According to a research paper by Edmund Tie & Company, it is now estimated that by end of this year 2018, the total amount of co-working or flexible work spaces will hit around 1.4m sqft in Singapore, with a big part of this concentrated in the business district or CBD.  And as at May this year, there are approximately 110 serviced office cum co-working operators jostling for bigger shares in the Singapore office market. This comprises of both big brandname operators familiar to most from Justco (local), The Great Room (local), WeWork (USA), Campfire (Hongkong) to a whole plethora of local mid-sized operators making their presence felt here and in Asia.  What ensues is inadvertently a price war which can only be good news for those looking to rent.

In this article we will discuss the differences between renting a traditional office in Singapore versus that of taking up a private room in a service office, or that of a coworking space.  We will also discuss what we believe is the emergence of another hybrid office space category in what we call “co-location” office as Singapore landlords of traditional offices struggle to fill spaces in the face of this tsunami shift to flexible spaces over the next decade.

Table of Contents

1. Serviced Office Vs Traditional Office Rental In Singapore
1.1 What is traditional office rental?
1.2 What is the concept of serviced office?
1.3 Comparison between serviced office and traditional office
1.4 Cost differentials between serviced office and traditional office
2. Different Types Of Serviced Office Offerings In Singapore
2.1 Building type
2.2 Brand-name vs small operators
2.3 Comparison between serviced office and coworking space
3. Serviced Office Vs Co-location Office
3.1 What is co-location office?
3.2 Comparison between serviced office and co-location office
3.3 Cost differentials between serviced office and co-location office
4. Summary


1.1 What is traditional office rental?

Before this millennial workforce came about, most tenants be it SME or big corporates would lease a fixed square footage area of office spaces on typical a 3-year tenure for commercial leases.  This often requires careful planning and budgeting with 3-year forecast of all resources needed for business expansion in a specific country or location which is often difficult to do.  Once the space is commited, tenants would need to take over the space and spend on fitting out or renovation before moving in quickly and they need to see out the duration of the lease no matter what happens to the business environment.

1.2 What is the concept of serviced office?


Serviced office, on the other hand, requires much lower commitment both in terms of the duration of the lease as well as the costs required to fit out and even to maintain the business operations.  As the name implies, the office premise would be “serviced” by an experienced flexible space operator well adept to provide all kinds of business services needed from high-speed wifi, cleaning & washing, pantry supplies, printing solutions, office manager with a team of reception staff providing concierge services like phone answering, etc.

In fact, serviced office has been around for the longest time with very established players like Regus and ServCorp who used to command premium pricing with 2-pax private room going at above S$2,000 as recent as 2014.  It was only in the last two years when serviced office operators mushroomed in Singapore and the industry grew into a multi-billion dollar business globally as big corporates catch on to the trend of embedding coworking in their culture.

It is not difficult to understand why this is an attractive option not just for new startups and small businesses who may not afford the higher rentals in the CBD, but multi-national companies as well.  With fluid and ever-changing business environment as a result of technological disruptions and political upheavels in recent years, the flexibility of much shorter lease (often as short as 1 to 3 months) and not commiting on renovations and running costs is highly valued.  Enterprises could put in teams or whole departments and scale up or right-size at will, with no concern on lack of seats or over-commiting on a lease when business plans change.

