Building a Regional Business in Singapore
Southeast Asia is emerging as a focal point for new businesses and ventures due to its huge population, growing regional economy, accelerated technological adoption and access to different markets. To fully benefit from these advantages, businesses in Southeast Asia must have regional ambitions from day one to achieve rapid business growth.
The key to running a successful regional business is building it in the right place. Singapore is consistently recognized as one of the world’s best places to start a business in. In 2019, it ranked second place on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings. This is made possible by having a strategic location, a hospitable business environment, supportive governmental policies, and a cosmopolitan culture.
Singapore is a strategic destination – both literally and figuratively – for a regional company. The country is geographically close to many emerging Southeast Asian economies. It also lies between China and India – two of the world’s fastest-growing superpowers – and enjoys close trade ties with both. Unsurprisingly, it is one of the world’s most well-connected countries. This accessibility makes it highly convenient for regional logistics and business travel.
Having our base in Singapore has enabled us to expand rapidly and concurrently grow our business in nearby markets such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Traveling between countries is easy with many available flights, and similar time zones which make it easy for us to be involved in and oversee our business. Common cultural values in the region also allow us to focus on localizing business strategies that already work for one market instead of starting from scratch each time.
Singapore’s legendary efficiency is one of its biggest draws for companies to set up a regional business. There are fewer hoops for new businesses to jump through, turnaround times are thankfully short and corruption is rare. A stable government and a strong judicial systems are also important points in Singapore’s favor.
Additionally, the Singapore government actively encourages the growth of new businesses. Many supportive policies, schemes, grants and programmes have been put in place to develop a business-friendly ecosystem, such as Startup SG and Enterprise Singapore. There are also tax incentives that encourage businesses to expand regionally, such as the Double Tax Deduction for Internationalisation.
Best of both cultural worlds
Singapore is a city with a unique convergence of both East and West cultures. Businesses gain access to a skilled local talent pool that is generally highly educated and tech-savvy. They are also familiar with regional norms and bilingual in English and Mandarin, two of the most important business languages. Meanwhile, the country’s cosmopolitan culture is also influenced by its large multinational expatriate community, who contribute their foreign expertise, knowledge and perspectives.
We are very fortunate to have a multinational team at Carro that contributes invaluable experience and insight to the company, shaping our understanding of the individual markets in Southeast Asia and beyond. This is key to adopting the correct market approach, which can make or break a growing company – especially one attempting to enter different markets at once. A strong, diverse team is necessary to achieve our regional ambitions, and Singapore has been an excellent talent pipeline for us.
Tackling the diverse markets and business environments in Southeast Asia can be challenging, but also very rewarding if done well. The first step is choosing the right country to set up a strong foundation. Singapore’s natural advantages and supportive environment made it the first choice for us and many others. By making the Lion City our headquarters, we have been able to scale quickly, enter other regional markets and complete acquisitions within a few years – and yet, there is still room to grow.
Aaron is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Carro, an automotive marketplace, where we provide a full-stack service for all aspects of car ownership. With professionalism at the heart of Carro’s ethos, we are committed to setting new standards in the used car industry.
Learn more about Carro at https://carro.sg/about