The Type Of Business Every Country Wants To Start

Small businesses are the driving force of economic growth in both developing and developed countries around the world. According to the World Trade Organization, small- and medium-sized enterprises account for 45% of GDP in developing and developed countries and 66% of total jobs. The ability to start and grow new businesses is crucial to the health of any economy, and the types of businesses that entrepreneurs start within a given country can significantly shape the path of its economic growth.

But which types of businesses are the best to start where you live?

Using data on internet search frequency, ZenBusiness found that the industries that most attract entrepreneurs vary from country to country, and depend on a variety of factors such as infrastructure, business climate, and culture. Explore the maps below to see the top businesses entrepreneurs in every country want to start.

Key Findings

  • Clothing-related businesses are the most-searched-for across 22 countries, putting it just ahead of real estate in 19 countries.
  • 16% of countries in Europe look to capitalize on the hot housing market, as the top business to start is real estate.
  • In 47% of countries in North America, the most popular query related to starting a business is about the retail and e-commerce space – the largest share of any continent.
  • The Middle East and Central Asia have the most startup diversity of any region.

European Entrepreneurs Look to Real Estate and Tourism

Keyword data for searches related to starting a business in Europe reflect many of the trends shaping the continent’s economy in the 21st century. Home prices in the EU have outpaced GDP growth over the last several years, prompting many savvy Europeans to look into capitalizing on the hot housing market. In 16% of the countries in Europe with available data, the top business to start is real estate – the largest share of any continent.

Similarly, many Eastern Europeans are looking to capitalize on the region’s fast-growing tourism sector. According to the EU, tourism spending in Central and Eastern Europe increased by 6% in 2016 and continues to grow. In Belarus, Macedonia, Armenia, Georgia, and Albania, the most-searched-for businesses to start include hostels, hotels, tour operators, tourism, and travel agencies – all in the leisure and tourism sector. View the map below to see other popular business types throughout Europe.

Consumer Goods Dominate in North America

The United States is the largest retail market in the world, and many entrepreneurs in North American countries are looking to start businesses selling consumer goods. In 47% of countries in North America, the most popular query related to starting a business is about the retail and e-commerce space – the largest share of any continent. 

Other keyword searches throughout the continent highlight unique pockets of thriving local industry. In Haiti, for example, the keyword “recycling” is searched in conjunction with “start a business” more than any other business type. In Haiti, recycling entrepreneurs earn an average of $3,000 a year by collecting plastic and trading it into the Plastic Bank, an international corporation that offers money and other benefits in exchange for waste. View the map below to see other top business types throughout the continent.

South America is No Stranger to Culinary Entrepreneurs

CEOWORLD magazine’s 2019 Street Food City Index identified several South American cities as being among the world’s best for street food. The continent’s thriving cuisine is supported by the many entrepreneurs bringing new food startups to the region. In half of the countries in South America, internet users search for ways to start food businesses more than any other business type – the largest share of any continent. In Venezuela, home to catalinas cookies, golfeados bread rolls, and quesillo flan, the keyword “bakery” is searched in conjunction with “start a business” more than any other business type.

While the top business in most South American countries is either clothing- or food-related, in Suriname “security” is the most-searched-for startup business. Private security companies abound in Suriname and are currently the subject of regulation by the national government concerning their working relationship with the country’s police force. View the map below to see the most-searched-for business types throughout South America.

Startup Diversity in the Middle East and Central Asia

The Middle East and Central Asia has the most startup diversity of any region. The diversity of business aspirations reflects the variety of industries in the region and highlights differences in the area’s local economies.

In the United Arab Emirates, for example, “import/export” is searched more in conjunction with “start a business” than any other business type. The UAE is one of the most trade-dependent economies in the world, with the total value of trade amounting to 168% of GDP in 2020 – the 10th largest share of any country in the world and the largest in the Middle East and Central Asia. View the map below to see the top businesses entrepreneurs in the Middle East and Central Asia are looking to start.

Unique Business Aspirations in the Rest of Asia and Oceania

Entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia and Oceania have some of the most varied business aspirations of any region. New Zealand, for example, is famous for its green spaces, and more entrepreneurs search for information about starting a lawn mowing service there than any other business. In Sri Lanka, where peelers harvest the rare Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lankan evergreen trees, “spice” is the most-searched-for business type.

Other unique business types that reflect strong local industry include pig farming in the Solomon Islands, social media marketing in South Korea, and liquor in Nepal. View the map below to see all of the top business types in Southeast Asia and Oceania.

From Interior Design to Photography – Africa Looks to Personal Services

Personal services are the most-searched-for startup type in 22.7% of African countries, the largest share of any continent. These include interior design in Mauritius, cooking gas refill in South Africa, and photography in Namibia, among others.

One factor influencing the aspirations of African entrepreneurs may be the region’s growing waste problem. According to a recent survey, 58% of young Africans are dissatisfied with current recycling efforts on the continent. In Zimbabwe, 80% of respondents are dissatisfied, the largest share of any African country. In Zimbabwe, as well as Burkina Faso, the Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, and Mali, searches related to starting a recycling business outnumber searches for any other business type. View the map below to see the businesses entrepreneurs want to start the most throughout Africa.

The top 10 business types entrepreneurs are looking to start around the world reflect the tastes and needs of the global consumer market. The top startup-related search in nearly a third of all countries is either clothing, real estate, or cleaning – essentials in any economy.

One standout is the frequency of queries related to starting a recycling business in developing economies. Waste recycling is a fast-growing industry due to rising awareness of the harmful effects of pollution and an increase in electronic waste. Recycling is the top startup-related keyword in seven countries – making it the fourth most popular business type for entrepreneurs around the world. Explore the table below to see the rest of the top 10 businesses entrepreneurs want to start most across the globe.

Methodology & Sources

Using the Ahrefs platform, we input the term “start a business” or its equivalent in a target language (i.e., the most spoken language of the respective country) into the “Keywords Explorer” section of the website, subsection ”Matching terms.” Then, translated into English with Google Translate if necessary, we identified the relevant keyword with the highest search volume. 

For Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US, we collected the top 10 relevant keywords, omitting repeats. Repeats are distinct keywords with identical meanings within the scope of this project, e.g., “how to start a cleaning business” vs. “how to start a cleaning business in Australia” for results in Australia.

To allow further analysis of differently worded keywords and their translations after data collection, we added a “Business Type” column for categorizing the keywords by type.

We calculated the “Top 10 Worldwide” by ranking unique keyword types from the countries’ dataset by the number of occurrences in descending order. 

The data is accurate as of February 2022.

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