A simple and comprehensive marketing plan for SMEs

A simple and comprehensive marketing plan for SMEs

As an SME, you do not have the deep pockets like the big companies or the venture backed start up to conduct aggressive marketing. What should you spend on with limited marketing budget yet generating revenue?

In the past few years, companies have began to emphasise on digital channels, however, they have gradually realised that online is not the only solution. Brands have to learn to leverage on omni-channel marketing, which is conducting both online and offline marketing to provide a synchronized consumer experience.

Before we began on marketing, let us first understand the funnel of marketing. The funnel is usually being broken down into: AICIEP

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I understand that entrepreneurs are most concerned with sales, but it is usually at the bottom of the funnel. The purpose of your marketing is to pierce through the several layers of consideration before motivating your consumer to purchase it from you.

So as a new start up with limited budget, what can you do? What sales channel can you explore?

1. Digital – Social Media

As mentioned, digital is one of the key pillars, so no start up should ignore that. Leverage on the all-powerful facebook marketing if you have online presence. You can now start advertising on Facebook from as low as $5/day and set your own target audience.  Most importantly, it allows you to track purchases, and also people’s interaction on your website.


2. Digital – PR

Lifestyle sites like honeycombs, Timeout are always looking for new things to feature to grow their online traffic. If you think you have something extraordinary, like the latest scented candle in town, pluck up the courage to pitch to the respective editors and you may just get a free feature!


3. Localised advertising

If you are running a business providing physical goods and services such as restaurant or a shop, advertise your business in your locality. Advertising in MRT or bus stops may be slightly expensive, but its definitely helpful for brand awareness, especially when you are willing to give promo codes. Alternatively, you can also do mail marketing – sending snail mails to the letterbox. Don’t underestimate the results that it generate!


4. Search Engine Optimisation

Never belittle the power of SEO. Consumers conduct their research before purchasing, so it helps when you optimize your website to be found on the first page of Google.


5. Get Reviews

Consumers now trust reviews more.  So its always helpful to encourage your consumers to leave a sincere reviews behind, be it on Google, Facebook or other sites.  


6. Reply to your reviews

Let other consumers know that you are a brand who cares and takes reviews seriously.  When you reply to reviews on Google business, it would also help to bump up your SEO.


7. Social Media

Facebook Ads are important, so are your organic posting and social media management. Nowadays, consumers take a look at your feed before deciding if they should engage your services. So make sure you choose your filter, hash tags and share information relevant to your brand!

Are you gittery about your new start up? Unsure of which marketing channel to tap on? Aegis consultancy has been helping more than a 100 of start ups for the past 2 years. Let us help you so you can concentrate on other more important issues.

Email in to associate@aegisparters.co and we will reply you within 1 working day.


What is a company director and secretary? What are their responsibilities in Singapore?

Singapore may be a business friendly city, but starting a company still comes with its own set of troubles. There are complicated rules and regulations an entrepreneur has to navigate through to incorporate a company in Singapore. More importantly, how do you decide who should be the Company director, and Secretary?

We have come up with a list of roles and responsibilities that you will find helpful especially if you are a first time entrepreneur in Singapore.

According to the Companies Act in Singapore, there must be at least one resident director and one company secretary.  Resident director simply means that the director has to reside in Singapore, but he/she can be Singapore citizen, Permanent Resident , Entrepass holder or an Employment Pass Holder.

Roles of Company Director

The director is the legal representative of the company but he/she may not have to take up leadership position of the company. As a director, he/she is obliged to act honestly and put the interest of the company first.  The director also has to avoid conflict of interest. This means that he/she is not allow to carry out personal transactions with the company, take advantage of corporate information to set up rival companies or hold dual directorship in another competitor firm. The director is also obliged to exercise care, skill and diligence to make critical decision. He/she is also not allowed to misuse their power and information for personal use.  

