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SPI 754: How to Serve Other Languages and Grow Your Business with Anne Truran

In most niches, non-English languages are often underserved. These US and international audiences are a huge market you can tap into to provide value and create new connections!

Here’s the best part—You don’t even have to speak another language or hire employees to open up your business to these new opportunities!

So how do you get started?

We’re back with another incredible Teaching Friday episode today! I love inviting our SPI Pro community members to share their knowledge and provide actionable tips to supercharge your business. This is a great session, so tune in!

Today’s guest host, Anne Truran of Together, Language, helps schools and other organizations design systems around language diversity. In this episode, she walks us through the tools and strategies we can leverage to serve non-English speakers through everything from written communication to phone and video calls.

Listen in because this is a fantastic way to expand your business!

For more from Anne, SPI listeners can book her infrastructure-building sessions for free at TogetherLanguage.com/spi. This is a limited-time offer, so check it out now! Even more of Anne’s free content is available at TogetherLanguage.com/free-stuff.

SPI 754: How to Serve Other Languages and Grow Your Business with Anne Truran

Pat Flynn: Hey, hey, it’s Pat here. You’re about to listen to something a little different on the show today. It’s not our usual Friday format where I follow up on Wednesday’s episode. Don’t worry, those aren’t going away forever. Just a little break to bring in something even more special, in my opinion. And this episode and the next few are a part of our Teaching Friday series, which we do with our SPI Pro members.

We have an incredibly talented pool of people within SPI. Why not give our pros, the spotlight and teach you here on the podcast every once in a while. it’s just one of the perks of being a part of Pro in fact. With each episode, you get to hear a different pro, teach you something special from their area of expertise.

Without further ado, I’ll let them take it away. Oh, and if you want to find out more about SPI Pro and be a part of it, you can go ahead and apply at SPIPro.com.
Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, she personally served breakfast to Madeleine Albright twice. Anne Truran.

Anne Truran: Hello, and welcome to the SPI podcast. My name is Anne Truran, and I work with schools to take care of families who speak a language other than English. But if you are not someone who works in schools, I promise I have something for you today too. I will also have a gift for you at the end. Today, I will be talking to you about why considering how to expand your services to be accessible to other languages is important to you and your business or organization and to your community so that you can have a greater impact and have more fun.

So let’s start with the why. It would be easy and natural to assume that someone else is serving other languages in your space. Surely someone else is creating websites in Arabic for Arabic speaking businesses so that their Arabic speaking customers can find out about them. Or surely, someone is providing family photographer to Mandarin speaking families or Vietnamese speaking families. But I’m here today to ask you to question that assumption.

All too often, these communities who speak other languages do go unserved. For example, for the CPAs out there, I know numerous Spanish speaking adults who did their parents’ taxes for them from a very young age because they didn’t have access to someone who could help them with that process. I also know Spanish speaking parents who want to invest for their child’s college, but they don’t even know where to start to navigate a financial system that is already so confusing even if you are a fluent English speaker. I know this because I looked into this in the past week and found it to be incredibly confusing. And this is for Spanish, the most commonly spoken language in the United States other than English.

So when speakers of other languages do get help, it is often very piecemeal. It is because they happen to know someone and trust someone to ask them for help or that person knows them well enough to know that they need help to offer it, there tends to be not widespread solutions available to speakers of other languages. According to the US Census Bureau, one in five residents in the United States speaks a language other than English at home, which is up from one in ten from 1980. So if you are a b to c business, then this is definitely applicable to you. But if you are a b to b business, this is also potentially applicable.

So let’s talk about the reasons why that might be. An MIT study that was published in twenty twenty two said that immigrants are eighty percent more likely to start businesses of all sizes, small, medium, and large than native born Americans. And according to the Small Business Administration, immigrant business owners make up twenty three percent of businesses without employees and eighteen percent of those who do have employees. That’s just in this country. And, no, obviously, some of those business owners will speak English, but the new American economy says that one in five immigrant entrepreneurs has limited English proficiency, meaning they are much more comfortable speaking a language other than English.

And some of those immigrant entrepreneurs don’t speak English at all. I do wanna point out that up to now, I’ve been speaking about just the United States. If we step back and look globally, the number of speakers of another language is astronomical. Right? So we know that these numbers are large, and we know that they matter.

