In Singapore, where entrepreneurship thrives successfully, you can start a business from your HDB flat or condo as a home business owner. The HDB Home Office Scheme, the HDB Home-Based Small Business Scheme, and the URA Home Office Scheme allow you to run a small business through your home.1
However, be sure to check the requirements for each because there are limitations on which type of business you can run and how you can run them. Here are 20 business ideas which you can establish at home for less than $5,000.
1. Financial planner:
You will obviously need certification and proof of training before you can start a business as a financial planner. Certification will give you credibility and this is absolutely necessary for clients to trust your expertise. In Singapore, you can obtain the Chartered Financial Planner (CFP) certification from the Financial Planning Association of Singapore.
2. Small-scale event planner:
Not all events are large occasions. You can help organise simple, small-scale events such as marriage proposals, ROM, and solemnisation by providing light décor and catering.
3. Videos and editing:
Video Production and Editing is a high-demand skill in an era when businesses need not only text but video content to promote themselves online. Companies are always looking to create viral video campaigns that can be posted to social media. You can get a job for any occasion. One day you might cover conventions and corporate events while on other days you might be editing a wedding video.
4. Fitness instructor:
This depends on your expertise and experience. If you have experience in yoga, then you can instruct either individual or corporate clients. If you have certification as a physical trainer or in Pilates, then you can become an instructor in this area. You will need some proof of experience such as a certification in order to build credibility.
5. Public relations and advertising:
Technology has democratised media and advertising. If you can write exciting copy or have expertise in strategic communications, then you can start a PR or advertising firm from home.
6. Online shop:
You can start an online shop for anything in Singapore. You can sell your wares online whether you have a talent for identifying vintage clothing or can design cards and other trinkets or any other skillset. E-commerce sites are now very easy to set up and will not be a headache to run.
7. Design consultant:
Do you have a flair for interior design? If so, you can use this skill for designing all sorts of events. You can design corporate offices, or take a short-term job like designing for corporate events or conventions. Singapore is the convention center of Asia. You will have many opportunities.
8. Insurance planner:
Personal financial planning is a crucial life skill, and a central part of this is insurance planning. Life is uncertain and healthcare can be very expensive. If you have the background, start an insurance planning business. You can also specialise. For instance, the expat population in Singapore is divided into expats from many countries. You can design insurance planning based on the personal and country background of expats and help them get the most of their life abroad.
9. Private tuition:
The rules regarding Private Tuition at home are very clear in Singapore. If you tutor students, then you can only tutor three students at a time. Any more would be a violation of Singapore law. You can tutor according to your expertise.
10. Home baker:
Obviously you can't run a large baking operation from home. However, you can bake at home to sell to friends and family. Some home bakers in Singapore have been known to take about twenty orders per week. Advertise online through Instagram or Facebook.
11. Hairdressing and manicure:
You are not allowed to run a full beauty salon under any of Singapore's Home Business Schemes. However, you can provide hairdressing or manicure services. You will need proof of training and certification to build your credibility. You can advertise through Instagram or Twitter.
12. Jewellery designer:
If you have a knack for arts and crafts, use it to create products that you are passionate about. Jewellery design is one craft that is easy to learn and it is always in demand. You can market your designs through online tools such as Instagram, or even YouTube.
If you have some experience and training in photography, then run a photography business. Take pictures of graduations, birthdays, or weddings. You can even take pet pictures. You can build a portfolio by shooting for friends and family and posting it on your personal website.
14. Maid training / cooking courses:
Singapore is a home for expats from all over the world with different tastes and requirements. For example, expats may need to teach their maids to make food from their countries. Start a business to train maids to cook cuisine from various parts of the world.
15. Editorial service:
If you have a faculty for the English language, then start an editorial service. You can start by helping friends and family and getting leads through these contacts. If you have editorial skills, you can edit not only large papers and presentations but also resumes and cover letters. All you require here are strong English and a laptop.
16. Computer training:
Any skill can be turned into a business opportunity in Singapore, and this is especially true for those with a background in technology. Singapore is looking to become a smart nation and businesses are being encouraged to use innovative new technologies. You can start a business to help train their businesses in the use of technology in their organisations. You will need to have certification. Specialised certification such as in cybersecurity will help you build credibility.
17. Graphic designer:
Graphic Design is a highly specialised skillset that can bring you the big bucks. It is also highly flexible. You can work from home or you can work from a coffee shop. You can get online leads through job portals which always have short-term jobs posted for designing promotional materials.
18. Music lessons:
You can give music lessons at your home studio as long as you don't start a music school with many students at once. Whether you are talented at the guitar or at the piano or any other musical instrument, you can teach by individual appointment at your own home. As with all small businesses, you should design a website or a social media page detailing your history of playing and teaching music.
You can become a consultant in any area that you have an expertise in. There are short-term consultancy opportunities in Singapore for any sector, position, or expertise. Web searches will give you initial leads but you will have to attend conventions in your industry to get new clients.
20. Wellness instructor:
Singaporeans are serious about their health and the wellness movement is growing in the city. If you have a background in yoga, you can start training at public parks. When you start, give out deals through websites such as Groupon. As you grow, you can use your clients as leads to get corporate jobs. You can use the same strategy for other wellness and fitness activities.
Incorporating your business
After you decide on which business idea you want to pursue, you will have to incorporate a Sole Proprietorship to work as a freelancer. If you are an expat living in Singapore on a dependent pass, then you can apply for a letter of consent to establish business. Once your business grows, you can convert your sole proprietorship into a Private Limited Company.2
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Satish Bakhda is the Chief Operating Officer at Rikvin. He brings with him over 15 years of experience in the corporate services industry and is a regular speaker at marketing events around the world. He is also a consultant on matters relating to incorporation, relocation, accounting and taxation in Singapore.