Best country to start a business

The most ridiculous thing I have read in the mass media lately is the a list of the best countries to start a business or to do business.  The is absurd. They list countries like Norway and Canada and Denmark and Switzerland as top.
This is crazy. They talk about stable law and tax codes etc. This is pure madness. Let me explain. The people writing the articles are journalists at best. I only have a masters in Economics but I am an entrepreneur. I am running my own business. The last place I would go is a high cost, high tax area, regardless of how stable the tax laws are.

Place to start a business

The best place to start a business – Poland

The highest cost of connected starting or setting up any business is labor. In Poland you have people with PhDs and Masters that will work hard, with creative minds for 3 Euros an hour. Will anybody do that in Canada or Denmark or soft France? Poland’s tax rate is 19% on business, with tax breaks for new and foreign businesses, while the USA, Britain, France, Germany its 40%. Other countries are upset with Poland as they have not “harmonized” their tax rates with the west. Absurd. Low taxes are good, high taxes bad.
What about Scandinavia, even higher taxes and  higher labor costs. Maybe five times the rate of Poland, and these western countries have a worker shortage, while Poland and Eastern Europe has a worker surplus and a capital shortage. Read Adam Smith when there is free movement of labor and capital and a condition like this exists. Then you will figure out where the best country to start a business is.
What about infrastructure, Internet etc. Everything is new in Poland. Everyone is plugged into the internet, Poland is being pumped with EU money to rebuild its infrastructure.
What about accounting and laws. Very easy. Its called an accountant. Hire an accountant. Laws are EU laws. Accountants are pennies in Poland.  Same laws, better labor for 1/5 the price. Very cheap. To start a company it could take one day and a few hundred dollars. Language-English is the second language in Poland, no language problem.

If anyone, wants to argue with me I am here. Can you honestly say that entrepreneurs are running to high priced Denmark to start a company? Why is Google and other major firms opening in Poland and not Norway? Price. Cost of labor. What is the best country to start a business? Poland. When you see these articles about the best place to start a company, do not believe them unless they tell you the best place to start a company is in Eastern Europe.

Author: Mark Biernat

I live in with family between two worlds, US and Europe where I create tools for language learning. If you found my site you probability share my passion to be a life long learner. Please explore my site and comment.

235 thoughts on “Best country to start a business”

  1. YOU choose bad country to start business, i know because Im from Poland
    If you want run business it takes you ages ,procedures and not friendly people in counciles make your start very hard(mentality from comunism yet and corruption, no efficient systems)
    Tax ok but You dont know for example about that:
    If you start business in Poland you must pay big incurance ZUS (50% average salary in Poland) doesnt metter you earn money or not you pay tax from start in many countries you are free from tax ion start(I dont think about huge investors but that diffrent history) registration the smallest business takes 1 months minimum
    you pay for everything
    what is the most important the interior market is poor
    for example businesses like cleaning etc doesnt exist there
    Country good for huge investors like FIAT for example they have special economy
    Engineers are cheap, close to european union market
    but not for private small investors
    The best is USA, AUstralia and Canada to start business
    There is business culture and rich interior market
    and in Poland doesnt exist a bankrupt institucion if you are bankrupt you can go to jail:-(
    best regards

  2. I do not know why Polish people like to complain about their own country when foreigners get rich there? I know I am American that lives in Poland. 50% taxes? Ok the US corporate tax rate is 39% +7 % sales + other taxes and things and you do not even get medical coverage. It adds up to over 50%. In Poland now you can start a business in 1 day. My friends have done this. Maybe you are a 1990s guys. It takes a lot of running around but in Krakow people do it. Or on the internet. The Zus you are talking about is about 400 dollars a month. But this covers your insurance and pension. In the USA you have to pay for this yourself. Also for the first two years its only 100 dollars a month. In the States its much more complicated. In Poland you can be bankrupt as long as you do not cheat you will not go to jail, your just talking. If anything Polish law is too liberal and many people who do financial crimes walk the street. In the USA they do not mess around. Also Poland still gets a lot of EU money and if you are clever you can leverage your investment with this capital legally. Poland has a very cheap labor force that words very hard. Only after the South Koreans and the Czech in terms of hours in the whole world. Polish workers are highly sought after all over Europe. Set up a business in the UK or Norway if you like, with very high cost of labor and social costs also high. In Norway a bread rolls cost about 12 dollars, so good luck ‘entrepreneur of the year’ starting a business in the west unless you have a bank roll. USA, well everyone is singing the blues, your chance of to start a business is about 1 in 10, however, I would put the USA near the top of the list in terms of business if it was not for the cost of labor. Poland at this time is the best country to start a business.

  3. KH,, First I am very sorry you had so much trouble. I know that at times it seems like a maze. I think your Polish is pretty good so you know what you are doing and it was not a language issue, but rather a paperwork issue. Further, I know where you are coming from, as Poles like to complain about how bad their country is and living in Poland it can be contagious. But my friend started a company in 1 day on the internet, in Krakow. And further the ZUS payment you talk about is about 250 pln per month for the first 2 years, after that you can do something else. But that means your is only about 55 GBP a month for full insurance for your family is you are a sole owner of the business.WOW full Wow,for Insurance and pension etc, that is cheap. I do not think you can do it for about 600 GPB anywhere, for your family for a year. Also the flat tax is 19%. Wow, in the States and the UK although progressive its 40% on business. Maybe you have a large company which is staff intensive or a different organizational structure that I am not aware of but the people I know said its no problem. However, I respect you being 100% legal, that is the way I did it here and I had to run around a lot and translate things but I just paid friends to help me with that. If you get all your paper in order legal translations will take a day to 3 days. I think the most important thing is to get someone who has done it before several times to help you. Wages are low relative to the west and it should not cost a lot. Your a business guy you do not want to do everything yourself, just pay someone to do it for you, this is what my friends do and you focus on your core business. If you do that that Poland is the best country to start a business.

