Start Your Own Startup Business with $20k in Singapore

Published on
September 28, 2020
Written by
Marissa Saini
Writers@Aspire
Reviewed by
Episode #
Start Your Own Startup Business with $20k in Singapore
Passionate about entrepreneurship but low on capital? Here are some startup ideas that require less than $20k in Singapore
Listen On Spotify

In 2018, Singapore was given the tag as a “Start-up paradise” by Entrepreneur.com. This did not come without merit. With the government’s continuous support in fostering innovation and a business-friendly environment, many startups were launched and incubated in Singapore itself.

However, one of the biggest problems faced by every entrepreneur is not having enough money. But what if we told you that you could start up your own business idea for under $20,000 just by focusing on everyday problems faced by average Singaporeans?In this article, we will give you ideas on the best businesses to start in Singapore for under $20K.

Is It a Good Idea to Start a Business in Singapore? 

Singapore is one of the most startup-friendly countries in the world. It also has a thriving economy which makes it suitable for businesses. It has consistently ranked in the top five places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking. Here are three reasons why there are plenty of small and startup business opportunities in Singapore. 

Huge Government Support for Startups

The Singaporean government is a staunch supporter of startups. The government has issued a huge list of grants, funding, and subsidies for startups, both local and international. Some of them include the Startup SG Tech and the Enterprise Development Grant. When you avail of these grants, you get subsidized labour costs and other support from the government. The government provides so much support to its startups, especially tech startups, that Singapore is now an international rival to Silicon Valley in terms of startup talent. 

Laws That Support Business Development

Singapore has one of the most favourable tax structures for businesses anywhere in the world. Local companies are also eligible for partial tax exemption. This is a very attractive feature that lures startups to Singapore. 

Fast Incorporation 

Incorporating your business in Singapore is super-fast and super easy. It is considered one of the least bureaucratic countries in the world. You can incorporate your business in about three working days, and you can do all of it online! 

How Easy Is It To Start a Business in Singapore? 

Starting a business in Singapore is extremely easy and quick. You can set up a company with just one shareholder, one director, one local company secretary, a local address and a share capital of $1. You can register your business with ACRA in about three working days. 

If you want to start a sole proprietorship, then it is even easier. You simply have to submit a business name, description of activities, local business address, ID proof, and bank details. 

You can choose Aspire to help incorporate your business in Singapore hassle-free. 

Challenges to Starting Up in Singapore 

While there are plenty of business opportunities in Singapore, there are also some challenges that you should be aware of before you don the entrepreneurial hat. 

Singapore has a high cost of living, which means things get expensive. If you want to find an office location in Singapore, it can be pricey. However, startups often begin at home. With the rising work-from-home culture, you can easily overcome that challenge. 

There’s also a talent shortage in the country. You would have to tap the right people for your startup to succeed. If you set up an all-remote business, you could hire the best talent from across the world! 

It is also a highly competitive market, which means you have to be the best at what you do if you want to succeed. Doing the right research and putting thought into how you navigate your business in Singapore can help you go far. 

Best Businesses to Start in Singapore Under $20K 

Now that you have an overview of the business opportunities in Singapore, it’s time to get down to business. It is possible to start a business in Singapore with a small capital if you know what you’re doing. Read on to get some business ideas in Singapore you can pursue with limited capital. 

1. Connecting Home-Based Caterers to Consumers

Singaporeans love their food. There’s a reason why services like Grab and FoodPanda are flourishing in the market. Despite the competition, we’ve identified one segment that is not actively targeted by these startups!

In our startup business ideas article, we mentioned that you could build your own startup by offering home-cooked food for consumers. In this article, we are recommending you to create a platform to connect these businesses to consumers! All you will need is a social media account and some time to help people connect. 

With more budget available, you could hire a website developer to create a platform for you to list these home-based caterers on your website. By allowing transactions to occur on your website, you can take a commission off them to pay for your expenses and to grow further.

