Working Class is a series by CLEO where we ask experts and real women for job, career and salary tips. Have relevant advice to share? Contact us at cleo@sph.com.sg.

Intimidated by the prospect of launching a startup in Singapore? Maybe take a few pointers from Theresa Evanoff, the founder and CEO of tech company Gift-It-Forward, and program director at German Accelerator, where she helps German startups develop their expansion strategies in Southeast Asia, build a network of mentors across functions and markets, and strategise how they can better scale their business in the region.

1. Do your market research

“One of the biggest reasons why startups fail is that founders build products that no one wants. To avoid this pitfall, before even starting your business, get out of the door to talk to your customers—understand their needs and find out the frequency at which they are experiencing the problem you are trying to solve. With this knowledge, you can better determine the size of the market and whether or not it’s worth taking the next step.”

2. Put together a business plan

“While business projections are rarely accurate, it is important to consider all the elements that make up a business plan. This will help you consider the key success factors that will make your new venture prosper, and the actions you need to take to achieve them. In addition, drafting a business plan will also highlight how much funding you will require to start your business, which in turn will help you determine whether you need to raise external capital or self-finance. Essentially, you’ll need to generate more funds than you spend.”

3. Determine your legal company structure and incorporate your company

“In Singapore, there are a number of options for your legal
entity: sole proprietorship, partnership, and Limited Liability Company, among several other types. You’ll need to put some thought into which one might be best for you as your legal structure will have an impact on important matters such as liability, borrowing, financial reporting, fundraising, and much more. Once you’ve made a decision, you can check whether your business name is available through ACRA and if domains are available for name. Lastly, you can either register the business yourself using BizFile or hire a professional incorporation company to help you.”

4. Build your team

“Will you be doing this alone or will you have partners? While running solo allows you to make decisions quickly, having a partner will also mean access to complementary skills and additional resources. Will you be hiring staff? Because you need to make sure that you meet all the necessary requirements to be able to hire people, including being up to speed of the levies and being able to make CPF contributions. Also, the best way to find
good people is to put the word out to your own network of family and
friends to see who might be interested to join your venture.”

5. Get connected in the startup ecosystem

“The Singapore startup ecosystem is ripe with opportunities to network. There is a community for pretty much every industry or vertical you are interested in, from social impact and deep tech to medtech or female founders! Each community has its own events, accelerator programmes and mentors who are more than willing to share knowledge and experiences. While physical events may not be happening during this period, there are still many virtual events happening and opportunities to network, so make
sure you take advantage of them and tap on people who have been
there and done that.”