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austinpowers
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Moving to Singapore for a new business venture

Postby austinpowers » Tue, 21 Jan 2014 1:26 pm

Hello all,

Hope everyone's having a well-settled day! Much love to all those doing their bit in keeping the community spirit alive here with help/recommendations/guidance and everything in between...well wishes to each of you!

I'm new here on the forum, and this being my first post, do go easy on me. :)

Introductions first - you can call me Powers. I've been a resident of Dubai all my life, some 30-odd years but a Pakistani passport holder. Not something I'm very proud of (no offense to anyone here). I'm an advertising professional, a brand specialist. 14 years of hardcore advertising experience under the belt, with my sights now turning towards Singapore as i'm mulling an offer from a close friend to open and manage a creative/brand service agency in this beautiful country. Naturally, this would include having the wife and 5yr old daughter to move too. From what i've read on various forums and online sources, both personal blogs and governmental/official sites & guides, it all looks very promising and positive. There are however, some grey areas that i need some clarity on, and so naturally I'd turn to you lot.

POA is for myself and partner (we'll call him P) to fly down to Singapore in April/May for on a visitor pass, and as we land, we initiate the company incorporation process. We're already in talks with Janus and . over setup proposals, which we'll finalise before we fly out. Once licensing is complete, we'll be submitting my employment visa request since i'll be running the show there. I did try the online official assessment test, and I was apparently eligible for a P2 pass. On parallel lines, we'll also be looking at serviced offices and an apartment for myself and the family, because as the visa is ready, I'll fetch the family.

Here's where the grey begins. I have read the other posts, but while some of them have helped me fine tuning a few things in my head, some have also made me further confused. I'll try to list them as precisely as possible:

1) the employment pass. How difficult is this to get? Discrimination/nationalisation policy in play? Any grounds for a rejection? What about changing jobs if the need arises? Can I transfer sponsorship easily?

2) for housing, I'm looking at the Butik Batok locality as I've learned its fairly balanced. Housing budget is SGD1700. One bedroom + hall +kitchen works just fine. Apartments only, most likely HDB, unless I'm able to find an old condo of sorts. Travelling to and fro via MRT and bus is just fine. I'm looking at ..sg and there seem to be some offerings within that budget, but with the some of the other replies here, i dont know what to make of the owners and their shenanigans. I'd like to keep the stay as peaceful as possible. What's your take on this?

3) I'd hate to get into extra expenses and go furniture shopping since I'm not at all familiar with the costs, therefore I'm looking at furnished apartments. Is it worth it? Recommended or not? why?

4) we're looking at a decent public school for my daughter as she would be getting into grade 1. I've been told there are plenty of good schools around the area that she should be able to apply and get into after June, so that should suffice. Any recommendations here on going about this? Or schools for that matter?

5) will be looking to hire someone local with good contacts in the market. What proper sites would you recommend a look at? Does a Singaporean national need a visa or just an employment contract?

6) since its a new business setup, I'm looking at a package of SGD5000 - SGD6500, with bi-annual bonuses based on the company performance over the year. Would this suffice? As far as lifestyle is concerned, my wife is a wonderful cook, so I always eat in, but the foodie in me will do just fine at the hawker centres that are clean for the occasional bite out and over lunch. Our evenings out will comprise mainly of taking the little one to the parks and community centres where she can indulge herself. We're content with that. Oh and do throw in a community gym package for both of us. I'd be happy to be able to save around SGD600 or so on a regular monthly basis. Sound ok in theory?

7) this is the part that I hate - things that creep up. Hidden costs, taxes etc? What should I be expecting?

Naturally I'm comparing everything I read with what I've experienced in Dubai, and it all seems wonderful, until that damned cost-comparison page that told me I would need SGD8,500 to get by comfortably. Seriously?? I'd hate to be living on the streets and begging for food with my package lol. On a serious note, its just a simple life I'm looking for with complete focus on our daughter. That's all. Naturally, I'll be aiming for nationality too.

Yes I know I do talk too much. Now its your turn, good people, to shed some light for me and let me know what I'm really getting into.