1.3 Comparison between serviced and traditional office

Serviced OfficeTraditional Office
Length of leaseTotally flexible which can start from as little as 1 to 3 months; tenants could also “swop” over to another bigger or smaller room, or add on rooms as business progressesCommercial lease usually at minimum of 2 to 3 years with handover of a fixed committed space
Fitting out & re-instatement costs at endMinimal as all renovations are done with offie tables, chairs, phone lines and wifi/lan cable point all provided.  There is usually just a basic reinstatement fee at end of the lease which is in the range of $300-500.Can range from $20,000 (with partition for managers’ rooms) for 500 sqft small offices to over $100,000 for large spaces. It is an often-overlooked cost item which can easily add 30-50% to rentals when amortized over duration of the lease, especially for shorter lease of 2 years.
Ambience and décorMost operators provide a swanky reception area for guests and big spacious “breakout” and coworking areas which boasts of modern contemporary “living room” décor.  Some may even come with seaview!Private office rooms usually come with window (for the bigger ones) and glass fittings to allow for natural light.Most traditional offices are fitted out with simple carpet flooring and individual workstations on colored-panel system furnitures unlike the “open concept” in most serviced offices.Private rooms are usually whole-glass partitions with old wooden furnitures and wall cabinets.
Monthly running costsMost basic running costs are covered like internet access, electricity power and pantry supplies. However, most serviced office operators would charge for usage costs from phone lines, printing, to meeting room.All services need to be applied and contracted for specific periods from business broadband, printing, pantry supplies, etc.
Office ManagementAll tenants big and small can leave all office management matters to dedicated team of “centre managers”Depending on the size of tenants’ operations, they will need to have person dedicated or oversee all office management issues from suppliers’ contract, fixing repairs of lights or IT infrastructure, VHR (video camera), M&E issues, etc
Networking and collaborationServiced office tenants could easily mingle in common areas and collaborate when opportunities arise. This process is precipitated by the many networking activities and regular talks organized by the operators who would invite tenants or outside experts to give talks on business topics of interest.Most of the time tenants would keep all interactions within the confines of the company, ie. colleagues and coworkers.  Depending on the size and scale of operations, there would be team-building activities but not on a weekly or monthly basis unlike in service offices where there are resources dedicated to such events.

1.4 Cost differentials between serviced office & traditional office

Based on small unit 400 sqft for 5 paxTraditional OfficeServiced Office
Fitting Out Costs
SCDF approval for fire water sprinkler
M&E works (mechanical & electrical)
IT infrastructure (Cat 6 lan cabling)
Paritition (rockwool sound-proofing)
Carpentry work for cabinets/storage
Carpet flooring
Office furnitures (5 workstations)
PABX phone system (setup)
VHR system (video camera recorder)
Security access system
Install own invertor airconTotal fitting-out cost
Included in rent
Included in rent
Included in rent
Included in rent
Included in rent
Included in rent
Included in rent
Included in rent
Included in rent
Included in rent
Included in rentZero
Re-instatement Costs
At end of 2-year lease (estimated)

Monthly Running Costs
Monthly rental to landlord (with GST)
Utilities (electricity & water)
Business broadband 400mbps
Phone usage charges
Pantry supplies
Cleaning services
Repairs & maintenance including aircon service
Furniture & equipment depreciation
(optional) Hire 1 office receptionistTotal monthly running costs
(we will exclude depreciation costs which is paid for under fit-out & hiring of receptionist)
Included in rent
Included in rent
Included in rent
Included in rent
Included in rent
Included in rent
Included in rent$4,100
True Total Monthly Cost
(amortized over 2-year period)
($40,000/24mths + $4200)
($1,000/24mths + $4100)

Although serviced office rental for 5 pax at $4,000 (~$3,800+GST) may seem to be higher than the rent of $3,200 paid (~$3,000+GST) to the landlord of a traditional office space of 400 sqft, when amortization costs for renovation and setup costs are factored in, it actually works out to be $1,725 ($5,866 less $4,141) less per month which saves the tenant a whopping $41,400 over the course of a 24-month lease!

And let us not forget management’s time involved to brief contractor, apply for permits, oversee renovation, requisite furnitures & fit-out items, contract for office supplies and services, etc.


2.1 Building type

As most of the serviced office operators are located in CBD area, and there are generally 3 types of office buildings within the CBD.  Take note there is no standard definition for commercial office buildings in Singapore other than the official URA’s definition of Category 1 & 2 office building with 1 being defined as those located in core business areas in Downtown Core and Orchard Planning Area which are relatively modern or recently refurbished, command relatively high rentals and have large floor plate size and gross floor area; and Catesgory 2 being defined as everything else other than 1.  Still the industry uses an average floor plate of around 10,000 sqft as the benchmark.


