Ranked: The 20 Easiest Countries for Doing Business
Contrary to popular belief, the hardest part about running a business may not be finding customers, it’s getting one started.
Depending on the public policies and application processes of your country, you might struggle or succeed in opening and operating a business.
If you live in New Zealand, for example, you can get a new enterprise up and running in half a day. If you live in Luxembourg or Argentina, however, it’s a different story─with the process sometimes taking over a year.
Today’s chart uses data from the World Bank’s annual Doing Business 2020 report, which delves into the ease of doing business in countries around the world.
Measuring the Ease of Doing Business
Now in its 17th year, the Doing Business (DB) report measures how easy it is for someone to start and run a company in an economy, using 12 key factors throughout a business lifecycle:
- Starting a business
- Employing workers
- Dealing with construction permits
- Getting electricity
- Registering property
- Getting credit
- Protecting minority investors
- Paying taxes
- Trading across borders
- Contracting with the government
- Enforcing contracts
- Resolving insolvency
Of the 190 countries reviewed last year, only 115 made it easier for entrepreneurs to do business.
Note to readers: this year’s DB score did not factor in Employing Workers or Contracting with the Government when ranking economies.
Top 20 Easiest Countries to Run a Business
|#1||🇳🇿 New Zealand||86.8|
|#3||🇭🇰 Hong Kong||85.3|
|#5||🇰🇷 South Korea||84|
|#6||🇺🇸 United States||84|
|#8||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||83.5|
|#16||🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||80.9|
|#17||🇲🇰 North Macedonia||80.7|
In the top spot for the fourth year in a row, New Zealand only requires half a day to start a business. Singapore also stands out for having the shortest timeframe when it comes to paying business taxes and enforcing business contracts.
Only two African nations─Rwanda and Mauritius─are listed in the top 50 countries, with Mauritius being the only one to crack the top 20 list.
Latin American economies are noticeably missing from the rankings, as many countries in this region are fraught with bureaucracy and prolonged processes.
Most Improved Scores
Several developed and developing economies made significant strides in 2019 to implement reforms that opened doors for new business owners.
The Doing Business 2020 report shows that the cost of starting a business has fallen over time, particularly in developing economies.
Top 10 Most Improved Economies, 2018-2019
Saudi Arabia made the greatest improvement overall, adding 7.7 points to its score.
Bahrain also made improvements over the most number of factors (9). While Jordan showed improvement in the fewest factors (3), it showed the second highest jump in DB Score.
Gains Among Low-Income Countries
The DB 2020 study also shows that developing economies are making progress: it’s now cheaper than ever before to run a business in developing economies.
However, a significant disparity still remains when we consider the difference in business costs between high-income and low-income economies.
An entrepreneur starting a company in a low-income economy will spend about 50% of per capita income (PCI) to launch a venture, whereas an entrepreneur in a high-income economy spends only 4% PCI to accomplish the same task.
Put another way, entrepreneurs located in the bottom 50 economies spend an average six times more to open a new company as those in a high-income economy.
Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth
Generally, more entrepreneurs will enter a market where they can easily conduct business─adding more value to local economies.
While the rankings clearly illustrate the link between ease of doing business and economic growth, there are still significant barriers in place that not only deter entrepreneurship but also inhibit a relatively simple strategy for growth.
12 Ways to Get Smarter in One Infographic
Highlighting and breaking down the 12 most useful and universal mental models that will make you smarter and more productive.
12 Ways to Get Smarter in One Infographic
View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.
The level of a person’s raw intelligence, as measured by aptitude tests such as IQ scores, is generally stable for most people during the course of their adulthood.
While it’s true that there are things you can do to fine tune your natural capabilities, such as doing brain exercises, solving puzzles, and getting optimal sleep—the amount of raw brainpower you have is difficult to increase in any meaningful or permanent way.
For those of us who constantly strive to be high-performers in our fields, this seems like bad news. If we can’t increase our processing power, then how can we solve life’s bigger problems as we move up the ladder?
The Key: Mental Models
The good news is that while raw cognitive abilities matter, it’s how you use and harness those abilities that really makes the difference.
