Are you planning to start a business in Italy? Before you set out to get your visa and plan your investment, you should take a look at how different industries are faring in Italy and which businesses are most profitable to get into at this juncture. Aspiring entrepreneurs spend a lot of time pondering business options in an abstract environment, but it is essential to project the probability that a specific enterprise has to succeed in a specific market. If you wish to succeed when doing business in Italy, just like you would anywhere else, you will need to be aware of market trends and consumer habits, as well as laws, regulations and requirements for new businesses.
Top 4 ideas to start a business in Italy
1. Collateral services: start a private courier service
Italy has undergone several changes over the past years, which have affected Italian society on many levels and influenced the local economy. The keyword to economic success right now is “innovation”, which is not necessarily synonymous with new and unheard-of technologies. Consumer habits have changed dramatically: Italian consumers, which used to be weary of online sales and stuck with traditional retail for longer than most western countries, are now converting enthusiastically to online shopping. This is obviously good news for anyone who sells online, but we suggest you expand your perspective on this phenomenon. Who else stands to gain from this new trend? Couriers, of course. While the most established names in this particular industry struggle to keep up with the sheer amount of commissions – and the level of service they can offer inevitably deteriorates – the market seems to be open for new players. If you feel safer joining a franchise in this field, you might need as little as 3000 € and a small office to get started. Pro tip: if you decide to start a private courier service, do it in a small town rather than a big city. The demand will still be high, while the service provided by the giants in the industry is likely to be slower in small towns and villages. Moreover, the overall initial cost of living and of starting your own business is going to be much lower.
2. Start your own e-commerce business in Italy
You could also take a step backwards and take advantage of the growing popularity of online shopping to start your own online store. If this option appeals to you, you should try and be as specific as you can and not try to compete with the giants in the industry. You are neither Amazon nor Zalando. Pick a field in which you can gain some traction and commit to it. Among the emerging trends in online shopping, the food and beauty industry are the most promising. It is also worth noticing that online shopping does not only appeal to lazy consumers who would rather wait for a courier than visit a store: it is about variety and quality. Customers will look online for products that they can’t find at their local beauty store, shopping mall or supermarket. If you have access to exclusive resources or products, that can appeal to a specific market niche, you should take that opportunity to build a successful e-commerce business.
3. Invest in vending machines
This might come as a bit of a surprise to anyone who can’t separate the idea of Italy from the concepts of slow food and quality cuisine. While it is true that most Italians pay a lot of attention to the quality of the food they bring to their table, it is also true that working habits are changing and it is not always possible, in a fast-pace working environment, to sit down to lunch and dinner with your family every day. In some cases, even going to the shops to pick up basic groceries might be a problem. That’s why, in recent years, entirely automated “shops” (for lack of a better word) have been popping up in many Italian cities. These small stores contain rows of vending machines that dispense everything from basic groceries to ready meals and cleaning products. These “vending stations” are relatively low-maintenance, as they only need to be re-stocked and checked for damage when necessary. If you are looking to start a profitable business in Italy, but are not keen on working directly with the public, this is an excellent option.
4. Recycle e-waste
The existence of a demand that no-one is meeting with an adequate offer is the textbook definition of a business opportunity. This is precisely the case with recycling electronic waste in Italy. While an increasing number of Italians are aware of and concerned about the dangers of electronic waste, no proper infrastructure exists to dispose of it. In order to dispose of basic household appliances in a safe, environmentally sound way, Italian consumers need to take them to communal recycling centres, which is impractical and time-consuming. What’s more, the existing recycling centres only accept certain specific types of electronic waste and not, for instance, old cds or magnetic tape, which are incredibly polluting. The technologies to recycle these materials, however, are available: several companies exist in the rest of Europe that can safely turn them into reusable plastics. Starting such a company in Italy would mean breaking new ground in a largely untapped market.