Florence, starting your business in Italy?

5 things for starting a business in Italy

Thinking of starting a business in Italy? But you don’t know the Italian tax law or how you will import your products? What is the work culture in Italy? If these are your questions, here you will find the answers!

Despite the reputation for bureaucracy, red tape, corruption and a rigid labor market, Italy still has its attractive point for foreigners to start their own business there.

So, don’t panic. If you wish to succeed when starting a business in Italy, just like you would anywhere else, do follow the 5 essential tips below! With them, you will know more about the law, regulation/requirements of importing product and Italian business culture.


#1 Creation of your company status

To-do list image for starting a business in Italy

The first thing you might wonder when wanting to start your own business in Italy is : How?

First of all, the Italian government provides financial and technical support for foreign investors. Dependent on the amount of money you are planning to invest or where you wish to establish your company. Have a look at some of the advantages (and disadvantages) of starting a business in Italy right here!

Which company status should you choose?

In Italy, you can create a SRL (Limited Liability Company) or a SpA (Public-Limited Company), depending on the size of your company and the amount of money you are investing. 
If you wish to create a brand new company, you might find the SRL status as more advantageous. In fact, this status allows you to create a company with only one shareholder by investing a minimum of 1€. Additionally, the director does not need to be a European Union resident, which comes handy for foreign investors.

On the other hand, you might be more interested by the SpA status if you are planning on having a minimum paid-up capital of 50 000€ or seek a significant amount of capital from investors (third party), or have the company listed on a stock exchange.
You can read more about the different types of status right here.

Your to-do list for starting a business in Italy

Once you have decided which type of company you wish to create, you need to:

  • Draft the company’s memorandum;
  • Register your company and its bylaws before a notary public;
  • Deposit the required documents with the Register of Enterprises in Italy;
  • Buy corporate and accounting books (as specified by the Article 2478 of the Italian Civil Code).

You can find very useful information about these steps right here.


#2 How to pay your taxes

Statistics picture

Personal Taxes

The Italian law provides 5 taxes: the Imposta sul reddito (income tax); the Imposta sulle società (corporate tax); the Imposta sul valore aggiunto (VAT or sales tax); the Imposta sui servizi (tax on services); and the accise (excises).

Italian individual income tax is called IRPEF, or Imposta sul Reddito delle Persone Fisiche and is rated progressively from 23% to 43%. Additional taxes are based on regional (0.9% to 1.4%) and local (0.1% to 0.8%) levels.
If you’re a foreign resident working in Italy, you are only taxed on the income earned in Italy. However, if you are an Italian resident, spend more than 183 days a year in Italy, and your business and investments are in Italy, your worldwide income is subject to IRPEF.

For more information on the different taxes rates, click right here.

Business Taxes

Corporate Tax

Once your company registered, you will have to pay a corporate tax of about 24% along with a regional tax on productive activities of usually 3.9%.

VAT

Another tax that you will be expected to pay is a VAT of 22%.
There are other minor taxes that you will also have to remember, such as the property tax (up to 0.16% of the value of the building) and a tax on financial transactions (up to 0.2%).

Before starting a business in Italy, you might want to find more information on the different types of business taxes right here.


#3 Import & customs for your business

Earth picture

No matter how liberal Italy would like to be in terms of trading, it certainly has some important rules and restrictions to follow. 

For example, the import of particular goods such as live animals and animal products, pirate or counterfeit items or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) are prohibited. As well as products containing chemicals, such as mercury, PCB, PCT CFC and HCFC are banned from the market.

If you plan on importing goods from another EU member state, it is not necessary to make a customs entry. But it may be necessary to file an Intrastate declaration if the items you are importing exceed an annual value threshold.

Overseas imports on the other hand, typically require commercial invoices and shipping documents such as an Air Waybill, for instance. Other requirements can include a certificate of origin.

Once you have considered the logistics of entering the Italian market, either with an existing business or a new venture, you can start planning. Just keep in mind to plan everything to the last detail, so you can enjoy your successful business in Italy. 

For further information on import/customs click here.


