Estonia is on its way to becoming the most-developed digital country in the world and, therefore, a good destination for start-ups that want to operate online.
When thinking of Estonia, it might come to your mind that it’s close to Russia, has a medieval capital city that is also a UNESCO world heritage, or that it is one of the least densely populated countries in Europe. But the small Baltic country has much more to offer than that. In fact, it is often referred to as the world’s first digital nation and has become dependent on the internet. Estonians have evolved into a digital community that does their taxes without leaving the house, votes for an election through an app, and looks at their health record online. The government has made 90 percent of all its services available on the internet, and they can be accessed simply with an ID-card and a personal password.
The government started the project e-Estonia in the late 1990s when they decided that every school in the country should have access to the internet. Since then, school kids learn how to program computers by the early age of seven. Just a few years later, in 2000, the government declared that the Internet is a human right, and they started to make it available everywhere in the country, even in rural areas.
Since Estonia is a digital nation, it is easy to start a business in the country even without being physically there. Since 2014, it is possible to become an e-Resident of Estonia simply by applying for it online. That doesn’t mean you are entitled to live in Estonia, nor does it give you any social rights that local Estonians have. But after picking up your ID-card, you are allowed to bank in Estonia and start an online business that is registered in the country. This should not be seen as a way to avoid taxes in your home country, but as a great opportunity for digital nomads, who like to enjoy the freedom of living anywhere in the world.
Running a company in the EU can open up a whole new market, especially for small manufacturers that are actually based somewhere else. When running a company from a digital nation like Estonia, you want to make sure that your business fits into the country’s modern standards. Therefore, you should have an eye on the latest trends in eCommerce and adapt your website accordingly. While customer service can be improved by implementing a chatbot to your webshop, using MRP software can help you manage your manufacturing when your business starts growing after being introduced to a new market. Keep that in mind and improve your website before starting to sell from Estonia.
Countries like Estonia show that nations can be flexible in the way they manage their borders to suit the digital age. By giving people the option of becoming a digital resident, the country opens its economy to a worldwide audience and is already seeing the results: It has 31 start-ups per 100.000 inhabitants, which places the country third in Europe.