Global Launchpads: Exploring the Best Countries to Start a Business

Explore the top countries for starting a business and what sets them apart. Dive into comprehensive insights that provide more than just economic advantages, offering paths to entrepreneurial excellence and global competitiveness.

February 1, 2024

TOP countries to start a business
Author
Vannie Evans
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Embarking on a business venture is a dynamic journey, and selecting the best countries as your entrepreneurial launchpad can significantly influence your business success. Businesses worldwide are increasingly expanding to countries with robust economies and favorable business environments. In fact, a substantial percentage of global businesses are thriving by strategically choosing their operational base. 

In this article, we will unveil the top 5 countries that have emerged as prime choices for entrepreneurs globally. From the streamlined processes in New Zealand to the innovation hubs of Singapore, each country offers a unique backdrop for entrepreneurial success. Read on to understand the statistics driving this global business expansion and get valuable insights for your entrepreneurial journey.

1. New Zealand

New Zealand is consistently ranked as the top economy for the fourth consecutive year, according to Doing Business. The country offers a strategic launchpad for businesses worldwide. With a picturesque landscape, rich culture, and a highly developed infrastructure, New Zealand is an ideal business destination and a place of high living standards. The country stands out for its streamlined processes, boasting the shortest time globally to start a business — just half a day.

Key Stats

  • Ease of doing business. Ranked first globally, according to Doing Business.
  • Business-friendly environment. Recognized for streamlined processes.
  • Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Ranked third by Transparency International.
  • Index of Economic Freedom. According to the Heritage Foundation, New Zealand’s economic freedom score stands at 78.9 and ranked fifth place in the 2023 Index.

Rankings on doing business topics in New Zealand.
Ease of doing business in New Zealand. Source. Doing Business

Why You Should Start a Business in New Zealand

  • New Zealand's advantages for business startups include its efficient processes, high GDP per capita, and a robust business-friendly environment. 
  • The country's legal rights, credit information depth, and protection for minority investors contribute to its top-ranking. 
  • The government's commitment to creating an entrepreneur-friendly ecosystem is evident, with streamlined online processes making business registration swift.
  • New Zealand's digital infrastructure facilitates growth in fintech, health IT, and digital technologies. 
  • The ICT sector significantly contributes to the economy, with substantial government investments. 
  • The nation's currency stability, though facing downward pressure, provides a competitive edge. 
  • Economic incentives for startups, including Flexi-wage grants and R&D incentives, demonstrate the government's commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.

Available visas for doing business in New Zealand

  • Business Visitor Visa. Entrepreneurs can explore the Business Visitor Visa for short-term trips.
  • Entrepreneur Work Visa. You can use this visa if you are envisioning high-growth ventures. 
  • Global Impact Work Visa. This visa supports working in social enterprises backed by the Edmund Hillary Foundation.

2. Hong Kong

Hong Kong, an economic powerhouse and a global financial hub, stands out as one of the best countries for business startups. The region's economy has seen steady growth, fueled by practical and sound business policies. As a free-market economy highly dependent on international finance and trade, Hong Kong has become a magnet for investors and businesses.

Key Stats

  • Ease of doing business. Ranked fourth globally, according to Hubbis.
  • Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Ranked 14th by Transparency International, with a score of 75 out of 100.
  • Index of Economic Freedom. Among the five areas of assessment in the 2023 Economic Freedom Report, Hong Kong ranks top in "Freedom to trade internationally" and third globally in "Regulation". 
Hong Kong’s CPI score changes 2012 -2023
Hong Kong’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) change between 2012 and 2023. Source. Transparency International

