As part of our growth plans, we are going to Malaysia next. As a business based in Singapore, we are well aware of the limitations of the size of the market. It was the most obvious choice for us, mainly due to the strength of the Sing dollar as compared to its Malaysian counterpart as well as the demand for our services in the country.
For businesses based in Singapore, Malaysia is geographically the nearest market that is sizeable to look at when it comes to expansion plans. However, after a few meetings with associates as well as potential partners, there are a few key things that should be considered as well besides the obvious currency strength of the Singapore Dollar.
1. Licenses needed to operate
For our business, which is considered relatively highly regulated by professional and government bodies, the number of licenses that we require is surprisingly more than what is needed in Singapore. While this may not apply to some industries, it is important to find out which are the relevant ones that would apply to your business. In our case, even minor things such as signboards require some form of application to be approved before it can go up on the wall. Getting the company incorporated is just step one; whilst it may be relatively easy to get incorporated, the same can’t be said about getting a business license.
2. Staffing needs
Our staffing requirements were fairly straightforward, considering the fact that we have had many hires previously from Malaysia. That being considered, the ability to draw talents still depends on the usual stuff. Potential employees will look at our office location, the working environment and of course the salary. In order to combat the fact that the location of our office is in a somewhat secluded part of town, we are planning to provide transportation as well as food for all our team members.
3. Culture of work
Despite the concept of the global marketplace, it is important to remember that there are always local cultures that come into play every time you bring people from different backgrounds and nationalities together in an organisation. There is a need to get a sense of what the local working culture is like, preferably from someone who has actual working experience in the environment or country that you are looking to set up shop in. That way you will not have a perceived culture in your mind but rather something that is actual, which will reduce the possibility of getting culture shock.
As Singapore has a small domestic market, the government is always encouraging SMEs to ventures overseas. They have also put forward schemes that will assist SMEs in their setting up as well as building their business development capabilities in whichever market that they are setting up in. These schemes typically cover up to 70% of rental and salaries for staff provided a couple of simple conditions are met. Our most recent client took advantage of these schemes and a significant portion of their company set up fees were covered.
If you’d like some help setting up overseas, too, we want you to know that we’re here for you.