The 6 Things You Are Getting Wrong About Legal

October 20, 2016

Whether you are just starting out or have been running an established business, managing legal is a core part of it. Yet business owners often struggle to understand local legal requirements, the different legal options, and hence fail to implement prudent legal precautions that are necessary for protecting their business.

But worry not – we are just about to debunk the 6 most common misconceptions that business owners have about the law and legal services – read on:

Misconception #1: In order for a contract to be “legally-binding”, it must be drafted by a law firm

The Oxford dictionary defines contract as:

A written or spoken agreement, especially one concerning employment, sales, or tenancy, that is intended to be enforceable by law. 

Yet, many continue to have the wrong idea that contracts prepared by lawyers are more “official” and hence more “legally-binding” – this is wrong because all it takes is a written or spoken agreement to form a contractual relationship.

Surely we are not advocating that you enter into verbal agreements or draft your own contracts based on templates you find online – often times you don’t know what you don’t know and hence it is important that a professional will ask you the right questions. 

Did you know that Dragon Law’s Document Builder has digitised this Q&A process, so you are prompted all the necessary legal considerations, get to draft your own contracts in a guided fashion, AND save time and money?

Try our Document Builder for free

Related reading: By the time you have to look for a lawyer, it’s probably already too late

Misconception #2: E-signatures are not recognised by law

With the advent of technology and the Internet, most communications and business transactions have moved online. Even if you are a locally-incorporated business with an office in one country, it is not uncommon that you collaborate with business partners around the world. Naturally, most communication and business negotiations take place online. Yet when it comes to signing business contracts, many business owners adopt the traditionalist view that only signatures where pen hits paper are considered valid signatures.

Did you know that e-signatures are recognised in many countries, including Hong Kong and Singapore?    Tweet this

In as early as 1998, Singapore became one of the first countries to allow the signing of documents online. This is now enforced by the Electronic Transactions Act 2010. Hong Kong soon followed and e-signing is now governed by the Electronics Transaction Ordinance (Cap 553). Both legislations bring local laws on electronic transactions in line with the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts, adopted in November 2005.

E-sign, or invite others to e-sign with Dragon Law. Sign up for a no-commitment free trial here.

So, the next time you want to book a 12-hour flight to meet your business partner just to get a contract signed, think again. Having your contract signed online can save you both time and money, and allow you to manage legal more efficiently.

Learn how you can enjoy the benefits of electronic signatures:

Download free eBook: E-signatures

Misconception #3: You can only sign contracts that are based in your country

Another question that business owners often ask is: Can I sign a contract that is governed by the laws of another country? If I do so, which country’s laws are applicable to me?

International trade and business has been going on for centuries. It is common for business partners to hail from every corner of the world. Naturally, parties sign contracts under the laws of another country.

The fact that a contract is being signed in another jurisdiction where you might have no presence whatsoever is not a barrier to the validity of the contract. Rather, you should ensure you include a clause indicating which country’s laws govern the execution of the contract.

This is important as regulatory differences cross-country may influence the outcome of disputes. Factors to consider when choosing an applicable governing law include availability the of preferred dispute resolution mechanism.

Misconception #4: You only need to set up your legal agreements once

Some business owners think legal is a one-time  worry – once they get the fundamentals right when starting out, they’ll never have to think about legal again. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

It is true that you must put inn place basic legal documents when incorporating your business, such as a Founders’ Agreement or Shareholders’ Agreement (if your business is incorporated as a company). These set out the key expectations and ensures that everyone – including the founders, partners and investors – are one the same page.

But it doesn’t stop here!

If you have a website, you will need a Website Privacy Policy and a Website Terms of Use. These are minimum legal requirements even if your website doesn’t sell goods or services, as they set out the ways in which your business will manage a user’s personal data and defines the legal relationship between you and your website users respectively. If you are in eCommerce business or running an online marketplace, you will further need well-drafted contracts that help to manage expectations of your service, as well as limit third-party liabilities.

