Thoughts on registering a business in Singapore

Claudia from limedsign recently asked for comments on registering a business in Singapore. Seeing as how some friends are recently thinking of doing the same, I thought I would pen down some experiences with it. Am certainly NOT a veteran at this having only registered 2 myself (Asis-T Solutions and On9 Systems) and 1 other for friend (Webvolutions) but this should be useful to me (and anyone reading) should I/you need to register another company again! šŸ™‚

Step 1 : Think up a great name for your company that people will start asking you about. In current web climate, misspellings or non-English sounding names seem to go well with the crowd. Of course, something to do with what you intend to sell/offer would be great. Can check out names available at Acra’s company registry here.

Step 1a : If you intend to get an online presence, start thinking about what domain name you’ll like. Find a suitable web host and check if the name is available. It sucks to have a great name thought out, registered and realize the domain has been taken up by a squatter.

You can use and but I usually use my registrar’s domain search service

If you’re just starting up, a simple plan should suffice for web hosting but of course, it all depends on your cashflow and needs. Remember that most web hosting is paid up front annually.

Step 2 : Create a financial plan on how you’re going to make money in the 1st year, 2nd year and if you can a 5 year plan is even better. I just plug in a cashflow scenario of likely income, outflow (transport, stationary, rent?) into excel and estimate the number of customers I’ll likely need to talk to and get sales to be in the black. Don’t worry, being in the red in your first year should be pretty normal unless you sell stuff that make you 100% profit each time with zero overheads.

Sale of goods or services rendered Factor in your typical sales cycle and sales volume. Doing service based business? Categorize according to large and small projects and take a good average.
Business Licenses

Sole-proprietorship, Partnership, LLP – $65 one time
Renewal – $20 renewal

Pte Ltd – Be prepared to pay for incorporation fees and secretarial fees. Check out DP Bureau and other services at Tanjong Pagar’s International Plaza.

For home businesses, you’ll also need to apply for HDB’s Home Office Scheme (HDB).

Why the differences? Its basically about liabilities to yourself, I’m not a lawyer so can’t advise on what you should go for but take into account business type and ask around to make a decision.

Medisave, factor in $540 for minimum trade income as suggested by CPF. Its a good idea to just get it over with since you’re probably not putting in any CPF contributions for now.

Name Card I use Honesty Printing, 200pcs for $40.00

Working from home still need to pay electricity, mortgage etc

My situation:
$600+ in HDB payments for a 4 room flat shared with wife
$150+ in utilities/broadband

Transport Ulu places like Lim Chu Kang will need taxi, taking bus just takes up time and money! Have all cab companies numbers saved to your mobile for that urgent customer visit.
Mobile Get a decent plan from any telco with FREE incoming. I saved half my monthly bill by switching. Thanks M1. 
Fax Used to use Singtel’s Faxplus but without incoming fax, this just doesn’t work for me anymore so I just bought a fax modem and hooked it up to my desktop running 24/7 anyway. I save paper and get to send/receive fax anytime.

You’ll need to eat/socialize have fun also so don’t forget to give yourself some $$ to survive. I use a base of $1000.00 per person which is of course dependent on one’s lifestyle. This is of course most likely a figure for partners only. Hiring would require different figures to be plugged in. Based on my experience :

Interns – $500 – $1000
Freelance – Depends on Project
Poly – $1500 – $2500
Grad – $2200 – $4000
Masters/PhD – Not worked with them before

Banking/Checking Account

If customers don’t mind giving cash or issuing cheques in your personal name, you can try getting a UOB Cashplus account since it has no minimum opening amount and no fall-below fee. Asking for waiver of the annual fee shouldn’t be a problem also. Just remember not to issue cheques from your credit. That’s just silly.

Otherwise, be prepared to have an initial opening of $1000.00 onwards from various banks Corporate Accounts. I’ve use UOB  and Maybank. UOB’s Corporate Account requires $1000.00 for initial opening and to maintain a monthly average of $10,000 otherwise there is a service charge of $15/month.

Secretarial Services  For Pte Ltd Only, not very familiar with this so taking a walk around Int’l Plaza should give you some clues
Accounting  I do my own accounting using Microsoft Money to generate invoices and excel for quotes. Generally try NOT to wait too long to keep your accounts in order. During Tax time, its just one big hassle if you forget everything that happened a year ago. 
Marketing Allocate a small budget for marketing purposes. Either join a network like BNI, ASME or any other you’re comfortable with. Can also try Google AdSense if you have a website. Word-of-mouth also works great if you have a good product/service.

Step 3: BE VERY HAPPY with your plan and tell your friends about it. Most will probably balk at the idea since starting a business isn’t really the IN thing for most people who work at MNC’s. Some others will wish you good luck and wonder if they could do it but probably won’t. Some will offer your partnerships (silent) if they think you have a good idea and may want some equity. My advice? Its your life, so be happy if you decide to take the plunge and work hard for the next two years and stick to the plan. Register your business and go forth and make new friends, meet challenges and have remember to have fun at it.

* Disclaimer : I’ve done my research and most are based on personal experiences so best to ask around for opinions. Am in no way endorsing that you go ahead and register your business just because you read this. Drop me a mail if you’ve got questions. I’ll be glad to help within my means.


5 thoughts on “Thoughts on registering a business in Singapore

  1. Good read. Thanks for the infor.

    Wish all those who’re planning to start their own business best of luck! (To myself too! =P)

  2. michael says:

    Hey Claudia, Min Thu,

    Appreciate the comments.. All the best in business šŸ™‚

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