Non English languages are ignored in almost all aspects of at least the society in the United States affecting not only schools who I work with, but also health care, banking, health and fitness coaching, information about political candidates, purchasing decisions, you name it. So in other words, this is an enormous market that is underserved that you could be serving. And on top of that, the communities that speak other languages are more vulnerable to business owners with less integrity and scammers because they do have a shortage of people who are reaching out to them and communicating with them in a language that they understand. So in other words, society needs more business and organization leaders to consider outreach and service to other languages, not just as an afterthought, but with the whole funnel from a to z in mind and the whole customer service model in mind. So so far, we know that there are a lot of people in the US who are more comfortable speaking a language other than English, and we know that that number has been growing.

And there is another reason that you will want to consider looking at serving additional languages, and that is the joy and fulfillment of the relationships that you will build. Relationships are so important in all phases of running a business. No matter what field or industry we work in, we’ve all heard this and understand this. Pat Flynn has talked for a long time about the importance of having real conversations with your customers to find out what their real pain points are. That’s one of the reasons that I have loved Pat Flynn and have followed him for so long.

So if we think about that already being an important point, and we think specifically about speakers of other languages in a society where there’s another dominant language such as English. Those communities place even more value on relationships than we might because, one, they likely come from a culture that does place a lot of emphasis on relationships already. And because they are living in a different culture in a different system than the one that they are familiar with. They are constantly navigating systems that are unfamiliar to them within a culture that is unfamiliar them in a different language. So it’s a lot.

If you think about yourself, think about a time when you found yourself navigating an unfamiliar system and how stressful and disorienting that might have been. Maybe it was a new insurance provider or maybe it was a new computer. For me, my most recent experience navigating an unknown system was trying to figure out GarageBand to record and edit this episode. So you think about that instance for yourself, how nice is it to have a guide to lead you through the process rather than stumbling through alone?

And if you live in a country where you grew up, then that experience is occasional, but not constant. But if you are an immigrant in a new country, that is a defining experience of the first many years in that society. So just take a moment to imagine if you could be the guide for someone in that context, and the fulfillment and joy that can come from watching their journey and knowing how you helped them. In these instances, if you think about your work, like me, If you were to serve multilingual people, to you, you were only doing the same thing that you do for all of your clients. But to them, you are doing something that no one else was.

So the good news is, at this point, if you’re thinking, well, I don’t speak another language, you do not have to speak another language to serve speakers of that language, and that is where my expertise in helping schools becomes relevant to you even if you work in another field, which if you’re listening to this podcast, you probably do. So just for some context, I’ve helped schools that serve multiple languages, most of which are not spoken by a single staff member in the district. So you might also be asking yourself, why would I not just hire someone who speaks the language or another language? And I want to hold off on digging into question for now because it it is actually far more complex than is immediately obvious. But I just want to move on with the assumption for a minute that you don’t speak all the languages of your community, and it would be difficult for you to hire employees who spoke all of the languages of your community.

So if that’s your position, then what do you do? So the first thing you need is an infrastructure. You need tools to help you communicate across language, and you need processes to help you and or your team access those tools. So if we take a step back, communication in today’s age basically falls into five buckets, and you may or may not use all of these. So the first being face to face or in person communication, the second being virtual, the third being on the phone, the fourth being documents or forms, and then the fifth one being digital communication such as emails or texts.

So even if you use all five of these forms of communication in your work, you don’t necessarily need five different tools because many of the resources I’m about to share pull double duty. So we’re just gonna break them down. Let’s start with in person or face to face communication. For this, I can’t give one recommendation to you because this is going to be a local agency. This needs to be a physical service located near you that employs interpreters and translators, interpreters being people who interpret verbal communication on the fly, and translators being those that translate written communication.

So you need a local agency, and you can find one simply by Googling interpreter agency or translation agency near me or the name of the place where you live, and you’re going to most likely come up with more than one solution if you live in a metropolitan area. And when you look at those agencies, it’s important to consider a few different things. One, of course, budget and what they charge by the hour usually, but also to ask about the number of languages that they have and what their availability is. So if they perform interpretation on a schedule that is different than what your working business hours are, then that would be important to know upfront. And you also would be wise to ask about their time minimums because even if service maybe has the lowest hourly rate, if they have a three hour minimum, but you typically only need things that are half hour long, Then it wouldn’t make sense for you to be paying for three hours when you really just need to be paying for a half hour, for example. Your local agencies often also employee translators. So those people can also help you with your documents and forms, any text that requires translation. So, again, consider the budget, consider what languages that they have, and, again, ask them if there are any minimums to, you You know, the number of words that you can submit, for example. So now let’s talk about phone.

