Why Singapore is a great place to start a business

Why Singapore is a great place to start a business

I’m in Singapore on an ACT Government trade mission. It’s all about strengthening existing relationships and exploring the potential for business in this part of the world.

Singapore is an economic marvel.

It has a population of just over 5 million with a diversified economy and GDP of $US295 billion in 2013.

They have a unified vision for business (a global leader, a great city, and a home in Asia for business, innovation and talent) and a clear mission focused on attracting foreign investment, growing industry verticals and enhancing the business environment.

The fact that they have written it down and are acting on it says it all. These guys are serious.

The ACT Government has identified Singapore as a place ACT businesses and institutions can make their way in the Asian Century.

I agree and here’s why:

1. English is the language of Singaporean business

This is a massive plus for business. Being able to communicate with ease helps you to understand needs and wants and to communicate the value of any solution you may be offering.

2. The Singaporeans make it easy to do business

Singapore wants business and they make it easy to get started. A couple of clicks of a mouse, a few hundred bucks and away you go. It’s a vast and growing market of 7,000 multi-national corporations and 37,400 international companies including 3,200 from China, 4,400 from India and 7,900 from ASEAN (excluding Singapore).

3. It’s achievable to set up and get started

In keeping with point two, there are shared working spaces everywhere. For a few hundred dollars a month you can have access to a fully functional office. Your main expense is staff costs and living allowances if you send someone up from Canberra. Again, very manageable.

4. A familiar system of Government

Singapore operates on the Westminster model of Government and their structures and practice are familiar. Of course there are cultural differences but at least they have an understanding of the types of issues and problems that smart Canberra companies are seeking to solve.

5. Logistics and infrastructure

Changi Airport is a genuine global hub and it’s easy to get to from Australia. If the ACT Government is successful in negotiating direct flights to Canberra, look out. Our local economy will explode. The Singaporeans are industrious and wealthy and sure to be attracted by many of Canberra’s charms (the same charms the New York Times raved about recently).

Today, Asia’s biggest Communications conference begins in the world’s biggest conference centre. Everyone is here. And I mean everybody.

I’m looking forward to spending the next three days immersed in discussions that hopefully build confidence and trust that lead to opportunity and hopefully many more local jobs in Canberra.

And one final thought before I go.

contentgroup was a product of the last major round of redundancies in Canberra. In 1997, we took a voluntary redundancy package from the ABC and turned it into a business that now directly employs 13 people and many more sub-contractors.

Image: Hammad Ali


  1. Yes, I’m putting my grumpy old ex-pat hat on! It’s a great place to spend a couple of years . . . although I’m happy a nameless corporation was picking up our accommodation bill. I know Lindsay Murdoch (over there for the Age) had a beautiful, wonderful place (a ‘black and white’) – he offered it to us when he left, but at $26,000 a month even the wonderful corporation wouldn’t pay that much. Mind you, the house we were in was good but still exorbitant (more than $15,000 a month) . . . cost of doing business, I guess. Flats are much cheaper.

  2. Similar government to Australia’s – except it hasn’t changed since independence in 1959. And don’t forget, car rego starts at $60,000 and rents are expensive.

    • I didn’t realise that Car regos were that expensive. That might account for the no traffic and ease of getting around. Taxis are also inexpensive and plentiful. The room rate for the hotel wasn’t too far off what you would pay in Sydney and from what I could gather from other small businesses that have set up in Singapore, housing rents are in line with inner city Canberra or Sydney.

  3. I love the idea of Singapore being on our door step, I really hope we get flights to and from Singapore soon. Very exciting! business will change overnight.

    • Totally agree Roge. Having to travel through Sydney to Singapore creates a layer of friction we could all do without. Having now been home for a few days now, I’m even more convinced of the potential for Canberra, particularly in the creative industries. Singapore is manageable and welcoming. Can’t wait to get back there to see what we can achieve.

  4. David agree. Exciting news for ACT professionals and businesses to reach out to Asia. Look forward to hearing more.

    • Mark, I know someone of your experience in Asia can see the potential. It will be about being committed and patient but the results will come. Canberra business needs to keep turning up.

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