Even if you are not, there is a host of other scenarios under which you will think How can I best draft my legal documents to protect my business? Think: Raising capital, issuing and transferring shares, securing your intellectual property (IP) rights, hiring staff, working with freelancers… you get the drill.

Before you are overwhelmed by the thought of managing legal for your business, pause and think about this: The law exists to protect business entities and manage business relationships between individuals, so use it to your advantage.

Draft payment terms that will help you optimise your cash flow and stay out of debt. Offer your employees share options to incentivise and reward them for the work they have put in.

Dealing with the law makes business owners nervous, but it does not have to be this way. Think of managing legal as an ongoing process that is core to your business. Pay consistent attention to your legal needs and you will be able to secure your business interests and build a sustainable enterprise.

If you’re not sure where to start, take our FREE Legal Health Check to find out how you can better protect your business.

Misconception #5: Lawyers are the only solution to legal issues

Many business owners turn down legal help because they generally assume it will come at a high-cost. The reality is that not every legal issue requires the attention of a lawyer. Just as other industries have been disrupted with new technologies, legal is no exception.

According to a BCG report, there are three broad categories of technology solutions that have been developing in the legal industry: 1) Enablers, 2) Support-process solutions, and 3) Substantive law solutions.

Source: How Legal Technology Will Change the Business of Law (BCG)

Enabler technologies such as cloud storage tools and cyber security solutions focus on facilitating digitisation of processes.

Support-process solutions allow processes ranging from customer relationship management to accounting to be managed more efficiently.

The third category of substantive law solutions involves the automation of simple or repetitive legal tasks, such as contract drafting and contract analysis, as well as document screening.

Evidently, you don’t always need to turn to a lawyer for every kind of legal task. Existing technological tools can help make your job of managing legal easier.

Misconception #6: Online legal services & legal tech tools cannot be trusted

Surely something as important as the legal needs of your business can’t be managed online?! We hear you, and we know that your concerns are valid. The reality is that many stakeholders are turning to technological tools and online services to manage their business needs.

In fact, the world’s most established law firms are turning to technology to supplement the legal services that they provide to clients. At least 22 of the major law firms in the world have publicly acknowledged adopting artificial intelligence (AI)-driven systems, suggesting that we are moving beyond the early adoption stage into a phase of broader adoption. The fact that law firm Baker & Hostetler employed IBM’s AI Ross made headlines.

The bottom-line is this: Online legal services are not set to fully-replace the intelligent work of a lawyer; but rather complement it so that the same outcome can be achieved in a fraction of the time, cost, and complexity.

Still not convinced?

Dragon Law’s Managed Accounts let you enjoy the perks of technology, together with an expert who manages your Dragon Law account for you.

Lessons of a CEO #4

October 18, 2016

Sit down next to me

I’m very much like many (in fact most) startup CEOs in one key way. I’ve never been a CEO before and I haven’t been to CEO school [I refuse to google this as I’m sure such a place has now been invented and is mass-producing startup CEOs in suit jackets and jeans].

I did study management, though, as an undergraduate but that was back in 1995 before dot-coms had even bust the first time around and Adam Smith had not considered a world of millennials and their disruption. Back then, “HR” was a new word and even the concept that humans could be a resource of a business worth cultivating was viewed by most of us as faddish.

Fast forward twenty years and a quick search for the term “HR is dead” brings back a few hundred thousand results, with most contributors pointing to the shift to ever more people-centric titles “Chief Talent Officer” (my CTO is worried about the abbreviation..) and “Chief People Officer”.

Why do companies go to such lengths to constantly reinvent a business function that at one time we just knew as Personnel?  Well apart from the obvious, that it brings to mind working for a city council or being summoned to see a 1970’s school headmaster, it’s fundamentally because almost any successful business, and certainly all boostrapped small fast-growing businesses, has figured out that the team is kinda the most important asset you have.

And while you’re off patenting your IP, trademarking your logo and polishing your investor deck, turning a group of smart people into a team of awesome business builders is not quite so easy to map out.

So that’s gotta be the number one job of the CEO I figured – right?

