Top 18 Online Business Ideas for Singapore

top business ideas singapore

Working from home is no longer a dream for people who want to break the cycle of 9 to 5. Since the Internet and mobile capabilities are opening up more doors of opportunity, aspiring Singaporean entrepreneurs may want to choose a business idea that suits them and then go for it.  In some cases, the only thing that stands between a new online business startup and an individual going forward today is choosing the right business idea.

So, if you are interested in working online, here are 22 Singapore home-based business ideas that you may want to consider as a possible option for you.

Graphic Design Business

If you are a graphic designer or simply possess the skills to do this type of work, you may want to set up a home-based graphic design business. Because the demand for this kind of business is presently high in demand and the future of this profession seems promising, this may be a great choice for you.

This is especially true for individuals and companies alike that need creative people that can assist them in communicating their messages in a non-verbal form. For instance, because new and established companies need logos, innovative graphic advertisements, and search engine optimized websites, you can provide these services from home with very little overhead.

Typically, the most expensive business cost for a new graphic designer is usually the price associated with the design software. Aside from this, the only thing that an online graphic design business really needs is a dedicated computer that is attached to an internet connection.

Copywriting Business

If you happen to be good at writing and communicating ideas and information to others, you may want to consider launching your own copywriting business.

This is a business that is also high in demand online and in brick and mortar companies too. Therefore, Singapore companies are often seeking out writers who have the expertise to create sales copy, including advertisement ads, engaging content for websites, direct mailings, commercials, newsletters, and many other kinds of essential communication.

Normally, the basic requirements for this industry include Singaporeans that have a degree in communications, advertising, marketing, or English. However, it is also important to note that an excellent writer can do a great job in starting this type of online business.

Virtual Assistant Business

If you have worked as administrative assistant for a small business or a large corporation, you may already possess the skills and experience to become a virtual assistant. Since virtual assistants can work for one company or more than one client, this is also an excellent business idea to start. Because a virtual assistants job is to handle all kinds of different small tasks as well as large projects, they can assist clients with the work that needs to be done. For instance, when a client in Singapore needs someone to work for them on a regular basis, they may take on the full responsibilities of answering all of their emails, completing data entry assignments, scheduling appointments, managing a blog and other daily functions including completing their online shopping needs. Actually, virtually anyone who has administrative skills can work from home as a virtual assistant so it is an excellent choice for many. Furthermore, if the work for a virtual assistant becomes too time-consuming, the online business owner may choose to hire other virtual assistants to assist with completing the work done.

Marketing Consultant Business

Marketing is an essential part of any small business or a large corporation in Singapore. Since their primary role is to make sure the business has large numbers of customers to serve, these professionals are often paid very well for the services that they offer. Therefore, the advice that they supply is normally more than worth it when the marketing campaigns that they deploy are successful.

For instance, if a midsize to large company launches an online campaign, they can assist the owners and their representatives in developing and an effective email marketing strategy that keeps their target audiences engaged.

One of the most effective and most profitable usually involve generating more sales by sending out incentives like digital coupons, freebies, and other things through email. In fact, a successful email marketing campaign will keep a loyal customer base returning to the site again and again.

Also, these professionals are also responsible for ensuring a business’ website is designed with successful SEO and SEM strategies. Therefore, starting a marketing consultant business is a great way for an individual to utilize their experience online, while also generating revenue for their own marketing consultant company.

Blogging

Another interesting profession that was birth out of the Internet and its creative functioning is the profession of blogging. Today, blogging is not only a side job that an individual does for themselves and their personal interest, a blog can be used for many different things and reasons.

Specifically, since blogging businesses can perform these duties for small businesses to large corporations. This is because blogging can serve a diversity of purposes including assisting with complementing a successful social media network campaigns for the business. Therefore, if you are interested in starting your own blogging business, you may want to consider one of the following options.

