Updated on 06 Feb 2018
Are you interested in starting a business in Singapore? Do you want to know the best investment opportunities in Singapore for foreigners? Highlighted in this article are the top 16 in-demand business ideas in Singapore for 2018.
According to World Bank, the Lion City with a 5.5 million population and a GNI per Capita of US$ 52,090 holds the second spot among 190 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Rank for 2018. There are more than 3,000 multinational corporations in the sovereign city-state that is described as one of Asia’s economic “tigers”.
Once a British colonial trading post, today Singapore boasts of a market economy that is highly developed, trade-oriented and business-friendly. It has also been ranked as the most open and least corrupt global financial hub, attracting all types of business investors locally and internationally.
If you are keen on making your mark in Singapore, it would entail sufficient knowledge about the country – not only the overall business climate and the trending business opportunities here but also its existing establishments, local laws and culture.
It is essential to undertake proper research first because nothing kills a business faster than planning and executing decisions based on assumption or hearsay, rather than verifiable data and facts.
Widen your reach to the global community with the top 16 in-demand businesses listed here.
Singapore is not famed for its rich arable land, with only about 0.87 percent total land area specifically devoted for agricultural purposes. Despite the fact, the country has an overwhelming demand for food and other agricultural products than it can ever produce.
It is a logical idea to start making a feasibility study on this area because there are very few players in the agriculture sector.
Venturing into vertical farming is a good investment, as it is now one of the novel and more creative ways of farming in land-scarce Singapore. While the primary challenge of this business is investing on and innovating the required technology for production, the gains are significantly higher. Vertical farms have higher yields due to reliance on high tech, controlled indoor environments. As a result, the harvested crops are not exposed to chemicals, pollutants, pesticides and dirt.
As of the 2016 Scientific American Worldview Scorecards, Singapore is the world’s second most innovative country in biotechnology, just behind the United States. Bio-entrepreneurship has a solid infrastructure in Singapore, as evident with institutions such as Fusionopolis, Tuas Biomedical Park, and Biopolis. According to BioSingapore, Singapore is also home to multi-national biopharma companies and drug makers such as Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline.
The government is actively involved in fund research, biotechnology development and infrastructure as well as the recruitment of top international scientists. With this in mind, there is a huge wealth of opportunities to anyone who would invest in the biotechnology sector. A huge capital and solid background knowledge are two key factors that would ease your way as you break into this industry.
Freight and Courier Services
International freight companies are naturally drawn to Singapore because of its strategic geographical location and the indispensability of the transport system here.
Singapore’s efforts to modernize its infrastructure resulted to a smooth, easy, and fast link from the airport and harbour to different roads and motorways across the city. If you want to start a transportation business here, you’d find confidence in the fact that the government provides its full support to the Land Transport Authority towards its operations.
You may want to venture into logistics and parcel delivery service to enter the freight forwarding industry. In this type of business, you can engage in the shipping, storage, documentation and even tracking of delivered parcels and focus on three main geographic points: within Singapore for intercity transport service, international freight or within Singapore’s free trade zones such as airports and terminals. To commence, registration with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore (ACRA) is a must. If the storage facilities entail the heavy lifting of goods, a Crane Operator License from MOM must be obtained. When toxic chemicals or flammable materials are to be transported, the driver must be equipped with a Hazardous Materials Transport Driver Permit (HDTP).
Whether smartphones, car navigation systems, or video game consoles, chances are it has been designed or manufactured in Singapore. In the third quarter of 2017, the sector of manufacturing (primarily electronics), along with the services sector accounted for 77 percent of the Gross Domestic Product for 2017. What better industry to be involved in with than in the electronics sector?
In 2018, the electronics sector is expected to expand to sustain the demands of the global semiconductor market. Singapore is fast becoming Asia’s centre of manufacturing industry which makes it an ideal location for investors in electronic companies to create and manage new markets here and its surrounding regions.
Digital marketing in Singapore is on the rise and will continue to do so for 2018. As new innovations and technologies emerge, it seems the industry will not slow down until every sphere of digital marketing is conquered.
Internet has been and will continue to be a key player in the acquisition of customers by businesses. So whether you are a social media marketing expert, website developer or designer, or a seasoned copywriter who wants to widen your audience reach, digital marketing is the way to go in Singapore for 2018.
Aerospace and Aviation Industries
According to Singapore’s Economic Development Board, it is responsible for the maintenance, repair and overhaul of about 25 per cent of aircraft and components in Asia.
For the next 20 years, the global fleet size will be twice in its number today, as more than 33 percent of aircraft deliveries from all around the world will see Asia as its destination. This will bring to about 13,500 air-crafts to the Asia Pacific fleet by 2031.
Air travel across the Asia Pacific region has been, and will continue to be on the rise for business purposes and otherwise, creating countless opportunities for aerospace manufacturers, investors, and players alike. Singapore’s aviation history alone proves this point, reaching milestone after every milestone, as it recently completed the construction of Changi airport’s newest terminal, Terminal 4 in 2017 and is set to undertake the construction of another terminal, Terminal 5.
Clean or Sustainable Energy
As of 2015, Singapore has already given a go-signal for five clean technology companies to invest S$150 million on sustainable energy projects in the city state, cementing Singapore’s position as a regional leader in the industry. This is a strong and proactive solution to the threatening effects of global warming.
Fossil-fuel based power generation will soon be phased out and be replaced by renewable energy and grid solutions for distributed energy. Therefore, the global business opportunities in this industry are ripe for the taking.
Elderly Care Services
By 2030, Singapore will have more than 900,000 people aged 65 and above, making it one of the fastest ageing societies in the world. By law, children are required to provide the necessary care and guidance for their elderly parents, which in turn created a demand for quality health care for senior citizens.
