how can I start my own interpretation and translation company?
July 28, 2015 10:10 PM   Subscribe

I am going to start my own interpretation and translation coorperation. I have the money, time and people to do it. But I really have limited information about starting this business. So I really need a lot of advice about it.I live in columbus and going to start it here. What license do I need to get to start the cooperation? What kinds of certificates should my interpreters get, and how can they get those certificates, like medical interprter's certificate, court interpreters's certificate? I am willing to pay for the necessary training and certification for the interpreters who are going to work in the cooperation.

I also have these two questions.
1. what are the things I should do first to get it start?
2. About how long does it take before i can legally start the business?
posted by denimchair to Work & Money (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Start by going to the Small Business Adminstration website and reading up on how to start a business in the US. That will you give you the basics about how to organize and start the organization.

After you have read that, see if you can mentoring help from SCORE, a nonprofit that helps small businesses get started.
posted by metahawk at 10:17 PM on July 28, 2015

I need to ask what word you're looking for when you say "cooperation" or "coorperation." Do you mean corporation or company? I'm not trying to be snotty, I just think it's an important concept to nail down here. For one thing, incorporating (becoming a corporation) isn't for a small concern with only a few employees.
posted by argybarg at 11:25 PM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

And the SBA has a Columbus field office.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:43 AM on July 29, 2015

Assuming you're in Columbus, OH, start here:
posted by jshort at 9:28 AM on July 29, 2015

As for the mechanics of starting the business itself, the SBA will help, as others have pointed out.

What I can add is a little experience with meeting proficiency requirements. My company provides translators for government contracts - native speakers of desired languages who are also able to get a security clearance can be pretty valuable commodities.

I don't work directly in translation. I work in proposals for my company, and in doing that I help corral resumes and make sure the people we're putting forward meet the government's (sometimes very particular) requirements. What they typically look for is proficiency of level 3 or better on the Interagency Language Roundtable scale, or ILR.

This being the government, it's not that simple. There is no actual "ILR test" you can take. However various private testing outfits have tests that the government recognizes as meeting the ILR criteria. Here's an example I googled up. (I know nothing else about this company and can't specifically recommend them.) Note that another term you'll see is ACTFL- this is the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. They have their own scale derived from the ILR and you'll sometimes see that as a requirement. In my experience, someone who has tested - and done well obviously - on those, shouldn't have much trouble convincing people they're capable.

I realize you're just getting started, and government contracting can be scary complicated. But once you've launched your company, I'd recommend looking into it. The way in would be as a subcontractor. That means you'd provide people with specific skillsets not directly to the government, but to another company that does the hard work of getting the contract in place. Your contract would be with them, not with the government itself, and it would be much simpler.

I know from your other questions that you're a woman, which means your company would be a woman-owned small business. That can be valuable by itself since most federal contracts have various socio-economic goals built in. This means large contracting firms need subcontractors on their team who not only can do the work in question (in this case providing skilled translators) but also meet those criteria, (small business, woman-owned small business, service-disabled veteran-owned business, etc.)

Basically, if you can (eventually) establish that you're a woman-owned small business with the ability to source skilled and tested translators who can qualify for security clearances, companies will come knocking on your door.
posted by Naberius at 9:55 AM on July 29, 2015

I don't have any insights about how to set up a corporation and so on, but I do belong to a Japanese <> English translation and interpretation web forum (actually a FB group). It's usually collegial and the members may be able to provide you with some pointers. PM me here on MetaFilter if you want more information.
posted by Nevin at 10:57 AM on July 29, 2015

You don't mention if you're already a translator or interpreter. A good place for information on the business side of it are the Getting Established forums at
posted by bentley at 2:52 PM on July 29, 2015

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