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Singapore SMEs are flourishing but not beyond regional waters

Singapore is a land of abundance. Maybe that rings true to foreign corporations and foreign professionals. With low tax and excellent governance, the island nation becomes the top choice for businesses to spread their wings into the Asian market. But, what’s with the local SMEs? They seem to be struggling to internationalise their business.

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Published by 3E Accounting
on 03 Feb 2020

Singapore SMEs are flourishing but not beyond regional waters

Singapore SMEs Struggle to Internationalise Due to Different Business Culture

As Singapore SMEs are used to doing business in a western-oriented culture, expanding into emerging markets such as China and India seems to daunt them. Being Asian does not necessarily mean you are regionally equal or similar. It is partially true that the business culture or even cultural differences in other Southeast Asian countries may come as a shock or pleasant surprise. The laws in these countries may also be challenging to navigate, as well. Be it so, SMEs locally incorporated in Singapore prefer to do business with their local counterparts or with whomever they are comfortable with.

The Right Partner

Local SMEs are also lamenting on the fact to find the right partner. The right market partner is needed to ensure business takes off well in specific markets or other countries. Without the right fit, a locally well-established company may collapse in the overseas market. That would be horrific. Hence, it is understandable why Singapore SMEs are reluctant to expand further. It takes a lifetime to know a person, what more a stranger to become a business partner.

Start From the End

As a local SME, you would aspire to spread your business into other markets. But being occupied with running the industry locally, you are pretty much grounded. But, as with all companies, you start from what you want should you venture into a different market. From there, you begin to research the market you wish to enter. You may not have the time to research entirely on your own. Spending a little for market research will make a difference when you get what you want. Even so, do take the time to study the market yourself to ensure it suits you and your business values. It is best also to study their culture entirely so as not to cause unnecessary outrage. Taking the time to acknowledge the little things will help you score business support points from the local market you want to enter.

Singapore SMEs Struggle to Internationalise Can Seek Support  

After all that study and intensive research, it is time to seek the support you would need to go beyond. The Singapore government has consistently support SMEs in their efforts to internationalise. There is even an International Partnership Fund for local firms to increase their presence in the global market. Besides the government, SMEs can seek support from trade associations. Trade associations are a great way to get an idea of the market potential and business regulations. Participating in international or global trade shows held in Singapore is also another way to boost your market presence or network with foreign counterparts. Once you have figured out what you want, it is advisable to acquire local legal support from the market you wish to venture. A local legal entity will ensure that your business complies with all the local regulation as well as help you navigate the necessary pathway.


This article was first published on 3E Accounting. Information is correct at the time of publication.

Last Modified Date: 09 Jan 2020