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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Starting A Business - Are You Ready?

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Starting A Business - Are You Ready?
Starting your own business is a huge step – it can be rewarding but it is also full of challenges. Do you have the attitude, skills and finances to transform your business idea into reality? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Read on to decide if you are ready to start and run a business.
Use the Business Start-Up Guide - Self-Assessment Checklist to find out if you are ready to start a business.
Business Stages - Plan
Are you ready to be an entrepreneur? Understand the challenges of starting a business and develop a plan to help you decide if it has a realistic chance of success.
Starting your own business is a huge step – it can be rewarding but it is also full of challenges. Do you have the attitude, skills and finances to transform your business idea into reality? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Read on to decide if you are ready to start and run a business.
Here is a checklist of the basic areas you should cover before starting a business. The list is not exhaustive; you also may not necessarily complete the items in the sequence shown.
Being aware of your own motivations for starting a business is critical to your journey.
You have assessed that you are ready for entrepreneurship. What business should you go into?
By gathering and analysing consumer and economic data, you can understand the market you are planning to enter.
Gauge the feasibility of your idea by researching the market, taking stock of the competitive landscape and testing the idea with customers.
Your business plan is your blueprint for the future. It documents what your business is all about. It is also an essential requirement for obtaining external funding.
Do you have the crucial “Vitamin M”? Choosing the right type of financing is critical to the ongoing success of your business.
Businesses of all sizes can benefit from careful planning. Here are 5 steps to consider before starting your business.
The entrepreneurial journey can be a lonely one. Do not be afraid to seek help and advice. The Government provides a wide range of information and support, from how to register your business to funding assistance.


Being aware of your own motivations for becoming an entrepreneur and starting a business is critical to your journey. It is what drives you when the going gets tough and will often determine your priorities and the decisions you make both for yourself and your business.
  • desire for control and independence
  • more freedom and time
  • increasing your earning potential
  • not able to get a job
  • doing something you are interested in or passionate about

Mindset & Attitude

Adopting the right mindset will help you greatly with your transition into entrepreneurship. Many entrepreneurs have succeeded because they have the right attitude towards the challenges and problems they face.
  • I will have to deal with challenges on a daily basis
  • I will not be afraid to make mistakes
  • Failure is just part of the process – what can I learn from this?
  • I will be adaptable and flexible because change is the only constant
  • I will be realistic, especially when it comes to my financials
  • I will be prepared to get out of my comfort zone and do what does not come naturally, like networking, giving presentations in front of hundreds of strangers, or cold-calling
Do you believe that these are true? If not, you might want to start thinking about incorporating these mantras into your belief system.

Personal Characteristics

Starting, running and sustaining a successful business will require a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears. Do you have what it takes? Are you aware of your strengths and weaknesses?
There is no such thing as the “perfect” entrepreneurial profile, but there are some characteristics that many successful entrepreneurs have in common, such as:
  • passion
  • discipline
  • stamina
  • persistence
  • courage
  • determination
  • drive
  • appetite for risk
  • “can-do” attitude
  • initiative
  • creativity
  • good instincts
  • willingness to work hard
  • vision


In addition to having competent technical skills in your chosen trade, it will help greatly if you have:
  • leadership skills
  • good people skills
  • financial knowledge
  • sales and marketing knowledge and experience


Starting a business will be one of the most stressful things you will do in your life. Do you have support from your spouse, family and friends?
They need to understand the hard work you need, and support you when you have to work long hours or miss that family event. Communicate needs and expectations regularly.


Are you financially prepared? Taking care of the financial aspects of both your personal and professional life will be the key to the success or failure of your business venture.
  • Do you have at least 6 - 12 months of savings to tide you till you are able to draw a salary or turn a profit?
  • Do you have heavy financial commitments like a mortgage, car loans, children’s education needs and medical expenses? If so, do you have a sound financial plan in place to handle these?
  • Are you prepared to cut down on your expenses and be more frugal?
  • Is your personal credit history in shape? This will be important if you need to access credit facilities or borrow money.

