How To Start A Business In Singapore

Singapore is the prime place for starting a new business.

What’s interesting about Business In Singapore is that most of its GDP comes from small businesses. In fact, according to research, SMEs employ around 70% of this country’s workforce. This has caused the Singaporean government to create agencies that encourage the development and growth of small businesses here. And that means there are awesome opportunities present for foreign investors who want to take part in this thriving community. This guide will help you get started.

What You Need To Know Before You Start Business In Singapore

In order to register a business in Singapore, you must either be a resident or citizen or, as discussed earlier, you need to apply for an EntrePass. This process requires that at least one person involved be a Singapore resident. You may even find a local representative who can meet this requirement for you. However, your requirements will have a lot to do with the type of business structure that you’re interested in setting up.

If you’re interested in registering a partnership or sole proprietorship, then the process will be rather simple. However, if you’re registering a company, the requirements will be more strenuous. Regardless of what type of structure you choose, there are no minimum capital requirements, but you can expect to pay some fees.


Step 1: Choose an Entity


When it comes to Singapore’s corporate entities, there are five distinct types: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Limited Partnership, Limited Liability Partnership, and Company. And of each of these entities provide their own benefits and structures. For instance, sole proprietorships are geared towards individuals. It ensures that both personal and business tax affairs are treated as one entity. This is the quickest and easiest structure to set up.


Partnerships are geared towards two or more people. This structure demands that those involved take personal liability for all of their expenses. This is a little bit different than limited partnerships, where only one partner is liable for the company. There are also cases in which taxes are completely separate from individuals, which is known as limited liability partnerships.


Company is one of the most common choices for investors. As long as there’s at least one shareholder and one registered director, there is limited liability. However, foreign investors must secure an EntrePass so that they have permission to act.


Step 2: Register


You can start the process of registering a company by submitting forms online. In fact, the entire legal process can be completed and confirmed in as little as 15 minutes. Simply submit your registration form to ACRA, pay your fees, and then have your company seal made. This seal will be used to authenticate all of your documents. From this point, if you plan to operate a limited company, then you have 6 months to appoint a secretary for the company. And you have 3 months to appoint an auditor for the company unless you’re exempt. You can find as many details you need on ACRA’s website as well as a few helpful guides. There are also many agencies that will help to complete the registration.


Step 3:  Investigate Legal Responsibilities and Obligations


As soon as you hire your first employee, you’re responsible for signing up for employer liability insurance.  Also, once your turnover goes over one million, you are obligated to sign up for GST, or Goods and Services Tax. Companies must pay corporate tax, sole proprietor must pay personal taxes and partnerships must pay personal or corporate tax based on their structure. ACRA also provides guides for filling out tax forms.


Step 4: Determine Your Infrastructure


If you would like your operation to run efficiently, then it’s important that you create a supporting infrastructure. This is anything you will need in order to actually make the sale and deliver your products or services. Let’s take a look at a few departments that you may need to put in place.


Web Design and Development

When setting up your web design and development department, you must first register your domain name. This is the name that the online world will associate with your business. Make sure that you choose something that your customers can easily recall, spell and pronounce. People should automatically think of your products and services when they see your web address. Make sure that you choose a hosting provider that offer quality customer service and lots of bandwidth and disk space. Also, ensure that your website is well-designed and offers a quality user experience.


Online Marketing and Advertising

Another important part of establishing an online presence if your online digital marketing strategy. This type of advertising is what will bring customers to your website. And if done well, it will bring them there in record speed. While you should do some paid advertising, it’s important to remember that this is a short-term effect. That’s why you need to market organically as well.


The best way to get organic traffic to your website is by creating content that your customers will view as valuable. This will inspire trust and visitors will be more likely to return. The higher quality your content, the more traffic Google will send to your website. If you are unsure about how to craft the perfect content or execute the perfect ads for your website, you could always work with an SEO expert or SEM agency.



Not only should your website be well-designed and offer great content, but it should also be extremely easy for all of your customers to use. Your customers should have no problem placing orders. This means that you need to work with the right IT team who knows how to implement seamless systems onto your website. When choosing your team, make sure that they are great communicators. How complicated your website is will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Perhaps you would like to host your own website. Your IT team will need to take this into consideration.


Service or Product Fulfillment

When you have put a system in place, you can then hire the staff that will help you to fulfill the order. This means, not only will you need to hire a great staff, but also purchase a space that will hold all of your inventory. If your business is particularly small, then you could always work out of a home office until it starts to grow.  



Another crucial part of starting your own Singapore business is having a bookkeeping system in place. This will give you the ability to effectively manage your finances. Launching an e-commerce store can often cost thousands of dollars so it’s important that you are monitoring your budget. This is especially the case if you plan to spend a lot on Google Ads to give your business a quick boost.  Your bookkeeping can either be one in-house or you can hire a professional firm to take care of it.



Singapore has shown tremendous growth over the last 5 years. And there are no signs of it slowing down any time soon. This global powerhouse is prime to become a major player in the world of economics. So foreign and resident investors alike should seriously consider starting their own business in this country. The hardest part is simply getting started. The key is to equip yourself with the best resources and professionals.

Author Bio

Tom Koh

Tom Koh is the CEO of MediaOne, a leading Asia digital agency. He comes packed with 2 decades of international digital marketing experience. In his spare time of maybe 20 minutes a day, he loves coaching, blogging about all things digital and trying to figure out how to make his dog do the roll.

April 29, 2018

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