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Business Start Up: A Guide To Great Success

Taking the first step to start your own business can often be the hardest yet the most exciting. We understand that the process of setting up a company in Singapore can be confusing and intimidating, but it is normal to feel overwhelmed.

There are a multitude of things to consider before starting and registering a company in Singapore. This guide will simplify everything you need to know, from choosing a business structure to finding funding (including SME business loans and working capital loans in Singapore).

Do take note that this is simply a summarised guide and not a strict set of instructions. More information can be found on the Bizfile or ACRA websites.

Step 1: Choose Your Business Structure

One of the first things you will need to consider is whether you are going into the business alone (sole proprietorship), or with a partner (ranges from partnerships to Pte Ltd companies). You need this to know what kind of business structure your startup will have before starting Singapore’s company registration process. Here is a brief overview of the five main types of business structures in Singapore. 

  Sole-Proprietorship Partnership Limited Partnership Limited Liability Partnership Company
Owned by 1 person 2-20 people 2 or more people, at least 1 general partner, and 1 limited partner 2 or more people 1. Exempt Private Company – 20 individual shareholders or less
2. Private Company – 50 shareholders or less
3. Public Company – More than 50 shareholders
Liability Unlimited Unlimited General partner –> Unlimited
Limited partner –> Limited
Limited Limited
Taxes Profits taxed at owner’s Personal Income Tax (PIT) rates Partner’s PIT rates Partner’s PIT rates (if individual), corporate tax rates (if corporation) Partner’s PIT rates (if individual), corporate tax rates (if corporation) Corporate tax rates

Different business structures have different regulations, lending restrictions, and future impacts. For example, Poss Capital’s business loans are currently open to limited liability partnerships and private limited companies while sole proprietorships are ineligible for loans at the moment. It is important to research carefully to choose the best one for your startup. Platforms such as ACRA, Bizfile, and even LinkedIn Singapore are useful for understanding your competitors’ structure and business models. Once you have decided, you can register a company in Singapore.

It is also important to note that Singapore’s Companies Act does not provide for the conversion of a sole proprietorship or partnership into a company. However, you can terminate the business and incorporate a new company. You may also indicate in the incorporation form that the new company will be taking over the commercial activities of the previous business.

Singapore business startup, SME business loans and working capital loans


Step 2: Research Your Industry

Now that you have determined your business structure, let’s move on to the type of industry you intend to start up in. You should already have an idea of which industry you will be exploring. With this in mind, you can start to research the requirements of your desired industry.

For example, if you are opening a hawker stall, you will have to pass a Basic Food Hygiene Course (BFHC) and submit a tender bid to operate the stall. If you want to start an accounting firm, you may have to submit an application to ACRA,  depending on the type of accounting business structure you have.

This is simply a brief overview of the licenses you may require. The best way to avoid getting into trouble before you start up your business is to do proper research. For instance, you can perform an ACRA search or even a LinkedIn search to check if your planned business name has been taken. You might also want to seek advice from industry professionals or call up the relevant authorities to find out what to do next. 

 Step 3: Register Your Business with ACRA

ACRA is the official company registration body in Singapore. Here’s what you will need to do:

  1. Choose company name
  2. Determine company type (e.g. Pte Ltd, LLP)
  3. Decide on a financial year-end
  4. Note what you have to file each year
    • Annual general meeting
    • Annual return within 7 months after the financial year-end
  5. Appoint Key Personnel
    • Company Director, Company Secretary, Auditor (mandatory unless exempted), Chief Executive Officer (optional) or Managing Director (optional)
  6. Secure an office address
  7. Write the company’s constitution
  8. Submit all required information to ACRA

Step 4: Develop a Winning Business Plan

As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This goes for starting a new business as well, whether your business is a sole proprietorship or a private limited (Pte Ltd) company. It is vital to have a clear business plan in place to give you direction and goals. Your business plan should include your objectives, strategies, target market, and financial projections.

This is crucial because hitting milestones can motivate and push you, giving you a sense of accomplishment. It reduces the chances of you overlooking anything and proves to potential investors that you are serious about your startup, which can be exceptionally helpful especially when you’re looking to grow and expand your business.

With the help of startup sg grants, small businesses can find success through digital marketing.


Step 5: Craft Your Marketing Strategy

Ensuring you select the most suitable marketing strategies for your business in Singapore is essential for its success, especially if you are on a tight budget. What you need to consider is how much you should lean on digital marketing, for example, platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, as opposed to traditional marketing. Will your startup benefit from advertising on social media platforms? Should you have your own website? In the digital age, it seems that the answer to these questions depends on your target audience.

If you are targeting the older generation, then social media may not be the way to go. You should consider other more traditional forms of advertising, like radio or TV commercials. If your target audience is students or working adults, then social media marketing will do wonders for your business. Essentially, you need to conduct research on your target audience, to understand the best possible way to reach out to them.

For additional marketing tips, check out our festive marketing and digital marketing articles.

Step 6: Secure Business Funding

Business funding can be a hurdle for new companies or start ups in Singapore. Here are some options:

  • Traditional Banks: Not all banks lend to startups, especially sole proprietorships. They also often require collateral for business loans, which makes it more difficult for newer businesses to obtain one.
  • Government Grants: Explore options such as the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) to help automate your business processes. You can find out more about SME grants here.
  • Private Lenders: Poss Capital offers business loans specifically for younger businesses, including SME business loans and working capital loans in Singapore.

Learn more about the different sources of funding available for SMEs here.

SME sole proprietorship or private limited company business loans in Singapore


Step 7: Talent Attraction

As your business grows, you will need to hire employees. While your business might not be able to compete with high salaries yet, you can offer a positive work environment, growth opportunities and a chance to be part of something exciting!

For a more comprehensive idea of how to hire and retain talent, take a look at our talent attraction article.

Ready to Launch Your Business in Singapore?

With these steps, you should have a better idea of how to get started with your business. For a more in-depth guide, you can look at ACRA’s guide on how to register and start up a company in Singapore.

Setting up a company in Singapore can be difficult. However, as long as you do the necessary research and abide by the laws, you should be able to get your business up and running in no time. Remember to check out the Bizfile and ACRA websites for more information, and make use of professional networking sites like LinkedIn to connect with like-minded partners. Good luck!

Bonus tip: Getting started is often easier than the high-growth stages when you need more funding. Poss Capital is here to help at any stage with business loans in Singapore. With transparent fees and a quick approval process of as little as 48 hours, you can be assured that funds can come in whenever you need them. Enquire for more details and let us grow your business together.

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