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Everything You Need To Know About Starting a Home-Based Business in Singapore

Tired of working away at a 9-to-5 job? Ever had dreams to be your own boss? Perhaps starting a home-based business is right up your alley!

As home-based businesses are becoming more popular in Singapore, you’ll need to know all the dos and don’ts. Here’s the ultimate guide on how to get started.

Singapore small business: Why start a home-based business?

Starting a home-based business gives you an additional income stream working on what you love. If you succeed, you could even turn your side hustle into a full-time job. 

That means you get lots of flexibility and full control over your work-life balance. You could save the time and effort of going through rush-hour commutes, avoid messy office politics, and save on rental costs.

Guidelines on starting a home-based business in Singapore

Ideally, home-based businesses in Singapore should be started by homeowners running small-scale operations. Based on the Home Office (HO) Scheme, you’ll need to register either with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) or Housing Development Board (HDB).

Additionally, you’ll also need to register your business address and business entity on ACRA

There’s also a range of rules homeowners need to follow. Broadly speaking, here’s a list of businesses that run against home-based business policies in Singapore:

  • Staff recruitment
  • Distribution of advertisements or business flyers
  • Excessive vehicle traffic
  • Illegal medical or massage services
  • Activities that cause disturbance to your neighbours

See also: Is a License Needed to Start a Home Baking Business in Singapore?

Can foreigners on a Dependant’s Pass start a home-based business in Singapore?

Foreigners who have a Dependant’s Pass (DP) can start a home-based business in Singapore. However, they’ll need to fulfill some requirements.

1. Register their business entity as a sole proprietorship, partnership or company 

2. Apply to MOM for a letter of consent to run their business

For first time applicants, the letter of consent is valid for 1 year from the date of issue, or until your DP expires.

Additionally, If you register your company as a DP, you’ll need to own at least 30% of the company.

Safe Management Measures (SMM) for home-based businesses in Singapore

Due to Covid19 and circuit breaker regulations, businesses operating in residential premises will need to fulfil SMM regulations.

Home business owners need to ensure that visitors entering their homes do not exceed the stipulated number. Additionally, business owners are encouraged to use the TraceTogether-only Safe Entry for contact tracing.

Whether you run an e commerce business or a small scale business, you’ll need to register your business here for the SafeEntry QR code for your business.

Examples of home-based Singapore small businesses

There’s a wide range of small businesses you can run in your home. Not all businesses need large storage spaces or a physical store. You can easily start yours in your hdb flat and cut down on operating costs!

Here are a few business ideas you can get started with:

  • Dropshipping business
  • Home-based bakery
  • Sewing services
  • Blogging
  • Freelance artist
  • Travel planning
  • Mobile pet-grooming
  • Admin work
  • Beauty and manicure pedicure services
  • Small scale hairdressing
  • Freelance services such as photography, journalism, and videography
  • Private tuition, with a limit of up to 3 students at home
  • Baking and other small-scale food operations

These business activities are approved an leal under the (HO) scheme. Need more business ideas? Check out some of the most profitable niches to go into!

How much working capital do you need to start a small business?

There isn’t a hard and fast answer to this because it depends on your business structure and the products you’re selling. You should take note of the cost of your ingredients if you’re selling food products.

On top of that, you should also be aware of how often you need to restock ingredients to help you project your earnings.

If you don’t have much capital on hand—fret not! You can start a range of businesses in this digital age with no capital at all. 

Print-On-Demand (POD) products, graphic design services and other freelance services are some businesses that require little to no capital! Learn more about $0 capital small businesses you can start here.

A step-by-step guide to starting a home-based business

Have a business idea in mind and ready to dive into it? Awesome! After registering your business with URA or HDB, you’re all set to kick start your home business journey.

Here are some first steps you can take!

Set up your own office space

If you love decorating, you’ll love setting up your very own home office. Visit IKEA over the weekend and start getting yourself some storage boxes to kickstart your new chapter.

