An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Setting Up a Business in Singapore

September 19, 2016

 

Singapore is the place to launch a startup. Over the past decade, the number of active young companies rose from 23,000 in 2004 to 55,000 in 2014. Are you an aspiring entrepreneur who is wondering how to set up your business in Singapore? Let us take you through this process:

Registering your business in Singapore

1. Now that you have your idea that deserves a Nobel Prize, give it a name. While there are no hard and fast rules that define good business names, it’ll sure help to avoid some of these mistakes highlighted on Entrepreneur.com.

2. Determine the type of business entity e.g. sole proprietorship, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, private limited, etc. that best suits your needs. They differ in terms of the number of partners, personal exposure to financial liabilities of the business, tax obligations, ongoing administrative costs for record keeping purposes, etc.

Learn more about incorporating your business in Singapore. Download this free eBook:

Download free eBook: Incorporating Singapore

 

3. Obtain a physical location as your registered address. This can be done through selected Company Secretarial service providers and/or co-working spaces. You can even apply for a home office licence on LicenceOne if you prefer to grow your business in pyjamas from your HDB! It costs S$20 for a 5-year licence (subject to HDB/URA regulation).

4. Registering the business on BizFile is the major milestone that marks the official start of your business. At a small fee (depending on the type of company you set up), you can register your business for the period of one year. Check out ACRA’s FAQs for further details. You’ll need a SingPass for this, so if you don’t have it yet, get it here!

5. Setting up a corporate bank account involves careful consideration of the following cost factors to determine the bank and type of account that best fits your business needs:

  • Initial deposit,
  • Monthly account fees,
  • Set-up fee/BizFile search fee,
  • Security token fee,
  • Bank counter usage limitations and penalty,
  • Monthly minimum balance requirements and penalty, and
  • Cheque book charges.

6. Setup an employer’s CPF account and attend the free CPF Employer’s Classroom session to understand your CPF and Medisave contribution obligations.

Start operating as a Company

1. Setup a website on WordPress, Shopify (for eCommerce), etc.

 

 

2. Choose an ePayment solution such as Stripe, Braintree, etc.

3. Rent a co-working space where you’ll find great minds to share a beer after a hard day’s work.

Related reading: Looking for office space in Hong Kong? Here are some tips

4. If your office space is cramped, Utilise external storage providers. Documents, marketing materials, product stock take a lot of office space and reduce your working area. Just choose a storage solution with the latest technology through an app. This takes the hassle away by providing pickup and delivery services as well as paying for storage on a per item basis. Have access to all your items with one click in the app. It’s the most convenient storage solution in Singapore.

Storage solutions like BEAM offer such services (use the promo code DRAGON for a month’s free storage!).

Apply for Mentorship & Funding to Support the Business Operations

1. SPRING Singapore grants include an ACE startups grant where SPRING will match S$7 to every S$3 raised by the entrepreneur for up to S$50,000. The grant will be disbursed over 2 to 3 tranches when pre-determined milestones are reached. So get your business plan ready!

2. National Research Foundation – Early Stage Venture Fund supports Singapore-based technology startups.

3. Venture capital firms provide invaluable mentorship made possible through their deep-set industry knowledge and extensive network. Additionally, they provide funds in exchange for equity.

 

 

This a guest contribution submitted by BEAM Blogger, Isabelle Onn. 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.

More about BEAM

BEAM is a revolutionary self-storage service provider based in Singapore that empowers consumers and businesses to effectively manage their storage needs via an App.

BEAM makes self-storage convenient, cost-effective and fuss free and helps people enjoy their living and working spaces. We combine superior customer service with innovative technology to provide the best customer experience in the storage industry.

 

Beyond 2016: Technology Skills of the Future

September 16, 2016

Is your job facing disruption?

At the rate at which technology is evolving today, it crucial for professionals to keep up-to-date with the ever-changing and in-demand skill sets. This is even more true for those working in information technology-related functions.

So are there any IT skills that one should pick up now, in order to give them a headstart in this marathon that is prone to disruption? Below we list 5 IT skills that show no signs of backing down in the near future:


 

1. IT Architecture

IT architecture, as defined by the Association For All IT Architects (IASA), is the art and science of designing and delivering valuable technology strategy. In today’s technologically-driven workplace, IT architecture lays the foundation for various job roles. The term “IT architect” encompasses a relatively broad range of roles; from cloud architects to technical architects and enterprise architects. With the rapid advancements in technology, it is not surprising that IT architecture expertise will continue to be hot in demand.

