4 Takeaways From The Singapore Budget 2018 For HR Directors

09/04/2018

The Singapore Budget 2018 was delivered in Parliament by Minister for Finance, Heng Swee Keat on 19 February 2018. In his speech, he addressed the major shifts that our Singapore society is facing today, namely, the economic shift of Singapore in Asia, the emergence of new technologies and the aging population in Singapore.

Minister Heng also highlighted the goals the Budget 2018 aims to achieve, which involves developing a vibrant and innovative economy in Singapore as well as building up a smarter and greener Singapore society. At the same time, the Budget 2018 also strives to foster a more caring and cohesive society, as well as planning ahead for a fiscally sustainable and secure future for Singapore.

With numerous plans being laid out to address the current and future needs of Singapore, here are 4 highlights of the Budget 2018 that are most relevant to manpower and HR challenges.

1. Increased support for businesses and workers

The Wage Credit Scheme (WCS) has been extended for an additional three years and will continue to provide co-funding of wage increases for Singaporean employees. The WCS will co-fund 20% of wage increases for 2018, 15% for 2019 and 10% for 2020. This extension will cost approximately SGD1.8 billion over the next three years.

There have been previous announcements on the intention to increase Foreign Worker Levy rates. However, for the sectors that still face weakness, particularly the Marine Shipyard and Process sectors, the increase in Foreign Worker Levy rates will be deferred for another year.

There will be efforts to strengthen employment support for lower to middle income workers through the Career Trial scheme, an upgrade from the existing Work Trial Scheme, which will provide higher funding to support workers to try out new careers.

2. Encouraging innovation and building the capabilities of the workforce

The Budget aims to support businesses to purchase and make use of new solutions by offering a single Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG).

In order to help business partner with relevant companies to build innovate and build new solutions, the Government will pilot the Open Innovation Platform, a virtual crowd-sourcing platform, in 2018.

In a bid to ensure that employees in Singapore keep up with ever-evolving digital skills, there will be an expansion of the Tech Skills Accelerator (TeSA) into new sectors such as manufacturing and professionals services, whereby digital technologies are increasingly important.

3. Supporting adoption of digital technology in firms

To drive further adoption of digital technologies, automation and robotics, programmes such as the Aviation Transformation Programme (ATP), Maritime Transformation Programme (MTP) and National Robotics Programme (NRP) will be launched in Singapore.

4. Forge stronger local and cross-border partnership

The eventual goals is to anchor Singapore as a Global-Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise. As such, the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) was launched in 2018 for Singaporeans to gain valuable experience and networking outside the local borders.

Similarly, there will be more initiatives such as the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) as well as development of an ASEAN Innovation Network which will hopefully foster closer relations with Singapore’s neighbouring countries. At the same time, build a business partnership with overseas companies.

You may read more about the Singapore Budget 2018 here.

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

This a guest post by RenQun Huang of Gpayroll. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

About Gpayroll

Gpayroll is an easy to use, self-run online payroll service that will redefine and revolutionize the payroll industry. Its intuitive and automated system will help business owners focus on their core business without the hassle of managing payroll.

Key Financial Mistakes To Avoid When Looking To Start Your Very First Business

21/03/2018

So you’re busy planning your very first business and you’re already excited about the profit you’ll be making in the long run. Having your very first business is both exciting and challenging. You’ll learn a lot of things from the business world – and you just can’t wait for your business to grow. However, starting a new business for the first time is sometimes risky. This is true especially when it’s very easy to commit mistakes in the beginning. So, here are the key mistakes to avoid when looking to start your very first business:

1. You Don’t Have A Reasonable Budget For Your Business

When you’re a first timer in running a new business, having a clear budget is important. It is one way of coping with the expenses you will incur. If you do not have a good budget plan for your first business, you may eventually end up losing because there will be a tendency that your expenses will exceed your income – and you don’t want that to happen, right? Besides, you cannot tell how well your business will fare in the coming weeks or months. When you lack that financial outlook, you could end up missing your goal of making your business profitable. You have to efficiently plan for the operational and marketing costs, as well as the other possible business expenses. That way, you’re steering your business towards expansion and growth.

