Starting a business isn’t a walk in the park, especially when the country’s government and economic policies are not in your favour. Let’s say you have a million-dollar idea and are ready to invest your time, money, and skills into it.
It takes months of paperwork and approvals before you can even think of starting operations.
That’s not the case with all countries, though. Here’s a list of the 10 best countries to start a business in based on their government policies, GDP, Tax rate, and ease of doing business score.
We examined over 100 countries worldwide based on 7 key indicators –
- Ease of doing business rank
- Ease of starting a business
- Dealing with construction permits score
- Getting credit
- Taxation policy
- GDP growth rate
United Arab Emirates
- GDP (2022): $507.53 billion
- Corporate Tax Rate: 9%
- Ease of business score: 16
- GDP Growth rate: 7.9%
While historically known for its oil reserves, the UAE has made significant progress in diversifying its economy and providing a conducive environment for entrepreneurs to thrive.
The country is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with a GDP growth rate of 7.9% in 2022. Its government policies are pro-business, with low corporate tax rates and an ease of doing business score of 16, making it an attractive location for entrepreneurs.
One of the main attractions of the UAE for starting a business is the extensive availability of free-trade zones. These are dedicated areas where goods can be imported, manufactured, and re-exported without the intervention of customs duties. Currently, there are more than 40-45 free trade zones in the UAE, each tailored to certain types of businesses and industries.
These zones offer a myriad of benefits, including 100% foreign ownership, zero taxes, and freedom from import and export duties. They also provide modern infrastructure, access to a skilled workforce, and simplified administrative procedures. This makes the UAE an ideal destination for entrepreneurs who plan to venture into international business. With the added advantage of its strategic location, connecting the East and the West, the UAE has solidified its position as a global hub for trade and entrepreneurship.
- GDP (2022): $644 billion
- Corporate Tax Rate: 17%
- Ease of business Rank: 2
- GDP Growth rate: 3.0%
With its strategic location in Southeast Asia and well-developed infrastructure, Singapore has been a top destination for international business for many years. It’s one of the most underrated yet thriving economies in the world, with excellent trade agreements with several countries. There are 27 free trade agreements, encompassing both bilateral and regional agreements, you can avail the following benefits if you set up your business in Singapore:
- Global Ranking: Singapore consistently tops the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings. This is largely due to the city-state’s streamlined processes for company registration, taxation, and legal compliance. The government’s pro-business policies and dedication to maintaining a transparent and corruption-free business environment have made it a magnet for entrepreneurs looking to establish a foothold in the Asia-Pacific region.
- Minimal Red Tape: Bureaucracy is minimal in Singapore, saving you valuable time and resources. You can register your business online in just a few hours. The streamlined process is designed to be efficient and hassle-free, reducing the barriers to entry and making it easier for you to focus on the growth and success of your business. This ease of setup and operation is one of the primary reasons why many entrepreneurs choose Singapore as their business base.
- 17% Corporate Tax and No Double Taxation: The competitive corporate tax rate of 17% in Singapore is a strong incentive for businesses, and the “No Double Taxation” policy is an added advantage. Singapore has established Double Taxation Agreements with over 70 countries to ensure that income earned in Singapore and abroad is not taxed twice. This encourages transnational business activity and reduces the tax burden on companies, further enhancing Singapore’s reputation as a business-friendly environment.
- Access to Skilled Workforce: Singapore has a highly educated and skilled workforce, with top universities producing graduates in fields like engineering, computer science, and business management. The government also offers training subsidies for businesses that invest in employee development, making it easier for you to hire and retain top talent.
- Strategic Location: Located at the heart of Southeast Asia, Singapore offers easy access to growing markets such as China, India, and Indonesia. Its world-class infrastructure and efficient transportation links make it a prime location for international trade.
- GDP (2022): $610 billion
- Corporate Tax Rate: 12.5%
- Ease of business score: 24
- GDP Growth rate: 12.0%
With its incredibly low corporate tax rate of 12.5%, Ireland has become a go-to destination for entrepreneurs looking to start their businesses in Europe. The country also offers access to the European Union’s single market, making it an attractive choice for companies that want to expand globally.
With a population of just under 5 million, there are also plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs to stand out and make a name for themselves in Ireland’s competitive business environment. The country also boasts a highly educated workforce, with over 50% of its population holding tertiary qualifications.
