15 Jan /19

Lesson 8: Risks taken, sacrifices made – this is what it takes to build a business

20 lessons learned in 20 years of business

As EVS Translations UK approaches the celebration of its 20th anniversary in February, its founder and CEO, Edward Vick, joins us on the blog each week to speak about the business and life lessons learned from the UK chapter of his international business.

Giving up – my 40th birthday

Risks taken, sacrifices made – this is what it takes to build a business
Risks taken, sacrifices made – this is what it takes to build a business – EVS Translations

It’s January, many of us are making and breaking new year’s resolutions in equal measure. Doing more of this, less of that. Perhaps even giving things up for good.

On the eve of our 20th anniversary, I want to take you back a few years to another January. It was the start of one of the most intense working periods of my life and for EVS Translations as a business.

We got a call from one of the largest companies in Germany. A potential merger was being negotiated. This is a scenario EVS Translations deals with a lot. As with any contract, the devil is in the detail and you cannot afford the slightest error in your translations.

On this occasion, the US anti-trust authorities required a translation, 50,000 pages. A huge job for us at the time.

With a deadline of the end of March, the question was how much we could do in 3 months? Well, at that time, we were small and said 50%, offering a relatively low price and being transparent about capacity to manage client expectations professionally.

The feedback was we were too expensive. The opportunity was lost. Or was it?

At the beginning of March the same company came back to us. Can you do 5,000 pages with a deadline of the 20th?

We always strive to find a solution that fits all parties so replied that yes, we could work to the revised brief and deadline but with a surcharge. We were given the all clear.

OK. Go.

In those days, files came in boxes, and come they did, by the pallet load. We started in house and for those of the team working externally at that stage of our business, the pages had to be faxed out. Technology back then was relatively rudimentary but we did use character recognition software which was in its infancy. It was a massive undertaking for us.

At one point, it felt like almost everyone in Germany who could translate from German into English seemed to be working on the project and over in the UK too.

All told, for three weeks, EVS Translations was doing 2 12-hour shifts. It would be the first and last time we ever did that.

One day before the deadline was my 40th birthday party. After two weeks of sleep deprivation, I turned up at the party, greeted my friends and family and after taking a toast, disappeared to the office.

Lesson learned: in business, we all have to make sacrifices, to push ourselves to our maximum potential but there is a limit. Whether that is your resource, your skills, your budget or capacity, there is always a limit.

However, the crucial factor in business is your people and that includes you as a boss. Set a good example – don’t miss your 40th birthday.