Cheers in advance!
"I gotta testify, come up in the spot looking extra fly
For the day I die, Imma touch the sky!" ~ Kanye West

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Postby Strong Eagle » Tue, 21 Jan 2014 10:49 pm

I would not do anything until you have your employment passes in hand. The Entrepass scheme has been tightened until it is useless as a vehicle for consultants, professionals, etc, as they will never meet required expenditures or staffing levels.

This means that the only alternative is to form a company, appoint a resident nominee director, and have that director apply for an EP for you.

Whether or not you get it is dependent upon the business, your experience, contracts and customers (or the potential for same) and the amount of cash you have to sustain yourself through business profitability.

People for years have tried this scam as an end around the immigration laws... form a company, then go to work for it in order to get into the country. But that game is up, and you will need to provide a significant business plan along with your application for EP to justify yourself.

It is not a sure thing; therefore, get your company formed, your business plan put together, and your EP application submitted and approved BEFORE you commit to anything else. I can't find the threads, and, there are stories of others taking office space and flats, only to find they were not approved.

If you haven't already done so, read these threads.

ftopic94727.html

And while referring to a LOC, the principle is the same.

ftopic75000.html

ftopic60398.html

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Postby austinpowers » Tue, 21 Jan 2014 11:26 pm

Strong Eagle wrote:
It is not a sure thing; therefore, get your company formed, your business plan put together, and your EP application submitted and approved BEFORE you commit to anything else. I can't find the threads, and, there are stories of others taking office space and flats, only to find they were not approved.


Thanks for the heads up StrongEagle! Are you aware if the company incorporation process can be started while we're still here in Dubai? We've finalised a deal with RIVKIN to have everything taken care of... can they get it done? Or do we need to be there first?
"I gotta testify, come up in the spot looking extra fly

For the day I die, Imma touch the sky!" ~ Kanye West

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Postby beppi » Wed, 22 Jan 2014 12:06 am

S$1700/month for an apartment? You gotta be kidding!
(Better count on S$2000-2500/month, or more for something half decent and reachable by public transport!)
Public schools are very diffult to get into for foreign children (search for relevant threats on this forum!) and cost approx. S$500/month. Your daughter will most likely have to visit an International School at S$1500-3000/month.

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Postby Strong Eagle » Wed, 22 Jan 2014 4:28 am

austinpowers wrote:
Strong Eagle wrote:
It is not a sure thing; therefore, get your company formed, your business plan put together, and your EP application submitted and approved BEFORE you commit to anything else. I can't find the threads, and, there are stories of others taking office space and flats, only to find they were not approved.


Thanks for the heads up StrongEagle! Are you aware if the company incorporation process can be started while we're still here in Dubai? We've finalised a deal with RIVKIN to have everything taken care of... can they get it done? Or do we need to be there first?


Anybody with a Singpass (and that means everybody at Rivkin, as well as the rest of the island's population) can go online and form a company. You should go over to the ACRA website and see how easy it is.

What Rivkin will do, for a considerable amount of dough, is go online to the ACRA website and form a company with you as shareholder, and one of their muppets as director. She/he will remain your director until such a time as you get your EP, at which time you become the director and the Rivkin muppet resigns (you should ensure this in your contract with Rivkin). They will also supply the necessary meeting notices, minutes, directors resolutions, etc to make this all pretty and legal under Singapore company law. This is the easy, boilerplate part.

You may not need to be here but you must guide Rivkin on getting the right material presented to MOM for your EP. The Rivkin bumpkins know nothing of you, your plans, and probably, very little about business in general. Therefore, it will be incumbent for you to put together the business plan, the financials, the customers, and the cash so that they can present these facts to MOM at the time your director files for an EP. Such EP's should always be filed manually so that cover letters and supporting documents can be included. At this stage, Rivkin is paper pushers... they can't help you actually get the EP, they only file the necessary stuff, the mechanics of the process. You have to tell them what to file.

Should your EP be denied and you wish to appeal, being in Singapore for a face to face meeting with MOM would be an excellent idea. Unless Rivkin is intimately familiar with this, you will need to ride them to get a face to face interview, and you will need to be there to make your own case.

