Singapore sector opportunitiesBY LAWRENCE YEO
Current biggest business challenges include intense competition and low margins (due to an open economy and liberal trading environment), inflationary costs (due to rental expenses and tightening labour market caused by reduced foreign workers) as well as increasing uncertain external demand for Singapore exports from Europe and USA.
Despite an increasingly challenging and tough environment, businesses and employees must still go on with life. One way is to continue identifying market opportunities and change accordingly.
Sectors which are still relatively protected against foreign entrants include audiovisual and media services, banking and education, basic telecommunications, pay TV, and legal services.
These open sectors continue to offer good prospects: aircraft and parts, computer hardware and software, electronics, franchises (especially in F&B), laboratory and scientific instruments, medical devices, oil and gas equipment, pollution control equipment, telecommunication equipment, and university education services.
Upcoming new projects under construction include drainage improvement, healthcare facilities expansion and upgrading, LNG terminal, MRT rail lines and stations, public hospitals and medical centers, and underground oil storage facility.
Both business owners and employees should regularly monitor their constantly changing business environment. Businesses should shed obsolete or value-reducing product portfolios no longer enjoying strong demand or near market maturity, and fine-tune their USPs to match their direct competitors while watching for indirect competitors that will diversify or switch into becoming direct competitors. Slow growth is still better than your business closing.
Employees should upgrade job skills and executive education to keep in line with such changes and provide a compelling reason to retain their employment against job contenders who are younger, moreeducated and less costly, especially from overseas. Invest up front in both your formal education and on- the-job value-addition to your employers. Going the extra mile does differentiate you from your colleagues.
Your business or career should not depend excessively on government support or funding as Singapore is a workfare state, not a welfare state. As you faithfully keep watering your fruit tree, you will bear and harvest fruits one day.