According to a survey by HSBC in 2017, the biggest motivator for Singaporean millennials to start a business is to follow their passion. This is markedly different from Singaporeans above fifty who identifies personal wealth as their main motivator.
This means that Singaporean millennials who start their own business often do because of personal rather than financial satisfaction.
If you are one of the millennials looking to start your own business but have not yet taken the leap, the entire business environment may look daunting at first.
What business should you start? How much money will you need? When will you need to quit your job?
These are all important questions you will want answers to before you take the leap.
The good news is that there are many types of businesses available for you to start off with, even if you don’t have that much money or that much time.
Sounds too good to be true?
In reality, businesses come in all shapes and sizes. There are businesses where you need a lot of money to start, and there are businesses you don’t need that much money to start.
So, regardless of your level of capital, there is definitely a business you can get started with.
In this post, we will explore 12 different business opportunities in Singapore with different capital requirements.
These are some of the most promising opportunities based on trends I have observed in Singapore I believe most Singaporean working adults can take part in.
Let’s take a look at them, beginning with the less capital-intensive ones at the top:
#1. Sell Experiences on Airbnb
Did you know? Airbnb is no longer just a place for you to let out vacant rooms in your apartment or house, you can now sell unique experiences.
Singapore is one of the hottest travel destinations in South East Asia. This gives you the opportunity to start a business selling tourists unique Singaporean experiences.
Check out these popular experiences:
Could you sell a similar experience?
With this business, you have the opportunity to start very small and slowly grow it out into a sustainable business over time.
You can get started by listing your experience here.
Earning potential: Up to SGD200 per customer. Just taking one customer a week can give you a potential income of SGD800 a month.
Cost to get started: Depends on the experience you are offering. For a cooking experience, you may need to buy ingredients for SGD10 – 30 per person.
How you make money: You sell a uniquely Singaporean experience to a tourist who wants to get off the beaten path for a fee.
Who this is best for: People who like hosting their friends for short stays in Singapore, or if you just have a knack for being hospitable. Have a unique skill like cooking, or know an interesting local experience and package it into one experience.
The best thing about this opportunity: You can do it on the weekends to start off with
The worst thing about this opportunity: It can be competitive to list on Airbnb as anyone can list. You have to make your experience a truly unique one.
#2. Sell Freelance Services
Freelancing is one of the most common ways for skilled professionals to take their first step into starting their own business. It gives them the opportunity to test the waters and even pick up some business skills along the way.
On top of that, a freelance career also offers a more flexible lifestyle compared to a full-time, 9-to-5 job.
But what service should you sell? Do you even have a sellable skill?
The truth is that you probably do.
For instance, if you are a graphic designer by day, you could offer freelance graphic design services by night.
But the freelance services you offer isn’t limited to what you do in your day job. If say you are an architect who loves writing and has honed your writing skills over the years, you could offer your writing services to businesses.
It could be just any skill – accounting, web design, online marketing and so on.
Earning potential: SGD1,500 – SGD15,000 a month
Cost to get started: If you already have the skill, it may not cost you much at all to get started. You may need to invest in some software if it is required for the job. If you want to learn some skills before you get started, you can invest some money in Seth Godin’s comprehensive freelance course that guides you from A to Z.
How you make money: Sell services to people looking for freelance services
Who this is best for: People who are already skilled areas people are looking for a service in
The best thing about this opportunity: You can get started quickly if you already have a sellable skill
The worst thing about this opportunity: It can be hard to find your first client if you’ve never started before.
#3. Start an Online Business
An online business is one of the easiest and most flexible ways to start a business in Singapore and anywhere in the world.
The biggest advantage of an online business is that you can make money even without leaving the house. As long as you have a laptop and an internet connection, you have everything you need to run and grow an online business.
These can be an ideal business for introverts, students, stay-at-home spouses or people who have to be in the constant care of an elderly dependent.
There are many kinds of online business you can get started with, depending on your interest, skills and amount of money you have.
To get started, you can get some ideas by reading our article on the 15 Popular Online Businesses in Singapore and How They Make Money Online.
Earning potential: SGD100 – SGD10,000 a month
Cost to get started: SGD100 – SGD1,000
How you make money: It depends on your business model – for an e-commerce business, for example, you earn money by taking a profit between the cost of goods and the selling price
Who this is best for: Introverts, students, stay-at-home spouses or home-bound family caregivers
The best thing about this opportunity: It’s flexible and can be started at low cost
The worst thing about this opportunity: Some online business models can be competitive and require a higher learning curve, and so may delay the time you can get started.