As a side note, you say you are, "mulling an offer from a close friend to open and manage a creative/brand service agency in this beautiful country. "Be aware that Singapore is a tightly networked country/city, and unless your friend is going to hand you a big Rolodex of potential contacts, you seriously need a strong marketing plan as to how you intend to break into the market.

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Postby AngMoG » Wed, 22 Jan 2014 9:50 am

My $0.02:

- EP is easy enough to get if your salary is high enough. Yours is a bit low, for a guy with your experience level. That may cause some issues.
- As beppi pointed out, S$1700 for housing is very low, and unlikely to work. Budget S$2500, and be happy if you get it for less. For that budget, you can get a 2-BR HDB or a 1-BR condo that is not central, thought the 2-BR HDB will give you more space.
- Get a furnished place. The furniture will most likely not be pretty (esp. for HDB). Only get a place once you are here, it is important that you view the places. (I've seen some pretty bad ones.)
- If you go for public school, you may not have much choice in which school, so expect some travel for your daughter. Foreigners are selected last, after citizens and PRs. Expect to pay S$500 per month (it may be a bit less, but it's better to budget).
- Think about the salary again. Yes, you can live on that amount, as a lot of people do, but you probably won't save anything. Consider that with school, rent and utilities/internet/mobile, you're already out at least S$3300. Public transport and taxi for you and your family probably another S$100-150 at least, you can see how little is left.
- Hidden cost? Not much, really. Maybe the alcohol "sin tax" here; a pint of beer would typically cost around S$12-15, e.g. while you are networking. Also, you will most likely not have a car in Singapore (not on that salary, at least; look up the cost, and you will understand why).

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Postby austinpowers » Thu, 23 Jan 2014 12:40 pm

Strong Eagle wrote:
As a side note, you say you are, "mulling an offer from a close friend to open and manage a creative/brand service agency in this beautiful country. "Be aware that Singapore is a tightly networked country/city, and unless your friend is going to hand you a big Rolodex of potential contacts, you seriously need a strong marketing plan as to how you intend to break into the market.


Yes definitely we'll be using RIVKIN or Janus to get the boilerplate work done for us as a head start. We plan to finish this before we fly there on the visit visas. EP will then be filed manually ourselves as you suggested :)

I'm currently working on putting the business plan in place, and assuming from what you've mentioned earlier about how picky they are, it means i would have to get into a lot of minute details? not that i have an issue, but given the nature of our business, it's more of a expertise consultancy that will get it going.

As far as the local contacts are concerned, we do know a few people who will use us for business purposes, in addition to some of our Dubai clients that will be serviced from here too. To get into the local market, we'll be looking to hire a local business development person who will be on a salary + commission basis. Naturally, all these details will be shown in the plan.

I still know we can do this...man i'm excited. nervous too, but still excited and looking forward!
"I gotta testify, come up in the spot looking extra fly

For the day I die, Imma touch the sky!" ~ Kanye West

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Postby austinpowers » Thu, 23 Jan 2014 1:04 pm

AngMoG wrote:My $0.02:

- As beppi pointed out, S$1700 for housing is very low, and unlikely to work. Budget S$2500, and be happy if you get it for less. For that budget, you can get a 2-BR HDB or a 1-BR condo that is not central, thought the 2-BR HDB will give you more space.
- Get a furnished place. The furniture will most likely not be pretty (esp. for HDB). Only get a place once you are here, it is important that you view the places. (I've seen some pretty bad ones.)


I've seen some furnished HDBs on . and they're well within the budget limit, so i'm wondering, maybe i'm missing something? Here's an example:

1.
HDB Apartment For Rent - 578 Woodlands Drive 16 (D25)
S$ 2,200 / month (Guide Price)
S$ 0.17 psf (built-up)
12,744 sqft / 1,184 sqm (built-up)
578 Woodlands Drive 16, 730578 Admiralty / Woodlands, North (D25-28)

2.
HDB Apartment For Rent - 448 Bukit Panjang Ring Road (D23)
S$ 1,900 / month (Offers in Excess of)
S$ 1.46 psf (built-up)
1,302 sqft / 121 sqm (built-up)
448 Bukit Panjang Ring Road, 670448 Bukit Batok / Bukit Panjang, West (D22-24)

Indication on the first one is "guide price". what does that even mean?? Ofcourse the figures shown here don't include the agents fee...