Well yes (go on admit it you thought I would say no and then move to some sales-related, growth at all cost diatribe). Helping your team mates to be awesome, is of course your new number one job, since it directly translates into the success of the company. Making the team great is in the ‘best interests of the company’ for those of you interested enough to be reminded of your legal obligations as a director of a business. So you kind of have to do this…

But hang on, didn’t you post somewhere saying that I should spend all my day looking for sales tools to make my startup grow at hyperspeed? Yes, yes you should. And here comes lesson number 1 of being a CEO:

You have to do quite a few things at the same time, because EVERYTHING IS IMPORTANT.    Tweet this

So what did I do when I realised my job was kinda hard and everything was a priority?

I asked for help, of course.

I asked it from my business nearest and dearest (whom I see more often than my actual nearest – see my post on the importance of family in all of this). We came up with a way of solving a number of problems at once on a regular basis, that I think is a very usable framework for any of you setting up your team and business goals.

S.I.T.

At Dragon Law we call it S.I.T. The entire founding team of Dragon Law (nine of us!) have a S.I.T. meeting once a week (so you’ll never be able to get hold of any of us before 11am on a Monday). We have our phones turned off for anywhere between 90 minutes to 2 hours. Yes, two hours! That’s 120 minutes and we are never late (because being late to meetings is massively disrespectful to our team mates – I will for sure post on this at some future time!).

What could we possibly want to spend up to two hours a week talking about? Well the clue I’m sure you’ve worked out, is in the title.

Each of us looks at our area of focus – whether it’s tech, operations, sales, marketing, you name it – we divide our worlds up into the help we need from our team to Survive, Improve and Transform what we do.

This gives us the forcing mechanism we each need to set our problems and goals according to three horizons – the hyper short-term, and medium- and longer-term goals.

We need this forcing device, for two reasons:

  1. Startups run at a breakneck speed internally, and
  2. We challenge ourselves to achieve things in weeks that the old world of business did in years.

This accelerated learning and development cycle may cause short-sightedness in people – we don’t take the time out to reflect on our longer-term ambitions (and to review how things have performed over the medium-term), try and do everything at once, and are constantly in fire-fighting mode. That is not good for your team. It is a catastrophe in the making for your startup.

What do you have on your CEO Survive list? Let me know below – I look forward to the conversation.

Daniel Walker

4 Important Things to Note When Scaling Your Online Marketplace

October 17, 2016

Starting any business is hard and comes with many challenges, but growing is even harder. In building a marketplace, one of the most difficult tasks is to maintain the balance in supply and demand. You want to make sure you have enough buyers and sellers to keep the business running. Problems in scaling a marketplace are unavoidable, and they can take many forms. It could be an angry customer that received a wrong order, or a clash with the local government and traditional industries in operational regulations.

So, what are 4 key thoughts you need to consider when you need to scale your marketplace?

Related reading: Essential Legal Considerations for Online Marketplaces

1) Don’t expand or pivot too quickly

You want your marketplace to see signs of traction as soon as possible. That’s understandable, but you need to be patient and accept the fact that it takes time. It’s not the end of the world if you haven’t seen any significant growth after 9 to 12 months from launching. Remember that you need to create both buyer and seller communities, and that’s no small task.

Reassess and changing your market’s direction too soon or expanding too early could be harmful in the long run; the foundation needs to be solid before you can move on to the next step – otherwise it’ll crash later. It took 10 years for Etsy to aim for IPO and 7 years for Airbnb to be valued at $13 billion. The bottom line is, stick to your plan as long as you can and be patient.

2) Narrow your market focus strategically

It’s most likely that marketplaces have limited resources when starting out. With that in mind, it’s wise to not overspend your budget on targeting multiple markets. Instead, focus on building a single or few markets. You need to make sure that your business effort in smaller and vertical markets will work before you expand.

Location plays a big role too, for example; if your marketplace connects farmers with buyers and you’re reaching out to coastal cities – it won’t work well. When you’re narrowing your focus, you’ll have more time and hands to offer personalisation in your service. It can be beneficial because creating a unique experience for customers can ultimately boost trust in your branding.

