Startups are in a world of their own. They have their own pace and logic. Maintaining momentum can be challenging enough without adding international ambitions to the mix. But with the right kind of support, technology, and streamlined workflows, you can watch your startup go global with very little management required on your part.
Common Resource Inefficiencies When Startups Go Global
A Decentralized Team and Repetitive Workflows
A tech startup is in perpetual rapid-fire mode, and people have no choice but to find solutions on their own and in a hurry. Without a centralized plan for localization, different people may end up translating their own content independently. The marketing manager may get translations from one place, the product manager from another. The sales manager may be developing best practices completely separate from the documentation manager’s similar efforts.
Are there important differences in the types of content these players are dribbling around the court? Yes, there are some differences. But the similarities are much more important. When you have these decentralized efforts running in tandem, you are missing monumental opportunities to leverage common assets, talents, and best practices.
Don’t find out the hard way how much wasted time, money, and sanity are at stake here. Localization experts have already worked out the snags and inefficiencies. They’ve figured out the right way to do it the first time. A system with automated administration and single teams of informed linguists for each language would allow you to adapt diverse content types while maintaining the necessary terminology and local relevance that will make your global launch actually successful. And when localization efforts are centralized, each approved translation helps to build an even stronger foundation for all of the work to follow. It’s actually possible for things to get even easier as your operation scales up. Imagine that.
When various stakeholders work together, they share critical perspective. For instance, product and marketing should absolutely be operating on the same team to ensure that the consumers’ expectations meet their user experience. Likewise, localized support content better be right in line with all of the above. It’s hard to name a stakeholder who shouldn’t be collaborating on a centralized localization team. Even your developers need to be involved early on to understand the stress that localization will place on the product and to put proactive solutions in place.
It doesn’t just make logical sense to centralize your localization projects. It’s really the only way to do right by your bottom line. Automation can significantly narrow the need for workflow management and administration as you know it. Having a single source of truth on your platform where terminology assets live and evolve for all collaborators to access is a revolutionary step that puts localization within reach for startups.
High Turnover Can Compromise Your Localization Progress
It’s also worth mentioning the fact of team turnover on startups. You might as well be ready for it to happen among the people you map to localization projects. Which means, you might as well be ready to go back to the drawing board when staff changes happen—unless you have a centralized system in place like the one we’ve described.
It’s not enough for team members to store vital guidelines in their heads. And it’s not enough to depend on a small handful of superstars if your projects would fall apart without them. Even relying on professional vendors may be risky if they aren’t prepared for or committed to consistency at all levels. It is possible to secure localization without interruptions and without catastrophic risks involved.
The Little Startup That Started Over
A tech startup hired a superstar localization manager who was also an engineer. He came up with an elegant system for their localization efforts. But—as is often the case for startups—things got tough and budget got tight. They reluctantly fired their localization manager because they couldn’t pay him what he was worth.
The solution was for the company’s various developers to run their own localization projects. The iOS team did theirs, the Android team did theirs, the web team did theirs, and the marketing manager ran theirs. Well, that was the idea, anyway. The new “system” quickly imploded because no one actually knew what they were doing. Being killer developers didn’t give them inherent insight into localization strategy.
The startup finally hired Bureau Works—way too late in the process, but better late than never. We’re re-teaching everyone involved. We’re identifying bottlenecks and development delays. Their attempts to revive localization when their first attempt went bust created brand-new problems that never had to be there. And these new problems are not easy ones to solve. It’s like starting over again. But, at least, this ambitious startup is finally on the right track. They may have been set behind in myriad ways, but they’ll get to where they’re going. And with a sustainable system, their potential might be more than they’ve had the imagination to hope for.
Long-Term Planning for Startup Localization Success
Localization can be very expensive. A localization provider can charge tens of thousands of dollars because the return on your investment will be astronomical when your startup successfully goes global.
Companies often start out wanting to localize in every market they can hope to reach. Then, when the bills roll in, they get a shock. They might even begin to see that there’s not really much happening in some of those languages they targeted. Don’t end up regretting your market choices after the fact because you didn’t do your research from the start. Market selection is just one of the many essential tenets of localization planning.
The key to success in localization is starting early with strategy and planning. In fact, it’s best to have localization in mind already during the development of your product. Then, setting up your localization processes while the workflow is small—if done right—will allow you to scale up easily when the time comes. Instead of reinventing the wheel when your startup goes global, you can enjoy the transparency and ease of management that come from centralization and automation. Partner with a localization services provider (LSP) willing to share your short- and long-term goals.
At Bureau Works, we provide our clients with a centralized, automated platform that allows easy management of multiple workflows in multiple languages and houses resources and tools that are vital to amplifying your brand voice. Contact our team to learn more about the advantages of comprehensive localization services.