Common Mistakes

Beware of common mistakes:
  • unrealistic business and revenue plan
  • spending too much on set-up cost and inventory
  • not controlling cash-flow
  • under-pricing or over-pricing
  • not seeking advice from experts like lawyers, accountants
  • not understanding your legal and tax obligations
Use our Self-Assessment Checklist to assess and evaluate your potential as an entrepreneur. In the process, you might just get to know yourself better, and better prepare yourself for the journey of entrepreneurship.

Business Stages
All businesses go through successive stages of development. Whether you’re starting out or running a profitable business, get an overview of each stage’s unique characteristics and the key areas to focus on.
Are you ready to be an entrepreneur? Understand the challenges of starting a business and develop a plan to help you decide if it has a realistic chance of success.
Take care of the basics first – registration, funding, premises - then comply with licences and laws. You may want to plan for staff hires and tax payments or protect your assets
Consider long-term strategies to take it to the next level - expand the business, grow your team, improve processes or get more investors.

SPRING Singapore

SPRING Singapore is an agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry responsible for helping Singapore enterprises grow and building trust in Singapore products and services. As the enterprise development agency, SPRING works with partners to help enterprises in financing, capability and management development, technology and innovation, and access to markets. As the national standards and accreditation body, SPRING develops and promotes an internationally-recognised standards and quality assurance infrastructure. SPRING also oversees the safety of general consumer goods in Singapore.

Our Mission and Vision

 SPRING Singapore
New SME Definition and Launch of New Online Tools and E-Services

New SME Definition

1. From 1 April 2011, small and medium-sized enterprises in Singapore will be defined as businesses with annual sales turnover of not more than $100 million or employing no more than 200 staff. Currently, SMEs are defined as enterprises with fixed asset investments of $15 million and below for those in manufacturing, and employment size of 200 and below for non-manufacturing enterprises1.

2. Mr Png Cheong Boon, Chief Executive, SPRING Singapore, said, “The new definition reflects the changing economic landscape and diversified profile of businesses where tangible fixed asset may not adequately reflect the size or stage of development of a company. It helps us to better focus and allocate relevant resources, including grants to assist the SMEs. By using sales turnover or employment, we are also more aligned with global practices and this facilitates benchmarking."

3. The new definition comes after SPRING conducted an extensive review of global benchmarks and consulted various stakeholders. It was found that while the guidelines vary in the Asia-Pacific and European countries, sales turnover and employment size were commonly used to define SMEs. 

4. SMEs can also look forward to more help with the launch of an online productivity assessment tool and two e-services to alert them to government procurement opportunities and to find suitable business premises. 

Online IMPACT Assessment Tool

5. The Integrated Management of Productivity Activities (IMPACT) is an assessment tool that helps an SME to diagnose its productivity performance and pin-point the gaps to address. A new interactive version of the assessment tool is now available on the Productivity@Work website at the EnterpriseOne portal (www.enterpriseone.gov.sg). 

6. SMEs will be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses in productivity management, benchmark against companies in the same industry, identify productivity improvement areas, and develop an actionable road map to improve productivity. Being an online tool, SMEs can perform their own assessment anytime at their convenience. 

7. To date, about 120 SMEs have conducted IMPACT assessments through the five Enterprise Development Centres (EDCs) and via SPRING's SME Management Action for Results (SMART) initiative. 

8. At least 1,000 enterprises are expected to use the online assessment tool annually. 

9. Besides the IMPACT assessment, the Productivity@Work website launched on 1 June 2010 provides a rich source of information on productivity concepts, tools to upgrade productivity, relevant government assistance schemes and case studies on productivity. To date, about 45,000 unique visitors have used the website.

GeBIZ Alerts Saves SMEs Time and Effort

10. SMEs can now also benefit from two new e-services available at the EnterpriseOne portal. The first e-service is GeBIZ Alerts, which alerts subscribers to bids posted on GeBIZ. GeBIZ is Singapore’s government procurement portal. Annually, more than 67,000 projects worth about $15.5 billion are procured through this portal. Currently, companies have to monitor the GeBIZ website regularly to seek out government tenders and ITQs. GeBIZ Alerts will save them time and resources by pushing customised information on government procurements to them. Some 30,000 companies will benefit from this alerts service. For the government, this means more bids may be received, thereby increasing the choice of selection.