  • Freelance Writing for Blogs
  • Operating Your Own Blog for Profit
  • Serving Corporate Clients to assist in Meeting their Goals and Objectives

Internet Security Consulting

If your expertise lies in the area of internet security, this is also prime time for starting your own online business. In particular, if you are considered to be a technical savvy professional that understands how a company’s internet security should work to avoid online hacking. Just like the big-name companies, no business can afford to be hacked and their information leaked to the public. Therefore, an internet security consulting company for hire is an excellent option for small businesses too. So, if you want to make your skills and expertise available for businesses in Singapore, you will find that your business services are not a luxury to many but a necessity.

Domain Flipping

If you’ve ever thought about investing in real estate, then you may be interested in buying and selling domains. Just as in real estate, there are some domains that are more popular and valuable than others. You could easily purchase these domains at auction for low prices and then sell them to the highest bidder for a nice profit.

This business takes a significant amount of time and attention to what is going on in the market. It also takes a certain amount of SEO research. By knowing how well-optimised the site is, you will be able to better predict which niches and companies will result in the highest profits. For some domains, it can take several months, or sometimes years, to get the price you want. However, the benefit is that it can all be done online and from the comfort of your home.

Photography

Perhaps you are someone who enjoys traveling. If so, then an online photography business may be ideal for you. You can document your journey in the form of photos and then sell them online. You could create a website or store that is specifically dedicated to your photography.

You could also sign up for a website that will sell your images for you. Sites like Shutterstock and iStock allows you to list your images for a certain price. When it sells, you earn a commission. If your images are especially good, you may be invited to join exclusive websites were commissions are higher commission rates.

Tutoring

Is there a subject that you are particularly knowledgeable about? Do you have the standardised tests and scores to prove it? Do you get satisfaction out of seeing people achieve their goals? Well, you may be the ideal online tutor. If you’re someone who enjoys helping people solve problems, then you can share your knowledge with clients over the phone or video chats.

Work with your clients to ensure that they know all of their testing materials inside and out. The better their test results, the better your reputation and the larger your clientele. You can either charge per session, per package, or per hour. Your fees will be based on your reputation. And the more you can charge per hour, session, or package.

Stock Trading

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If you enjoy predicting trends and performing deep research, then you will probably love stock trading. Depending on the type of trading you’re interested in, it may require that you keep a certain amount of money in your account at all times so in some cases. And this means that it could require a significant initial investment.

Unlike the other businesses mentioned on the list, stock trading is not as flexible. While it does give you the ability to work from home, it will take a considerable amount of commitment, long hours and it comes with a huge learning curve. You’ll need to understand systems, trading requirements, and regulations. However, if you can get over the initial hurdles, it can really pay off.

Social Media Marketing Manager

While social media platforms may be primarily associated with connecting with friends and family, it can also be the door to a great career. As websites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter become more and more apart of our everyday lives, many entrepreneurs are finding new opportunities as social media marketing managers. There are several businesses, both online and offline, who use these platforms to sell their products and services. And they understand the importance of hiring an expert to run their accounts so that they see as much engagement as possible.

Social media marketing managers help to build a sense of community among online followers. They work to give the brand a personality and presence. So if you are someone who is skilled at creating a memorable social media presence and you know how to drive traffic, create a buzz, establish a reputation, and appeal to almost any audience, then this online job may be perfect for you.

SEO Specialist

One of the most important parts of any online business is search engine optimisation, or SEO. This is the practice of increasing the quantity or quality of your traffic by obtaining high rankings in the search results. And this usually requires the proper use of certain keywords.

In fact, many companies often hire individuals who can help them make it to the top of Google’s SERPs, organically. If you are someone who is able to craft excellent content that adds value to the industry and is interested in the technical side of optimising a website, then the position of SEO specialist may be just the online job for you.

PPC Ad Manager

No matter what industry a company is in, it will always be in need of advertising. This is especially the case if you want to get an audience’s attention online. In many cases, there are thousands of business like yours on the web, so you need a way to stand out. Many businesses use pay per click, or PPC, advertising to give them the marketing boost they need.

