business ideas 2021 singapore
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The COVID-19 pandemic has badly impacted the job market in Singapore, with pay cuts, retrenchments, as well as salary and hiring freezes.

As the job market continues to be sluggish in the year ahead, it’s really not a bad idea to start up your own business, especially since the government’s giving out grants to foster entrepreneurs.

Here are some lucrative business ideas that you can cash in for the year ahead:

1. Healthy Food

veganburg healthy fast food
Image Credit: VeganBurg

Singapore is a nation of foodies and since many people are now growing to be more health-conscious and seeking out healthier alternatives, a healthy food related business is just the way to go.

This can include organic food shops, healthy meal preps, and even healthy food trucks.

Plant-based meat in particular have seen exponential growth in recent years, suggesting that it may be the ‘food of the future’.

With the debut of Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods in Singapore last year, it has fuelled customers’ demand for meat alternatives in hopes of a healthier diet and reducing animal agriculture.

At the back of this trend, many food tech startups have come up with plant-based alternatives for food items like meat, egg, and even breast milk.

Above all, it’s noteworthy to take into consideration that Singaporeans value convenience.

You can take cues from local healthy fast food joint VeganBurg — it only has one outlet in Singapore but has since expanded to different parts of the United States. It opened its first overseas outlet in San Francisco in 2015, which saw sales growth of over 40 percent year over year.

Additionally, The Goodburger runs a food truck that sells plant-based burgers. It claims to be Singapore’s first and only outlet that exclusively sells ‘Impossible’ food.

Beyond stationing themselves at Marina Bay daily, The Goodburger also does pop-up events such as Sentosa Grillfest, Heineken F1 Party and Artbox Singapore.

2. Telemedicine

telemedicine singapore
Image Credit: After Clinic Hours

COVID-19 has put a bigger spotlight on health and accelerated the shift towards contactless consultations, sparking the rise of telemedicine startups.

Today, people can buy groceries and clothes, as well as pay bills without leaving their homes. Similarly, telemedicine upgrades healthcare delivery to meet the demands of modern people by bringing key medical services straight to our doorsteps.

Moreover, the current gaps in the health industry such as the high medical and insurance costs leave large opportunities for startup success.

With the help of telemedicine applications for healthcare, a lot of health problems can be avoided or dealt with on-the-go at the early stages. You just call a doctor during lunch at work; there is no need to go anywhere.

Telemedicine is also an important aide for patients suffering from chronic diseases. According to research, telemonitoring has helped bring down the mortality rate among patients with chronic heart failure.

With telemedicine, people will be more willing to take care of their health since it won’t take up too much time or require any extra commuting, which helps increase the overall number of patients.

There are plenty of existing telemedicine startups in Singapore already, with the likes of Doctor Anywhere, WhiteCoat and MyDoc, so it’s important to offer a unique value proposition.

When developing a telehealth app for consulting with a doctor, pay attention to features such as high quality chat functionality and trusted doctor-patient information.

A telemedicine app should show the doctor’s profile, including his/her qualifications, rates, number of previous patients, and patient reviews. Similarly, doctors should be able to view a patient’s electronic health record to understand their problems and quickly find solutions.

The Ministry of Health has recognised the growing need to enhance consumer-medical access points and has launched a regulatory sandbox termed LEAP to regulate emerging telehealth startups.

3. Edtech Solutions

singapore students laptop
Image Credit: Wikimedia

Singapore’s education institutions are considered among the most advanced in the world as it continually integrates technology into education.

In fact, all secondary school students in Singapore will be getting a personal laptop or tablet for learning by 2021.

Thanks to COVID-19, classrooms have also evolved towards an online setting, sparking a rise in edtech.

When schools were closed due to the pandemic, many schools adopted Zoom to conduct online classes but faced security breaches involving obscene images instead.

Bearing this incident in mind, you can work on building edtech solutions such as a secure video conferencing tool that is equipped with educational tools.

Thanks to the pandemic, Zoom founder’s net worth actually jumped to US$7.8 billion in two months. He is currently the top 200 richest in the world, when he wasn’t even on the list before 2020.

There are also many other opportunities in the industry, such as online student portals, educational games, online discussion platforms and assignment submission forms.

With education being a top priority for the Singapore government, schools in Singapore receive the funding they need to continually provide a superior education for their students.

Coupled with the firm belief that technology provides a strong platform to enhance the educational experience, edtech is set to see a strong growth here.

4. Subscription-Based Models

two of a kind contact lens subscription
Image Credit: Two of a Kind

There are many existing subscription boxes in Singapore, from coffee, designer clothes, and even contact lens.

The idea is to shift away from pay-per-product (or service) and give subscribers access to certain products or services for a recurring monthly fee.

There are a number of perks that come with subscription-based models. Customers get steady access to a service without having to keep placing orders, while businesses get a steady recurring revenue and can better predict volume and demand.

Although there are also many subscription services that have failed such as wine subscription French Cellar and beauty box Vanity Trove, COVID-19 might present an emerging business opportunity for subscription-based services.

COVID-19 is causing major behavioural shifts among consumers in the region with more staying home to stay safe.

The pandemic has also taken a toll on household incomes, which makes customers more likely to commit to an ongoing service at a manageable cost than pay a large sum upfront for traditional purchases.

In fact, studies have shown the resilience of subscription companies throughout the pandemic. According to Zuora’s Subscription Impact Report, four out of five subscription companies are still growing despite the economic impact of COVID-19.

When it comes to the product or service offerings, it’s time to think a little bit more out of the box. What are some things that we often use/do on a regular basis that warrants the convenience of a subscription service or package?

Some top-of-mind ideas include haircuts, sanitary pads, deodorants and even candles.

