According to the World Bank’s 2014 Doing Business report, Singapore and Hong Kong are two of the easiest places in the world for small-to-medium businesses to operate. This explains why the number of at-home entrepreneurs have been steadily increasing in recent years.
However before you start your own business, here’s a little checklist of things to consider:
1) Commitment of time, energy and finances.
Starting an at-home business that allows you to work from home is much harder than many girls realise. Any business (even an online, non-client facing blog shop) requires much time and effort (and often financial investment) in the beginning. The 24/7 round-the-clock commitments required for setting up and growing a business is something that many girls struggle with.
2) The nuts and bolts of setting up
Although Singapore’s well-connected network of government organisations makes it easy to get information quickly, the process of setting up a business can be challenging in some cases. For Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, registering a business requires notifying ACRA and paying a registration fee. Thereafter, you will need to enquire if a license is required for the type of business you are starting. For non-Singaporeans, after registering your business with ACRA, it is a legal requirement to get permission from the Ministry of Manpower to operate the business. The Entrepass (which requires $50,000 paid up capital) is the most straightforward pass to apply for.
3) What type of business to set up?
In Singapore, you can choose to start a sole-proprietorship, a partnership or a private limited company. Depending on the type of business, there are different requirements for setting up and staying in business. The tax filing process for each also varies slightly. For more information, visit this website.
4) Define your target audience – know who you are selling to
Before you pay a web designer to start work on that amazing, futuristic-looking website you have in mind, take a step back and consider who you are selling to. Simply defining your target audience as “women” is insufficient.
A working mother of 2 kids in her 30’s, a 19-year-old teenage girl waiting to enter university and a 55-year-old female retiree eager to travel the world – all 3 examples are women. Yet they each have different needs and wants. They’ll also have different spending habits and will respond differently to various types of advertising.
Give some thought to who are you selling your product or service to, as this will set the direction for all your other business plans.
5) Your Unique-Selling-Point
Any good businessperson will tell you – you need to have a unique selling point! As an entrepreneur of a small business, you need this unique advantage even more, to help you compete with bigger competitors in the market. Observe your target audience and figure out what you can provide them with, something that no one else can. Can you do something faster? Better? Cheaper? More interestingly? More innovative?
How are you going to be so different that your target audience will come to you and not to other competitors (whether they’re your current or future competitors)?
6) Other essential business basics
Like any other business owner, you will need to have a plan to address the following:
– Your web presence
– Your social media plan
– Your distribution strategy (Where to source your products? Where to sell them?)
– Your financial plan
– Licensing and other legal issues
– Hiring of staff or working with partners
– Starting a corporate bank account (and other accounting issues)
7) Always remember why you are doing this
Many girls start a small business because they want to create a project they can be proud of. Others start it, in the hopes of finding work-life balance. Yet other girls choose the road of entrepreneurship because it is the best use of their skills and talents. Whatever your reason, remember why you are doing it. The path ahead may be tough, but if you have a clear goal in mind, it’s always going to get easier.