  4. Mark, I can only imagine that you are joking when you were writing this article. I’ve lived and worked in Poland for 9 years now and started my own company 1 year ago. Eric is right, starting a business in Poland is a bureaucratic nightmare and not at all rewarding despite the 50% reduction in ZUS (social taxes and healthcare) that you are given for the first two years. Should you have a bad couple of months you can’t escape paying your ZUS contributions and if you miss the payment date by one day (easy to do when many of the accountants you pay “pennies” for, don’t perpare your paperwork on time) you are not able to claim any medical costs for the next 3 to 6 months) As for your comment that friends have opened companies using the internet! In one of the SIX offices I had to visit last week to change ONE of the items on my ‘comany description papers’ they explained that even there thay have to use two seperate computers in the office because their computers cannot talk to each other and the opperating systems are not compatible. There is NO information available over the internet to set up a company electronically. Everything must be done in person and don’t forget evrything (including your school certificates form 25 years ago) needs to be translated by a government approved translator. I love this country very much and plan to stay here but believe me it would heave been far far easier and totaly legal to have set up my company in the UK and simply work here as a foreign investor!

  5. Well thanks for the speedy reply and your positive attitude is a welcome relief… But… I just paid this month’s ZUS, there are 3 parts to it for everyone: Invoice 51- social fund 100.57zl, invoice 52- health care 205.87 and invoice 53- 10zl (this one varies from 0- about 10zl) and thats at half rate as you mentioned. Full ZUS, which I will have to pay from next year, is now about 750zl per month. (unless you are a farmer in which case you pay 30zl a month – why that is considered fair, I don’t know.) Yes Income Tax is only 19% for me but that’s because I’m a self-employed small business if my earnings cross a barrier of Xzl (I can’t remember the figure but I think it’s about 36,000zl) then my tax will increase to 40%!! I don’t have a family so I don’t see any benefits there either. And please bear in mind that Poland is now attempting to pass a law that will make pensions availiable only to people that have worked for 45 years. A 52-year-old Polish friend of mine has worked out that in order to get back from the government the monies that he will have paid in by the time he retires, he will need to live to the age of 127! And what am I getting from all this? Last year I was mugged and left unconcious with a broken leg, a good samaritan took me to the nearest hospital where, because I had no documents, they demanded that I pay 2000zl before they would give me an x-ray. I never got it back. The governments victims fund has never replied to my requests for compensation. I had to continue paying my ZUS even though I was unable to work because I hadn’t paid in enough. I am already 42years old so I don’t think I’ll manage the proposed 45 years of work to qualify for a pension. And, if I should ever be seriously ill, I would return to the UK for treatment there.
    Poland is a great country and I don’t hear many complaints for the Poles here. In fact they are amongst the most patriotic people I have met in 20 years of world travel so I can’t support your comment about them complaining. I also am happy to be here and have no plans to move anywhere else but life here is complex and demanding for Poles and ex-pats alike. you have to learn to go with the flow that’s all.
    Finally, please tell you friends in Krakow to publish the details of the web site they used to set up their business. It would be a great help to many others. There is certainly nothing like it in Lodz!

  6. Sorry you are having so many problems here. I am very sincere about this. Really, living as an ex pat is hard as you are far from home and it might not feel the same for you. Its hard, but hats off to you for doing it. I have lived in Poland for many years and it is easy for me, I feel like home. But many of my friends have trouble feeling at home. My rebuttal is, I have gone to the doctor and hospital many times never a problem, nor any of my friends. No one ever asked for a bribe or anything. If you are covered by medical its your right, I would have called the police. Really. Its in the constitution in fact. Look at the Polish constitution. The law is the law. I would have really raise an issue. I do not know your situation. Sorry to hear about your mugging, Poland has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe, almost none existent. The UK is number 1 for violent crimes and other crimes, this is according to “the guardian”, a UK newspaper. Many Brits are coming to Poland for dental and cosmetic work etc. That 45 years of work is just not true. Show me the law. Like in the UK there are different levels of social security based on years of work and age of retirement. But that 45 years is not true. I will look up the internet site where you can set up a business online. 19% is cheap for tax rates (Wiki), and when Poland gets the Euro in 2011 (Forbes) they are trying to pass a more universal flat tax. UK has a 21 to 28 % on corporate tax, compared to Polish 19%. Slovakia has a 19% for everything which I think is great also another great place to start a business. The ZUS amounts you quote are in z?oty, z?otys are z?ot. nothing, 50 gbp 100 gbp. Low taxes, very safe and legal society, low wages (you can hire someone for a 1 time contract for 19% tax, no zus), highly educated population, in fact all of Europe seeks the ‘Polish worker’. Poland is a great place to have a business. I owe you that internet site where you can set up a business online in Poland.

  7. No sarcasm intended, What you do you think is the best country to start a business? I am open and will to change my opinion and post.

  8. One thing you have to keep in mind. The biggest cost of doing business in any country is labor. Cost of labor, not translation of documents or filling out paperwork. Its really the cost of labor/value of labor. Lets say we are comparing apples to apples and say a UK worker works as hard as a Polish worker. Well wages are 800% higher in the UK than Poland so I think there is no way you can make an argument that starting a business in Canada, UK, or Denmark or France for example can compare to Poland. That is why are so many firms from large US banks to google to pharmaceuticals starting a business in Poland and pulling up roots from the west? Hands down even with some paperwork, that you pay someone to do, Poland is the best country to start a business.

  9. After reading the statements so far I am curious as to what type of businesses are being discussed. Currently I am a college student taking a class in retail management. A project given to us is to determine which country the existing business we are profiling could enter. I am in the beginning stage of choosing a country. Poland seems possible as I have looked into Canada but not only does the market seem covered, but the taxes and labor costs seem extreme when compared to that of Poland. Any feedback would be extremely helpful.