Premium Grade
Premium-grade office buildings are those located in Singapore’s CBD and with the following attributes:
– Usually newly-erected buildings, not just refurbished
– A grand and high-ceiling lobby reception area with state-of-the-art security access system
– Large floor plates of at least 10,000 sqft with no columns
– High total gross floor area with high occupancy
– Commands the top rental psf rate in Singapore and usually houses global MNCs and banks

Examples of serviced office operators located in premium-grade office buildings include:
One Marina – Justco
Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC) – Servcorp, Regus

Grade A
Grade A office buildings form the bulk of high-end office buildings in CBD as many building owners underwent extensive rebuilding or refurbishments in the last few years in Singapore.  These buildings are:
– Newly-erected or refurbished
– State-of-the-art security access system
– Large floor plates of at least 10,000 sqft

Almost all existing new or refurbished office buildings in the CBD fall into this category:
Suntec Tower – WeWork
Capital Tower – Collective Works

Grade B
Grade B office buildings are those older office buildings yet to undergo major extensive refurbishments however those floors occupied by serviced office operators would have been overhauled completely.  To draw an analogy, it is almost like one is walking into a “show room” unit within a block of old HDB flat:
– Older office buildings yet to undergo any or minimal refurbishments usually in the lift lobby area
– May or may not have security access control via entry passes
– Smaller floor plate sizes

Examples of serviced office operators located in grade B office buildings include:
71 Shenton Way – WeWork
139 Cecil St – Campfire

Shopping Malls
Besides office buildings, the trend of coworking operators entering retail malls have started overseas in markets like US and in Singapore local JustGroup started the ball rolling with its new premise this year 2018 opening in Marina Square mall.  The huge floor plate allows it to add on to its offerings by providing product showcase areas for its many new startups.  We expect this trend to further take root in Singapore especially in the upper floors of malls where there is getting harder for mall owners to fill the spaces.

2.2 Brand-name operators vs small operators

We have covered quite a number of top 10 brand names in serviced office and coworking operators by now.  Still, that is just 10-20% out of a total of some estimated 110 operators.  There are many other smaller serviced office and coworking operators and some with only single-location like us here at StartWise.

Smaller operators are unable to match the depth and width of the membership base and networking activities of the big boys.  Nor can we compete on the extensive interior design budget and big spacious floor plates offered by these Tier 1 and some global operators.

However, as in all trades of life, small has its advantages and besides pricing power, we are able to fulfil certain unmet niche in the market place and we will elaborate more in a later section on a new trend we believe will arise over the next few years.  Before we do that, we need to take a closer look at the difference between what is a serviced office and what is a coworking space.

2.3 Comparison between serviced office & coworking space

So far, we have used the term “serviced office” loosely in this article when we really mean “coworking space” at times.  It is important to note that the two terms refer to two different office products but is used interchangedly somewhat by the industry as almost all serviced office operators would also provide coworking solutions and vice versa.

As explained earlier, serviced office as a product has been around for ages and our guess is that is still going to be pretty much the preferred choice for all tenants when budget is not an issue.  Renting a serviced office means taking up a short lease of one or a few private rooms (usually with window) that could sit a few coworkers in each room. There is a sense of ownership of the space with private restricted access, soundproof glass partitions where conversations are conducted exclusively.  Customers or business partners who come down for quick short meetings can be hosted in the company’s exclusive area.

On the other hand, coworking spaces which is also known as hot-desking to some, are more suited for freelancers or those in creative and media industries where collaboration is valued more.  That is not to say that those in such trades will not take up private office rooms.  It depends.  For those who just started out and wish to keep their fixed costs down, coworking memberships where one is free to use any available open seats during business hours for a small fee per month or per day may work best in our opinion.  The only draw back is it is perceived as a less “corporate” or business setting for work and may not be suited for certain industries. Typically, tenants would request to have a fixed dedicated desk zones so as to enclose the whole team within the same area.

