Although there are a plethora of regulations SMEs have to deal with in Singapore such as taxes, healthcare, labor laws, safety and health which can take up much of SME owners’ time, thankfully the support infrastructure the Singapore government has set up to help SMEs deal with these makes things a lot easier.
Organizations like the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) have comprehensive programs to help SMEs. They are a great professional resource for demystifying existing and new small business regulations and offer assistance for starting, running, and growing a business both in Singapore and overseas.
Other Challenges Facing SMEs Today
Unfortunately, regulations are the least pressing concern right now facing SMEs. According to findings released by DP Information Group on 20/11/2017, 22% of 2,522 SMEs polled said they face financing issues, up from 14% in 2016. It ranked among the top four concerns, behind perennial issues such as manpower, materials and rent. The SMEs with financing issues cited higher bank interest rates as the biggest problem. They are also being squeezed harder by suppliers – access to supplier credit is tightening.
This tightening of credit available to SMEs is also starting to have a significant impact on the cash flow of companies, according to the DP Information Group survey. It found that cash flow problems are now the top business concern of 7% of SMEs – more than double 2016’s figure of 3%. Corroborating this, a separate report from the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) and SAP revealed also that Singapore SMEs take 9.2 more days on average to collect revenue as compared to their global peers.
There is no doubt that every day that revenue is delayed slows the growth of a small business.
Looking in the right places for the answers
Despite the general consensus that cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, most SMEs take a passive view of their finances, relying mostly on Excel or outsourced accountants. In doing so, they fail to realize that keeping track of their finances on their own helps them make better decisions for the business both in the long and short-term. Online accounting software such as Xero, Quickbooks Online, and MYOB Essentials was developed with one goal in mind – helping SMEs be more efficient with their cash flows.
Today, tools such as these can prepare and track invoices, provide financial reports, and save you consulting time with your accountants. They also help your staff stay on top of time-consuming compliance tasks like record keeping and expense management. Happily, these tools also integrate with third-party apps like Finaxar, streamlining financing, payroll, tax filing, etc.
SPRING also has a support programme called the Capability Development Grant, that could actually help the company engage professionals to help the company to structure its financial systems and easily make the switch from tools like Microsoft Excel to online accounting software.