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How a Small Company Went Global


    Christian Arno, Knowledge Level: Expert, Keywords: company development, translation agency, localization
Did you know that people are four times more likely to buy from a website in their own language? And did you know that three quarters of the world™s population speak no English whatsoever?

 

If you step in now, by stepping out in the big wide world, you can blow your competitors away.  When they finally realise they could be marketing to any of the 27 member states of the European Union with 500 million citizens, you will have your sector sewn up. Up, up and away.

 

Lingo24 began in the spare room in the Scottish home of a recent Oxford University graduate. It is how a global translations agency with a bank of 4,000 professional translators, operating round-the-clock across four continents in multiple time-zones, went from being a small home-based business to a multinational enterprise. This is the story of how Christian Arno moved a small national company on to the world stage.

 

Christian launched Lingo24™s website in 2002 at a time when very few translation companies were actively marketing themselves on the internet. He also realised that few translation companies provided a genuinely integrated 24-hour service.

Accordingly, Christian spent six months the following year setting this up on the other side of the world, in New Zealand, where he recruited four agents and then travelled to China to establish operations there, complementing the employees based in Scotland.

 

By 2005, the company was doing well on search engines but needed outbound sales staff and further technical development. Christian found talented and bright young people in Romania and Lingo24˜s European arm took off with five home-working employees.  The company now has its own office building in Timisoara, with over 70 full-time staff.

 

With more than 70% of sales coming from the UK Christian, and Operations Director Jack Waley-Cohen, decided to decrease reliance on the UK and build foreign sales, which would also decrease dependence on sterling revenue.

 

Although Lingo24™s website was available in all the standard languages, Christian and Jack decided to build websites localised specifically for, and hosted by, affluent European and Scandinavian countries.

 

œAll the research shows that people prefer to buy from sites in their own language”, says Christian.  œIt was very important, therefore, to create sites that were culturally specific, as well as having a domain name for their country”.

Within three years, Lingo24 had grown foreign sales and turnover by over 30%, with corresponding revenue in currencies other than sterling. 

 

In 2008, Lingo24 launched its Panamanian office to capture North American sales which are now soaring.  Staff numbers in Panama have quadrupled, as have staff in the Edinburgh office which opened in August the same year, while Account Managers in the London office share the task of looking after UK and European clients with the Romanian office.

 

œInitially, there™s a lot of leg-work involved in going global”, says Christian. œBut the results are worth it.  With sophisticated communications, and good management Lingo24 runs smoothly. We service clients in more than 60 countries, employing just over 100 full-time staff and achieved a turnover of $6m USD in 2009”.

Christian Arno is the founder and Managing Director of international translations company Lingo24. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over a hundred employees spanning four continents and clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated over thirty million words for businesses covering every industry sector and their turnover in 2009 was $6m USD.. Article on company development, translation agency, localization by Christian Arno

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