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How to Start a Small Business in Singapore

Feb 14, 2014 | Valerie Wong

When it comes to setting a Singaporean business, it's all about observing proper protocols and SOPs (standard operating procedures). No one enjoys paperwork, but even if you were to set up businesses in neighboring ASEAN countries, you'll be faced with the same bureaucratic requirements anyway. With that said, paperwork with Singapore is rather straightforward as long as you know what you need to do. First, get a Singaporean VISA. Next, define your business sector and field so that you have a good idea what industry you should be entering. Explore the different entrepreneurial opportunities, for example, textile or hotels and restaurants. 

Know Singapore Like You Know Yourself 

It's essential that you know the culture of Singapore and the Singaporeans you're supposed to be catering to because otherwise, your business is sure to fail. Even when it comes to entrepreneurial pursuits in general, knowing an audience is essential. You should do your research, learn to love and live the Singaporean way of life, and attempt to understand the Singaporean mindset in more ways than one. In terms of your industry, learn more about your credentials and what you can offer to the table in terms of the field you're pursuing. Don't go after a specific field, like distributing clothes or electronics without knowing your local and international competition. 

Be aware of the progress of the industry you're attempting to break into, whether it's Information Technology, importation of foreign goods, shipment or cargo delivery, and so forth. Attempt to learn more about trade and distribution in the country because it's a great help when it comes to choosing the proper location for your business. On that note, setting up shop in Singapore is all about location, location, location. The same could be said of any foreign land, but as a foreigner, the fact that you're an outsider limits your knowledge of the geography and proper demographic distribution info needed to ensure your company is able to last for the long-term in the ASEAN nation. 

Other Significant Factors for Consideration 

When making business trips, you should choose the right dates. Most importantly, have a Singaporean liaison on hand to show you the ropes and help you settle down in Singapore. There are no better partners than one of the many business-savvy locals when it comes to ensuring your company is well-established and acclimated in the Singaporean industrial landscape. Check Singapore's public holiday list and avoid coming to the country and establishing your business in between or immediately after the Chinese New Year. Observe proper localization of your product as well as Singaporean etiquette. 

Punctuality, for example, is a sign of respect and honor in Singapore. If you're from a culture where it's okay to be fashionably late or regularly have breaks, then you should adapt to a different attitude while in Singapore.  When marketing your products and designing your ads, always remember that in this ASEAN country, honesty, kindness, and unspoken communication are the keys to success. Be more subtle in your commercials and advertisements. Avoid resorting to hard-sell tactics and instead appeal to the tenderheartedness of the Singaporean people. 

If you want to start a business in Singapore, you can always depend on Servcorp. They have quality corporate registration and virtual office services that will give you an edge when it comes to starting out and establishing yourself in Singaporean territory.