The world’s most successful people, from Ray Dalio to Warren Buffett, are not necessarily leagues above the rest of us in raw intelligence—instead, they simply develop and learn to apply better mental models of how the world works, and they use these principles to filter their thoughts, decisions, strategies, and execution.
This infographic comes from best-selling author and entrepreneur Michael Simmons, who has collected over 650 mental models through his work. The infographic, in a similar style to one we previously published on cognitive biases, synthesizes these models down to the most useful and universal mental models that people should learn to master first.
Concepts such as the 80/20 rule (Pareto’s principle), compound interest, and network building are summarized in the visualization, and their major components are broken down further within the circle.
Mental Model Examples
Example #1: Pareto’s Principle (80/20 Rule for Prioritization)
In a recent Medium post by Simmons, he highlights a well-known mental model that is the perfect bread crumb to start with.
The 80/20 rule (Pareto’s principle) is named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who was likely the first person to note the 80/20 connection in an 1896 paper.
In short, it shows that 20% of inputs (work, time, effort) often leads to 80% of outputs (performance, sales, revenue, etc.), creating an extremely vivid mental framework for making prioritization decisions.
The 80/20 rule represents a power law distribution that has been empirically shown to exist throughout nature, and it also has huge implications on business.
If you focus your effort on these 20% of tasks first, and get the most out of them, you will be able to drive results much more efficiently than wasting time on the 80% “long-tail” shown below.
Example #2: Metcalfe’s Law (Network Building)
Metcalfe’s Law is one of network effects, stating that a network’s value is proportional to the square of the number of nodes in the network.
From a mental model perspective, this is a useful way to understand how certain types of technology-driven businesses derive value.
If you have a smart grid that is only connected to one power source, that’s alright—but one connected to many different energy sources and potential consumers is much more useful for everyone on the grid. Each additional node provides value for the rest of the connections.
This mental model can be applied outside of strict technology or business terms as well.
For example, if you build a personal network of connections, each additional relationship can provide more value to the other people in your network. It’s the same principle that Harvard or other prestigious universities operate on: the more value a student can get from the alumni network, the higher price they can charge for tuition.
It’s hard to compete with a fully formed network at scale, as they create massive economic moats for the owner. Modern social networks and messaging apps like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, WhatsApp, and Snapchat all operate with this in mind.
The Power of Mental Models
These are just two examples of how powerful mental models can be effective in making you think clearer and work smarter.
If you want to be a top performer, it’s worth looking into other mental models out there as well. They can help you better frame reality, so that you can harness your intelligence and effort in the most effective way possible—and it’ll allow you to deliver results along the way.
This post was first published in 2018. We have since updated it, adding in new content for 2021.
Ranked: The Reputation of 100 Major Brands in the U.S.
What comes to mind when you think of a good or bad brand? This poll ranks the brand reputation of 100 major companies in America.
Ranked: The Reputation of 100 Major Brands in the U.S.
Whether you’re a country or a company, brand reputation is crucial. For corporations trying to stand out amongst an array of competitors, name recognition can be make or break.
The Axios Harris Poll polled a nationally representative sample of nearly 43,000 Americans to find out which 100 companies emerge as top of mind—for better or for worse.
How is Brand Reputation Measured?
The polling process started by asking respondents which two companies they felt excelled or faltered in the U.S.—in other words, which companies were the most “visible” in their eyes.
The top 100 brands that emerged from this framework were then judged by poll respondents across seven dimensions, over three key pillars:
Includes a company’s culture, ethics, and citizenship (whether a consumer shares a company’s values or the company supports good causes)
Includes a company’s growth prospects, vision for the future, and product and service offerings (whether they are innovative, and of high quality)
Does a consumer trust the brand in the first place?