3) Build trust with users

The marketplace industry relies heavily on trust and it requires a lot of effort to build it. Your marketplace needs to be trustworthy and reliable in order for people to use it. If buyers don’t trust the sellers on your marketplace platform, your business is stuck. Having efficient background checks, adequate insurance, legitimate customer rating system, testimonials – are just some things people look for when using a marketplace. Being transparent in the way you operate your marketplace is one of the easiest way to gain credibility.

Manage expectations of buyers and sellers of your online marketplace.

Use a Terms and Conditions for Online Marketplace.

It’s also crucial to deliver what you promise. If you claim to be “the cheapest and fastest delivery service” or “homestay experience better than Airbnb,” you need to prove it. Failing to do so will cause customers to think twice about trusting your brand and using your service.

4) Do something extraordinary

You’ve followed the book step-by-step in scaling, yet you’re unsatisfied with the result. Try to do something extraordinary! Deliver something unexpected and amazing to your customer. From sending coffee mugs to new customers and having groceries delivered in reusable shopping bags, to free movie tickets on birthdays, these surprises will leave a pleasant impression for customers. It varies depending on the type of marketplace, but offering special gestures in scaling your marketplace will set you apart from other competitors. Unique experience matters and this is a good reason for people to come back and to choose your marketplace.

To check all the boxes on the list of things to do in scaling a marketplace is tricky. But you can prioritise them and add more as you go. In the early stages of your marketplace development, it’s important to know that you’re constantly adapting to the needs of the people and the trend in the market. Consider different routes and don’t hesitate to look for inspiration from others, as doing so will just make it much easier for you to grow your marketplace.

In a nutshell…

This a guest contribution submitted by Kenneth Low, Co-Founder of Arcadier. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Dragon Law may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view! Learn more about guest blogging for Dragon Law here.

Arcadier is a SaaS company that powers next generation marketplace ideas. Follow Arcadier on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn for news and updates.

The Ultimate Guide to the Startup Community in Singapore

The startup landscape is a closely-knitted community of dreamers, hustlers and shakers, all looking to help one another out. This is especially true in Singapore – a small town where you’d very likely run into a friend or two at the corner of every street! So if you are a founder (or a founder-to-be), read on because we’ve compiled below some must-join and must-know communities and programmes to keep you busy:

Communities

The Tech in Asia Community
The Tech in Asia Community tops the list because it is our everyday go-to for the latest news, events, and discussions. If you are looking for talent, you can even advertise your roles in their job portal! The friendly Tech in Asia community team also runs an interactive Facebook Group to help you keep up to date with the latest updates.

Discuss: Should startups hire a PR agency or D.I.Y.?

Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF)
Beyond local startups, the SiTF advocates for the ICM (Information, Communications and Media) industry and in its membership directory reaches widely to SMEs and MNCs alike. Their 123jumpstart initiative offers free membership for qualifying startups, which will help them gain access to mentors, investors, workshops, co-working facilities and networking and collaboration opportunities in general.

Mobile apps

B.E.A.M
Available in iOS and Android, the B.E.A.M app aims to be the single app that lists every player in the tech ecosystem: Including founders, investors, developers, journalists, legal advisors, and executives. Launched in June this year, the app remains as an invitation-only platform – to receive an invite, submit your email on the B.E.A.M homepage.

Photo credit: Vulcan Post

It was announced in a press release earlier this year that B.E.A.M had already on-boarded 500 users, with 100 more on the waiting list.

DBS BusinessClass
The DBS BusinessClass app is specially designed for SMEs to connect directly with a network of industry experts, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and DBS SME Specialists. The app boasts a membership directory of over 15,000 professionals across the region.

Facebook groups

Singapore Startups
Get advice on company set-up and structures, obtaining visas, business strategy, marketing plan, finances, investments, auditing, and networking in general.

Singapore Startup Club
For APAC technology startups only, currently a community of 19,574 members (at time of writing).

Events

The List
The List sends you a weekly email of the most interesting startup, entrepreneur, beer/boozy, bookish, networking, designery, artsy, and techy events. No more, no less.