Tapping into this 21st century market means a never-ending cycle of day-to-day tasks such as meal preparation, housekeeping, hygiene maintenance, physical rehabilitation, and other relevant tasks but a very lucrative one as well.
Exercise hubs are becoming increasingly popular in Singapore as more and more people prioritize having fit and healthy bodies. Becoming a fitness trainer, or better yet, putting up a center that provides customized and special fitness training sessions can attract a plethora of people from all walks of life.
You may want to put up an ideal gym or fitness centre that will answer to the specific needs and personality of each customer to motivate them to come back and exercise on an even more regular basis.
As a personal trainer, you can also inspire other people too busy to exercise to start eating right. To provide a holistic weight loss program, you may offer nutritional advice along with weight management counseling besides gym facilities. Freelance personal trainers are considered more profitable than normal gym employees, with a salary average of $35,785 per year.
As of 2016, there are almost 400 childcare centres at various workplaces in Singapore – a nearly 50 per cent rise from 2012 statistics. By 2018, four mega child centres will be added to this list of service providers.
Parents need to secure the well-being of their children, and they want to rely on people who are professionals in this job. If you place high regard on family-oriented values, starting a business in this industry will not only provide you with excellent chances of making money but also earning the gratitude of busy parents who want quality childcare for their children.
To set up a child care centre, a license must first be procured from the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).
Self-service laundry kiosks
Coin-operated laundry business has great growth potential in Singapore. Statistics showed that from 2014 to 2015 alone, 30,000 companies in the laundry business made an annual revenue of over 10 billion dollars. It was likewise found that out of 30,000 companies, 70% belong to the retail laundry operations while 30% comprised coin-operated laundry enterprises.
There are many potential clients in Singapore, among these are those HDB households whose bulky items such as comforters, sofa covers, blankets and curtains which cannot be easily washed or dried at home, large families in need of daily washing, tourists, or even home owners with faulty washing machines. Coin operated laundry enterprise is a stable business, with proven annual ROI of above 30% and a breakeven within 2 years. There are no receivables, as the payment is already prepaid by customers prior to use of washing machines. There is likewise no labour or staffing problem because the operation of the washing machines is self-service.
Healthy Meals Delivery
With more Singaporeans learning the importance of healthy eating habits, there is a growing appetite for healthy food delivery services. The latest trend in the food industry is the delivery of personalised and healthy meal plans formulated according to the specific dietary needs of individuals.
Healthy food delivery appeals to customers with busy schedules who choose to pay to have their nutritious meals conveniently delivered right at their doorstep without having to endure long queues. Starting this type of business requires working with certified nutritionists to help provide customers with complete dietary information.
You may explore the option of becoming a nutritious food operator which operates purely online and allows customers to make healthy meal subscriptions and pre-order meals of certain caloric quantities.
Online shopping has taken over Singapore’s retail industry. To illustrate how much Singaporeans love to buy online, Temasek and Google reported that ecommerce will rake in revenues of about S$7.46 billion (US$5.4 billion) by year 2025.
E-commerce user penetration is likewise expected to rise by 74.20% in 2020. This means that setting up an online business to cater to the netizens’ market demand is a profitable venture.
Ecommerce businesses, which sell through online websites, raked in almost S$420 million and accounted for 38 percent of overall ecommerce purchases. The usual line of products offered by e-retailers includes apparel, fashion accessories, beauty products, consumer electronics, computer hardware and software.
Selling new products online draws online buyers for various reasons. It offers convenience, flexible payment methods and secure online transactions. To enhance your e-commerce brand, try selling specialty or niche items that stand out from other product lines.
Under the Singapore Broadcasting Authority Act, a license must first be procured by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or Internet Content Provider (ICP) before dispensing computer online services. Fortunately, as an e-merchant or simply an ecommerce site owner, you are a class licensee deemed automatically licensed and exempt from procuring a separate license application. All e-merchants are also required to comply with Singapore’s Internet Code of Practice.
Private Tour Guide
Singapore was ranked 13th out of 136 countries for the 2017 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report. It receives millions of visitors per year. In the first few months of 2017, when visitor arrivals in Singapore reached historic heights , the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) revealed Singapore’s tourist population reached a total of 5.79 million visitors, 1.1 million of which were from China.
The continued influx of tourists in Singapore is a good reason to offer personal tour guide services. This type of business has the potential to yield profits exceeding $50,000 per year.
To procure a Tourist Guide licence, the completion of the Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Tourist Guide (TG) Course provided by Workforce Singapore (WSG) and passing other assessments is imperative.
The wellness industry in Singapore, consisting of spa and massage services, has a strong business potential. The target niche of massage services includes both men and women, mostly working professionals who desire to get pampered with luxurious treatments after a tiring day at work.
Under the Massage Establishment Act, a Massage Establishment License must be procured before establishing a spa offering massage services. The law mandates that you’ll have to obtain this type of license if your enterprise offers massage services, spa baths, reflexology services and other types.
Businesses in beauty and grooming industry such as beauty or eyebrow embroidery will need to check with your company registration firm to check licensing is required.
Personal Mobility Devices Repair
Recently, personal mobility devices like e-bicycle, e-scooter, hover-board and unicycles are becoming increasing popular in Singapore. The use of these devices is becoming a favourite means of personal transportation. With the increasing demand for these mobility devices in Singapore, there is also a growing need for their maintenance and repair.
Like cars, they must be maintained regularly to ensure optimal functionality and safe riding. With this type of business, you can offer services including fixing of tire punctures, shaky handlebars, electrical faults, repair of brake repairs and changing of batteries. Not only will you enjoy having a profitable business, you will also help people travel safer with regularly maintained mobility devices.