5 Important Cultural Tips to Do Business Well In Singapore


By the end of 2016, foreign direct investments in Singapore exceeded $1.3 trillion. Most of these investments were in the form of equity, and the most significant contributors were from Europe. This figure was a 7.3% hike from the previous year, and it’s easy to see why investors still look towards investing in the Singaporean Economy.

Singapore is the perfect gateway to the ASEAN region. The business-friendly regime, tax incentives, advanced infrastructure, economic and political stability, and superior workforce makes it an excellent choice.

Registering a company in Singapore is easy and fast. All you have to do is reach out to a registered company incorporation services firm or an accounting firm in Singapore to get your paperwork done. However, registering a limited company, setting up a local trading address and hiring a company secretary are just the first steps of a long business journey. The more significant challenge lies in operating your business.

If you’re thinking of starting your business in the Singaporean culture, you must take time to learn about the culture and adapt it so that it works for you. Below are a few cultural tips to help you get started on the right foot.

Punctuality is Essential

Whenever you set up a meeting with partners, clients or other stakeholders, you must always be on time. In Singapore, it is considered improper and rude to keep a business executive waiting. Being late can cause you to lose your deals and meetings, and thus it is crucial for you to adjust your watch and set your alarm so that you never lose sight of punctuality.

Public Debate or Argument Is Not Preferred

It may be difficult to hide your emotions during business meetings. After all, psychologists Kahneman and Tversky asserted that emotions are a central part of economics. Nevertheless, it is best not to let your emotions show publicly, and refrain from engaging in loud debates or arguments. The norm for Singaporeans is to hold for about 10 seconds before responding. Known as the 10-second rule, doing so will help keep your conversations polite and in respectable tones.

Age and Seniority is Revered

As you engage with different people and different teams, keep in mind that age and seniority are highly revered in the Singaporean society. When negotiating business deals with groups, chances are high in that you will deal with the senior-most individual in the group. For instance, when looking to engage with an accounting service company in Singapore, avoid referring to your counterpart using their first name. Instead, address him or her by their title, then their family name. It is also best to compliment them on their accomplishments, and not on their looks.

Polite Gestures from different countries

For investors arriving from Europe and North America, direct eye contact is considered as a gesture of sincerity and openness. However, in Singapore, when you break eye contact, it is regarded as a form of politeness. Moreover, physical contact between people of the same gender is not all that strange in Singapore.

Business Cards Should Be Written Both in English and Chinese

These cultural tips will help you during business meetings and when dealing with your teams. But as you close the deal and look to share business cards, it is best to have cards printed in both English and Chinese. As a significant portion of Singaporeans can speak, read, and write in Chinese, a business card written in the local language will win their hearts as well as their businesses. You can have your business cards printed on both sides as well.

As you look to set up your business in Singapore, it is essential to understand the country’s culture and identity. By doing so, you will be one step closer to securing and starting your business on the right foot in Singapore.

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