You can also make deliveries yourself. As you grow, you can start outsourcing deliveries to allow yourself to scale!

Reference: FoodPanda

What you will need: 

  • Dedicated social media account/ Website/ App 
  • Vehicle for deliveries 

Setup cost: 

Zero to S$200

What you should keep in mind: 

The food delivery space is extremely competitive. While there aren’t too many businesses in Singapore that deliver home-based food, bigger players could capitalize on the space if they wanted to. Find a way to distinguish yourself so that you find loyal customers. 

 2. Social Media/ Content Management Services 

In a world of online business, everyone needs a presence on the internet. From blogs on websites to social media content, many businesses look to beef up their online presence in the best way possible. 

While it may seem like anyone can do this, you need a professional for it to be effective. If you are someone who has a flair with words or understands social media in and out, you can start a company that provides these services to others. 

All you will need is a good pitch and clients you can start off with. You can run it as a one-person business until you scale up. You can then hire more people to help you out and expand your client base. 

Reference: The Social Steward

What you will need: 

Website/ social media 

Setup cost: 

Zero to S$200

What to keep in mind: 

To be a successful service business in the content space, you have to understand key aspects like SEO and social media metrics. Having prior experience is a plus. It would help if you picked a niche and worked on it so that you could create a good brand presence. 

3. Pet Sitting Services 

Singaporeans love their dogs and cats. The country is very animal-friendly, with pet parents giving their furry companions the best life possible. But not everyone is able to be home with their pets at all times. That’s where pet sitting comes in. 

If you are someone who has experience with animals and loves spending time with them, pet sitting would be an extremely enjoyable business service to start. You get to spend time in the company of different animals every day! 

Investment is almost nil as you will have to spend time rather than money. You will maximum have to set up a website, or a social media account to advertise your business. You could also expand your services by hiring other pet sitters and maybe even creating a pet boarding service when you have enough capital! 

Reference: k9petcare

What you will need: 

Website/ social media 

Setup cost: 

Zero to S$200

What to keep in mind: 

To start a pet sitting service, it isn’t enough to just like animals. You should be able to care for them and meet their needs. It would help if you could get an animal behaviour certificate or a related degree so that your customers are assured that their fur babies are in good hands. You also need to consider the fact that you would have to go to strangers’ homes to take care of their pets. 

4. Virtual Event Management Service

Ever wanted to try out event management but gave up on the idea due to the vast amount of logistics needed? This is your time to shine.

From online academic webinars to birthday parties, hosting virtual events have never been easier.

With the ongoing pandemic, many events are cancelled and moved online. The good thing is that many businesses do not know how to set up online events for themselves, or would instead outsource it to a company that already has the expertise.

With a simple subscription to premium versions of online video conferencing applications such as Zoom.us, along with some skills in event planning and organising, you are good to go!

You can provide this service from pre-event to post-event. What you will possibly need to cover is:

  1. Planning and organising of the event
  2. Participant invites
  3. Actual-day event management
  4. Possible disruptions handling
  5. Post-event reflection and feedback

With the bulk of the costs needed from a physical event removed, you can maximise your $20,000 due to lesser logistics required. Think of it this way, your expenses will mostly be what the visitors see in the host’s camera, and you can charge for them too!

Reference: JNR Entertainment

What you will need: 

  • Good internet service
  • Video conferencing subscription   

Setup cost: 

S$199.90/ year

What you should keep in mind: 

Event management is a skill-based business. You will need to develop a good reputation to get customers. Work on building a rapport with your clients so that they become repeat customers and turn to you for all online events. 

5. Dropshipping 

E-commerce is a big market worldwide. Singapore has a thriving online marketplace, and many Singaporeans shop for various things online. You can capitalise on it by starting an e-commerce business. 

But, you don’t necessarily have to sell products of your own. Instead, you can set up a dropshipping business, where you connect a seller and a buyer online. It requires very little investment and technical know-how. 