2. You’re Making Large Purchases

Be careful to consider the long-time effects of immediately making large purchases for your business. When you’re starting up a new business, it’s best if you analyze your first financial moves. It’s good that you’re letting your business stand on its own by buying your office stuff, a new website, software, a huge office, and more, but you also need to be sure that the purchases you’re going to make are helping your business’s profitability. If you’re considering how to generate income, then set your priorities and make sure that your business is stable before making huge purchases.

Related reading: 6 simple tips to cut business costs

3. You’re Rushing In Hiring Your People

It’s understandable that you want a talented group of employees to help you operate your business. That’s why you never stop hiring. You may be so fascinated with the idea that all your employees will do all the work for you and you’ll just oversee. It may be sound fantastic, but that idea does not always work with a very first business. Hiring is good, but it would be a mess if you keep on getting people to fill your job positions – and you don’t quite understand their work responsibilities. In such cases, there may be a mismatch in skillset, and there may be overlapping workloads. If these things happen, you’ll just suffer from unnecessary costs. What’s with the rush in hiring if your business is not financially and operationally ready?

4. You’re Mixing Work With Personal Emotions

In starting a business, you are required to make sound decisions for the sake of your company. If you’re too emotional in coming up with decisions, you may not be able to handle the business properly. You should prioritize sound decisions over feelings. A successful business will require logical decisions so that you can do whatever is best financially for the business.

5. You’re Taking Your Tax Obligations For Granted

You’ll be in big trouble if you do not adequately plan for tax obligations. When you’re building your very first business, you should expect various kinds of obligations, including federal and state tax obligations. Here’s the catch! When you’re not planning for your upcoming tax duties, your business will most likely suffer. You’ll be stuck with an excessive tax bill to pay, and potentially not enough money to cover it. So, plan your budget well and include your tax liabilities for your smooth business operation.

6. You Have A Combined Business and Personal Account

If your goal is to establish better financial health for your business, start by having a separate business and personal bank accounts. That way, it’s easier to account for expenses and structure the monthly operating budget. Wait, there’s more! When your business account is different from your personal account, you will also prevent your incomes from overlapping, and you’ll see how your business is producing each month. This way, you can also protect your credit standing from damage if your business ends up suffering in the future.

7. You’re Doing Business Without Knowing Your Unique Competitive Advantage

It’s hard to enter the battlefield without a strong weapon. If you don’t know your business’s competitive advantage, you’ll find a hard time competing in the market. Not just that, but you’ll also be wasting a lot of time, money and energy when you are not able to establish your brand in the marketplace. With these, you need to consider some factors such as the type of market you’re selling to, the customer’s preferences, and much more.

8. You’re Handling The Business Yourself

It’s tough when you’re starting out with your very first business. Situations like hiring your employees, setting up your office, and buying office equipment can be costly. So, why not get a business partner? Getting a business partner can be a great help to your business operation – they will be expected to work hard and assist you in your business activities.

9. You’re Not Asking For Help From Others

In most cases, managing a new business is not that easy. You’ll encounter a lot of problems and unanswered questions along the way – and it’s normal that you don’t have all the answers. When you’re new in the business industry, there’s nothing wrong when you also ask help. Consider hiring an accountant, working with someone like Irena’s mobile bookkeeping, or asking for advice from other entrepreneurs. So, give yourself a break and find out who can help you run your business.

Related reading: The entrepreneur’s guide to setting up a business in Australia

10. You’re Not Focusing On Making Your Customers Happy

Poor customer service can also delay your goal of making your brand noticeable in the market – and if it happens, you’re also blocking your business’s way to success. You need to know what your customers really want before spending too much in the first place.

