Starting and running a business can be a lonely and treacherous journey, filled with challenges ranging from obtaining licences and permits, navigating manpower and technology, to marketing. Product Lead for GoBusiness, GovTech Singapore, Simon Ang shares some insights.
In the past, this journey was really complex, with business owners or their employees needing to visit numerous government and third-party sites to gather information about what is required of them. Some even took to hiring consultants to guide them through this process!
We did not want excessive friction dealing with government processes to be the stumbling block why aspiring entrepreneurs are not able to bring their visions to life. This is why we created GoBusiness, a one-stop platform for businesses to interact more seamlessly with the government. GoBusiness helps to eliminate confusion by having business owners visit just one platform to have all their regulatory matters sorted out, thereby helping them save both time and money.
A guide for those starting out
As the Chinese saying goes, “万事起头难” which means, when translated, that the beginning is often the hardest part of the journey. This definitely rings true for entrepreneurs, who from the onset will need to navigate a maze of permits, licences, operation procedures, marketing, manpower and more.
This is why we designed a Start-up Guide on GoBusiness, which covers a range of tips from how to choose a business structure, to manoeuvring through to the basics of corporate finances like opening a bank account; the guide serves as a step-by-step manual to bring aspiring entrepreneurs through the administrative legwork of starting their very first business.
In our interactions with aspiring entrepreneurs or new business owners, one of the biggest pain points we discovered was the process of acquiring the necessary licences and permits, without which, businesses cannot even begin operating. Recently, we saw the example of a cafe needing to shut down as they did not have the necessary licences to operate an F&B operation.
It is with this in mind that we introduced an e-Adviser that informs entrepreneurs about the licences and permits they will need to begin operations, categorised by respective industries.
Apart from information gathering, we also wanted to make the application process as seamless as possible. Rather than having businesses visit different agency pages to apply for different permits and licences, we consolidated them under the GoBusiness Dashboard. Through this Dashboard, businesses can apply, track the application status, amend, renew, or cancel these licences and permits from a single platform.
A walkthrough of how to navigate the GoBusiness Dashboard
These features can save new entrepreneurs the time and pain of figuring things out on their own, and possibly even running the risk of violating government regulations. Instead, they can now focus their time on growing their fledgling businesses.
The extra boost for business growth
For more established businesses, the next step would be to think about capturing new market share either locally or overseas, coming up with new products and services, automating work processes, among others. All of these would require additional resources and funding, not forgetting that they still need to keep the business running at the same time!
With core inflation hitting decade-long highs this year and high interest rates persisting, we understand that businesses may be struggling to maintain their bottom line, much less drive business growth.
In response, the Singapore government announced several enhanced government assistance during Budget 2023 to support businesses. But compiling information about which scheme businesses are eligible for can be complicated and time-consuming.
This is where the GoBusiness e-Adviser for Government Assistance comes in. It was designed to recommend appropriate and relevant government assistance programmes to businesses. All entrepreneurs have to do is fill in a few simple questions about the type of assistance they require and information about their business, and the e-Adviser will generate a list of subsidies, schemes and assistance they are eligible for, with the steps to apply for these.
Another challenge for growing businesses is the talent shortage, particularly in industries like IT. To address this, we partnered SkillsFuture Singapore to launch the SkillsFuture for Enterprise feature, which provides a step-by-step guide about how businesses can begin their employee upskilling journey. This can help retain employees, fill the organisation’s skill gaps and attract more candidates.
Making an impact
Starting and running a business isn’t just about financial profit. Many entrepreneurs are in it not just to make a quick buck, but rather, to make an impact on the world.
One way they can do so is by supporting Singapore’s progressive wage journey, which seeks to uplift lower-wage workers in sectors like security, cleaning and landscaping.
Singapore introduced the Progressive Wage Mark accreditation as a way to do this, with employers who pay progressive wages being recognised for their efforts and contribution to social good.
At Singapore Business Federation’s (SBF) Information Sharing Sessions, the GoBusiness team has had the pleasure of hearing from many business owners and employers keen to learn more about the Progressive Wage Mark. We are heartened by the show of support for this initiative and excited to continue working with SBF.
GoBusiness Product Manager speaking with business owners and employers at SBF’s PW Mark Info Sharing Session
I started this piece by highlighting how lonely the journey of entrepreneurship can be, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Being connected to a network of like-minded individuals and having easy access to support and help are invaluable to any entrepreneur’s journey.
We will continue to partner associations like SBF to connect with businesses on the ground to understand their needs and challenges. To that end, we will continue to co-create ways that can help us better serve them in the years to come.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, business owner or employee, we at GoBusiness would love to be a part of your journey. You can find all the resources I mentioned above on our website. If you have any feedback or suggestions, do reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We always love hearing from our users.
Last but not least, I wish all of you continued success in your business journeys!