Media has propagated the term “coworking space operators” not only because it ties in with the whole concept of the sharing economy and the rising army of freelancing millennials which is all the buzz now; but it gives a sexy appeal to the whole idea of an office.  Still from evidence we see on the ground, serviced office continues to form the main bulk of businesses for most of these operators especially in the enterprise segment.  Perhaps a better word to describe both office space solution providers in the same breadth would be – flexible space operators, which would encapsulate both serviced office and coworking space rental.



3.1 What is co-location office?

With serviced office operators taking over commercial buildings in Singapore and with this growth rate projected to rise annually in double-digits 20-30%, traditional office landlords be it building owners or strata-office owners would find it more and more difficult to fill their spaces as millennials and even enterprise tenants take to such flexible spaces.  The demand for traditional offices has shrunk and will continue to be so.

Fortunately, we do see an unmet niche for traditional office owners who could lease out their premises as co-location office rental through management contracts with co-location office operators.  So, just what exactly is co-location office?

There are many smaller tenants or startups who may like the idea of renting a serviced office with prime business address in CBD but is sensitive to the steep pricing charged by major operators which range from $1,000 to $1,600 for a 2-pax private room.  They might like the idea of a hybrid concept between a small traditional office without all the “frills” of coworking bells and whistles, yet still enjoy the flexibility of a serviced office short-term lease rental with all basic business services provided.  Think of it like a budget airline without all the frills of a full-serviced carrier, but still get you from point to point safely and efficiently.

As the name implies, co-locating offices refers to the setup where the entire small office space is essentially occupied by just a few tenants (like 5 to 8) in non-conflicting businesses who decide to co-locate their operations and share out common resources.  There will be an operator who takes care of the basic services like mails, calls, internet access, small pantry supplies, cleaning etc.  Yes, there may not be that swanky reception area with free coffee and tea but if it helps to bring down overall rental costs by some 25-30% per month, that makes perfect sense for tenants who rather spend the money on marketing to get more new businesses.

For example, in the cost comparison given earlier in section 1.4, co-locating offices into 2 private rooms for 5 persons will cost only $3,000 all-in inclusive of gst at StartWise, which is at 27% lower cost from $4,100 monthly running costs.   And if your company needs only a 2-pax room with window, this all-inclusive cost is at just $1,360 per month and takes care of all your daily business needs from printing, meeting to phone usage.

3.2 Comparison between serviced office & co-location office

Co-location OfficeServiced Office
Length of leaseTotally flexible, but subject to availability of rooms and desks due to the smaller scale
Totally flexible
Fitting out & re-instatement costs at endNo fit-out costs. Only re-instatement fee as low as $100 per paxNo fit-out costs.  Only re-instatement fee usually $300-$500 per room
Branding & ambienceSimple reception area with no spacious feel but can come with modern contemporary look.With few tenants co-sharing the common space, corporate branding is much stronger with logo signages at entrance for guests. Tenants could also portay themselves as related or affiliate companies aligning for the same vision or purpose.Big swanky reception with modern contemporary look and feel.  Spacious coworking space.Due to the size of operations, it will be difficult not to be seen as one of the many tenants in a coworking setup. Corporate logo displays are chargeable by month and get overpowered by the distinctive brand of the service office itself.
Monthly running costs Depends. Operators could charge by usage of meeting rooms, printing, etc. but most would include all services in the rent so as to differentiate from service office.Smaller operators typically has no GST, or choose to absorb it as part of the all-inclusive rent.Most do charge by usage with the exception of a few players.  Charges will be levied for meeting room bookings (hourly rate), printing, displaying of logo, snacks and premium coffee like nespresso.  Some would even decouple business address as a service from basic rent and levy a fee for that.Rental price listed normally excludes GST. 
Office ManagementUsually small operators can only provide a single receptionist to take care of all day-to-day office admin matters.
All tenants big and small can leave all office management matters to dedicated team of “centre managers”.
Networking and collaborationNo regular hosting of events and talks.Regular talks and events from business seminars, workshops, after office hour parties to even yoga and dancing classes.