PPC is an online marketing model in which companies display their ads and pay a certain amount each time the ad is clicked on. While this may seem relatively straightforward, it takes a great deal of research, testing, and planning in order to get the most out of this strategy. And companies are usually willing to pay top dollar to the individuals who can do this effectively. If you are someone who has an interest in learning more about ad platforms, on Facebook or Google, then you may be the ideal candidate for this online job.

Web Developer

If a company wants to ensure that its website is well-designed and well-maintained, then it’s important that they use web development skills. However, given that this requires the use of very specialised and complex skills, companies often enlist the help of a third party. These third parties are ref erred to as web developers.

Web developers are software engineers. They design, code and modify websites– from their layouts to their functions. And they do all of this according to the specifications of their client. Their top priorities are to ensure that the site is visually appealing sites, user-friendly, and easy to navigate. This position gives you the ability to be creative, conceptualise and design websites from start to finish. It also gives you a large amount of flexibility and you never stop learning. So if you are interested in creating the ultimate user experience and have, or are willing to learn, the technical skills that this position requires, then the position of a web developer may be perfect for you.

Medical Transcriptionist

While there are many jobs in the medical field that require you to show up in person, there are also those that can be done online. One of these is a medical transcriptionist. This position requires you to listen to recorded medical dictation and transcribe it to text. So if you are interested in getting experience in medicine or would be willing to certain programs and get certification, then the position of medical transcriptionist is for you.

Travel Agent

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Though vacationing can be a relaxing time, making plans for your vacation can be very stressful. This is why many people choose to enlist the help of a travel agent. Even more convenient, many choose to work with online travel agents.

As an online travel agent, you will simplify the process for your customers. You will help with travel plans such as booking their flights, cruises, hotels, and rental cars. If you have experience planning tours and are well organised, then consider becoming a travel agent.

Bookkeeping

It’s very important that companies keep a close eye on all of their finances. And in many cases, this will require the expertise of someone who is familiar with accounting processes. A lot of business owners prefer not to handle this task on their own so they employ a bookkeeper. Bookkeepers are responsible for recording business transactions. They record things such as purchases, sales, collection of accounts receivable, payroll, payment of bills, etc. 

This online position requires that you have knowledge and experience working with accounting software. So if you are organised, are interested in accounting, and have administrative experience, consider becoming a bookkeeper.

Print on Demand (POD) 

Speaking of passive income, the Print on Demand (POD) business is something worth exploring. You don’t need to have anything printing equipment to start a T-shirt printing business in this era. Thanks to POD websites like Shopify and TeeSpring, you don’t even need to keep an inventory of the shirts you designed. Speaking of which, you don’t also need to have excellent design skills to start a T-shirt printing business, although it does help! There are lots of shirts that have just one word printed on it, and they’re selling like hotcakes. 

POD stores often have a platform where you can design your T-shirt and then retail it from your account. If people like what they see, they will click to purchase. That’s when these POD business’ in-house factories will start printing using their state-of-the-art technology, accompanied by their logistical process, to deliver the T-shirt to the buyer. 

Many POD stores have expanded their range of products beyond T-shirts. You can even start customising caps, mugs, tote bags and also face masks! 

There have success stories of people becoming millionaires after starting a print on demand (POD) business. However, the journey to such success doesn’t come overnight. 

Firstly, you have to think of a specific market or niche to serve. Unless you have a big operation, you cannot be tackling every single market.

Following which, you will need to think of how to reach out to your target market. You may need to spend quite a lot on marketing on Facebook ads to attract buyers. The top POD sellers have admitted that marketing on Facebook ads is a trial-and-error process. Not all marketing Facebook ads campaign will succeed during the first try, which means you will have to set aside a budget for your marketing needs. Otherwise, you have to build up a social media following before you can witness some sales success. It may sound tedious, but once you’ve acquired a loyal following, it will be easier for you to sell anything, not just T-shirts! 

Most importantly, do get lots and lots of education on how to create a successful print on demand (POD) store. There are several YouTube channels, such as Wholesale Ted and Joe Robert. They provide valuable tips on how to succeed in this business. 

