Guide to running a home-based business in Singapore

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In recent years, the bustling city-state of Singapore has witnessed a remarkable transformation in its online business scene. The rapid rise of e-commerce has fueled an extraordinary surge in home-based businesses since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – especially food and beverage (F&B) businesses. 

As technology continues to break down barriers, these small enterprises have found fertile ground in Singapore’s highly connected and increasingly digital society. Aspiring home entrepreneurs are taking advantage of this trend by harnessing the power of the internet to create thriving online businesses right from the comfort of their homes. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the ins and outs of running a successful home-based business in Singapore.

Benefits of a home-based business in Singapore

There are several benefits to running a home-based business in Singapore, which include:

1. Flexibility

Home-based businesses offer the advantage of working from home, enabling entrepreneurs to manage their time and resources more efficiently.

2. Low overhead costs

Home-based businesses often have lower operating costs, as entrepreneurs save on rental fees and other expenses associated with traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

3. Wider customer base

An online business in particular allows you to reach customers beyond your immediate vicinity, expanding your market reach and boosting your earning potential.

Furthermore, home-based businesses which meet certain requirements are not required to register their business with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority. 

How to start a home-based business in Singapore

Starting a home-based business in Singapore is relatively straightforward. Here are some things to consider:

1. Understand the rules and regulations

Before starting a home-based business in Singapore, it is crucial to be aware of the regulations governing this industry. Some general rules include:

  • Your business should not cause a nuisance or disturbance to your neighbours.

  • The business must be run by the homeowner.

  • The sale of physical goods is limited to specific guidelines.

  • The number of workers allowed on the premises is restricted.

Additionally, home-based food businesses must strictly adhere to the regulations set out by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), such as not offering catering services. If you plan on importing food into Singapore, there are specific guidelines such as having to book food safety inspections and needing to adhere to labelling requirements. 

2. Choose a niche

To select a niche for your home-based business, research the local market and competition, and align your skills and interests with an underserved segment. Focusing on a specific target audience will help you cater to unique needs, increasing your chances of success in the competitive landscape.

3. Decide if you need a website

A website can be a valuable asset for your home-based business, as it provides visibility and credibility. Consider creating a website if you plan to sell products or services online, showcase your portfolio, or provide information about your business to potential customers.

In this day and age, having a strong online presence is paramount, especially for e-commerce businesses. Therefore, your website should be as user-friendly and visually appealing as possible.

4. Set up your processes

Establish efficient processes for your home-based business, including inventory management, order fulfilment, customer service, and bookkeeping. Streamlining these processes will help you stay organised, manage your workload, and ensure a smooth customer experience.

5. Consider international shipping options

Expanding your home-based business beyond Singapore is a great way to grow your customer base and increase revenue. However, shipping internationally can be a daunting prospect for home businesses due to the potential high costs and logistics involved.

Fortunately, DHL Express offers affordable and reliable options for international shipping, with great rates for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – including home-based businesses. From import and export services to optional services such as providing insurance for package delivery, you will be able to tap on an audience outside of Singapore with a peace of mind.


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6. Develop marketing plan

Utilise various online marketing channels, including social media, email marketing, and content marketing, to promote your business from home.

How to get a business start-up grant in Singapore

Singapore offers various grants and support schemes to help microbusinesses start up, including home-based entrepreneurs. Some of the funding options to consider are:

1. Enterprise Development Grant (EDG)

The Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) helps businesses to grow and transform by providing financial support for projects that improve productivity, innovation, and internationalisation. The grant covers up to 50% of qualifying project costs, including consultancy, software, and equipment expenses.

2. Start-up SG Founder

The Start-up SG Founder scheme aims to support first-time entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas by providing mentorship, start-up capital, and access to business networks. The grant offers up to S$50,000 in co-matching funds for qualifying start-ups.

3. Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG)

The Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) supports businesses in adopting technology solutions and equipment to enhance business processes. PSG covers up to 80% of the cost for qualifying solutions, which can be especially helpful for home-based businesses looking to automate tasks and improve efficiency.

What is the best online business to start?

The best online business to start depends on your interests, skills, and the market demand. Some popular online business ideas include:

  • E-commerce store: You can sell a variety of products, such as handmade cakes and clothing to unique gifts and niche items.

  • Freelancer services: Offer your expertise in areas such as graphic design, writing, programming, or digital marketing to clients across the globe.

  • Online coaching or courses: Create and sell online courses or provide coaching services in a specific field, such as fitness, personal development, or business strategy.

  • Affiliate marketing: Promote products or services from other companies on your website or social media platforms and earn commissions on each sale generated through your referral links.

Research the market, assess your skills and resources, and choose a business that aligns with your goals and passion.

Do business at your own speed with DHL Express

One of the biggest allures of running a home-based business is the degree of flexibility and control it offers, as one can choose to work any time they want. The prospects of creating a successful one in Singapore are promising, thanks to the support from government grants for startups and a booming e-commerce market. 

Partnering with a reliable logistics provider is crucial for online home-based businesses, particularly those shipping products internationally. DHL Express, a leading global logistics service provider, helps you to streamline your e-commerce shipping process and offers a comprehensive range of shipping solutions tailored to your needs.

Online selling and other forms of microbusinesses may be competitive, but home-based businesses can stand out from the crowd by adopting the right strategies and working with the right delivery service provider.

Join hands with us by opening a business account with DHL Express today.