How to start a dream business abroad

A huge number of expats move overseas to start their own business (myself included). Read on to discover which country might be the best place to launch that dream business.

Smiling middle-aged business woman in a design studio

Starting a dream business

First, you’ve got to have the dream (maybe the hardest part!) and then you’ve got to turn that dream into reality. It’s the reality part that can turn from dream to nightmare pretty quickly if you dive in without doing some research, especially if you continually run into incomprehensible foreign bureaucracy when you try to start your business.

In some countries, it’s easy to set up a business (see below), while in others it can be horrendously difficult, with one obstacle after another. In some cases, the process may be easy but then you hit a lack of support so that you feel like someone has thrown cold water all over your dream before it’s even blossomed.

The World Banks’s Ease of Doing Business report is a useful resource. It ranks countries for both ease of starting a business and ease of doing business – both, most would agree, hold equal importance. A country may make it super easy to start a business, but then you may find it difficult to trade. Take Azerbaijan, for example, which is the 5th easiest country to start a business, but ranks 65th for ease of doing business, according to the World Bank. On the other hand, look at Denmark, which is ranked 3rd for ease of doing business, but 24th for starting a business.

New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Macedonia (the land-locked EU candidate just north of Greece) all rank in the top ten for starting a business and for ease of doing business…perhaps they, then, are places to consider starting and operating your dream business! However, even these countries have notable pitfalls. For example, Angloinfo Hong Kong’ editor writes: “Failure to apply for business registration is an offence and can result in a fine of $5,000 and a 1-year imprisonment.”

Young hipster businessman leaning over desk, writing

For in-depth information about starting a business in Angloinfo locations, click on the country links listed below:

Top Ten ranking for ‘Starting a Business’ (with ranking of ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in parenthesis)

  1. New Zealand (1)
  2. Canada (22)
  3. Hong Kong SAR, China (4)
  4. Macedonia, FYR (10)
  5. Azerbaijan (65)
  6. Singapore (2)
  7. Australia (15)
  8. Georgia (16)
  9. Armenia (38)
  10. Ireland (18)

Top Ten ranking for Ease of Doing Business’ (with ranking for ‘Starting a Business’ in parenthesis)

  1. New Zealand (1)
  2. Singapore (6)
  3. Denmark (24)
  4. Hong Kong SAR, China (3)
  5. South Korea (11)
  6. Norway (21)
  7. United Kingdom (16)
  8. United States (51)
  9. Sweden (15)
  10. Macedonia, FYR (4)

If a country mentioned above interests you but doesn’t have a link, you can get useful economic data from the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business‘ report, for 190 individually analyzed countries.