According to the Companies Act, Company director has to fulfill the following:

1. Annual General Meeting  (AGM) and Annual Return (AR)

The director has to file annual returns which basically mean the financial statement of that year. He/she has to convene AGM to present financial statements ot the shareholders. Financial reports are expected to be sent to the members 14 days before the AGM date.  The annual returns must also be filed to ACRA within 1 month after the AGM is held.

2. Keeping records of Statutory Registers

Statutory registers in simple words simply mean keeping record of the important things of the company structure. For instance, register of members, register of charges, register of director’s shareholdings etc. This activity can also be performed by the company secretary.

3. Register an office address.

Yes, it's the director’s responsibility to get a proper office address to kickstart work.

4. Report changes in company directors, secretary, auditors and managers.

The director has to inform ACRA if there is any changes to the above.

5. Reporting changes in the Register for Directors Shareholding

Director has to declare its form of share, rights, options or contracts recorded in the Register. If there is any changes, it is the job of the company secretary to change the register.

Nominee Director

Shareholders may also appoint nominee director to represent them during board meeting. This usually happens when the shareholder does not live in the country where the company is incorporated in.  A nominee director has to be a Singapore citizen, Singapore Permanent Resident or in possession of Singapore Employment Pass/EntrePass Holder with a residential address in Singapore.

Company Secretary

Under Singapore law, it is mandatory for company to appoint at least one company secretary.  Like director, company secretary has to be a natural person and a resident of Singapore.

Here are some key responsibilities of Company Secretary:

1. Maintenance of statutory registers

Ensure that the register of members, register of charges, register of director’s shareholdings is updated. This activity may be performed by the director too.

2. Custody of the company seal

The secretary has to keep the seal and use it on important documents.

3. Notice and agenda of meetings

The secretary has to prepare the agenda of the meeting, and to send out notices of the meetings to the members and shareholders to ensure shareholders are well prepared.

4. Follow the constitution of the company

In some ways, the company secretary acts like a police whereby he/she has to ensure that members and shareholders act according to the constitution of the company.

Public Company versus Private Company

For public company, company secretary has to be a trained and qualified as a lawyer, accountant or be a member of the Association of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Adminstrators. ( “SAICSA”) On the other hand, the requirements for company secretary for a private company is relatively more relaxed. Individual above 18 years old can generally take up the role.

With so many rules to remember, are you feeling confused and afraid? No worries. Since 2016, Aegis Consultancy has helped numerous start ups and budding companies to incorporate in Singapore while streamlining their incorporation process. This frees up time for you to concentrate on other more important matters such as sales and operations, while we handle the messy stuff for you. If you are facing any difficulties, feel free to email to us and we will get back to you shortly.  

WHY DO STARTUPS FAIL? AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT?

We all know startups are risky. Startup founders are often called “dreamers”.

According to Forbes, 90% of startups fail.

Is this because startups are too unstable? We don’t think so.

Here are some findings of problems contributing to the failure of the startups and how we can solve them.

  1. No market need

Surprisingly, 42% of the time the failure of startups are contributed by the fact there is no market need for the product/idea they have. They may have a brilliant idea, but the market do not need it, at least for now.

To solve this problem, the founder need to validate the idea/product more deeply. You can use Lean Canvas Model to evaluate more about your product. Lean Canvas is a 1-page business plan template created by Ash Maurya that helps you deconstruct your idea into its key assumptions.

2. Run out of cash

This is the situation where startups are usually trapped. Startups usually do not care about the cash flow; they care only about the product. Therefore, there would be some cases that there is not enough cash to cover all the expense.

Money and time are finite and need to be allocated judiciously. The question of how should you spend your money was a frequent conundrum and reason for failure cited by startups. Try to understand different perspectives of finance in general and cash flow in specific. Many new business owners even have asked, “What is cash flow and why is it so important?”. The short answer is cash flow is the amount of money coming in to a business and the amount of money going out. Why is it important? If you can not manage the cash flow well, your company do not have enough cash to operate.

3. Not with the right team

Having a diverse team with diverse skill sets is the key success for the company. The team member has to share the same vision and belief so that they can carry on the high-risk competition.

