Chances are, business owners in Singapore — whether they are a startup, a SME, or a large corporation — would need to interact with government agencies at some point in their business journey.
For some of them, it’s on a regular monthly or yearly basis. And when they do, they are sometimes unsure of which agency to go to, or what is the regulatory process around it.
As such, the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) worked very closely with the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) for the past six years to understand the challenges that businesses face especially when it comes to interacting with the government.
This is what led to the creation of GoBusiness, a one-stop platform that provides businesses in Singapore with integrated, personalised and seamless access to government resources and services.
GoBusiness was first launched in October 2019 as GoBusiness Licensing to simplify licence applications for the food services sector in Singapore.
To date, it has benefited more than 2,800 F&B business owners and a monthly average of about 100 F&B businesses have used GoBusiness Licensing.
Spurred by the success of this F&B initiative, it motivated the team to continue to enhance the platform to provide better support for all businesses in Singapore; not limited to the F&B sector alone.
In 2020, the platform was expanded to include GoBusiness Government Assistance in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which helps businesses navigate government support schemes.
GoBusiness is part of the overall Smart Nation vision, and reflects the government’s commitment towards the promotion of a pro-enterprise environment in Singapore.
There are three promises that GoBusiness aims to achieve: help businesses find information that they need in a simpler and faster manner, help them connect this information and services in the form of a guided journey so that they know what steps to take and what to do after each step, and lastly, proactively notify and update businesses with the latest news and information.
The key idea is to help entrepreneurs in every stage of their business journey — from starting a business, running a business, growing a business, to exiting a business.
When starting a business, especially for the first-timers, they often don’t realise that beyond the registration process, there’s often a lot more things to be done that follows immediately — such as trademark registration, opening a Corppass account and licence applications.
And for those who run a physical shop, they may end up paying for the rental even before they can open shop just because they discover that they need to embark on some regulatory processes before they can start their business activities.
As such, GoBusiness wants to help businesses not just speed up their registration process, but also start right by providing them with essential information and tools.
When businesses start to operate, there are regulatory requirements they need to meet when it comes to financial filings, tax reporting, manpower management, training, among others.
There’s also the exciting, but uncertain part about growing, expansion and transformation.
GoBusiness wants to reduce the friction when it comes to these kinds of regulatory requirements and increase the accessibility of government support.
Even in some unfortunate cases where some ventures don’t take flight, it wants to make it simple for businesses to wrap up their activities and streamline business obligations such as tax payroll and deregistration.
MTI and SNDGG announced today (November 17) that GoBusiness will be enhanced to create a more seamless experience for businesses, with features to help aspiring entrepreneurs kickstart their businesses, and guide for existing business owners to apply for relevant licences and grants.
Businesses will benefit from a personalised dashboard that will support users through the whole business journey. With the dashboard, businesses will have integrated and easy access to over 300 government-to-business services.
It allows them to register new businesses, apply for licences, and receive recommendations on suitable government assistance schemes.
From January 2022 onwards, users may access the dashboard by logging in through Singpass and selecting their company’s unique entity number (UEN) or business number.
Once logged in, they will get to see information that is most relevant to them and view their corporate profile and see some of the transactions they have completed with various government agencies.
At a glance, they can also see what are some of the key activities that they need to take action on immediately, or what are some activities that are still in progress.
Users can have access to a personalised step-by-step guide on how to register for their business, as well as complete the incorporation of their business within the same transaction.
Once the business registration is complete, the user will receive suggestions on what to do next, including applying for relevant licences and grants.
Businesses can access and apply for more than 200 licences — across different sectors — from various government agencies via the dashboard, without having to visit separate portals. In the same space, businesses can also amend, renew or cancel existing licences.
Through the dashboard, businesses can also keep track of their licence application status, and be prompted if any action is required.
The dashboard is also inbuilt with a notification system so that businesses will never miss another opportunity or deadline.
Another exciting part about the dashboard is its recommendations feature, which offers a range of tailored recommendations such as suggestions for relevant grants.
In their talks with businesses as part of their research process, the team found that businesses are often unaware of an existing government scheme, and often thought they are not eligible for a certain scheme so they end up not making use of it.
As such, GoBusiness hopes to address this problem through their recommendation engine.
In addition to the dashboard, users can access various e-Advisers available on GoBusiness without logging in. This is something that businesses can already start to make use of.
The e-Advisers will provide new or prospective users with relevant recommendations on business structure, starting a business, premises-use checks, and event organisation.
By answering a few simple questions, new business owners can receive information that help them decide on the business structure that best suit their needs.
New businesses can also check the availability of their preferred business name or proposed business names as usernames on social media channels.
They can also find out about the Singapore Standard Industrial Classification Code for their business activities, as well as receive recommendations on the steps to register their business in Singapore.
In addition, businesses can conveniently check premises-use and change in land user with the e-Adviser. It points businesses to the right government agency to get approval for the use of commercial spaces.
Businesses can also find out if change-of-use approval is required by entering the addresses of their shortlisted properties and answering a few simple questions.
Meanwhile, businesses looking to organise events in Singapore can also use the e-Adviser to navigate the regulatory landscape.
By answering a few simple questions, businesses can receive a curated set of licence and Safe Management Measures recommendations for their event.
These short questionnaires are necessary for the e-Adviser to generate recommendations, and some of the fields like corporate profile, will be pre-filled so users need not waste time filling in their details multiple times.
These enhancements on GoBusiness were developed in close collaboration with the business community in Singapore.
More than 500 business users across multiple sectors, including food services, e-commerce, retail and events, were consulted over the last two years through research, user-testing and independent studies.
By facilitating regular feedback from businesses, the Pro-Enterprise Panel under the MTI has been instrumental in ensuring that new features introduced on GoBusiness were developed in line with what enterprises need.
GoBusiness will continue to enhance its website and progressively roll out new features. As part of their co-creation process, businesses are also welcomed to suggest a feature they would like to see in their future dashboard.
Featured Image Credit: Screenshot of GoBusiness website
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