Global Leadership Blog

Cross Cultural Tips for Expanding to Singapore


This blog post was written by Grace Clapham, Creative Entrepreneur | Co-Founder Secret {W} Business | Co-Organiser Creative Mornings Singapore

All eyes are on Asia at the moment and where better to look across the waters than to Singapore. This little red dot is making its mark on the cross cultural entrepreneurial world just as much as it has in the banking and finance world. An article by Business Insider earlier this year ranked Singapore 7th for ease of business sitting alongside cultural hubs such as London, New York and San Francisco.

Although it’s easy doing business in Singapore, there are definitely some key insights that can help you along the way when setting up or expanding into Singapore. Situated in the heart of South East Asia, building your business within Singapore requires credibility and relationship management to further build trust. As with many other cities within Asia, trust is essential and every interaction big or small can make or break your chances. The cultural foundations of many Asian cities are built on long lasting relationships, not just on a business level but on a personal level. Meeting new people in different sectors and positions within businesses and institutions comes easily, with many people open to meeting and connecting with new arrivals. It’s turning these exciting first few cross cultural encounters into lasting ventures which requires that little extra relationship nous and more than a good nose for the market.

Some key pointers:

Seek to understand: a melting pot of cultures, it’s necessary to try and understand the variety of cultures within Singapore. There is more than what meets the eye so don’t jump to conclusions early on and be assertive when interacting with new people.

Relationships are essential: It doesn’t happen over night, you need to earn them. Build cross cultural relationships with individuals on all levels. Most of the time personal relationships are more important and will help you grow and sustain your business in the long term.

Be respectful and considerate: Don’t impose your ideals; be humble and considerate of cultural differences. Remember you’re entering a city that is not your hometown and in Asia respect is of utmost importance.

Keep an open-mind: Be open to different cross cultural business ethics and interactions in various social settings. Sometimes the most understated individuals are the most influential.

Establish yourself within the community – look at all avenues and groups you can connect with. Don’t just mix in with the expat community, integrate yourself within the local multicultural community.

Be Patient: Decisions are not made on the spot, it takes time but it’s all worth it in the end. You’ll most definitely meet with people twice, three times or more before there’s any progress in business dealings. It’s not about being first in and sealing the deal.

Build Trust: everything you do and all the relationships you build in the end are necessary to creating trust. As they say, “it takes time to build, seconds to lose and twice as long to regain again as it took to build in the first place”.

For more information, please contact:
@AGENT_GRACE | SG + 65 9228 7729 | LinkedIn

Melissa Lamson

About The Author

Melissa Lamson, Founder and President of Lamson Consulting, is an author, consultant, and speaker who accelerates the business expansion goals of today’s most successful companies by developing global mindset, refining leadership skills, and bridging cross cultural communication. More About Melissa Lamson