Earlier this week I was interviewed on starting a business in Italy by Katie Morell for AmEx OpenForum. As part of that, I was explaining how you should never ever underestimate the amount of time it's going to take you to get things done. What take a two-minute phone call in the UK, can drag on for months over here. If you really are determined to start a business in Italy, then don't let this put you off. But it is somethng you need to be aware of.
On the upside, I mentioned how things are slowly getting easier because Italy is finally catching up with the rest of of Europe. Of course, much of that has been due to the dire economic situation Italy's found itself in and the reforms that the caretaker prime minister Mario Monti has pushed through as a result (two sentences don't do justice to the situation or the steps that have been taken to reverse Italy's fortunes but I'm not interested in discussing that here). One of those is the società semplificata di responsabilità limitata or, to put it into English, a semplified limited company.
The beauty of this reform is that you can now launch a start-up for just Eur1 and also bypass all the longwinded, faffy red tape that usually goes hand-in-hand with doing just about anything in Italy. For example, instead of making an appointment to see the notary, you simply send an online notification to the Registro delle Imprese (Companies' Registry Book) of your new venture and hey-ho, you're in business.
Monti explained this decision on the Italian current affairs show Otto e Mezzo when he was grilled by the journalist Lilli Gruber. He said: "I don't know how many Bill Gates there are in Italy but if there are any, we don't want complicated and time-consuming procedures to prevent the birth of start-ups.
On a personal note, there is one aspect that miffs me mightily. Monti's governemnt brought in these reforms a month after my 35th birthday, the cut off age for taking advantage of this new law. Since I'm too old (eek) to pay my Eur1 and start a new business, I hope you do.