Singapore is one of the most developed countries in Asia and has been ranked as one of the best places to do business by Forbes Magazine for the last three years running. It’s also one of the safest places in the world, with crime rates at less than half that of New York City. In fact, it’s so safe that some people have moved here from other parts of the world just to start their own businesses.
So if you’re looking to get started in Singapore, we decided it’s time we put together our experience doing business in Singapore at Statrys and create a comprehensive guide on setting up shop there.
Part of opening up a business in Singapore is choosing a business bank account to go with it. Naturally, we can think of no better alternative to the headaches of traditional banking than Statrys. Open an account today and our experts will help set up your account to meet your needs as a growing SME in Singapore.
Develop a business model
Before starting any new business, it’s important to first determine what type of business you want to run.
Do you need a service-based business or are you seeking funding for a product? Do you want to sell online or offline? Are you targeting local customers or those abroad?
Once you know what kind of business you want to start, you’ll be able to develop a plan that aligns with your goals. This way, you’ll be able to focus on creating a successful business instead of trying to figure out how to make it work.
Choose a name
The next step is to choose a name for your company. You may already have an idea about what you want your company to be called, but it never hurts to take another look.
You should always consider potential trademark issues before naming your company. If you find yourself thinking “that sounds like someone else”, then you might want to change it.
If you don’t have a good domain name yet, now is the perfect time to purchase one. There are many different types of domains available, such as.com,.net,.org, etc. The more specific the better, so if you’re planning on selling products internationally, you might want to consider purchasing a .com domain.
Startups often struggle when they don’t have a clear brand identity. A strong brand helps you stand out amongst competitors and gives you a competitive advantage.
Create a business plan
After deciding on a name for your company, you’ll need to decide where you want to base your operations. Is it going to be home-based or would you prefer to open a physical office?
There are pros and cons to each option. Home-based businesses tend to be cheaper to operate while having a physical location means you can reach out to clients faster.
Deciding whether to base your business in Singapore or elsewhere will depend on several factors, including:
- Your target market
- How much money you need to invest
- Whether you’d rather rely on word of mouth marketing or advertising
- What resources you need (i.e., space)
Now that you’ve got your name and your location sorted, you’ll need to raise some capital to fund your startup.
Depending on your business model, you could opt to seek investors directly or you could try crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo or GoFundMe.
If you’re not sure which route to take, you can also ask us here at Statrys for assistance. We can provide advice on both options and help you decide which one suits your needs best.
When raising capital through crowdfunding, you’ll need to come up with a compelling pitch video to convince people to back your project.
In addition to pitching your idea, you’ll also need to include details about your team, financial projections, and other relevant information.
We’ll be happy to help you create a pitch video that’s tailored to your needs. Just drop us a line here.
Before officially launching your business, you’ll need to set up various legal documents. These include incorporation papers, operating agreements, employment contracts, and insurance policies.
Setting these up correctly will ensure that your business runs smoothly from day one.
Register your business
Once you’ve raised enough funds to start your business, you’ll also need a place to house all those important documents.
This is why registering your business is so important. It ensures that your business is legally recognized, protects your intellectual property, and allows you to easily access any necessary licenses.
To register your business, visit the Registry of Companies website. You’ll need to fill out a form and pay a fee. Once this process has been completed, you’ll receive a certificate of registration.
It’s also worth noting that there are certain requirements you must meet to keep your company registered. For example, you’ll need to file annual returns with the Registrar of Companies within 30 days after the end of every calendar year.
Open a business bank account
You’ll also need to open an official business bank account. This is essential if you plan on using credit cards to make purchases.
Most banks offer free online banking services, but you may have to pay a monthly subscription fee. If you do choose to use online banking, make sure you get a good deal as many banks charge exorbitant fees.
Bank accounts are also useful when making payments to suppliers, contractors, and employees. In fact, they’re often required by law.
Set up your office
After setting up your business bank account, it’s time to move into your office.