Tech in Asia events calendar
Similar to The List, Tech in Asia diligently curates upcoming tech and startup events around Asia in this public Google Calendar. You can add the events into your own Google Calendar which makes it super easy to follow and stay updated!

Meetup.com
Meetup makes it easy for anyone in a local community to get together. The platform, at this time of writing, boasts:

Source: Meetup.com

The most active Meetup groups to join are:

Also stay on top of major conferences like Tech in Asia, Echelon, and RISE which are great for startups to either attend or exhibit.

Aside from the major tech conferences, look out for the day-to-day events in co-working spaces like The Working Capitol whose spacious event space, known as The Commons, houses more than 100 attendees each time and is a popular venue option for major events such as the Product Hunt, TEDx, or even health and wellness programmes like yoga and meditation. Subscribe to their event page on Facebook here.

Join our upcoming event at The Working Capitol:

 

Resources

Dragon Law
Lawyers are expensive – nuff’ said! A startup we work with was once quoted S$20,000 for set of legal documents required to raise a seed funding round. Most law firms begin to watch the clock and start billing from the initial consultation (even before they begin to do any work!).

Dragon Law shines a light through the ‘legal black box’: Times have changed. With technological advancements, legal is no longer the specialised, expensive, and untouchable service that once only lawyers could do. If you are a founder who would like more control over your own legal work (and save money, at the same time!), check out Dragon Law’s comprehensive library of (FREE!) eBook resources, blog, and sign up for a free trial to start creating your own legal documents.


Claim your free Website Privacy Policy and Confidentiality Agreement (NDA)

SME Centre (@ SICCI)
The SME Centre is one of SME Portal’s initiatives to help Singapore SME owners and aspiring entrepreneurs access information, tools, and services that can help them build sustainable and competitive businesses.

The SME Centre@SICCI (Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry) was set up in 2008 in collaboration with SPRING Singapore. Qualifying SMEs may seek business advisory services (such as a consultation session on government grants and schemes) at no charge.

Accelerators and incubators

The Joyful Frog Digital Incubator (JFDI) claims to be longest-running, most successful startup business accelerator programme in South East Asia. JFDI offers intensive mentoring, introductions to early-stage investors, cash investment, technical facilities, and office accommodation in return for equity.

Update 14 Sep: JFDI, a pioneer in Singapore’s startup ecosystem, closes its bootcamp programme

Startupbootcamp is an accelerator programme on a global scale. They claim to offer startups access to an international network of the most relevant mentors, partners, investors to help them scale globally. Additionally, Startupbootcamp invests in each startup to help cover living expenses, as well as access to co-working spaces. Check out the current programmes open for applications:

Source: Startupbootcamp

In recent years, corporations and banks have also jumped on the startup bandwagon to introduce accelerator programmes of their own:

The SPH Plug & Play accelerator programme seeks media and/or technology startups looking for early-stage or seed-stage funding. Selected startups will receive S$30,000 in seed funding, plus perks and services worth up to S$200,000 in exchange for an equity stake.

Related reading: SPH Plug & Play finalist Soulscape shares their journey with Dragon Law

The DBS HotSpot Accelerator Programme on the other hand makes offers a compelling award of S$25,000 for zero equity.

Other accelerator operators for example, like Nest.vc who runs the AIA Konica-Minolta and OCBC Open Vault FinTech accelerator programmes, have their own unique styles of working with corporations and startups, and offer different terms and conditions of particpation:

Source: The Open Vault at OCBC

Related reading: Is getting on-board with an accelerator/incubator the right route for every startup?

 

Did we miss anything?

What buzzing startup and entrepreneur communities are you a part of?

Let us know in the comments below!

This article was written by Dragon Law for The Working Capitol and was first published on The Working Capitol blog and the Capitol Press, a publication of The Working Capitol.

Top 8 Pain Points Small Businesses Face, and How to Deal With Them

October 11, 2016

The impact that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have on the local economy is phenomenal. Making up 99% of all companies in Singapore, the 180,000 local SMEs contribute to almost half of the GDP and employ 70% of the workforce. Similarly, in Hong Kong, 320,000 SMEs account for over 98% of all business entities and employ close to 1.3 million people.