Ireland is also known for its strong support for startups and innovation, with government initiatives like the Start-up Refunds for Entrepreneurs (SURE) scheme and the Innovation Voucher Scheme providing funding and resources for new businesses.
Over the last few years, Ireland’s export market has experienced substantial growth, particularly in the sectors of pharmaceuticals and medical devices (valued at $36.5 billion in 2021), technology and electronics (accounting for around $15.3 billion in exports), chemical products, agricultural products, and food & beverages.
Being part of the EU single market also allows companies in Ireland to freely trade with other EU countries without having to deal with tariffs and customs barriers, providing a significant advantage for businesses looking to expand their reach.
- GDP (2022): $247.234 billion
- Corporate Tax Rate: 28%
- Ease of business Rank: 1
- GDP Growth rate: 2.9%
The small yet picturesque island nation of New Zealand boasts a highly stable economy and an attractive business environment, making it one of the top choices for entrepreneurs to start their businesses.
Known for its strong focus on sustainable business practices, New Zealand has been rated as one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world. This, combined with its high quality of life and low corruption levels, makes it an attractive destination for businesses looking to make a positive impact.
The country also offers a skilled and educated workforce, with over 65 % of its population holding tertiary qualifications. Additionally, the World Bank ranks it first in terms of ease of doing business, with a simple and efficient process for company registration. There’s a minimal regulatory burden compared to many other countries. The corporate tax rate may be higher than in some other countries on this list, but various financial incentives and grants are available for businesses investing in research and development, making it an attractive choice for innovative companies.
There are also numerous free trade agreements in place, making it easy for businesses to access global markets. With a strong focus on technology and innovation, New Zealand is an ideal country for entrepreneurs looking to start a business in the tech sector.
- GDP (2022): $411.956 billion
- Corporate Tax Rate: 22%
- Ease of business Rank: 4
- GDP Growth rate: 2.6%
The country known for minimal bureaucracy, low corruption, and a simple tax system, Denmark is one of the most business-friendly countries in the world. It also has a highly skilled and productive workforce with a strong focus on entrepreneurship and innovation.
Denmark offers a transparent and efficient legal system, making it easy for businesses to operate. The country also ranks high in terms of digital infrastructure, making it a great choice for tech startups. Plus, there are various grants and funding opportunities available for startups, including the Danish Growth Fund and Innovation Fund Denmark.
With a strong stable economy and a supportive business environment, it’s no surprise that Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the best countries to start a business in. Moreover, with the social safety net and high standard of living, it’s also a great place to live while building your dream business.
- GDP (2022): $359.8 billion
- Corporate Tax Rate: 16.5%
- Ease of business Rank: 3
- GDP Growth rate: -3.5%
With a strategic location at the crossroads of East and West, Hong Kong is unparalleled when it comes to international trade and business opportunities. It has a free economy with low taxes, minimal government interference, and an efficient legal system.
Hong Kong is also known for its strong protection of intellectual property rights, making it an ideal location to start a business in the creative industries. The city also boasts a highly skilled workforce and advanced infrastructure. The workforce of Hong Kong is one of its most significant assets. The city is home to a highly educated and multilingual workforce, well-versed in international business practices.
The country takes pride in its literacy rate, which is over 95%, demonstrating the city’s emphasis on education. Additionally, more than half of the population holds a tertiary education qualification, further strengthening the talent pool.
For the finance and tech industries, Hong Kong is a leading global hub. It’s the fourth largest financial centre, with a deep and liquid market for currencies, stocks, and bonds. There are also sophisticated venture capital and angel investor networks, making it easier for startups to secure funding.
Hong Kong is also home to over 700 international banks and financial institutions, making opening offshore accounts for businesses and bridging loans for commercial property a smooth process.
The city is also well-connected globally, with its international airport being one of the busiest in the world and offering direct flights to major business hubs worldwide.
- GDP (2022): $25.463 trillion
- Corporate Tax Rate: 21%
- Ease of business Rank: 6
- GDP Growth rate: 2.06%
The world’s biggest economy, the United States, is known for its entrepreneurial culture and business-friendly environment. With a highly skilled workforce, advanced technology, and access to capital, the country proves to be an attractive destination for starting a business.
The US market is also one of the largest in terms of consumption and has a diverse consumer base. This makes it ideal for businesses looking to tap into different markets and reach a wide range of customers.
Moreover, if you’re into tech, Silicon Valley in California is considered the hub for innovation and startup success stories. The city is home to six Fortune 500 companies and 2000+ tech companies and attracts the highest venture capital investment in the country.
