If Singapore is your choice of the place where you want to set up your base, you have made the right decision. Though starting a business in any country is never straightforward. Be prepared to encounter some hiccups on the way. However, it can be a smoother sail if you plan and prepare well for it.
You need to familiarize yourself with Singapore, its culture, and rules and regulations to get started. Then, chalk out a checklist with all the tasks you need to complete before you embark on your business journey. To help you with it, here are a few things you should take into consideration:
Prepare a Business Plan
By now, you would have already thought about your business idea. But now it’s time to give it a shape on paper. First, do comprehensive research and plan out every detail of your business, from the products or services your company would be offering, the capital outlay, the number of employees you need to hire, your target audience to sales and revenue forecast. Next, do a thorough competitor analysis to understand their market share, how long they have been in the industry, and what they offer.
As a business plan is just to give your business a direction, it doesn’t have to be 100% on point. It should be uncomplicated and straightforward, defining your company’s philosophy and vision and also how you plan to achieve it.
Check if You Have the Required Qualifications
Now it’s time to get real. Before starting the process, you need to check what qualifications are required to start that business and if you have the same. For example, if you plan to open an employment agency in Singapore, all the key appointment holders should have completed the Certification for Employment Intermediaries (CEI) course. And suppose you plan to open a GP clinic. In that case, the medical specialists and doctors need to have a Practicing Certificate from the Singapore Medical Council and the nurses from the Singapore Nursing Board.
So in case you don’t have these qualifications, you would either need to get the certification or look for a partner who is qualified to start that particular business.
Ensure There are Enough Funds
One of the most critical resources required to start a business is finances. Once you know how much capital is needed to operate and expand, you need to put a financial plan together. You are not going to make profits or break even immediately. It will take a good 9-12 months if all goes well. So when you make your financial plan, plug in these factors and arrange for enough funds to cover your initial capital and ongoing fixed costs. You should also factor in some buffer for contingency funds.
If you already have that kind of capital with you, you are in an excellent position to get started. But if that’s not the case, you would have to source the funds. The easiest and simplest would be to seek support from your family and friends. But if you need a large amount, you can consider leveraging loans and overdraft facilities offered by the banks, obtaining funding from angel investors, or applying for different government grants.
The Singapore government has a lot of financial assistance schemes and grants for new and local businesses. As a start-up, you can avail of grants, especially for startups under Startup SG schemes, SEEDS Capital, or Special Situation Fund for Startups (SSFS). Businesses can also get financial aid through grants like Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG), Enterprise Development Grant (EDG), Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS), and Temporary Bridging Loan Programme.
Educate Yourself about Different Government Bodies
During your course of setting up your business, as well as once you start operating, you would have to deal with several Government agencies. Therefore, familiarizing yourself with each of them would be a good idea. Here are some of the common ones that you would be dealing with the maximum:
- Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA): For registration and regulation of business entities, public accountants, and corporate service providers.
- Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS): For all things related to taxation.
- Ministry of Manpower (MOM): For applying for work visas for foreign employees
- Central Provident Fund (CPF): To open a CPF account and make employer contributions to the CPF account of Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents employees.
- GoBusiness: For all the business licenses and permits you might need.
Familiarize Yourself with the Business Structures
Well, you should pick a business structure that supports your business’s ideology, the nature of your business, the capital you are willing to invest, the number of owners, and your risk appetite. In Singapore, there are many business structures, the main ones being:
- Sole-Proprietorship and Partnership
- Limited Partnership
- Limited Liability Partnership
- Private Limited Company
- Public Company
A private limited company is the most popular choice of business structure amongst small and medium-sized businesses.
Read more about the types of business structures in Singapore.
Check your Business Name Availability
The next step is to decide on a name for your business and check if it’s available. No two companies can have the same name. To ensure the company name you have selected is not taken, you can check on the Singapore company name check. If it already exists, you would have to either come up with a new one or add differentiating words to make it look unique. Bear in mind; don’t use any words that would be derogatory or vulgar. Also, you cannot use names similar to any government body or protected by law.
Already have a company name in mind? Use our company name check tool to find out if it’s available.
Find an Office Space
Every business in Singapore is required to have a registered office address for the government and other bodies to communicate with you. It is also where all your company registers and records are kept.
However, if you don’t have a place or don’t want to rent one, you can always use corporate service providers’ registered office address services. In simple terms, you can use their address as your office address and also get them to manage your physical mails. As a result, you save on cost as well as get notified on time about all your crucial government requirements.
Know About all the Required Licences
After you have incorporated your company, you might have to get some additional licences depending on the nature of your work. Keep in mind; you can’t start your operations unless you have all the required licences and permits in place.
For example, for starting an F&B outlet, you may require the following licenses:
- Food Shop Licence
- Halal Certification
- Class 5 – Temporary Liquor Licence
- Advertising Sign/ Signboard Licence
- Entertainment License
- Trader’s Licence or Register with Singapore Food Agency (SFA)
Visit GoBusiness Singapore to check if you need to apply for additional licenses and from which government agency.