By Joshua B. Cohen
I’ve always been a lover of languages. As soon as I could read, I’d browse through the dictionaries and grammar books that my parents had collected as a result of their various attempts at mastering a foreign tongue: a Hindustani grammar book that my father had saved as a result of a stint in India while in the army, alongside French and Italian dictionaries that my mother had collected. When any friend of the family from a foreign land visited, I’d ask them to teach me how to count to ten in whatever language they spoke.
We had the luck of living down the block from New York City’s at-the-time only French school, the Lycée-Français, and my mother had the foresight to send me there, helping me fulfill an early dream of learning two languages. Soon after college, I worked in Germany and Taiwan, giving me the opportunity to gain a working knowledge in two more.
Just as the dot-com era was coming to a boil, a friend of mine founded a start-up and asked if I would like to get his website translated into seven languages. His start-up did not survive, yet the experience led to the birth of my 21-year-old boutique translation and interpretation firm, Pronto Translations, located in Chelsea.
Many of us locally-based entrepreneurs and small businesses overlook one of the biggest sources of new business, right here in our own backyard. CSA Research, an independent research firm, surveyed 8,709 consumers in 29 countries, and discovered that 76% of all consumers are much more likely to buy a product or service if information about it is presented in their mother tongue, versus a foreign language (such as English).
New York is one of the world’s most multicultural cities. Whatever your business, you could well be overlooking a key growth driver to your business by not communicating with your neighbors and potential new clients in their local language. For example, a real estate agent could create a new stream of interested buyers by adding a version of their website and collateral in Chinese. A local bank or lending organization could miss a significant portion of the market by failing to translate their web presence into Spanish.
When you take into account that the internet has no borders, consider the business that your enterprise could attract not only from the local area but from other countries with a version of your website in another language or languages.
Pronto Translations offers translation and interpretation services in 122 languages.