Top 10 countries for start-ups

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Dear Mr. Greechie,

I want to start a business abroad, but I'm not sure where. I can analyze the market in each country I'm considering, but I need to know about government regulation. I've heard that compliance is very demanding in some places. What countries are best in terms of business regulation? Would a course in international business help me? Will I need an entrepreneur license in other countries?

And I really like your blog!

KC in Pascagoula, Mississippi

Dear KC:

It sounds like some coursework in international business is just what you need! I'll teach you about import/export, labor laws, and all the other relevant regulations.

For the entrepreneur, a license translates to registration. Be sure to be thorough in registering your business. No other entrepreneur license is necessary. The World Bank produces an annual report called Doing Business that focuses on business regulation. While it doesn't mention an entrepreneur license, it provides a thorough discussion of regulatory demands around the globe, country by country. The latest edition was released last November.

Doing Business 2011 reports that the regulatory climate for small enterprises has been improving worldwide for the past several years. Most countries have made it easier for an entrepreneur to start and operate a business. Much of this improvement is due to new technologies that make compliance easier and less expensive.

Most developing economies have amended business regulation in the past year, particularly India and China. Still, the most appealing countries are not surprisingly the most affluent, and most of these have been making regulation more entrepreneur-friendly.

Analysis of the report shows the following countries in the top 10:

1) Singapore
This is the third year that Singapore is in the number one spot. It offers low import and export costs, as well as the fastest time for resolving commercial disputes in the world. There is no minimum wage there, and some companies undoubtedly exploit this lack unfairly.

2) New Zealand
Start-up time is minimal in N.Z.: You can register a company in 24 hours, and register with the tax man at the same time. You can register property in two days, which is quicker than anywhere else.

3) the United States
In the U.S., labor laws favor the employer, offering the worker little protection. You can start a business quickly, and there are strong protections for investors.

4) Hong Kong
Hong Kong is known for low import/export costs. Administrative time is minimal: You can pay taxes, get credit and enforce contracts very quickly.

5) Denmark
There's no fee to register a company in Denmark, and it takes only six days. Import/export costs are low, and labor laws are lax from the worker's point of view.

6) the United Kingdom
Access to credit is easy in the U.K., and credit is carefully regulated. What's more, the government has recently increased corporate transparency requirements.

7) Ireland
You can start a business in Ireland in less than two weeks and bankruptcy/reorganization proceedings are even quicker. Tax payments are simple, as well.

8 ) Canada
It takes only a single online procedure to start a business in Canada. It's also simple to reorganize or liquidate. What's more, the corporate tax rate was reduced a few years ago.

9) Australia
Down under, you'll find quick credit and protection for both lenders and borrowers. Register a business in two procedures in two days.

10) Norway
In this Scandinavian country, it's less expensive to reorganize or liquidate a business than anywhere else in the world. Registering property and enforcing a contract can be done quite speedily.

Of course, for big business or for the entrepreneur, a license is required to do business in certain industries wherever the company is located. Be sure to explore what sort of permission your business would need before you make your final decision.

And one more thing: when you take courses in marketing, be sure to pay special attention to cultural differences between countries. They make a huge difference in promotion, and they can be very subtle.

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