10 Startup secrets you need to know
Discover the hacks that can help you run a successful startup in Singapore
Credits: This article by Kimberly Lauren Wong first appeared on TheSmartLocal. Reproduced with permission.
The most formidable forces of any industry used to be the ones with the most ammunition - and by ammunition, we mean manpower and size. But those days are fast falling behind us; it takes more brains than brawn to win, and startups are bypassing the usual battle routes and taking their competition by surprise.
Just as David didn't beat Goliath through brute strength, there are hacks and shortcuts that startups use that MNCs don't - or won't - utilise. Here are some of them:
1. They empower employees with technology
Having your own direct dial-in line might make you feel like a VIP, but when you’re likely to be running around all day, ain’t nobody got time to be sitting by the landline.
That’s why many startups ditch installing them completely and converse on instant messaging chat platforms like Slack - a desktop/mobile app that reduces email clutter by tailoring conversation channels to fit projects and teams, and design projects on the go.
Older companies have "tried and trusted" ways of doing things - communicating via a certain template through email, for instance. But these are archaic. Good startups are not limited by traditions and red tapes, and allow employees to use whatever is needed to get the job done.
2. They use tech hacks for maximum efficiency
Less talk, more action.
When it comes to getting the job done, you can count on startups to cut the formalities and get right to it. After all, there aren’t layers of management to get approval from when your office is less than the size of an Olympic swimming pool, and your boss is in your visible line of sight.
Startups are so efficient at sidestepping procedures, that sometimes no actual talking is even needed in the delegation process. Email management systems like Gmail's Multiple Inboxes and Streak let you easily delegate work, manage project timelines, and monitor deliverables across departments - all from the comfort of your inbox.
3. Job scopes are built around the strengths of their employees
Just because your contract states you’re a computer engineer, doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck tending to IT matters. As it is, the startup life requires loads of flexibility and open-mindedness. Employed as a writer? Congratulations, you've just been selected to go to Hong Kong on a photojournalism assignment - thanks to your display of talent at the last office party.
Startups encourage their employees to step out of their comfort zones, and make full use of their potential. Factoring in a considerable amount of leeway for trial and error, employees are free to venture out their work bubble and dabble in their other interests, as long as it adds value to the company in one way or another.
4. They’re networking. All. The. Time.
With no strings to pull, the only way for startups to see and be seen is to throw themselves out there - singles event style, for business networking purposes. Apps like DBS BusinessClass empower and connect like-minded individuals all across Asia to form the ties that they need to propel their business to higher grounds.
The DBS BusinessClass Program also facilitates masterclass workshops and networking events to keep entrepreneurs up to date on the latest trends and helps them broaden their horizon of connections.
5. They believe in the potential of their own employees
Unlike the massive recruitment schemes or graduate programmes, otherwise known as ‘fishing nets’ cast by bigger companies; startups have seen themselves through humble beginnings in shoebox offices so additions to their team are viewed as friends, not dispensable assets.
6. They’ve got the lowdown on all the money-saving lobangs
Embracing the startup life means being ready to ride out the turbulence that comes with it - and that can mean surprising costs and months of zero-dollar bank accounts.
Tide through the tough times and don’t let the fees for falling beneath the minimum average daily balance pull you under. Look for accounts and business loans without collateral that are tailored for startups. Some, like the DBS Digital Account, have no minimum balance requirement and absolutely no fall-below fees. That said, there is a fixed account fee of $18 per month - a manageable fixed cost.
With no more worries about unexpected charges, you'll be able to invest your money more wisely, in areas that will really be bringing in the dough.
7. They fill higher positions from the inside rather than out
In startups, every contribution is taken into consideration and positions are filled from the inside - not outside. Inward-looking promotions also work wonders for employee morale, strengthening the team and allowing less potential for the toxicity of office politics.
8. They know their government grants like the back of their hand
Knowing what you are entitled to is half the battle won. And with the government being so generous in their efforts to boost entrepreneurship in Singapore, the startups that don't fully utilise them are the ones that end up falling off the face of the earth.
With support systems for everything from improving productivity to upgrading your office computers, you’ll soon be seeing the government as your fairy godmother. Under the PIC grant, you actually could get up to 60% back in cash from the government every time you buy a computer! (now reduced to 40%)
Find out more about available grants here.
9. They know where to get liquid cash before the grants kick in
Keeping your business in the green is everything, but just because government grants haven’t been reimbursed, doesn’t mean your business has to come to a standstill. Do your research and get a bridging loan like the DBS Business Capabilities Loan, your startup won’t have to waste time as a sitting duck with up to an additional $500,000 in the bank.
10. They know the importance of saving time
Deciding on the right bank is as difficult as picking your first Pokemon. The choice you make sticks with you forever, and impacts your performance in ways you wouldn’t expect. Time is money, and every second spend dilly-dallying equates to opportunity cost for other companies.
Quick thinking entrepreneurs will appreciate DBS’ 5-minute online application to set up a corporate account, completely cutting out that time-consuming branch visit. Instead, a bank officer calls you for verification, then sends a courier to pick up your signed documents. And with the right mobile app, gain access to all your banking services and make transactions round the clock with no time to lose.
Rocking the startup life
Many enterprising individuals set off on the yellow brick road to Emerald City, but only a select few survive the journey to reap their reward at its cash-filled gates. The main success indicator: a well-thought out game plan.
Proper financial planning and strategy isn’t rocket science. Banks like DBS have dedicated a great deal of their resources to helping SMEs find their footing. It doesn’t matter if you’re applying for a loan or setting up a corporate account, DBS’s efficient online and offline banking services will ensure not a single minute goes to waste.
Opening a DBS Digital Account takes only 5 minutes, and has zero fall-below fees. Additional benefits include free access to the DBS IDEAL™ corporate online banking and mobile app, and a free DBS Visa Business Advance Debit Card.
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