    1. Hi It depends on the business. However, for highly educated minds at a very low cost Poland is number 1. For workers with EU quality and a low price Poland is number 1. They have laws that will give you tax breaks if you are starting a business. If you want you can choose a 19% flat tax if you start a business in Poland, but there are also special economic zones that are lower. Paperwork etc no problem, just get an accountant. So the best country to start a business in my opinion is Poland.

  10. I found these posts through a Google search and have read with interest. It seems you are an American in the Krakow area with a language-focused small business. How long have you been in business and what resources did you use in setting up shop? Are there any English-language materials about setting up a business in Poland as a non-EU citizen? How about small-business expat networks in southern Poland? (The foreign chambers of commerce seem to be focused on larger fry.)

    1. If you are serious about setting up shop I can recommend and accounting firm for you. I think if you do not speak Polish I would highly recommend working with someone. There are a few Facebook Linkin network of expat business guys in Poland.
      Do you have a business in mind or a city? I really do think Poland is the best country to start a business, if you need to hire workers as the wage rate is low compared to the west and the talent is high.

  11. I reached this discussion searching for a better country to open a business in EU.
    After reading this it seems that we have it quite good here in Romania.
    We have 16% tax and the bureaucracy is not what it used to be 🙂
    I’d rather have some bureaucracy and pay someone to deal with it than pay 50% tax.

    1. Cosmin you are amazingly smart. I mean that. I would rather deal with paperwork and government offices all day, than have a business pay 50% plus in taxes just because the people at the government office smile at you in the 50% countries.
      There are many foolish people who do not understand you can pay an accountant to deal with the paperwork and save yourself a lot of money by starting a business in a place like Romania or Poland or Bulgaria.
      I mean this is your hard earned money that you work day and night for. You want to pay taxes but if you are in the EU and have a choose why not a country that has low labor cost, bright people and low taxes.

  12. Hey Mark, Thanks for an informing discussion. I’m Norwegian, and I totally agree with you on not starting a business in Norway. The tax laws changes every year, so the government takes a bigger and bigger piece of your business. We are probably getting to be a communist country. You will get taxed way more than 60%. So dont go there. Norway is a good country to live, but not to earn money.

    However, I would recommend the UK. Especially when your a foreigner starting up a business. If your company is registered in the Uk, all of the money earned outside the UK is totally tax free. Registration fees are cheap and registration as well as all the paperwork can be done online via specified companies.

    Good luck!

    1. Morty thanks you know what you are talking about, tax laws are a key part of running a business, and if the government of a country takes over 50% it is not a great country to start a business. But I still maintain cost of labor is your biggest expense. You need to hire professionals with skills at a price you can make a profit. For me that why I believe Poland is the best country to start a business.

  13. Hey you guys nice chat, I guess you are right it is cheap labor, bloody low salaries the ppl in Poland gets… slavery, that is what it is!
    Hope some Pols will wake up and do something about it.

    1. Your right salaries are cheap, but to live in Poland it is cheap too. Free university education, free insurance, retirement paid for. I see many people in their 20s owning apartments, I do not see this in the USA. Salaries are not great in Poland, but standard of living in my opinion is high. I see a lot of wealth in Poland and a big middle class. Poland is not only the best country to start a business but a nice place to live.

      1. Hi Mark, I sent you a post a couple of weeks ago and havent heard anything back. You must be busy. My question to you was, what were your thoughts of starting a high-end clothing consignment store in Warsaw. My concerns are if the people in Poland have a understanding of this shopping concept and if the fashion there is high-end enough. Any helpfull feed back would be greatfully excepted. Or of course any thoughts from your other readers is welcome.

        1. I am in the US right now, foofy St. Augustine, Florida and it would be a hard arguement that people in Warsaw are poor, at least the consumers. People spend more money at blue city then the outlset malls or Avenues malls here. Poland is getting very rich. So if you start a high hend shop it will do well, but low end consignment shops are a dime a dozen and the profits margins are low. You need to stand out. But the way I see it there is so much money flowing into Poland, used clothes are more for the hobbiest or lower middle class. The middle class just goes to Reserved which is like the Gap.

          1. Hi Mark, thanks so much for your reply. I am so happy that you feel like my idea would be met favorably. You really didnt comment on Warsaw as the best spot for a store front. I was thinking Old Town? Can you tell me if you think I can find a vacant store front there and what would I likely pay for lease. I figure that that part of the city would get plenty of local and tourist traffic. Location is so key, it is so important that the store front Pops! Can you think of a better place? Also it would be much appreciated if you might have a contact I could speak to as I would need to secure a loan. Which is confussing to me. Would it be better to get a loan in the US or Poland (if possible). I think I remember reading on other posts here, that Poland offers new buisness incentives? I know Poland is becomming more fashion forward with many up and comming designers. This is really going to be a dream come true and I thank you for your site that really influenced me to take at look at what Poland had to offer! By the way, how was St. Augustine? It is one of my favorite close get aways and I love that the beaches are dog frendly. Hope to hear back from you soon!

          2. Hi Mark, I have not heard back from you and to be honest you are the only person I can find that will even commuicate with me. So, I check daily to look for your reply. I even tryed Expat blog Warsaw. No answer from anyone! I contacted a Business consultant from Poland, Chlubinskiego 8, and even they will not get back to me. Can you recommend someone for me to talk to? Also, please read previous post and give me your opinion, it means so much to me!!!
            Thanks for your time.

          3. The Warsaw old town is a highly desirable location. However, the rent is high. It is only good for a tourist retail business not an intellectual business which would be anywhere.