You might be tempted to simply clear out your dining table and call it your “workspace” but it’s important to have at least a desk that’s set aside for work matters only. Additionally, it’s also important for other members in your home to recognize that this workspace belongs to you.

The greatest challenge in running a home-based business is the lack of separation between your work time and personal time. Creating a unique space to work in will help you get into the rhythm of things.

You might like: 10 Must-Know Productivity Hacks for Online Business Owners

‍Fire safety requirements

All property owners and residents are expected to comply with Singapore’s fire safety standards. If you’re a homebaker or run a food business from home, you might want to get your own fire extinguisher.

Homeowners who procured their own fire extinguishers will need to be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of these fire safety equipments. Each month, you should conduct inspection on your fire extinguishers to ensure that they are effective and safe for use.

Read more about fire safety requirements here.

Food health and safety standards

Thinking of running a food business from home? You’ll need to uphold these food health and safety standards.

Kitchen hygiene

To ensure food and hygiene safety, you need to ensure that your kitchen hygiene is kept up to standards. All food preparation surfaces and other utensils such as bowls, mixers, ovens, etc. need to be sanitised regularly. 

If you have pets and children, you’ll want to refrain them from coming into your kitchen especially if you’re working on baked goods or food orders for your customers.

Food safety

Besides ensuring cleanliness of utensils, you’ll also want to check that your ingredients are from approved sources. Anyone who is involved in food preparations will also need to be involved in Food Safety Course Level 1.

Visit the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) website to learn more about food handling requirements.

Personal hygiene

To reduce the likelihood of food poisoning and contamination, it’s important to maintain high standards of personal hygiene. Wash your hands regularly with soap before and after food preparation. To add extra precaution, you should also wear glovesduring the preparation process.

Prepare a business plan

Every business needs a business plan. And a home-based business is no exception! The more details you have in your plan, the better.

Here are some aspects to consider when you’re just starting out:

  • What goals do you have for your business?
  • What are your business costs?
  • List out goods and services you’ll be offering
  • Consider your brand image and brand voice
  • Brainstorm on your target market and ideal customer

Finding the answers to these questions might take some time and it’s not going to be an overnight exercise. As you work on your products and experiment with digital marketing, you’ll get a clearer picture of who your customers are.

We’d recommend that you start off by nailing down some initial costs that go into starting your business and work out a reasonable markup for your products from there.

Small scale businesses tend to have a simple business structure. However, as your business scales, you’ll want to be aware of your changing business structure. With more hands on your team, you’ll need to streamline your business and find the right tools to work with your team.

See also: What is Average Order Value, and Why Should Your Small Business Care?

Join a community for home-based businesses

Starting your own business can feel intimidating. You might not know where to start and how to start increasing sales for your online store.

Regardless of which industry you’re in, you should try to join interest groups or communities created for small business owners. There, you’ll get to learn practical tips and perhaps even network with others to form business partnerships!

You can find a range of small business communities and interest groups on forums, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

Tools to help with branding for home-based businesses

Have a road map for your business? Awesome! Now it’s time to translate your ideas so customers know how unique your ideas are.

Branding is an essential part of every business, no matter the size. It helps you stand out from your competitors and gives you an edge over others. 

While “branding” might sound premium, you can actually brand your business on a budget with a host of free tools like Canva, Coolors, and DaFont. These tools help you come up with a consistent color scheme, create aesthetic visuals for social media channels, and even help you come up with a brand logo.

Most of these tools have both free and paid versions. We recommend you start off with the free version first as they already have pretty extensive features. Learn more about these budget branding tools in this guide!

Use the right business tools

Running a business on your own is never easy. That’s why you’ll need the right tools to streamline your processes.

At Cococart, we specialize in designing ecommerce solutions that are the perfect fit for home-based businesses. Our clean, simple dashboard lets you see your orders, sales volume, and inventory at one glance.

Having the right business tools will help you make informed decisions and ensure that you’re on the right track to building a sustainable side hustle. Once you’ve got it off the ground, you could even transition to turning your stint into a full-time career!

See also: Everything You Need to Know About Your Cococart Analytics Dashboard

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