Essential guide to building a successful small business in Singapore
4 minute read
Singapore is well-known as one of the most prosperous and business-friendly nations in the world. With its strategic location, political stability, robust infrastructure, and favourable regulatory environment, it comes as no surprise that many entrepreneurs aspire to start a small business in Singapore.
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Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia, and Singapore in particular, is on the rise. An article in Nikkei Asia mentions that Singapore is firming up its position as a leading startup and venture capital hub. Singapore has entered the list of top 10 cities for the first time, alongside some of the world’s biggest technology ecosystems like Silicon Valley, New York, and London.
Singapore is also home to almost 4,000 technology-enabled startups, however, setting up a business here does require careful planning. You need to have an idea about how to make it into a viable business, and also about the next, most crucial steps– registration, capital, licenses, accounting, and taxes.
Have no fear – Sleek is here to handhold you through the process. In this guide, we will explore the essential steps and considerations involved in building a successful small business in Singapore, along with the numerous business opportunities available in this thriving city-state.
Key steps to set up a small business in Singapore
Understand the business landscape
Before embarking on your entrepreneurial journey, you must understand the business landscape. Singapore offers a wide range of business opportunities across various sectors, including finance, technology, manufacturing, tourism, and more.
So you need to ask: is there a demand for your product or service?
Conduct detailed market research to identify potential gaps, emerging trends, and target audiences that align with your passion and expertise.
Market research and business planning
Identify your target market, assess competition, and understand consumer preferences and behaviour. This will help you shape your business strategy, determine your unique selling proposition, and develop a comprehensive business plan.
A well-defined business plan acts as a roadmap for your small business, outlining your goals, marketing strategies, financial projections, and operational procedures.
Company registration and legal compliance
Register your company with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) of Singapore.
Choose a suitable business structure. Make sure that you meet all legal and regulatory obligations. If you are registering a business as a foreigner there are certain additional steps that you need to fulfil. These include:
- A suitable business structure: Foreigners commonly choose between a private limited company or a subsidiary branch office structure.
- Appointing a local director: Every Singapore company must have at least one local resident director. If you do not have a local resident director, you can engage the services of a nominee director or a Singapore company incorporation service such as Sleek to fulfil this requirement.
Engage a professional services firm
A professional firm such as Sleek is invaluable in assisting you with the entire registration process. Sleek can help you with the registration and other compliance requirements, whether you are a resident or a foreign citizen.
Identify financing options
Explore various financing options, such as personal savings, bank loans, venture capital, government grants, or crowdfunding. Craft a detailed financial plan that includes startup costs, working capital requirements, and revenue projections.
Open a corporate bank account
Once your company is registered, open a corporate bank account in Singapore. You can either visit different banks to compare their offerings and select one that suits your business needs or just use a service like Sleek.
Understand taxation and financial obligations
Singapore offers attractive tax incentives and a transparent tax system for businesses. Familiarize yourself with the various tax schemes, exemptions, and obligations applicable to your business structure.
Register for Goods and Services Tax (GST) if your annual turnover exceeds SGD 1 million. Additionally, ensure proper bookkeeping, maintain accurate financial records, and comply with annual filing requirements to avoid penalties and legal issues.
Visit www.sleek.com/sg for details on the tax landscape in Singapore.
Hire a competent accountant
Singapore has strict accounting and tax regulations that businesses must adhere to. A qualified accountant possesses the necessary knowledge and expertise to ensure accurate financial record-keeping, compliance with reporting requirements, and timely submission of tax returns. They stay updated with the latest regulations and help you avoid penalties or legal issues.
Leverage Singapore’s business support ecosystem
Take advantage of resources provided by government agencies like Enterprise Singapore, which offers grants, mentorship programs, and market access initiatives.
Hire & engage smart talent
Singapore’s workforce comprises skilled professionals from diverse backgrounds. Prioritize employee development and engagement to foster a positive work culture and drive productivity. Ensure that you hire qualified employees who fit the requirements of your business. Use online portals, job boards, and professional networks to identify and recruit suitable employees. Invest in regular employee upskilling.
Use marketing and branding strategies
Leverage digital marketing channels to create awareness and engage with your target audience. Use social media, SEO optimisation, and content marketing to promote your business. Develop a strong brand identity that resonates with your customers and differentiates you from competitors.
Use tech to drive and scale your business
Singapore is renowned for its technological advancements and digital infrastructure. Embrace technology to streamline your business operations. Tools such as cloud computing, automation, and data analytics enhance efficiency and improve customer experiences.
Build relationships and partnerships
Network, network, network! Seek opportunities to collaborate with other businesses, both within and outside Singapore, to expand your network, access new markets, and leverage complementary strengths. Your vendors, business partners, and other stakeholders are the best sources of positive reviews of your business.
Image source: https://unsplash.com/@mimithian
Building a successful small business in Singapore requires careful planning, market research, legal compliance, and a relentless drive for excellence.
By leveraging the thriving business opportunities and support ecosystem in Singapore, and adopting smart strategies, you can lay a solid foundation for your small business’s growth and success.
Stay adaptable, foster relationships, and embrace technological advancements to stay ahead in this dynamic business landscape. With the right mindset and perseverance, and assistance from partners like Sleek, your small business in Singapore can thrive and achieve new heights of success.
In Singapore, both locals and foreigners have the opportunity to open a small business. Singapore's business-friendly environment encourages entrepreneurship and welcomes foreign investment.
Singapore provides a robust framework for intellectual property protection. You can register trademarks, patents, copyrights, or industrial designs with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS).
There are various resources and support networks available for small businesses in Singapore such as Enterprise Singapore and Singapore Business Federation. There are also industry-specific associations and business communities that offer valuable insights, mentorship, and networking events.
- Build a professional website
- Utilise social media platforms
- Implement search engine optimization (SEO)
- Use online advertising