How to Start a Business in Singapore: The Complete Guide

Written by
Marissa Saini
Last Modified on
December 19, 2023

Being the boss of your own business is the dream of many, which explains why entrepreneurship is on the rise. In fact, The Business Times reported that Asia-Pacific venture capital (VC) deals in the Southeast Asian startup scene are set to surpass a US$152 billion record. Strong investor interest definitely bodes well for the region. At the same time, funding rounds are set to grow in size, propelling more and more businesses to achieve ambitious targets.

However, starting a business always comes with a unique set of challenges. 

One thing you can do to overcome these inevitable risks is by preparing and planning.

Setting up a business in Singapore

If you have your sights set on opening a business in Singapore, you’re in luck. The country is renowned for its business-friendly environment, world-class legal system, skilled workforce and strong government support via a plethora of SME grants

Not to mention there’s also no limitations on foreign ownerships. The economy in Singapore is also looking to be on a strong growth trajectory. With strong regulations and a vibrant economy in place, you’re well positioned to realize your dream of starting a business in Singapore.

For an in-depth guide on how to incorporate your business in Singapore, we’ve got you covered here.

If you don’t know where to start, here are 10 simple steps on how to go about opening your business in Singapore.

10 Steps to Start a Small Business in Singapore:

1. Ascertain your business idea

Ascertain your business idea | How to start a small business in Singapore

You are here because you have a business idea—that's great! However, have you gone through your ideas thoroughly? These early stages are the best time to be critical of just how viable and feasible your business idea is. 

Here are a few things to consider: 

  • How specific is your business idea? 
  • Is your idea realistic and attainable? 
  • Are you entering a niche market or are there other businesses that are already offering similar products or services? 
  • What differentiates you from your competition?
  • Are you providing a solution to customers’ needs? 
  • How would you measure your progress and success as a business? 

If you already have the answers to these questions, then you're ready to move on to the second step.

2. Create a business plan

Create a business plan | How to start a small business in Singapore

You don't need a business plan with hundreds of pages; a business plan should not be complicated but straight to the point. It should cover these important parts:

  • Executive summary 
  • Company overview 
  • Vision and mission statement
  • Market analysis and target audience 
  • Products and services 
  • Marketing plan 
  • Financial plan 
  • Logistics and operational plan 

Since your business is still in the planning stages, your business plan doesn’t have to be 100% accurate just yet. But it can act as a guide or reference that you can keep going back to as you get closer to achieving your goals. 

3. Work out the financials

Workout the financials | How to start a small business in Singapore

Regardless of whether you’re comfortable managing numbers, working out the financials is an important aspect of running your business. To start, there are two types of costs that you need to prepare: Capital Cost and Fixed Cost. 

Capital costs are one-time amounts that you will need to launch your small business, including your materials and any funds needed to register your business or a website.

On the other hand, fixed costs are the expenses you will need to pay regardless of whether you are gaining a profit. It is also important to know how to deal with emergencies and unexpected expenses.

4. Conceptualise the branding

Conceptualize the branding | How to start a small business in Singapore

Here comes the fun part! First, pick a name for your business. Come up with a unique and memorable name that is easier for your future customers to remember. However, keep in mind that ACRA does not allow offensive business names, so steer clear of profanity or acronyms that could have derogatory meanings.

On top of that, it helps to check whether your preferred business name is available for use. Sometimes, you may come across another company with the same name as you if the brand name is generic and common. Try coming up with a few ideas instead of just one in case your first choice is already taken or unavailable. 

To check if a specific business name is already in use, simply visit BizFile+ and key in the name in the search bar. Let's hope they name you have in mind is available, fingers crossed!

5. Create a website for your business

Create a website | How to start a small business in Singapore

While most small businesses choose to start off with social media profiles, creating a website can be highly beneficial for your business in the long run. It acts as a centralised platform for your customers to get information on your services and product updates and also increases credibility among consumers, making the brand look more professional. 

Your website is also the perfect place to showcase any accolades your business has attained; featuring awards and professional certifications on your social media channels may not be the most appropriate medium.

💡 Tips: Looking for an e-commerce website builder like Shopify to build your website? Receive a free service promo worth $1,250 by opening a free account with Aspire.

6. Decide the business structure

Decide the structure | How to start a small business in Singapore

As for any business that's opening in Singapore, you will need to consider which business structure is best for you. 

There are 4 main types of business entities to choose from:

  1. Sole Proprietorship or Partnership
  2. Limited Partnership (LP)
  3. Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) 
  4. Company  

When comparing the various types of entities, make sure to do your research and find the one that is most suitable for your business now and in the future. We have an article that takes a deep dive into the different entities you can consider for your business in Singapore.

💡 Tips: Consider opening a business account with Aspire to streamline your business' financial records and tax information without hassle and hidden fees.

7. Understand tax obligation matters

Understand tax obligation matters | How to start a small business in Singapore

It's useful to educate yourself about Singapore's tax obligations for your small business to prevent any legal problems in the future. 

Start with the basics of Singapore corporate income like how to file estimated chargeable income and important dates you should be aware of. If you are not confident in handling it by yourself, consider engaging with tax experts that can provide you with assistance in this area.

8. Register your office address in Singapore

Register Office Address | How to start a small business in Singapore

Registering an office address is one of the requirements for setting up your business in Singapore. If you own a small-scale business and conduct your operations from home, don’t worry—you can register your private residential property or HDB as your address. 

Click here to learn more about the different addresses you can register with ACRA.

9. Register your business in Singapore

It's all finally coming together. At this stage, all that’s left is to incorporate your business. Entrepreneurs can easily do this on their own or seek help from a professional service provider. 

The process of company incorporation should not take too long. If your application does not need additional investigation, it may even be approved within a day.  Bonus: The Ultimate Guide to Incorporating your company in Singapore

10. Set up a digital presence

Set up digital presence | How to start a small business in Singapore

Having a strong digital presence would be ideal for any business. In this day and age, online marketing is taking over traditional marketing practices and here to stay. It is also a cost-effective way to reach your target audience effectively as well. 

To start, you can start creating social media pages for your business and monitoring the progress and engagement rates regularly as you go. If you’re spoilt for choice from all the different platforms to choose from, here are the 5 best social media platforms for business. 

Ready to register your business in Singapore?

Aspire Kickstart offers the first same-day online incorporation and business account opening in Singapore from anywhere in the world, allowing users to cut through the stress and confusion that comes with incorporating a company. Say goodbye to long waits and hefty paperwork!

For as low as S$280, entrepreneurs at varying stages of their business growth can incorporate their company without breaking the bank; that's 16% cheaper than if you incorporated by yourself.

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About the author
Marissa Saini
is a seasoned writer and an avid trendspotter across business finance, personal finance, travel and lifestyle industries. With writing history at SingSaver, INK, and ohmyhome, Marissa leverages her broad range of experiences to simplify finance and make readers financially savvy.
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