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These Technology Tools Will Help You Do More with Less in Your Small Business

May 9, 2016

Do you remember the ‘office mom’ you cherished? The one who single-handedly manages everyone’s calendar, files all your papers, AND restocks the fridge so no one goes hungry?

Every small business needs a superhero.

Whether you are a one-man-shop or a manage a small team, today’s businesses tend to favour talent that is willing to step outside of what is required of their individual roles, in order to achieve greater goals for the company.

To be fair, you can’t expect your Marketing Executive to also know the ins-and-outs of calculating payroll, and at the same time be equipped with the legal knowledge for drafting and reviewing contracts (if you know someone like that, let us know).

But here’s the good news for businesses today: If you can find someone who is technologically-savvy enough and is willing to learn, there are a lot of tools out there who can support a generalist in getting the job done, without the need for domain expertise.

Below we list some technology tools that you can use to perform the usually time-consuming yet essential tasks, so you can channel all your focus into growing your business:

Marketing

Sorry to burst your bubble, but there is no such thing as organic growth. You will eventually get to a point where all of your best friends and family members have purchased your product (for the tenth time) that you will realise you need to reach a larger audience and start acquiring some real customers. So you begin to put a strategy in place.

Now, who’s going to execute it?

1) Hootsuite

Social media is becoming increasingly important as a channel for finding and engaging new customers. Your customers are on social 24/7 – but can you afford to be?

Thanks to social media management tool Hootsuite, you can now upkeep an active social presence without having your eyes glued to the screen all the time.

Hootsuite brings all of your social media accounts into one unified dashboard so you can schedule, post, and monitor multiple accounts at any one time. This means that you can choose to set aside one day in a month to pre-schedule posts for publishing for the entire month – now, no one will know if you spent the month working by the beach!

Post to multiple social networks, and schedule posts in advance with Hootsuite

The best part? Hootsuite is free for managing up to three social profiles, and Pro costs only US$8.99 a month!


How about offline, you ask?

2) Bid4Ad

Who knew you could buy traditional advertising and media space…online? Bid4Ad, who recently closed their S$1 million Angel round, has unlocked new possibilities by allowing space providers, advertisers and agencies to buy and sell print, outdoor and online media advertising spaces in real-time.

Think: No more time wasted seeking out ad agencies! Simply:

  1. Define your target audience
  2. Browse all available spaces within your budget
  3. Pick one that best fits your criteria
  4. Submit your artwork
  5. Pay online to complete your purchase

 

It’s as simple as shopping for your Christmas sweater!

In the same way, media owners can list their spaces on Bid4Ad to attract the right advertisers, effortlessly:

 

Human Resources

3) HReasily

Having an efficient Human Resources department is one of the cornerstones of every successful business venture. For “HR Solutions that work”, business owners must prioritise optimising their HR workflow.

HReasily’s platform enables small businesses to improve productivity by streamlining HR work processes such as payroll processing, as well as leave and staff management. Features include the automatic calculation of Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions for each employee for submission to the CPF board.

HReasily’s real-time dashboard lets you stay up-to-date with employee progress

Now that there is a tool to automate these time-consuming administrative procedures, shouldn’t you think twice before bringing on board that full-time Human Resources Officer?

 

Legal

4) Dragon Law

Is going to a law firm too expensive? While online templates may seem like an inexpensive alternative (well, at least when nothing goes wrong), do you really want to put your business at risk?

What if I told you there is a tool out there that can help you stay compliant, without making a huge dent in the pocket?

Ask any business owner and the last thing they want is to be bogged down with a series of lawsuits. But we all know this: Not everyone can afford a lawyer.

As a result, many small businesses undertake the risk of Googling and attempting to draft their own contracts, only to incur irreparable damages in the long-term.

So, how is Dragon Law different?

Instead of hurling a 10-page document at you, Dragon Law’s technology breaks down complex legal contracts into a simple Q&A interface, so all you have to do is answer a few questions. Based on your answers, the SMART Document Builder then interprets your position in the business relationship and pulls out the right clauses for wording in a legal contract.

The perks:

  • Quickly create legally-binding documents, without having to have legal knowledge
  • Eliminate unnecessary meetings at fancy law firms who bill you by the hour
  • One-time subscription fee means you can create additional documents when your business needs evolve, at no additional cost
  • Pay for a lawyer only when you really need one
  • Waste no time in sourcing and evaluating law firms – we recommend you to a trusted one in our network

Yes, your office mom, too, can draft a legally-binding contract.

