Entrepreneurs’ Organization: Using Localization to Grow International Membership

How can quality localization help small and medium businesses (SMBs) enter, sustain and grow their businesses internationally? In this four-part blog series, sponsored by SDL, we interview SMBs to learn why international markets are key to their growth goals, and how using centralized language localization services help them improve engagement, sales and retention in overseas markets. In Part 1, we talk with Taylor Collison, Marketing Manager at the Entrepreneurs‘ Organization (EO), to learn about why localization is key to helping EO expand international membership.

Laurie:       Hi Taylor, can you give us a quick overview about the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and its mission?


Taylor:       Sure. EO is a global, non-profit membership organization designed exclusively to engage leading entrepreneurs helping them learn and grow. We’ve been in business since 1987, and have grown to more than 12,000 members and about 100 employees. Our global office is in Alexandria, Virginia, but we have employees based all over the world supporting our chapters in more than 50 countries.

Laurie:       What are the benefits to joining EO?

Taylor:        The biggest benefit is direct access to this network of entrepreneurs. For instance, the New York chapter has over 200 members. If you are a new member, you join a small group of about ten to twelve members in what’s known as a Forum, which is a super tight-knit group of people who meet monthly, and share business or personal challenges in a highly confidential environment. They bounce ideas off each other and learn and grow from each other. We also put on global and regional events throughout the year on top of a variety of other learning programs that are available to members.

Laurie:      What’s the background on your the organization branching out into so many countries?

Taylor:        We want to build the world’s most influential entrepreneur community, so we want to be in any major overseas market. The organization started in Canada, and today the U.S. makes up about 50% of our membership. We have a targeted growth plan, though, and a structured process to expand chapters in new countries. We’re are currently expanding existing membership in China and Japan, while launching new chapters in Latin America, South Asia, and Europe, to name a few regions.

Laurie:       How do you see the role of localization in helping EO to expand?

Taylor:       We grow through membership, and the best way to do that is to enhance the member experience. Delivering up-to-date, localized content is critical to making this happen. We want our materials to cater to our members in local regions, and have the local touch. We’ve started off small with three languages, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese, and with a focus on translations for internal member marketing and events, so we can provide greater value to our members. We plan to expand over time to more languages and to external marketing, such as what we do on Facebook and Google, to help us better demonstrate that we understand different cultures.

Laurie:       So up until a couple of years ago, you were using local translators for this, correct? What was the problem with that?

Taylor:        Yes, local staff members in Asia, for example, were going to their friends or a local translator. We had difficulty tracking how much we were spending as an organization or how much we had translated, what documents were currently translated, which ones were old, etc. We decided to audit the process to figure out how we could improve it. We chose SDL for the audit, which confirmed that things were indeed very disjointed, without quality control or revision history. So we put out another RFP to select a vendor to help us centralize it.

Laurie:       How did you select SDL?

Taylor:       A big factor was the translation management system, the hub and the technology behind it for translation memory.  Also, SDL provided the best detail about how the system would help us save money. In addition, to be fair, we had a taste of what the working relationship would be like from the audit, and, in terms of timeliness, quality, and other elements, it was all good from our end.

Laurie:       So how has the process been going?

Taylor:        We’re a little unique. Sometimes we use SDL translators and other times we try and use existing translator relationships to leverage their knowledge of EO. We needed to integrate these translators into the system, and teach them how to use the SDL platform instead of just emailing documents back and forth. Now, we just submit a job into the system, which triggers an alert for an estimate, and the translation process can happen all within the system. Reviewers get alerts, review the document, accept or reject it, and get notified when it’s ready to download.

Laurie:       What are you currently translating, and have the volumes changed?

Taylor:        Most of it is internal documents, such as a chapter agreements and manuals with best practices tips and tricks. With one central system, we can do more. In the past year, we’ve done about 15 documents in the three languages, which has provided great value to multiple regions.

Laurie:       Does SDL’s managed translation platform make your job easier?

Taylor:        Yes, I love it from a project management standpoint. I’m not a translation expert, and they’ve really helped me learn on the job. Everything  is in one place, and I can see what’s started and progress along the way. Submitting jobs is very easy, and approvals and payments are also all in done in the same place. Our reviewers are very happy with the quality too, because they don’t have to make many changes. We’ve also found that SDL translators deliver translations very fast, which works well for time sensitive requests and jobs. And SDL customer support is often great, very flexible to work with on a regular basis.

Laurie:       What are the top benefits that you see SDL providing to EO?

Taylor:        Having the centralized language cloud and dashboard with everything in one place is key. And the service bureau approach gives us backup translation resources if our individual translators can’t do the job due to time constraints. SDL is also very accommodating and easy to work with. They spent time with us upfront to understand our growth goals and help us create a seamless process with existing translators. Their overall expertise has helped us get everything up and running smoothly.

Laurie:      Thanks, Taylor, for sharing your insights on the topic with us.