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Small Business and Self-Employed

Sole proprietorship in Singapore

Before you get your business off the ground, it is critically important to choose a legal structure that best fits your company’s needs. The legal structure you pick for your business has an impact on your ability to raise money, the amount of taxes you pay, the paperwork you are required to do, as well as the personal liability you face. Most small business owners in Singapore choose from the four major types of business structures: sole proprietorship, partnership, cooperative, and corporation.

There are a range of advantages and disadvantages of a sole proprietorship, as well as each type, and they need to be weighed up carefully when making the choice. That said, when starting out you are likely to choose a sole proprietorship, since it’s relatively simple to set up compared to other legal structures. Also known as a sole trader, a sole proprietorship is the least complex business form for one person who owns and runs the company.

Requirements for Sole Proprietorships in Singapore 

While it is easy to set up, there are some key requirements for setting up a sole proprietorship in Singapore.

You will need an approved business name, ID and residential details, a description of principal activities and much more.

The registration should typically take a day or less, which is great. Upon registration you will receive a registration number and you are ready to go.

Advantages of a Sole Proprietorship

There are a range of advantages of a sole proprietorship which center around ease of set up, cost effectiveness and a structure from which you can easily grow and expand.

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It’s simple and affordable

No matter the type of business you would like to start, be it an online e-commerce store, freelance writing business, or anything else you’d like to try, a sole proprietorship is flexible and easy to start. It requires less paperwork than other corporate forms and is generally much more affordable in terms of set up costs. You only need to fill out a simple government form to register a fictitious business name, for example.

Operating freedom and flexibility

As long as your business remains small, a sole proprietorship is the most flexible business form to change. You can make any change you want, including changing business policies and type of business – without much in the way of either cost or process. Sole proprietorships also offer a higher degree of control and fast decision making opportunities. This is very different to partnerships or corporations, where you need the consent or approval from partners or officers to make any business decision.

Disadvantages of Sole Proprietorship

While it’s quick and easy to set up there are a range of disadvantages that can have long lasting consequences on the business owner. The most common disadvantages of a sole proprietorship include unlimited liability, difficulty in raising capital and more.

Unlimited liability

In a sole proprietorship, your small business is personally liable for business actions and debts. A sole proprietorship doesn’t exist as an entirely separate entity, and it means that all personal wealth and assets are linked to the business. This means if your business goes under you will need to pay debts.

Difficulty raising capital

As businesses grow, finding potential investors and raising capital is usually a consideration that many business owners take into account. It is much more difficult for a sole proprietorship as investors have less peace of mind. This is mainly due to the liability and use and security of their investment when it comes to a business with no separate legal entity.

Taxation measures

Due to the fact a sole proprietorship isn’t considered a legal entity in terms of tax, taxation measures are very different to that of a company.

In Singapore, many companies are offered competitive rates or incentives, this doesn’t apply for sole proprietorships and they are charged personal tax rate between 0% to 22% on income. This is compared to a much more favourable rate given to startups or companies at around 15%.

Difficulty tracking expenses and lack of financial control

A sole proprietorship’s structure can result in less urgency when it comes to tracking business expenses as well as preparing financial statements. Due to the nature of running the business, and it usually consisting of fewer employees, you may not have enough time to track and separate business and personal expenses. 

Accounting Software for Sole Proprietors

If you are a sole proprietor, QuickBooks can help you stay organised. You can track and manage your business expenses. 

Tools like easy expense tracking, as well as automatic receipt organisation, invoicing processes, cash flow summaries and much more help you stay on top of things. Get the free trial today.

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