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When In Rome.

Start your own translation business.

This story appears in the June 2000 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

Kirk Anderson was majoring in French and Chinese and, admittedly, didn't have a clue what he wanted to do after college. Molly Stevens, who had spent three years living in France, left a regular office job after only four days when she realized she couldn't stand being someone's employee. Rachel Burney, an American who grew up in Japan, was short on funds for college and scrounging for work that would bring her some quick cash. Three people from very different backgrounds accidentally hit on a way to use skills they already had in order to earn money and live the independent lifestyles they were after. How? With translation businesses.

Without realizing it, they, like many translators, wandered into a hot field that's being fueled by the growth of global commerce and by increasing interest from venture capitalists. The American Translators Association, or ATA, in Alexandria, Virginia, has seen its membership more than double in the past seven years. The organization now provides services to 7,000 members in 60 countries. An $11 billion market in 1999, translation services are expected to bring in close to $20 billion in 2004, in part because of an expected 20 percent increase in the number of Internet subscriptions worldwide and improved Internet access in Western Europe, South America and the Asia/Pacific, according to Amy Basta, an analyst with Allied Business Intelligence Inc. in Oyster Bay, New York.

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