In our latest blog, Crowns of Enterprise Awards winner Michelle Menard, talks to us about how her love of languages and her entrepreneurial spirit inspired her to start Choice Translating 20 years ago! She discusses her journey over the years and provides some advice for businesses just starting. Keep reading!
Charlotte Business Resources (CBR): Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us Michelle. First, tell us a little bit about how Choice Translating got started.
Michelle Menard (MM): I founded Choice Translating in 1995 while I was an undergraduate at UNC Charlotte. There were many, many things in my life that were leading me to this entrepreneurial adventure, including a love of languages thanks to my immigrant parents (mother from France and father from Panama) and a friend who urged me to start my own translation business.
Choice Translating is a locally-owned, full-service linguistics company specializing in translating, interpreting, linguistic and cultural brand name validation and tagline localization working in 200 languages. We serve a number of industries including manufacturing, law, energy, healthcare, HR, marketing, eLearning, government and non-profit sectors.
Selected as one of the Charlotte Business Journal’s 2014 Best Places to Work, Choice Translating leverages industry best practices for quality, world-class project managers, highly trained professional translators and interpreters, and the latest technology to ensure client success in the global economy. (We also know how to have fun! To see a quick, 30-second video about our unique company culture that was highlighted at the CBJ’s 2014 Best Places to Work awards celebration, click here.)
CBR: How does your business affect the community?
MM: By giving all people a voice, we make the world smaller, more connected and a better place to be. Through our business activities we create jobs for thousands of people by helping clients overcome communication barriers with non-English speaking people at home and abroad. And through our Choice Cares™ program we donate 1% of our time, 1% of our product and 1% of our profit to projects that reduce poverty and promote peace.
CBR: What challenges did you face while starting this company?
MM: We’re now celebrating our 20th anniversary (hooray!!), but when we started in 1995 it was difficult to access capital for growth.
CBR: What advice do you have for new business owners?
MM: Follow your passion and use your unique ability. Prove that there is a market for your services or products, and then leverage resources and experts to keep the business side in order.
Take advantage of all the things Charlotte has to offer to the entrepreneurial and business community. We’ve leveraged a number of resources in Charlotte, including the business incubator now known as Ventureprise (formerly the Ben Craig Center) and the Small Business & Technology Development Center. We’ve benefited from countless hours of consulting over the years and both organizations have certainly helped us get to where we are today.
CBR: Would you change anything about your business if you could go back to the beginning?
MM: Sometimes I wish we could have grown faster in the beginning but if I had had funding, maybe we would have crashed and burned. Our steady, controlled growth has helped us maintain a strong, healthy foundation. Also, over the years we learned how important it is to hire the most talented people who are perfectly aligned with our purpose, core values and culture. Having happy, fully engaged team members ensures we deliver excellent services and have happy clients.
CBR: Do you have any plans for the future?
MM: We work with wonderful people who endeavor to change the world, one word at a time. We will continue to support the growth of the Charlotte region as a center of commerce, knowledge and culture.
Twenty years in business is a long time, but for Choice Translating the best is yet to come. If you know talented, highly capable people who are proactively accountable and engaged in making the world a better place, please encourage them to apply at www.choicetranslating.com/About-Us/Staff-Careers. We are always recruiting top talent!
Thanks so much Michelle! If you have questions you can contact Choice Translating online or give them a call at 704-717-0043.
Here is more info on Michelle!
Michelle Luhr Menard founded Choice Translating in 1995 while an undergraduate at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, graduating with a B.S.B.A. in international business and a B.A. in French. In 2000, the U.S. Small Business Administration named her North Carolina Young Entrepreneur of the Year. She was recognized in 2004 as one of the Charlotte Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” high achievers and was a finalist for Business North Carolina magazine’s Small Business of the Year award in 2005. In 2007 she received the Charlotte Business Journal’s “Women in Business” achievement award. She was recognized as one of the “50 Most Influential Women” by The Mecklenburg Times in 2011.
Michelle has been a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Charlotte Chapter since 2002 and is an alumna of Leadership Charlotte Class XXV. She currently serves on the Advisory Board of the UNC Charlotte Belk College of Business, the UNC Charlotte Foundation Board and the Board of Directors of the Charlotte City Club.