Back in 2016, when the US and UK political environment was particularly turbulent, we took a look at some alternative European destinations that according to Forbes were great places to start a business. Now, following the past two years' economic uncertainty brought about by COVID-19, we've revisited Forbes’s 2016 recommendations and found these are still great cities for your new start-up in 2023.
Sweden is characterised by one of the highest standards of living aided by a liberal government and a mixed economy of significant welfare support coupled with an open market. Whilst the economy slowed during the financial crisis, Sweden continues to experience modest economic growth and is considered one of the most stable regions to conduct business.
Setting up a business in Sweden is a pretty straightforward process and what you need to do depends on if you’re an EU/EEA citizen or not. The Swedish Government Services for businesses has a quick and helpful guide to registering a business in Sweden.
Running a business here can be costly though due to the significant tax burdens in Sweden including 25% VAT. However, the maturity of the market with an established middle class consumer base, solid infrastructure and regulatory transparency means that companies offering high quality products or services will most likely find Sweden good for business.
2. New Zealand
Over the past few decades, New Zealand has transformed, reducing its reliance on agriculture and building up its industries boosting real incomes and GDP. The country boasts an open economy with a high level of economic freedom. Furthermore, post-financial crisis, New Zealand has experienced consistent economic growth.
Setting up a business in New Zealand is relatively straightforward. Sole traders can operate without following any formal or legal processes whereas companies can be registered online. Here’s a guide from the NZ company register on incorporating a company.
Regulatory hurdles are also minimal and the government does its best to encourage foreign investment. If you’re looking to set up a business in New Zealand, many opportunities lie in the construction sector especially for designers and engineers. And, with one of the best funded public health sectors in the world, New Zealand is a great starting point if you’re looking to market a healthcare or health technology business abroad.
Denmark is one of the EU’s best performing economies characterised by strong growth, low unemployment and strong GDP per capita. Business owners will also find the necessary infrastructure already in place and with a prosperous and well educated population, finding consumers in Denmark is significantly easier than in many other countries.
You may find starting a business in Denmark gives you an ideal gateway to the Nordic or wider European market due to its flexible language requirements and its geographic proximity to Sweden, Norway and Western Europe.
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Though the economy struggled during the financial crisis, Ireland has bounced back over the past few year. To do this, the government introduced a number of business-friendly measures to encourage inward investment including low corporation tax of only 12.5% and easing the process to starting a business in the country.
Ireland has attracted a number of the big technology firms including Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter, all of whom have their EMEA headquarters in the capital. This has fostered a vibrant tech scene and brought in a lot of talent and investment to the region.
If you’re an internationally focused business with a groundbreaking idea looking to set up in Ireland, Enterprise Ireland offers hands-on support, advice and sometimes even investment to entrepreneurs who have an innovative product and technology. Other schemes like MicroFinance Ireland and Jobplus also offer financial support to start-ups in the country.
With one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world, Norway’s economy has remained strong throughout the global financial crisis. Whilst its economy is dominated by the oil and gas sector, which account for 50% of all of the country’s exports, opportunities exist for foreign companies offering quality goods to its high income population.
The business environment is appealing to foreign investors as establishing a business is low cost and excellent infrastructure means running a business can be straightforward. Norway isn’t a member of the EU but as a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), adheres to the same trading practices and enjoys free trade with the rest of the EU.
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