 

Everything else

As a technology company, we practise what we preach. For a company who provides documents, we have no filing cabinets. Dragon Law’s Upload & Sign feature lets us share, e-sign and store all our legal documents in the cloud. Receipts? What receipts? We take a snapshot and upload them via our Receipt Bank mobile app, and they are sorted automatically into ledgers. Our employees are happy because all expenses get reimbursed in a timely manner.

Other automation tools like Zapier and IFTTT integrate multiple tools so they can work with one another. Automate as much as you can because no one wants to (nor should be) working like a bot – not even your newest intern. Interns at Dragon Law can look forward to doing the REAL stuff that puts their critical thinking skills into good use (apply).

The beauty of Software-as-a-Service

Gartner defines SaaS as “software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers.” Gone are the days where you pick a CD-rom from your local IT store to run a software installation…what CD-rom? Leave upgrading, downtime and security in the hands of your SaaS vendor, and enjoy the perks of working from anywhere in the cloud.

In fact, for all of the services listed above, all it takes is for you to sign up for an account, make payment online, and voila – you’re good to go!

Most SaaS providers allow for a free trial of their platform so you have some time to evaluate the its suitability prior to making a purchase decision. Don’t like it? Don’t subscribe!

Believe me, it’s really risk-free:

Get your Confidentiality Agreement and Website Privacy Policy for free.
No commitment, no credit card required.

So, are your jobs in danger?

Consider Xero, the cloud accounting software that over 600,000 subscribers love.

Is Xero looking to replace Accountants? Not at all. In fact, Xero’s platform makes an Accountant’s job SO much easier, increasing their productivity so they can spend more time on work that is actually rewarding. Clearly, data-entry is not the best use of a CPA’s time.

 

Do you use any of these tools too? What other cloud tools do you use to become more productive in your small business? We’d love to learn about them – let us know in the comments below!

“All We Have To Do Is Answer a Few Simple Questions” – Dragon Law Makes It Easy for Founders To Create Legal Documents

May 3, 2016

“After years of exploring the world, we realised that all of our best experiences and discoveries had one thing in common: Someone took us there.”

– Maggie Lau and Anita Chan, Co-Founders, Sam the Local


Sam the Local helps users book customised outings with locals based on their interests. There’s something for everyone: history, local food, photography, and more.

       
Historical stories with Ricky L. Local food and stories with Nicole C. Photography with Michael K. Food exploration with Amanda L.
“With a community of more than 300 locals and users in our database and growing – and just two of us founders in the team – there was no way we could’ve found time to deal with legal.”

– Anita Chan, Co-Founder, Sam the Local

 

I remember before Dragon Law where my Co-Founder and I would spend hours searching online for legal templates; then changing, editing, and finalising them. Even after that we still weren’t reassured – did these templates reflect the latest law changes? How would they apply in Hong Kong, where our business was incorporated? We still ended up taking documents to the lawyers’ for a final review – this took away precious time as well as made a significant dent in the pocket.

All that changed with Dragon Law.

Neither Maggie nor I are legally-trained; but Dragon Law’s technology allows us to self-service legal document creation, in a manner that is easy yet reassuring.

The app interface couldn’t get any easier – all we have to do is answer a few simple questions, and the app works its magic. The result: Legally-sound contracts that are tailored to suit each of our business needs. The ability to customise gives us full knowledge and control of what goes into our business contracts, all while saving significant costs.

“Dragon Law’s technology allows us to self-service legal document creation, in a manner that is easy yet reassuring.”

At this stage of our business, growing our user base is key. Maggie and I are always on the road in separate meetings, and hardly have the time to sit down together to negotiate contracts, much less deal with the inefficiencies of going back and forth on email.

Dragon Law’s dual user access allows us to stay on top of the new contracts that are being created. We are also able to access, share and sign documents on-the-go, and have them stored securely in the cloud. This convenience gives us more time to focus on our business. It’s our one-stop shop for legal.

We are now on the route to raising funds for Sam the Local, thus making it even more important that we establish a solid legal foundation. We acknowledge that a traditional law firm will be able put us on the right track, but here’s the Dragon Law magic: For the simple, rudimentary tasks, you don’t often need to go to the extent of paying for one.

We live chat the Dragon Law service team who very clearly points us to the right contract we need, and recommends a lawyer in their network should we need any advice beyond what is provided in their app. The bottom-line is this: As business owners, you should be able to look at other alternatives and pay for a lawyer only when you need it.

Learn how Dragon Law’s technology enables you to create contracts that are legally-binding for Singapore and Hong Kong.

“Convenient, trustworthy and easy.”

– Anita Chan, Co-Founder of Sam the Local

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Looking For an Office Space in Hong Kong? Here Are Some Tips.