2. Programming / Applications Development

Thanks to new areas of mobile technology as well as the rise of Internet of Things (IoT), demand for programmers and application developers has increased over the years. The increased adoption of mobile phones as a form of payment, or using mobile platforms for online purchases, also give rise to skills demands in related fields.

3. Business Intelligence & Analytics

Companies have been increasingly making use of data to drive key business decisions. This trend is likely to continue growing over the next few years. When it comes to data-driven initiatives, organisations are looking beyond an analytical mind: The newly crowned “Growth Hacker” also has the ability to work with the various business units to identify what data is required, where to extract it from, and package it in a manner that is easy for users to understand.

4. Mastering Robotics

Those specialising in robotics are likely to have numerous job opportunities in the near future. As work processes are fast becoming automated, skills are required to research, create, maintain and repair these “robots”. Additionally, robotics are up and coming in various unconventional industries. For instance, some robotics jobs will involve developing equipments for use in rehabilitation centres or creating and improving devices to help the handicapped.

Related reading: The latest developments in legal technology: A roundup

5. Security & Compliance

As technology and data continue to evolve, information security will continue to be highly sought after. Despite all the great opportunities arising from cloud, analytics and Big Data, all these new technologies can be emasculated if there are no robust security programs and protocols in place. Security professionals will come to play a critical role in organisations in ensuring that security is embedded in all levels.

 

This a guest contribution submitted by Gpayroll. 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.

About Gpayroll

Gpayroll is an easy to use, self-run online payroll service that will redefine and revolutionize the payroll industry. Its intuitive and automated system will help business owners focus on their core business without the hassle of managing payroll. Follow on Facebook

By The Time You Have To Look for a Lawyer, It’s Probably Already Too Late

September 13, 2016

“Prevention is better than cure,” they said.

No one fancies going to the doctor – that’s why we take vitamins. That’s why we go for health check-ups. For the same reason we purchase insurance coverage: For a peace of mind that things will be right even if they go wrong.

Yet when it comes to legal, many businesses are slow to adopt the preventative approach.

Think: Why do companies hire attorneys? Nine times out of ten it’s to do everything required to make a problem go away: Your customer is not paying; you call a lawyer. Your business partners want to take the business in a different direction; you need a lawyer.

But this mindset of engaging a lawyer only when a problem surfaces is wrong.

What if you could prevent these problems by installing certain procedures and having in place agreements that would make sure everyone is aware of their rights and obligations from the outset – wouldn’t this avoid disputes and help to manage your business more effectively?

Here’s the thing:

It takes legal expertise to meet your legal needs.
However, not ALL legal needs require hiring a lawyer.  
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Before seeking out a law firm, there are definitely some precautions you can take to minimise the occurrence and impact of legal disputes:

1)  Always own any work that is produced for you.

As your business continues to grow, you will inevitably employ more manpower for your team, or outsource some work to a freelancer. This is often where business overlook the additional step of transferring Intellectual Property (IP) ownership.

In the case of Singapore, fortunately, any IP created in the course of employment or under the terms of employment belongs to you (the employer) unless there was an agreement which states otherwise (Source: IPOS).

However, if you are hiring a freelancer:

The creator of any piece of work is made its owner under copyright law. The same applies for work done by freelancers that you engage, unless you take the additional step of transferring IP ownership to you or your company.

In other words, if you use or publish work without first receiving copyright and IP ownership, you are stealing! If the freelancer decides to claim wilful infringement and sue for damages, you may be liable to fork out more in legal fees on top of what you’ve paid for the work.

2) Put everything in writing.

This is an obvious one that many businesses continue to overlook. Many entrepreneurs put documentation on the back burner so they can “focus on the business”. But you may find yourself in a sticky situation should problems arise in the meantime.

“But that’s my good mate!” you say.

Things often don’t go according to plan in business, and you can never count on a handshake deal. No matter how much you trust your business partners, you need a written agreement to fall back on in times of dispute. Disputes also often arise from allegations of what was discussed verbally, but not established in writing.

Think about it this way: Sit down with your friend/family/business partner, get your legal documentation in place, and you will never have to put your relationship the test!

Lawyers are not pessimists; they just plan ahead to give you a way out in the worst-possible scenario.

3) Don’t use templates.

As a provider of self-service legal solutions online, we can’t stress this enough. Templates will not address specific legal needs in your specific legal situation. Templates are not localised for your specific jurisdiction. Templates may address all or none of the legal issues your business really faces – and both are not ideal.

