You can take it one step at a time.
So, you’re a “trailing” partner in SG. Now what?
Follow these 5 steps to build a business that suits your passions and ambitions.
It’s important to examine your reasons for starting the business, as well as your expectations about running said business. In short, do you want to do this for a living, or will it be more of a side-hustle?
JICYC, that’s actually one main difference between a “hobby” business and those featured in The Finder’s annual Expatpreneur Awards: whether the owner earns enough profit to owe income tax at the end of the financial year. (Read more about them here.)
“It requires really knowing the community in Singapore and going after a known gap,” explains our original Exptpreneur Awards judge Dr. Yvonne McNulty. “There is no point investing all your time, energy and money to replicate a business idea that is already here – unless you can absolutely do it better.”
Once you’ve done your guy check, and figured out your big idea, it’s recommended to hire an outside service to smooth the set-up. Consider consulting agencies like CSLB Asia or Craftd, a new app that makes all of the contract stuff way easier for $20 a month. Also, think about where you plan to promote or sell your services or products. “As the cost for operating a retail shop is high, fairs are a great way to access the market,” says Betty Ashman, founder and director of the established organiser The Expat Fairs.
Whether you decide you need a brick-and-mortar space or will go entirely online, you’ll need some place to think/work/create/produce/meet with clients. If your living space isn’t suitable, or your business expands beyond your home office, check out the island’s various co-working options. Some such as Trehaus provide childcare, while others like Core Collective combine fitness facilities and wellness services with co-working options.
Tip: If you do choose to register your business, remember you should be able to claim expenses solely incurred in the production of income.
Looking to find a great commercial property? Read about Far East Organization‘s top options.
As many small businesses in SG can attest, having a good website is paramount. Even if you outsource the website design, who will oversee your social media accounts? Natalie Dau, the Aussie entrepreneur behind fitness platform The Daily Escape and known on Instagram as @rockstararms, says her brand’s social media presence focuses on the three Ps – being personal, practical and punctual. “It allows us to reach our audience in a real-time way, and better understand what they are doing,” she explains.
Networking, claims Michelle McFarlane, creator of the 2,500-member Business Women Network, is the most powerful marketing tool. “It raises your credibility speaking to people firsthand,” she says. Also consider: BNI Singapore, a popular business networking organisation with global reach.
And, sorry, fellas – these last two recos are just for the ladies: SheSays Singapore runs free monthly events for women in the digital, creative and marketing industries, while Mums@Work lets you network from your own home.
Text: Andrea McKenna Brankin + Sushmita Mohapatra / Addtional Reporting: Hazel Vincent De Paul + Sara Lyle Bow, From The Finder Annual Directory 2019 / Updated by Melodi Ghui, May 2019
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