April 26, 2016

Photo credit: Compass Offices

Looking for office space in Hong Kong? Whether you’re a Hong Kong based startup looking to move-on-up from the Sheung Wan coffee shop, or an international success story hoping to try your luck in Hong Kong – a serviced office might be the solution to your needs. Spacious sat down with Happy Le, International Office Solution Consultant, to talk about what you need to know before jumping into the Hong Kong office market.

Size and Growth

You may just be getting started, but you’ll need to think about your future growth. The rule of thumb in the office market is if you have more than 6 employees in a given location, it starts making sense to consider conventional office space over a serviced office space. But if fast growth is likely, you may run the risk of outgrowing your conventional office space before your lease is up.

Capital and Costs

Conserving limited capital and keeping costs low are key tenets for many bootstrapping startups. Deposits (typically equivalent to 2 to 3 months of rent) and renovation/furniture costs (conservatively HKD $500 to $1000 per square foot) associated with conventional offices are often out of the question until some serious capital has been raised. On the other hand, serviced offices have no upfront investment or costs, which is great for most startups.

Keep in mind though that these costs are often built into the higher monthly rates you can expect to pay, so once your business looks like a going-concern, conventional office space might be the more economic long-term option.

Location, Location, Location

Recruiting talent is key for startups and expanding businesses. Your current and future staff will want to have good access to public transportation, a variety of dining options, and be near to customers and business partners. With office rental rates at record levels in centrally located office areas like Central, Admiralty, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui, a smaller and temporary serviced office might be the only way many startups and small businesses can afford to play in these areas that employees and customers are keen to do business in.

Image and Prestige

Lippo center in Admiralty, a famous office building

Depending on your industry, having a professional and trustworthy image can make or break you in your early days. On the contrary, looking too flashy too soon could also be risky – making you look all sizzle and no steak to potential customers or like you have no sense of value to potential investors.

Serviced offices can give you that professional image from day one, but having an obviously short-term space can also make it look like your business might not be viable for the long run. A conventional office space says that you’ve got some capital and a long-term view, but hopefully you had enough cash leftover to put a coat of paint on the walls and not have to pull your furniture off the street corner.

Serviced offices can offer a variety of “big time” perks – receptionists, high tech meeting rooms, coffee/pantries areas, and telephone answering services. Some serviced offices do their own building or lobby branding, clearly given away the fact that you are in a serviced office to potential customers. Others opt for no branding of their served office brand or allowing custom branding for your own business, so your customers can remain none the wiser that you are in a temporary space.  

Overseas Business

Let’s get a headstart right before you land by getting an office!

If overseas meeting and office space is required for your business, a serviced office can make international travel and expansion much easier. International serviced office providers like Compass Offices, Regus, The Executive Centre , and Servcorp will give you access to their overseas network of offices for international business travel as part of your serviced office lease agreement here in Hong Kong.

Big Corporate or Startup Community

Hong Kong has many serviced office providers, including the big international players above or smaller, local players. The local serviced office providers tend to be less centrally located in terms of the classic Hong Kong office market but might be closer to the Hong Kong startup community – physically and culturally. The local players offer networking, speaking and educational events unique to the Hong Kong startup scene where you can meet other entrepreneurs, investors, or recruit talent. Many also offer additional services such as business registration, consulting/advisory and business services outsourcing.

Cocoon in Tin Hau
The Hive in Wan Chai, Kennedy Town and Sai Kung
Paperclip in Sheung Wan
Uno in Central, Sheung Wan and Jordan
Jumpstart Offices in Central, CWB, TST, Kwun Tong
Garage Society in Central

Beyond that office

The Mood @ Soho

Once you have found the perfect office for your expansion in Hong Kong, you will need to start thinking about where to house your employees, and of course, yourself. Relocation is not easy, especially when you haven’t even figured out where your permanent base is going to be. Serviced apartments might be a good answer to all your questions.

Whether you are looking to rent serviced apartments or finding a new home – Spacious’ scientifically driven search engine and large property data base can help you with that.

This is a guest post brought to you by Spacious.hk.

About Spacious

Finding a great home has never been so easy – this has been Spacious’ motto from the start. Useful, scientific and beautiful, we strive to make it easier for people who are looking for a new home to choose a neighborhood and to find their dream house easily. With a map view, listing view and various filters such as haunted housing and price limits, there’s no shortage of information to help you with your decision. Start looking today!

When Should You Hold Your First Annual General Meeting?

The purpose of an Annual General Meeting (AGM) is to give company members the opportunity to ask questions, receive information and meet with the directors.

At the meeting, shareholders have the opportunity to raise questions about the financial positioning of the company and to pass resolutions; from appointing auditors to filling vacancies within the board.

