15th CTS Professionalisation Talk

Building a Global Business - The Why and How by Johnny Pawlik of Mantra Media.

http://www.mantrahq.com/ | Twitter: @MantraMediaLtd | LinkedIn: Mantramarketing

Johnny delivered a slightly different flavour of talk for Leeds CTS . He has developed a company, along with his best friend from university, that does not strictly lie within the realm of translation/subtitling/interpreting. Nevertheless, Leeds students were treated to a wealth of information and invaluable advice on how best to establish ourselves as freelancers.

Johnny’s company is Mantra Media Ltd, for which he is Global Managing Director. It strives to ‘create strategies and online marketing models for businesses that aren't shrouded in jargon and to give clients an understanding of the process involved in creating something that works.’ Operating in four continents, Mantra holds strong values at its core, particularly that no matter what your background or where you start, everyone is capable of creating something.

Starting out in a competitive industry, such as translation, can be difficult. The world can literally be your playground IF you are prepared to put in all the energy and effort that the first few years will demand. That said, the times are on your side as: THERE IS NO BETTER TIME THAN NOW TO BE A FREELANCER!

Your EUREKA moment

A word of advice from Johnny: always carry a notepad. You never know when ideas will strike, and they typically do at the most inconvenient moment! Once you have that idea, the key is differentiation. How do you make yourself stand out from the millions of other freelancers (1.4million in the UK alone)? If you intend to keep your business on a small scale, you may choose to use your individual personality to make you stand out. If not, you will need to create a brand.

The fundamentals

•   Keep your ‘why’ (the reason you began your venture) close to your heart - it will keep you going in the bad times

•   Register your company. This can be done independently, through a third party (e.g. online at Companies Made Simple) or through Companies House

•   Public liability insurance is important in case things go pear-shaped

•   These are all important things to get sorted before you get started


If numbers are not your strong point, invest in an accountant from the outset. Bookkeeping is extremely important and you are obliged to keep all invoices and receipts for up to six years. If tackling this yourself, serious excel skills will be required. If you are ever audited, you will need to produce a paper trail for every element of your business.

Building a brand

•   Market research is key

•   Aesthetics: think about what the market needs to see in order to trust your brand

•   Keep your mind open to global expansion and be wary that certain colours or words may have negative connotations abroad

•   Always have a clear idea of who your target market is after deciding what kind of people YOU want to work with

Another very important part of building your brand is establishing a network. Johnny encouraged attending every event you possibly can, researching beforehand those likely to attract people needing your services. He also encouraged individuality as this can sometimes make you stand out in a crowd - Johnny once landed a big contract after initial contact with the client was made by complimenting his tartan suit!

To conclude, start by forming an idea of what you want to create, prepare the basics and fulfil legal requirements to ensure you have a sturdy foundation, and build your brand based on unique selling points with your target market at the core of everything you do.

Thank you for the advice, Johnny!

Written by CTS students Bethan Attwood (@francobethan), Anwen Roys (@anwen_roys), Emma Tam-lyn (@EmmaTamlyn) and Fred Zhuang.