            If you design a product then sell it there that is another story. It is a good location as long as you economize on the space for the design and use the squre meters for marketing. I think if you take a little western customer service and marketing you can blow your competition away.

            If you made no progress with the people I recommended try They are an Italian Real Estate company I have used in Poland and I had a good experience with them. They might help with rentals of space for business. Also did you check ?

            I think there is vacant places in the old town, at least when I was there a few months ago. But you need to define the old town, do you mean the square, no, but along any street around it there are many.

            Rent I am guestimaking that it is about 20 dollars a meter. So that means for 50 meters or about 500 square feet lets say, it is about 1000 dollars a month, maybe less but it all depends. I mean you can rent some small places for 200 dollars a month, I know this. But they are small hole in the wall places. You need to work with someone there. But it can be done.

            Put your own ads in and really do not give up. Warsaw is a rich town.

            Reply to 100 ads on Gumtree. Do not give up.

            There are many firms that help Americans start a business in Poland. You tried Did you write them and say you want to start a business in Poland and need guidence? Did you call them directly? Ask them what their fees are. They are in Krakow but very respected and might help with EU money and funds.

            You can get tax breaks and possible EU funds also if your work is intellecutally creative and positive as defined by EU rules.

            Also Polish people do not reply like Americans do when you write e-mails. You have to be persistent and in their face a bit or you will not get much reaction. This has been my experience. If still no reply move your way up the chain of command. It worked for me. I think it is a little bit because customer service expectations are different. I think you need to be on the ground they’re knocking on doors also. You will get a better feel of Poland and the business climate. You are right there is so much money pouring into Poland. being the center of Europe between East and West use to be a disadvantage now it is a great advantage, especially it is a EU border country, does not have the Euro, and strong growth.

            There are speific requirements they are looking for and I do not know them. But you need to be the ground looking. I did it and so can you. Fly to Warsaw and scout it all out. A plane ticket in the winter is cheap.

            Sorry I have moved my family to the other side of the world as you know and St. Augustine is beautiful, you are right. I am a bit in chaos myself. OK lets look at your issue. You want to start a business. I will read your last post.

            Ok please be patient if I have to rephrase your question and correct me if I am wrong.

  14. I am Indian national. Have been in market research industry for over 15 years across India and Middle-East. Found this trail of discussion quite interesting. How about an Indian starting a market research business in Poland! What prospects do you see, Mark

    1. I have seen a number of Indians in Poland and starting a business in Poland is a good idea. It was the only country growing in 2008 and 2009 in Europe and North America. Its a developing market in a developed EU. Capital keeps flowing in.

  15. What do you think about Ukraine? I think it is also a good country to start some business. What do think about that?

    1. Ukraine has many talented people there who work hard for a price that is a fraction of the UK or the USA for example. I think Ukraine is a place that you can outsource almost anything to. I personally would and have done business with many Ukrainians on a consulting basis. Right now I am in Poland. Right now Poland is the best country to start a business because it is part of the EU. When Ukraine joins the EU this will most likely be the best place to start a business. I am part Ukrainian so I am very pro Ukrainian so I might be partial. However, I think Ukraine will be the future.

  16. Mark what about the Polish Website to start a company?

  17. Hello Mark,

    I’m currently an undergrad at Emory University. When graduate in two years, I will apply to top MBA programs. However, if I do not get into a top program, I will attempt to open a restaurant in a business friendly country. What do you think about the possibility of opening a Mexican Resturant in Poland? I don’t want a big commerical center, but rather a small place. Ideally, I would want the resturant to be casual and upbeat– perhaps close to bars?

    Furthermore how much initial capital would I need? I


    1. There are a few Mexican resturants but it is a good idea as they are always packed with people. You could open this business in Poland with little or no capital or a lot depending on you do it. I would say it is like the USA in terms of capital requirements divided by three. The USA would need 300% more capital. Lets say 5k usd and you have a nice operation in Poland.

  18. Thank you Mark.

    Poland sounds like a great place to start a business. What about real estate is it preferable to rent or buy? Sounds like Poland might be a nice investment in the coming years?

    1. Prices are by their nature expectational so future expectations are factored into it. The question you have to ask yourself is, will your core business be real estate or a resturant.
      I personally would rent to test the market and location. But I would work with a good accounting firm to set all tis up.

  19. These factors seem to relate to traditional business models. What about starting an online business? Location not crucial, little in the way of support needed except good internet high speed connections?
    your thoughts and perhaps some examples or references to review.


    1. Great point, online businesses in Poland get EU money. OK that is my plug for Poland as the best place to start a business.

      Lets consider the best place to start an online business. In almost any place you can get high-speed Internet. I have it here in Krakow. Cost of living I estimate to be less than 1/2 the USA. I work in my flat and the only expenses are when I pay people to do things, such as programming help. So an Online business really is about lifestyle and cost of living. I do not really have to work anymore since I have some websites, I can focus full time on programming, because I live in Poland (I do teach a little still). If I lived in the USA I could not do that as everything is so expensive. The same goes for the rest of the EU. Therefore, the best country to start and online business is somewhere you want to live and has a low-cost of living so you can focus on your business rather than working for a boss nights and weekends.

  20. Europe is much more expensive than US. Even Poland. I live in Romania which is supposed to be a country with the lowest COL in EU but guess what? It’s very expensive! Almost everything is at the same price as in US, UK or other western country!
    Yes, the salaries are smaller but are growing fast! And if you really want good people you have to pay them more than 500 euro! For engineers or those with college and some experience you have to pay about 1000 euros + taxes… ain’t cheap.
    The best thing about Romania are the taxes which I think are the smallest in EU. About 30% for the salaries (which include health insurence, pension and so on) and 16% for the profit!