Once these dimensions are taken into account, the final scores portray how these “visible brands” rank in terms of their reputation among a representative sample of Americans:
- Score range: 80.0 and above
- Score range: 75.0-79.9
Reputation: Very Good
- Score range: 70.0-74.9
- Score range: 65.0-69.9
- Score range: 64.9 and below
Companies with a Very Poor reputation (a score below 50) didn’t make it into the list. Here’s how the 100 most visible companies stack up in terms of brand reputation:
|2021 Rank||Company||2021 Score||Overall Reputation|
|#2||Honda Motor Company||81.6||Excellent|
|#17||In-n-Out Burger||78.7||Very Good|
|#18||Toyota Motor Corporation||78.7||Very Good|
|#23||Publix Supermarkets||78.2||Very Good|
|#24||CVS (CVS Health)||78.2||Very Good|
|#25||3M Company||78.1||Very Good|
|#26||HP, Inc.||78.1||Very Good|
|#27||Berkshire Hathaway||78.0||Very Good|
|#30||The Kroger Company||77.5||Very Good|
|#33||FedEx Corporation||77.4||Very Good|
|#35||Procter & Gamble Co.||77.0||Very Good|
|#37||The Walt Disney Company||76.7||Very Good|
|#40||General Electric||76.1||Very Good|
|#44||American Express||75.6||Very Good|
|#45||The Home Depot||75.4||Very Good|
|#47||Kaiser Permanente||75.3||Very Good|
|#48||Best Buy||75.2||Very Good|
|#50||Ford Motor Company||75.1||Very Good|
|#51||Electronic Arts, Inc.||74.7||Good|
|#52||State Farm Insurance||74.7||Good|
|#54||JPMorgan Chase & Co.||74.5||Good|
|#58||The Coca-Cola Company||73.7||Good|
|#69||Royal Dutch Shell||71.6||Good|
|#72||Johnson & Johnson||71.4||Good|
|#75||Fiat Chrysler Automobiles||70.8||Good|
|#77||Bank of America||70.5||Good|
|#81||Delta Air Lines||70.4||Good|
|#95||Wells Fargo & Company||63.0||Poor|
|#96||Sears Holdings Corporation||61.2||Poor|
|#100||The Trump Organization||56.9||Poor|
While the ranking itself highlights well-respected and poorly-viewed brands overall, another perspective is to look at which brands shot up in the list, and which ones plummeted.
Fastest Risers in Brand Reputation
Unwavering and bold commitments to the environment has helped Patagonia to top the charts as the #1 brand, rising 31 ranks since 2020. From funneling 1% of sales into environmental donations to ensuring ethical supply chains, Patagonia’s culture, ethics, and citizenship all align with its business model in consumers’ eyes.
With over 33 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered daily around the world, Pfizer’s contribution to the ongoing immunization progress is undeniable. As a result, its overall ranking has swelled by 54 places since 2020.
|Rank in 2021||Brand||2021 Score||Change|
|#2||Honda Motor Company||81.6||+14|
|#24||CVS (CVS Health)||78.2||+13|
|#50||Ford Motor Company||75.1||+13|
Dollar General might seem like a surprising addition to this table, but in terms of sheer growth, discount stores are thriving. Across America, dollar stores are opening at a rate of three per day, faster than any Starbucks or McDonalds.
There’s a crucial reason for this: in many rural areas, millions rely on dollar stores for food and other essentials, as the nearest grocery store can be nearly an hour’s drive away.
Biggest Decliners in Brand Reputation
Despite steady revenue growth, Google is among a handful of Big Tech companies whose reputations are backsliding, dropping 36 places in the past year. The outsize power and influence these companies hold is increasingly coming under regulatory scrutiny.
|Rank in 2021||Brand||2021 Score||Change|
|#35||Procter & Gamble Co.||77||-27|
|#81||Delta Air Lines||70.4||-24|
|#30||The Kroger Company||77.5||-21|
|#58||The Coca-Cola Company||73.7||-17|
Although Netflix pioneered the world of streaming, it is now facing stiff competition from emerging subscription services. Amazon’s latest acquisition of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM Studios) will especially bolster the content catalog available on Prime Video.
Building a Brand Reputation Doesn’t Come Easy
Near the bottom of the 100 companies leaderboard, the struggles of mainstream media and modern information dissemination are strongly reflected. Despite their diverse audiences and established histories, brand reputations of both Facebook and Fox News have eroded in recent years.
This example highlights how the nature of a brand’s reputation can evolve over time. Building a strong and reputable brand may be subjective, but its effects on consumer loyalty are powerful.
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