BizMap Helps SMEs Search for Suitable Premises

11. The second e-service is BizMap which makes it convenient for companies to search online for properties for rent or lease from government agencies such as the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and Singapore Land Authority (SLA), based on location, rental rates, size and property types. The search results are displayed in an interactive map for easy reference. Currently, companies have to go to different government agencies’ websites to look up and compare rental rates. Now, BizMap enables them to quickly locate suitable premises in the best locations at the most competitive costs, all at one website. Annually, for example, there are over a million searches for HDB and SLA-owned properties for rent. 

12. The two new e-services are joint efforts of EnterpriseOne and various government agencies such as the Infocomm Development Authority, the Defence Science and Technology Authority, SLA and HDB. 

13. These announcements were made at the third annual EDC Conference. It is organised jointly by the EDCs located at the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, the Singapore Manufacturers’ Federation, the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry. With the theme “Go, Grow and Globalise – Building Capabilities”, this year’s conference focuses on strategies to build resilience, strengthen capabilities and achieve higher productivity. About 400 participants attended this free conference.

1 Non-manufacturing sectors includes services, construction, agriculture & fishing, utilities etc..

Click here for the Fact Sheet on New SME Definition
Click here for the Fact Sheet on IMPACT, GeBIZ Alerts and BizMa

Enterprise Development

SPRING is the enterprise development agency for growing innovative companies and fostering a competitive SME sector. We develop an environment for enterprise growth, nurture innovative start-ups, develop key industry clusters, and grow dynamic and innovative growth-oriented enterprises.

Together with industry associations and partners, SPRING serves enterprises from a range of industry sectors to develop industry-wide infrastructure, develop and upgrade capabilities and create new market opportunities.

Our assistance in 5 main areas to help SMEs grow and globalise :


Self-help guides on :


$5,000 Innovation & Capability Voucher (ICV) supports SMEs to take their first step towards capability.

Consultancy Projects

  • Productivity improvements
  • Human resources development
  • Financial management
  • Innovation


The supportable cost categories include :
  • Equipment & hardware
  • Technical solutions
  • Professional services
  • Design & renovation

Tax Incentive

Productivity & Innovation Credit (PIC) provides 400% tax deduction of up to $400,000 or 60% cash grant up to $100,000 expenses in productivity improvements and innovation. Covering six areas :
  • Acquisition or leasing of PIC IT and automation equipment
  • Training
  • Acquisition and in-licensing of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)
  • Registration of selected IPRs
  • Research & Development
  • Approved design projects


Capability Development Grant (CDG) supports up to 70%* of the cost of productivity improvements and capability development that will result in greater enterprise competitiveness and business growth.

* SPRING’s enhanced funding support of up to 70% would be effective for three years until 31 March 2015.


Govt-backed loans for working capital, trade financing and equipment financing, offered through participating financial institutions.


SPRING works closely with the financial services sector to catalyse financing programmes for SMEs. We aim to make available more options for SMEs at each stage of their growth.

Micro Loan Programme (MLP)


Loans of up to $100,000 for local SMEs with 10 or less employees.
Use of FundsFor daily operations or for automating and
upgrading factory and equipment
Maximum Loan Quantum$100,000
Interest Rate* Minimum 5.50% interest rate for loan tenure of 4 years and below.
Subject to Participating Financial Institutions’ assessments of risks involved.


You may apply for a Micro Loan if your company meets these criteria :
  • registered or incorporated in Singapore
  • company has 10 or less employees OR has annual sales not exceeding S$1 million
  • at least 30% local shareholding
  • company's Group Annual Sales of not more than S$100 million OR company's Group Employment Size of not more than 200*
Annual sales turnover and employment size will be computed on a group basis.
(i.e All levels up for corporate shareholders holding >50% of total shareholding of the applicant company and any subsequent corporate parents, and subsidiaries all levels down)

Enhancement to MLP for Companies less than 3 years old

The MLP has been enhanced to make loans more accessible to young companies. The Government has increased the risk-share in the MLP and companies must be less than 3 years old to be eligible for this enhancement.