As mentioned earlier, you’ll need to find somewhere to house all your important documents.
The ideal space would be large enough to accommodate your staff, customers, and supplies. However, you don’t necessarily need to rent an entire building.
Some startups prefer to work from home, while others operate from coffee shops or coworking spaces. Whatever works for you!
Hire a team
If you want to scale up your business quickly, it’s advisable to hire some additional staff.
A virtual assistant can help you manage your workload and organize your daily tasks. They can also assist with marketing activities such as social media management and content creation.
An accountant can help you prepare tax returns and maintain records. A bookkeeper can track expenses and generate invoices.
Finally, a lawyer can advise you on how to protect your business assets and establish a solid foundation for growth.
These are just some examples of what you might require. The key thing to remember is that you should only hire someone who fits your specific needs.
Set up your digital presence
In addition to having a physical office, you’ll also need to set up a digital presence.
Here are some areas to start:
Create a website
Your website is probably the most important part of your online presence. It serves as your primary sales tool, allowing potential clients to learn more about your business.
When creating your site, consider hiring a web designer who specializes in websites around your industry. These professionals know how to optimize your site for search engines like Google and Bing as well, at least to get your indexed.
They’ll also ensure that your site loads fast and uses a responsive design.
Don’t forget to open a Google My Business page, especially if you’re a local business or retail.
Another important aspect of your online presence is email marketing. This includes sending emails to your current and prospective customers. Start with people in your network, just to get it jazzed in their heads that your business is now out in the wild and soon you’ll be collecting more new people for your lists
Email campaigns can be used to promote special offers, announce new products, and even send reminders to existing customers.
With the right tools, you can automate your email marketing strategy so that it runs automatically.
Get on social media
Create company pages on the big 3 social media networks Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, as well as any other local or niche networks you might find clients on.
File corporate income tax
You may have heard of the term “corporate taxes”. These are taxes imposed by governments on businesses. For instance, in Singapore, corporations pay SGD $1,000 per employee every year.
Corporations must file these taxes quarterly and they cannot deduct them from their taxable income.
This means that you will not be able to claim deductions for things like advertising costs, travel expenses, or salaries paid to employees.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. If you run a small business and earn less than S$250,000 (US$180,000) annually, then you won’t have to pay any corporate taxes.
As long as your annual revenue doesn’t exceed S$250,000, you’ll be exempt from paying corporate taxes.
If you do make over this amount, however, you’ll still have to pay up.
Available grants for SMEs
SMEs are small and medium-sized enterprises. They include companies that employ fewer than 10 people but generate more than S$500,000 ($360,000) in annual gross revenues.
Small businesses often struggle to access funding because banks tend to favor bigger firms. However, there are several government agencies that offer grants to help startups grow.
The following are some of the most common ones:
- Government Venture Capital Agency (GVCA) – GVCA provides financial support to early-stage ventures. It’s funded by the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC).
- Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) – EDB helps entrepreneurs build successful businesses.
- National Research Foundation (NRF) – NRF funds research projects that aim to improve the lives of Singaporeans.
An incubator is an organization that helps startups succeed. You can use one of these organizations to gain expertise and connections.
Some examples of incubators include:
- National Productivity Board – The NPB was established in 2012 to provide advice and guidance to the private sector.
- Nanyang Technological University – NTU’s Entrepreneurship Centre works with students and faculty members to develop ideas into viable startup companies.
- Yishun Institute of Technology – YI Tech helps students launch their entrepreneurial ideas through workshops and mentoring programs.
Outside of official incubation, there are many more private incubators as well.
Did you know that you don’t have to register in Singapore to do business in Singapore?
Depending on your situation, you might consider registering your business in Hong Kong as an offshore registration.
Register your business in Hong Kong with Air Corporate for as little as US$90.
Or reach out to us and one of our experts will walk you through the process and help you decide if Singapore or Hong Kong is best for your new business venture.