Why You Should Start a Business in Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong is ranked first in dealing with construction permits and second in paying taxes.
  • Hong Kong boasts a highly educated and versatile workforce and welcomes professionals from abroad. The region's excellent infrastructure, including world-standard railways, logistics, airports, and telecoms, facilitates smooth business operations.
  • Hong Kong has open market policies, transparent legal laws, and efficient regulatory systems, contributing to its top-ranking in economic freedom globally.
  • Despite a negative annual growth rate, Hong Kong's GDP showcases its economic strength. 
  • The country also serves as a hub for international businesses, attracting major players like Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, and PepsiCo. 
  • The region's sectors, from information technology to healthcare, present diverse opportunities for startups.
  • Hong Kong's government actively supports foreign investment, offering initiatives like InvestHK, which provides complimentary services to foreign companies. Foreign investors can own up to 100% of an enterprise, and the government's commitment to creating an investor-friendly environment is evident through various funding programs, including loans, incubator programs, and market funds.
  • Hong Kong is also strategically located in Central Asia, providing unparalleled trade opportunities, especially with mainland China. Its proximity to the largest populated country enhances market access, making it an enticing destination for investors worldwide.
  • Hong Kong's banking sector, globally connected with robust regulation and diverse options, supports businesses. Innovative payment systems and strong fintech infrastructure ensure efficient transactions, solidifying Hong Kong's position as a pinnacle of banking excellence.
  • With a low corporate tax rate, Hong Kong imposes no tariffs on most imported goods. This promotes a business-friendly environment. The government's efforts to attract private capital flow and provide various economic incentives contribute to its appeal.
  • Available visas for starting a business in Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong Investment Visa. This visa is meant for foreign entrepreneurs desiring to relocate to Hong Kong to start and run their businesses. 
  • Entrepreneur Visa. Entrepreneurs can also explore the Entrepreneur Visa tailored for innovative ventures. This special migration visa scheme is also known as an Entry for Investment, targeting foreign entrepreneurs wishing to relocate to Hong Kong and operate their business in the country. 

3. Denmark

Denmark is recognized as one of the easiest places to set up a business. The country boasts a robust business environment and favorable conditions for startups. It is strategically located in Northern Europe and is known for its efficient processes and flexible regulations. These factors make Denmark an attractive destination for entrepreneurs.

Denmark ranks first in trading across borders.
Ease of doing business in Denmark. Source. Doing Business 

Key Stats

  • Ease of doing business. Denmark ranks first in trading across borders and fourth in dealing with construction permits. It is also the easiest place in Europe to do business, according to the Doing Business 2020 report by the World Bank.
  • Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Ranked first by Transparency International.
  • Index of Economic Freedom. According to the Heritage Foundation, Denmark’s economic freedom is 77.6. The country is ranked ninth place in the 2023 Index and sixth freest in the Europe region.

Denmark’s 2023 Index of economic freedom score.‍
Denmark’s economic freedom is 77.6. Source.Heritage Foundation

Why You Should Start a Business in Denmark

  • Denmark holds the top spot in trading across borders and ranks fourth in dealing with construction permits. The country's business-friendly approach is evident in its affordable and streamlined construction permit processes, reducing obstacles for businesses. 
  • Denmark's flexible rules regarding hiring and firing employees contribute to cost-effectiveness in scaling businesses.
  • Denmark is a prime destination for business startups due to its straightforward approach, innovation-driven economy, and skilled workforce. 
  • The country's commitment to sustainability, particularly in sectors like green technology and IT, creates opportunities for cutting-edge businesses. The government's support for startups, coupled with an attractive tax system, adds to Denmark's appeal for entrepreneurs. The emphasis on green technology aligns with global trends, providing a niche for environmentally focused companies. 
  • Denmark stands out for its highly educated workforce proficient in English, promoting knowledge-intensive businesses. 
  • Denmark's strategic location facilitates easy access to European markets, enhancing its attractiveness for expanding businesses.

Available visas for starting a business in Denmark

Setting up a business in Denmark is notably easy, often completed within days. The taxation and legal systems are efficient, providing a conducive environment for business operations. You will need a Startup Denmark, a visa scheme for non-EU, non-EEA and non-Swiss citizens, to start a business in Denmark..

4. South Korea

South Korea, a thriving economic powerhouse, stands out globally for its remarkable business environment. With a GDP growth rate of 2.6%, it ranks fifth on the World Bank's list of places where doing business is easy. Boasting high labor productivity and technological advancements, South Korea offers a stable political environment and contributes significantly to the global economy.

Key Stats

  • Ease of doing business. According to Doing Business, South Korea excels in various areas, ranking first in enforcing contracts and second in getting electricity. Overall, the country ranks fifth globally in ease of doing business.
  • Corruption Perception Index (CPI). South Korea is ranked 32nd out of 180 by Transparency International.
  • Index of Economic Freedom. The Heritage Foundation places South Korea’s economic freedom score as 73.7, ranking it the ninth freest country in the 2023 Index. In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea ranks fifth (out of 39 countries).
 Ease of doing business in South Korea from 2013 to 2020
Ease of Doing business in South Korea. Source. Statista

Why You Should Start a Business in South Korea

  • Recent advancements have streamlined property transfer processes and strengthened protections for minority investors. 
  • Known for efficiency, South Korea takes only 13 days to get electricity, which showcases its commitment to swift and effective business operations.
  • South Korea's thriving economy centers around technology, automobiles, and steel. While China and Japan often take the spotlight, South Korea's contribution to the global economy is substantial. 
  • The country's skilled and sophisticated workforce, coupled with advancements in technology, makes it an attractive destination for business startups.
  • Experts highlight South Korea as an opportune investment destination, particularly in infrastructure. 
  • With a dedicated and well-educated workforce, businesses can thrive, leveraging the cultural emphasis on work dedication. 
  • The country's commitment to protecting employees ensures a balance between productivity and worker well-being.