First Annual General Meeting

Your company is required to hold the first AGM within 18 months from the date of incorporation. Thereafter, the length between one AGM and the next depends on:

  1. The timing of the financial year-end
    Private limited companies must hold an AGM within six months. A financial year is determined by the accounting reference period.
  2. The date of the last AGM
    The next AGM must occur within 15 months or the company can face monetary penalties.

Holding an Annual General Meeting

You must give a minimum of 21 days’ notice to all shareholders prior to holding an AGM. A shorter notice can be given if it is agreed by all the members who are entitled to attend and vote at the meeting.

Your company must send, in writing, the following to all shareholders at least 14 days before the AGM:

  • Details of the meeting (date, time, location)
  • The agenda (What issues will be voted on and discussed)
  • Each member’s right to appoint a proxy (someone appointed to attend and cite in the shareholders’ favour)

Details of the AGM may be sent to the shareholders electronically if your company’s Articles of Association allow.

Any amendments for the Articles of Association must be done carefully and lawfully.

 

The Companies Ordinance provides that companies with only one member are not required to hold an AGM at all.

If you have more than one shareholder, you may still avoid the need for an AGM if all shareholders sign a Resolution to Remove the Need for an Annual General Meeting – this can be a huge time-saver especially for companies with a small number of shareholders; or if shareholders are not in the same location.

Once the Shareholder’s Resolution to Remove the Need for an Annual General Meeting is passed, shareholders now have the convenience of resolving matters by written resolutions instead.

Such resolutions must be passed in writing, such as on paper or email. The format is agreed upon between you and your shareholders. If your company is incorporated in Hong Kong, you must deliver a copy of the resolution to the Registrar of Companies for registration within 15 days after its passing date.

Failure to hold an AGM or pass a Resolution to Remove the Need for an Annual General Meeting can result in penalties.

Save time by quickly creating, sharing and e-signing  a Resolution to Remove an Annual General Meeting.


Use Dragon Law to create a Resolution to Remove an Annual General Meeting:

 

The above applies only to private limited liability companies.

Singapore’s PDPC Takes Action Against 11 Firms For Data Privacy Breaches

April 22, 2016

This morning, Channel News Asia reported the imposition of a S$50,000 fine on popular Singapore karaoke chain, K Box Entertainment Group, for not having sufficient security measures to protect the personal data of 317,000 members.

Specifically, it was found that K Box failed to:

  1. Update security patches to ensure its IT system security was sufficiently robust,
  2. Assign a Data Protection Officer to develop or implement data protection policies, and
  3. Impose strong control over access to personal data.

A further financial penalty of S$10,000 was imposed on the IT vendor in charge of K Box’s content management system, Finantech Holdings, for failing to implement proper and adequate protective measures for the personal data in the system it had built and managed for K Box.

Other organisations that faced penalties or received warnings from the Personal Data Protection Commission of Singapore include: Institution of Engineers, Singapore and health supplements supplier, Fei Fah Medical Manufacturing. Challenger Technologies, Metro, Xirlynx Innovations, Full House Communications, Singapore Computer Society and Yes Tuition Agency.

Introduced in 2012, the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) of Singapore mandates that organisations must:

  1. Clearly inform the individual the purpose(s) for which personal data will be collected, used or disclosed and obtain his/her consent,
  2. Implement a formal process for the withdrawal of consent by individuals in respect of the collection, use or disclosure of their personal data,
  3. Limit the use of personal data collected to only purposes that you have obtained consent for,
  4. Make reasonable effort to verify that the personal data kept are accurate and complete (i) prior to any use to make a decision that affects the individual or (ii) prior to disclosure; and
  5. Designated one or more individuals (who may be referred to as Data Protection Officers) to be responsible for ensuring that the data protection policies and practices of your organisation are in compliance with the PDPA.

Source: Personal Data Protection Commission Singapore, 2015 (read more)

Personal data in this case includes but are not limited to the following:

  • Full name
  • NRIC or FIN number
  • Passport number
  • Photograph or video image of an individual
  • Mobile telephone number
  • Personal email address
  • Thumbprint
  • DNA profile
  • Name and residential address
  • Name and residential telephone number

PDPC Chairman Leong Keng Thai said the most common issue with the breaches has a lot to do with the adoption of inappropriate IT practices. The PDPC recognises that data plays a vital role in helping organisations innovate in today’s economy, and encourages the use of data in a responsible manner – just as you would handle commercially valuable information.

Singapore law requires that organisations must comply with the PDPA when collecting, using or disclosing personal data.

Does your organisation have a Data Protection Policy in place?

Find out how creating one can be easy, fast and affordable with Dragon Law’s web app:

Start a free trial

Create a Website Privacy Policy for free.
No minimum commitment, no credit card required.

Read the original article on Channel News Asia