    What do you think about Romania? I think right now it’s better than Poland. The only thing I don’t like from a business prospective are the salaries which grow too fast!
    Also Romania I think it’s a better market than Poland or any other northern Country. If you wanna start a restaurant business here will be a total success! Romanians eat a lot and buy a lot…

    1. Romania is great. I am very pro-Romania when it comes to business. If you are in Romania you are lucky.

      Many people in Eastern Europe like to complain and believe in the fairy-tale of the cheap USA. But I am American (and Polish) and anything you think is cheap in the USA or Western Europe is a one off item like. I paid 2000 dollars a month in Boston for my flat and I pay 350 dollars in Krakow. Same flat in the old town. Food is 3 times the price in the USA, unless you need to live of French goat cheese. I buy fresh Polish or Spanish food in the market or from the countryside.

      In the USA I pay 33% Federal taxes + 7% state taxes + 15 % self employment taxes + 800 dollars now for national health insurance a month. That is for a total of 55% taxes + and there are others of course. In Poland the rate is a 19% flat tax + health insurance of 230 dollars a month.

      I am a dual US and EU citizen and must pay and file both returns. I get an exlcusion on foreign income earned but still, I think the USA has very high taxes.

  21. Anyway I agree with you that the journalists who make this tops with US, Canada, Denmark or Norway are nuts!!! Norway or Denmark have outrageous taxes and are very very small markets! The salaries are huge!
    Right now I think Poland, Romania, Moldova or the countries in Balkans (Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia) are the best places to start a business! You have cheaper qualified people than anywhere in Europe, small taxes and you are in the EU (Romania and Poland).

    1. The salaries are high in the west and for technical people like programmers I have found in my personal experience, Romanians and Poles being very qualified (actually more). I love America but it is very expensive.

  22. Greece (even if they have some problems now), Portugal are also 2 great countries!
    The EU offer some great advantages! But if you want to start a business outside EU, I’ll chose Georgia (great business climate) or New Zealand (small labor cost for qualified personnel)

  23. Very interesting debate.

    What about Ireland? Isn’t Ireland something like the paradise of enterprises? Or that’s not true anymore?

    1. Ireland boomed because of low taxes and business friendly environment. Now it is the richest country in Europe based on per capita income, up there with oil rich Norway and the Swiss. Therefore, the price of labor in Ireland is no longer competitive. If you have to employ people it is not the best country to start a business, although a very nice country.

  24. hey

    thanks for the instructive conversation i learned a lot but i have one question how do you think about Turkey?

    is that a good place to do business do you have any experiance with Turkey?


    1. Turkey is low cost but the culture is a little bit different. In Poland I know that it is EU law and people are pretty straight in Poland. In Turkey I have only had positive experiences with the Turkish people, in business and personally, however, I would feel a little lost or intimidated to do business in Turkey as it is not EU or as Western, so I would have to have a someone I trust 100% in Turkey to set things up. In Poland you do not need that, you can do it all yourself if you want.

  25. ok thanks but like if i set a business over there would it work ? i know it depens on what kind and how but like is there a market?

    the culture and the trust is no problem for me because im half turkish so 😛


  26. Mark,
    You are clearly an expert with Eastern Europe and are encouraging me to change the location of my own business. However, I have had tremendous luck and fortune in New Zealand. I had read about the ease of opening a business here and moved immediately after grad school. I have started my own language school teaching French, English, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese to children here. The employees were relatively easy to recruit from the US, mostly recent grads looking for short-term contracts. I was able to complete all of the paper work online and registered my business in one day. ONE day! Then my property was registered two days later. The clients come mostly from westerners who moved here, but I have had an enormous increase in Asian clients this year. I believe this is due to an influx of Asian migrants in Australia coming here.
    I wonder if you have any opinion on whether or not New Zealand is good for long term business opportunities. I realize that it is not your area of expertise, but lately I have read many reports suggesting that New Zealand and Australia are great for new businesses and was curious to hear your opinion on the matter. Thanks, Mark! Great post!

    1. Croatia is fine to start a business, but it depends on what. I think all these low priced, low wage countries are good, but in my opinion because of its western and vacation proximity it is much more expensive than Poland or Romania to start a business. Plus it is not EU so does not get special grants for certain business. But it is not that bad either.

  27. Hi, What type of business would be most lucrative in Poland or Romania, also i do not know which one to choose out of the two. Poland seems like a very good idea(courtesy of Mark :D) Also would a business like a martial arts gym be lucrative? If not, i have interest in restaurant businesses.

    1. Things like restaurants always do well but the reality is if you start a business in a low cost country it s better to be exporting or offering a service to the world. This means you pay your works in a low priced country and earn dollars or Euros.

  28. What about the best country to start exporting your goods to? On what factors would you rate a country for this?

    1. It is about supply and demand and currency. If you can sell something where the price index is higher, you can triple your profit for example. The problem is these countries already have markets open in almost every product. But to export to, I would say, the US, UK Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Canada etc.

  29. Hi Mark, I’ve owned and run a business in Romania and the main stumbling block is corruption. Every tiny procedure when dealing with public officials has it’s “price”. Every middle manager of even multinational companies has his price for accessing contracts etc. The logic of the business deal is secondary to how much can be stripped off it in “informal” payments. Even my experience with the legal system has been horrific with judges acting in clear conflict with no fear of reprisal. Every Mayor has a “menu” of payments that need to be made. I know of a large industrial facility that had to run on gasoline powered generators for two years because the didn’t want to pay the exorbitant bribe to connect to the power grid just 100m from their site. My advise id….don’t do it!

    1. Thanks for the feedback about Romania. I think Poland is less corrupt to do business. Romania is a little farther behind. Also the Polish legal system has been cleaned up in the last few years. Maybe it is the nature of the business you are in, that is deployment of a lot of physical capital?

