You see them work on their laptops at Starbucks, Coffee Bean, libraries and most of the time when you don't get to see them, they are working at home.
Unless they are seeing customers, they don't usually wear suits, coats, ties, or any other form of office attire. Just a simple home attire is good enough for them. These are your new age entrepreneurs in Singapore today.
Sometimes, others might think these entrepreneurs are very free; they are in fact the busiest group of entrepreneurs in the world today. This is because they have to take care of every little detail of running a business such as operation, sales, marketing, accounts, customer service, and many more.
Sometimes, others might feel that these entrepreneurs are not making enough for their businesses; in fact they are making a lot. Some of them may be running million dollar E-commerce businesses or clinching top revenue projects while sipping their favorite latte.
Running business from home or co-sharing office
The startup arena in Singapore is getting more exciting nowadays amidst the high commercial rental rates in the country. With the rise of co-working offices in Singapore today, entrepreneurs can have the luxury of working in a real office without paying much on the rental.
Some rental can be as low as SGD 350 a month. An article from TechinAsia written in April last year showed that there are 27 co-sharing office providers in Singapore so far. And that number is still growing today.
Those entrepreneurs who want to save on the rental fees can also use their homes as their office space. Working at home is a smart way to start a business in your initial months so that the business can reach its breakeven point faster.
Some co-sharing office space providers also offer flexible meeting room rental for entrepreneurs who wish to meet their clients inside an office environment, on an adhoc basis.
It is not "un-glamourous" to work at home either; in fact it is a smarter way to do so. Just look at the many successful brands today like Dell, Apple, and Amazon, they also started from home. They are glamourous now, right?
Creating successful brands on a shoestring budget
Not all startups may have the luxury or the luck in getting funding from the banks, venture firms, crowd-sourcing platforms, or the government, but that doesn't stop one from creating successful brands from scratch and on a shoestring budget.
Below are some amazing tips I have learnt from some successful new age entrepreneurs on how to create successful businesses even on a lean budget.
#1 Cut the glamour
If the nature of your business does not require an office space or shop space or fanciful renovation, you can do away with them because office rental in Singapore is still on its wayward high.
#2 Own online space
If you are not able to own a physical office space, you can still own many online business spaces. A domain name or website address cost you on average less than SGD 10 a year. The cost of hosting a website or multiple websites in some credible server hosts is only about less than $20 a month.
That keeps the operation running costs of your business very low, such that the moment your business got its first sale, profits will start coming! However, we have to take note that not all businesses can start without office space.
The risk for these companies is therefore much higher; hence, they have to come out with creative strategies to lower their other operating costs to maximise their profits.
#3 Do it yourself
Some business owners may feel that engaging website designers can cost them thousands of dollars in investment. Well, you can also design your own website. You don't have to be an HTML genius to do so either.
All you need is to install Wordpress content management system onto your website and that is it. There are many free tutorials on Youtube, from which you can learn how to make your own website in one day's time. So, imagine how much businesses you can make in one year's time.
#4 Start marketing
Once your website is ready, you can start to market your products and services online. Depending on the nature of your business, there are many ways to market it.
I came across a business consultant who asked for my advice on how to market his business without spending any money. The first tip that I have given to him is to be prominent on a professional social network like LinkedIn by sharing his expert opinions on LinkedIn groups that may have prospects who would like his products and services.
The other tip is that he can also connect with prospects which might engage his business too.
By following just these two shoestring marketing strategies, that friend got a few business deals on his first month in business.
You can't run the whole show on your own, you need a team of "buddies" to help you achieve that too. Look for companies that you can work on a collaboration strategy with.
Always look for that triple win in business collaboration that can add value to the customers as well as to both businesses.
#6 Outsource it!
Time is an important resource for any entrepreneur especially during their startup days. If you feel like wanting to do more things but can't, perhaps it's time to outsource some of your work.
For the start, you might not be ready for a full-time permanent staff, but you can employ somebody to do your work on a part-time basis.
There are also some credible freelance portals online, where you can get experienced and professional freelancers to work for you, for a reasonable fee.
#7 Expand your brand
Your business doesn't have to meet that one million or ten million or one billion dollar mark before you can expand your brand. In fact, you can do so the moment you got a few customers.
Why is it so? Having a few customers means that your business model works! It shows that there are consumers who are willing to pay for your products and services. Somehow in one way or another you have created a very good business model.
To expand your business, all you have to do is to seek collaboration from potential partners overseas that might be interested in your business model such that they can apply it in their countries as well.
#8 You have to work very hard
The final element to be a successful new age entrepreneur is the willingness to work hard for your dream. If you do nothing about your business, nothing will happen. You have to work very, very hard for it.
However, by using today's digital and social media strategies and by employing smart business collaboration strategies, you can see the results of your hard work soar at a very fast speed.
Just like what Walt Disney had said, "If you can dream it, you can do it!"
So, continue to work hard building your entrepreneurial dream today! And please be assured that it does not matter if you are in an office, a library, or a cafe doing that!
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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Jacky Tan is a professional marketing writer, blogger, speaker, and the author of 'Social M - How Your Startup Can Take On the Big Boys'. Jacky leads the boutique marketing communications and branding agency, Jack and Chaz Pte Ltd. He specialises in the creation of successful branding, content marketing and pr strategies for companies of any size.