3.3 Cost differentials between serviced office and co-location office

The main cost differentials between serviced office and co-location office, other than the lower rent, is in the pricing for services by use.  As most co-location office operators are small setups with less than 10 tenants, it does not make economic sense to track and charge by use.  As highlighted, it makes more strategic sense to include all usage costs into the rent itself, be it phone calls to meeting room bookings.  It will difficult to breakdown and provide itemized charges to individual tenants, albeit there are solutions or platforms in the market that allows for it.

The other obvious cost advantage for co-location office over serviced office comes in the form of lower rent charged.  This is possible as co-location office operators keep all running costs down to the bare minimal by doing away with all the frills like free coffee and tea. They also do not need to breakeven on high fixed rental costs as there is no necessity to provide that spacious look and feel which means every sqft in the lettable space will be optimized. It will not take too long for them to fill the limited no. of rooms and seats.


In this article we have introduced you to the various types of flexible work spaces from serviced office, coworking or hotdesking, to co-location offices. The last of which is what we anticipate as a new hybrid category of office space that provides flexible solutions yet giving a stronger business identity and corporate look and feel. It would also target at the more budget-conscious segment of tenants out there with rents set at average of 25-30% lower than those of serviced offices.

We have also provided realistic cost breakdowns to estimate the potential savings a small business tenant with less than five staff would reap if it opts for flexible office space (serviced office or co-location office) over that of a traditional office rental.  And this figure can be quite staggering over a period of 2-year lease.

We hope the information provided here will be of great relevance to your search process.  As this article is essentially an opinion-piece from an existing co-location office operator, we ask you to validate the figures and statements presented though every effort has been taken by us to ensure its accuracy and objectivity.  Please also do read our disclaimer clauses at the end of the article.

Speak to us today to find out more and to arrange for an obligation-free viewing of premises.  We look forward to welcoming you to the StartWise family.

Though every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of our writing and analysis, we do not warrant that our research findings will be 100% true and unbiased as we are also in the business of operating a co-location office in Singapore ourselves.  We stand corrected and welcome any such feedback to  Through our blog, we aim to summarize useful information on office rental market in Singapore and to bring you coverage on interesting developments in the industry.  We also express our opinions in our writing which must not be taken as facts without validation or further checks.  Our sources of information will be limied to those from the authorities, and whatever that is published in the public domain as well as insights gathered from our day-to-day marketing and operations in our business.  You should not base any decision on any representations given in any of our blog articles without fully verifying the said information with the relevant parties concerned and we cannot be made liable for any losses suffered as a result.

Virtual office packages in Singapore are a dime a dozen, from small unknown operators located in far-flung industrial estate to big-name serviced office operators in premium grade office buildings in MBFC (Marina Bay Financial Centre) area.  Depending on the brand and the scope of services provided, the best virtual office packages in Singapore can range from $8 to over $150 per month.

What is a virtual office?  As incorporating a company in Singapore requires a registered business address, which cannot be a residential address, new businesses who like to keep overheads down at the start often look at “renting” a business address for this purpose.  A business address is the simplest form of a virtual office package, which a friend who operates from a commercial office address could very well provide the same as little or no cost.  Not every one has a friend like that.  Even so there may be other factors to look at which becomes essential to the success of the new business.

In this article, we share 10 considerations (in order of priority in our opinion) business owners ought to look at when choosing the best virtual office in Singapore.

1. Price

Unmistakenly the number one factor for most new business startups.  The most basic no-frills virtual office service is simply the renting of a business address.  Most operators would notify you via email whenever there are new mails to be self-collected.