List of Participating Financial Institutions (PFI)

Contact Numbers
DBS Bank Ltd1800 222 2200
Malayan Banking Berhad1800 629 2265
Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd6538 1111
RHB Bank Berhad1800 323 0100 /
6225 3111
The Bank of East Asia Ltd6602 7848 /
6602 7849
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd1800 216 9008 /
6216 9008
United Overseas Bank Ltd1800 226 6121
Finance Company
Contact Numbers
Hong Leong Finance Ltd1800 3388 338
Other Financial Institutions
Contact Numbers
Ethoz Capital Ltd6654 7799
IFS Capital Ltd6270 7711
ORIX Leasing Singapore Ltd6339 3622
^ Please note that Micro Loan may be subject to banks' credit approval

How to apply?

Before you apply

  1. Ensure that your business qualifies for the loan.
  2. Consult your banker or one of the Micro Loan Participating Financial Institutions. They will be able to give you professional advice and also assist your application.
  3. Prepare the supporting documents if your bank requires them :
    • a copy of your business profile from ACRA
    • audited accounts or certified financial statements
    • bank statements
    • personal income tax assessment of owners and directors
  4. Meet with your banker or financial institution. Bring the supporting documents for the meeting.

Applying for Micro Loan

  1. Download the application form and the application form guide. Find out from the lender what supporting documents you need to attach.
  2. Submit the Application Form with the supporting documents.
  3. Wait 3 weeks for the bank or financial institution to reply. Processing of applications may be longer depending on the size of the loan and other factors.

Upon successful application

  1. Receive funds from the bank or financial institution.
  2. Keep proper records of repayments. Repayments start 1 month after disbursement of the loan.
  3. Ensure you make repayments on time.

Performance Indicators

We define small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in terms of their annual sales turnover and number of employees.
  • Enterprises with annual sales turnover of not more than S$100 million OR
  • Enterprises with employment size of not more than 200 workers
Today, 99% of all enterprises in Singapore are SMEs. They employ seven out of every 10 workers, and contribute nearly half of national GDP.

Enterprise Development Indicators

Outreach to SMEs
Financial Programmes for SMEs
Capability Upgrading Projects Supported

Quality and Standards Indicators

Quality & Standards Indicators


Financial Programmes for s Me s



Loan to kickstart your business plan

Do you need financial assistance to start up/expand your business?
Do you worry about the need for collaterals, and you don't have any?
Do you have an actionable plan that you can confidently execute?

Depending on your business needs, MCBS allows you to borrow from S$3,000 to S$50,000 with affordable interest rates of between 8%-12%; depending on the repayment tenure, to kickstart your business plan.

Better control of your finances

Are you concerned about monitoring or missing your repayments?
Are you concerned about payments when your business has not started?

Spread your loan over fixed bi-weekly installments of up a maximum of 120 months*. You can have peace of mind on starting your business. Repayments can start when your business has commenced.
* Subject to loan size and the merits of your business case.

Additional resources to assist you in business planning

Do you need an independent view of your business plan?
Do you need more insights to running a business?


- The Applicant must be Singaporean.
- The Applicant must be 18 years old and above.
- The Applicant’s gross annual income must not be more than S30,000 per annum.
- The Applicant has no adverse credit history.
  1. -The Applicant has a sound business plan.
  2. -Applicant's business must either be registered as a Sole proprietor or Partnership.
  3. -Where the Applicant is a Partnership, it should not have more than two partners.

At MCBS, we will assist you in evaluating your business case to ensure its soundness and feasibility. We will also arrange training prior to the loan approval to equip your with the basic skills of running a business.