E-Book 

If you have some knowledge to share, why not compile it into an e-book? E-books are a new way of reading. They are accessible anywhere, and can also be updated regularly, unlike paperback versions. This trend is here to stay. 

People are always craving for new information, be it health, relationships or even how-to-guides. If you know how to compile the top online businesses to start, you can also organise them into an e-book. 

Wait a second. Bye guys! I’m off to start my e-book business! 

Of course, I’m just kidding. It isn’t a one-step-to-profits business. Like the Print-on-Demand business, you have to do your research. For that, you need to identify your target market and find out what sort of information they need. Remember, you’re building up a following here with this business. If they like your first product, it’s easier to sell them the second. 

There are lots of sites where you can market your e-book. Of which, the most popular platform is the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Other platforms include BlurbTradebitLulu and Scribd

Besides writing and then selling your e-book online, you can always approach big corporations or coaches. They often publish e-books and other free downloadables for them to build a pool of new clients. Yet, they may not have the time to write them. 

Voiceover 

If you have the chops for acting and imitating accents and characters, voiceovers can be a fun and fulfilling business! 

There is a demand for voiceovers locally and internationally. Aside from commercials and animation programmes, there are lots of corporate training videos that require a friendly voice to guide them through the learning journey. 

If you intend to start a voiceover business, be prepared to set aside around $300 for a quality microphone that cancels out all ambient noises. You will also need to learn how to edit your demo reel on Audacity, which is a free software for sound and music editing. 

Run an E-Commerce Store

There is an abundance of platforms where you can sell items to people around the world. No longer you need to bear the costly overheads of a brick-and-mortar, you can just list your products for an affordable monthly fee or even free! 

However, bear in mind, you’ll have to source the inventory and ship it to the platform’s warehouse before you can start retailing it. Sourcing for your items also means that you’ll still have to set aside costs for it. Besides, you would also have to invest in time and even money to learn how to get your products out to your target audience. Yet, before you start doing all of these, you’ll have to do lots of research on the kind of products you wish to sell. It’s pointless purchasing loads of products when no one’s buying. 

If you don’t want to be weighed down by the inventory costs, you can try dropshipping. This is a fulfilment process where a customer orders a product from a retailer, who then transfer all the customer’s detail to their supplier. The supplier will then ship the item directly to the customer on their behalf. There’s no inventory, and your focus is just on marketing the supplier’s products to their target customers. Without an inventory, you are also free to capitalise on trends and festive seasons to sell different products. 

However, dropshipping isn’t free of issues. Keeping track of the inventory can be challenging since you’re not the one shipping out the item. Customers are prone to order out of stock items, especially if the product gets popular overnight. If the supplier messes up during any stage of the logistical process, your reputation will be on the line. You’ll also have to be patient with earning big bucks during the initial phase. Dropshipping is a very competitive business, and it’s possible that you may have to lower your price to stay in the game. 

Regardless of the type of e-commerce business you wish to start, getting an education to build a strong foundation is paramount. Fortunately, several e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify, offers free training courses to help you get a headstart. Yet, the learning will never stop as you may also need to stay fresh with the latest developments of each e-commerce platform. Lots of people around the world are trying to get a piece of the e-commerce pie. To rise above the sea of people selling similar products, you’ll have to develop strong business acumen along the way. 

Fitness Instructor 

This is an opportunity to fuse your passion for exercise with making money. You don’t have to be physically present with your clients as you coach them. There are also other ways you can package your yoga, pilates or weight lifting training programme and sell it. The realm of fitness is ever-changing, which means you can be creative to start your fitness trend and franchise it out! 

Additionally, you can create recipe books and include it as part of your package. If you have a large following on social media, there are lots more you can do! Consider bundling your fitness training business with an online T-shirt and sportswear printing business! Inspire enough people, and there will be lots of them who will proudly wear a shirt with your fitness movement printed on it. 

