To sum up the past year in the life of The Translation Link, LLC owner Alina Mugford:
In October 2008, Mugford, a refugee from Cuba, became an American citizen. In January 2009, The Translation Link was named “Small Business of the Year” by the Sarasota-Manatee chapter of SCORE, a network of retired executives that mentors new businesses. In February, the state of Florida certified The Translation Link as a Women Enterprise Business and a Minority Business, meaning that clients can get tax credits when they use Mugford’s service. Mugford formed a strategic alliance with Moonlight Marketing Group LLC, meaning that she provides translations for that company’s clients when needed. And, in the last year, Mugford has become the official translator for the Pittsburgh Pirates and WEDU/PBS.
“I am a living example of the American Dream,” Mugford said.
Having taught marketing, public relations and public speaking at the university level in Venezuela, Mugford knew the importance of having a professional translator, despite misconceptions that any bilingual person can translate.
She began studying the demographics of the Sarasota-Manatee area in late 2006 and saw a need for professional translators. So, she and her husband, Phillip, used their personal resources to establish The Translation Link, LLC out of their Bradenton home. The business served its first client in January 2007.
At the time, Mugford couldn’t afford a translation memory, which translators use to store segments of previously translated materials, which is important for maintaining consistency.
Mugford spent her first year in business doing extensive networking. She became involved in five local chambers of commerce, including the Longboat Key, Lido Key, St. Armands Key Chamber of Commerce.
By last year, demand for her services began to soar.
Translation: The 9-to-5 workday is a distant memory for Mugford.
Mugford bought her translation memory last year and now hires a service to print her materials.
The need for The Translation Link’s services has been so strong that Mugford plans to hire an employee in the next year to run business operations. But Mugford doesn’t plan to hire additional translators, because using subcontractors is more cost effective.
The biggest challenge she faces in business is client education, a task that is difficult for many translators, according to Mugford, because business owners often try to save money by using programs that they download from the Internet.
“When you want to communicate to your clients and your customers, your image is at stake,” she said. “You have to consider not only style but also choice of words and cultural considerations as well.”
And when Mugford accepted her award for the chamber’s Rookie Small Business of the Year, she made sure that nothing got lost in translation.
At the crowd’s urging, she accepted the award in Spanish first.
“Me siento muy honrada por haber recibido este reconocimiento,” she said.
Translation: “I feel very honored by this award.”
Address: P.O. Box 337 Cortez, Fla., 34215
Start date: First client served in January 2007
Number of employees when started: One
Number of employees now: One, but Mugford uses subcontractors
Advice: Prepare, both professionally and for the ups and downs of owning a business.
Biggest challenge: Educating clients about the importance of using a professional translator.
Where do you see your business a year from now? Bigger, with an expanded customer base and possibly an employee to oversee business operations.