11. You Do Not Have A Good Business Plan

You need a good business plan when looking to start your very first business. It’s true. It’s one way of getting yourself ready for the challenges of running a business. Without a business plan as your back-up, you’ll find that it’s a challenge to sustain your business’s financial stability. You always have to be prepared when/if your business starts to crumble – and you can do that by having a business plan from the beginning.

So, these are the key financial mistakes to avoid when looking to start your very first business. No matter how hard you try not to make mistakes, you still may commit some of these. But, what’s vital here is you’ll learn to better yourself and your business because of your mistakes.

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

This a guest post by Irene Mckenzie from Irena’s Bookkeeping based in Sydney, Australia. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

About Irena Mckenzie

Irena Mckenzie is a Castle Hill local and is a very experienced local, mobile bookkeeper and successful small business owner. She has many years’ experience in all facets of bookkeeping and office work. She has run various small businesses for many years and understands exactly what it takes to get a small business up and running at full speed.

Building A Website In 2018

13/03/2018

If you have a business but don’t have a website, you are losing out on great opportunities for your business. A website is many things for your business: an online storefront, brand ambassador and salesperson. Your customers are going online to research your product, service, and brand as they make purchase decisions. A website can in fact be the most important marketing tool for your business. Having informative and engaging content on your website can help you connect with potential customers. 

Here, we outline the steps for building a website for your business: 

1. Choose a Website Builder

There are plenty of easy-to-use website builders that offer different packages depending on how much you are willing to spend versus how much you feel confident to do yourself. Most website builders operate on a simple drag-and-drop method that guides you through the steps as you go along. You’ll insert text, images and videos yourself without any need to sit through coding classes before you begin. Here are a few to look at and decide which provides the services you’re interested in for your site:

2. Choose your Domain

This is actually probably the hardest part. This is the URL people will type into the address bar to get to your site. You’ll want something that is apt for your business as well as easy to remember. Getting a domain name you like that is short, succinct and available can be a difficult task. Some website builders include a custom domain name when you sign up, but builder’s like WordPress for instance, will provide a domain that includes wordpress in the URL, which makes your site look a bit more Mickey Mouse than you might like. You can also purchase one yourself through a registrar like NameCheap, 123-reg, or GoDaddy.

You’ll also want to have email addresses that match up with your new domain name, which you can arrange inexpensively through Google’s G Suite, or you may find the website builder you’ve chosen also includes email services, which can be an easy option but may cost more for the overall package. Try to opt for a premium domain name like .com, .net, or a localised one like .co.uk as this immediately gives your site more credibility. On the downside, it will also be harder to find an available one but you’ll find that registering a domain name is a much less expensive option than acquiring one that’s already been purchased.

Related reading: 7 Online Marketing Tips For Your Small Business

3. Choose Your Template

One of the reasons website builders are such an effective way to create your own website without coding knowledge is because they have already designed a whole array of sites for you to choose from. All you have to do is have a gander through the different styles and pick the one that’s best suited to your service.

4. Add Text and Images

Once you attract people to your site, you’ll want them to stick around and see what you’ve got to offer. So make sure you choose high resolution images that look crisp and clear when uploaded (with website builders you just need to drag and drop them in) and spend some time writing the text that will inform visitors about what you do and why they need your service. Play around with font sizes and colours to make it look attractive to the eye. Add pages to the menu to separate your offerings into clear sections that are easy to find. Make sure to add an About Us paragraph (people always love to know the story and ethos behind a business) and a Contact Us page, so customers know how to get in touch easily.

5. Proofread, Edit and Test

Now this is will be more time-consuming than you might think. Read and re-read through all the text on your new site. Nothing will send customers running for the hills as fast as a typo or poorly written website that looks like it could be a scam. You want to convey trustworthiness and the best place to start is with a mistake-free site. Test the menu headers and make sure they all link to the page you want them to go to.

Then you’ll want to ensure it works and looks the same no matter which platform customers are viewing it from. Bring up the site on several different browsers like Chrome, Safari and Firefox to ensure the look is uniform on all and check it on mobile too. Ask your friends to preview it and get feedback on their experience so you can make final amendments before unveiling your site to the world.