Most SMEs are characterised by 1) lean teams (hence, little resources) and 2) slim margins (hence, tight finances), and as a result face a host of challenges.

Today, we lay out the top 8 pain points that SMEs most commonly face, and point to some resources that may make this entrepreneurial journey easier for you:

1. Managing cash flow

With slim margins and limited resources, SME owners are always concerned with ‘balancing their balance sheet’. SMEs need to have a thorough understanding of their sales margin in order to ensure that their revenue covers not only the cost of goods but also overheads as well as the costs of financing. It is no surprise that one of the key challenges hindering efficient cash flow in SMEs is the problem of late payments by customers. This poses a headache especially for small businesses with low cash reserves.

Things are looking up. Banks in Singapore are looking to grow their SME lending – Maybank Singapore is targeting retail SMEs with revenues of up to S$20 million while DBS announced a loan structure to help SMEs cope with restructuring costs. SPRING Singapore also launched a S$2 billion SME Working Capital Loan Programme, under which SPRING Singapore will co-share 50% of loan default risks with participating financial institutions and SMEs can apply for unsecured term loans of up to S$ 300,000.

Related reading: The 6 Singapore government grants for small businesses you need to know

On a day-to-day level, SME owners can also take things into their own hands by drafting legal documents that set out favourable payment terms in order to obtain timely payment and optimise cash flow. Download our free eBook on Managing Cash Flow to learn the legal documents that you need.

2. Hiring and retaining staff

Hiring and retaining staff is an ongoing challenge for SMEs. A survey by DP Information Group revealed difficulty in hiring staff and high manpower costs as the top two business concerns in both 2014 and 2015. 

While you may not be able to offer the best remuneration packages for your employees, there are other creative (and non-monetary) means to keep your employees happy and motivated. You may also wish to consider hiring freelance consultants instead of taking on a full-time employee for fixed term projects with once-off deliverables – such as building a website or designing a brand identity for an event. In that case, make sure you know the key differences between independent contractors and employees and the relevant legal rights and obligations:

Download our FREE eBook on hiring and managing staff:
Singapore version   Hong Kong version

3. Dealing with customer complaints

Statistics from the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) in 2015 revealed the 3 industries that received the most complaints to be motorcars, electrical and electronics and the beauty industry.

It’s important to keep your customers happy. After all, they keep your business going! Inspired by Small Business BC, here are 10 tips for dealing with customer complaints to keep them on your side:

10 tips for offering good customer service

  1. Listen. Show customers that you are aware the problem and don’t be dismissive.
  2. Apologise. Rather than engaging in fault-finding, acknowledge the problem and deal with it immediately.
  3. Take them seriously. Make customers feel important and appreciated, and not laughed at or spoken down to.
  4. Stay calm. By staying calm, you’ll allow your customer to feel that you’re in control of the situation and that you can help solve their problem.
  5. Identify and anticipate needs.
  6. Suggest solutions. Have at hand a pre-determined menu of solutions that you and your employees can turn to; whether this is a refund, or vouchers that the customer can return to use in the future.
  7. Appreciate the power of “Yes”. Make doing business with you easy.
  8. Acknowledge your limits. At the same time, be upfront when you are unable to fulfill their requests and ensure that you can keep your promises to your customers.
  9. Be available. Identify key pain points and situate information on avenues for help there.  
  10. Get regular feedback. Provide avenues for your customers to offer feedback, whether as an online form or a targeted customer satisfaction survey.    Tweet this

4. Marketing your business online

Technology has presented businesses today with whole new ways to market themselves. This however poses its own challenges:

Customer expectations have changed and competition is no longer local but now global. Deciding on an effective marketing method with the most return on investment can be difficult, especially when faced with little budget and resources. While channels like social media are free to set up, it can take time to build up an online community. The same goes for blogging. Other forms of advertising, while quick to scale, can be expensive.

So which marketing channels are best for SMEs? This article lists a variety of ways you can start marketing your business online. 

