Mecki Testroet ‘BA hon’ Dip Trans IoLMecki Testroet, translator and entrepreneur

I became a self-employed translator in 1992. It was a way to combine working from home with raising a family. I subsequently passed the Institute of Linguists’ ELIC examination (English for International Communication) and their Diploma in Translation in English to German. Initially, like most translators, I worked part-time and mostly for agencies. I set up my own website in the early nineties. This later proved to be a turning point: whereas fellow translators insisted that a website was no more than a “useful shop window” or “business card” to show to existing clients, I begged to differ. I had seen successful websites. If others could do it, why not I?

So I went online to research SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) techniques and studied successful websites in the translation industry. By applying the methods, tips and tricks thus gleaned, I eventually achieved a Google page 1 ranking for my site, consistently and reliably, when searching with a number of relevant keyword combinations. This gave me access to a constant stream of direct clients: private individuals as well as small to medium-sized businesses. Most importantly, the website’s success led to much improved rates of pay and job satisfaction. Based on its growth to date and with encouraging projections, I sold www.1stchoicetranslations.co.uk as a going concern to fellow translator Erika Baker in 2010.

Experience in a wide range of positions

During my working life, I worked in a number of full-time and part-time jobs. Some I held only for a few months, many I carried out for years. Jobs included:

  • Helping in my parents’ taxi business
  • Relief postman
  • Foreign language assistant
  • Parish clerk
  • Treasurer to a community development trust
  • Company secretary
  • Translator and business woman
  • Market research consultant

Most of the time I worked in small companies, run by people who were self-employed.

Growing up on the German-Dutch border, I had, from the age of 12, taken an active part in the family minicab and taxi business. Here I learned the value of good customer service, first by answering the phone and later by driving. I went on to university to study to be a teacher at Paderborn, Germany, and Nijmegen, in Holland. I came to England in 1987. The intention was to spend a year teaching German. This single year’s experience led to the realisation that this was not the correct career path for me!

In London, I started working for an independent coach operator. I carried out all required office duties, applying to good effect the customer service skills gained during my time in the family business.

Wanting to become a more efficient secretary, I obtained an RSA 1 in accounting and later successfully completed an Open University course in Small Business Management. Applying what I learnt, I greatly improved the office systems and managed to eradicate the previously rampant overdraft, helping to turn the business around. Due to my introduction of a better credit control and deposit and prepayment system, late payers and bad debts became a thing of the past. On the owner’s retirement in 1995, the business was successfully and profitably sold as a going concern.

A new business venture

It was early 2014, after a four-year break from desk work, when I decided that it was time to put into action a growing ambition. Spurred on by Erika’s continued success with the website – and turnover figures which exceeded projections – Erika and I founded Iolante. I firmly believed that it would be feasible for a new website to work equally well in languages other than English. All I needed to do was apply the principles that worked for 1st Choice Translations. This would enable me to help other freelancers to obtain independence and a better quality of life by using the principle of franchising.

In my experience, a successful website-based independent translation business profits from:

  • Direct negotiations with the client
  • Closer customer contact
  • Better understanding of clients’ needs
  • Realistic deadlines
  • Lower stress levels
  • Competitive prices that are fair to clients and translators alike

So, in May 2014, Erika and I pooled our expertise, thus combining excellent networking and translation skills with website development experience and a proven track record of successful business management. Iolante.com was born and went live in its trial phase in July 2014.

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