Available visas for starting a business in South Korea

South Korea welcomes foreign entrepreneurs with three primary options: opening a branch of an existing parent company, setting up a new subsidiary, or opening a liaison office for exploratory purposes. The limited liability company, known as Yuhan Hoesa, emerges as a popular and cost-effective choice for foreign businesses.

South Korea provides different types of business visas for foreign nationals wishing to start or operate businesses in the country. The main categories of business visas include the D-7 (Investor/Business Manager) Visa, D-8 (Corporate Investment) Visa, and D-9 (International Trade and Investment) Visa.

5. Singapore

Singapore is nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia. The country stands out as a global business hub, consistently ranking as the second most business-friendly environment on the planet. Singapore, with its economic prowess, political stability, and global connectivity, undoubtedly emerges as one of the best countries to embark on an entrepreneurial journey. It can offer entrepreneurs a springboard to success in the global market.

Key Stats

  • Ease of doing business. Doing Business has ranked Singapore second as the easiest country to do business.
  • Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Transparency International ranks Singapore fifth in CPI.
  • Index of Economic Freedom. The Heritage Foundation places Singapore's economic freedom score as 83.9, which is the first in the 2023 Index.
Asia ranks highest in Southeast Asia in CPI.
CPI in Southeast Asia. Source: Research Gate

Why You Should Start a Business in Singapore

  • Singapore boasts impressive statistics, with notable rankings like second in starting a business and first as the freest country to start a business. It is also among the top countries ranked in protecting minority investors. 
  • Singapore's business-friendly reputation is further underscored by its efficiency in enforcing contracts and facilitating construction permits.
  • Despite its small size, Singapore is a giant in terms of business output, surpassing larger nations like the United States in GDP growth. 
  • The country offers a streamlined process for establishing new businesses, with relatively low costs and a straightforward incorporation procedure. Corporate tax on profits made in Singapore is enticingly lower than in many competitive countries, with no additional burden of dividend or capital gains taxes.
  • Singapore's business ecosystem is fortified by a stable government, a 17% flat corporate tax rate, and excellent trade agreements with 27 countries worldwide. The elimination of most tariff charges through these agreements positions Singapore as an ideal destination for international trade. 
  • The city-state's economic resilience, demonstrated by its swift recovery from pandemic-induced setbacks, makes it an attractive choice for entrepreneurs.
  • Government initiatives have further enhanced Singapore's appeal. Recent simplifications in construction permits showcase the nation's commitment to providing a conducive business environment.
  • Singapore’s political stability, low crime rates, and wealth contribute to an environment where businesses can flourish. 
  • The ease of online business registration, coupled with affordable airfare to neighboring countries, positions Singapore as a strategic launchpad for entrepreneurs seeking growth and international success.

Available visas for starting a business in Singapore

To kickstart a venture in Singapore, entrepreneurs can explore the Entrepreneur Visa, also known as Entrepass. The visa targets foreign entrepreneurs wishing to start a new business in Singapore. 

Setting Sail: Your Entrepreneurial Adventure Begins

Strategic decision-making is crucial when choosing the best country to start your business. The top 5 countries we have explored provide a diverse array of opportunities, from the innovation-rich landscapes of Europe to the dynamic markets of the Asia-Pacific region. Your business success hinges on aligning the unique offerings of each nation with your specific goals.

The world presents a myriad of options for your entrepreneurial adventure. You need to consider economic stability, regulatory support, and market accessibility as some of the keys to unlocking your global potential. As you set sail into the business landscape, remember, the world is like your oyster: choose wisely, consider the insights provided, and let your journey towards global success begin.

Author
Vannie Evans
F4P Contributor

My mission is to craft captivating narratives, unravel future trends, and spark curiosity in each blog. I try to make each text an enthralling journey, anticipating the next spellbinding tale — a commitment to content that intrigues and resonates, leaving an indelible mark.

Learn more
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