  30. Hi, Thanks for the interesting comments. Dare I ask if Moldova would be a good option? Why not India, Malaysia or Philippines? If you are starting an internet company, do you worry about your intellectual property? What about language barriers? Are there issues with privacy of customer data in cases of support? There are so many variables for me to consider apart from tax rates and labour costs. Any advice would be welcome.

    1. Moldova is cheap but it is not EU and I think too remote for me. Poland is a place that is EU, has educated low price labor and EU laws. Basically like the USA but 1/3 the price. India or Malaysia or the Philippines to start a business, maybe. I think India is a good choice but you have to be able to work with people on the ground to put it all together. In the EU it is very easy. I do not know how I would assemble a trustworthy competent team in the Philippines for example. I could do it in Poland very easy. But I think a the best place to start a business is also dependent on your cultural ties and your ability to travel to the site and work with the people.

  31. Hi Mark, I am from India presently staying with my spouse working in Ireland. I have a plan to set up and start a laundry business in Poland which deals with hotel and hospitals. Is it a good idea to start such business there at lower cost with less budget. Also, like to know there in Poland what will be the estimated cost for purchasing any type of machinery?

    1. I think Poland has no laundry mats because everyone does it at home. People have tried to start those businesses with modest success. Yes labor cost is lower, much lower but machine costs are the same. I do not know if that business would work, but I am not an expert on that niche.

  32. Mark Thanks for your reply, would you suggest what type of business could help me to start in Poland otherwise.

    1. It depends what you like to do. Poland has a lot of tourist so anything connected with this including restaurants. However, it depends where you like to spend your time and your expertise. I would start something I know and like. In my opinion it is the only way to have a business.

  33. Hi Mark, Once again thanks for your mail, what is your opinion about property investment? if it is good whom I have to hire for all my paper works and help me to buy a property. what will be the the approx for semi deluxe house property? Waiting for your reply.

    1. Property is good in times of bubbles as it is a highly leveraged investment. However, in most times you can expect normal economic returns. The land rush happened right as Poland entered the EU.
      The best business to start in Poland will be connected with employing some of the very highly educated or skilled workers at a fraction of the price of most countries. I think Poland has a good work ethic and talent.
      Also consumption is raising as real wages and disposable income is increasing with growth. So if you can tap in on this it is another idea. Study what is working in Poland now and this will give you a good clue for what to start. You know with this Euro 2012 football match in Poland there will be a lot of opportunity.

  34. I am a student who’s just finished university in the UK with a BA in business and accounting. I totally agree with your first post and was wondering…
    Do you setting up a business in Bangladesh is a good idea?

    I was thinking of building a cold store where I would buy products such as tomatoes and such at a cheap price when the season is in then selling them when the prices rise. What do you think?

    1. Setting up a business in almost any country is a good idea, so you are a owner of the process, rather than a corporate serf. However, where you set it up depends on what you are trying to do. For example, I was talking about Poland as the best country to start a business if it is international. It is close to one of the largest economies in the world, Germany but the cost of labor is a fraction of what you would find in the EU. But if you are starting something in Bangladesh the cost of labor is cheap but to import into the EU you have to have a lot of paper, shipping costs, insurance etc. It can be very profitable but a lot of work. I think your idea should good in a local or regional economy. However, you would expect normal economic profits, which is not bad at all. It depends where you want to live. You can get rich anywhere in the world as long as you are an owner.

  35. Hi Mark, I was reading through all these valuable comments here, I must say I have found these very interesting and informative. By the way could you please tell me something about these “Spacial Economic Zones” in Poland. What benefit would one has having business in these zones, and also what is the criteria and procedure.

    1. Lower taxes and money from the EU is easier and government money also. But from the start lower taxes across the board and help setting things up.

  36. Hi Mark,

    Thanks very much for your reply, so it means that I should start my business anyway regardless being in these Special Economic Zones or not, because as you said the taxes will b lower across the board initially, which is good thing indeed.

    I am thinking to open my own clothes store in Wroclaw or Krakow, and by surfing on the internet came across these Special Economic Zones, and since then was thinking that it might be a good idea to start business in one of these zones, but again was not sure how to find these zones, or have shop/business in these zones etc. I am not a Polish citizen, and don’t live in Poland myself even though visited Poland quite a few times in the past.

    I know that you strongly recommend Poland to start business in, and you also gave some good reasons to support your recommendation, and even though some guys were not agree to your opinion, I personally think you are right and should give it a go, as taxes and labour costs are the main costs to any business.

    Just to let you know I would like to have a clothing store in one of these cities, I mentioned above, and for this of course I need to rent or lease a shop there, and then start selling the goods. The interesting thing is I am not sure whether opening clothing shop in Poland would be a good idea or not? I mean this type of business. I was reading some other blogs, and found that a restaurant or retail grocery store might have good opportunity to generate some very good profit. I am not sure, but what is your opinion to this Mark? Do you think opening a clothing business there makes any sense or you recommend some other business? Specially in the present circumstances.

    I would really appreciate and welcome all your suggestions.

    Thanks a million.


  37. no answer back from you Mark?
    whats up? I think you are very busy these days.. when ever you get time, please reply me back – thanks
    have a good week end…

    1. Clothing, food and restaurants are very good businesses. I have been in the business and know that the margins are small and the volume must be good or you serve lots of high margin items like drinks and appetizers to make up for moderate volume. Either that or you keep your operation very simply and are able to control costs but it must be something trendy.
      So I think these ideas are great, as long as you know what you are doing. Any city is good. Any major city can support a lot of business, it is according to which one you like better. I am sorry I am not giving you anything concrete, but the reality is you have to love your business and willing to serve if you want to succeed. But if that is the case I think Poland is a very good place to business. I can think of a score of business that might do well here with the right attitude.