MicroCredit Business Scheme - Business Loan

MicroCredit Business Scheme
 you have a business plan, we want to help you turn it into a reality. Together with MicroCredit Business Scheme Programme Office, POSB would like to give you the head start to success with the MicroCredit Business Scheme (MCBS).
Loan to kickstart your business plan
Depending on your business needs, MCBS allows you to borrow from S$3,000 to S$50,000 with affordable interest rates of 8% - 12%, depending on the loan amount, to kickstart your business plan.
Better control of your finances
Spread your loan over fixed fortnightly installments of up to 120 months, depending on the loan amount. With a defer period of up to 6 months from the date of loan disbursement, you only need to start your repayment after that, giving you peace of mind to focus on starting up your business first.
Additional resources to assist you in business planning
MicroCredit Business Scheme Programme Office will also assist you in evaluating your business case to ensure its soundness and feasibility. You will also get to attend a training workshop prior to the loan approval to equip yourself with the basic skills of running a business.


NationalitySingaporeans only
Age18 years old and above
Income requirementNo income or currently earning less than S$30,000 per annum

Product Features

MCBS Loan Tenures and Interest Rates
TenureEffective Interest Rate Per Annum
1 - 5 years8%
6 - 8 years10%
9 - 10 years12%
Interest Calculation
Interest is computed on a monthly reducing basis and is based on 365 days
Repayment Terms
The loan repayments will be on a fortnightly basis
Late Fee
Late payment penalty of $20 is applicable for late payment

  Credit Cards Offer Online

Risks of Credit Cards to a Small Business Owner

Credit cards have various benefits that come with them. This is because they help people in keeping track of their expenditures. Small business owners also enjoy the benefits of having credit cards.

As much as they help them to track their financial expenditure they also have some drawbacks that make them serve as a disadvantage rather than an advantage. It can be somewhat risky for small business owners to operate with credit cards.

Here are some risks of credit cards to a small business owner.

A Bit Expensive

Credit cards for a small business owner can be a bit expensive. This is due to the high interest charged. The interest charged by credit cards is usually higher than a normal bank loan. This is very disadvantageous to small business owners since they have to pay for the extra interest charged.


The credit cards are a bit insecure in a working environment. Card details can be gotten easily by employees or any other person who comes into contact with the card. This could lead to online fraud or identity theft. It is important to note that credit cards for business are risky and caution should be taken when handling credit cards in a working environment.

Fluctuating Interest Rates

There is a risk of credit cards to a small business owner since the interest rate is not fixed. This means that the company providing the credit card can adjust the interest rate depending on how the card is used.

Personal Liability

The owner must supply a social security number when applying for the credit card. This means that the owner will be held personally responsible for the debt. It is not the business which will pay for the debt but the business owner meaning that even if the business goes to extinction, the owner will still have to pay for the debt.

From the above, it is clear there are risks of getting a credit card as a small business owner. The above risks should be taken seriously for those who want to apply for business credit cards.

Starting your business

Our Business ToolBox has a selection of handy information and tools to help set up your new business.

Get a head start with our practical Business Guides

We want your business to thrive. We understand that you need to invest time in planning your operations and determining your vision. This will help you decide where you want to take your business it in the short, medium and long term as well as how to get the most out of the resources you have.
Our Business Guides provide advice for starting a successful business.
They also cover a range of topics including:
  • Planning, people, cash flow, growth, investments and expanding into e-business
  • How to conduct your own free business health check
  • Understanding business better, so you can take your business where you want it to go.
The How to start a business guide covers the essentials for starting a new business. Topics include:
  • Preparing to open your business
  • Registering your business name
  • Business structure
  • Your business plan
  • Start-up and on-going costs
  • Your finance options
  • Taxation, legal and compliance checklist.
We also have information on helping you define your business vision and writing a business plan.

Growing your business

So you’ve started your own business and now it’s time to start thinking about growth. We’ve put together some effective ideas, tactics and tools to help you manage your staff, grow sales and market your business.