#4 Italian culture overview & language

Image of the main monuments of Italy
The Italian language

Italy is a country with strong culture and identiti. Around 96% of population speaks Italian, but there are also many other ethnicities in the country. Almost half of the population speaks a regional dialect as their mother tongue and some of them are not officially recognized. The most famous dialect is the Friulian, which comes from the north East of Italy and is spoken by 600 000 citizens.
If you want to work in Italy you will need to learn Italian, you can begin your classes with Youtube Italian lessons:

The Italian culture

In the Italian culture, family is one of the pillars of individuals’ life. They used to live close to their families and to gather at least once a week. Cuisine is really important for all the family meetings. Everybody knows at least 3 Italian dishes because Italian immigrants spread their culture all around the world. For the population, lunchtime is an opportunity to gather and share food – eating is a social habit!

The Religion

Another important aspect of the Italian culture is the religion. Around 80% of the population are Roman Catholics because of their proximity with the Vatican and the Pope. Of these 80%, one third are regular churchgoers. However, there is a growth of the Muslim population due to the immigration waves towards Italy.


#5 Work and live with Italians

One of the most important thing to keep in mind when wanting to start a business in Italy is that hierarchy is strict and based on traditional leadership. The aim of team meetings is to test the support of colleagues but not to reach consensus or making decisions. As you might already know Italians have a strong character and have leading personalities. They are also good in creating holistic solutions which prove to strengthen personal relationships or help improve the profile of the participants. 

Starting a business in Italy

Now let’s talk about the way they like to work!  Italians like to have a day filled with interactions and several tasks! So you have to be a bit relaxed with time perception! Indeed, meetings might start few minutes late and even more during social occasions. It’s La Dolce Vita, but when it’s time for important business meetings, Italians are always on time.

Appointments can be made on really short notice, so don’t be surprised and get ready! For instance, in case you have made an appointment a long time in advance, it is almost mandatory  to verify it 2 days before the meeting. Small advice: Try to make business appointments around coffee time. In the morning between 10:00 and 11:00 or after 15:00 o’clock in the afternoon.
To learn more about the Italian business culture and starting a business in Italy, click right here!

Italian work-style

As you know, the key element of the Italian culture is the food so do not hesitate to have a long lunch break to go to a local bar or pizzeria. You will get very strange looks if you snack on your sad-looking home-made sandwich in front of your computer screen. Also, lunch appointments, at a nice restaurant, can be effective.

Last but definitely not least, almost as food, fashion is part of the Italian culture and work codes. For Italians, the way you dress is a reflection of your personality. So, dress to impress but dress neat and formal. If you are a man you should wear suits and women should always have a feminine touch. Do note, first impressions make lasting impressions on Italians! Read more in Italian business culture here

How to start your own business in the Netherlands ?

Netherlands is becoming increasingly active in the area of entrepreneurship. If you want to build your own business, be your own boss and start your own company, then it is certainly a good time to start your business in Netherlands! But why is that?

start a business in netherlands
start a business in netherlands
  • It has one of the lowest tax rates in Europe (from 20%).
  • There is no value added tax (VAT) for transactions between member states of the EU.
  • Companies have an amazing and well-known reputation in global e-commerce.
  • English is spoken by more than 90% of the people and often have another foreign language.
  • Netherlands offer an incredibly business atmosphere.
  • Netherlands is welcoming to foreign entrepreneurs and investors.

So, if you are interested, here are some of the administrative steps that have to be followed:

1. Do I need to obtain a VISA to live and start a business in Netherlands ? 

Any person from any country can start a business. Due to the EU (European Union) law, citizens from the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland are allowed to work in the Netherlands without a special residency. 

However, the procedure change if you are a Non-EU citizen. In that case, and depending on your project, you can look for a start-up permit or a self-employed permit.

business in Netherlands - what do you need to get a VISA?

2. Which permit should I apply to?

To be able to apply for one of the permits, there are some criteria that you have to meet:

The start up Visa

It’s a visa that lasts one year and is reserved to international entrepreneurs who want to create their own business. You have to prove that you have enough financial resources to sustain yourself for that year and also that your business is innovative.

