The Best Countries to Start a Business Are . . .
Opportunities exist everywhere -- not just in your own home country or hometown. While much has been said about globalization and our increasingly connected world, if you're starting a business, your first thought might not be to launch it in, say, Denmark.
But it turns out that Denmark is actually a very good idea: The World Bank Group has ranked that Scandinavian nation third in the world in terms of ease of doing business there. By comparison, the United States ranks eighth.
Depending on your target audience and its needs, plus taxation laws, the nature of the local workforce and other factors, doing business overseas just might offer advantages to you that exceed those of the country where you live right now.
Starting with a place you may be familiar with, here are some of the best countries to consider when starting a business:
The United States
What makes the United States a good country to start a business in? The workforce is diverse and skilled. It is a recognized leader in research and development as well as innovation. You can also find a wide variety of funding sources: investment firms, banks, venture capitalists and angel investors.
The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests that you should first determine your business needs, evaluate your finances, check to see if the area is business friendly and do investigative research on other businesses in the community.
In an interview with Virgin.com, James Wilkinson, COO of Streaming Tank , extoled the benefits of business in New York. “People in New York are open and hungry to new ideas and concepts," he said, "and once you open the doors their money will follow.” He added that New York is where much of the action happens within an organization.
The Big Apple, then, is at the center of the action. But places like Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle and other U.S. cities are also often cited as being good cities to launch businesses in.
Singapore has long been considered one of the best places to do business in the world. Hawksford Singapore is an example of a company that located there and an investor, Jim Rogers, told GuideMeSingapore.com why. Among other reasons, Rogers said, Singapore is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, is politically stable, has a strong labor force and imposes no dividend or capital gains taxes.
In 2011, former CD Baby founder and entrepreneur Derek Sivers wrote on his blog about why he too moved to Singapore, citing the ease of doing business there. In particular, Sivers noted that flights to surrounding countries are affordable, which puts Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and many other countries within easy reach. Today, Sivers spreads his time between Singapore and New Zealand, also touted (see below) as a great place for starting a business.
Singapore is known for the many international businesses that station their headquarters there. Due to strong trade and investment opportunities, the city attracts global entrepreneurs and leaders and has been named the most competitive Asian country to start a business.
In New Zealand, incorporating a business takes only a day, and registering a property can be done in two. The workforce is skilled and educated, and labor costs are low. In terms of taxes, there are no payroll, social security or capital gains taxes. It is considered one of the easiest countries to do business.
New Zealand, small as it is, has set up several business structures: An entrepreneur can apply to be a sole trader who operates a business individually or, in several farming industries, can be part of a partnership among professionals who benefit from sharing operational costs. Another NZ structure sets up limited liability companies that are their own legal entity, separate from shareholders. And there are publicly listed companies on the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZSX), as well.
It's important to learn about trends and the market when you enter into a new country or location. You can look into Statistics New Zealand for market information to help decide if your business niche is suitable for New Zealand or not.
Norway has a strong economy, and most communication with the government can be done digitally. Registering a property is fast, and complying with tax laws is relatively straightforward. Resolving insolvency in Norway is also low-cost, with fees averaging 1 percent of the bankrupt entity’s value.
There are downsides to Norway, however: Getting construction permits can be lengthy, and labor regulations can be quite rigid.
Anne Worsoe, founder of Innovation House and director of Innovation Norway, told Virgin.com that one of the best aspects of doing business in Norway was the fact that, “Norwegians are known as digitally advanced and early adopters, willing and able to pay for new technology.”
She went on to explain that the nation boasts highly skilled workers, in categories like information technology, finance, design and even music tech. Entrepreneurs there have access to industrial expertise, investors and talent.
Further, technology in Norway can help develop foreigners' business models, Worsoe said. In the software category, she cited a company called Less Everything, which helps entrepreneurs build out their software ideas.
Norway's business community also helps foreign entrepreneurs decide what categories to explore: Merch Informer provides merchants with information on what products are popular and niches that consumers are most interested in.
Overall, said Babou Olengha-Aaby, CEO and founder of Mums Mean Business, who also spoke with Virgin.com, the primary benefits of doing business in Norway include “wealth, economic and governmental stability, well-developed communication and transport infrastructures and [the nation's] longstanding trade ties with the EU.”
Incorporating a company in the U.K. is both fast and affordable, making it one of the easiest places in Europe to set up and run a business in. David Mytton, founder of server monitoring startup Server Density, gave Virgin.com the following reasons why Britain is a great place to do business:
- It’s easier to start a business there: Incorporating a company can be completed in an hour, for £14.
- The tax authorities understand that new companies generally aren’t profitable in their early years.
- The British government offers various tax benefits for investors, founders and employees.
Some of the best places to start a business in the U.K. include Derby, Stoke, Belfast, Stirling and Durham.
The exact specifics of starting a business in a specific country are obviously subject to the town, city, state or province you choose to create your entity in. Those specifics are worth a closer look if you’re thinking about starting your new organization overseas.