Business ideas for the ordinary Singaporean

I have a few business ideas for all the Singaporeans out there who are jobless, caught in dead-end jobs or jobs that they hate. Please take a look to see if you could implement or expand on any of these and live a more fulfilling life as an innovator, change agent or entrepreneur.

I’ve categorised them into two broad categories so it’s easier to zoom in on your area of interest or expertise

If you’re a people person

1. Start a charity to specifically help the aunties and uncles who are picking up trash/cans/cardboard boxes

Most people feel bad when they see the elderly bent over, working their butts off when they should be enjoying their golden years. I can’t say I know why they are working – I’ve never spoken to any one of them. The general opinion is that they work because they have to, in order to support themselves or their family; and there’s a considerable amount of anger that the government isn’t helping.

My take is: Forget the PAP (and PLEASE learn that maxim). If you look at a number of developed countries, organizations and individuals step in where the government won’t or can’t; and it’s time more Singaporeans take up social causes and turn this nation around, especially when cracks are appearing in society. You would be seen as a hero, a positive contributor to society. You’d be doing a whole lot of good and SG will be a much more pleasant place to live in.

2. Operate a personal concierge service that focuses on the key pain points of Singaporeans. Keep it to a short list of services that you know Singaporeans would need and do those few things in the most amazing way possible.

In order for this to work well, I believe the other thing to focus on is your immediate surroundings. I keep hearing about the loss of kampong spirit so bring it back. Community or togetherness invigorates the human spirit and it could lead to possibly less social ills. One more benefit about concentrating on your neighbourhood is that it means zero travel for you, which translates to a variety of savings.

The areas, which I think most useful are:

  • Child-sitting. With the increase in maid levy or maid problems, more people may find it difficult to employ a maid. Many more do not have the means as well. It seems like parents with primary school children are most squeezed. They want someone to watch over the kids at home and guide them, but a maid isn’t necessarily qualified; yet both parents need to work. What then? Wouldn’t they find a child-sitting service for a reasonable fee beneficial?
  • Project managing home renovations and smaller home services such as aircon servicing, plumbing, etc.
  • Catering service. Provide nutritious, home cooked meals, which your neighbours can easily pick up.

The long-term benefit of this is that Singaporeans would be able to rely less and less on maids; and this is a good thing. Singaporeans need to wean themselves off this dependence on foreign domestic help.

If you are more technically inclined

3. Invent and manufacture dry and breathable or cool apparel and footwear

Why is it that Dri-Fit or Geox was invented in a place with four seasons, relatively low humidity even in summer and not a huge amount of rainfall? What do they know about living in hot, humid environments 365 days of the year with seasonal monsoons? But you do. Market size: not sure, but definitely more than a billion. Think about that!

4. Build lightweight carriers

In the Dec10/Jan11 issue of Monocle, there’s an article about Raytheon and Lockheed-Martin’s exoskeletons that got me really excited! It says that the frames would “give wearers the ability to carry up to 90kg with little effort while remaining limber enough to kick a football”. This would greatly help infantrymen. But imagine the possibilities for consumers!!

A backpack would be obvious, but how about a carrier that would help folks, especially the older ones with their heavy load? Considering there’s a rapidly ageing population around the world and many cities/towns with cobbled streets and unforgiving stairs, it’d be fantastic. Baby carriers. Luggage. A frame that can be assembled/disassembled around an item to assist with any heavy object. Can you see the potential??

5. Create a more environmentally friendly packaging for supermarkets to replace styrofoam and plastic containers.

6. Invent a cool mist (or sorts) system in MRT / buses to combat bad smells, reportedly one of the top reasons why Singaporeans feel stressed while on their way to work. This ranks at #3 and is even above rude behaviour!

7. Create a crowd-sourcing site for non-profit organizations

With scandals in SG over misuse of funds in charity organizations as well as a common gripe about not being sure where monetary donations go, perhaps it’s time for someone to create a crowd-sourcing site that is not centered around raising funds.

Chartiy orgs can put up their request for paint jobs, books, beds, equipment, etc, and volunteers would need to get these things done; they’re not able to simply donate the money. This makes charity work more meaningful and you would know exactly what you’ve donated towards.

8. Provide personal cloud computing solutions

Digitise someone’s library – photos, books, CDs, DVDs, LCD, VCDs – the whole lot. This is becoming a very popular service in Japan as homes are small. Any Singaporean would agree that most living spaces in SG are getting smaller and we are seeing the rise of tablets. Cloud computing may not be on the minds of most people and it may not be cheap right now but there’s a market for someone who can offer a reasonable solution.