When you go to a law firm and ask for a document to be drafted – whether a Service Agreement, Consultancy Agreement, or Confidentiality Agreement (NDA) – the lawyer will first clarify if you are the provider or recipient. The provider is the party who supplies any good(s), service(s), information or makes the promise; while the recipient, as the name suggests, is on the receiving end. This is important because it affects the form in which the contract will take, and who it favours. Templates fail to distinguish this.

Distinguishing between the provider and recipient helps set the right tone for any contract.

Start drafting your Confidentiality Agreement for free

Yes, put blindly, legal agreements are merely pieces of paper. But it is what aligns ownership and responsibility from the outset, and helps to prevent disputes in the long run. They should be finalised before there is any chance of a damaging disagreement.

It is not common practice for small businesses to set aside budgets for litigation. If you eventually have no choice but to turn to a lawyer, you will very likely be put off by the traditional model of hourly or retainer fees. How many times have you made the choice to forgo a lawsuit and absorb the loss as a “cost of doing business” or “bad debt”?

So how about get your legal documents in order to prevent that from happening in the first place? By the time you have to look for a lawyer, it’s probably already too late.

 

Thousands of businesses use Dragon Law to meet their legal needs at a fraction of the time and cost.

Start Dragon Law free trial

No minimum commitment, no credit card required.

International Growth: Getting It Right

September 12, 2016

Do you run an international company with business dealings in Asia?

Whether you are looking to set up a physical office as your Asian headquarters, or merely wish to trade and invest with others in the region, you must comply with all appropriate legal and financial requirements. Not doing so can lead to serious consequences for your firm when problems ensue.

International financial laws…

International financial regulation has developed a lot since the global banking crisis rocked the world in 2008. The industry was under enormous pressure and scrutiny, especially as millions of taxpayers ended up bailing many out. The repercussions have prevailed:

European regulators announced tougher restrictions on banker bonuses, with the UK’s financial sector undergoing further ones. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) was replaced by three separate bodies to take care of financial regulation, the safety of individual finance firms and protecting consumers.

Reforms to the wider world included Basel III, which aims to improve the banking sector’s ability to absorb risk, manage risks and strengthen their transparency. While the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed in the USA to lower risk in various parts of its financial system. Professional financial services will ensure any business you take care of meets the current financial regulations in the region it is being conducted.

…v.s. financial regulation in Asia

Financial regulations put in action across most of the world have aimed to cut back on the excesses of the past, resulting in increased compliance spending in many companies in major financial centres. In Asia, there is a limited amount of financial regulation and enforcement, along many crossovers.

This has caused numerous headaches to a lot of Western businesses working in the Asia Pacific region. In addition to the regulations set in your home country, you must also adhere to specific ones in the local environment where your business operates.

The Asian financial markets are diverse and covered by numerous regulators, meaning any international business needs to employ its own team to ensure it meets the necessary requirements. Specialists, like Withers, offer legal help and advice for businesses expanding or already working in Asia.

Volatility of the dollar

International businesses are all affected by currency conversions and hence the rate at which they fluctuate. Firms that import and export, whether for use or for trade, will be at the mercy of such volatility.

For example, a depreciating Hong Kong dollar will it cheaper to export from Hong Kong and hence, in return, more expensive to import. This can have a big impact on your business’ finances, so it is important to be aware of the current and changing rates and currency conversions.

Legal systems

Asian legal systems have a number of differences from their Western counterparts, including when it comes to business law. As a region, the legal system from country to country can also differ widely; and one must be careful not to make sweeping assumptions. Singapore and Hong Kong are the two most popular options for Western companies to incorporate as their Asian headquarters, mostly owing to the ease of doing business, minimal language barriers, high standard of living, huge government support, and availability of good talent.

 

Starting a new business?

Learn more about the 5 legal fundamentals that your business must consider:

 

Make sure you engage the right partners and/or service providers who possess solid local expertise and can provide detailed guidance on what is required – from registering a new company, to acquiring all the correct licences so your business can operate legally. Employers in Hong Kong must follow legal legislation of the country; including providing acceptable working conditions, meeting health and safety requirements and more. Read more about the essential considerations under the Employment Law here.

Taxation is another key area of compliance not to be overlooked. Tax obligations can differ from nation to nation, with more benefits being present in certain countries that make it appealing to expand your international business there. For this reason, it may be worth investigating or seeking professional advice first.