6. Put in Place a Privacy Policy & Terms of Use  

The aim of a website is to raise awareness for your brand and increase engagement with your potential customers. It is thus important that you put in place the right documents and legal protections to ensure that you establish clearly the rights and obligations of your business vis-à-vis the individuals you engage with online.

Essential legal documents to include on your website include the following:

  • Website Privacy Policy clarifies how data provided by users of your website will be collected and used by your business. Users of your website are deemed to have accepted these terms by if they continue to use your website. By clarifying the scope of data privacy, you can avoid future disputes concerning data privacy infringement. 
 
  • A Website Terms of Use structures the relationship between you as a website operator and your website users by setting out each parties’ rights and obligations. They are made available on your website for users to read and, by continuing to use the site, your visitors are deemed to have accepted these terms.

7. Publish!

Once you’ve completed these steps, and your website looks and functions exactly as you want it to, your new cyber-baby will be ready to make its grand debut to the world wide web. Now, you can get it on search engines like Google so customers will be able to find your new little work of art that will hopefully help do a lot of the hard work to make your business a success.  

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

The Ups And Downs Of An Open Office Concept

09/03/2018

Cubicles are rapidly disappearing in today’s workplace as managers opt for the open office concept. The main purpose? To break down social barriers and encourage more collaboration between workers from various teams.

Of course, it comes as no surprise that tech giants the likes of Google, Facebook and Apple, are the frontiers of this new office concept. Few years back, Microsoft Asia Pacific unveiled its take on this concept at its Singapore office, whereby all the staff have no pre-assigned work stations. Other companies jumping on the bandwagon include Twitter and Airbnb, where employees of Airbnb can sit at any desk on any level.

Of course, what makes an open office concept so popular among companies these days is that it allows for more cohesion between employees. However, does it actually improve productivity?

Surprisingly, it seems that some employees are, in fact, not too fond of these new open office floor plan.

In a recent online new article published by SFgate, it was reported that some Apple employees are threatening to leave the company if their workplaces are not suitable. What triggered this major backlash from these Apple employees then? Well, it is due to Apple’s decision to hop onto the open office concept, with their new USD5 billion “spaceship” headquarters.

While it might boast the latest state-of-the-art energy efficiencies, a massive foot fitness center and even an orchard, the new space will do away with personal office spaces. Instead, all employees, including programmers, engineers and designers, might be literally rubbing elbows with each other over long tables that they will be sharing.

Related reading: 5 tips for finding the right coworking space for your small business

This then brings the question as to whether companies should be joining this new open office concept trend?

Based on an anonymous study of 2,000 high-performing employees, slightly more than half (58%) of respondents indicated that they need private workspaces for problem-solving. As these high-performing employees tend to work on solving problems for long hours, they would need quiet and calm spaces to work.

Open office concepts might also elicit a sense of discomfort and suspiciousness within the team. In certain circumstances, the manager or superior might use such an arrangement to check or even spy on staff.

Essentially, open office spaces are not fit for everyone. Therefore, when designing innovative office layouts, employers need to consider certain workspace for various types of jobs. Moreover, it is best to include the HR department as they tend to have an overview of the diverse positions and responsibilities within the organisation. With that, they are able to provide recommendations on the best workspaces that accommodate all employees and their unique ways of working.

For instance, departments such as sales and marketing tend to work closely together and an open workspace concept might encourage exchange of ideas. However, departments such business analytics, engineers or programmers might need a quiet and personal workspace in order to work out algorithms or business solutions.

In all, organisations should have a good blend of open and closed workspaces to accommodate all needs. That way, it will certainly bring out the productivity of each and every employee.

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

This a guest post by RenQun Huang of Gpayroll. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

About Gpayroll

Gpayroll is an easy to use, self-run online payroll service that will redefine and revolutionize the payroll industry. Its intuitive and automated system will help business owners focus on their core business without the hassle of managing payroll.

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