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5 Steps to Starting an Interpreting Agency

Whether you’re an entrepreneur seeking a new business venture or an interpreter looking for your next career move, if you want to start your own interpreting agency, you’ve come to the right place! Here are five steps you can take to make your dreams of becoming an agency owner come true!

Step 1: Define Your Agency’s Niche or Differential

One of the great things about starting an interpreting agency is that, unlike most other small businesses, running it doesn’t require a physical location for conducting business. Entrepreneurs, professional interpreters, and everyday individuals can launch a successful interpreting agency with the right mindset and business strategy. The first step in how to start an interpreting agency is determining how your agency will provide superior services than your competitors or a desired differential that interpreting service consumers are seeking. There are many different niches that your agency can focus on, such as a specific business sector (ex: finance, legal, healthcare, etc.), service modality (ex: in-person, online, via an app), or language catalog (ex: spoken languages vs sign languages). It’s important to identify what will set your agency apart from competitors whether it’s offering better quality services, better customer service, or a better price. Be sure to conduct sufficient research to determine if your niche requires additional licensing, certifications or specialized training that you’ll need before officially launching your agency. 

Step 2: Register Your Company for Business

Once you’ve determined your agency’s objective, you will need to come up with a professional name that communicates your agency’s mission or purpose. It’s also helpful – but not necessary – in this stage to begin brainstorming ideas for a company motto, mission statement, and logo. Once you’re ready to take your company live, apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). After, register your company name and EIN with your intended state for incorporation (typically the state which you will be primarily operating). Now it’s time to get your name out there! Create an agency website and email address and begin establishing your brand awareness with potential customers via regular blog posts, newsletters, videos, social media posts, etc. Remember – you’re a small agency in a big ocean; creativity is key to getting noticed at this stage! Of course, as important as your brand is, it’s only speaks as loud as the services you provide – so begin establishing partnerships with reputable interpreters who have backgrounds in your desired niche or specialization. Contact an attorney to draft a contract agreement appropriate for your agency.

Step 3: Structure Your Operations and Procedures

Once you’ve registered for business and have set up channels for connecting with customers, it’s time to determine how your agency will operate as you scale. Commonly known as Standard Operating Procedures, SOP’s help streamline operations and ensure your staff follow a uniform set of rules. They are a key component in creating a successful interpreting agency. Equally as important is integrating an effective interpreter scheduling software like Eclipse. An interpreter scheduling system is critical for efficiently intake customers’ service requests, scheduling interpreters to those requests, and then managing the billing and payroll that follows your service delivery. Without an intuitive and comprehensive system, your agency will lose time chasing workarounds, details, and documents that your software failed to capture. Interpreter Management systems like Eclipse Scheduling is a great, affordable resource for start-ups to scale their agency.

Step 4: Build Your Customer Base

Now that your agency is prepared to scale, it’s time to attract customers! The easiest and cheapest place to begin focusing on customer acquisition is with your website SEO. Make sure your website includes appropriate keywords, meta tags, and content for search engines like Google to rank your website high enough for customers to see. If you have a healthy marketing budget, you can invest in other forms of customer appeal such as paid content writing (ex: blogs, white papers, case studies), social media optimization, guest posting, backlinking, online ads, and RFP and RFQ proposals. A word of advice here is not to copy your competition. Instead, find what marketing channels your competitors are neglecting (such as Youtube, TikTok, or LinkedIn) and run your campaigns accordingly. Once you begin acquiring customers, ensure you convert them to loyal brand ambassadors with amazing customer service and friendly interpreters. You should make a habit of sending customers a satisfaction survey every 3-6 months to identify the strengths and potential areas for improvement in your service process. An effective management system like Eclipse Scheduling will help you collect, assess, and act on customer feedback. Never neglect the importance of testimonials in your marketing. Solicit reviews for sites like Google, LinkedIn, and Yelp to begin attracting even more organic traffic to your agency’s website. 

Step 5: Scale as Your Agency Grows

Once your agency is up and running, you may choose to take on new challenges. You can look into how to expand your business to a new industry, market, or locality. You can add new services to your service catalog or onboard additional talent to launch your agency in a new location. These choices will depend largely on your customer base, workforce, and revenue. Often times the next great insight comes from asking customers how we can improve their service experience and finding solutions around the “pain points” associated with requesting and receiving interpreting services. Either way, having the proper mindset of getting ahead of growth challenges before they become a reality is crucial for long-term success. An agile interpreter management system plays a vital role to scaling your interpreting agency as the cost of switching systems or building your own can quickly cripple a business proposal. Choosing a flexible management software like Eclipse Scheduling can help ensure your next brilliant idea isn’t stifled by system limitations. 

Are you ready to launch your interpreting agency?

There you have the 5 steps to successfully starting your own interpreting agency. Launching an agency doesn’t have to be stressful. With these steps and the right tools, you can set up your agency in just a few days. If you’re using a management software like Eclipse Scheduling, you can focus on growing your agency instead of appointment scheduling, billing and payroll. As a leading interpreter management platform, Eclipse Scheduling organizes complex schedules, invoices, and reports to streamline your interpreting agency’s growth and success. Launch your agency today and discover your potential!

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