The coronavirus pandemic has swept the world and Italy is one of the worst hit places. At the time of writing this, there have been more than 175,000 cases reported and over 23,000 deaths in the European city.
The crisis has of course impacted every industry in the country, with hospitality, tourism, property, retail and manufacturing all having felt the effects. The freelance and self-employed world is no exception to this.
In this blog we'll look into what it's like to be a solopreneur in Italy right now, and talk to one of Xolo’s Italian clients, Roberto Boscia, about how the pandemic is affecting his freelance business and how he is coping with coronavirus.
It is safe to say that freelancing is a fast-growing sector in Italy. According to the Italian National Institute of Statistics, about 25% of all working Italians are self-employed – roughly 5.5 million.
Italian freelancers are either called libero professionistas or collaborati’ (which means ‘collaborator’ or ‘co-operator’). There is a reason the number of solopreneurs is growing in Italy – over the years the country has created a robust social security and protection program for independent workers. This includes health and maternity benefits and contract protection.
The libero professionistas of Italy are highly skilled and work across a myriad of sectors such as creative arts, technology, IT, marketing, communications and design. They are sought after by small organisations, large companies and are largely viewed as professional, dependable and an integral part of the country’s workforce.
The spread of coronavirus in Italy has undoubtedly had an effect on the freelance population just as much as it has other professions. A survey from March 2020 asked Italian freelancers how they think the coronavirus situation will affect their work revenues. Approximately a third of respondents believed that their revenues will decrease between 30 and 60 percent. Worryingly, another survey from 2020 stated that roughly 89 percent of freelancers said that their commissions had been either suspended or cancelled.
There is hope for Italian freelancers though. Digital collaboration – often the lifeline for independent workers and digital nomads – and demand for online services has increased exponentially. As people are being asked to step away from the ‘real’ world, they are turning to the virtual world, and this means many opportunities for the freelancers who are willing to seek them.
An Italian customer embracing remote business
Xolo customer Roberto Boscia runs an innovative consultancy model in Italy that is targeted to allow the best restart support to small-to-medium businesses. It makes top-level support available to those who would otherwise not be able to afford it. We spoke to him recently about his company, coronavirus and cosmetics.
1. What business are you in?
The name of my company is Foecundas (from Latin, creativity) and the service name "Fatto" that in Italian means done, delivered, completed, solved. Previously, I have run strategic consultancy in the conventional way including travel, expenses and face-to-face meetings, but this time I am doing things differently.
It is set to be a breakthrough model. Speed, online services, almost real-time answers, forced distance and strong support needed will be the key needs of businesses over the next few months (years maybe), and this new service has all the numbers to make small to medium entrepreneurs and managers at all levels very happy. I foresee it being in higher demand due to the pandemic.
2. On a personal level, how are you managing during these challenging times?
I’m great actually! I finally had the time to set up my business idea! Moreover, another of my businesses is cosmetics, and we recently grew online and changed production to create hand sanitizer very quickly which is of course in high demand internationally. It will most probably become an additional business on a permanent base.
I am also using this period to get in touch with my networking to improve personal and business relationships, while also trying to help others through social media.
There is so much to do in the forthcoming months. I believe you have to make things happen for yourself, rather than looking at the worst and wondering what happened.
3. What has been your experience with Xolo so far?
It’s been very good - great support and information. I was looking for a complete provider, including bank account, and Xolo has totally met my needs especially in this challenging period where movements are so limited. I have had a very supportive interaction with the team at Xolo. It's good to focus on the business and get rid of the "papers", especially for a Xolopreneur.
It was also extremely interesting to participate in the first Virtual Xolopreneurs Anonymous event e-meeting. Great initiative and yes, Xolo total support is highly recommended!Freelance Customer story