  38. Mark,
    I swear you are my hero! You provide so much interesting information. Of course your other readers are very informative too. I honestly don’t think there is another site like this. Being a single businessman in the US really makes this an interesting read. I’ve have followed your advice on finding a foreign gf and now your giving me the idea of starting a business somewhere in Eastern Europe. I don’t know if the business idea will ever come to fruition but all ideas start with a dream! Do you know anything about Armanian Business Prospects. I think there might be some corruption problems in Armania but neverless wanted your opinion or the opinion of some of your readers.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. There is no reason you have to date the girl next door in the USA. I married a girl from Eastern Europe as did many of my friends and they are very happy.
      About business abroad. Armenia is a country I have not been to so can not speak authoritatively about. However, in my limited experience and connection with Armenia, it has been positive. The people are pretty nice and honest. However, it was part of the Soviet Union sphere of influence and this changes things in term of the way people do business.
      Therefore, if you get on the ground and start doing business, it might be a different story, but the reality is it is a low cost country and if your operation is small enough you fly under the radar. It is only when you run a high profile business then corruption might enter the picture. I personally trust EU countries a little more as it has EU law, but maybe I am naive in that regard. But look, I think you can make money anywhere in the world and proof is people do.
      The USA, you pay three times as much for labor or anything else and well, there are a lot of other problems. I really think if you are a single guy, a foreign girlfriend and a foreign business is not a bad way to start life.

  39. You are insane if you’re thinking Poland is a good place to start business. I’m an entrepreneur here, tax office will literally destroy you by ing the last penny out of you. They will look for every excuse to fine you for whatever reason. I’m thinking about moving out of here right now. Please stay away from Poland if you want to open business.

    1. You can pay 19% flat tax with no state tax. Zus is 250 dollars a month but that covers health care and for the first two years it is 100 dollars. So please explain what you mean?

      1. In the USA I must pay 16% self employment tax, 7% state tax, 29% federal tax + sales tax plus I have to buy my own health insurance which for a family is over 10,000 usd a year. So lets compare objectively.

        1. One more thing, people work in Poland for like 3 dollars an hour, this is OK, even University graduates, I can not image that in the USA, Canada or the UK. Poland you get very talented people for a low price.

  40. Actually, it’s much higher, you get paid more, my Grandmother lives there and I can confirm such, but I can’t confirm the exact amount… But then I don’t know how much.

    Poland does have a surplus of workers, but none of the workers want to leave because it’s their homeland, and they shouldn’t leave if they don’t want too.

    It’s a great place to start a business, no state tax, no federal tax, and they don’t have bureaucracy crap like the U.S. And no sales tax, the U.S would be the worst place to start a business, lots of taxes, and you’ll be crushed by bigger companies.

    1. In Poland you have a choice of 18% and 29% or just 19%. So it depends what you choose but you can take all kinds of business deductions.
      Great Polish talent and for the price of labor, its the best deal.
      The USA, is the worst place to start a business. High cost of labor, high taxes and big competition. The only advantage is Americans are rich so if you are selling to a local market this works. But to live there is expensive also.

  41. Hey Mark,
    First of all thank you for this article and for all this forum that I’ve read it trhough. I guess as always there are two sides as always. Which is good. It shows that people are living and expressing themselves as tehir experience teaches it.
    I have one particular question to ask. Me and my man of my life,we have a great business idea that will need only two of us to be a boss and employee at the same time. We live between France and Hawaii. He has his business started here in france which he will connect with our new business idea meanwhile me, I would like to start the other line that would be named and concentrated to what we do. The main question would be what does it takes to open the business in Poland (I am lithuanian myself)? The main deal is that I will be self employed and all that i will need in Poland will be the business name and money that will go to the company. Do you think it would be possible to get PO Box and have your mail be sent there? With the plan that we have I will be traveling constantly and will be getting the money and checks and credit card pays through all the world. There are tons of the questions that I have at the same time. I am still very young and pretty fresh in these kind of waters so any advice help or scream would be valuable:)
    Thank You for Your time Mark.
    Take care,

    1. Yes to all your questions. You can start a business no problem in Poland but I do not have enough facts. Do you want just a shell to exist for some reason in Poland, that is easy. Or do you want to start to employ people. That is more paperwork. Let me know.

  42. I’m a US citizen and want to start a business in Poland. Do I need to establish residency first? From what I read that seems very difficult. Or do I open my business and then apply for residency. Many of the “official” websites are a bit lacking in detail. I plan to contract myself out to teach English. It seems most language institutes here don’t want to hire me as a direct employee. Any clarity you might have on this is greatly appreciated!

    1. I have good news and bad news.
      Good news is: You need a NIP. This is like a social security number. That is all you really need and you file like someone in the USA would file a schedule C. It is basically the same thing.
      The bad news is: The issue is you need some sort of legal residence to live in the EU. Just like the USA if you are not legal, you can not conduct economic activity.
      Just because you want to do business they will not give you a visa. If that was the case the whole world would live in the EU. Every person from Asia, South America and Africa could do what you are doing and get to live in the EU.
      The good news: If you set up a large company with capital and a contribution and being a job creator, then I think they will work with you.

  43. Hi Mark,

    First off, I must say that I found your article very informative and extremely helpful in my decisions. I will really look into this, starting a busines in Poland. I am currently in The Philippines and here it is absurd how hard it is to start a busines. First thing, I need to hire someone even if I really for my busines dont need to hire someone. Its their law. And they seem to not be clear themself on things telling me different things everytime. Then I was thinking on maybe starting my busines in Thailand but just read about that and it seems even worse than Philippines. I am from Sweden myself and the taxes in my country is just sick. Its about 75% and then you can deduct so it will be aprox about 50 %. Still way too hi and so disencouraging. If you are really talent and have a busines idea and want to go through with it. Of course you want to be able to get the good profit and not just only for the goverment. So this is why I found your article about Poland so informative and so interesting. You seem to be a person that really have the answers and if possible I would love to hear from you.

