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Home / News & Opportunities / Blog / June 2017 / AGATA MCCRINDLE – SIZE DOESN’T MATTER, RELATIONSHIPS DO

Date: 29/06/2017

I feel privileged to be able to run my own company. My translation business, The Linguist, is small and uncomplicated, but I get to do what I love best: working with languages and people. I don’t employ staff, but I network with my clients, suppliers and other business owners who attend the same courses and events. 

Relationships matter in business. I strive to build good relationships with everybody I have business dealings with. Where the relationships matter, the size of the business does not. A small company has the power to influence the reputation of another larger company and has the same rights in law as the larger business.

In my 15 years of running my company I provided my suppliers, for example, my accountant, web developer, graphic designer, printer and cleaner with reviews on Google+, recommendations on LinkedIn, and mentions on relevant social media channels. I provided references for my proof-readers and colleagues who cooperated with me on larger projects. I never delayed payment to any of my suppliers or subcontractors. As a result, I gained trust and built great relationships with them. I can always rely on my suppliers to share information and provide quick, responsive and flexible service, occasionally treated as a favour rather than a billable service. The subcontracted translators will always try to accommodate short notice assignments for me, because they know that I will always pay them on time and provide a reference if needed.

Similarly, I have enjoyed flourishing, long-standing relationships with many clients. I go out of my way to accommodate a last-minute translation or help them find someone who works in a different language pair. They are happy to provide a reference for me whenever I ask, recommend me to other businesses and always pay my invoices on time.

Unfortunately, not all clients have treated my business with respect. My invoices have been overdue for months, my phone calls and emails ignored. In some cases, I have been told by larger businesses that the reason they were withholding my payment was because they had not been paid by their client. I’ve become aware that some companies were not suffering cash flow problems, it was their policy to get the relevant case or project closed before associated bills were paid. I was expected to wait six months or more, despite the fact my 30 days net payment terms were clearly stated on the quotes and invoices. It made me feel that my business was such a small fish that my terms did not matter to the bigger fish in the entrepreneurial ocean.

Luckily, the law supports small businesses. In the UK there is the Statutory Late Payment Fee legislation. I also found that as a Member of the Chamber of Commerce I can access legal advice free of charge. I have used this service, which resulted in my client personally delivering a cheque for three outstanding invoices.

Business relationships are a little bit like personal relationships. The bad ones are not worth the hassle. I never accept assignments from clients who proved to be difficult and disrespectful. Being able to decide who you want to work with is one of the greatest perks of having your own business.

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Agata McCrindle

Agata is a Polish native speaker with academic background in International Business and Law. She specialises in providing language assistance to businesses in Trade, Finance, HR and Law.

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