Sunil Kulkarni

President , Fidel Softech Pvt Ltd

Vice President | CITLoB West Zone

[More about him here]

Business in language industry and New possibilities for SMEs /individuals

Many of the CITLoB members are freelancers and SMEs (ranging from companies with 1-2 members to few hundred members). While we are working from various cities in India, all of us are competing or working at a global stage with global firms. Here are some thoughts, ideas, jargons as to how many of us can position ourselves at the global stage.


a. Naming and Title

Though you might be working as a freelancer, it might also work well if you mark yourself as “Self Employed” with a title of MD or CEO (while mentioning in the description about your hands-on project management or translation capabilities). This slightly adds a different flavor and gives a formal appearance together with a formal snap of yours attached to your profile.

b. Updating social media Profile and tagging for better searchability

Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, FaceBook are some social media and together with sites such as are places where companies try to find partners & having it up-to-date with email address/ skype / phone /whatsapp is of help. Further if you tag your profile with keywords like localization, vernacular, digitalmarketing, globalization then this could help the search. On Linkedin many people follow keywords or tags – so if your profile or article hits the search, your article gets shown to the one who has tagged that particular keyword. Lastly having a 1 page website (using WordPress) and a proper formal email address (not a gmail) can also can help and adds to the professional flavor.

c. Highlighting specialisation

Highlight your language, domain or tool specialization so that the reader understands your speciality. Showing yourself as a part of CITLoB is also a differentiator. Here specializing in a single language and going deeper and wider can also be a strategy – so that if it is eg. Kannada, clients know that they can approach you. In that particular language one can go for elearning / transcription/ translation /video editing etc and cover all areas.

Use of Project management or calendar software to keep track of schedule

There is always a possibility of missing out a deadline or forgetting a timeline or missing out. Using something free like Google calendar, Excel is also fine or in case of a big team some project management tool can be used but missing out is amateurish and certainly avoidable.

Using tools and leveraging technologies

Though technologies and tools look like an investment, these provide a better leverage and helps you to be on the top of your game. It could be as simple as synching emails to your mobile allowing you to respond fast. It could further mean to use TMS, MTs, TMs and other tools. RIAN / Prabhandhak / Process9 / Prudle Labs / Vernac are some of the tool / technology providers and can be checked out.

Quality awareness

While quality is a broad topic, a simple QA report with every delivery note is a good professional practice which shows that certain QA steps have been taken. Further asking beforehand a simple question such as “are there any specific quality requirements /checks to be done” again could help avoid friction at a later stage.

Increasing Payment acceptance channels

Some global firms have mandate to pay through certain payment gateways or use certain banks only. In such case, having different mechanism to accept payments offers flexibility and makes task easy for the other firm. Nationalized banks, big private banks with overseas operations are better/faster to receive payments (than some local cooperative bank etc). Besides this, accounts on payment facilitator sites such as Paypal, Payoneer, Transferwise also help to receive payments from overseas.

Blue ocean vs Red Ocean

Long back Kim author wrote a book called Blue ocean and presented this concept. All of us typically provide solution or services which soon get commoditized driving the price down resulting in price war (red ocean -blood war). His point was that the key for SMEs or big firms is to find the new avenues of revenues or new innovative ideas where there is yet no competition resulting in better prices and premium calling it the Blue ocean.

Our industry too is plagued with the per word syndrome and heavily commoditised. While educating the client will take time, some immediate additional services could be –

a. Domain check – if you or some known in your circle is domain proficient (eg. insurance or manufacturing or medical etc), then you can offer a domain check with some additional fees. This can be shared amongst few individuals or few SMEs coming together (eg. I can offer insurance specialization and someone can offer retail and we can tell our respective clients that we can offer both).

b. Sworn translations – Like a gazette officer, one can sign up translations and specialize in contracts, legal and sign the same asking for additional fees. While it has its own issues, this calls for additional fees/charges.


Attaching oneself to a bank or NBFC – Many banks have NRI section where NRIs in

overseas countries apply for loans. In such cases, they have to provide their salary slips or employment documents which are in foreign languages and need translation. In such cases, your services could be of immediate requirement.

There could be many other things that can be experimented and your own small blue ocean can be tried out.

Loans and concept of invoice discounting

As a SME or an individual, it is difficult to approach banks without a collateral. While there are new SME loans (check MITCON / MSME sites), one can try out invoice discounting with immediate clients or banks. For eg. lets say you are expecting 1000 USD of invoice from some reputed firm like say Tata’s and the money is to be deposited by 45 days or 60 days. Now because of some emergency you require say 500 USD in 30 days. In such cases, one can approach a bank, NBFC and use this invoice as a collateral and take a loan upto 60-80% of the invoice amount. Here banks will definitely check the credibility of the paying firm. In some cases, one can ask the client themselves to pay upfront in 30 days offering an “invoice discount” of 3% – 5%. Some clients will deduct 3% and pay the same amount upfront in 30 days. With some such use of mechanisms, one can better cashflow and improvise business predictability.

Writing / Communicating / Presenting / Participation at Global level

GALA / LocWorld /MultiLingual and such organizations /magazines offer a platform to present your knowhow. Over the period, each of us has some accumulated knowledge or idea and can be presented at these forums. All these platforms provide a board to sound your thoughts and there could be global firms to take upon the idea. Some big firms have Social impact or Innovation budget and through that they might want to grant you some funds to try your hypothesis or thoughts. Then there are NGO agencies such as Translators without borders which work on grants & work for refugees / war torn countries or poor. They need some help and if you offer some it can come on your profile/resume too.

The status quo on the global and business front is changing and volatile. Clients continuously seek cost reduction, better productivity, improvised TAT (turnaround time) and this is true in all fields. Hope few of these ideas will help us all to better ourselves at the global stage by leveraging technologies, sharing of our knowhow and constantly re-imagining ourselves.

Credits for article-
The above thoughts are presented by Sunil Kulkarni for CITLoB (with some bouncing of ideas with Sandeep and Asavari over a meeting).

Other contributors –

Pradeesh Joseph ( )
Godson Infotech Pvt Ltd
Services: Translation (TEP included), transcription, Voice overs, subtitling, DTP, OCR, AI data and speech annotation, Quality Assurance. Supports all Indian languages and few foreign languages namely German, Spanish, Arabic and French, serving both domestic and international clients/LSPs.

Vidula Tokekar ( )
Panacea BPO Services Private Limited
About TranslaitonPanacea – TranslationPanacea is a language service provider engaged in translation, localization, interpretation, AV translation and others. With a creative team of over 120 linguists working in various pairs of 32 languages, we serve publishers, manufacturing companies, IT/ITES and media & entertainment in India, US and Europe. Website


If you have any thoughts / ideas / concepts/speciality/ rare language that you translate or interpret / some new service that you might have, please share your thoughts in the form of a writeup or article and use this CITLoB platform to present yourself and your firm. Upon editorial permission from the CITLoB team, we plan to circulate the article amongst our members and support it. Our idea is to generate awareness and share knowledge through such articles (once or twice a month) . This is a West zone initiative.