Make your entrepreneurial dream come true — and make some serious money, too.
Lao Tzu once said that the journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step.
You have a seed of a dream. You dream of starting something that matters, of turning your idea and talent into a full-fledged business. It all looks very good in your head, but where do you start in real life? If you’ve ever read anything any successful entrepreneurs have to say about their achievements, you would know that no business school or webinar is going to teach you everything you need to know to be the next Kylie Jenner or the next self-made billionaire. You just take the first step, and then the next, and one more, and you figure it out. Fortunately, as scary as that sounds, there are basic guidelines and a sort of road map by those who have done it before that you could take a cue from. The important thing is to start. So, let’s go.
1. Fine-tune Your Bright Idea
This bright idea has been on your mind forever. And there is exactly where it will stay until you do. So do your homework: What problems will your product or business solve? Who can it help? What is your why? Find out who your competitors are in the same market. How can you differentiate yourself from them? Who are your customers? What is your market share? These are some of the questions you need to figure out.
2. Choose The Business Structure
This next step is not unlike putting a label to your relationship, except we’re talking business here. Do not, I repeat, do not choose this at random. There are a few legal entity options available for registration of your business: Sole proprietorship, Partnership, Private Limited Company, Limited Liability Partnership, and Limited Partnership. Which one is for you? Here are some factors to consider:
- Number of owners in the business
- Appetite for risk
- Ownership transfer
- Tax rates
If you’re not sure, consult a professional. ACRA also has comprehensive guides on this topic you could consult.
3. Register The Business Name
Ask anyone who has started a business — this step could potentially cause you many sleepless nights. It’s almost like naming your baby. (Ok, this was not true for Steve Jobs, but nobody is Steve Jobs). Once you have the perfect name, run a trademark search to ensure that your business name hasn’t already been taken up, or is too similar to an existing one, lest you run into legal problems in the future. That’s one more problem you don’t need. What does it cost?
|Name Application Fee||$15|
A full list of other fees here.
4. Business Address
In order to register your business, it is necessary to provide a local Singapore address as the registered address of the company. This is crucial as official documentation will be sent to this address. Don’t have an office just yet? It’s possible to use your residential address as the business address. Read more on terms and conditions and eligibility here.
5. Do You Need Business Licensing?
Has your company been registered by ACRA? If so, the next step is to look into whether your business activity requires a business license in Singapore. For instance, if you are planning to open a bar, it is compulsory for you to obtain a food shop and liquor license. More information here
6. Lookout For Available Grants
Capital. This has got to be one of the first things you think about. It could also be the one big obstacle that stands between you and your dream. Some people dig into their life savings in order to realise their dream. Others borrow from family or turn to angel investors for a little jab in the arm. Of course you could also consider applying for government grants, too. Enterprise Singapore comes to mind. What are the available grants?
- Startup SG Founder
New entrepreneurs can look to Startup SG Founder for funding support, mentorship and business networks.
- Startup SG Tech
Startups can seek early-stage funding to fast-track commercialisation of scalable in-house solutions with Startup SG Tech.
- Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG)
Companies keen to improve productivity by adopting technology solutions can now tap this simplified grant.
- Capability Development Grant (CDG)
Companies embarking on capability development projects for growth can defray eligible costs with the CDG.
- Market Readiness Assistance (MRA)
Companies looking to market products and services overseas can defray up to 70% of third-party costs through the MRA grant.
View more here.
7. Do you need a Loan?
If you’re out of options and decide to take out a loan, here are a few to consider:
- SME Micro Loan
Companies with 10 or fewer employees can access working capital loan of up to S$100,000 to support their daily operations.
- SME Working Capital Loan
Companies can access unsecured working capital loan of up to S$300,000 to support daily operations.
- SME Venture Loan
Innovative, high-growth companies can access alternative venture debt financing of up to S$5 million for business expansion.
More options here.
Think very carefully before you apply for a loan — this means starting your business with a debt right off the bat. You should consider the interest rates you will incur, and how soon you can potentially repay it in full. Companies will also have to meet certain eligibility criteria for different loans. But if you wish to make millions the Buffett way, he would advise you to avoid unnecessary debt.
8. Open A Corporate Bank Account
Depending on your business structure (i.e. sole proprietor/partnership), you may or may not have to create a business bank account. Nevertheless, it is advised to create one in the long run because mixing business with personal matters can get messy. A business account can help you to get organised financially and keep track of transactions pertaining to your business only. If you’re a one-person show, opt for one with no minimum balance, like the DBS Digital Account, which requires only a minimum initial deposit of $1,000. Bigger businesses can consider other options like the UOB eBusiness Account and OCBC Business Entrepreneur Account.
9. Find Your Team Members
Many successful entrepreneurs will tell you that the people you hire are possibly your company’s best assets. If you have employees or are planning to hire, get yourself familiar with the key features of the Singapore Employment Act, and never forget about contracts — always have one that details responsibilities and rights of both the employer and employees. See here to learn about being the boss of your team.
10. Create An Online and Social Media Presence
One of the best things about setting up a business in the Digital Era is the free and affordable tools you have to market your brand. Social media is a good place to start. Your online presence is like your mascot. You could establish your brand message, vibe, build a community and sell your products on Instagram and Facebook — all for free, or any amount you can afford to advertise. When you are new, you have got to use every resource you can find without spending extra.
Phew! Now that you’ve got all these nitty gritty stuff out of the way, it’s time to actually hustle hard and make that dream a success IRL. Good luck!
Use SingSaver’s free comparison tools to find the right personal loan for investments or starting your own business.
By Alexa Fang
Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she's having croissant, she thinks in French. "31 Rue Cambon" is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.