Thanks AnGMoG and beppi :)
"I gotta testify, come up in the spot looking extra fly

For the day I die, Imma touch the sky!" ~ Kanye West

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Postby austinpowers » Thu, 23 Jan 2014 1:18 pm

ok...here's an afterthought. Since everyone's suggesting that the budgets will be quite tight as far as rentals are concerned, how about if we skip the furnished office rental and I could run things from home for the first 6 months?

I know in Dubai we can't do this because in order to get a business license, you need to show an office contract. What's the scene here in SG?

This way, instead of cutting it short at SGD1500, I could look at SGD2500 for probably a 2bedroom HDB or condo if it comes my way. Makes sense?
"I gotta testify, come up in the spot looking extra fly

For the day I die, Imma touch the sky!" ~ Kanye West

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Postby AngMoG » Thu, 23 Jan 2014 1:49 pm

austinpowers wrote:
AngMoG wrote:My $0.02:

- As beppi pointed out, S$1700 for housing is very low, and unlikely to work. Budget S$2500, and be happy if you get it for less. For that budget, you can get a 2-BR HDB or a 1-BR condo that is not central, thought the 2-BR HDB will give you more space.
- Get a furnished place. The furniture will most likely not be pretty (esp. for HDB). Only get a place once you are here, it is important that you view the places. (I've seen some pretty bad ones.)


I've seen some furnished HDBs on . and they're well within the budget limit, so i'm wondering, maybe i'm missing something? Here's an example:

1.
HDB Apartment For Rent - 578 Woodlands Drive 16 (D25)
S$ 2,200 / month (Guide Price)
S$ 0.17 psf (built-up)
12,744 sqft / 1,184 sqm (built-up)
578 Woodlands Drive 16, 730578 Admiralty / Woodlands, North (D25-28)

2.
HDB Apartment For Rent - 448 Bukit Panjang Ring Road (D23)
S$ 1,900 / month (Offers in Excess of)
S$ 1.46 psf (built-up)
1,302 sqft / 121 sqm (built-up)
448 Bukit Panjang Ring Road, 670448 Bukit Batok / Bukit Panjang, West (D22-24)

Indication on the first one is "guide price". what does that even mean?? Ofcourse the figures shown here don't include the agents fee...


And you have not seen them. I have seen some HDBs to be rented out that are in very bad state, both in cleanliness (shower- urgh!) and in general looks / repair state. Of course the agent/owner may promise to fix, but unless it is written down in the contract with penalties, the owner won't improve anything. What you see is what you get, generally.

Also to consider is the location - those two places are pretty far from everything. Of course, the further you are from the central areas, the cheaper it gets. But it may well mean 1 hour travel time (by public transport) to CBD area (where presumably a number of your potential customers will be), or a $20-30 taxi ride.

As for running your business out of an HDB - I seriously doubt that is legal, maybe somebody else can comment on that. (Though I have seen some citizens run informal businesses out of their apartment.) And certainly not practical if you plan to hire some stuff. Never mind that you won't be able to welcome customers in your "office".

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Postby austinpowers » Thu, 23 Jan 2014 2:10 pm

definitely no office visits by customers for the first 6 months, so i'm fine with that if that's the route we settle for. hope it's not illegal though...
"I gotta testify, come up in the spot looking extra fly

For the day I die, Imma touch the sky!" ~ Kanye West

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Postby Strong Eagle » Fri, 24 Jan 2014 6:24 am

austinpowers wrote:EP will then be filed manually ourselves as you suggested :)


You can't file for your own EP. The company must file for it using your Rivkin director.

I'm currently working on putting the business plan in place, and assuming from what you've mentioned earlier about how picky they are, it means i would have to get into a lot of minute details? not that i have an issue, but given the nature of our business, it's more of a expertise consultancy that will get it going.


