Eileen Kilabuk-Weber started her own business after her son passed away. She knew she couldn't be in a workplace setting day-in and day out. She travelled to Edmonton to attend MBA classes and decided to stay. She decided to open Inuktut Translations. "I knew that I was confident enough to do this too and even though I questioned my self-worth and confidence at times, I knew that this was going to be successful if I put enough work into it. Interpreting is what I have always done while growing up. When I was a child growing up, our parents didn't know how to speak in English. We had to interpret for them."
After she completed her Interpreter/Translator Program, she became a Court Interpreter, as well as continuing her education in Inuit Studies. She also started working in the language field working evenings and on weekends. She now had both the formal education and work experience to be more confident to start her own interpretation and translation business.
"The most important reason why I wanted to start my own business and work full-time on it was because I value my traditional language so much. I do not want my children and grandchildren to lose our Inuktitut language. We, as an ethnic group, have lost enough already and language is a very important part of our culture. In order to keep our culture, we must keep our language alive. I think that my father, who is now deceased paved the way for me to have a successful business even though he didn't live to see it." Her father was a Member of the Legislative Assembly in the Northwest Territories, and he represented the Baffin Central region. He was instrumental in the adoption of Inuktitut as the Official Language and the requirement to have all documents available in Inuktitut. This opportunity led the way for Eileen to a start a successful business due to the demand for Inuktitut translation services. Her father also taught her the proper way of speaking Inuktitut and always had time to correct and teach her the proper traditional terms.
Setting up a translation business can be challenging in the beginning as it is often based on your reputation and contracts can be sporadic; therefore there is no steady source of income. Word of mouth is key to establishing a client base and even though Eileen didn't live in Nunavut at the time, keeping her territorial clients was a major coup for her business. Her hard work and quick turn-around time, along with her ability to meet deadlines, encouraged clients to continue to use her services.
Having a home-based business allowed her to have the flexibility to look after her children, support her husband's business, set her own hours and pay her bills. Using mobile technology in this type of business also helps balance her work and travel life. She can travel and continue to work on projects while earning income.
Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: "You can only be successful if you do what you love doing. Doing what you love doing shouldn't feel like work. Be prepared to work hard, value your relationships, respect your customers/clients, learn something new everyday, and always do some research for new innnovation, and evaluate your existing or old products or services. Always improve something. Everything changes, be prepared to embrace change. Most important thing, always balance your work and home life. There are many other things that are enjoyable. Maybe if you join an arts class, you can learn a new technique and incorporate that to your business. You never know, you might innovate something useful and beautiful at the same time. Also, having a mentor always helps and you should also have a circle of advisors/experts who are in the same industry you want to be in. They are always willing to help and in turn, you could also help other businesses. Don't let your fear of being judged, criticized and failure stop you from doing what you want to do. Have faith."
What's next for Eileen and her business? "I want to incorporate a teaching aspect into my business. I want to offer Inuktitut teaching or take on more interpreting assignments. I want to travel more. Another option is that I turn this business into a Translation Management Company where I hire or contract other translators and take on less translator work projects myself and focus more on the management of the business."
Inuktut Translations provides simultaneous, consecutive and whisper interpreting services from Inuktitut and English and vice-versa. Also offers translations and sight translation services.
This success story is provided by the Canada Nunavut Business Service Centre –offers services to assist you at every stage of your business.