    Im starting a game company and if I just want to register it in Poland. Its just done like that?
    That easy?

    No need to employ someone like in The Philippines? (I want to be selfemployed)

    Do they pay an amount on how much they think they will earn the first year? (Its like that in Sweden) I find it very complicated since its impossible to estimate that.

    It would be really nice to get an e-mail from you. I find this information really helpful.


    1. You know if you have a software game company, I do not understand why you want to register it in Poland? Is it for the low labor cost and high pool of IT workers? If you are creating a holding company shell company for tax purposes people do this in other countries like Cyprus or Malta etc, but if you live in the Philippines I do not think that exempts you from taxes. I think the general rule is where you live and do business physically. You need a physical presence.
      For example, I live in Poland. So starting a business here for me is very easy. But since I am a US citizen also I still have to pay US taxes, although I get a large exemption. So I guess my point is, when you live in another country and have a business in another, you need to know exactly what you are doing legally and tax wise. It is not as simple as filling out a form in an office and having a business on paper, there are physical presences tests as well as international treaties. Because if it was that simple, anyone could shop for the best country tax wise and not have to pay their own countries taxes. But this is not the case.
      So if you want to set up a business in Poland, for sure you can do it. But I would talk to an accounting firm.

  44. Hi All

    I’ve just seen your posts are really interesting. It’s good to know that so many people are interesting to start a business in Poland. Regarding recent e-mail and many others. Mark has right you need to know how the tax policy looks like in your country and a country where you would like to open a business. Simple case fee years before with polish emigrants who worked in other countries of Europe they paid taxes there as an employees and in Poland Tax Office try to pinpoint them and made them to pay taxes as a Polish citizen should.

    That is why it’s good to use other people knowledge like accounting firm for account purpose or temporary employment agency which could take care all HR tasks from recruiting people to HR and Payroll tasks

  45. Hi mark,
    This is Manoj Gupta from India. I am interest to set up my company in Poland. I have own company here in India. In this company we are providing export/import service such as International product marking, product promotion activities, Product sourcing for buyer, purchasing for buyer, market guiding to buyer , commodity inspection, warehousing, India customs declaration, container loading, international shipping (by sea or by air), preparation for customs clearance documents. We are also providing service in IT Sector like web designing, software making etc.Now I want to enter in Europe market I think Poland is good palace for starting business. I have planned to do promote Indian product and finding buyer in Poland or Europe. So mark what do u think about this business? Also tell me how I open company in Poland. Give me suggestion about which city is good for international trade in Poland?

    1. I think the door is open in Poland for international trade. I think one of the best cities is Krakow as it is international and friendly. However, Warsaw had more money. Poland has the fastest growth rates in Europe and is projected by the Economist magazine to stay that way at least to 2013. It is not the riches country by any means but it is growing the fastest.

  46. You are a great ambassador for Poland.

    Can you give us an idea of office renting costs, apartment renting costs, general cost of living in the Polish cities?

    How do you rate people’s English skills?

    1. People start learning English when they are in grade school, so young Poles that are going to school speak English fine.
      I rent a nice modern flat for about $330 dollars a month in the old town. It is about 70 meters or lets say about 700 square feet. It is the old town so right downtown. What would that cost in Boston or London? I think 2500 dollars.
      However, I have lived he a while and have the insiders deal. I think you can find a nice one for more like $500 to $1000 dollars a month. If you shop at the large stores the prices are the same as the UK or US as we have Tesco etc. But if you shop at Auchen, the French Walmart, it is much cheaper for everyday things by 1/2. I think in the markets Polish food is about 1/2 the price of the UK or USA at least as it is local supply and demand.
      Basically if you compare same standard of living, like city life to city life in say Krakow to Boston or London, Poland is 1/3 the price. Maybe with globalization it is approaching 1/2 the price of the west.
      People will disagree with me, but just go to a pub and compare the price of a pint.
      But most people live here on about 700 Euro a month.

  47. Thanks Mark, you are an excellent, informative writer. I am a North American shopping for a favorable EU country in which to open/base a consultancy company. Can you make a suggestion?

    1. What kind of consultancy? Will it be labor intensive or just you? Will you need to be on site or remote? If you are the sole owner will you be physically present in Europe more than 180 days out of the year?

  48. I don’t want to scary you, but you probably miss some 30 bills and 300 executive regulations that obligate you to pay or to file some reports, not to mention multiple interpretations of tax (and most other) laws.
    It’s most dangerous in in the environmental laws area where every single entrapreneur has to file environmental usage fees report twice a year and also file an annual waste/garbage report. The latter is quite expensive to miss, as starting Match 2010 it costs 10.000PLN to not file it, even if its full of zeros.

  49. (continuation) Add to that a corrupt justice system with excessive jail times and incompetent (underpaid&underskilled) clerks.. That’s why I cannot recommend Poland as a good place to start a business. I’m native Polish guy owning a small IT business and I’m actually thinking of emmigration – I prefer to pay more taxes but be sure that I’m not subject to excessive fines by some petty and unintended offence.

    1. Tomek, you are right. Polish law and Polish tax law can be complicated. I work at an accounting and consulting firm. My recommendation is simply. The entrepreneur should focus on his core business and simply hire an accounting firm to take care of all the messy uząd stuff. I think the business owner can not be distracted by any of this. That is why you hire an accountant to take care of all things on a monthly basis.
      In the US, I am an American, you have a lot of this also, at a Federal, State and Local level. It is really complicated.
      But the bottom line is I believe in the talent of the Polish worker. If you go to the UK everyone is hiring Polish workers because they know they work hard and skilled and for a lower price.
      Just out of curiosity where were you thinking of choosing as a place for business?

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