Even a global pandemic might not dampen the island’s prospects as a new-business hub.
March 20, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Singapore has become renowned as one of the leading global hotspots for entrepreneurial innovation. It should thus be of little surprise that budding entrepreneurs from around the world are flocking there in huge numbers to benefit from the economic climate there when they launch startups. But despite the fact that Singapore has generated a staggering degree of startup success, many business professionals and foreign investors are still totally unfamiliar with why it’s such a new-business hub in the first place.
The Perfect City-State
Some entrepreneurs have labeled Singapore the perfect city-state. This is largely because a confluence of factors, including governmental support for innovative researchers and an eager private sector ready to finance new ideas, has ensured that this island provides the ideal ecosystem for budding business owners. Let’s begin by reviewing the immense support for entrepreneurs and startups provided by the government of Singapore, whose game plan is being copied by other countries that want to foster similar economic vibrancy.
One of the primary reasons that Singapore has become a regional powerhouse when it comes to the development of technology is that the government has eagerly provided funds for researchers churning out next-generation innovations. A review of Singapore’s government support for entrepreneurs notes that nearly $30 million was set aside for the development of 5G technology, according to an announcement from the city state’s Minister for Communications and Information.
Related: The ABCs of Starting a Business Overseas
Lax regulations allowing businesses to operate somewhat freely have also enabled entrepreneurs to cut through burdensome red tape that’s too stifling in other marketplaces. International competitors who have tried to replicate Singapore’s success often find themselves incapable of producing a similar regulatory environment, demonstrating why Singapore’s unique status as an innovative hub is so rare.
This is incredibly attractive to entrepreneurs who don’t want to deal with odious, expensive regulations just as their businesses are getting started. Creating a pro-entrepreneurial environment like that of Singapore’s thus requires the ability to enable entrepreneurs to pursue their passions without bankrupting themselves. Countries that want to replicate Singapore’s success will need to do more than release an expat guide, of which there are many informative ones online; they must also pay careful attention to their regulatory environment.
The Role of Incorporation
It’s effectively impossible to understand why entrepreneurs are launching their startups in Singapore without reviewing the role of incorporation. In many countries, incorporating your business and registering it with local authorities can be extraordinarily difficult. Perhaps it’s prohibitively expensive or requires extensive documentation that many entrepreneurs aren’t ready for. In Singapore, however, registering your business with the government is quick and easy to manage, even for foreigners.
The major steps mostly have to do with selecting a name for your business, preparing the appropriate documents needed by the government and registering online in what’s usually an incredibly quick process. Singapore’s startup success isn’t just related to its regulatory framework. It also has something to do with the fact that Singaporeans have access to what’s perhaps the greatest talent pool in the world when it comes to staffing your startup with hard-working professionals.
Finding the Right Talent
Startups are flocking to Singapore because it’s incredibly easy to find the right talent for the job without having to look very far. Despite the fact that Singapore has fewer than six million people living in it, the city-state boasts a well-educated populace and excellent infrastructure that enables foreigners to make themselves comfortable. According to one report, Singapore recently claimed the title of having the best startup talent in the world, something that doubtlessly left the folks in Silicon Valley feeling envious.
Top tech talent is in short supply around the world, though, and Singapore will be hard-pressed to keep its grip on many of the extraordinarily qualified workers who’ve flocked there. Regional competitors like China and international competitors like the United States will assuredly try to lure that talent back to their own marketplaces by offering better compensation packages. If Singapore wants to retain its status as a thriving center for startups, it will need to ensure that its amazing talent pool doesn’t shrivel up and waste away.
Still, as a global hub of well-spoken travellers who are familiar and comfortable with diverse cultures, Singapore will have an upper hand. After all, talented tech workers want to spend their time around other well-educated individuals with like-minded preferences. You can find professionals from any corner of the planet in Singapore, and this fact alone will ensure its workforce remains diverse and ready to supercharge startups for the foreseeable future.
Related: What Makes Singapore a Startup Paradise
There’s no doubting that Singapore has many challenges ahead of it, including weathering economic shocks as the coronavirus continues to spread. But even a global outbreak may not be enough to strip Singapore of its status as an internationally renowned startup hub. Economic shocks generated by viral contagions are almost impossible to predict, just as it will be impossible to predict regional political developments that could alter Singapore’s geopolitical fate. Nevertheless, Singapore has done a good job insulating itself from such conflict in the past, and there are few if any reasons to believe that drastic and negative changes will occur in the next few years. In other words, we can expect entrepreneurs from around the world to keep flocking towards Singapore to launch their startups for some time to come.