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Multilingual jodiBooks?

2018 March 115 min read
Joep van de Laarschot

Normally we write our blog posts in Dutch. Everybody who doesn't speak the language, but did somehow find this blog, probably already noticed. So why then write a blog in English all of a sudden? Let's first explain shortly what jodiBooks is and what we are doing.

jodiBooks is a startup company from Eindhoven, The Netherlands. We see there are a lot of small entrepreneurs out there. Some have big dreams and brilliant ideas. Some just want to sell their art or help other people by doing their hair. Being self-employed does however mean you also have to do a lot of (financial) administration. Firstly, to convince the government you are a legitimate business and pay your taxes. Secondly, to keep your business healthy (financially). This can be a big burden, as it costs you money, energy, frustration and most importantly time you could otherwise spend on improving your skills.

We have to be honest, we're not going to save you money, or do your administration. We're going to help you do it more efficiently and help you understand your business financially. We do this by building a website, also called jodiBooks, where you save all your receipts (revenue and expenses). You still need a bookkeeper or accountant for doing your official reports and taxes though. In the future we hope to do much more so you might not need a bookkeeper, but that will take a few years. You can read about our vision here, although for now it's only available in Dutch.

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Dutch company

So, we are a Dutch company. This however should not hold us back translating jodiBooks to other languages. In fact, we are planning on a release in English, French and German. However, translating is just half the story. To help people organize their administration, we are studying the rules every business has to abide by. As we're a Dutch company, we ourselves have to abide by the Dutch rules. So, this was a logical starting point for us to develop our initial product. We don't yet know how different the rules are in other countries, for example Belgium, Germany and France. We think they will all be pretty similar within the EU, but we don't know for sure yet.

Another thing we're studying are tax rules. At the moment that's VAT specifically. Within the EU every country must use VAT in the same way. However, every country can use different rates and in some countries you can round off the complete sum, while in others you have to round off every item.

Translations or country specific?

We don't want to stay Dutch-only forever, but when we are going to release in another language, we want to do it right. So we don't want to release, for example, a German version without the German rules applied. A pure translation would only cause confusion. Also, someone from, say, Austria could use the German version, but probably needs an Austrian one. So, we are going to build country-specific versions and we probably will be releasing multiple "countries" (with the same language) together.

We know however, that not everybody in The Netherlands speaks Dutch. There are a lot of expats, students and "partners-of" who want to have their own business, or already have. These businesses, when registered in The Netherlands, should use the Dutch rules too. These people are the first we want to reach out to with an English translation of the Dutch version.

Why not make just an English version?

That being said, wouldn't it sound very logical to start with an English version? Although we agree that most people in The Netherlands understand English and a lot do speak English, it is still a second language for most. And we think, doing your business administration in a foreign language can be a step too far; It's already difficult in your native tongue. Our goal is to make doing your administration as simple as possible. This also means doing it in your own language.

So...?

To answer our initial question, we write this post in English for two reasons. Firstly, we see engagement from non-Dutchies on social media and we also want them to feel welcome. Secondly, we want you all to know jodiBooks won't be Dutch-only for long, but also explain why we ask you to be patient.

This year we first want to improve the Dutch version of jodiBooks, by adding some features. We think these additions would be really interesting and helpful for you guys. In 2019 we want to start making other country-versions. Probably Belgium, France and Germany first, but let us know if you think we should do another country first.