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The 6 best countries in Europe to start a small business

by John Marshall
Published on 27 November, 2017
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Starting a small business in Europe is no simple feat. To make it a bit easier, why not open up shop somewhere with a favourable business climate?

No need to wonder where that is. Here’s the UENI run-down of the best countries to start a business. 

Ireland

Ireland

In the mid-1990s through the early 2000s, the Irish economy boomed like few others ever have. In fact, this rapid growth got its own nickname,‘The Celtic Tiger.’

While this growth slowed following the global economic collapse of 2008, Ireland has since bounced back in a big way, and is now comfortably among the best countries to start a small business. 

The main reason for this rebound is the Irish government’s favourable attitude towards business. Their measures, such as a low corporate tax rate (12.5%), cultivate a climate that is exceedingly hospital to enterprises of any size. Many big-name technology firms (such as Google, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) established their European headquarters here for this reason.

But the Irish government has also allocated significant public resources to support any type of new businesses. For more information, check out Enterprise Ireland.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria

Once an overlooked former Soviet state, Bulgaria is now emerging as a hub for entrepreneurs from around the world. According to the World Bank, it only takes 18 days to launch a new business.

Moreover, the administrative costs are roughly 1% of the average Bulgarian income, and you only need to fill out 4 forms. Plus, there’s no minimum amount you need in the bank to incorporate a new venture. So you can technically have £0 in your bank account and still launch (though this probably isn’t advisable).

For more information about starting a business in Bulgaria, check out the Invest Bulgaria Agency.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands

Holland in general is friendly to entrepreneurs, and Amsterdam in particular has a lot going for it.

For one, there’s the historic precedent: Amsterdam was founded by bustling commerce.

The Dutch government takes the tradition of fostering a favourable business climate very seriously indeed. And while the tax rate is high (usually 52%, depending on your bracket), the generous services leave most residents pleased with the trade-off.

There government also offers ample public support for entrepreneurs, which can be found here, including with this step-by-step guide to start a business in Amsterdam.

Sweden

Sweden

According to Forbes’ 2017 ranking, Sweden is the best country for business, full stop.

2016 was a record year for small businesses in Sweden. It demonstrated ‘the highest profitability for small businesses in the five years the firm has examined, with an average of 18.2 percent of revenue as profit,’ according to thelocal.se

Note: the LRF Konsult defines small businesses as an operation that staffs 15 or fewer employees. For more information, visit Sweden’s official government site.

Norway

Norway

In general, Norwegians are eager to embrace new innovation and technology. Especially when it means lower costs or increased efficiency.

You can start a small business in Norway entirely online, which saves you a lot of time mailing in forms and waiting to hear answers. And although taxes here are high, they are relatively straightforward.

Plus, starting a small business in Norway is relatively low-risk. Norway offers a whole host of public benefits and support. Plus, if you go bankrupt, you can usually resolve insolvency for 1 percent of your entity’s value.

For these reasons and others, Norway Entrepreneur magazine named it among the best places to start a business last year.

To learn more about starting a business in Norway, visit the official government site.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom

Part of the reason England is such a good place to start a business is because of how the English view entrepreneurship.

A recent poll found that 88 percent of Britons think you can move ahead in life if you work hard, which, according to The Independent, is higher than anywhere else in Europe.

Additionally, the British tax structure is designed to account for a lack of profitability in your first few years of business, according to Virgin.com

And the total cost of starting a small business in the UK is lower than most anywhere else in the developed world: just £81.45 on average.

If you already have a thorough plan informed by market research, the first step is to incorporate your business, which only takes about an hour online and costs just £14. For more information, read our in-depth article on starting a business in the UK, or visit the HMRC site.

John Marshall
brunodionmarsh
John Marshall is a writer, editor and strategist now based in London. His work features on TimeOut (New York), Thrillist, The Huffington Post, and MTV Networks, among others. Follow him @brunodionmarsh
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