In Australia, startup Trim developed an app that focuses on giving men cheaper access to haircuts.

Billing itself as a “Classpass for haircuts”, Trim is a subscription service that allows users to get haircuts from hairdressers and barbers in exchange for an annual fee.

5. Sustainable Products And Services

barepack reusable container sharing singapore
Image Credit: barePack

Businesses related to green products are trending as we become more eco-conscious. In fact, sales of sustainable products are estimated to reach US$150 billion by 2021.

However, studies revealed that people want to buy products from brands that advocate sustainability, but very few actually do so. Closing this intention-action gap could be the key to unlocking market potential.

A green industry business is one that uses sustainable materials to make its products. It aims to use as little water, energy and raw materials as possible while cutting carbon emissions, or it finds ways to utilise these materials in renewable and eco-friendly ways.

This business approach minimises the company’s strain on natural resources and contributions to climate change.

There are many green business ideas that you can tap on so you can make money and save the planet at the same time.

For one, reusable container-sharing services like barePack and Muuse have recently emerged and even partnered with food delivery giants to reduce plastic waste.

There are also local startups that aim to tackle food waste. Treatsure lets you pack buffet food for only S$10 and buy cheap surplus groceries on its app, while Treedots sells ‘ugly’ groceries for up to 50 per cent off retail price.

Additionally, homegrown family business Roger&Sons upcycles furniture by utilising felled trees to make bespoke pieces.

6. Livestreaming

Image Credit: Cosmetics Design Asia

The pandemic has forced us inside our homes, which has in turn moved us online. This shift has catapulted the vigorous development of the livestreaming economy.

For B2B and B2C businesses alike, livestreaming provides new opportunities for social marketing.

Enterprise-level livestream is booming. With most merchants forced to suspend offline business during the COVID-19 outbreak, corporate live broadcasts have become a central hub connecting suspended businesses with consumers who are at home.

The number of businesses utilising live streaming to support their marketing efforts and to connect with their audiences had already been on the uptick with a 20 per cent jump year-over-year.

Most enterprises are actively exploring the live broadcast model, which will penetrate shopping, games, education, social networking, and more.

A variety of brands have tapped on live streaming during the COVID-19 pandemic, from taking full-fledged conferences online to e-commerce live streaming.

According to BeLive CEO Kenneth Tan, live commerce is experiencing the fastest growth in Asia with a compound annual growth rate of 46.4 per cent. 

He added that live streaming boasts a “much higher conversion and engagement rates” than other mediums. 

As Payoneer’s report shows, demand for livestreaming has increased dramatically during the first half of 2020, and the retail industry continues to become even more creative.

As demand continues to grow, businesses and entrepreneurs will have no choice but to embrace this trend.

7. F&B Franchisee

the alley bubble tea singapore
Image Credit: Daniel Food Diary

The beauty of franchising is that you are buying into an already successful brand or business model with a clear plan to scale.

Despite latching onto an established brand and benefit from proven systems and processes, you will still get the freedom to build your own location and manage your own team.

Essentially, it’s a way to expedite the process of starting your own shop.

Take franchising bubble tea for instance. Bubble tea is evidently popular in Singapore, with many new brands popping up every now and then.

In Tampines alone, we have 14 bubble tea brands battling it out for market share.

Franchises in most expanding marketplaces are likely to be profitable if the right conditions are created. For example, we know that black tea is currently the biggest seller with Asians being the primary market.

Franchisees can use this information to set the location in the right neighbourhood and choose a menu to meet the demand.

According to homegrown bubble tea brand Bober Tea, the average bubble tea shop serves between 400 and 500 bubble teas per day. Meanwhile, a shop with a good location can serve between 500 and 800 bubble teas per day.

However, setting up a franchised bubble tea outlet is not cheap — it can range from a minimum of S$80,000 to over S$461,896 per outlet. Seedly aso revealed that a bubble tea shop at Orchard can bring about a monthly revenue of S$40,000.

In all, the bubble tea industry is currently valued at nearly US$2.5 billion and it’s expected to continue experiencing significant growth throughout the next decade.

If you play your card right, bubble tea franchises could be a goldmine since the popularity is exploding.

8. Drinks Stall

drinks stall food court singapore
Image Credit: 365Days2Play

Kopitiam founder once shared a very good business strategy: dominate the drink and dessert stall, while renting out the food stalls.

“People can’t just come in for food. If a foodcourt has 50 stalls, it will take you 50 days to patronise all the stalls. But you have to come to me every day for drinks or desserts. I think my game is quite clear,” he said.

True enough, the drinks stall always dominate the majority of sales. Patrons will have no choice but to buy from you because there’s typically only one drinks stall at a foodcourt.

Moreover, some people tend to drink more than one cup, which helps to increase sales.

For hawker centres, do note that there is a quota for different types of stalls (eg. Halal, non-Halal, drinks, cut fruit etc).

Being a stallholder is definitely not easy – the hawker industry’s notorious reputation for its long hours and tough conditions aren’t for naught.

That said, it’s not all bane and no boon. In fact, many consciously choose this route over working in more polished restaurants, preferring to be their own boss.

What To Consider When Starting A Business

When starting a business, make sure it’s specialised and targeted. Instead of capturing the entire market with a unique idea, try targeting an underrepresented customer or industry.

Ideally, your business idea should also consist of three things: something you like doing, something you are good at, or something that is in demand (ie. what people are willing to pay for).

Therefore, it’s important to research your industry, find competitors, understand risk and map out your finances before starting your business.

Featured Image Credit: EdTechReview / 365Days2Play / VeganBurg / Cosmetics Design Asia

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)