As highlighted prices can range from $8 to $150 but average at $30-40 for most mid-sized operators in town area.

2. Location

The cheapest business address rental logically should be located outside of CBD (Central Business District), however these days there are decent operators who can provide this no-frills service at fractional price within the CBD.

However, business owners should take heed and look carefully at the total costs of all the add-on services eg. dedicated phone number, concierge or reception services, mail forwarding, etc.  This is because many a times these services become quite necessary soon after the business takes off and no one wants to be caught in a fix where they have to change the business address.

Ease of access is also important as one should be able to travel with ease to pick up the frequent mails especially those businesses with cheques for payment.  Even if the price is slightly on the high side, it is worthwhile paying for a location within walking distance or better yet sheltered to the MRT station.

Related to location is a very real and practical issue for those who drive in Singapore – availability of quick and cheap parking, ie. the “grab-and-go” type.  If one prefers a business address within the CBD, then without doubt there will be more such public parking lots or street parking lots in the Tanjong Pagar precinct compared to Raffles Place or Marina Bay precinct.

3. Prestige

In the context of virtual office, prestige is bestowed by the name of the street as well as the type of building.  Certainly a “Raffles Quay” or “Robinson Road” address is more prestigious than that of an industrial area like “Kaki Bukit”.  This works for most industries in general but you will not expect a food catering business to have an office in CBD of course. Remember, most clients do not visit the office (but some do, which is why meeting room facility can be an important factor, see below).  For slightly incremental cost, it is wise to invest in business address that conveys a level of prestige that commensurate with the type of business or industry one is in.

4. Commitment Period

Most virtual office packages have a minimum lease period of 6 months, some may be longer.  It is entirely possible to negotiate for longer or shorter term, and find out what happens when there is early termination will unused portion of the rent paid be refunded?

Virtual office operators with more flexibility in lease period and refunds will minimize the risk of over-committing for new businesses.

5. Meeting Room Facility

Even if one does not think this is necessary at first, it is always good to have virtual office operators with meeting room facilities for booking as you never know when someone important is going to request to meet in the office instead. 

This could be a VIP customer, a business partner or even potential investors.

6. Other Office Solutions

As one’s business grows over time, the next step is to move into a physical office space where more serious work with all mails, phone calls, meetings, follow-ups, etc accomplished at one place.  When shopping for the best virtual office package in Singapore, it is good to anticipate a few steps ahead and look beyond just virtual office services but ask if the operator also provide nice coworking seat, dedicated desk or even private room solutions at a reasonable rate.

Although most virtual office operators are also serviced office operators, there are those who are not.  For example, there are many accounting firms or corporate services firms providing virtual office packages in Singapore.

7. Credibility

Credibility of the virtual office operator helps to ensure that you can use the business address for a long time without disruption due to sudden cessation of the virtual office business.  Working with a credible name also ensures that there is consistency in the quality of service delivered by a well-trained team which indirectly translates into better service experience for the customers of virtual office tenants.  This can come about from phone concierge service or when customers and business partners come down for meetings.

8. Flexibility

Often overlooked by most.  What all new businesses need is support.  An operator who is more flexible in how it handles day-to-day operations and who is prepared to some bend some rules or policies from time to time will be a great advantage.  For example, there are virtual office operators who will take notice and not return mails addressed to names of individual company directors instead of being to the company itself.  Other virtual office operators may charge an additional fee for such exception treatment as all mails are supposed to be attentioned to the company itself.

9. Opportunity For Networking

Of a lesser importance are these last two considerations on networking opportunities and availability of corporate services, as strictly speaking these need not come from virtual office operators.

The big boys in the industry the likes of WeWork, Regus & Justco just to name a few, boast of a large membership base of tens or hundreds of thousands of companies where they will be able to host interesting talks and events at their premises regularly.  Such networking opportunities may present business opportunities for new businesses to meet strategic partners and even acquire new customers.

