By Julie Ng
First of all, why set up office in Singapore? Isn’t it an expensive place?
The mantra “Location, Location, Location” not only applies to brick-and-mortar stores, but also to office spaces. While Singapore ranks at 11th place in the list of most expensive places to hold office, it definitely pays off. According to Megan Walters, JLL’s head of capital markets research in Asia Pacific. “...cities are fighting to secure the world’s most dynamic corporations, attract the best talent and pull in capital, both of which are highly mobile.”
It is critical to find a solid location for the heart of your business. While a big chunk of your budget is going to the daily expenses in the prestigious, vibrant Lion City, here are other ways you can save.
Outsource the Small Stuff
Don't sweat it, outsource it! You need a logo ASAP but cannot afford a hotshot studio (yet), or a compelling company bio and SEO friendly copy for your product. For businesses that are starting out, it’d be a good idea to outsource the small stuff in the interim by going to freelancing sites such as Upwork or Freelancer (no, not your teenage nephew). After all, done (aka existing) is better than perfect.
We were going to talk about how to get discounted furniture, DIY, and eco-friendly lighting but worrying about that will take time and momentum from your business. The fast and easy solution for office spaces is to find an affordable space for your team which you can rent short term, by the day or month.
The startup and SME landscape is unpredictable, so it helps to stay mobile and rent spaces that adjust to your growing team’s needs. Solo entrepreneur? Find a private office. Remote team? Get a virtual address for legitimacy. Need an impressive boardroom for the day? Close deals with a temporary meeting room.
Becoming an expert helps accumulate low-cost attention to your brand. Get out of your domain and establish your presence - at least in places that matter. Teach at a workshop, or be part of a talk that ends with networking. Everyone loves a good story!
Not into public speaking? Go digital with your expert advice and hacks. Medium, Quora,and LinkedIn are some of the most frequented spaces online for authority building. Great posts and answers get re-published on leading sites. Don’t be afraid to take a stance on matters that are relevant to your business and engaged with your readers and followers.
For editing images, GIMP is a popular alternative to Photoshop great for basic editing, like bumping up the contrast, cropping, or adding text over an image.
Google Docs! Imagine your trustworthy Word, Excel, and Powerpoint but web-based and ready for sharing and collaborations. Access your documents anywhere, anytime. Emailing documents, overwriting old versions of files, and hitting “save” is a thing of the past. Google Docs, Sheets, Slides are smart editing tools perfect for group works.
Be a Good Neighbor
Bartering is timeless: civilization started with it and startups are doing it. Joint promotions and partnerships help cut your marketing cost and share customer information.
Do you prepare and deliver healthy food? The health-conscious members of a nearby crossfit gym would be interested. Does your coworking space need good coffee? Rent a portion of your communal area to a cafe.
Bartering and partnerships is perfect for incubation or coworking spaces. Such spaces are fantastic venues to rapidly expand your network and find the help you need. Be a good neighbor and get to know their roster of diverse members.
Non-monetary incentives and team building
You don’t have to give out yoga class passes or hold elaborate sports events. Your team can still have low-cost fun. A small team is easy to get to know and gather. Board game night? Margarita Fridays? Volunteering? How about potlucks and barbecues? Just don’t forget to ask everyone about allergies first!
No-code Website Builders
Say your business doesn’t require a robust website like our space directory and only need a few basic pages to house all the information your customer or client needs. Outsourcing your web development takes time and additional cost so, in the meantime, try signing up on no-code site builders that take care of the template, and sometimes even the domain, for you.
Go Organic and Find Your Tribe
While it’s easier said than done and ads are still necessary, make sure your team has a good grasp of SEO, creativity and resourcefulness, and the empathy to be able to effectively sell your product.
Do your homework and get to know where your target hangs out, online or offline. Lumping your prospective customers into simplistic demographics (e.g. “millennials”, “baby boomers”) may be not be as effective as finding your tribe - a group of people who share the same interests regardless of age group.
There are Facebook groups, forums, and subreddits where your niche gathers who will greatly appreciate your product and even offer feedback. Even better if you throw in an irresistible promo exclusively for them.
Keep in mind that these are only short term solutions so don’t get so used to them! Instead of allowing imperfections and setbacks to bother you, use them to motivate you to work towards your next milestone where you have in-house experts and the funds to take your business grow your business (and we'll be here to help). Finally, while frugality is virtuous, don’t overdo it and be THAT person. Always, always pay your freelancers and team on time.