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Small business opportunity - need advice (sorry, kinda long...)

Discussion in 'Other Off Topic Forum' started by Varenne, Feb 6, 2004.

  1. Varenne

    Varenne Formula Junior

    Nov 8, 2003
    554
    Atlanta
    Full Name:
    Mark
    Ok, here's the situation...


    I have a Japanese friend currently living in Tokyo. His command of English is adequate, but, just barely. (Of course, my command of Japanese is zero). He has started a company in which he wants to provide advisory services for his clients that want to establish a greater US presence.

    The idea is for me is to help with the writing and design for the websites for his clients, but positioned for Western audiences. These are going to be static "brochureware" websites. At present, he doesn't anticipate any dynamic content, CGI, back-end transaction processing, database lookups. Just marketing and sales-ey type stuff.

    A lot of the work will be taking his raw, basic translation, and 'fixing it up' to use common English language and syntax, and general readibility and presence for Western audiences.

    Having said that, here are the basic questions...

    Question 1: What is a reasonable amount of $$$ to charge for re-writing (and generally "Westernizing") one of these web pages. Here, I'm just referring to rewriting only, no web design per se. If a static website has say, ten webpages - each with text that needs to be rewritten, should I charge by the page? or for the whole website? Again, what does anyone think is a reasonable amount to charge?

    Question 2: I'm moderately, technically oriented, but I'm not a web developer. (At least not good enough to take someone's money for actual HTML/DHTML/whatever programming.) If he wants me to design a simple, information only website, is anyone aware of a tool that I could use to do a visual design, UI/graphics only, that I could show them, so he could take that back to his own developers to code to. Does that make sense?

    If I can find a good webpage design tool, I might be able to create a good visual design for the website, but without coding. I don't have any web development software. Sorry if this is an obvious question, but is this easily done with Pagemaker if I go and pick up a copy of that? Something else...?

    Question 3: We have yet to work out financial details regarding how the money itself would be transferred to me. If he writes me a personal check from his company's bank account, does he need to put it in Yen, or does he put the amount in U.S. dollars? I assume that if he pays me in Yen, then would be banks involved be able to coordinate the exchange, etc.? Would his bank even allow him to write a check in U.S.dollars? How have some of you conducted relatively small international currency transactions ?

    Question 4: Assuming this idea works, and I do a few ad-hoc jobs for him, and I think I might want to make this a bit more formal arrangement, what's your quick take on the next step for me. Is it a Sub-S corporation, a LLC, a sole proprietership, or what? Of course, I do know that I have to find a good attorney as well as a good accountant. Just wanted to hear what your thoughts were as well.

    I know I won't make F-car money at this, but perhaps it'll help with the monthly cash flow.

    Thanks for reading this far, and I'm anxious to hear what everyone has to say.

    Mark
     
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  3. TSMIV

    TSMIV Formula Junior

    Jan 27, 2004
    373
    Columbus, MS
    Full Name:
    Robert Goodman
    Q1: It does not sound like you have command of his language, so I assume that you are using something like Systran 4.0 Asian edition. Ask yourself what your time is worth. I would say charge a straight hourly fee.

    Q2: Netscape makes some good software. I use it for my websites. It is not the best by far, but it gets the job done. I suggest you get a Netscape account and use their software. Then give the client the URL to check it out.

    Q3: Check with your bank on this one. They will be better equiped to help with this.

    Q4: It is out of my range but DES (sorry, NNO) sparked a good debate the other day, so do a search.
     
  4. tvrfreak

    tvrfreak F1 Rookie
    BANNED

    Mar 31, 2003
    3,879
    Arkansas
    Full Name:
    F K
    You are probably better off charging him for your time. $15-$25 an hour is the going rate for basic web design these days. Or you can agree to flat fee of $5-$10 per page for the editing, and maybe a $200 fee if you are going to change the look and feel and do very extensive rewording to it a good marketing/sales tool with the right language.

    If it's static web pages, they probably just have graphic elements with text throughout. You can select the Japanese text (or poor English text) and replace it with English text using any editor that can handle HTML. Some are better than others, but basic stuff can be done with any.

    There is a learning curve with all software. Sounds like FrontPage or Dreamweaver is your best bet...quick to get started with and able to handle more advanced stuff later. Bear in mind that if you want to get fancier later, you might have to recode entire pages. But It sounds like you need to make CSS and basic page templates using one of these software packages.

    I am sure PageMaker can do all this too, but I have not used it in years. It had a steeper learning curve when I used it in 1995, and seemed to be aimed at more advanced users. Dunno if that's changed. I recommend that you start off with FrontPage.

    He can buy dollars at his bank, then wire you the money in dollars to your account. This would be cheapest for him. If he wires you in Yen and your bank does the conversion, they will charge hefty fees. But yes, he can send you money in Yen and you will get it in your account. If you intend to go to Japan in the near future, you should ask him to keep some money for you there so you can both avoid currency conversion fees. He can also pay you with PayPal.

    Form an LLC eventually. When you are at the point of pulling in over $10k. Until then, sole proprietorship is fine. But consult with an accountant since everyone's situation is different.

    Cash flow? So desu ne! :)
     
  5. Slim

    Slim Formula 3

    Oct 11, 2001
    1,735
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Full Name:
    richard
    His clients are Japanese wanting to establish a greater presence in the US? If so, why are the websites in English? Or have I understood you backwards?

    I can't predict how much editing of the text you will need to do. But straight translation between english and japanese is charged at about 10cents per word. So I'd say something less than that since you aren't actually translating, but just correcting it.

    As for "Westernizing" the web pages, this is very complex work. I would advise such a client to forget about fixing up the English provided by the Japanese client and simply to read for the meaning they are trying to convey and to understand what products or services they are offering. I would then have a marketing copy writer write the copy from scratch to appeal to the particular target market that the clients research has shown to be likely customers. The pay for this varies based on the experience and demonstratable results of the writer.

    Also keep in mind that writing for the web is different than writing for a printed brochure or an advertisement because of the different approach people take to reading on the web. So you need a copy writer who understands how to do this.

    I'm going to assume that if you are unaware of the tools of graphic design and web development, that you don't have much experience in it. You may have an idea of what would make for an attractive web site (and you can draw it up in adobe photoshop or adobe illustrator to show to the developers), but the key talent needed is to be able to understand the client base and how to design a site that appeals to *them* and has its information organized in a way that they are used to and is effective. Then be able to design visual elements that assist in communicating information.

    Yes, the web is filled with homemade websites but when trying to attract clients for a business that assists them in breaking into a new market (if that's what your friend is trying to do), I would think the website needs to be top notch.

    There is no check system in Japan so he can't write you a check. If the amounts are small enough he can get a foreign exchange money order in US dollars from his local post office. If large amounts will be paid at once, he can do a bank transfer to your bank in the states if the amount is large enough (there will be some fees so you only want to use this for larger transfers).

    I don't think you need to form a corporation since you are basically acting as a consultant. If you want to operate under a business name rather than your own, you can file a dba and do so.


    I do the things you have mentioned professionally. I spent six years working in Japan and am fluent in Japanese, have 15 years of graphic design and 7 years web design experience, and am a published writer and editor and former publisher of a magazine (in Japanese, in Tokyo). This is not easy work but it's quite rewarding. If I can be of assistance, please let me know. (you can reach me through my site http://www.3jar.com)

    -Slim
     

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