Did You Know Singapore’s Government Is Waiting On You and Your Business Venture?

First things first: Singapore has a foreigner-friendly business environment which means only positive things for those venturing out from their home country to seek personal success, financial gain and a booming economy. Singapore has a corrupt-free environment, skilled workforce and easily accessible location making it the ideal spot for a small business to conduct regional and international business affairs. As foreigners take up over 42% of their overall population, there’s not much room to doubt whether or not the country supports foreign business success. The question is, how? So that foreigners can maximize their small or midsized business, here is an easy to read, no-nonsense guide to the advantages of Singapore’s business environment for foreigners.

Whether you’re home country is the USA, England or Australia, there will be many cultural and legal aspects of conducting business for foreigners that have never before been applied. Secondly, you must prepare for the worst and expect the best. With a booming economy and supportive government, Singapore is a thriving environment for businesses as long as you first prepare the legal documents and register in due time. Thirdly, it’s important to invest some time in the nature of their culture. Once you have a firm understanding of their business environment, you have confidence that the Singapore environment is just what you need for your small or midsized business to succeed.

Singapore’s biggest industries of wealth and growth include chemicals, ship repairs, oil-drilling equipment and life sciences. There are eight airports in the country, a train service linking Singapore to Thailand and Malaysia and Singapore has the largest port in the world. The Singapore government is cooperative and encouraging to foreigners conducting business inside and outside of its country by offering lower tax rates and flexible five year renewable work visas. For those businesses conducting entrepreneur affairs from outside of Singapore, the corporate tax rate is a low 10% (as opposed to the higher rate of 17%). For business owners conducting business inside of Singapore, there is a reduced corporate tax rate of 10% as well. Most of all, Singapore’s government is encouraging and accepting to foreigners by instating a corrupt-free and open business culture, with plenty of opportunity to expand your sights and ambitions as far as they will go. When starting a business in a foreign country, the most important ingredient is how accepting their governing body will be, and by starting your foreign business in Singapore, they’ve got you covered.

You Need to Know Your Business Inside and Out

True understanding of your business and your industry is a necessary step towards becoming successful. It’s not about just opening a book and thinking you can learn what to do to make your business thrive. There are many different aspects in business. You need to understand things like management, marketing, human resources, and taxes. And you need to understand exactly how they apply to your business.

When we think about the management issues of your business what comes to mind? Maybe what kind of skills might your managers need. What kind of compensation will be required to attract good help? What kind of positions within your organization may need to be staffed in the coming years? And where are you going to find qualified managers or will you need to train them from the ground up. It’s these kinds of questions that you need to ask yourself so that you can learn more about your business.

In small business you have to be concerned with the marketing of your services or products. Do you know what kinds of advertising methods are best for your business? Do you know the costs of those kinds of services? Have you checked on the competition lately to see what methods they use to sell their products or services and do you know what kinds of prices they charge? Have you taken the time to develop an effective marketing plan? Marketing your small business is not an easy task and the things that have worked so far may not be effective in the future. Do you know what methods you may be able to use if something you use today fails?

When we look at the human resources aspect of a small business we can find many questions that need to be asked. Things such as how much should your employees be compensated? Do you or are you in the future going to offer health insurance and is your plan the best you can get? How will you handle doing employee reviews and giving out raises? What do you intend to do if you need help quickly? Will you use a temporary labor agency or do you have an alternative method. There are many questions in the human resources field that should be answered.

One of the most horrible subjects out there is always taxes. Can you do your taxes or do you rely on someone else? Are they doing the job right and saving you as much money as they can? Do you know how to handle payroll taxes and sales tax? Are there specific taxes that apply to your state? Something like a headcount tax maybe? How about if you sell items across the state line or operate locations in other states do you know the tax laws for those states?

There will always be questions in business that need answers. It’s up to you to take the initiative to search out those answers and ask yourself whatever other questions you might be able to think of. The old cliché that knowledge is power is especially true in business. And as a small business owner you need every edge you can get.

How to Choose a Great Business Lawyer for Your Business: My Top Ten Tips

Conventional wisdom (and many lawyers) will tell you that, if you’re a business owner or manager, you will get yourself in trouble if you don’t have a good business lawyer. But when I hear this, I view this as somewhat of a negative statement, which frankly annoys me. I assume that smart business people do not want to be belittled and told that, they if they don’t have a lawyer, they will be too naive or inexperienced to avoid pitfalls.

Another way of saying this is that I personally hate doing anything to move away from something. I much prefer to make choices that allow me to move towards perceived advantages of my actions. So I address my clients accordingly.

So with this in mind I will rephrase the primary benefit of having a great lawyer by your side as follows: you will make more money. You should thus view a business lawyer as your partner who will help you make the choices that will improve your business and drive your bottom line upwards.

Now, if you are looking for a lawyer or are not happy with your present lawyer, how do you choose a great business lawyer. But first a definition. What is a business lawyer? I personally distinguish a business lawyer from a corporate or commercial lawyer. To me the business lawyer in the classic sense of the term denotes the classic lawyer-client relationship where the lawyer is more than someone who cranks out paper. I define the business lawyer as your quasi business partner or confidante. Someone you can confide it, who can solve your problems, understand you and help you grow.

Now Here are my TOP 10 TIPS to choosing a GREAT BUSINESS LAWYER, not in any order of importance.

10. Don’t assume you need a big blue chip firm. I come from several big blue chip law firms. They do great law and sometimes you need the “brand” or “label” of the big law firm next to you, for instance if you’re going public. But for more routine work, you don’t need such a firm. They are expensive and comprise many layers. So for you to deal with the top dog, you will be paying up to $1,000 per hour, or more. If your budget is one quarter of this, you will mostly be dealing with a junior associate who will not have the business experience you are looking for. It really depends on your needs, and your budget.

