Small businesses often operate in just as much a multilingual world as medium and large businesses. That multilingualism exists in two separate but overlapping business environments, the home market, and the international market.


Many small businesses may still be focused on their local or regional areas and may not be in any position to worry about expansion overseas. Yet the world, particularly the developed world, has changed almost beyond recognition over the last few decades. Migration has changed the way people communicate in an irrevocable way. What can small business in many of the southern U.S. states afford to ignore the importance of Spanish as a language to be used whenever there is a need to communicate with customers and clients? Could a Spanish, French, Italian or Greek small business along the Mediterranean coast ignore the importance of English and German? These examples of existing language realities could be repeated ad infinitum all around the world.

Failing to take into consideration the importance of language preferences and usage is a mistake that can cost a small business its position vis a vis its more savvy competitors. At the very least, a small business that fails to translate what it has to offer when a considerable percentage of that business’s market prefers to communicate in another language is asking for commercial failure.

The role of language and translation has become more significant with the growth of the internet as a tool for marketing. Theoretically, any small business now has the potential to maximise its business potential with a well-designed website. Small businesses can now market their products to the world. Look at how successful online shopping sites like the Chinese Alibaba have become. Alibaba markets and sells huge amounts of goods that originate from thousands of individual small Chinese businesses. There is no way that these small businesses would be able to sell so many of their goods without a sophisticated website that is available to be used in multiple languages. The more languages that are made available, the larger will be the potential market.

Whether the small business is operating in a very localized way or is looking to sell its goods to the world, there is a need to have that business communicate with the help of professional translators who understand how to convert business needs and language in a culturally appropriate way.