The self-employed residence permit

If you are thinking to move for an indefinite period of time, this is the Visa you have to apply for. However, you need to fulfill some requirements like a solid business plan, a certified financial information and good financial prospects from third parties. This application is a points-based system and you need a minimum of 90 points to accomplish it.

For more information, you can read the government’s informations about visas.

3. What kind of the Legal business forms do they have?

Here are the various types of legal business structures you need to know to start your business in Netherlands. There exist two types of business figures: the unincorporated structures and incorporated structures. But there is only one difference between them. The first one has to provide privately accountable for any debts created with the business, meanwhile the incorporated business provides it separately. That’s why the majority of entrepreneurs decide to choose a private limited company.

Unincorporated business structures:

  • Sole trader (Individual Business Owner)
  • Partnership
  • Limited partnership
  • General Partnership

Incorporated business structures:

  • Private limited company
  • Public limited company
  • Cooperative
  • Foundation
  • Association

The choice of the legal forms depends on the type of business you choose. For example, freelancers and small business owners usually choose the Sole Proprietorship structure, while the most used form for big businesses is a Limited Liability Company.

4. Is there any registration do I need to fulfill to start a business in Netherlands ? – Yes, discover the KvK!

When you identified the kind of business you want to start, it’s needed to register it with the KvK (Kamer van Koophandel) or Dutch Chamber of Commerce to enter in the Dutch Trade Register. Also, your business should be registered with your local municipality. Remember to do it one week before you start your business and if you choose to close it, it should be within one week after. 

First of all, make sure you already define the name of your business and make up good description about what you are going to run. You can find a clue of some names on the Kvk search page.

How does the registration work ? 

  1. Register on KVK web page. Complete all the legal information in English and Dutch. Be sure to share some information about your business and activities. 
  2. Then you should arrange an appointment to visit your local KvK on the “appointment page”
  3. For you appointment make sure you bring:
  • Complete form 
  • Payment (approx 50€)
  • ID (passport, residency or Dutch driving licence)
  • Contact details (include address, rental contract of the business)

After this process, you will receive a business number, known as the KvK number, to use it in your invoices and all the legal documents for your business. 

You are now ready to start your business in Netherlands ! And don’t forget to learn about business culture in Netherlands… 🙂

5 tips to succeed your international business expansion.

international business expansion
Bridge in Hong Kong and Container Cargo freight ship

Looking for new challenges but don’t know where to start ? This article is made for you. Having enough resources, and a stable business isn’t enough in a global context. As an entrepreneur, you must be looking for new ways to improve your international business expansion and grow your revenue. But the real concern is to know when and where to invest. Of course, as an entrepreneur, you are a risk taker but no worries! Business Culture is here for you. Here are 5 tips to succeed your international business expansion and build a strong strategy.

Tips 1 : The best countries to start a business in 2019

If you want to succeed international business expansion., prepare your tickets for Oceania! According to the World Bank’s “Doing Business 2019” ranking, New Zealand remains the first country where it is easier to do business. The archipelago of Oceania comes in first place on the creation of business, the transfer of real estate properties and the obtaining of bank credits criteria. In addition, the country ranks second in protecting minority investors. Comes respectively in second and third position, Singapore and Denmark. Singapore is a leader in terms of contract enforcement and Denmark is first in terms of ease of trade with foreign countries.

Here are 3 examples of french entrepreneurs who started a businesses abroad (Oceania and Asia). 

Brice de Matharel, 28, helps foreign entrepreneurs in Hong Kong. Blown away by the entrepreneurial fever of young people living in Hong Kong, this Audencia graduate had the good idea to open a contact agency between entrepreneurs and local experts (logistics, accounting expertise, etc.).

Monsarrat, 25, is a “wine consultant” in Hong Kong. Arriving in Hong Kong right after finishing Essca – Aix-en-provence, he first created a swimwear brand before becoming a wine consultant for restaurants. He took advantage of a market booming and the chinese’s love for great wine. He was helped by Jumpstart, a business center situated in the heart of the city : “It’s the best in the city, the services are super efficient and inexpensive”.