When it comes to venture capital, the USA leads in global VC funding with over $150 billion raised in 2020. This further solidifies its position as one of the leading countries to start a business in.
The country also has a significant number of successful startups, with billion-dollar unicorns like Uber, Airbnb, and SpaceX emerging from the US market. These success stories serve as inspiration for budding entrepreneurs and attract investors looking to fund potential startup unicorns.
However, the US also has its challenges, including high competition and market saturation. This can make it difficult for new businesses to establish themselves and compete with well-established companies. The cost of living and labor is also relatively higher in the country compared to others on this list.
- GDP (2022): $579.267 billion
- Corporate Tax Rate: 22%
- Ease of business Rank: 9
- GDP Growth rate: 3.8%
Ranking amongst the top 50 on the WIPO’s Global Innovation Index, Norway is a great country to start a business in, especially for tech startups. The country has a strong focus on research and development (R&D), with 3.1% of GDP (2021) invested in R&D. This has resulted in a highly skilled and educated workforce, making it easier for startups to find talent.
Norway also boasts of a stable economy with a stellar Aaa credit rating from Moody’s and S&P, reflecting its robust financial health and low vulnerability to risk. Plus, Norway’s GDP per capita (PPP) stands at $67,462 (2022), indicating a strong consumer market with high purchasing power.
Starting a business in Norway is also relatively easy and streamlined, with the country ranking 9th on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. High-speed internet penetration is at 99% (2022), and the government provides various incentives for entrepreneurs, such as low-interest loans and tax breaks.
However, Norway does have its challenges, including high costs of labor and living. The corporate tax rate in Norway also stands at 22%, which may be relatively higher than other countries on this list. But with a strong economy, highly skilled workforce, and supportive government policies, Norway is a country that should definitely be considered for starting a business.
- GDP (2022): $591.26 billion
- Corporate Tax Rate: 15%
- Ease of business Rank: 7
- GDP Growth rate: 10.0%
Georgia sits at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, offering access to a market of over 3 billion people. This strategic location, along with free trade deals with over 40 countries, including the EU, makes it an ideal hub for trade and commerce. Moreover, the country’s low corporate tax rate of 15% and simplified tax system make it an attractive destination for startups.
Georgia also has a highly supportive government towards entrepreneurship, with initiatives such as “Produce in Georgia” that offer financial assistance and subsidies to startups. The World Bank ranks Georgia at 7th on its Ease of Doing Business Index, highlighting the ease of starting a business in the country.
The country has a 92% literacy rate, with a skilled workforce and an improving infrastructure. The cost of living in Georgia is also relatively low compared to other European countries, making it an affordable option for entrepreneurs.
There’s also macroeconomic stability in Georgia, with low inflation, manageable debt, and a steadily growing GDP. With a GDP growth rate of 10%, the country offers a vibrant and rapidly expanding market for businesses to tap into.
- GDP (2022): $2.875 trillion
- Corporate Tax Rate: 25%
- Ease of business Rank: 8
- GDP Growth rate: 4.3%
The fifth largest economy in the world, the United Kingdom offers a highly conducive environment for starting and growing a business. With access to over 500 million consumers through its membership in the EU, the country provides ample opportunities for trade and expansion.
UK is the leader when it comes to industries like fintech, creative industries, life sciences, and AI, making it an attractive destination for startups in these sectors. The government also offers various tax incentives and support schemes to encourage entrepreneurship.
Moreover, the country has a high-skilled and diverse talent pool, with world-renowned universities such as Oxford and Cambridge producing top-notch graduates every year.
Ranked 5th on the Kearney Global Cities Index, the city of London is a major global financial hub, providing access to funding and networking opportunities for businesses.
The UK also invests 2.4% of its GDP in R&D, making it a leader in innovation and technology. The country’s strong legal framework and IP protection laws also provide a secure environment for businesses to thrive.
Moreover, the corporate tax rate of 25% is amongst the lowest amongst the G20 countries, providing cost advantages for businesses. With a strong infrastructure and stable political environment, the United Kingdom continues to be one of the top choices for entrepreneurs looking to start or expand their business.
A startup consultant, digital marketer, traveller, and philomath. Aashish has worked with over 20 startups and successfully helped them ideate, raise money, and succeed. When not working, he can be found hiking, camping, and stargazing.