Related reading: 5 ways outsourcing can help to grow your business

Differences in business cultures

Using professional legal and financial services can also introduce your company to the local business practices that may be a result of cultural observations. There are a number of obvious differences that exist between Western and Asian business culture, including:

  • Instructions: Westerners are often direct in giving commands, whereas Asians may be less directive.
  • Punctuality: Westerners strive to be on time, if not early. Asians commonly arrive a few minutes late and then make non-business small talk before starting.
  • Challenges: Westerners usually believe it is best to tackle challenges quickly and directly, while Asians are happier to take a slower approach while trying to avoid conflict or confrontation.
  • Relationships: Westerners are less keen to form overly personal business relationships; Asians on the other hand like to build them with the long-term in mind.

These however only scratch the tip of the iceberg. There are many more cultural differences that can only be observed through spending a reasonable amount of time working and living in a specific region; and in the case of Asia, this can differ vastly from country to country. All of these are areas in which a professional legal and financial service provider can provide value-add to.

The is a guest post submitted by Alexander Honeyman, and edited by Dragon Law.

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.

Alexander Honeyman is a Financial journalist specialising in emerging markets, business law and currency exchange. MA Journalism graduate from University of Westminster, London.

Pokémon GO, Augmented Reality… and Patents

September 6, 2016

The charm of pocket monsters

In a new twist on augmented reality, Pokémon GO is currently enjoying a worldwide frenzy of popularity. This 2016 release is the ‘real world’ realisation of ‘pocket monster’ characters that first appeared in games for the Nintendo Game Boy dating back to the 1990s.

In this latest incarnation, the game characters appear on a map simulating a player’s surroundings. When a player chances upon a new ‘pocket monster’, the character is superimposed onto the camera image recorded on one’s mobile phone. It is this mix of the real and digital world that puts the game firmly in the ‘augmented reality’ (AR) category.

The Intellectual Property (IP) behind the business

Much of the technology’s patent ownership goes to American software development company, Niantic, Inc. Niantic began life within Google, but was spun out following the formation of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. According to public records, patent ownership was transferred from Google to Niantic with effect from 6 October 2015. An article in Recode explains how Google’s need to work with other developers to accelerate its growth (Nintendo in this case) might might contributed to its decision to transfer patent ownership.

The patent for Pokémon GO focuses heavily on the location-based aspects of the technology that make the game possible. The abstract from the patent reads,

“The method includes receiving, at a computing device, communication data for a plurality of players associated with the location based-game. The method further includes filtering the communication data for each player based on one or more signals associated with the respective player.”

 

Related reading: IP FAQ: How much of my process or product must be developed before I can register for a patent?

 

How this impacts future trends

The social element
The patent technically describes two outcomes we see from the consumer perspective that have contributed to the game’s success. As the New York Times points out, many games go viral overnight that cause people to coop themselves up in their homes for days; while Pokémon GO sends them out into streets and parks. Meanwhile, the social element will attract those who are otherwise ‘naturally-disinclined’ by AR.

Innovation… begins with the consumers?
We have seen in other industries how wide acceptance and familiarity of a technology in the consumer environment can accelerate ‘heavier duty’ applications of the same technology in the industrial or professional world. Video and voice call application Skype is one such example for its success in displacing enterprise instant messaging and video communications solutions.

The consumer success of AR will therefore be welcomed by all those players who are pursuing more sophisticated implementations of the technology, as it embeds the technology within the mindset of everyday users.

The rise of augmented reality
In an in-depth study on this emerging innovation space, it was noted that the number of patents containing the term ‘AR’ were growing at a much faster rate than ‘VR’ alone. It is also apparent that a ‘second wave’ of interest in the technology has been much stronger than the first wave of interest registered in the early 2000s:

Download PatSnap’s whitepaper on virtual and augmented reality here.

It also comes as no surprise that the Entertainment category, much like Pokémon GO’s overwhelming popularity, takes the lion’s share of patenting activity. Tagging closely behind are verticals Healthcare and Automotive.

Some of the biggest AR profit margins are expected to be made from industrial and enterprise applications in these verticals. However, one thing is clear – with the rise of Pokémon GO, everyone in this space is a winner.

This article is a guest contribution by patent analytics platform, PatSnap.

For a full review of innovation trends in VR and AR markets, download their free white paper, where they explore the topic in greater detail.

 

Contact claire@patsnap.com to better understand the benefits and insights you can derive from patent landscaping.