Roger Chen

How to make your side business thrive in Singapore


For many Singaporeans, our passions go well beyond our day jobs – and turning them into viable business ventures has never been easier. As illustrated most recently in the Passion Made Possible campaign, Singapore is truly where our passions come to life.

Last year, a recent survey found that 74 percent of millennials in Singapore planned to be an entrepreneur, with 32 percent of them having started their current business whilst in school. This makes Singapore millennials 16 times more likely to pursue entrepreneurship whilst in their studies compared with their generation X counterparts. Truth is, millennials are taking on extra money-making projects outside of their school curriculum, or plan to make money off their side jobs to gain greater fulfilment than they can find in the office.

It doesn’t take much time or effort to get started with your own side job. Turning it into a business success story, however, takes a fair dose of perseverance and planning. Here are three tips to help your side business thrive:

Invest in your digital real estate
Most side jobs list their offerings online, giving their founders the flexibility to operate in and around their regular office hours. Instead of solely relying on a Facebook or Instagram page, having a website, in addition to social media, gives entrepreneurs more visibility. 91 percent of Singaporeans use search engines, and 35 percent rely heavily on business websites for information and it is an investment entrepreneurs should consider.

When starting out a new business, or a new side job, make sure you take time out to establish a website that’s simple to navigate and a domain name that’s easy to find. Existing products out there like Website Builder makes building and managing a website easier and cheaper than ever before, requiring little to no technical knowledge to get a professional-looking site up and running. Whilst you may not need an account on every social media platform, you should have a presence on the channels where your clients are likely to find you. A photographer, for example, may find it easier to find prospects on Instagram.

Automate your digital marketing
Side jobs promise to turn lifelong passions into fulfilling sources of income, but for most Singaporeans, they won’t totally replace the standard day job. To avoid the side job drawing too much time away from your main career, founders should consider automation. Apps like Buffer, Tweetdeck, and even Facebook Pages can schedule your social media posts well in advance, minimising the time needed to maintain your social media channels every day or week.

If your side job involves taking online orders for digital products, like e-books or software, you can tweak email auto-responders to send your customers their product every time an order comes in, or use platforms like Mailchimp to manage more complex orders.

To help make your side job even more successful, the Infocomm Media and Development Authority in Singapore has a SMEs Go Digital Programme that gives SMEs subsidised rates to adopt new digital technologies. Today, fifty digital solutions for SMEs has been recognised in IMDA’s SMEs Go Digital Programme. 

Maintain good (selling) habits
No side job lasts long if it doesn’t turn a profit, and doing so requires founders to exercise discipline in their marketing and selling. In Singapore, UShift and JobsOnDemand allows you to list your capabilities and apply for jobs quickly. Those selling products, either physical or digital, should make a point of refreshing their resumes and portfolio, or contributing a certain amount of content to forums or channels which prospects frequent.

Having a strong website and social media presence helps to make a big difference to getting potential customers engaged. So too does establishing good selling habits and sticking to them. Most production of goods and services still takes place through traditional firms and employment arrangements, but with the right digital assets and a little bit of discipline, people have more tools to help make their side job into an active source of income and enjoyment.

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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Roger Chen

Roger Chen

Roger is Vice President of GoDaddy Asia. Prior to GoDaddy, he spent six years at Yahoo where he last served as the VP of Product Management. Roger has over 20 years of professional experience in Asia and the US, focussed on internet product development, marketing, consumer hardware, and network.

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