5 obstacles to becoming an entrepreneur in Singapore

Want to be a budding entrepreneur, but not sure how to start? Below is a list of five common mind blocks that may stop new entrepreneurs from building their first business, and how you can tackle them.

Obstacle 1: "I don't have the money"

In any business, one of the most important elements for success is funding. What do you do when you don’t have the cash to build a business?

Take time to understand the array of schemes, both public and private available. With a business plan or a viable prototype in hand, you can apply to various incubators in Singapore such as Startup bootcamp Fintech and FocusTech Ventures for mentorship and funding. The Singapore government also has a slew of start-up grants, co-investment schemes and tax reliefs available. These are clearly spelt out at the SME portal1 for small and medium sized enterprises.

Beyond funding, SPRING Singapore and IE Singapore offers great opportunities to network and one on one counselling on various aspects of business. Once the business has achieved a certain growth trajectory, these government bodies engage continuously for follow ups on funding and idea generation. It is also useful to consider partnerships, as it helps with roping in talents that complement your existing skill sets, and potentially work towards raising money from these partners to increase the initial capital.

The Bottom Line: Take some time to understand the array of public and private schemes and incubators. Apply early as the approval process may take a while and your application would be assessed based on suitability and viability.

Obstacle 2 : “I can’t find the right talent”

While you may have a business idea, you may need external help in terms of marketing your idea. Marketplaces like Fiverr2 and People Per Hour3 can be tapped on to overcome this obstacle. These gig economy ventures allow you to gain access to an unlimited supply of talents. You should also not discount networking. Networking is where two outcomes can be achieved; to recruit talents and uncover collaboration opportunities.

During the early days of Hcook4, one of the authors networked actively in co-working spaces such as The Hive and Collision 8. These places provided opportunities to interact with other entrepreneurs. There were also numerous opportunities to pitch your business idea to venture capitalists and angel investors.

The Bottom Line: There are many opportunities to recruit and interact with like-minded entrepreneurs. You have to put yourself and your company name out there in order to attract talents to work for and with you.

Obstacle 3: “Singapore is too small a market”

The most common reason people complain about doing business in Singapore is the perceived small market size. We beg to differ. In Southeast Asia, Singaporeans are known to have a high spending power with the population generally receptive to new technology and ideas. Hcook recognised the high smart phone penetration rate in Singapore, and launched a mobile application to connect people and their kitchens – creating a community of budding chefs.

Entrepreneurs should see Singapore as a test bed for their business idea. When the business continues to gain traction, Singapore would be an ideal launchpad to Southeast Asia, which has a potential market capacity of 600 million.

The Bottom Line: No market is too small to launch a business idea. Adapt your business model to suit the market you know best and if it proves to be successful, have an eye on regional expansion.

Obstacle 4: “I don’t know how to set up a company or do a business plan”

The Singapore government makes entrepreneurship easy. Visit the ACRA website and you can literally set up your new company in less than 30 minutes.

There is no lack of resources online on how to build a business plan. It is also useful to note that the Singapore government provides subsidies for commercial courses being run by institutions like the Singapore Chamber of Commerce Institute Business to teach basic business plan development.

The Bottom Line: Setting up a business is relatively simple in Singapore. Creating a business plan is essential, and there are ample avenues for businesses to learn how to write a business plan.

Obstacle 5: “I don’t know how to scale my business”

When the business has reached a certain scale, you may realise that you need knowledge and skills beyond product development, like how to tap on financial resources, and how to inspire people to sustain and grow the business.

It is never too late to learn. Education will provide you with a broader set of skills to overcome business challenges and stay competitive. Private institutions are available to train budding entrepreneurs on communication, marketing, and many other skillsets necessary to grow your business.

The Bottom Line: Education is important to entrepreneurship development. There has never been a better time to set up your own business. As Singapore moves ahead in the economy, there will be greater opportunities and incentives for budding entrepreneurs to take their dreams forward.

Sources: 1 2 3 4

- Dr. Sam Choon-Yin, Dean, PSB Academy -

- Renton Yap, Co-founder, Hcook -