Johanna Viande, 38, launched an e-tourism website in India. After a trip to the resort of Goa, this graphic designer launched an online tour guide. Five years later, the website refers 500 establishments in the region and counts 2,000 visitors a day. “The rise of middle class comes with a higher demand for recreation. Opportunities in India are numerous, but you need to be patient,” warns Johanna.


Tips 2 : Study the competition

Bear in mind that when you accomplish your international business expansion, the competition might not be anything like you’ve been used to in the past. So you need to carefully study the competition and determine exactly what it is that you’ll be up against once you’re in business there.

Think about competition in three ways. Barriers to entry: competition often means that there is a barrier to entry which means someone or something that stands between you and your customers. Facing a barrier to entry doesn’t necessarily mean that another person or company is doing exactly what you are doing or that there is a patent that impedes your entry. If a customer’s needs are being met, there is a barrier. Differentiation: failing to differentiate and set up barriers to competitors and imitators inevitably leads to profit erosion. Resources : competitors are also a great source of information and ideas.

You must think relentlessly and incessantly about your competition: past, present, and future. A competitive landscape analysis starts with a thorough assay of the market. Once you’ve gathered the information, it’s imperative that you be able to talk about it and show how you are different in a concise and compelling way. A features table is a particularly helpful device, especially in presentations. If you can put together a table with all the backup research in an appendix on competitors, no one will question your understanding of the competition.

Tips 3 : Create an adapted network.

If you want to achieve your international business expansion in another country, you need to create relationships with locals partners and connect with your future/potential clients. But no worries, here are some steps, tested and approved by the entrepreneur community,  to master networking abroad or in your home country. 

As recommended by Andrew Hennigan, coach specialized in networking and author of “Payforward Networking” : « You can also get to know people in other countries through online networking forums with an international audience. This includes LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook ». Thanks to technology and social media, it is easier to interact with people and create new connections. Who knows ? Maybe these connections will be transformed into your best relationships. You should also join Facebook Groups dedicated to learning new languages, or Meetup groups present in the cities you aspire to for your business. You will multiply the opportunities to meet internationals that have chosen the same adventure. 

EY recently surveyed 750 business professionals in collaboration with networking expert Julia Hobsbawm and summed up key points to succeed in that field : 

  • Try to meet five people for coffee or lunch every week. 
  • Be curious and generous: share what you know, help others and be interested in ideas and other people.
  • Try to spend a fifth of your working time on all your different networking activities.

The greatest advantage you will get from the local network, is the number of advice about local customs and behaviors to avoid cultural shock. 

(click here if you want to see the full infographic)

Tips 4 : Learn about Legislation ! 

To expand your business abroad, be sure to know perfectly all the country’s legislations. You have to search for information about global laws but also specific laws concerning your activity. Some country are less accessible than others and that could be a key factor to chose your new land business. As better you are informed, as much you avoid bad surprises!

Of course, every country has it own specificities, you have to consider the cultural mandates of the land you expect to settle in. Don’t hesitate to ask question.Your new network can help you understand the legal situation!

Here are some question that you can ask yourself: 

Is my business legal in this country ? 

How the laws are likely to change ? 

Which element of my business model could I adapt for this new country ? 

Tips 5 : Evaluate the cultural differences and Adapt !

In the global marketplace that the world represents today, it is important to understand cultural differences to give your business the best chances to succeed and avoid misunderstandings with colleagues or clients. In a business context, culture refers to the common behavior. 

First, we have communication that refers to the language barriers including language, tone but also basic customs, mannerisms, gestures and body language. More generally, it is the way people do business. For example in France, people should dress to impress because appearance is important in French culture. In the Western countries, we often treat business cards as  something to get rid of but in Asian countries, you present your card with both hands and take the time to read it. Also, the meeting process is different according to the country.