This is a matter that most entrepreneurs underestimate. One thing that we should look for when recruiting is looking for teammates with shared values. Technical skills, expertise of a particular market and industry contacts can be acquired on the go. But with a person with same core value, they can go with your startup in a long-term journey.

4. Too much competition

Despite the platitudes that startups shouldn’t pay attention to the competition, the reality is that once an idea gets hot or gets market validation, there may be many entrants in a space.

The startup needs to have a deep investigate about the environment as well as the industry they are involve, therefore, having a right perception about the market and choosing the right business model.

5. Pricing/Cost issue

Pricing is always a hard task for startups. For startups, it is a constant compromising act between pricing high enough to maintain healthy margins and cover operating costs, while also needing to price low enough to entice customers.

The advice we have is to evaluate the product carefully and choosing the best pricing method for the product. Need to mention that there are a lot of pricing methods, depends on the characteristics of each product. Your startup need to find out the suitable pricing method for the product.


Obviously, running a startup is a long journey. However, founders, don’t be afraid of how difficult startups can be. Adopt a learning attitude and never stop growing. A startup is more than an idea, but the quality of people leading it. At Aegis Partners, we are always here to help startups, from the very beginning of the journey. If you are keen to here an expert’s opinion on your situation, contact Aegis Partners so that we partner you today.

Types of Business Structures in Singapore

Under Singapore’s law, you need to incorporate a company before you can run a business. Understanding which structure is most suited for your business is crucial, as it will affect your future share allocation, and may even affect your personal assets.

In this article we aim to break down the complicated company structure into simple and digestible information for you.

In Singapore, one or more individuals, with at least one director who is a Singaporean, Singapore Permanent Resident or Entrepass holder may incorporate a Singapore under the companies act.

You can choose amongst 6 different types of business structures:

Sole Proprietorship

Partnership

Limited Partnership

Limited Liability Partnership

Local Private Companies

Local Public Companies

Sole proprietorship

In simple terms, sole proprietorship means you are fully responsible for the working and success of your company, including the profits and debts. As a sole proprietor, you are entitled to all your company profits, which means that if you company earn $1 million dollars, you are allowed to keep that sum of money into your personal bank. However, sole proprietorship comes with a risk as you are held liable, without limit for all the debts and obligations.If you are running food and beverage company is not advisable for you to run as a sole proprietorship because of the risk involved. You wouldn't want to become bankrupt due to food poisoning incurred by your business.

Private Limited

Private Limited is usually the default company structure for every small medium enterprises. It separates the company asssets from the personal assets owned by the shareholders. Shareholders are not personally liable to for the debts of Limited Companies. The liability is also limited only to the amount of shares that have been issued to them. In other words, you are not responsible to pay your food supplier back if your company is unable to pay the food supplier due to zero earnings. Your company will be sued and dissolved, but your personal assets would be left untouched.  Private Limited Companies is generally sufficient for any company as it can hold up to 50 shareholders.

There are further sub types of private company.

Deemed Exempt Private Limited Companies

Under this structure, the company has revenue less than S$5 million and with members not more than 20 members. Most importantly, none of them is corporate entities.

Gazetted Exempt Private Companies

Government-owned companies which have been declared Exempt Private Company by the Minister Gazette.

Limited Partnerships (LP)

This company structure consists of general partners and limited partners. This structure is generally suitable for business ventures which consist of a corporation and an individual.

A general partner can be either a corporation or an individual. This partner is personally liable for all debts and liabilities that he/she incurred while in this company. This also means that his/her personal assets have to sold to fund company’s debt if needed. On the other hand, a limited partner is only responsible for the debt and other liabilities of the partnership within the agreed contribution.

