How To Start A Home Based Business (HBB) In Singapore?

There is an increasing number of entrepreneurs in Singapore choosing to kick start their business as a home-based business, also commonly known as HBB. While we commonly associate home-based business with something to do with food such as baking cakes or cookies, it can also be a suitable set-up for freelance copywriters, home-based tuition teachers etc.

Why start a home-based business?

The great thing about a home-based business in Singapore is that compare to working out of your home, you need up chalk up expenses from office or shop rental, which can be a great drain on your expenses as you are starting. Instead, the monies saved can be channelled to greater use such as marketing. In fact, nowadays, online presence is equally important if not more important than having a physical location.

What do you need to look out for?

Of course, when you embark on starting your home-based business in Singapore, there are certain limitations imposed by the authorities that you need to take note of:

  1. You cannot employ anyone from outside the household.
  2. There must not be any display of signages or advertisements outside the residential premises.
  3. The running of the business does not cause extra human traffic to the place of residence.
  4. No noise, smoke, smell, effluent or dust nuisances or danger should be posed to the surrounding residents.
  5. No loading and unloading of goods via vans and trucks.
  6. The business activities must be in compliance with the rules and regulations of other authorities.
  7. If you are staying in an HDB, it cannot be used as the business registered address. Private residential addresses are allowed.
  8. There must not be a material change to the use of the premise. It should still be primarily used for residential purposes.

Some common home-based businesses in Singapore are (but are not limited to) baking, hairdressing, media freelancers and sewing. Do note that massage services are not allowed!

Ready to get started? Here are a few steps you should consider.

Register Your Business

Give your business an awesome name! More importantly, you should consider the business structure you wish to adopt. Will it be a sole proprietor or a private limited company? It may not seem that important now but it may affect how you can scale your business going forward. I have written an article comparing the pros and cons of having a company versus a sole proprietorship in Singapore. 

You can get hands-on with the registration of your business or you can also seek help from a licensed ACRA filing agent here in Singapore. Some corporate secretaries will also provide the use of a registered address as well as accompanying accounting services if required.

Depending on your trade, you may also be required to obtain certain licenses or permits before being able to operate. For example, if you are in the food business, you might be required to follow the food hygiene rules and regulations set forth by the Singapore Food Agency.

Plan Your Operating Budget

It will be foolish to dive headlong into the business without some basic resource planning. How much do you need to set aside for the purchase of equipment to run your trade? What is the advertising budget you need to allocate in the initial phase of the business? Do you plan to pay yourself? How are you going to price your products and services? How much start-up capital are you planning to have?

As the age-old saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

E-Commerce / Website

To me, having an online presence is a must-have in today’s society. The website doubles are a platform for you to tell the world about your passion and business. It is also a salesman cum order taker working 24/7 for you.

If you are a retailer, having an e-commerce site is a must. You can either do it on major platforms such as Lazada and Shopee which gives you a lot of traffic but you never really own your customer base, or you can consider building your own branding. You no longer need to have a degree in web design to build an e-commerce shop or website for yourself. Platforms such as Wix and Shopify are so simple to use and the monthly subscription is rather affordable for a startup.

If you require a high degree of control over your ownership of your IP and customisation, consider engaging an experienced web designer to build your website from the ground up.

All the best of luck with your upcoming venture!


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