Secondly, attitude is an important question concerning organizational structure. Cultural attitudes towards management make it difficult to define roles. For example in Sweden, there is a flat organizational hierarchy, while in Japan people have respect for seniority. 

Finally, etiquette is how people want to be approached : on a first-name basis or do they prefer titles and surnames ? In China, people use titles and surnames but in US, people usually use first names. 

Conclusion

It’s important to do your homework to build strong relationships and successful business operations. 

We saw that starting a business an international business expansion requires a strong analysis of the difficulties and potential the any country can offer. The 5 best steps you can follow are :

  • Take informations about the best country to invest in, 2019-2020 ranking puts Oceania, Singapore and Denmark at the top 3 !
  • Study the competition, both the barriers of the sector and how you can differentiate yourself from the current actors. 
  • Develop your network! It is really important to get to know people that can give you informations and advices about the country you are aspiring to or their own experiences.
  • Of course, legislation is another important step because a lot of things can differ from a country to another. Changing laws, will change the way you will present your business. 
  • Get cultural knowledge! If you want to do business abroad, you need to study the basics customs and behaviors in business. 

After this, you will be all set to start your international business expansion !

How expats can achieve a better work/life balance in Sweden?


Whether it’s due to the country’s promising career opportunities, or down to its generous approach to paid parental leave, it’s easy to see why Sweden is known for offering a great work/life balance and a high quality of life. This is further reflected in HSBC’s most recent Expat Explorer Survey which ranks Sweden first place for work/life balance.

Stockholm on the waterfront
Stockholm, Sweden

To help expats discover how living and working in Sweden can improve their work/life balance, this article takes a deep dive into what the country has to offer in terms of career opportunities, lifestyle and more.

Career opportunities

Home to a diverse range of industries, from telecommunications and automotive to agriculture and pharmaceuticals, Sweden has a lot to offer expats in terms of career opportunities.

To help expats find a job more easily, the Swedish Migration Agency and the Public Employment Agency regularly put together a list of occupations that are in high demand. Known as the labour shortage list, expats are able to sift through the list to see if there are any jobs available which require a particular set of skills. One thing to note though is that this list is only available in Swedish. If you’re already fluent in Swedish then great, if not, you may have to use some translation tools to decode it.

If you do happen to be skilled in any of the areas listed, you’ll have a better chance of being accepted for the job role. Plus, if you are offered a job that is in high demand, you can apply for a work permit from Sweden instead of having to return to your home country to apply.

English is the language of business and commerce in Sweden and even though many companies use English as their corporate language, it is ideal to learn Swedish too. Being able to speak conversational Swedish will help you better communicate with the local population and may even help you to secure a job, even if the job role requires you to be fluent in English.

With an abundance of career paths for expats to pursue and a clear way of finding out which jobs are in high demand, finding work as an expat is made simple.

Paid parental leave

If you’re relocating to Sweden with your family, then you’re in luck. As a very family-oriented country, parents living in Sweden are entitled to a generous 480 days of paid parental leave once a child is born or adopted. Of this, parents should expect to receive around 80% of their salary for 390 days, and a standard rate of SEK 180 per day for the remaining 90 days.

Bear in mind that parents are only eligible for this if they have been working legally in Sweden for at least 240 days and have contributed to the country’s tax system. Adding to this, employees in Sweden have the right to take at least 25 days of paid holiday each year.

With an emphasis on family time and free time, finding a good work/life balance is not just important in Sweden, but actively promoted through benefits such as these.

Employee health benefits

Workers rights are one of the cornerstones of the Swedish labour market, and as such, an environment where the health and safety of employees come first is essential. In addition to support from Labour unions, the Swedish Work Environment Authority (Arbetsmiljöverket) – a government agency, ensures employees’ wellbeing at work.

The Arbetsmiljöverket also emphasise that employees’ mental health is just as important as their physical health, which is why strong measures are put in place to ensure healthy working environments. This is another example of how Sweden support its people, and encourages a good work/life balance.

