EAPAC’s Tips and Advice to Foreign Entrepreneurs

Being an entrepreneur, especially for the first time, is exciting yet in the same way daunting. No matter how badly you want to be your own boss, it isn’t a surprise that starting your own business isn’t a just a matter of having brilliant ideas. What more if you’re going to do that in another country, such as Singapore?

While we all know that Singapore is the best in world to do business in basically because their government welcomes foreign investments with open arms, it shouldn’t be a shocker to know that you’ll still meet some challenges along the way. Indeed, Singapore gives us countless compelling reasons to open up a business there. But it’s just normal for any expat to still have some lingering doubts and questions before actually diving into the pool of being an entrepreneur in Singapore.

In order to help you make your visions, ideas, and plans come to fruition, our team of experts here at EAPAC has come up with our own list of advice and tips for everyone like you who are looking to start a business in The Lion City:

Finalize your business plan

So maybe after paying Singapore a few visits, you’ve gathered a lot of ideas for a new business. But have you already decided which one is the winning idea? Remember, you can’t just go there with your handful of business ideas/plans and simply do a trial-and-error sort of strategy. You have to stick with one and make sure that you have actually researched and studied about that business idea. Does it suit the current needs of the market? Have you figured out how to get ahead of the existing competition? Do you already have a Unique Selling Proposition? These are just some of the questions you need to answer before you go ahead and finalize your business plan for Singapore. Also, it’s important that your business ideas and plans fit the Singaporean culture.

Familiarize yourself with all the Singaporean business customs and traditions

Because the people in Singapore are really traditional, you must understand that their customs and practices matter in absolutely everything – both in life and in business. Hence, you must learn all about their business etiquette. Never ever jump into starting a business without preparing yourself to abide and practice the Singaporean way of doing things and building (business) relationships. Beforehand, learn how they value time, how they do greetings and handshakes, how they exchange business cards, how they set up meetings, and how the value of ‘saving face’ really matters to them. Believe us, all these could really help in making your new business succeed in Singapore.

Make sure to meet the eligibility requirements

This is the very first thing you have to meet once you have really decided to put up a business in Singapore. There’s a process that you have to follow correctly. The Singapore government has an eligibility list that will require you to ensure you are not bankrupt and that you already have a set of directors and shareholders in place amongst all the other company incorporation requirements. While we all know that it’s easy to set up a business in Singapore, you must not be complacent, lax, nor lazy. You must do everything it takes to provide everything that the government is asking from you and just follow step-by-step, word-for-word, their straightforward process of setting up your business here.

Plan your legal structure well

Beforehand, you should already have decided if you will set up a single proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. And needless to say, by that time, you should already know all the legal requirements involved for that type of business setup you’ll go with. One expert tip we can really give you on this is that you must never try to dodge or get around the legal protocols and procedures. As you know, Singapore is very strict when it comes to law enforcement – not even the gum-eaters are spared, right? So be very careful. Just be confident that all you’re doing is according to their laws, nothing more, nothing less.

Think about your manpower carefully

If the type of business you’re going to open in Singapore would require you to employ a number of people, then you have to come up with a great strategy. But albeit the fact that Singapore is home to the World’s Best Professional Workforce, there is actually a shortage now on manpower. It’s true that you can easily hire locals through popular job websites like JobsDB and the like. But since you are just starting up, you may have to overcome this hurdle on getting manpower because most locals do not really apply for low-paying service roles. Now if you’re thinking of hiring people from your homeland, be very cautious on the legal requirements as well. You should know that there’s a quota as to the number of foreigners you can hire for your business. Never attempt to hire illegal workers just so you could get on with your new business. This will definitely land you into trouble with the law.

Separate your business fund from your personal money

In general, our advice for you is to have sufficient – and we mean more than enough – capital to be able to sustain your business during your first months of operations. Technically, you can already run a small business in Singapore using your personal bank account. However, as what most business experts would say, you need to have a clear separation of your business and personal money. Moreover, it’s best that you open up a bank account in Singapore so you can make sure all the money coming in and out of your business is accounted for, and never harming your personal funds in any way. The best way is still save up more than enough for your starting business so that it’ll be much easier when you eventually go and take the plunge.

Be frugal and don’t get carried away

We truly understand how can get all excited and worked up to finally push through with all your business plans in Singapore. However, challenges are expected to appear most at the beginning of your business. And this includes those hefty setup and operational costs that will come your way. But don’t be too frantic! Instead, prepare yourself and think of ways on how you can be the most frugal entrepreneur you could be. Rent rather than buying a house or condo unit and if you have friends in Singapore, don’t be ashamed to ask for money-saving tips and help. You should also consider utilizing low-cost or free marketing and promotional tools like posting in social media sites and word of mouth.

Get help from professionals

There are lots of professionals who are willing to help you in Singapore. Actually, there are many resources for foreigners who are really determined to set up a business there. Aside from that, their government also provides cultural trainings and other seminars that could benefit potential entrepreneurs like you. It’s also a good idea if you could meet up with other entrepreneurs in your line business via Singapore groups and organizations, where you could definitely learn a thing or two. Because you’re setting up a new business in a different economy, different environment, never assume that you already know everything. Be ready to learn.

Most importantly, get help from professional accountants and company incorporation experts. Especially if you’re still not a resident in Singapore, fulfilling all the requirements for business setup is way easier when you have trustworthy accountants to assist you. And you need not to look further. Choose from the team of financial and business experts at Enterprise Assurance PAC. We are here to help you every step of the way – from the planning, setting up the legal structure, getting funded, even up to your actual business operations – we’ve got you covered! Just shoot us an email or call us so we can already assist you. We sure are looking forward to making your dream business a reality.

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