Quick Lingo: Godwill Bindeeba
The founder of the translation company on the challenges of self-employment
Tell us what your business does
Quick Lingo is primarily a professional translation and interpreting company. We translate anything from business cards to full websites. The company operates with over 100 languages and is ready to work with any pair of languages requested. All translations are done by the team of carefully selected professional native speakers, which guarantees a high quality of service.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I always had a great interest in international economics and multiculturalism. The Quick Lingo idea came about after I had spent a few months working in a big translation agency.
How did you know there was a market for it?
With the ever increasing global commercialisation, there is a great need for translation services, which assists our clients in adapting to new international markets and cultures. With billions of pounds spent on translation services, the market has been functioning for a relatively long time. I have done marketing research and SWOT analysis in terms of the current business environment that showed good opportunities for bringing my product into the market.
What were you doing before starting up?
Before Quick Lingo, I was a university student but with a few years of knowledge and experience in the translation sector. After university, I got a job to assist me financially whilst setting up the company. Finally, I have decided to concentrate on the business full-time. As a result we are now continuously working on new projects and services as well as improving the existing ones.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, the opportunities, rewards and risks involved in running my own business appeal to me greatly – I personally enjoy big challenges and it doesn’t come any bigger than self-employment.
What planning did you do before you started up?
It was whilst I was at university that I started researching the translation industry in depth. The market research took me approximately two and a half years which eventually enabled me to create sound business plans. Currently we revise our strategy every three months to keep up with the dynamic changes and trends within the industry.
How did you raise the money? How easy was it?
I had approached the big banks for investment but got rejected on the basis that I was a university student with no substantial assets as a security measure. So with a few part-time jobs, Quick Lingo was funded.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
The main issue so far has been cashflow management, but we have managed to get a great business bank account which is flexible and meets our daily cash requirements.
Where is your business based?
Quick Lingo’s main office is based in Docklands, London. I was lucky enough to study at the University of East London, which has a great start-up vibe to it and business units for students and other established companies. I spent most of the early months in the ‘Hot-Hatch’ which is a shared office space with other start-ups. We have since moved to a bigger office in the same building.
How have you promoted your business? What has proved successful and what won’t you do again?
Our main marketing tool is our website’s ranking in search engines such as Google so we invest a lot of our time in SEO improvements. We have also placed a few ads in some magazines and of course telemarketing leading to meetings. Most of our clients approached us via our website or through referrals.
How much do you charge? How did you decide this?
We charge a minimum of £50 for jobs such as one-page certificate translations. Normally, all our translations are charged based on how many words are in the source files, the required language, difficulty level and deadlines set by the client. This is generally the industry standard for translation pricing.
What has your growth been like? What is your turnover? Are you profitable?
This is our first year of trading and we are on track to hit our target in sales. Due to continuous investment in the business, we shall aim to break even for two years with real profits starting from year three of trading. In the first two years, we aim to build the fundamentals for the future development, expansion and success of the company.
What’s the impact on your home life been like?
I am officially a workaholic! And true home life is a rarity at the moment because when I am at home, I am glued to the BlackBerry checking and replying to emails.
What would you say the greatest difficulty has been in starting up?
Initially, the main problem was a lack of capital, but nevertheless, we have used what we had and eventually made the most of it.
What was your first big breakthrough?
As soon as I launched the website, someone called us and requested to have their marriage certificate translated from French to English. This was only £50 but it was the first order and it felt great!
What would you do differently?
I would not change anything at all. Some mistakes were made but lessons were learnt. This makes us stronger and more prepared for the future.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
I would recommend firstly carrying out in-depth research on customer needs within the market. Our company is strongly concerned with providing the best customer service and advice, as well as building long-term business partnerships. That’s why today a great part of our client base is formed of returning customers. Of course, equally important is to follow your dreams and confidently go for them weighting possible risks and opportunities. You will be surprised with the variety of things you are good at that you didn’t even know about.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time? Do you have an exit plan?
In a few years time, Quick Lingo will be one of the fastest growing translation companies with various other brands functioning as a part of its portfolio. It would not be right to start thinking about an exit plan because a successful company has to be created before such plans begin to surface. At the moment, our focus is business development through organic growth, various brand creations and of course continuous improvement in customer satisfaction.