 Limited Liability Partner

This is generally the structure for law firms and accounting firms whereby employees can get promoted to the highest position, known as partner. As a partner, you are akin to being the boss of the firm, allowing you to be entitled to company profits. As a partner in LLP, you are held personally responsible for the company. Liability claims can be made against you and your personal assets. The LLP is also liable to the same extent as the partner.  If your company which is an LLP owes the food supplier $300K and you were responsible for the contractual agreement, you would have to sell your personal assets if your company is unable to pay up. However, other innocent partners and their personal assets will remain insulated from such liabilities and their liability be limited only to the capital contributed by them to the LLP.  Hence, LLP is an ideal company structure for talent promotion and retention strategy. Employees will feel motivated to become partner and profit sharing.

Local Public Companies:

Company limited by shares :  Under this structure,  there can be more than fifty shareholders and the company is entitled to raise capital by offering their shares and debentures to the public.  DBS is an example of a local public company, and it has the right to raise more capital by selling shares to the public through SGX.

Company Limited by Guarantee: This type of structure is rare and is commonly used for non-profit organisation. It is generally more applicable for trade associations, charitable bodies and clubs.

In Singapore, the main types of companies are usually private limited companies, deemed exempt private limited company and gazetted exempt private companies.

Are you looking for the right company structure to incorporate? We specialise in helping start ups to incorporate and to streamline processes, ensuring things are done in a fast and efficient manner. Contact us at associate@aegispartners.co to enquire.

 

 

FINANCE 101: 5 TIPS TO MANAGE SME’S FINANCE

Being your own boss, running your own dream, sounds pretty amazing. However, in real life, it is not as romantic as fiction novels. It is definitely a nightmare if your business suffers due to poor financial management.  

According to U.S. Bank , 82% of the time, poor cash flow management skills/poor understanding of cash flow contributes to the failure of small business.

If you are still struggling with business’ finance, or you are a new founder entering this challenging but exciting world, here are some expert tips that you can apply to maintain and improve your business health.

1.    Know financial responsibilities

So, you start a business, and you do not know where to start. A little tip for you is trying to educate yourself with financial knowledge. It is definitely a must!

Know your financial responsibilities, such as tax and learn difference aspects of finance such as financial statement, income statement, balance sheet, cap table could be a very good beginning that you would like to start with.

The result of such insight is that you will know exactly what is your company financial situation, thus minimizing the potential for mistakes of making decisions.

2.   Separate personal and business account

27% of small businesses do not have a separate bank account for business. And this is definitely not a good thing to do.

Why? Separating business and personal account should help you to get a clear snapshot of your finances. Moreover, its follows that having a clearer picture of your business’ finances means it will be easier when it comes time to do your taxes. If you don’t, you could spend hours going through bank statements trying to find each transaction. Not only is this frustrating and not a great use of your time, it means you may also miss items in your statements and ultimately lose out on tax deductions.

3.   Monitor and measure the finance performance

Always keep an eye on the cash flows of the company. Monitoring figures closely will allow you to maximise efficiency and minimise waste, which will help your business in the long run.

Keep track on company’s financial performance in comparison with last performance so that you can evaluate the financial position of your company; therefore, you could make better projections for future revenue, expense and cash flow. These aspects would be great indicators to help you when making any decisions.

4.  Use accounting software

You may not an accountant, but that doesn't mean you can't use their tools of the trade.

Common practice for business owners running a small enterprise is to manage their financial accounts through Excel, but this software isn't designed to support your accounting processes. Using accounting software helps companies to use the resources in their accounting departments more efficiently, and can reduce costly bookkeeping mistakes.

There are many good accounting software on the market right now. You might want to take a look at Xero, or QuickBook Online. Those are pretty popular ones on accounting software market and have high rate reviews.

Accounting software also can help to increase the accuracy of your records by reducing or eliminating human errors in calculation. Using accounting software allows businesses to process their accounts with greater speed than manual processing.

5. Know when to get help

Stubbornness is good in some circumstances. It helps you stick with what you are always dreaming of. However, in some cases, if it is beyond your knowledge and control, ask for other’s advice. Every needs help, don’t be afraid of reaching to other people for advices.

While owning and running your own business can be exciting, it can also be stressful, especially when it comes to handling finances in a lucrative manner. Finance is the heart of any business. Don’t let your business sink just because you do not know how to manage finance well!