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Your Handy Guide to Starting a Business in Singapore

Year after year, Singapore has established itself to be one of, if not the most, conducive business hub. The environment has surely driven many aspiring entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs alike to take that first bold step into the world of the business. Apart from having that impressive business plan, you’re going to have to check a few more items off your to-do list before your business can take off.

So this here is for the aspiring entrepreneurs who are have or are in the midst of devising that proverbial big thing to succeed.



1. Funding

In order to realise that proverbial big thing, or otherwise referred to as your business idea, you’re going to need capital. The good news is if you’ve already got the capital (be it from savings or from a bank loan), then you’re already one step ahead. However, if you don’t already have the capital and you’re thinking you can’t afford the interest rates of bank loans, here are more affordable ways to gather the funds you need:



Angel Investors

An angel investor is usually referred to an affluent individual who provides for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or a share in the business. If you’re not for sharing the business with someone else, be rest assured that there are investors who don’t want a share in the company but are just looking to make a profitable investment. It’s equivalent to taking a loan from someone who’s intention is to help grow your business. Tap onto Singapore Angel Investors to connect with potential angel investors worldwide.




You’ve probably seen Facebook videos of businesses that started off on Kickstarter. Kickstarter is just one of the many crowdfunding platforms you can tap onto to gather funds for your business to commence. Crowdfunding leverages on the concept of persuading individuals to give you a small donation. Once you get thousands of donations, you’ll have some serious cash on hand. There are over 600 crowdfunding websites but these are the more popular ones: GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and Indiegogo.

Depending on the amount of money you need, you may use a combination of methods to acquire the funds. There’s no limitation that insists you can only tap onto one channel of gathering funds.



2.Deciding Your Business Structure (& Business Name)

Now that you’ve gotten the money to materialise your business plan, you’re going to have to decide on a business structure. This will provide a framework for your business to function under and more importantly, it’s going to affect how you name your business.

In a nutshell, there are 5 business structures: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Company, Limited Liability Partnership, Limited Partnership.



Sole Proprietorship

As a sole proprietor, you, and you alone, manage the company. Do note that you’ve to be at least 18 years of age to register a business under your own name. As the only owner of the company, you’ll have unlimited liability and are responsible for the debts and losses of the company.




If you intend to start a business with another person or a group of friends, your business structure falls under that of a partnership. Under this structure, the business is governed by up to 20 persons with a view to profit. Similarly, all partners must be at least 18 years old and everyone has equal unlimited liability of the company.




A company is a separate legal entity from its members and directors. That is to say, members have limited liability. There are 3 types of companies – Exempt Private Company (20 persons or less, and no corporation holds beneficial interest in the company’s shares), Private Company (50 persons or less), and Public Company (50 persons or more). As a company, at least one director has to be 18 years and above, and there should be at least one shareholder.



Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

Just like a company, a limited liability partnership is a separate legal entity from its partners. While there is no maximum number of partners, the business must be minimally managed by 2 persons. In this case, all partners must be at least 18 and above. As a partner, you have limited liability and you are not held accountable for the debts and losses of the company incurred by another partner. Here, partners can either be individuals (of at least 18 years of age) or corporate bodies.



Limited Partnership

A partnership consists 2 or more persons, with at least one general partner and one limited partner. As a general partner, you have unlimited liability and you’re personally liable for the debts and losses of the limited partnership. But a limited partner has limited liability, and is not liable for the debts and obligations of the partnership beyond the amount of his agreed contribution. Again, there is no maximum number of partners and partners can either be individuals (of at least 18 years of age) or corporate bodies.

To find out more about these business structures, you may refer to Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).



3. Register Your Business

Now that you’ve gotten the funds for your business and decided on a business structure, which means you’ve probably also already decided on a name for your business, it’s time to make things official. As with all businesses in Singapore, you have to register your company via BizFile. BizFile falls under the care of ACRA – Singapore’s national regulator of business entities, amongst others. If you’re wondering if you need to register your business at all, as long as your business is defined as “activity carried out on a continual basis for the purpose of gain”, then you must abide by section 5 of the Business Registration Act.



4. Finding Premises

Working from home in comfy PJs sounds like an ideal office situation but it can spell trouble when you’re trying to meet deadlines. These cool co-working offices around town will surely send your productivity through the roof. Besides, with the rise of e-commerce, most businesses don’t require a permanent space. Even if you don’t need a storefront or a warehouse, you’d at least need a space to come together with your team for meetings and discussions. TheHoneyCombers recently put together a list of co-working space and I assure you they look pretty amazing.

In other news, if you’re joining the e-commerce bandwagon, be sure to register a domain. Refrain from domain name extensions, such as .info, .biz and others. They do not look professional and it’s not a good way to do business online these days. Only go for .com or a regional, country-related extension such as .sg.



5. Recruiting Manpower

Even if you’re the sole proprietor of the business, chances are you’re still going to need a reliable team to count on. (I’d advise against employing your friends as there might be a conflict of interest, and you might get caught in unforeseeable sticky situations.) In Singapore, job portals make recruiting candidates really convenient. Sites like jobsDB, JobsCentral, and JobStreet, allow employers to use the platform to advertise openings (at a cost, of course).



6. Start!

With all that in place, you’re good to go!

If you would like to find out more about how ETHOZ can assist you and your business, you can contact our friendly Relationship Managers at 6654 7799 or drop us an email at today!



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