All you have to do is find the right supplier, set up your own website (or use an existing e-commerce marketplace) and begin selling! The supplier will deliver the goods to your customer, and you can pocket some profit. 

What you will need: 

  • A list of products you want to sell 
  • Reliable supplier 
  • Website/ e-commerce subscription 

Setup cost: 

S$1000

What to keep in mind: 

Dropshipping may sound simple, but it requires a lot of due diligence. You first need to find a product that has good demand. You must then find a reliable supplier who can ship to your customers. If your supplier makes a mistake, your brand will take a hit. It also requires a considerable time commitment. 

6. Specialty Coffee

Coffee, a drink that millions of people consume to stay awake and remain productive, presents you with a huge market to sell to. Despite the large competition in the coffee industry, selling specialised coffee from selected sources provides you with a unique selling point.

If you’re thinking of opening a cafe with $20,000, we are sorry to break it to you that rent and equipment will definitely break the bank!

However, you can start by selling coffee products such as coffee beans and made-for-you drip bags online to keep your overheads low. To make yourself stand out further, we recommend finding another unique selling point in this crowded industry.

Perhaps you could try making your own coffee blends, or even consider infusing your coffee with tea to give it a different yet delicious flavour!

As you are limited to only $20,000, try sticking to a few coffee products while experimenting to find your startup’s unique proposition. Once you see growth, you can start expanding your selection!

Reference: Perk Coffee

What you will need: 

  • Specialty coffee beans 
  • Kitchen for preparation 
  • Roasting equipment 
  • Packaging and branding plan 
  • Online store/ e-commerce store subscription like Shopee 

Setup cost: 

S$15,000

What to keep in mind: 

The beverage space is crowded with big and influential players. To start a specialty coffee business, you need to get a pulse of the market. Spend time researching what customers want so that you can offer a premium product that carves a niche for itself in the market. 

7. Repair & Refurbishment Services

Prices have been rising steadily, causing the emergence of the secondhand market in Singapore. Facebook has its Facebook Marketplace, and many are aware of Carousell, the largest secondhand marketplace in Singapore.

If you’re good with your hands, you can consider starting a business offering repair and refurbishment services!

By partnering up with these marketplaces and businesses that sell secondhand goods, you will actively get referrals from them. Essentially, all you will need to run this startup idea is

  1. The skill to repair
  2. The skill to refurbish
  3. A repair and refurbishment kit
  4. Rented vehicle for deliveries

This can definitely be done under $20,000 as the bulk of your costs would be the vehicle rental, revenue-sharing with your partners, and the necessities to conduct the service!

As with many startup ideas, find your speciality before expanding your service offerings. Depending on your skills, you can decide on certain types of furniture or electronics first. This keeps you lean and stretches your capital as far as possible.

Reference: Carousell

What you will need: 

  • Repair equipment 
  • Skilled labour
  • Website costs
  • Vehicle 

Setup cost: 

S$18,000

What to keep in mind:

You will end up depending on your labour for a bulk of your work. Hire a team that you can trust and that will uphold your brand values. 

Conclusion

Although $20,000 may not be a huge amount for you to start a traditional business with, the internet has tremendously reduced the cost of starting up a business in Singapore.

With $20,000 in the bank, all you have to do is to look for opportunities in the market, and get creative! However, don’t get too complacent with the initial capital you have.

What you want to do is to carefully plan your financials to ensure that your business is healthy. Coming from a startup ourselves, you should keep unnecessary expenses to the minimum and focus on what is bringing in money.

Only then can your startup business ideas be successful in Singapore!

For more episodes of CFO Talks, check us out on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or add our RSS feed to your favorite podcast player!

Frequently Asked Questions

No items found.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
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.
Marissa Saini
Read less
Aspire is the all-in-one finance operating system for businesses. Our mission is to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs with the financial tools they need to realise their company’s full potential.
Learn more about us.
The Modern Business Dispatch
We cover the latest business trends in Southeast Asia,
with actionable insights to grow your company