so by being thrifty when times are good, this will help take care of things when times are tough.

Businesses can learn a lot from the past year. If you managed to survive the economic downturn, then you will probably have tightened your purse strings and looked at ways of cutting your costs. Keep this up, and your business will positively flourish when things eventually pick up again.

If you’re a budding entrepreneur just setting up in business, then there are a few steps you can follow to ensure you’re business is streamlined, robust and able to combat any economic conditions that arise.

In the modern digital age, technology should underpin everything that you do. If you’re a home-based business, a networked computer, a good idea and just a touch of entrepreneurial savvy is all that stands between you and success.

With this in mind, your website will be your company’s main selling point. You can more than make up for your lack of physical premises with a well designed, optimized and usable interface. Your online visibility, customer service and professionalism are the building blocks of all future success.

To help combat any future fluctuations in the domestic market, you want to have a good, global spread of clients too. By receiving payments in a multitude of currencies, this will help to protect you should the dollar take another nosedive.

Furthermore, whilst your website is the cornerstone of your domestic success, it is equally important for your international clients. By translating your website into just a few other languages – such as German, French, Spanish and Chinese – you will be well placed to tap into the one billion or so internet users that speak no English whatsoever.

Website localization should underpin any international marketing initiative. Professionally qualified linguists working INTO their native tongue should only be used. Furthermore, translators with knowledge of the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) would be even better – they can help optimize your foreign language website, ensuring that your industry keywords aren’t translated directly into the target language.

To use an example, if a business ranks highly for the term ‘Car Insurance’ on Google.com, the correct dictionary translation of the term isn’t necessarily what people use to search for car insurance in Belgium or France, for example. They may use abbreviations, colloquialisms or a different word that means the same thing.

But online marketing is only part of the solution. Any business that wants to ensure they are financially tight from top to bottom should consider the myriad of ways technology can help them cut costs.

With Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications such as Skype, and video conferencing technology, companies can hold virtual meetings with other home-based staff within the business or, indeed, with clients from around the globe. Cutting down on physical premises and minimizing travel keeps the overheads down – which enable small businesses to offer far more competitive prices.

Running paperless office systems, where documents are stored remotely in a secure central hub online, means that staff across the company can access the same customer databases and online ordering systems, meaning companies never have to post, courier or fax any documents anywhere. Remote storage saves on office space, furniture and staff time. And with encryption it’s just as safe as physical storage…if not safer.

The important thing to remember is that every little bit counts. It’s not about being tight and going to ridiculous lengths to save a dime or two. It’s about cutting out all the unnecessary waste that can encroach in the smooth running of a business. Do that and you will be well positioned for most future financial scenarios.

About the author

Christian Arno is founder of global translations company Lingo24, specialists in website localization. Launched initially as a home-based business in 2001, Lingo24 now has over a hundred members of staff working in North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia and a client base spanning sixty countries. Lingo24 translated over thirty million words in 2009 and achieved a turnover of $6m USD.


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