Starting a Business in Singapore

A short guide on what you need to start your entrepreneurial journey

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You might have hit on a great business idea, or decided it was time to follow your heart as an entrepreneur. Whatever the reason, an increasing number of Singaporeans are looking to become their own boss. Here's a short five-step guide on what you need to start your entrepreneurial journey.

1. How do I write a business plan?

You've got a great idea for a business, but the entrepreneurs can't survive on ideas alone. The first step to making your dream a reality is to put down a plan of action.

The business plan acts as a detailed roadmap of how you're going to get that cafe up and running, or to get your app available for download. Among other things, it should state your business goals, reasons they are attainable, financing needs and marketing plans. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals.

The good news is that it doesn't have to be a lengthy document to start with - just put in the essentials of your plan, and you can add to it as your business grows.

The focus of your business plan may also change over time depending on your use for it. For example, if you intend to use it to raise funds then you'll have to focus very carefully on the management, financial aspects and growth potential of your company.

2. Which business structure should I choose?

There are five different types of structures you can choose from when starting a business. Which one you settle on depends on a number of factors, and you should choose the structure that best meets your needs.

To determine what those are, ask yourselves the following questions:

  • How much capital are you prepared to invest?
  • How many owners will there be in the business?
  • What liabilities and responsibilities are you prepared to assume?
  • What risks are you prepared to take?
  • Will a company of that particular structure be easy to close?

Types of Business Structures

Sole Proprietorship

A business owned by a single person or company. The sole-proprietor has absolute say in the running of the business.


Not more than 20 partners. Once there are more than 20 partners, the partnership must be registered as a company under the Companies Act, Chapter 50. It will then have its own legal personality i.e. rights to own properties, has perpetual succession and can sue or be sued in its own name. It usually has the words 'Pte Ltd' or 'Ltd' as part of its name.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

Gives owners the flexibility of operating as a partnership while having a separate legal identity like a private limited company.

The partners of the LLP will not be held personally liable for any business debts incurred by the LLP. A partner may, however, be held personally liable for claims from losses resulting from his own wrongful act or omission, but will not be held personally liable for such wrongful acts or omissions of any other partner of the LLP.

Limited Partnership (LP)

Consists of a minimum of two partners, with at least one general partner and at least one limited partner. An LP does not have a separate legal entity from the partners.

Source: ACRA

3. What Grants Are Available for SMEs?

Singapore is often ranked as one of the easiest places to do business in, and one of the reasons for that is the large number of grants, goverment assistant schemes, and SME loan for new business.

Many of these schemes are offered by government agency SPRING, and can be used to fund everything from developing skills and boosting innovation to developing new products and expanding overseas.

There is a Startups Grant from ACE, a private sector-led movement for entrepreneurs. The grant helps fund Singaporeans starting their first enterprise.

4. Where and How do I Register my Business in Singapore?

You can register your business in Singapore by submitting an application online using ACRA's BizFile service.

Login to BizFile using your identification number and SingPass to submit an online transaction. You can do this using your own computer, at CitizenConnect Centres located at Community Centres or at one of ACRA’s BizFile Kiosks at its premises.

You can also choose to engage the services of a professional firm such as a lawyer, accountant or chartered secretaries to submit the online application on your behalf.

It takes around 15 minutes to incorporate a company s after the registration fee is paid. However, it may take between 14 days to two months if the application needs to be referred to other authorities for approval or review.

ACRA will issue your business a Business Registration Number (BRN) which serves as a unique identifier (just like your NRIC) of your business.

5. What now after I have my BRN?

Congratulations on the incorporation of your business! You will now need a corporate account to aid you in the daily operations of your business.

Skip the branch and take just five minutes to apply for a DBS Corporate Account online. There are no monthly fees plus you get FREE access to DBS IDEALTM (corporate internet banking) and more.

Click here for the best SME digibank.

Receive SGD payments quickly with MEPS payment.



Apply for a DBS Corporate Account Online Now

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