Like any other business, the translation one is often associated with risks and difficulties. Some risky situations involve persons or companies you have to deal with.
Most translation companies never provide their clients with true personal data of their translators. They do not give any contact details of their clients to translators either. Have you ever wondered why?
About a decade ago, a major corporate client signed a contract with us. We were required to send an interpreter to Astana where the client was going to participate in negotiations. The contract contained the interpreter’s personal data. Next day, the client informed us it was considering cancellation of the contract. The interpreter said he had been proposed to work directly for the client. In some cases, the proposal is made by a translator or an interpreter.
Another problem concerns databases of translators and clients.
When a girl works as a secretary or an assistant at a successful translation agency, as a rule, she sees but advantages of the business. If she has access to the databases and knows at least one foreign language, the girl believes nothing will prevent her to succeed too. So, she leaves the translation company to establish her own bureau. Clearly, she makes copies of the databases in order to contact the clients and use translators’ services on behalf of the newly established bureau. This is quite common and I know at least five owners of such bureaus. However, they are not quite optimistic about their businesses now. Even the ready-to-use databases fail to guarantee prosperity, although it we all know how difficult it is to find professional translators or clients to novices.
Western companies often include the “None Compete” clause in their contracts with translators. According to the clause, after termination of the contract/employment, the translators may not be engaged in any business competing with their former employer for a specified period.
I do understand that such clause would be in conflict with the Kazakhstani laws. But is it normal to use the former employer’s materials or databases, or disclose its business secrets?
Sometimes, the problem is caused by (a) translation business owner(s). When the company’s progress becomes apparent and the founders’ dividends are steadily growing, one of the founders can easily yield to temptation. Or all of them take actions to force the others out of the business. This is especially dangerous, when there is a 50/50 shareholder dispute. The so-called Shareholders’ Agreement is still rare in Kazakhstan. Unless the shareholders stipulate in advance their future actions in a conflict situation, even the courts fail to resolve the deadlock. The shareholder meetings are helpless. The company becomes erratic and the owners incur losses. The owners can finally initiate a 50/50 split, at best. All the other options are completely unfair.
Have you faced any of the above situations? Please share your experience.