World Average Number of Days to Start a Business: 35 Days

And Taiwan's average is 23 days. Its overall economic freedom is ranked at the 27th in the world.

This via the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom.

I currently run my own company (as a corporation as defined in Taiwan business code) and have experience of having started a partnership (later helped its conversion to corporation). All small businesses (or "micro" businesses if using EU definition).

One thing the experiences have taught me is to understand the significance of operating as a business entity—that you can work with people as an organization to provide your services to the market. There are several importance differences between providing your service as an entity and doing that as an individual, even for many small businesses the content of the work is much the same. That you're able to handle risk better as a corporation (which is also one of the reasons why corporation is one of the most important, yet often undervalued, organizational innovations in modern history) and that you're able to provide service to both other entities and other people and issue invoices (compared to individual work-for-hire contracts, one at a time) are just two advantages among many.

Setting up and running your own company, however, always involve more work than just working as an individual. And that's how I come to appreciate the friendly business environment in Taiwan. It still has lots that need improving, but the quality of a system is always a comparative matter. Red tapes exist everywhere. In that aspect, there is hardly any hidden cost in setting up a company—for example there's no favor you need to ask for. I've learned that it's not so in many other places in the world.

Different economies have different compositions of big and small companies. Taiwan is geared towards many more small and medium-sized businesses. But even big corporates do lots of business with smaller ones that supply things and provide services. It's an ecosystem thing at work, and many such companies are world leaders, as Japan's chūken kigyō (中堅企業) and Germany's Mittelstand attest.

Many of us live in countries where business freedom is taken as granted, just like other types of freedom we enjoy. In fact it's not necessarily a given. Interventionist measures, protectionist regulations, restrictive zoning laws, complicated tax codes, obscure accounting rules and filing requirements, lack of flexible payment gateway, insufficient intellectual property protection—they can stifle many aspiring companies. It's not a cliché to say that we want to cherish what we have and work to make it better. We also need to understand the importance of a good supporting structure and be wary of changes that could discourage entrepreneurism.

In Taiwan's case, I think the supporting structure had been strong and helpful when ours was more a manufacturing- and export-oriented economy. Doing service on an international scale and providing service beyond Mandarin Chinese-speaking markets are not our strongest thing—yet. I met a Swiss company owner at WWDC '09, and he could use a representative office in San Francisco set up by some Swiss government organ that aims to help specifically software startups get literally a foothold in the very competitive Bay Area. As I don't believe in big government that does everything (mostly badly), a TAITRA equivalent in service sector might help business owners in Taiwan better. And that is one thing that I as a software company owner care about.