10. Corporates Services Bundling

Many accounting and corporate services firms offer virtual office packages as a “bait”, in a bid to get more business for their core business of doing accounting, taxes or corporate secretarial services which may not be of the best value in the market.

There are other virtual office operators who are not in the corporate services market but who do strategic alliances or promotional tie-ups with the “best-in-class” accounting firms and corporate secretarial firms. Such referral model may actually bring more value to virtual office customers especially when there is “product-bundling” prices where there is substantial cost savings to the end-customer.

Finally, we hope this fairly objective article will set you thinking in the right direction if you are planning to sign up for a virtual office package in Singapore soon.

Though every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of our writing and analysis, we do not warrant that our research findings will be 100% true and unbiased as we are also in the business of operating a co-location office in Singapore ourselves.  We stand corrected and welcome any such feedback to

Through our blog, we aim to summarize useful information on office rental market in Singapore and to bring you coverage on interesting developments in the industry.  We also express our opinions in our writing which must not be taken as facts without validation or further checks.  Our sources of information will be limied to those from the authorities, and whatever that is published in the public domain as well as insights gathered from our day-to-day marketing and operations in our business.  You should not base any decision on any representations given in any of our blog articles without fully verifying the said information with the relevant parties concerned and we cannot be made liable for any losses suffered as a result.

There are many virtual office plans in Singapore ranging from $8 to over $150 per month.  For anyone looking to start a new business in Singapore and who wishes to keep all unnecessary overheads down to a minimum, a virtual office package makes for an excellent choice.

In this article, we will look at Singapore’s virtual office packages – what it typically entails? As well as compare the costs involved versus that of the next cheapest option – taking up a coworking space in one of the many coworking centres sprouting up all over Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD).

Table of Contents

1. Virtual Office In Singapore Vs Physical Office Rental In Singapore
1.1 What is a virtual office?
1.2 What are important considerations when choosing a virtual office service?
1.3 Comparison between virtual office and physical office
1.4 Cost differentials between virtual office and physical office
2. Different Types Of Virtual Office Packages In Singapore
2.1 Location
2.2 Types of services offered
2.3 General comparison
3. Summary


1.1 What is a virtual office?

A virtual office, as opposed to a physical rented office, is one where the tenant just “rent” the use of a business address or commercial mail box, without the need for a physical workstation or work space.  And in order to project a professional outlook, and since the relative costs of renting a business address is so much cheaper than a physical space, most would prefer a more prestigious business address in the heart of business districts in Singapore – Raffles Place or Tanjong Pagar, or within the CBD precinct which then includes Suntec City, Marina Bay, etc.

In reality, virtual office operators offer more than just the rental of a business address where all incoming mails received would be alerted to the tenant on a daily basis.  Various ancillary services would be offered along with primary service of business address:

  • Dedicated local land line number
  • Phone answering service – all incoming calls handled by a trained company “receptionist”
  • Mail scanning service
  • Mail forwarding service
  • Cheque-dropping service
  • Meeting room rental
  • Business services ranging from accounting, production of company stamps, preparation of financial statements, corporate secretarial, tax-filing to even logo design, website design, etc.

These services are usually add-ons with additional costs above the price for a virtual office package in Singapore.  Sometimes they could also be bundled in as a whole virtual office package at a higher cost.

1.2 What are important considerations when choosing a virtual office service?

As virtual office targets primarily startups or businesses at the very initial phase of their growth with few customers, and where the business owners typically work out of their homes or cafes, cost is a major consideration. Price becomes the overarching factor to most when choosing between the various virtual office packages in Singapore.

However, we think what is more important than monthly rental per se is – the overall value in a virtual office package.  After all, most would agree it would be penny wise pound foolish to lose any single customer due to inadequate corporate branding or office presence, or simply due to a lack of connectivity especially when one travels out of the country.

