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People Skills Key to Securing Scale Up Investments

Potentially looking for investors to help your LSP or translation business take a leap to the next level?

Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency responsible for driving productivity and growth in the economy, has just released a report that makes for insightful reading as to what potential investors are looking for.

Scaling up: the investor perspective’ is the result of research commissioned by Innovate UK and carried out by market research company, Ebiquity.

Ebiquity asked leading British business leaders what they believed to be the characteristics of fast-growth investable UK businesses and the challenges such businesses faced in securing investment for scaling up.

The results highlight disparities between the views of investors and business owners as to what they each believed to be important in such opportunities.

For example, the report reveals that investors often see growth very differently from
businesses owners who are wanting to scale up. Investors are more likely to think in terms of multiples whereas the businesses themselves often think incrementally.

Soft Skills Matter

As well as gaps between investors and businesses, the report also identifies key attributes needed for them to work together.

Interestingly one area that businesses seemed to consistently undervalue was the importance investors place on ‘soft skills’, such as communication, problem solving and team work.

Drive and passion were deemed the important attributes for business leaders, alongside resilience and adaptability which are considered essential in dealing with the topsy-turvy nature of business.
 
The importance placed on people skills is also reflected in the reasons for investments falling through; the top shortfalls for investors being:

1. communication
2. adaptability
3. resilience
4. chemistry
5. cultural fit

In all cases businesses or business owners underestimate their significance in attracting and securing investment.

The report explains the emphasis on such soft skills, as opposed to technical know-how, as being due to investors’ desire to work with people they can get on with, trust and that can handle the complexities of working in an evolving marketplace.


International Investors Keen on British Scale Ups

For British LSPs and translation agencies looking for investors, there is good news. According to the report, the UK is a favoured hunting ground for foreign investors looking for scale up opportunities.

The advanced innovation ecosystem and a perceived superior management quality are cited as the two main reasons why international investors are keen on British companies. A sound management team with leadership skills was considered the most important factor in guaranteeing scale up success.

With investors currently looking for proprietary technology in artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), data analytics and machine learning, the translation & localization industry sits in very close proximity to this attractive and active part of the UK economy.

In fact, 73% of investors cited the ability to trade, do business and expand globally as one of the main reasons for investing in a scale up. This makes translation and localization companies doubly-investable as, not only do they offer future growth in themselves, but they are also vital in creating growth for others through their very much in-demand services. 


People Power

So, for those looking at future growth and expansion plans, investors are out there, and the industry is ideally positioned.

However, as the report clearly illustrates, it’s important not to get hung up on business plans, projects and profits when it comes to enticing an investor, for them it’s very much your people that will give you power.

 

Neil Payne started his career as an English teacher in the Middle East before becoming a freelance Turkish translator. Realising he preferred translation management to translation itself, he set up a successful translation agency which he had for 12 years. He now runs Accensus, a niche training company for the translation & localisation industry, and occasionally finds time to watch Crystal Palace...mainly lose.

Image from Flickr.
   

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Customer Journey Mapping for LSPs: An Essential with Bags of Potential

In a crowded marketplace, LSPs and translation agencies can struggle to create a USP that will generate leads, convert sales and help the brand evolve.

Adopting a customer-centric approach for your business can offer invaluable insights into your customers, helping to highlight your USP and securing future growth.

Understanding how a customer interacts with your company, the brand, staff, newsletters, etc and how they feel about it, every step of the way, is something taught by proponents of the Customer Experience school of thought (or CX as its more commonly known).

Through examining every possible and potential interaction with a customer, (whether new or established), CX teaches proactivity in trying to connect with people on an emotional level, to organically drive their decision to buy with you. It is an approach very much favoured by some of the big players in the world of commerce including Adobe, who believe it is helping them stay relevant and prepared for the future.

Not every LSP of course is able to adopt a CX approach similar to the likes of Adobe due to obvious factors such as lack of time, knowledge and/or resources. However, one thing that every single LSP should try to do is Customer Journey Mapping (CJM).

CJM is a powerful tool with the potential to transform your business.


Customer Journey Mapping. How Does It Work?

In essence, CJM is a team exercise, a tool and a visual aid that illustrates and captures each and every ‘touchpoint’ a customer has with your company.

It brings a team and all stakeholders together in one place to cover what, where, how, why and when customers come into touch with the company. What do they do at each point? What are their motivations, reservations and options at each point? What are the range of possible emotions and where are the gaps that exist in the current journey or experience? This helps identify opportunities to improve that experience, improve certain touchpoints or innovate functions.

Working as a company to explore your customers’ journeys helps you take a step back, assess what you are doing in a joined-up manner and address opportunities across all functions. 

There are different ways and formats when it comes to running a CJM workshop or exercise. There is plenty of guidance available online; however a lot of it is very basic and offers only simple tips.  Save yourself the time and start with the CX Toolkit from Oracle which also comes with free materials and instructions on how to run your own workshop [which of course you can adapt].

What’s Essential in Customer Journey Mapping?

Firstly, identify what you are hoping to accomplish. Are you looking to fix current issues and challenges within the business? Or are you looking to embellish and improve upon them? Identify a gap in the translation market? Or fixing a block in your sales pipeline?

Secondly, make sure everyone in the company is involved – no matter how little you believe the impact of their role to be. Even employees behind the scenes impact the customers’ journey. Bringing everyone together is good for teamwork, morale and illustrating to certain parts of the company how they impact the customer experience.

Thirdly, be specific when examining a journey. If you sell more than one product, don’t try and approach all of them in one go. It is important to look at each service or department or product in its own light. Your customers will surely have differing needs, no matter how slight, which should be identified and capitalised upon.

Fourthly, decide on certain customer types you want to explore. Are they new customers? Old clients? Are you hoping to win some back? Consider focusing on your top 20 or so clients initially before broadening the scope as this will really solidify a shared understanding of your company’s USP, goals and values.

Fifthly, validate your findings. Remember it is going to be hard to think like the customer so many of your conclusions may be based on assumptions. Involving clients and having their input will really help avoid making poor decisions based on limited points of view.

What’s the Potential of Customer Journey Mapping?

In terms of the potential offer by CJM, there are many benefits it has to offer, from improving intra-team communication to shaping marketing campaigns. Each company will experience different benefits dependent on their intentions.

Here are some of the key benefits most experience:

New Ideas

Exploring and understanding your customers, their experiences, feelings and motivations will help generate new ideas about your brand, services or products. Getting everyone together to talk about creating the best experience possible for your customers will lead to innovation across the board in terms of how to present the company, engage with clients and improve services.

Streamlined Procedures

If anything comes from CJM at the very least it is helping to identify snags and issues for your customers in terms of the procedures they have to go through to get a translation. From filling in forms on your website, to receiving quotes, to how they get their translations, all are scrutinised in one process as opposed to independently which helps identify where and how to save time, reduce burdens or simply make it a better experience.

Customer Loyalty

Providing a great customer experience organically results in customer loyalty and longer-term relationships. Think about the tea or coffee brand you always drink – why? There is something about that experience that takes you back again and again. Through CJM you learn how to make happy customers who will want to stay loyal to your brand.

 

Neil Payne started his career as an English teacher in the Middle East before attempting and failing to become a freelance Turkish to English translator. The failure led to him setting up a successful translation agency which he ran for 12 years before leaving the industry. He now runs a cross-cultural training company and spends far too much time in the greenhouse.

Image from Flickr.

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