3 advantages you have if you are an SME

Blk71-minStaff of some of the companies at Block 71, a hub for start-ups at Ayer Rajah Industrial Estate. Block 71 is fully occupied by about 60 tenants comprising start-ups, technology incubators and video game companies. Photo: ST

Jul 28, 2016

SMEs may find themselves facing giants in their respective industries with other seemingly insurmountable challenges, but they also have the advantages of size, agility and willingness to take on new technology.

Here are 3 advantages that you have if you are an SME.

1. Co-working spaces defray high rental costs

JustCo, co-working space 120 Robinson Road-min

The interior of JustCo, a co-working space at 120 Robinson Road. Photo: ST

If you are in an SME, it would be challenging for you to tackle high rental costs on your own. In 2014, office rental costs increased by as much as 9%. For businesses in the retail industry that require warehousing and retail space, rental costs can make or break the business.

Thankfully, new solutions are available for start-ups with little capital to spare. For example, incubation hubs such as Blk 71 Ayer Rajah, set up collaboratively by NUS Enterprise and Singtel Innov8, provide office space at relatively low cost, a great help to budding entrepreneurs.

Co-working spaces are also taking flight in different parts of Singapore, helping offices combat high rental costs. Without the high cost of leasing an office space, start-ups can streamline their finances to focus on operations.

“The cost of rental is the number one killer for businesses in Singapore. It’s a classic catch-22 situation. On one hand, we face the constant worry that our profits would not be able to cover the month’s rental fees and on the other, that our landlords would increase our rental fees when they see the business performing better than expected.” – Kevin Yeo, 25, Managing Director of Pawrus Pte Ltd


2. Available tools that maximize office productivity

You can increase office productivity by using the right kind of tools. Tools must be affordable, yet functional and effective in order to maximize every cent and bring in extra value.

There are tools specifically targeting at small business needs in the market. For example, the Canon Maxify range of printers is specially designed to offer that cost-efficient optimum, generating 50 percent savings on cost-per-page. They sufficiently deliver the needs of a small office – high-quality, water-resistant ink, double-sided scanning and printing, and high volume printing – without the high price tag.

“We have to ensure that our team has the right tools that are affordable and effective, so we can focus on accomplishing the big things.” – Chan Yi Wen, 26, CEO of Bolt

“Despite living in a digital age, a small printer is still handy to print hard copies for archiving, referencing and to mail out.”- Scott Ng, 29, Co-founder of OneThreeOneFour

3. Technology solves the problem of retaining talent

iPad ordering system-min

A customer orders from Fish and Co.’s iPad ordering system. Photo: ST

Finding and retaining the right talent can be challenging without the clout of MNCs. SMEs are perceived among job-seekers to be unstable, and also unable to offer attractive remuneration and benefits, according to Kevin Yeo from Pawrus Pte Ltd.

But SMEs can “leverage technology” to reduce the reliance on manpower. Examples of this include sushi-making machines and iPad ordering systems that automate processes, alleviating the need for workers.

Cloud technology is another wonderful way of allowing your staff flexible work arrangements that tap into labour who needs the flexibility of time such as students, mothers, or caregivers, and reducing business cost.

“Many locals would think that SMEs offer a lower remuneration and employee benefits relative to MNCs or the public sector. Some might worry that SMEs might not be able to last through economic recessions as they do not have the funds, and more importantly, the culture needs to change whenever the economy demands for it. –  Kevin Yeo, 25, Managing Director of Pawrus Pte Ltd


Opportunities abound

SMEs in Singapore face considerable challenges in this competitive economy, but innovative solutions are emerging to help overcome them.

For one, lean start-ups are quick to react to market opportunities. For instance, OneThreeOneFour and Fixir bridged gaps by offering apps that offered transparent information and price lists of photographers and car workshops, respectively. Their services help consumers save time when comparing prices of services.

SMEs can, and should, create a competitive edge for themselves by taking advantage of their agility in today’s uncertain economy. When it comes to office operations, investing resources into software and hardware that offer increased productivity is key.

Featured entrepreneurs

  • Ryan Chew, 25, Co-founder/ Head of Operations of Fixir
    Fixir is an app where car owners and workshops can communicate transparently and effortlessly.
  • Scott Ng, 29, Co-founder of OneThreeOneFour
    OneThreeOneFour offers a transparent platform where couples can easily find and book their wedding photographers, even from overseas.
  • Kevin Yeo, 25, Managing Director of Pawrus Pte Ltd
    Pawrus is an interactive and convenient web store that provides premium pet supplies and pet health advice.
  • Chan Yi Wen, 26, CEO of Bolt
    Bolt is a content platform that matches brands to experienced content creators in Asia.