One of the most exciting things about being an entrepreneur and starting your own business is that it can happen anywhere. Those looking to experience new cultures and locales may also find that doing business in another country is more economically favorable than in their home country.
The 2018 Best Countries report was developed by Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to determine the best countries in the world by several criteria, including support for entrepreneurs. Researchers examined attributes including innovation, connectedness to the rest of the world, education and workforce skill levels, ease of access to capital, technological expertise, transparency of business practices, strength of infrastructure, and the legal framework around business.
Are you ready to be inspired? Without further ado, here are the ten best countries for entrepreneurs in 2018.
Norway is a popular place for entrepreneurs because, despite its relatively low population of about five million people, it is a vital member of the global economy. A leader in industries such as energy, maritime, technology, and communications, entrepreneurs will find a business-friendly administration and plenty of support for the process requirements. The corporate tax rate stands at 23%, and about 35,000 new businesses are registered in Norway each year.
The Netherlands is attractive for entrepreneurs based in part on the tax benefits afforded to new businesses during their first years in operation. It will likely be harder to say the word for the entrepreneur’s deduction in Dutch – ondernemersaftrek – than to receive it. Since 2015, the Netherlands has also offered a residence permit known as a startup visa, geared toward international entrepreneurs who seek to launch their enterprise there. Its corporate tax rate averages about 33%.
Singapore has a lot of offer entrepreneurs. It is highly urbanized and ranks as the world’s fourth leading financial center. Singapore also has the third highest per capita income in the world, boosting the odds of success in your business. The corporate tax rate is a very favorable 17%. The lovely, sunny island is also considered largely corruption-free compared to other developed countries and ranked in first place worldwide by the World Bank in 2012 for ease of doing business.
One of the most attractive things about starting a business in Canada is its stability. The country weathered the economic downturn that began in 2008 through proactive intervention by the Bank of Canada, and therefore came out of the recession in a much stronger position than banks in the US. Other appealing features of being an entrepreneur in Canada are trade freedom, investor protection, low corruption, minimal red tape, and one of the lowest corporate tax rates worldwide at 15%. If you will need to hire employees, Canada has a highly skilled workforce to offer.
Sweden offers entrepreneurs a world-class infrastructure bolstered through extensive public investments, with SEK 522 billion already earmarked for additional projects over the next decade. It also has a highly skilled workforce, low levels of corruption, limited bureaucracy, and a friendly business culture. Sweden is an excellent choice if your industry is an emerging one. It ranks among the top countries in the world in terms of R&D investments, and Swedish companies benefit from working closely with research institutes for new materials and innovative developments. The corporate tax rate is 22%.
Switzerland is a country with a stable economy and expansive worldview that welcomes expats and is open to new ideas. Rather than having to struggle to get attention for a new product or service, entrepreneurs in Switzerland report actually being approached by members of the media and complementary businesses for more information. There is also plenty of support available for entrepreneurs, either online or in partnership with various business foundation services. Once you understand the rules surrounding self-employment, Switzerland is a very welcoming place to do business. The corporate tax rate is just under 18%.
Britain puts relatively few restrictions on starting a new business and has a lot of opportunity in diverse areas including manufacturing and IT. The country’s International Professional Employer Organization is available to help entrepreneurs navigate compliance requirements. The UK’s corporate tax rate of 20% is not the lowest on our list, but certainly not the highest, either. Also, labor costs in the UK are less than in the Netherlands and Germany due to lower employer social security contributions. Top it off with a strong pool of available workers and a thriving infrastructure plan, and Britain may be just the ticket.
The United States appeals to entrepreneurs who are looking to tap into the world’s largest market. With 325 million people, a GDP of $18 trillion, and the highest household spending in the world, it stands to reason that the US is where the customers are. Free trade agreements with 20 other countries also bolster access to additional consumers. The United States leads the pack in research and development, as it registers more international patents than any other country and safeguards intellectual property through a strong protection framework. The recently slashed corporate tax rate stands at 21%, but there is also an extensive network of loopholes available to lower business taxes even further.
Japan has experienced tremendous economic expansion and growth in the years since World War II, and has risen to the status of the world’s most successful exporter. Japan is globally competitive, especially in the environment, healthcare, IT, and automotive industries. A highly educated population of about 127 million people makes for affluent and discerning consumers as well as reliable and hard working employees. Japanese workers are very reliable and willing to work long or odd hours, a definite plus if your business operates across multiple time zones. Currently the corporate tax rate is just over 30%, but there are plans in the works to reduce this significantly for companies willing to boost their salary levels. With a workforce as dedicated as Japan’s, the investment in labor is definitely worth it.
Germany is a diverse country that welcomes international entrepreneurs. It is located right in the center of Europe’s dense transport network and so offers access to a multi-cultural clientele. Germany has a stable political and economic environment with three specific pieces of legislation designed to protect your ideas from theft. Strong professional support services help you navigate the startup process, especially in terms of finding funding. Germany’s corporate tax rate is in line with many other countries on our list at just under 30%. With an open and friendly population and advanced infrastructure, Germany is a great option for entrepreneurs who seek to achieve the best work-life balance.
So where will you go to start your business? Each of the countries on the list offers something exciting to entrepreneurs. But whether you pack your bags, or decide that you have it pretty good right where you are, we support your commitment to innovation and to designing the best possible life for yourself and your family as an entrepreneur. Go get ‘em!