Singapore’s economy is doing well recently. GDP is up, tourism arrivals are up, average household incomes are rising, and the job market looks white hot. With more potential customers with higher disposable incomes, plus the recent bundle of goodies for SMEs, there is never a better time for entrepreneurs here.
Rather than wait for the perfect job to come along, why not consider starting your own business? Before you take the plunge though, do consider the following:
Successful businesses have a well-defined niche product or service. Do market research and ask potential customers what they think of your idea. Ask yourself if your experience is useful for your business. Usually, the more unique and well received your business concept is, the better your chances of success.
The next important step is to register your business at the Registry of Companies and Businesses. Be familiar with the regulations for specific trades and seek clearance from the authorities. Ask existing business owners in the same trade what kind of procedures they have to follow.
Cash is the lifeblood of business. Calculate how much money you need for initial costs (rental deposit, equipment, manpower, renovations, etc) and ongoing expenses (goods, salaries, rentals, utilities, stationery, etc). Do profit and loss and cash flow projections to find out how long you need to recoup your investment and break even.
Pick up some basic accounting or hire an accountant. If you need to borrow money, shop around for the best rates. Nevertheless keep a lid on expenses, and start on a shoestring budget if you can.
Operations and Manpower
Think about the working hours needed. Are you prepared to forego weekends and evenings? Can you do it yourself or is help needed? If you must hire, familiarise yourself with employment rules. Include manpower costs like salaries, CPF, and other benefits in your financial projections.
As the saying goes, its location, location, location. For retail businesses, look for premises with the right rental rates and target customers. Do a human traffic study to see how many and what kind of people walk past a certain area.
Sales and Marketing
Selling is key to success. Know where your customers hang out, their spending patterns and habits. Explore affordable means of promoting your business such as flyers, direct sales letters or email blasts. Word of mouth advertising and referrals are also effective. You can also consider writing to the press if you have a good story idea. Most importantly, provide excellent service to attract repeat customers. You should also observe how successful businesses sell and market themselves.
Striking out can be rewarding and enriching. However, you should always plan ahead. Hopefully, the above tips will help you prepare yourself for the road ahead.