As well as ensuring employees are well looked after when it comes to their physical and mental health, the wider Swedish healthcare system is generally considered to be of a very high-quality too. Patients reflect on the high standard of care received, with 90% of people using primary care saying they were treated with respect and consideration by staff.

Even though the Swedish healthcare system is universal, there are some costs patients will incur, which is why expats working here sometimes opt for a private health insurance plan to ensure they don’t have to pay any out of pocket fees. Having the peace of mind that you would be covered if anything were to happen to you health-wise can make all the difference.

Space to breathe

Having space to breathe is an important part of finding a good balance between your work life and your everyday life. Thankfully, Sweden is known for its luscious green spaces and for promoting an outdoor lifestyle.

For example, Stockholm, Sweden’s blossoming capital, is packed with parks, forests, small islands and coastal walks, all minutes from the city centre. Surrounded by water and greenery, Stockholm offers expats a unique opportunity to live and work amid a mix of natural and urban landscapes.

Even though Sweden experiences long and dark winters, this doesn’t stop people from engaging in exciting outdoor activities – whether it’s skating, sledding or skiing. People in Sweden know how to work hard, but they also know how to enjoy their natural surroundings.

With an array of green spaces, plentiful career opportunities, and an emphasis on good health and wellbeing in the workplace, Sweden offers expats many ways to achieve a healthier balance between their work life and free time.

Creating a successful business in India

The India International Trade Fair in New Delhi
The India International Trade Fair in New Delhi

Are you looking to jump-start your business in India ? A hot tip for young entrepreneurs is to participate in the India International Trade Fair.

To learn more about this event, read this article !

If you are an entrepreneur who wants to go global with your business, India is certainly one of the top countries to go to. Its position as the 6th biggest economic power in the world, offers a lot of opportunities to create a successful business. So if you want to start a business in India, a helpful step will be visiting the India International Trade Fair in New Delhi.

What is the India International Trade Fair (IITF)? A way to create a business in India

First of all, the IITF is a major trade fair which takes place every year in India. It is an event for the business community which began in 1980 and has continued to grow ever since.

Many industries are represented in the country such as textiles, food processing, software, pharmaceuticals, and various others. As a result, you will definitely find the field that suits you best. What better way to get accustomed with them but to visit the India International Trade Fair in New Delhi ? #IITF2019

This event is organized by the India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) and takes place at Pragati Maidan. This famous venue hosts the largest exhibitions and conventions in New Delhi. Therefore, it has enough room to welcome numerous B2C and B2B businesses.

This year the India International Trade Fair is hitting yet another step in developing India as a new destination for young entrepreneurs. The country will host companies from all over the world for 14 days, creating a great opportunity to network and start businesses.

Experience cultures from around the globe

As a result, last year, 3 millions visitors came from more than 50 countries.

Every year the IITF has a specific theme, partner country, focus country and focus state. For instance, last year, in 2018 :

  • Theme was “Entreprises from Rural India”
  • Partner country : The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
  • Focus country : The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
  • Focus state : Jharkhand (state of India)

In 2018, the India International Trade Fair has registered participation from countries all around the world.

Here the video about the IITF 2018

See different areas of interest and important figures

The fair allows many sectors to have their own space. Exhibitors showcase their products such as

  • Textiles
  • Processed food
  • Drugs
  • Telecommunication
  • Electronic Sector

Among the 3 millions visitors, you can meet various Senior Managers, Business Leaders, Government Departments and also Private sector players.

The next trade fair will be organized between the 14 and the 27 of November 2019.

There are a lot of trade shows about differents subjects in India. You could find about all of them on the following link : https://www.tradeindia.com/TradeShows/Country/IN/

Ideas of Trade Shows in India :

  • Food Expo
  • Energy Expo
  • Clean Tech Environment Expo
  • Future Energy Expo
  • Auto Expo
  • ..

Finally, this India International Trade Fair is not like any other. It is the largest among all trade fairs and welcomes people from more than 50 different nations. Therefore, a good guide could benefit you throughout your journey. To learn more about the specifics of doing business in India, find tips on this link : https://businessculture.org/indian-business-culture/

Take care world travelers !