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Tom Wilkinson, former CEO, AXA - Global Healthcare

Seven of the best countries to start a business in

Doing Business Abroad

PUBLISHED: 16 June 2020 | LAST UPDATED: 9 August 2023

Thinking of starting a business? Considering doing so abroad? Whether it’s for a better quality of life or geographic position, or if there’s a location that’s renowned for your industry, here’s a list of countries worth considering.

No matter the size of your business, if you’re thinking about where to launch a ground-breaking idea or you’re considering your first international expansion, there are plenty of destinations to consider, to help your business grow.

1. Norway

Norway offers a relatively stable economy and places a strong emphasis on skills and education, offering an ideal pool of potential recruits. It’s also known for its residents’ quality of life, with beautiful scenery and plenty of mountain views to enjoy. Therefore, despite Norway having one of the highest tax rates in the world, which does fund its extensive welfare state, it offers opportunity for business growth.

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2. Canada

Canada closely resembles the US in its economy, production and living standards. It’s one of the world’s largest oil producers and also offers a strong investment relationship with the US. With this powerful relationship in mind, Canada offers a great opportunity for new businesses, especially those interested in US markets.

3. Switzerland

With a competitive corporate tax environment, within easy reach of several major European countries, Switzerland is a very attractive start-up location. The country boasts a strong economy, a highly skilled workforce and one of the highest GDP per capita figures in the world. Its economic and political stability, impressive infrastructure and high quality of life should make Switzerland an appealing business location. 

4. Luxembourg 

Luxembourg has historically been known for stable growth and low inflation, largely as a result of an incredibly competitive tax regime. 

The government actively supports economic diversification, welcoming foreign businesses in industries such as logistics, IT, health technologies and clean energy. While it’s not as renowned as countries such as Norway and New Zealand for quality of life, Luxembourg is nothing short of a business playground.

5. The Netherlands

The Netherlands enjoys successful trade, stable industrial relations and also plays an important role as a European transportation hub. Its key industries include food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining and electrical machinery, and it also has a reputation as the world’s second largest agricultural exporter. With an easy-going ‘café culture’ and a tax allowance available to people moving there to work, the Netherlands is a great destination for small businesses.

6. Singapore

Having established itself as Southeast Asia's leading finance and technology hub, any small businesses that are looking to enter the eastern market should consider Singapore. It offers a remarkably transparent business environment and a per capita GDP higher than that of many developed countries.

The economy depends heavily on exports, particularly of consumer electronics, IT products, medical devices and pharmaceuticals, and on its transport, business and financial services sectors. With a skilled workforce and a tax system that’s simpler than a lot of the other countries on this list, Singapore should be a top consideration for businesses.

7. The UK

A unique aspect of doing business in the UK is its entrepreneurial spirit. With it being possible to register a company in just 24 hours1, it should be near the top of any entrepreneur’s list of go-to destinations. 

These may be some of the most popular countries in the world to start or run a small business, but this is by no means all of them. Whether you’re looking for a favourable tax environment, to specialise in an industry sector or simply for the perfect work-life balance, there are opportunities and adventures to suit all entrepreneurs beyond their own countries. 

The information in this article is correct at the time of publishing.