The Top 5 European Countries for Starting Up a Small Business

While the UK was once an ideal place to base a business, in a post-Brexit world there are definite drawbacks that can’t be overlooked. So, if you’re just starting to put together ideas and funding for a small business, you might want to instead consider setting up in a continental European country where there are fewer restrictions and more lucrative opportunities.

What are the advantages of starting a start-up in Europe?

While the conventional narrative might be that Silicon Valley is the home of start-up success, Europe is the largest market in the world, with 500 million people. It’s also a better-placed market geographically for reaching emerging markets in Africa and Asia.

Not only that but Europe is packed full of talent. It’s home to some of the greatest universities in the world and the freedom of movement allowed by EU member states means that it’s incredibly simple to attract talent from other neighbouring countries. But of all the European countries, which are the best placed to offer your business start-up its ideal home?

Frankfurt Germany
The city of Frankfurt is considered an important financial hub in continental Europe


The largest economy in the continent and the 4th largest in the world, Germany is not only located in the dead centre of the EU but is a major global leader in everything from cars to technology and pharmaceuticals. The country also boasts a highly skilled labour force and exceptional education. Frankfurt in particular is consider a major city and financial hub of Europe after London and Paris.


Ireland has spent the years since the 2008 collapse bouncing back in a big way. With a 12.5% corporate tax rate, it’s incredibly hospitable for young businesses and there’s a great culture of financial aid in Ireland too. With Dublin home to a wealth of European headquarters like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Paypal, eBay, Indeed, LinkedIn, Airbnb, and Microsoft. Outside the capital Cork has Apple, Amazon, IBM and many more too.

In total Ireland has (source):

  • 9 of the top 10 global ICT companies
  • 8 of the top 10 gaming companies
  • 8 of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies
  • 6 of the 7 top diagnostics companies
  • 15 of the top 20 medical device companies
  • 50% of the world’s leading financial services companies

The Netherlands

The Dutch are renowned as international traders and with good reason. Not only is the country strategically placed to offer intercontinental and international travel but it’s a notoriously innovative country too. The government is also very open to foreign investment and the generally liberal views make it a much more tolerable place to work for many young people.


While it might have been a struggling nation in the early 20th century, even since they discovered oil in the 70s and spent the windfall wisely, Norway has been one of the most stable countries in the world. It boasts one of the world’s highest GDP per capita ratios and is very open to adopting new technologies.


While tax rates are high and VAT rates are even higher, Sweden is a country with no logistical hurdles for foreign investors and European startups. There is also a great culture of welfare support, an open market and very well-developed industrial sectors ranging from forestry to oil and telecommunications.

Of course, launching a successful new business in Europe requires the assistance of international experts in business risk advisory, who can assist you with market dynamics and advice on how to launch your business on the ground. By outsourcing these experts, you’ll be able to save a small fortune and come away from the experience with invaluable knowledge and a strategy to achieve something truly spectacular.