You need to convince the gahmen that you are legitimate and you have an uphill battle. Like it or not, you are a Pakistani trying to move from Dubai, and thanks to the shenanigans of many others from the subcontinent, this automatically puts you on the radar and under greater scrutiny. Therefore, you must convince the authorities that:

a) You have the skills, experience, and expertise to actually perform the work your company intends to do.

b) You have the skills and expertise to actually run a business.

c) That you have the cash necessary to sustain you through profitability.

d) That you have a marketing plan and/or customers to actually make the business work.

e) You have put together a set of pro forma financials that realistic and achievable.

f) That you somehow provide benefit to Singapore... they don't let people in just because they like to.

So, you decide how detailed you want to be. Entrepass business plans were limited to ten pages... my original plan was about 20.


As far as the local contacts are concerned, we do know a few people who will use us for business purposes, in addition to some of our Dubai clients that will be serviced from here too. To get into the local market, we'll be looking to hire a local business development person who will be on a salary + commission basis. Naturally, all these details will be shown in the plan.


You'll pardon my cynicism when I say that I have yet to meet a decent "local business development person". Here's your problem. Unless they need you for a very specific area of expertise, you are not going to break into the Chinese market. It's tight knit, further, many companies are owned by Temasek, making personal relationships even more important. They simply won't give you the business because it is in their interests to develop their political connections.

That leaves you with MNC's and other local businesses. Maybe you can do it. All I know is that I know two sets of people who hired so called business development professionals to assist them in breaking into the consultancy market... one had nothing after two years and went home, the other, nothing after three but managed to land a job at a MNC to stay in Singapore. Do not underestimate the difficulty of breaking into Singapore starting off cold.

I still know we can do this...man i'm excited. nervous too, but still excited and looking forward!


PS: You don't need an office contract to start a business. You need a registered agent and a registered address and that will be Rivkin.

You can run this business out of an HDB flat. No one will know you are doing it.

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Postby Dert42 » Fri, 24 Jan 2014 8:21 am

i think your housing budget is low.
your schooling expectations are not aligned with reality.

no one addressed this yet, but foodwise:
your wife is an excellent cook. There is likely not an oven in your rental unit. And I hear a lot of places in that budget have a no to little cooking clause in your rental agreement. Additionally everyday groceries here are on the high side. Eating out at say a hawker center is cheap and easy though.

I think your projected budget is going to be stretched in every category.

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Postby therat » Fri, 24 Jan 2014 9:33 am

To set up office in HDB

Read this
http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10326p.nsf ... ficeScheme

FQA
Q1: I wish to operate my business from my flat under the Home Office Scheme. Can I submit my Home Office application before registering my business with ACRA ?

A1: You may submit your Home Office application either before or after you have registered the business with ACRA . In the application form, please select "Individual" under "My organisation is" if you have not registered your business with ACRA.

==============
All form can submit online thru' Singpass and it is very fast, within 1 hr.

Edit to add on
Read this too
http://www.enterpriseone.gov.sg/Governm ... ffice.aspx

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Postby austinpowers » Thu, 30 Jan 2014 11:01 pm

Gentlemen, I cannot thank you all enough for all the help and guidance you lot have given me over the past week or so. I've made note of all the links and yes, we are looking into the minute details of this POA and operating out of a HDB apartment since it's legal according to the procedures pointed out.

One thing that came to mind...school admissions test...on the Ministry of Education's page I found this:

"The 2013 Admissions Exercise for International Students (AEIS) has closed. The 2014 AEIS will tentatively be conducted in Oct 2014 and registration will open in Jul 2014. This webpage will be updated by Apr 2013 with more details.

International Students who are unable to take part in 2013 AEIS may register for the 2014 S-AEIS, which will be conducted on 26 and 27 Feb 2014 and registration has opened on 2 Jan 2014."

Since the family is expected to arrive in SG by July or so, does that mean we lose the entire year since we've missed the test dates? Or can we still make it? Anyone been through this before?

Also, I can't find much on the job portals for a fashion designer. That's the wife's background. Does the personal visit approach work? Works fine in Dubai if done properly.
"I gotta testify, come up in the spot looking extra fly

For the day I die, Imma touch the sky!" ~ Kanye West


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