How to Set Up a Business in Singapore

Learn how to successfully incorporate a private limited company in Singapore. Find out the company formation requirements, setup procedure, and registration timeline.


How to Successfully Set Up a Business in Singapore



You must have figured the groundwork for your entrepreneurial dream by now:


    √ A spectacular business idea

    √ Your burning passion for that idea

    √ And the place where it will all start, Singapore


Singapore is the forerunner of the startup ecosystems in Asia that made it to Compass’s 2015 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking, and the country’s economic milieu continues to prove its resilience with a forecasted GDP growth rate of 2–4% in 2015.


So the only thing standing between your dream of establishing a business in Singapore and reality is a string of regulatory requirements and procedures.


Knowing what those transactions are may come easy. While there are many accessible platforms of information nowadays, accomplishing everything without neglecting what matters most in your venture is a different story.


Therefore, you need strategies that will generate value for the main areas of your business starting day one.


“A good strategy provides a clear roadmap, consisting of a set of guiding principles or rules, that defines the actions people in the business should take (and not take) and the things they should prioritize (and not prioritize) to achieve desired goals,” explains Michael Watkins in his Bloomberg article.


Here are six strategies to help you set up your business in Singapore:


1. Avoid a lousy start

You must have heard this gazillion times from superstar CEOs and entrepreneurs: Your business should be about something you believe in.


Well, the template is true.


When you are passionate about your product or service, you won’t run out of steam amid shifting business weather and inevitable hurdles.


If you can cross that criterion off this list, you get a five.


The other five?


Get it from your market.


Here’s the thing: Your idea must be able to stand as a business. Managing your own venture is not a walk in the park especially in Singapore where the business climate is highly competitive. Start strong by evaluating and developing the framework of your business idea. Your first strategy is to design a business plan that is grounded on a solid and sustainable foundation:


Market research – Is your business idea sustainable? Are there opportunities in the market? What are the trends and predictions?


Resources – Where will you get your funds? Do you need partners or network?


Clear goals – What are your short-term and long-term plans? What are the specific achievements you want to see after a certain period?


The more you clarify your plan, the easier the succeeding steps will be.


2. Shape your vision

When you already have a clear-cut plot for your business, it is time to choose the most suitable structure. Your business structure will have an impact on your legal and tax standing.


Your strategy now is to study your options and their differences.


The ultimate question: What business structure suits your business, your capacity, and your long-term objectives?


  • Are you going to register your company as Limited Liability Partnership or Sole Proprietorship?
  • Or do you want to operate as Private Limited Company (PLC)?


How to Successfully Set Up a Business in Singapore


Meanwhile, if you are a foreign professional who wants to take advantage of the vigorous business condition in Singapore, there are routes you can choose from according to your situation and plans. You can register your business in Singapore without relocating to the country or you can form a company first and relocate afterward. For technopreneurs and R&D-based ventures, you just have to go through the Singapore company incorporation process before relocating and operating in the country.


The key to your selection process is to identify the structure that can cover your specific needs and business goals in the long run.


3. Choose a good company name

Coming up with a name for your future company in Singapore can be quite tricky.


The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) stresses that the name you plan to propose for your company should not be identical to another existing enterprise in Singapore. Choosing a name for your business is the first step in the incorporation procedure. But aside from legal requirements, you need to consider your branding and the possibilities that your business may attract in the long-run, such as expansion overseas.


Here’s how to create a company name that gets noticed and approved easily upon registration:


Hint #1: How do you want your target customers to feel about you? Do you want your brand to be friendly to families or attractive to high-achiever executives?


Hint #2: Keep it short and easy to spell but flexible enough for web platforms and for future activities that involve the global market. This list of business name generators from Shopify can help you craft business names and check their domain availability.


For example, if we use Shopify’s Business name generator and enter “transcription” in the field….


How to Successfully Set Up a Business in Singapore


…it will generate title suggestions that are still available for domain registration:


How to Successfully Set Up a Business in Singapore


Hint #3: Observe the cultural practices and trends in Singapore. Will the people be able to relate to your company name? Does it have the potential to become a household name?


Hint #4: Keep the name identifiable with what you’re offering. Your sources of idea can be those surrounding your products or services:


    √ place of business

    √ key feature

    √ desired result of the product or business

    √ aesthetic element

    √ characteristic of target market

    √ your motto in life

    √ literary devices like metaphors or alliteration

    √ synonyms

    √ symbols

    √ personality (character, hero, or model)

    √ word formation (noun + gerund, noun + adjective)

Hint #5: Make sure it is not obscene, vulgar, or ambiguous.


Hint #6: Is your proposed name apt for the company logo? Is the overall visual look powerful and unique enough?


To sum it up, your name should stand with exclusivity, creativity, and clarity.


4. Create a checklist

It is essential that you know and understand all the requirements and procedures in registering a company in Singapore. This will help you gauge the working funds you need, the effort you have to exert, and the time you need to spend for your new business.


Here is a glimpse of what to prepare for the incorporation of your business in Singapore:

How to Successfully Set Up a Business in Singapore


The road to making your dream official is not an overnight trip but once you complete the route, arriving at your destination will be considered a milestone.


5. Eliminate unnecessary stress

Do you know the common misstep of most aspiring businesspeople?


They do all the work by themselves.


Remember: Your main job as an entrepreneur is to keep your business thriving. In fact, most of the problems of successful entrepreneurs when they were starting were about how to refine their services and identify opportunities. Not corporate functions. Not government requirements. Not neighborhood gossip.


In short, they don’t boil the ocean.


To keep you focused on the heart of your business, keep this in mind:


Delegation is king.

How do you avoid the mistake of overwhelming yourself?


Tip #1: Right from the start, you need to recruit or partner with people who have the right skills and attitude. They should also understand the core of your business, your objectives, and your overall vision.


Tip #2: To have more time preparing your product or services, you can hire a consultancy firm in Singapore to provide you all the company incorporation services you need, such as:


– Singapore Company Incorporation

– Branch Office Registration

– Offshore Company Formation

– Corporate Secretarial Services

– Accounting and Tax Services


The key benefit of investing in this kind of business strategy is it allows you to devote your time and energy for both creative and money making tasks.


 6. Take action now

Can you already smell your success?


Fear of failure, according to the 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report, is a factor that can prevent an entrepreneur like you to set up your own business.


The respondents who expressed the highest fear of failure were from GEM EU economies (40.7%), followed by Asia and Oceania region (37.5%). “Fear of failure can be a strong inhibitor for seizing opportunities and transforming entrepreneurial intentions into entrepreneurial activity,” GEM stated.


One way to get rid of that fear is to take action now.


No but’s. No what-if’s.


You will never know what is out there for you if you have not even started approaching the door. So prepare all your requirements, contact the right people who can help you, and just do it.



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