#4. Offer Tour Guide Services
As mentioned earlier, Singapore is one of the hottest tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, with more and more tourists pouring into the Lion City for holidays. This opens up an increasing number of opportunities for you to make money offering tour guide services.
If you love making friends and enjoying exploring your hometown, this could be just the opportunity for you.
To get started as a tour guide, you need to attend a Tour Guide course by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) as guiding without a license is an offense in Singapore.
The course will guide you through everything you need to know about being a tour guide as well as give you the opportunity to learn about Singapore’s best spots.
You may even expand your business into something bigger, bringing other guides under you.
Earning potential: SGD50 – 200 per day of guiding
Cost to get started: SGD72 tourist guide license fee
How you make money: By providing guiding services to tourists in Singapore
Who this is best for: People who enjoy exploring Singapore and bringing people around, meeting new friends
The best thing about this opportunity: It’s a flexible job you can get started on the weekends
The worst thing about this opportunity: It will take up to a year to get your tourist guide license before you can sell your services
#5. College Prep
Singaporeans are known to be competitive and want to get into the best schools in Singapore as well as around the world.
If you have been successful in getting into a top school like NUS, NTU or an Ivy League school in the U.S., you could very possibly offer your coaching services to students who want to do exactly the same thing.
Earning potential: SGD1,500 – SGD10,000 a month
Cost: SGD200,000 – SGD3,000,000
How you make money: Teaching students ways to get into their dream colleges
Who this is best for: People who like to teach and have the skills to help students get into their dream college
The best thing about this opportunity: Many potential customers as many students in Singapore want to get into top universities in Singapore and around the world
The worst thing about this opportunity: There can be a lot of pressure to ensure that the students you coach actually get into the schools they want to.
#6. Pet Grooming
Where you have pet owners, you will have the opportunity to offer a pet-related service.
These days, pet owners have come to see their pets as an extension of themselves, grooming their pets the same way they would themselves.
As such, you have the opportunity to start a pet grooming service in Singapore.
This could be an ideal service for you if you love dogs. Imagine being around them while you work. It could be a dream come true!
To get started you will likely need to attend a pet grooming course that will guide you on how to do it properly without hurting the dogs.
Once you are done, you can start your own pet grooming service. You can start off small with offering door-to-door pet grooming services, and maybe one day, grow your business into something like these.
Earning potential: SGD65 – SGD200 per grooming session
Cost to get started: SGD3,000 – SGD6,000 for a course in pet grooming and some pet grooming equipment
How you make money: You help people to groom their dogs for a fee
Who this is best for: Pet lovers
The best thing about this opportunity: Lots of dog owners in Singapore who want their dogs groomed
The worst thing about this opportunity: Risk of harming dogs. Have to be very careful or may get sued.
#7. Become a Language Coach
In an ever interconnected world, more and more people are interested to pick up another language that may help them either professionally or personally.
If you happen to be fluent in a language, you may sell your services to people who want to learn.
This can include common languages like English and Chinese, as well as foreign languages like Spanish, German and French.
Earning potential: SGD50 – 200 per session
Cost to get started: Depending on what level you want to teach, you may need to invest in a language course to get certified first. This can cost a few thousand SGD.
How you make money: Charge an hourly fee for classes to people who want to learn
Who this is best for: People with a knack for language and know more than one language
The best thing about this opportunity: Language lessons are usually highly priced
The worst thing about this opportunity: Getting your first few students can be tough when you are just starting out
#8. E-commerce (Sell Online)
A 2017 Google and Temasek Holding reports that Singapore’s e-commerce industry will grow to a whopping US$5.4billion by 2025.
This means that the e-commerce pie in Singapore is ever-expanding and you will have the opportunity to take part in it if you get started.
There are many ways to get started in e-commerce. You can create your own e-commerce website or sell on marketplaces like Carousell, Shopee and Lazada.
If you don’t have the capital to stock up on inventory, you can even start off with a dropshipping model where suppliers will send the items to your customers on your behalf.
Earning potential: SGD100 – SGD100,000 a month
Cost to get started: SGD100 – SGD1,000
How you make money: Profit the difference between cost and sales price
Who this is best for: People who want to make money online and have some experience selling
The best thing about this opportunity: Many places for you to get started for free
The worst thing about this opportunity: Competitive. You may need some capital for inventory if you don’t drop ship. If you dropship, margins can be low. You will need high sales volume to see substantial income.
#9. Start an F&B Business
F&B is always popular in Singapore.