Source: Slides from Doing Business Online – Legal Academy by Dragon Law

 

The key is to employ a mix of marketing tactics. Based on HubSpot’s inbound marketing methodology, visitors pass through a purchasing funnel before they are converted into customers. HubSpot also produces a tonne of (free!) and useful resources for sales and marketing – which the team at Dragon Law absolutely loves!

Learn more about Doing Business Online. Download our free eBook:

5. Rising costs & competition

Running a business in hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore can be a challenge with the high overheads and strong competition. The rising cost of office rental, as well as increased cost of production, has squeezed the profit margin for small businesses.

Thankfully, there are ways to manage costs even in expensive cities like Hong Kong and Singapore. While co-working spaces are often associated with startups and tech entrepreneurs, SMEs who use co-working spaces agree that it may be a more cost-effective alternative to rented office space. Co-working provides you with the flexibility to scale the size of your operations up or down rapidly, and allow frequent review of your terms of stay more frequently than traditional, fixed leasing arrangements.

Read more: Co-working Space Terms of Use

As members of spaces like The Working Capitol, The Hub and Paperclip, you also stand to benefit from the community events and education workshops they host, such as Dragon Law’s Legal Academy. 

6. Protecting ideas and commercial assets

Intellectual property (IP), which comprises of trade marks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets, is a core business asset. Yet, SME owners neglect to properly protect their IP rights as they are daunted by the application process, and often are unaware of what needs be protected. As a result, SMEs run the risk of having their ideas stolen. 

Whenever your business develops intangible human creations, it is key that you protect your creations. Your business has information that should remain private, such as your customer database, financial information, and new business ideas. A Confidentiality Agreement (or Non-disclosure Agreement) is your first line of defence to protecting this information. This legal document creates a confidential relationship between your business and any contractors, employees, and other business partners who might get a behind-the-scenes look at your operations.

Additional reading: Download our free eBook on Protecting Your Trade Mark

7. Dealing with regulation and staying up-to-date

While Hong Kong and Singapore are provide relatively easy environments for conducting business, it is important that you stay up-to-date with the latest updates to laws, acts, and regulation that may impact the way you run your business.

Legislation changes frequently; and by being unaware of the latest developments, you put your business at risk.

This is especially true for SMEs who are looking to expand overseas, where it can be challenging to fully grasp the relevant legal and taxation requirements are in other marketsin the host country.

Read: International Growth: Getting it Right

This is why most business owners choose to engage in-country experts to help navigate bureaucracy and other administrative hurdles. This inevitably raises expansion costs. In addition, a potential pitfall that entrepreneurs make is putting too much attention into overzealous expansion and neglecting the home market.

One solution is to cut costs by reducing dependency on external providers, or automating certain tasks with the help of technology. Online tools such as Dragon Law allow businesses in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and New Zealand to self-service legal work while saving time and money in the process.

These documents are localised for use in their respective jurisdictions and because it is all online, you will have the ability to, from wherever you’re based, administer the documents you require for expanding into other countries.

8. Time management

As a business owner, you wear multiple hats in your organisation. Did you know that almost 9 in 10 Singapore SMEs lose focus on long-term business goals as a result of being to caught up in day-to-day business operations?

A natural solution to the perpetual time crunch is to employ technology to automate basic tasks. According to a Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) survey, more than 70% of Singapore’s SMEs are applicants of the various government assistance schemes in Singapore. One key business area where SMEs can afford to save time and money is legal. Legal technology has emerged in Asia as a newer and more cost-effective solution for SMEs to meet their legal needs.

Our cloud software enables fast production of custom documentation which will help your business improve efficiency, accuracy and compliance.

Dragon Law is used by 5,000 small and medium-sized businesses, general counsels, law firms and business advisors and that number is growing at 20% every month. Join the new face of business law – as a Dragon Law subscriber, you can:

  • Access any of our 500 existing business documents and customise them to your specific needs, and
  • Choose to automate any of your frequently used documents and save a few hours each week.

Contact us to learn how you can manage legal at the fraction of the time, cost, and complexity.

No credit card required.