This article was first published on 16 June 2020 and has been updated.
Even though sentiments about the state of the economy remains downbeat, there are many signs that actually point to this being a great (perhaps even best) time to start a business – whether it’s an idea you’ve had for years, a side hustle to earn extra income, or finally take action to solve a pain point you, and many others you know, have.
#1 New Opportunities Come As People Work, Play And Live Differently
Before COVID-19, people’s normal way of life has already been formed over time – what their needs were, where they frequent, and which businesses catered to their wants.
Rent in high-traffic areas would already be priced in to account for the busy footfall. Many retailers and stalls would already have sprung up to serve the daily needs of customers.
However, COVID-19 has transformed travel patterns, consumption preferences, and there is a void in the needs of many people’s socially-distanced lives.
It has opened a huge market for online conferencing solutions, virtual events, collaboration tools, next-generation social networks, better last-mile logistics solutions, home entertainment and more.
It can be costly and time-consuming for even the most forward-looking and agile incumbent companies pivot, while new businesses that start now can be laser-focused to build products and offer services that people need now, and into the future.
#2 Abundance Of Talented Candidates On The Job Market
A side effect of slowdown in traditional companies’ hiring, as well as the unfortunate retrenchments, mean that the estimated 100,000 retrenched workers as well as graduates of the Class of 2020 will be actively on the job market.
During times of economic prosperity, workers might be more choosy on the kinds of companies they want to join. The artificial bubble created by venture capital money also distorts salary expectations for sustainable companies that need to make a profit.
During a recession such as this, many companies have implemented a hiring freeze and employees themselves may re-evaluate just how secure their employment is. The SG United Traineeships programme further incentivises companies to hire fresh graduates by subsidising part of their allowances for up to a year.
#3 Whole-Of-Government Effort To Grow Singapore’s Economy Today And Tomorrow
Historically, Singapore is known for getting ambitious national projects done, thanks to private-public partnership.
Whether it was rapid industrialisation in the 1960s, or pushing for science and technology in the 1990s, great growth and opportunities have always followed when Singapore sets its sights on a national objective, and commits investments and infrastructure towards its realisation.
With the four successive Budgets in 2020 as well as series of ministerial addresses, the government is clearly articulating its vision for the future, as well as a concrete roadmap for achieving its plans. Entrepreneurs can refer to these plans when coming up with business ideas.
Further, there is a whole slew of government grants, incentives and packages that encourage hiring workers, training workers, adoption of digital solutions, and expansion plans in general during this current period.
#4 Low Interest Rate Environment Plus Liquidity Injected Into The Financial Markets
In an attempt to stimulate the economy and help companies maintain much needed cashflow, central banks around the world have slashed interest rates to historic low levels.
Furthermore, to ensure Singapore companies have affordable access to credit, the Singapore government have introduced schemes in which they take on the majority of the risk-share for these loans, and increased the quantum for many government-assisted loans.
Whether its trade financing, bridging loans, machinery acquisition, or overseas expansion, access to credit for SMEs is now cheaper and more accessible.
#5 Lower Opportunity Cost Coupled With Stronger Motivation
The difficulty for many people who have existing jobs is the high opportunity cost of leaving the stability of a salaried job, along with abandoning bonuses and other perks, in order to start a business of their own.
In the current economic climate, the opportunity cost is much lower because of retrenchments, pay cuts, and non-existent bonuses.
Alongside the lack of upside of remaining in their current jobs, the desire to earn more or diversify their income streams can be a powerful source of motivation for people to spend their evenings or weekends laying the groundwork for their own business – whether that is a side hustle or a full-fledged company of their own in time to come.
These Silver Linings Apply To Existing Companies As Well
Even though we highlighted these silver linings for starting businesses during this COVID-19 recession, many of these benefits in the business environment apply equally to existing companies – if they are willing to adapt and seize new opportunities.
Towards this end, you can join the DollarsAndSense Business Community to network with like-minded entrepreneurs, freelancers and self-employed persons to share ideas, ask questions and learn to build stronger, better businesses that not just survive COVID-19, but thrive.
For those taking the bold step to start a business for the first time, you can tap on OCBC’s business resource hub to connect you to information on choosing the right business structure, acquiring industry-specific licences and permits, on-boarding the right digital solutions and more.
You can work with a corporate secretary like OSOME to get your business registered in one day. Learn more about CorpPass to transact with the government and the process of choosing a right location. You can also continue to leverage on OCBC’s network as you scale up by creating a website and using tools like Mailchimp to engage your customers, as well as using Xero or Quickbooks for cloud accounting.
The portal isn’t just for new businesses either. You can also rely on the OCBC business resource hub for expansion plans, financing growth opportunities in your existing or new business, and strategies to optimise business processes and manage multiple successful businesses.
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