We’re gonna skip virtual, and we’re gonna come back to virtual in a minute. So let’s talk about phone. Oftentimes, your local interpreter agencies will also offer telephonic interpretation, so that’s an option for you. If you’re already contracting with someone locally to provide face to face interpretation, why not keep it simple and also use them for your phone communications? Another option, though, if you do not work with someone in person or if you want to just explore other options, there are services that I call big box telephonic interpreter services.

And these are companies with hundreds and hundreds of employees whose sole job is phone interpretation. And an office might be based in one city, but they employ people remotely all across the the country to answer the phone and translate a phone call for you. And so some examples of those are Language Line, Voyance, Lionbridge, and, honestly, there are many others, so don’t take those to be the only three that are available to you. I would also request when you reach out to a service to request that they give you a demonstration of what placing a call with an interpreter looks like. Because you’re going to want to choose something that is as easy and forward a process as possible, especially if you have a team where you are expecting numerous other people to be using the service as well.

But the other thing that you will want to ask about before you commit to a telephonic interpreter service, if you have a team, is ask them how you can gather data about who is placing calls. So some services might take the name of the individual who’s placing the call, which is like, great. That’s the best that we could ask for. And other instances, they might set up pins for you, and you could give each Individual a PIN or if your organization is very large, you could give each team a PIN. And there might be other ways that other telephonic interpreter services used, but it’s an important thing to ask for because later when we talk about accountability, you have to have a way that works for you to gather data about who is placing calls if you’re going to exercise any sort of accountability in this process at all.

So now we’re gonna come back to those virtual communications. Anything that you might do over a Zoom or a Teams or a Google Hangout, there are different options. So oftentimes, again, those local agencies are going to have video remote capability, and you can go with them. Keep it simple. And those big box telephonic phone interpreter services will also offer video remote.

They will call it VRI. So that is something to ask them about as well. So coming back again to documents and forms or text that you might need translated, I already mentioned that a local agency can do this for you. This does tend to be quite pricey. So if you are concerned about what your budget is, some other options are working with Freelancer on a platform like Upwork or Fiverr.

And if you’re saying to yourself, well, why wouldn’t I just use Google Translate? A word on that. I will say I love Google Translate. I think Google Translate has done a lot for the multilingual space. And at the same time, if you are a business or organization and you care about your materials being fully comprehensible to the person receiving them and you care about them being presented in a professional way, it’s really important to have a human involved in that translation process.

So that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a human do a hundred percent of the translation. Another option would be to run the documents through Google Translate first and then work out maybe a reduced rate with someone who is qualified, proficient, and or fluent in that language to then proofread the work that Google Translate did. This is a very important step. Just to give you an example, I was doing a translation of a school document that had the phrase early dismissal in it.

And I proofread the Spanish translation because I’m qualified to do that, and it translated it just fine. So I had no suspicion that the other languages might translate it inaccurately, but I also was generating an Arabic translation and gave it to a native speaking Arabic staff member to proofread. And she pointed out that it had translated early dismissal as kicked rudely out of school, which is not something we would be wanting to send home to families. And that’s just a great illustration of why we can’t place a hundred percent of our trust in Google Translate when it is our service on the line and and our reputation on the line and how we’re treating others. Next, let’s talk about emails and texts.

And there are a few different options here as well. So if you are just sending individual emails and individual texts to individual clients on the fly, just as you do in an email thread, for example, Google Translate is a really great option there because you are doing it. These are one offs. And so Google Translate is the best service I know of in order to make that happen. But I would recommend including in the language of the client, a blurb that says something like, this email was translated using Google Translate.

If there are any errors or if you are having trouble understanding something, please contact us in whatever way you want them to contact you so that if something is confusing, they are like, oh, well, that’s why. Let me get some clarification. On the other hand, if you were sending emails or texts as part of a broadcast, then I would recommend you ask your current provider, your current platform that you use to do this anyway. ChatGPT tells me that marketing platforms that already have this automatic translation available are Mailchimp, HubSpot, Aweber, Sendinblue, and Mailjet. And one thing I would say there is If your provider already does provide this automatic translation service, I would really be picky about figuring out what that looks like on the user their end and how to access that translation.

And if your current provider does not provide automatic translation, I think it’s worth asking them if that’s something that they could do. Platforms are constantly innovating. Um, they want to keep up in the space. And if you as a customer are telling them that this is to you, I’ve encountered platforms that have an engineering team that are willing to respond to customer requests.

If you are still thinking, well, why not just hire someone who speaks the language? I’ll speak to that briefly because I see schools fall into this trap all the time, but I know it is not just schools. So when organizations hire for a language, it is really important to be very intentional in how you do it. Oftentimes, the thinking is simply, well, I’m higher for the language, and then I’m done. But what you’ll want to do is to design this position that you’re hiring very intentionally around the language use because viewing the language as a bonus on top of whatever you are hiring them for presents all sorts of problems.

