5 Tips on Localization for Startups

Chinese localization

Each business idea begins with a first idea. When this takes a slow form, many people think of quitting the old job to go for self-employment. Above all, young founders, who perhaps come fresh from the school or university, are particularly ambitious: the domestic market is not enough for them. They think globally – a professional localization process plays the most important role.

Thousands of young startups try their luck all over the world year after year – and not a few of them do not go beyond the first year, despite great ambitions. Too often, it’s too early to expand into other markets without knowing the country and the people. That’s a fatal mistake, because localization does not just mean to have the materials translated , even if it makes up a large part of the work. Therefore to do localization, it is important to:

  • be professionally designed.
  • think about the market.
  • carry out extensive analysis.
  • think big, but act small.

and keep in mind that 9 languages reach 80% of the online economy.

5 tips for successful localization

Based on these first thoughts and drawing on the experience of other world-wide (former) start-ups, such as the Irish Soundcloud, the following five tips are crucial for successful localization.

Tip # 1: Translations yes, but not in any language of this world

Depending on the business idea, a localization for further markets can make great sense. But not all markets are interesting – and the translation into some specific languages is also a thing of the past. Therefore, startups should consider how to make the most effective use of the available budget. Language experts believe that the six languages are often enough to cover around 80 percent of the global market.

In addition, a single translation of the content is not done – updates, new features or newsletter campaigns require ongoing further translation work. This can quickly blow up the budget of a young startup.

Tip # 2: Translations take more time than you think

There are only two ways to translate: fast or correct. For many entrepreneurs who are not familiar with the market for localization, it is often surprising how much translation time is required. A good rule of thumb is: Estimate the time needed to localize your content – and spare at least 20 percent more of that time.

Tip # 3: Know your market and learn to love it

professional startup localization can only work out if the founders know the market. This extends not only the field of view to the new area, but also to the potential new customers, on what they could expect from the startup. Also, if a flight ticket costs money – it is worth it.

Tip # 4: Work with local employees

The budget problem also plays an important role in this tip: working together with local employees ensures a decisive market advantage due to the “insider information” of these local residents. Other forms of employment, such as alpha-user status with apps and online offers, or other big and small advantages, would also be possible. It does not always have to be a permanent position, in order to gain opinion on the idea.

Tip # 5: Set a goal and stick to it

Localization does not have to be perfect from the start, but it should be a goal. At the beginning “users” from other countries will forgive minor errors. The will to perfection should however be present. Otherwise the early first users would disappear just as quickly as they came.