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As a newly minted freelancer, I hope to start my own business one day. But as cool as it sounds to be CEO of my own company, I dread all the administrative hassle and hate the thought of paying hefty start-up costs.
However, as I recently learnt, incorporating a company can be broken down into smaller bits, which helps with both tackling the task and budgeting.
So if you have a business idea but don’t look forward to all that admin, here’s how to put your plans into action with minimal paperwork and for $1,000 or less. This way, you can get the tedious bit done in a flash and get on with running a business and making money ASAP.
1. Incorporate your company
As a freelancer, I can conduct business under my name as a Sole Proprietor. But if I were to scale up one day and run a “proper” business that is a separate legal entity from myself, I’d need to incorporate my business with ACRA.
First, I’ll need to reserve my company name and register it on ACRA, which costs $315. That’s the easy part.
Then, there’s an avalanche of paperwork including registration forms to fill in, preparing my company constitution, filing the above mentioned with ACRA, putting together a compliance kit with items such as share certificates, registers, and a book of minutes.
I can see myself drowning in all that paperwork. In fact, I’d have to take time away from my clients and creative work to tackle it, which means a potential loss of income while I handle the incorporation process.
Luckily though, there’s Sleek, an all-in-one digital platform for aspiring SME founders like myself, which offers services such as company incorporation. All I need to do is to fill out Sleek’s online form and upload the necessary documentation, and they’ll handle the paperwork for me.
The fee for this service is a reasonable $35, which I’d be happy to pay considering the high opportunity cost if I were to take it on myself.
2. Open a business account
Just as how incorporating a business keeps it separate from your identity, business owners should do the same with their finances. It’s a huge accounting no-no to use your personal bank account for business purchases or revenue.
After poking around online a bit, I realised that most of the big banks’ business accounts are a bit troublesome to use. They typically require an initial deposit, annual or setup fees, and worst of all, a minimum balance to maintain.
With a million other things on their minds already, which entrepreneur would have the bandwidth to look at their account’s minimum balance, right?
Fortunately, alternatives like the new Sleek Business Account do away with all these hoops. It’s available free of charge to all Sleek clients, including those who use their Company Incorporation services.
|Business account||Annual fee||Minimum balance|
|Sleek Business Account||$0||None|
Opening a Sleek Business Account can be done swiftly online — quicker than some banks which may require you to visit a branch to complete your application face-to-face with a Relationship Manager. Sleek is also the only provider that is 100% digital on account setup and management (most banks often require applicants to mail in forms).
Apart from getting your own BIC/SWIFT and Sleek Business Account Number for regular transactions, you can also connect your account to payment platforms like Stripe, PayPal, Amazon, or Shopify, which is very useful for those in e-commerce.
FYI, Sleek is regulated by the Monetary Association of Singapore (MAS) and is listed as a Standard Payment Institution with the registration number PS20200521. So your funds are safeguarded.
3. Keep your bookkeeping in check
Although I can crunch numbers for a data story, doing bookkeeping is another matter altogether.
I understand it’s important to keep your business financials in good order, but I would much rather spend my time doing creative work than updating Google Sheets and hoping it’ll pass muster when the auditing season rolls around.
If you have no accounting background like me, it might be worthwhile to get a professional to do it. Sleek offers accounting and bookkeeping services to businesses from $75 a month, which is much more cost-effective than hiring an accountant on a part-time basis (at least $1,500 a month).
4. Make your digital signatures count
While we’re talking about boring stuff, there’s also the issue of corporate paperwork.
Like most entrepreneurs, I’m opting to go digital with my contracts and invoices, which are also easier to access remotely and don’t take up physical space. But it’s a hassle to copy and paste signatures into PDF documents, especially when you have multiple docs to sign.
I very much prefer e-signing services like SleekSign, which let you sign papers quickly and easily, especially on mobile for on-the-go types. (Try fiddling with a PDF on your phone!) Documents on SleekSign are stored on the cloud, making them easy to access, and come with reminders for multiple signers so that key deadlines don’t get missed.
SleekSign is Asia’s ONLY free, unlimited, and legally binding eSignature tool. Well, they had me at “free”!
5. Get a corporate secretary
According to ACRA, you must appoint a company secretary within 6 months of the date of incorporation, or you might get fined up to $1,000.
No, this secretary isn’t there to look pretty and take your clothes to the dry-cleaner’s (what is this, the 1950s?). His or her job is to run the company’s administrative matters, such as maintaining records, keeping company directors up to date with company matters, and so on. If you have shareholders, the corporate secretary also handles things like distributing dividends and reminding them of their tax and legal obligations (like filing annual returns).
Don’t worry too much about finding the right person within 6 months. If the company has multiple directors, one of them can be appointed as secretary.
But if he or she needs more help with the nitty-gritty stuff, Sleek offers corporate secretary services to handle some or all of the administration for you. As a bonus, everything is digital so there’s a solid trail of documentation that’s transparent and readily accessible anytime. This is particularly useful during the COVID-19 era when you don’t want to be rummaging through physical cabinets if you can help it.
6. Don’t forget to buy insurance!
Yep, business insurance is a thing. But if you’re a small business owner just starting out with minimal funds, is it really necessary?
Well, business insurance coverage is actually pretty comprehensive, including coverage for cybersecurity, product liability, professional indemnity, your premises, as well as general liability. In a nutshell, it protects you from nasty scenarios — for example, cyberattacks on your online store, unhappy customers wanting to sue your business, or damage to your physical office.
Business insurance starts from only $200 a year, so, once you have things up and running, it can’t hurt to check out the options. As part of its offerings, Sleek provides a range of business insurance solutions from providers such as Chubb and QBE to suit your budget.
7. Obtain funding & scale up your business
Many entrepreneurs start out with lean budgets and would welcome any kind of funding and/or grants, i.e. free money!
For example, if you don’t have the capital for some of Sleek’s services, you can consider applying for the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) (which Sleek is a pre-approved vendor for). There are tons of other government grants for SMEs and entrepreneurs, which you can peruse on the official Business Grants Portal.
Apart from getting funding from the gov, you can also look for angel investors and/or crowdfund your business with a platform like Kickstarter. These allow you to raise funds which you can then seed into growing your business.
However, as your business grows, you’ll want to have a plan in place for scaling up in a sustainable way. With more people in the team, a growing inventory of products and services, more clients to service and so on, it’s vital that you learn to delegate… or you risk getting burnt out.
To keep your hands free yet continue to manage these aspects professionally, you can count on Sleek to handle any aspect of running a company, even with HR matters like handling employment visas.
Simplicity makes running a business more accessible
For not-very-detail-oriented people like me, companies like Sleek are a boon. The last thing I want is to get bogged down with too much paperwork and have to juggle a million things at once.
Being able to outsource some of the most time-consuming aspects of running a business can free up not just my time, but also my brain’s bandwidth so I can continue to do creative work and think of business ideas.
It’s also good to know that I can hand over some of the scarier stuff, like finance and compliance, to the professionals. After all, goof-ups in these areas could be costly both in terms of money and reputation.
Looking to start a business or transfer your back office needs? Get up to S$350 off when you make the switch to Sleek today! Explore Sleek’s services here.