Getting the right banking essentials

We understand that running a business at the same time as juggling your personal commitments is tricky. To make your life easier, we want to make sure have access to the right resources.
Our Business Banking Essentials brochure covers the information needed to help keep your business running smoothly. It covers a range of ways you can better manage your cash flow and your day-to-day banking needs. It covers:
  • Transaction Accounts
  • Savings Accounts
  • Banking Access
  • Payment Solutions
  • Superannuation

Business planning and management tools

Starting your own business can be daunting. That’s why we’ve put together a range of information to make the transition from employee to employer easy. Our information includes:

Planning your business

The following sites offer tips, templates, links and other information useful when starting your new business:

Getting your business licences

The Business Licence Information Services can tell you what sort of permit, licence or registration your business will need.

State and Local Government websites

Managing your staff

Team management and tools to manage your staff

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re starting, your staff will always be one of your most important assets. Managing them effectively can ensure that your business runs efficiently.
To help you we have the following human resourcing guides:

Legal & tax advice

Need some legal or tax advice?

Expert legal and tax advice at your fingertips

Legal and tax issues can arise in almost every aspect of business. We understand that it can be expensive to get professional advice every time you have a legal or accounting query.
That's why we provide our business customers with access to free online legal and taxation advice. You get 3 free online consultations on any single issue from selected accountants and lawyers.1
  • Avoid excessive legal and accountancy fees
  • Ask any question ranging from issues affecting your business to family law
  • You'll be put in direct communication with a lawyer or accountant.

Free advice for a range of legal and taxation issues:

  • Company law
  • Business structures
  • Leases
  • Trade practices
  • Debt recovery
  • Resolving business disputes
  • Protecting business assets
  • Industrial relations.

Managing your cashflow

Managing your cashflow is critical to running a successful business. And we want to see your business flourish. To help you run things more efficiently, we’ve assembled a range of information to guide cashflow management.

Our simple, three-step approach

Cash flow affects businesses of all sizes. To look after your business’ cashflow most effectively, consider this three-step approach:

Step 1 - Cash flow planning and projection

We've got some great tools to help with cash flow forecasting. Download the cash flow forecast spreadsheet and an article on keeping on track with KPIs.

Step 2 - Getting paid sooner

Invoice promptly and actively manage your debtors to ensure payment is made in accordance with your budgetary timeline. To get more cash coming into the business you can also consider:
  • Reducing your terms of trade so you're paid sooner (e.g. offer a discount for fast payment).
  • Increasing your net profit, by either increasing your sales price or reducing your costs of sale or operating expenses.

Step 3 - Keeping the business running

There's a range of finance options to help you when cash flow is tight. Whether you are managing your everyday personal banking and day-to-day running of your business, to planning future growth, our Financing Your Business brochure takes you through finance solutions small and large for the short and long term.

How can we help?

We’re here to assist you ensure you are in control of your cashflow. To talk to us about the banking essentials that would suit your business; and finance solutions to support your business goals, drop into your local Bank of Melbourne branch or talk to our local business experts on 13 82 66.

The Detail

Conditions and fees apply. This information doesn’t take your circumstances into account. Read the terms before making a decision. All applications are subject to Bank of Melbourne’s normal lending credit approval criteria.

Report centre

Bank of Melbourne produces daily, monthly and periodic reports detailing the latest developments and trends in financial markets, the economy and in a range of industry sectors.

Economic Reports

Business Term Loan

At I-Espire Consulting, we are able to assist your company in getting additional funds for your business growth as we work closely with more than 10 different Banks and Financial Institutions. From loan amounts of as low as S$30,000 to S$1 million or more, we have the experience and track record of assisting our customers to get the working capital funds for their business expansion.
Some of the eligibility criteria that the Banks require are as follows:
  1. Is your company registered in Singapore?
  2. Do you have more than 30% local directorship?
  3. Is your company operationally active or dormant?
From our 8 years of experience in working with SME companies, we are well positioned to assist our customers in sourcing for additional banking facilities for their business.
If you would like to apply for the Business Term Loan or if you simply want to enquire with us for additional details, you may fill up the form below, and our Relationship Managers (RMs) will contact you by the next business day.

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