Do Startups Need Translation and Localization Services?

Putting Customers' Needs First Improves Success Rate

The Startup PlaybookSo you’ve taken the plunge and started a company, congrats! You now belong to an exclusive group of founders that are changing businesses and people’s lives! Your task ahead in executing your plan is immense requiring an acute ability to prioritize and cut through wasteful distractions and unessential drains to your resources. But some aspects of operation can be seen as gray areas confusing founders into mistakenly thinking that they are cutting costs when in reality they are cutting corners.

Proper Product Documentation

One area that is often underfunded by startups is product documentation. This oversight, if not quickly remedied, can cripple a company’s ability to effectively proliferate its products with newly acquired clients. We’ve witnessed the damage this oversight creates first hand too often. “Unless you want your customers to become frustrated and dissatisfied with what you’re delivering, you’ll need to provide instructions on how to use what you’re selling […] As intuitive as you think your product is, it won’t be for someone new to it and its concepts”, wrote Rajat Bhargava and Will Herman in their book The Startup Playbook (a highly recommended read for anyone involved in a startup). Being serial entrepreneurs and having founded several successful companies, Rajat and Will understand the need to take an unbiased approach at the markets they operated in and stay focused on what is important to their clients.

Avoid or Delay Printing to Save Costs

While documenting your product’s features, benefits and operation is critical, incurring printing and shipping charges early on may not be necessary, or even prudent! If your industry’s regulations do not require you to print, consider the many ways available today to offer your documentation electronically. “Having it on the web offers several benefits. It’s easy to update and the updates are immediately available to your customers. It also makes it simple to provide an interactive search function so those accessing it can find what they need quickly”, said Bhargava and Herman. They understood the need to be flexible with the ability to make frequent and at times substantial modifications. Why get tied down to print assets while your fledgling product is in constant flux seeking the minimum viable product (MVP) sweet spot to kick-start your sales? Furthermore, why incur printing and shipping expenses at this early stage of your company when cash is tight and future potential dilution prospects are a constant nag to you and your investors.

Multimedia and eLearning Instructional Assets

Even if funds permit, instead of printing and shipping, consider developing further instructional assets that both your sales and support groups can use in the sale and support of your product. “Sometimes, the best way to answer questions and explain your product is by using videos, Q&As (Question and Answer documents), FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions documents), and knowledge bases (searchable explanations of how to do things within your product). These types of documents bridge the gap between fully written documentation and support and help your customers get answers fast and efficiently,” added Bhargava and Herman, knowing that a user’s docs alone may not be sufficient to win new clients’ hearts and minds. With the advent of multimedia, eLearning publishing tools and the web, the cost of development and proliferation of electronic instructional assets has significantly diminished enabling even low-budget projects to proceed and make a significant impact on the product adoption and acceptance.

Should you Hire Translation and Localization Services?

Another benefit of having strong and comprehensive documentation and instructional assets is your ability to penetrate international markets with a minimal support infrastructure. If users can rely on your provided instructions instead of having to require personal support or direct hotlines, you can significantly reduce operational costs overseas, where they are typically very high, particularity for a startup. But as a startup, cash is tight and while focused on establishing an MVP and a scalable go-to-market plan, international markets appropriately may not be high on your priority list.

If your local market is too small, consider first targeting markets that rely on your language. For instance, if your startup is Australian-based, when you consider international growth, your go-to-market plan can expand to include countries like the U.S., Canada, the U.K., New Zealand and many other parts of the world that are fluent in English, with minimal changes to the product. If you are based in the U.S., almost always the local market is initially large enough. Later, when ROI justifies translation costs, your product and instructional assets can be localized for any other country and region that you want to target, significantly expanding your international markets and reach.

Translation and localization service providers apply the latest techniques in translation reuse and leveraging to minimize the costs of localized product updates and enable simultaneous international releases. When financially justified, don’t think of localization as a liability, but as a differentiating opportunity to create barriers between you and your competition.

Your translation services company can also convert your videos, Q&As, FAQs, knowledge bases, marketing collateral, website, sales presentation and product branding into any language to target any geographical area of interest, while maintaining consistent and high quality professional image for your products and your company. Cutting corners here again is not recommended for the sake of cutting costs, so hire professionals. Even if you are no longer considered a startup at home, you may still be regarded as a startup abroad, where you will often get only one chance at projecting the right image in front of your international prospective clients, partners, the press and investors. As you have done at home, when abroad, always put your best foot forward!

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