Startup companies in Singapore: where are the opportunities?

Startup companies in Singapore where are the opportunities

Startup companies in Singapore: where are the opportunities?

In an increasingly unpredictable global business landscape, Singapore stands out thanks to its economic resilience and stability. Renowned for its robust economy, Singapore has strategically cultivated a welcoming environment for startups and businesses alike, offering a unique blend of security, consistent growth and government initiatives that foster innovation.

A straightforward regulatory framework, low corporate tax rate and a strong rule of law underscore the country’s business-friendly atmosphere. For startup companies, Singapore’s appeal extends beyond its economic prowess, as it has positioned itself as a dynamic hub for new ventures ready to capitalise on opportunities and join a vibrant business community.

In this article, we delve into the landscape created for startups and new businesses, the reasons entrepreneurs should consider establishing their startups in Singapore, and the factors business owners need to consider when registering a startup in Singapore.

Why choose to establish your startup in Singapore?

The Singapore Government actively promotes a business-friendly environment through open policies and initiatives, a relatively uncomplicated regulatory framework, a resilient free market economy, low taxes and tax incentives. It also provides a range of attractive grants for startups.

The government’s strong focus on economic development has created an environment where startups in Singapore can thrive and where foreign investors are welcome. Startups and entrepreneurs will find a supportive and innovation-led business community. As a result, Singapore has built a global reputation as a top location for international expansion. Here are just a few other reasons why it is a great place to do business:

  • Singapore has a stable economy with world-class transportation, communication and technology networks and other infrastructure.
  • Thanks to its diversified economy, it offers opportunities in a range of industries.
  • Singapore is a global financial hub with a well-regulated and stable financial system.
  • The Singapore Government has implemented incentives and policies to streamline administration and create a pro-business environment.
  • Its efficient regulatory framework makes establishing a business in Singapore easy. For example, an application to incorporate a private limited company in Singapore can be approved within a day through the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
  • Singapore has low corporate tax rates and a transparent legal system. The tax system is straightforward to navigate, with tax incentives offered to many businesses.
  • Situated at the crossroads of major shipping routes, Singapore serves as a gateway to the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Its multicultural environment has created diverse markets for businesses to tap into.
Establish your startup in Singapore

What is the startup scene in Singapore?

The government has proactively encouraged an environment of innovation and supports this in a range of ways. For example, the Economic Development Board provides resources and assistance to support overseas companies and individuals starting businesses in Singapore. The government has also invested in the Startup SG program, providing various services and grants to Singapore’s startups. Some sectors offering an array of opportunities that startups could consider include:

Substantial investment in the tech sector has created a rich ecosystem for innovation in areas such as robotics, blockchain and AI.
Supply chain management
Singapore’s logistics sector provides vital support to other industries, with a range of opportunities open to entrepreneurs in the areas of trade and ecommerce.
The Singapore Government has invested heavily in the healthcare sector, and healthcare tech entrepreneurs will find plenty of opportunities to improve health outcomes for people in Singapore and around the globe.
Singapore’s fintech sector presents significant opportunities for startups, with strong venture capital support and a favourable and supportive climate for innovation and collaboration.
Startups and entrepreneurs with innovative offerings will find the tourism sector also rich with growth opportunities.
Startup scene in Singapore

A supportive community is a hallmark of the startup scene in Singapore

Along with a variety of government-led assistance programs to support entrepreneurs and innovators, Singapore’s thriving business community has also created initiatives to foster growth. The Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) helps to promote entrepreneurship, catalyse new growth opportunities, scale startups and build champion enterprises. For example, ACE’s Start-up Mentorship Program connects entrepreneurs with experienced business leaders who offer their expertise and guidance without charge.

The Singapore Women Entrepreneurs Network (SG-WEN) provides an important platform for women in business to unite, network and share experiences and insights.

The Youth Co:Lab is an example of an initiative designed for young people in business. It offers a collaborative and creative workspace for entrepreneurs to cultivate their ideas and support their business growth.

Best practices when registering your startup in Singapore

While Singapore has created a welcoming environment for new businesses, there are many compliance factors that startups and entrepreneurs must consider when incorporating a business in Singapore.

Eunice Hooi, Head of Corporate Secretarial, BoardRoom Singapore, says it is important to seek advice from an experienced, professional advisor when launching a business. “They will guide business owners through every stage of the incorporation process. They will also provide specialty advice on the different types of business structures available, and which one is best suited to the business needs. They will also take into consideration the legal and the tax implications of business ownership.”

Eunice says business owners need to consider the answers to several questions. What is the nature of your business? Are you establishing a branch i.e. an extension of your head office in another country? Or do you want to test the market by registering a representative office before you set up a permanent structure in the foreign country? A professional advisor can help you answer these questions and provide advice on the types of company structures in Singapore. They will also help you fulfil your obligations and avoid the pitfalls of inadequate planning.

Three critical aspects when establishing a business in Singapore are tax, corporate secretarial and payroll.

The type of business structure you choose will dictate how much tax you pay. Eunice explains. “A sole proprietorship and partnership are not taxable at the business level, but rather each business owner is taxed separately on his share of income at the owner’s level. An individual owner who is a sole proprietor or a partner would be taxed based on the progressive tax rates ranging from 0% to 24%, depending on the income level. On the other hand, a corporate partner of a partnership is subject to tax at corporate tax rate at 17% on its share of income from the partnership.”

A professional can help you understand the tax implications of your business and decide on a structure that takes advantage of tax incentives.
Corporate secretarial
Corporate secretarial is another consideration for entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Singapore, as corporate governance and company compliance can be complex and time-consuming. A service provider such as BoardRoom can support businesses in a range of ways, including ensuring a company complies with local Singapore requirements, ensuring accurate and timely submission of annual returns and providing expert advice on corporate governance matters.
It’s vital that businesses meet their payroll obligations. While Singapore has streamlined and simplified payroll requirements for businesses compared to other countries, staying up to date with payroll needs can be a challenge for new and established businesses. This includes ensuring compliance with salary disbursements and mandatory contributions, maintaining salary records, providing itemised payslips and adhering to leave entitlements, meaning there is no room for error.

Singapore also has cultural nuances and sensitivities that those unfamiliar with the business landscape might find challenging. It is important to understand and respect the cultural norms of your workforce. Ken Wong, Managing Director Asia, Payroll at BoardRoom, highlights some of these nuances: “Singapore is so diverse and there are times when you actually will need to make salary payments earlier so employees can enjoy festive holidays with salaries being paid to them in advance,” says Ken. “Singapore also has a prevalent ‘bonus culture’, with employees often expecting to receive some form of bonus at the end of the year, this is often not written in an employment contract.”
A supportive community

How BoardRoom supports your startup

Singapore is a politically safe, business-friendly country. Businesses and startup companies in Singapore enjoy an array of incentives and support to help them thrive. For entrepreneurs and business owners venturing into the Singapore market, understanding and respecting the local business landscape is crucial. This includes being well-versed in areas such as tax regulations, business structures, corporate regulatory requirements and payroll compliance.

Offering a range of corporate services, BoardRoom has proven itself to be a trusted partner of established and startup businesses in Singapore. We guide your business at every step and offer a range of corporate services, including corporate secretarial, payroll, tax compliance, company incorporation, accounting and bookkeeping and ESG advisory services.

Contact us to discuss how we can help you establish your startup today.

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