The 5 biggest mistakes new businesses in Singapore make (and how to avoid them) 

Even on a competitive global stage, Singapore is an increasingly attractive business hub. With its culturally diverse and ambitious workforce and conducive regulatory environment for entrepreneurs, Singapore’s reputation as one of the most business-friendly countries in the world is well-deserved. 

However, there are a few common mistakes businesses tend to make in Singapore that can jeopardise their chances of long-term success. In this post, we will discuss the five biggest mistakes new businesses in Singapore make—and how to avoid them.  

By understanding and avoiding these common pitfalls, new businesses in Singapore can set themselves up for success and take advantage of the many resources and opportunities available. 


Mistake #1: Failing to understand the market  

The market in Singapore is small but highly competitive. New businesses must do sufficient research and make local connections to understand consumer behaviour and preferences. For example, Singaporeans value convenience and efficiency, which has directly contributed to the rise of e-commerce platforms like Lazada and Shopee.  

Businesses should also consider Singapore’s multicultural society, which includes a diverse range of languages and customs. Products, services, and marketing efforts must be tailored accordingly to resonate with their intended audience. Note that the local and multinational markets in Singapore are different, so be clear about which you are targeting and adjust your approach accordingly. 


Mistake #2: Neglecting your online presence 

Consumers across the globe rely heavily on the internet for research and purchasing decisions, and Singapore is no exception. According to a 2022 joint survey by We Are Social and Hootsuite, Singapore has one of the highest percentages of social media users relative to the population with 89.5%. Another 2022 study, this one by PwC, found that 34% of consumers in Singapore have switched to buying products online vs. in-store.  

Such high levels of online engagement make digital branding a significant factor in the e-commerce industry. Businesses in Singapore must invest in their online presence to increase visibility and attract customers. They can also take advantage of government grants and schemes like the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) and the Digital Resilience Bonus (DRB) to offset the costs of implementing digital solutions. 


Mistake #3: Underestimating the importance of networking 

Singapore has a strong business community with many opportunities for networking and collaboration. New businesses can benefit from joining industry associations and attending events to establish connections and learn from experienced professionals. For example, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) provides a platform for businesses to connect with government agencies and other Singapore-based organisations.  

Those who prioritise networking can strengthen business contacts, form new connections, and receive mentorship from established businesses in the area. 


Mistake #4: Ignoring the legal and regulatory framework 

Singapore has a well-developed legal and regulatory framework that businesses must adhere to. Understanding the implications of these regulations for your company is essential. Some important regulations include the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), which regulates the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data; and the Employment Act, which outlines minimum employment standards for employers.  

All businesses should also understand their tax obligations, such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Corporate Income Tax (CIT). The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) provides resources and guidance on tax compliance. 


Mistake #5: Lacking a solid business plan 

A solid business plan is essential for new businesses in Singapore to secure funding and make informed decisions. The specifics will depend on the stage of your company and its goals, but every plan should include the following components:  

  • Executive summary outlining the vision, mission, and short- and long-term goals 
  • Description of the business 
  • Market analysis (including competitors) 
  • Overview of key personnel and roles 
  • Description of products or services 
  • Marketing strategy and sales plan 
  • Funding details or request for funding 
  • Financial projections, including profit and loss statements and balance sheet projections, if available 


In addition to outlining business goals and financial projections, businesses should consider how they can take advantage of government grants and schemes. For example, the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) provides funding support for firms to adopt innovative technologies and expand overseas. The Startup SG program also provides funding and mentorship support for new startups in Singapore. 

Need a local presence in Singapore to help you get started? Get in touch with our team today. You have your zone of genius, and we have ours—helping businesses expand into new markets and scale in a global economy. 

Share this post

Book a free consultation

Choose your location

Click on your location to visit your local Monx site.

Choose your location

Click on your location to visit your local Monx site.