Take a look at these success stories:
Everybody has heard of Irvin’s famous salted egg snack:
Don’t think it’s possible? Take a look at this graduate who started a business selling french fries:
There is even possibility of expanding out of Singapore. Take a look at Pezzo’s story:
The only drawback with an F&B business is that you may need to invest some capital in the business.
Earning potential: SGD1,000 – SGD300,000 a month
Cost to get started: SGD30,000 – SGD500,000
How you make money: Sell food for a profit
Who this is best for: Love to experiment with food, have some experience with food industry
The best thing about this opportunity: Massive opportunity for business growth locally and internationally
The worst thing about this opportunity: May be a hit or miss. Failure can mean massive investment lost
#10. Produce Your Own Organic Line
As people become more aware of the harmful chemicals in the everyday products we use, more and more people in Singapore as well as around the world are shifting to chemical-free organic products.
Taking a look at the Google Trends for the ‘organic’, you will notice a sustained interest in it over the last 12 months:
Organic products not only have great business potential in Singapore but also all over the world.
Locally, homegrown organic product brand Handmade Heroes’ created a popular dry shampoo that has not only sold well in Singapore but has also sold very well on Amazon US.
Read about their story here:
Like Handmade Heroes, you may not even need a physical store to sell your organic products. You can sell them all online to an eager customer base.
Earning potential: SGD1,000 – SGD300,000 a month
Cost to get started: SGD1,000 – SGD100,000 for raw materials and R&D
How you make money: Selling organic products for profit
Who this is best for: People who like experimenting with product creation and have a tendency towards using chemical-free, organic products
The best thing about this opportunity: There are a lot of products you can create that’s organic. You can even learn from YouTube videos and modify the ingredients list to fit your own requirements.
The worst thing about this opportunity: It can take a long time to create something that people want. You may have a lot of failed products along the way before you create one that people want.
#11. Become a Host on Airbnb
Airbnb is one of the most popular short-term accommodation marketplaces. If you have an extra room at home, you can make some extra money on the side.
The only caveat is that becoming an Airbnb host in Singapore can be tricky. Doing the wrong things can land you in legal trouble that may make your hosting on Airbnb not worth its while.
The first thing you need to do as an Airbnb host in Singapore is to check all the restrictions and stay safely within lawful boundaries.
Earning potential: SGD50 – 200 per room, per night
Cost to get started: Ownership of a place where it is legal to conditionally let out rooms on Airbnb
How you make money: Charging for vacant rooms
Who this is best for: People who have extra rooms in places where it is legal to conditionally let out rooms on Airbnb.
The best thing about this opportunity: A good and lucrative use of extra space.
The worst thing about this opportunity: Can be unsafe as you are letting strangers into your home. And more importantly, laws in Singapore about Airbnbs can change at any time.
#12. Buy a franchise
Franchise business is one of the most popular business out there. It is a turnkey business where the entire system is already build up, including an established brand, systems.
You just need to plug and play.
Best of all, you can find a franchise business in almost every retail industry possible. Whether you want to own an F&B outlet, coin-operated laundry outlet or a convenience store outlet, you are likely to find one.
The biggest drawback with a franchise business is that they can be expensive to start. You not only have to consider the cost of buying the franchise you also need to prepare the capital for sustaining operating expenses for at least six months (rental, employees etc).
Though, there are also cheaper businesses that you can start at a few thousand dollars.
However, a good franchise can give you long-term returns. Here are some popular franchises in Singapore to get you started:
Earning potential: SGD2,500 – SGD100,000 a month
Cost to get started: SGD200,000 – SGD3,000,000
How you make money: Like a normal business, except you may need to pay for royalties
Who this is best for: People who have already accumulated enough capital and some business experience in the line of business they are interested to buy a franchise in
The best thing about this opportunity: You don’t need to spend the time to build up your business from scratch. You can get started faster.
The worst thing about this opportunity: It can be expensive to set up. Some capital required. You may also need to pay for royalties and advertising fees, which can add to your overall costs.
There are many business opportunities in Singapore you can get started with, regardless of your capital level or time you have.
If you don’t have that much capital, the easiest way to get started is by offering a service. If you do have some capital saved up, you can consider starting an F&B business, or even buying a franchise.
Whatever method you choose to start your business with, you will have a higher chance of succeeding only if you work hard and persevere.
Starting a business by itself is not a golden ticket to personal satisfaction or wealth.
All the best!
Over to you! What other business opportunities should Singaporeans take advantage of right now? Leave them in the comments below!