During this year’s National Day Parade Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made a salient point about the year ahead. Even though Singapore’s economy is expected to grow in 2017, the rate is going to slow considerably. As a result, he urged businesses to “transform [and] adapt to slowing economic growth ”.
However, this is easy enough to suggest for multinational corporations with deeper pockets, compared to their small and medium-sized counterparts. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) often have to invest more to embrace the rapid technology reforms — and that is tough, even if you have the financials covered in the short term.
So, as we close out 2016, we want to offer some business tips that will (hopefully) drive success in 2017 — as well as one critical scheme that will help your company stay ahead of the game.
1. Do Your Homework
In other words, engage in some research and development within the company. Giant MNCs do not have the monopoly over R&D. Even if you are running a small business without a dedicated R&D department, you too must know the latest trends and who your customers are. This allows you to develop products and services in a more targeted direction, to suit consumer needs. After all, as the saying goes, if you don’t disrupt your own business, someone else eventually will.
2. Automate, Automate, Automate
No, we don’t mean get rid of your human employees and replace them with robots. Instead, automation in 2017 is all about shaving off the fat and creating smarter, leaner business processes using technology. For example, if you are running a printing business, are ageing machines falling behind the curve? Are they still meeting the needs of your clients? When it comes to document management, is there software that can simplify documentation processes, allowing employees to focus on tasks that matter? Technology is costly, but the right technology will make your life so much easier.
3.Training Them Up
Remember the point about not replacing human employees with robots? That’s because, at the core, your human employees will continue to form the heart of your business in 2017 — and beyond. Training employees helps improve productivity and facilitates potential business growth. If your salespeople can be trained to perform basic technical support on, say, a machine that your company loans or sells, then they will be able to add value to their services when a customer comes calling.
A Little Extra Help
When it is all doom and gloom ahead, businesses need all the help they can get. Fortunately, the Inland Authority of Singapore (IRAS) has the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme, which companies should take full advantage of in the coming year.
If the business tips above — investing in R&D, automation and training — sound like good New Year’s resolutions, it is possible to use the PIC scheme to fund some of those changes. For example, if your company is looking at new (qualified) computers or machines to invest in, the PIC scheme covers you. If it is employee training you are looking for, the PIC scheme also allows you to get a tax deduction of up to 400 percent of your spending on specific training activities — and the list goes on.
Research and development, automation and training are not the only activities on the table either. Others include the acquisition or licensing of intellectual property rights, and the registration of trademarks and projects on approved design. Essentially, if you have a plan to improve your business’ productivity and innovation capacity, as long as it is qualified, IRAS will fund the change you need.
Did you know? As Canon is dedicated to making businesses simple, our office products are fully qualified under the PIC scheme, such as the multifunction devices, small office printers, projectors, scanners and document and print management software. For more information on the PIC scheme, how it will benefit your business and whether you are qualified, go to our additional coverage here or the IRAS website here.
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