5 Things to Consider Before Starting a Business 

While having the autonomy of running your business as and when you like is enticing, this is just the icing on the cake. There are lots of hidden trade-offs that are not seen by regular non-business owners. The journey to get to your dream life will take lots of sacrifices. Hence, before you jump into the entrepreneurship bandwagon, you have to consider lots of things. 

Why do you want to start a business? 

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”

― Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Whatever you do in life, you have to be clear about your end goal. Starting a business is no exception. 

Be thoroughly honest with yourself. Are you starting a business because:

  • You don’t like to be trapped in a 9-5 job you dislike?
  • You want to make lots of money? 
  • You like to manage your own time? 
  • You don’t like the politics in your office? 
  • You want to pursue your passion? 
  • You have an idea which you believe could revolutionise an entire industry? 
  • You identified a target group of people who are underserved?

Defining your goal is an essential step to last you for the entire entrepreneurship path. Whenever you encounter setbacks and lose motivation, you have to relook at your goals again to remind yourself why you started the business in the first place.

This brings me to my next point. 

Are you aware of the personal sacrifices of running a business? 

“Starting a company is like eating glass and staring into the abyss.” – Elon Musk 

We will not sugar-coat this at all. Several YouTube videos and ads sure make the entrepreneurship life look easy. But there are several shadow aspects of entrepreneurship that people rarely discuss.

Many business owners sacrifice their time with their loved ones, which may severely affect their relationship. There are also startup founders struggling with their mental health. 

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This is why we suggested that you consider what your ultimate goal of starting a business is. You have to weigh between your goals and the sacrifices you will have to make to find out if you truly want to jump into the chasm of entrepreneurship. For example, you have identified the reason for starting a business is because you want to make lots of money. Ask yourself, are you willing to:

  • Have lots of sleepless nights because there’s a severe tech glitch in your app?
  • Deal with lots of uncertainties of your business when there are no customers in the initial months? 
  • Experience lots of burnouts as you may be handling several things at a go? When you’re working in a company, you’re just focusing on a single department. However, if you are running a startup, you may have to wear different hats. You may have to take on the role of the purchaser, marketer, the after-service support personnel and more. 
  • Take time out of your social life just to focus on this business? 
  • Deal with lots of rejections and possibly ridicule from people? 
  • Face the reality that pursuing your passion may turn out to be a tiring process instead? 
  • Have several potential disagreements between you and your partners? 
  • Invest part of your savings into the business, aka bootstrapping?
  • Stay in your fulltime job or get a part-time job to tie you and your company through financially during the teething phase? This can be very tiring for many. 
  • Continue to take up more courses and sharpen your skills? 

If you can’t deal with any of the above, you may need to relook at other ways of earning more money, work at your own time, pursuing your passion, etc. There are ways where you can achieve these goals while staying in your job. For example, offering ideas that will help your boss and the company to earn more money or proposing a work-from-home arrangement with a list of deliverables on specific dates. As for pursuing your passion, there are many ways you can continue doing what you love without turning it into a business. Sometimes, that could be a blessing in disguise! 

While the entrepreneurship journey may lead to a fulfilling life of prosperity and even fame, you have to also put up with the potential inconveniences during the initial phase. Knowing these possible sacrifices can also prepare yourself mentally to have a smoother transit into the realm of running a business. 

Does your business solve problems?  

There are lots of issues with the mantra “pursue your passion”. Passion is an emotion. It comes and goes, and it’s very hazardous for a business, which requires a solid foundation. You can’t just change the product or service you’re selling just because you’ve lost interest. This overused slogan has another issue – it is self-serving. Businesses exist not to serve you. They exist to serve others. That is why there are several cases of starving artists. They are not producing the art that people want. They are just doing it to satisfy their internal needs. 

When you start your business, you have to identify a group of people who’s current needs are not met. For example, working mothers who have no time to exercise or students who don’t wish to pay extravagant fees for overseas education. With a target market and a unique problem that they face, you can work backwards and come up with a product or service to match their needs. When that happens, you’re able to earn the money you need to pursue the things you want. 

