Supply chain · 11 October 2016

The best (and worst) countries to start a business in

According to the Doing Business index, New Zealand remains the easiest country in the world to start a business in
Expanding a business overseas is no longer the reserve of the typical corporate giants entrepreneurs are also spotting new markets and customers in fast-growing economies all across the world.

The UK now has more citizens working abroad than any other European nation including 1.5m of the nation’s graduate population. But why are so many Brits choosing to go overseas, and how did they manage the process of setting up or moving their business into a foreign country?

Business Advice took a look at some of the nation states that offer entrepreneurs a low barrier of market entry, unpicking the legislative burdens in some of the easiest countries to start a business in across the world, and the not-so-straightforward.

New Zealand

Doing Business 2016 rankings
  • Starting a business: 1
  • Trading across borders: 55
  • Getting credit: 1
  • Paying taxes: 22
According to the World Bank Group’s Doing Business index, New Zealand remains the easiest country in the world to start a business in. The government claims that it’s simplistic online registration portal can be completed in a matter of hours, while the country boasts a regulatory environment that is easy to navigate for small business owners.

Reserving a company name in New Zealand costs $10.22 (£5.78), while registering the business itself costs $150 (£84.85).

The ease of starting a business in New Zealand is reflected in the make-up of the economy, where small firms and startups are an active and dominant part. According to the government’s national statistics department, 96 per cent of firms in the country employ 20 staff or fewer.

Official statistics also report that 24 per cent of the nation’s economic output is based on exports, with main trade links with Australia, the US and the European Union. Traditionally an agricultural nation, New Zealand’s economy has expanded with recent investment in telecommunications and information technology.

As well as ranking highly in terms of setting up and conducting business, New Zealand also offers a low-risk environment in which to trade. The Transparency International Corruption Index ranked New Zealand second in the world for a lack of corruption in 2014, and fourth in its 2015 index.


Doing Business 2016 rankings
  • Starting a business: 106
  • Trading across borders: 1
  • Getting credit: 59
  • Paying taxes: 74
Austria represents the European Union in our study. In 2015, the Doing Business database reported that the Austrian government passed a number of reforms to the legislation for starting a business, opening the door to new entrepreneurs. The minimum capital requirement for starting a new business was reduced, and the government lowered notary fees.

Minimum capital requirements are held up by states as a way to protect creditors and consumers from firms at a risk of insolvency. Research has shown that the higher the minimum capital requirements in a nation, the greater the barrier to entrepreneurship and growth.

The recent reforms in Austria represent a growing trend that has seen governments across Europe in particular reduce the minimum benchmark figures and allow more entrepreneurs to operate.

Austria provides a politically stable environment for new businesses, with a well-educated workforce that offers a strong grasp of the English language. The country’s geographical situation also acts as a strategic link between Western and Eastern European markets.


Doing Business 2016 rankings
  • Starting a business: 49
  • Trading across borders: 34
  • Getting credit: 2
  • Paying taxes: 53
The US ranks only behind New Zealand in the access to credit for enterprise in the World Bank Group’s index. By comparison, the UK ranks 17 places below the US, at the same level as Zambia and the Ukraine.

The 2016 Doing Business database ranked the country of the American dream particularly highly in terms of protection for borrowers and lenders. A score of 11/12 in the legal rights index topped the rankings of the UK and Germany at 7/12 and 6/12 respectively.

The database indicates that access to credit is facilitated through the country’s strong collateral and bankruptcy laws.

The Doing Business index also gave the US full marks when it came to the sharing of credit information, providing a wide availability of credit information among lenders to support access for entrepreneurs.

The US Small Business Association (SBA) is the official national body for business set-up and entrepreneurship, offering a range of financing and loan programmes for enterprise.

In the finance space, the UK government has taken measures to create further transparency and opportunities for entrepreneurs. Earlier this year the UK government launched a new small business credit data sharing scheme to make it easier for lenders to check the creditworthiness of potential new business customers, while improving small firms? chances of accessing credit.

A Thomas Reuters Foundation poll in September found that the US was the best in the world for facilitating social enterprises, offering a range of financing opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to create social change.

However, the research also revealed that the general public remained confused over the business capabilities of social enterprises, hampering growth in the sector.


Doing Business 2016 rankings
  • Starting a business: 109
  • Trading across borders: 119
  • Getting credit: 113
  • Paying taxes: 1
The World Bank Group ranked Qatar as having the most straightforward and business-friendly system of taxation for new firms looking to set up business, and the Doing Business index claims that it takes just a day to register for taxes and obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN).



Praseeda Nair is an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.