And so if they are doing a lot of mental work about how to outreach to a particular cultural community and they are doing translation work, and everyone is going to them when they need help serving a particular client, for example, and they’re doing all of that on top of a full time job. It’s simply a recipe for burnout. It’s a way to lose people that are incredibly valuable to you. It’s also less effective than it could be. It’s a huge missed opportunity when all of that gets put on the shoulders of one or two people instead of being integrated into all the systems of the organizations.

And ultimately, it just doesn’t reflect well on the organization. It’s it’s just not a good look. If you do hire, again, you’ll want to design the position intentionally. You will also want to have a process for screening new hires’ language proficiency. When people say, I speak Spanish, that can mean all sorts of things, and you want to know it means specifically that they are capable of having conversations or translating documents with your industry language the level of professionalism that you expect.

Well, a best practice I should mention is that if this is something they are doing on top of a full time job, You will want to compensate them accordingly. So I said that your infrastructure are your tools and your processes, and we cover tools. But, um, you’ll also want processes by which the people on your team, if you have a team, will access those tools. So first, you need to think about who needs to be able to access these resources. And if that is more than just you, you want to think through, do you want anyone in your organization to just be able to book an interpreter, which means you’re going to get billed for that interpreter?

Or do you want to have a gatekeeper where someone places a request and that gatekeeper looks at it, and they are the only person that puts through the request to your agency, for example. So then that brings me to my favorite part in this process. Once you have your infrastructure, you have to get people to actually use it. And, again, this is the part that I love the most. It is also the hardest part of the process, and it is the most gratifying nut to crack.

This part, if you do have bilingual staff members, becomes a little bit trickier because even if you have trained all of your staff members on how to use multilingual tools, how to request a translation, how to call a client with an interpreter on the phone, and you’ve set that expectation to them, what is most likely going to happen is an employee is going to say, well, Jessica speaks Spanish. I’ll just ask Jessica to do it. And then all of your system kind of falls apart, and all of that still gets funneled onto that one person, which creates problems for your clients and creates problems for your team. So here are the keys to doing this successfully.

The first is to gather feedback or to gather voices and then respond to what people are saying. This becomes really important to do both for your staff and for your clients. The next thing you want to do is implement training that is effective, and effective is the keyword here. You want to come out of the gate with your training being really effective. You do not want to lead with trial and error, lackluster trainings.

Because the more trainings people sit through, if it is not meaningful and if it did not then result in action or a change in the culture or the change in the way people do things, the next training they sit in, they will take less seriously. They will engage in less. And even if you have a super duper training, it will be sabotaged by past ineffective efforts. And then thirdly, you will want what I like to call a collaborative accountability cycle. So when you train your leaders, you’re going to pick at least five dates throughout your year to have check ins that are dedicated exclusively to this topic.

Is our team using the tools available to them to serve clients who speak other languages? So if you’re like, wow. That is too much. That is a lot. I will say that the ease of implementing this is going to depend greatly on the size of your organization and what you specifically do.

It is going to be very straightforward for some to implement, although it will still take making it a priority. And for others, it can be a lot in the beginning, which is why I have a full time job dedicated to this. But over time, as organizations create rhythms to the work, work out kinks that happen more frequently in the beginning and build a staff culture where this is just a thing that we do, then those systems start to run themselves. Reaching speakers of other languages is an incredible opportunity for your business to serve the community and have greater impact. We know this at this point, and it is also a recipe for greater joy and fun at work.

The first time one of the teachers that I was working with used an interpreter to talk with a family, she made a point of finding me afterwards and said that was one of the coolest experiences of my life. If you are listening to this, then I have a special gift for you. I am giving free infrastructure building sessions to listeners of the SPI podcast through March of 2024. So what that means is we spend an hour together online. You bring your expertise about your business.

I bring my expertise about multilingual communication. And together, we will craft a blueprint about what are the best tools and processes for you and your business or organization to expand your impact to speakers of other languages. And to schedule your session, just go to TogetherLanguage.com/spi. And if you are interested and learning more for free, another place you can go is TogetherLanguage.com/free-stuff. My blog is also at TogetherLanguage.Com, and please also feel free to email me directly for any reason at all.

My email is [email protected]. Thank you to Pat Flynn and the SPI team. You have been extremely instrumental to me in my own journey as an entrepreneur, and I very much hope that I was able to pay it forward to someone else today.

Pat Flynn: Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!


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