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What are the 2023 Challenges Faced by SMEs in Singapore?

Challenges Faced by SMEs in Singapore

What Qualifies as an SME in Singapore?

To be categorized as an SME in Singapore, a company must have an annual sales turnover of less than S$100 million and employ fewer than 200 workers.  This type of classification helps to drive tailored support and initiatives that address the specific needs and challenges faced by SMEs in Singapore.

Main Challenges Faced by SMEs in Singapore and How to Overcome Them

According to the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) National Business Survey, SMEs in Singapore encounter significant challenges in their operations. The survey, which involved over a thousand businesses, highlighted the main challenges as increasing costs, manpower availability, and manpower retention.

Increasing costs

One primary challenge faced by SMEs in Singapore is the escalating costs of doing business. The survey revealed that 66% of businesses identified cost escalation as a major concern. Within the realm of cost challenges, wages emerged as a significant issue, driven by intense competition for talent. 

To remain competitive, SMEs must offer attractive salaries and benefits packages. Addressing logistical costs, such as transportation and distribution expenses, and implementing strategic cost management practices can also help mitigate financial strain.

Manpower Availability

Another significant challenge for SMEs in Singapore is the availability of manpower. The survey indicated that rising manpower costs and limited availability of skilled local labor are top concerns. SMEs may struggle to attract and retain qualified employees, particularly in industries with specialized skill requirements. 

To address this, investing in training and upskilling programs, collaborating with educational institutions, and exploring alternative talent acquisition methods can help bridge the skills gap.

Manpower Retention

In addition to manpower availability, SMEs in Singapore also face challenges related to retaining talented employees. Rising manpower costs contribute to the retention challenge, as employees may be lured by higher salaries offered by larger companies. 

To address these challenges, SMEs must adopt strategic budget management to provide competitive compensation packages.

What Are the Opportunities for SMEs in Singapore?

Because of the current challenges faced by SMEs in Singapore, it is crucial for businesses to proactively open themselves to future opportunities. Here are some opportunities for SMEs in Singapore.

Government Support

The Singapore government is dedicated to supporting SMEs through different initiatives, grants, and schemes. This can be seen as effective since a survey from the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) showed that in 2022, nearly 70 percent of SMEs applied for government schemes

These schemes are meant to assist businesses in digitalization, and technology adoption, as well as in hiring, training, and retaining employees. In turn, SMEs can take advantage of these programs to access funding, boost productivity, and foster innovation within their companies.

Digital Transformation

Embracing digitalization presents immense opportunities for SMEs. They can begin adopting digital tools, technologies, and platforms, to streamline operations, expand their reach through e-commerce, and deliver enhanced customer experiences.

Regional and Global Expansion

Singapore’s strategic location and well-established connectivity make it an ideal base for SMEs to expand regionally and globally. SMEs can tap into international markets, forge partnerships, and leverage Singapore’s reputation as a global business hub.

Innovation and Research

Singapore places significant emphasis on innovation and research. SMEs can collaborate with research institutions and participate in innovative programs to develop new products, services, and technologies that cater to evolving market demands.

Sustainability and Green Initiatives

With a growing focus on sustainability, SMEs can seize opportunities in the green economy. They can start adopting eco-friendly practices, offering sustainable solutions, and aligning with environmental goals to attract environmentally conscious customers and gain a competitive edge.

Talent Development

Singapore’s strong talent pool and educational institutions offer SMEs an opportunity to attract and nurture skilled professionals. SMEs must start investing in talent development programs, so they can cultivate a capable workforce that drives innovation and contributes to business growth.

Emerging Industries

Singapore actively supports the development of emerging industries such as fintech, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and sustainable energy. SMEs operating in these sectors can benefit from government incentives and a conducive ecosystem to thrive and succeed.

How We Can Help: Our Incorporation Service

At SJH Advisory, we understand the challenges faced by SMEs in Singapore. That’s why we offer a comprehensive incorporation service designed to help businesses overcome these obstacles and establish themselves successfully. 

Our experienced team is well-versed in navigating the complexities of the Singapore business landscape and can provide expert guidance. From selecting the right business structure to fulfilling statutory requirements, we ensure a smooth and efficient incorporation journey. 

Partner with us to streamline your incorporation process and set your business on the path to success. Contact us today for a FREE consultation and learn more about how our incorporation service can help your SME thrive in Singapore.

Challenges Faced by SMEs in Singapore - FAQs

SMEs in Singapore encounter various challenges, including increasing costs, manpower availability, and manpower retention. Rising business costs, particularly in areas such as wages and logistics, can strain financial resources. The limited availability of skilled local labor and stricter policies on foreign worker supply further add to the manpower challenges.

Yes, the Singapore government provides various initiatives and support programs to assist SMEs in addressing these challenges. These include grants and funding schemes to defray costs, skills development programs, and collaborations with industry associations to facilitate talent acquisition and retention. SMEs are encouraged to explore and leverage these resources to overcome challenges and drive their growth.

Consulting firms specializing in areas such as incorporation, accounting, tax advisory, and business consulting can offer valuable expertise and support to SMEs. They can assist in navigating regulatory requirements, optimizing financial processes, providing strategic advice, and offering customized solutions tailored to SMEs’ specific needs. Partnering with reliable service providers can alleviate administrative burdens and allow SMEs to focus on core business activities.

Contact Us

If you have any enquiries, please feel free to contact us. We will answer your question as soon as possible, Thank You!


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