9. Don’t focus only on the billable hour rate. If you’re hesitating between someone who costs you $250 per hour and someone else at $350 per hour, don’t make your decision strictly on cost. What matters are two things: first what the final bill will be and, second, what value who will have received. The hourly rate is a red herring. What is the point of asking someone to do a job for you at $250 per hour if the person needs 40 hours for the job where the other lawyer at $350 per hour only needs 20 hours? Particularly if the other lawyer can do a better job for you. Billing policy is too much of a thorny and elaborate issue to address in a few lines. My point is simply that the hourly rate is not the be all and the end all.

8. Look for someone you would be happy to have a drink with. If your relationship with your business lawyer is going to be successful, you need to connect with him (her) on a personal basis. It is to your advantage to let your lawyer into your life as a quasi-friend. For this to happen there must be personal chemistry.

7. Look for business experience. If your business lawyer is going to advise you on your business, it is trite to say that having business experience is a must. Again it goes to the difference between dealing with a junior associate just out of school and someone who has real practical hands on business experience.

6. Look for someone open to a fixed fee arrangement. No one I know wants to retain a lawyer not knowing what the final bill will be. While this is often difficult for a lawyer to estimate, he (she) may be open to a flexible or fixed fee arrangement. And he (she) should be able to give you at least a good idea on the fees.

5. Look for a deal maker not a deal breaker. In any business deal, there can be dozens of reasons why the deal can’t work or why the agreement is not right. You don’t want a lawyer that throws unnecessary obstacles to making the deal work. It takes a practical approach. It is all about business risk and your lawyer should give you the pros and the cons and provide advice rather than blocking the deal.

4. Think of your business lawyer as your part-time VP legal. Some business lawyers are open to retainer arrangements where they will agree to act as your part-time VP legal at a lower cost than hiring a law firm. A lawyer could for instance offer to work a certain numbers of days per month for you at a fixed fee. It could save you money and help you grow your business with a smart person on the inside who gets to understand your business inside out.

3. Find someone with good business connections. Getting things done in this world often requires a good business network. Having access to this through your lawyer is invaluable.

2. Find a people person. If you want your lawyer to make things happen for you, he (she) will need to be someone who does not antagonize everyone around him (her). Having someone who relates well with other people can be a key to making something work.

1. Think bottom line. Lawyers cost money but I submit this should not be your first thought. What you should be thinking about is whether by spending say $1,000 your lawyer can help you generate $2,000. If so, the lawyer is not a cost. He (she) is a co-generator of a rate of return of 100%. If you think about it that way and your lawyer delivers, the cost will not be so bad to digest.

With these elements, you will be in a position to make the best decision for what works for you.

Five Problems to Watch for When Starting a Business

With the economy currently in a state of decline and unemployment on the rise, the business world is filled with young entrepreneurs creating their own jobs by creating their own businesses. As the number of start-ups in each industry increases, however, the competition in those industries becomes even fiercer.

No one wants their new business to fail- every new business owner believes that it is their will to succeed and their drive to work that will keep the doors open. In reality, scores of new businesses across the country close their doors after only months of operation. No matter how strong your desire to succeed, success is only possible if you have all of the necessary tools to keep your business running.

This article will point out five problem areas typical of new businesses, and how to make sure that your business does not fall prey to these issues.

1: Lack of Business Knowledge or Management Skills

Ultimately, a business’ greatest strength or weakness is the owner’s ability to make canny decisions and appropriate judgement calls. Gut instincts are good, but nothing replaces a working knowledge of the different aspects of a business, and how each aspect should be managed and organized. If you don’t understand your business inside and out, you won’t be able to run your business for maximum efficiency, and that will endanger your profit margins.

2: Setting Overly-Ambitious Goals

People who are new to running their own business often over-estimate their initial profits, sales, and market penetration. It’s easy to say “Only 10% of my market would need to buy my product in order for me to become a millionaire!” because the percentage sounds so small- but only a thorough and accurate feasibility study can tell you what you can expect in terms of sales and market penetration in any given period of time. Market data is key, especially in the early days of a start-up, without previous numbers to use in projecting future earnings.

3: A Poor (or Non-Existent) Business Plan

Though it sounds hard to believe, many people start a new business without first creating a business plan! That’s like beginning construction of a house without a blueprint. The business plan provides a solid guide for many years to come, reminding you of your business’ goals, plans, and structure. A good business plan doesn’t just cover the nature and size of your endeavour- it includes goals for the future and the objectives for success.

4: Lack of Support

No matter how “small” your small business is, you can’t do it all on your own. A healthy business needs support of all kinds: financial reserves, equipment backup and repair, and people to help should business get overwhelming or you fall ill. Not all of these types of support are created equal: capital is the most important type of support your business can have. Capital can help you afford the other resources you don’t have, and also give you the ability to purchase prototyping, research, and equipment. That doesn’t mean you have to be rich already to be an entrepreneur: raising capital through investors can be difficult, but it’s never impossible for the go-getter with a great idea and an airtight business plan.

5: Lack of Ambition and Drive

Many people who dream of owning their own business dream of setting their own hours and enjoying the good life once success is theirs. That dream can be a reality, but only after an incredible amount of hard-work and determination. Owning a business is easy: running a successful business is hard. Look deep inside yourself and see if you really have the determination and the faith in yourself to keep going, no matter how hard it gets or how many obstacles stand in your way. Knowing yourself, your strengths and shortcomings, and what it is you truly want will take you a long way in business as well as in life.

Despite the difficulties in the economy, now is a great time to be a young entrepreneur. There is always room in the marketplace for another brilliant idea, sharp mind, and useful product. By avoiding these five problems, you can be sure you’re giving your business, your investors, and yourself every opportunity for success.