Starting a business is an exciting journey that can connect you to a new world of opportunity. But inside of that world...are there certain countries that are better for business? Some recent research has focused on this question by examining which countries have the most hospitable business climates and the best overall environments for entrepreneurs. The answers might surprise you!
In 2017, U.S. News and World Report completed its annual survey of Best Country Rankings, in partnership with the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and Y&R’s brand strategy firm, BAV Consulting. This Best Country Rankings study evaluated 80 countries on their global reputations and performance based on a variety of metrics, ranging from cultural influence and heritage to power and quality of life. The metric that most entrepreneurs are interested in is, of course, entrepreneurship — and this survey focused on which world economies were truly the best for starting a business.
Germany is known as a leading center of business, engineering, finance, and innovation in Europe and around the world, but it is also a hospitable home for startups. Berlin has become a hub of new tech startups and creative companies like SoundCloud.
Germany is known for its efficient transportation and green energy policies, and it has recently welcomed more than 1 million refugees, making it a progressive and increasingly diverse home for entrepreneurs in the center of Europe.
Japan has a global reputation for high-tech leadership in fields such as advanced manufacturing and robotics, and it is home to the world’s third-largest economy. Japan has a highly educated population, an exceptionally advanced national infrastructure and is well connected to the rest of the world since so much of the country’s economy depends on international trade.
3. United States
The U.S. is known around the world as a hotbed of entrepreneurship and economic dynamism, home to some of the world’s most influential and valuable companies such as Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon. America is also home to iconic hubs of entrepreneurial activity like Silicon Valley and Wall Street.
The U.S. scores highly for easy access to capital, entrepreneurial culture, connectedness to the rest of the world, technological expertise and well-developed legal framework. This includes the ease of forming an LLC to protect your personal assets from business liabilities. All of these factors continue to make the U.S. an ideal place to start a business.
4. United Kingdom
Despite concerns about the economic impact of Brexit, the U.K. is still a highly rated country for entrepreneurs. The U.K. is located close to Europe and is well connected to the U.S. because of the common language and shared culture.
It is a highly influential country from a cultural perspective, with creative blockbusters like Harry Potter, James Bond and popular music from The Beatles to Radiohead. The U.K. scored highly on the entrepreneurship categories of well-developed infrastructure, educated population, connected to rest of the world, and well-developed legal framework.
Switzerland, also known as the Swiss Federation, is a country of stunning mountain views at the heart of Europe. Switzerland is famous for its banking system, its precision engineering and craftsmanship (e.g., producing watches and other advanced technology goods) and its long tradition of political stability and high quality of life.
As a home for entrepreneurs, Switzerland ranks highly for providing easy access to capital, having an educated population, using transparent business practices, being connected to the rest of the world and providing a well-developed legal framework.
Sweden is often thought of as a truly “socialist”-style social democracy, with high taxes and heavy influence from the public sector. But it also ranked as the world's sixth best country for entrepreneurship. That’s because Sweden ranks so highly for its well-developed infrastructure, educated population, transparent business practices and well-developed legal framework.
The Swedish economy is heavily reliant on exports and is well integrated into Europe (although it is not part of the eurozone), making it well connected to the rest of the world and a good location for globally minded entrepreneurs.
America’s northern neighbor is the world's second-largest country (after Russia) and is an underrated hub for entrepreneurship. With a thriving economy and a growing technology startup scene, Canada is becoming a magnet for global entrepreneurial talent. Canada ranks highly for well-developed infrastructure, transparent business practices, educated population and being connected to the rest of the world.
Known as one of the “Asian tigers” with fast economic growth and increasing global influence in recent years, Singapore is a dynamic, diverse hub of entrepreneurship. Singapore ranks highly for ease of access to capital, well-developed infrastructure, entrepreneurial nature and technological expertise.
Australia is one of the world’s most prosperous economies. It has low unemployment, and a recent string of economic growth has been powered by a strong service sector and healthy global demand for exports of Australian commodities (such as metals and minerals).
Australia’s major cities are consistently named some of the world's best cities to live in. Australia ranks highly as an entrepreneurship destination especially because of its infrastructure, ease of access to capital, educated population, transparent business practices, connectedness to the world and well-developed legal framework.
The Netherlands is well-situated within Europe, sitting close to major European Union nations and locations such as EU headquarters in Brussels. The Netherlands consistently ranks highly for quality of life measures such as public education, public health, tolerance for cultural differences, gender equality and happiness of its citizens. The Netherlands ranks highest for entrepreneurship categories such as infrastructure, educated population, connectedness to the world and legal framework.
Whether you decide to start a business in the U.S. with the help of Incfile or take your entrepreneurial journey to another country, hopefully this list of the best countries for business will give you some new inspiration and ideas for environments that could help your business succeed.
Ben Gran is a freelance writer from Des Moines, Iowa. Ben has written for Fortune 500 companies, the Governor of Iowa (who now serves as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture), the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, and many corporate clients. He writes about entrepreneurship, technology, food and other areas of great personal interest.