That’s not the end of the story. You need to have a sizable target audience who desperately needs the solution you’re offering. If the size is too small, you may have to readjust your product or service for a broader audience or find an entirely different market to serve. Otherwise, with a modest profit margin, your business may not sustain in the long run. 

Once you managed to serve a target group of people, you also need to figure out how to scale up your business to stay competitive in the market. To expand your business, you can provide other related services that may benefit the same group of people. 

What financial aids are available for new businesses in Singapore?

When starting a new business, you have to be resourceful in finding help to take a step closer to your goals. One valuable resource you have to source out is funding, which could catalyse your startup process. To encourage, promote and maintain its vibrant startup scene, the Government has offered to assist various startups with some capital assistance. StartupSG is a fantastic place to start exploring some of these programmes, which include:

  • StartupSG Loan – This scheme offers Government-backed loans for young companies. 
  • StartupSG Equity – The Government and a third-party company from the private sector will invest local technology startups with intellectual property and global market potential. 
  • StartupSG Founder – Selected first-time businesses will receive mentorship and funding. 

For more Government-supported schemes and grants, check out this page.

Aside from Government aid, there are many other ways to get funding.  

One such channel is angel investors, who will provide a certain amount of monetary support in exchange for a portion of your business. Asides from financial assistance, you’ll also be able to get mentoring from these seasoned business people. Receiving funding angel investors isn’t an an-easy-to-get opportunity. You and your team have to practice and perfect your pitch, as well as prepare answer for any potential questions (or bullets) fire at you. Angel investors are people with shrewd business acumen and can sense fluff from a distance away. If you think you’re ready for this challenge, check out this link for a list of angel investors. 

If you don’t wish to give up any part of your business to investors, you can consider equity crowdfunding. Sites such as Kickstarter and Fundel offers startups an opportunity to raise capital from the public without giving away any part of the business. The individuals who invested in the startups will receive shares and reap the profits through dividends and distribution when your company does well. 

Who are the people that can help you along your startup journey?

You don’t have to shoulder the entire burden of your business. That’s where a business partner can play a massive role in your company’s growth. However, when choosing a business partner, you have to consider certain factors. Firstly, a business partner should have complementary instead of similar skillsets. If everyone’s a programmer, who’s going to keep track of the accounts? Your business partner should also need to have the same values, which will reflect on your company’s values as well. 

There are lots of networking events in Singapore where you can find business partners. Co-Founders Matching Singapore Meetup Group is one of them. Co-working spaces also organise free workshops and meetups where you can network with people in a not-so-formal manner.  

Aside from business partners, you may also need to seek out mentors who will provide shortcuts for you to reach your business goals. The best ways to find mentors are through the aforementioned Government initiatives and angel investors. Not only they provide you with capital support, but you’ll also receive valuable guidance from these business veterans. They have invested a considerable amount of money in your business, and they would want you to succeed. 

Alternatively, you can consider investing in a business coach or a consultant. Yet before deciding on one, do your research. Find reviews from previous clients to find out what kind of results they have achieved under their guidance. 

Another essential kind of people you need is your personal marketers. They are people who will refer business to you, regardless of whether there’s an affiliate commission available. You can find them in networking events. As long as you create an excellent impression and build a cordial relationship with them, it’s highly possible they will refer new businesses leads to you. Networking groups such as Business Network International (BNI), is an excellent platform where business owners from different industries pass referrals to one another. 

The last kind of people you may need is also critical. They are people who provide you with social-emotional support. Running a business can take a toll on you mentally and emotionally. It’s vital to find people who can hold space for you as you share your issues out. If there’s no one in your circle who can give you the emotional support, you can always visit a counsellor or a therapist. There’s no shame in getting help with your mental health. 24-hour hotlines, such as the IMH Crisis Hotline (6389 2222) and Samaritans of Singapore (1800 221 4444) are available if you are experiencing severe emotional difficulties. You need a safe space to share out your problems.  

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.
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July 03, 2020

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