Language barrier

Thanks for your willingness to assist me in this matter relative to investor.

My question is this: I’ve been asked by a business person who is interested joining me in partnership relationship but, the both of us have language barrier. What would you advise we do to make such partnership possible?



The obvious response is to advise you to use an interpreter, but sometimes it is not as simple as that. Sometimes interpreters put a slight spin on what they say, perhaps unintentionally.

Not everything translates directly and exactly into another language, one of the main reasons being cultural differences.

This is a potential problem if the two of you intend to work together closely in the business. You talk about a partnership, which would imply an ongoing relationship in the business. Can you afford, or is it practical, to have an interpreter with you all the time?

You can of course use online translation tools to read one another’s written communications. There are literally dozens of free ones available, probably the best known being Google Translate

Google’s free service instantly translates words, phrases, and web pages between English and over 100 other languages.

Why does this person want to join you in a business partnership? Just to invest? Or to contribute to the management team?

How closely will you need to work once the investment is made? One of the advantages you might look for from an investor is some input into the running of the company, which you infer by mentioning a partnership. How practical will this be with a language barrier? How valuable might their input be, or is this purely a financial investment.

Will there be cultural differences that would suggest you might want to run the business differently once it is launched?

Do you have an exit plan for the investor?

If this is long term, you could each try to learn the others language.

So, I would advise beginning discussions using interpreters, but being aware of the points I have made. Consider whether this is likely to be successful, or would it be simpler to look for other investors and partners.

Hope this helps