Below is a list of considerations that tenants ought to think through before committing to any particular business address service:

  1. How prestigious or “recognizable” is the address to target customers
  2. Proximity to train (MRT) stations (for ease of routine mails collection)
  3. Reliability of the operator in the long-run (prompt alerts of new mails, ease of collection, etc)
  4. Offering of dedicated local numbers
  5. Offering of phone answering concierge services
  6. Offering of mail scanning/forwarding service (more for overseas tenants)
  7. Availability of meeting rooms for rental

1.3 Comparison between virtual office and physical office

Virtual OfficePhysical Office
(Dedicated Desk)
CommitmentOffers the least commitment both in terms of absolute costs and the length of contract to be signed.  Think of it this way – even a 12-month contract on a virtual office (eg. $30x12mths = $360) is cheaper than the rent of a dedicated desk for a single month!Even the usual shortest lease of 3 months can set one back by $1,500 to $2,000. And businesses usually need more than 6 months to breakeven, most longer.Of course, some operators may offer day rate for use sporatically within the month but these usually do not come with business address service which is not the basis of our comparison.
Brand presenceThis is the biggest setback for virtual office where the business requires physical interaction with its clients in an office setting.A virtual office will not give any form of assurance of business continuity or instil confidence in prospects to do business with a new business.A physical office, especially one where it is “seen” as a proprietary whole-unit rental portrays the strongest brand presence to clients.Dedicated private rooms or desks will be the next cheaper option as the market has come to accept coworking space tenants as well-run businesses with a millennials-friendly work culture.
Meeting settingThose who provide meeting room for rental at reasonably good rate will offer a huge advantage over the rest.People-to-people meetings, whether clients or business partners, can make or break a business and some meetings just cannot take place outside the confines and privacy of a professional meeting room behind closed doors.Coworking centres offer meeting rooms for rental by the hour.Some operators also offer “breakout areas” where quick short meetings can be held without having to pay for meeting room rental, albeit this is akin to meeting in cafes where conversations are in the open.
Work productivityVirtual office means one does not have a dedicated desk for work, apart from home which is certainly not the most conducive of places with various temptations in the house.Still, for those who are disciplined enough, it still offers the cheapest form of work arrangement & correspondence as long as there is no need to have clients down at the office.Productivity usually goes up when one is bound to a desk for work rather than wasting time commuting places.Having a proper dedicated desk also means full access to all records, files, wifi, printers, etc. which ensures no time is wasted in getting back to clients quickly on their requests.For these reasons, a startup should consider upgrading to a physical work space in the shortest time possible and virtual office operators who offer competitive packages for dedicated desks rental will be a bonus.
Dedicated phone numberWithout physical work desk, the need for a dedicated phone line becomes even more important, instead of merely showing a mobile number on one’s website.Virtual office operators who are able to offer such dedicated local phone number bring the most value to new businesses, especially when it also offers call forwarding at reasonable rates.Most serviced office operators would offer dedicated phone lines which usually come at additional costs for both the lines as well as usage charges.This is usually not avaible to coworking tenants who still by and large rely on their mobiles for transacting businesses.
Networking and collaborationAs virtual office tenants are typically cost-conscious startups on one or two-person operations, there is usually lack of opportunity for interaction with other startups or businesses when there is no physical desk to be stationed at on a daily basis.On the contrary, serviced office and coworking tenants would have plenty of such opportunities when they come in to work in the office.  Even though the new business could be just a one or two-person team, there will be other “collegues” to have small talk or do lunch with on a regular basis.

1.4 Cost differentials between virtual office and physical office

Physical Office
(with Dedicated Desk)
Virtual Office
Business address
Use of desk, wifi, utilities & pantry
Local Dedicated Phone Number
Self-managed (with line/phone set)
Phone usage chargesORConcierge answering service
$40-50Not applicable
Other Costs
Meeting room use
(meet at cafes ~$12)
Total Monthly Cost
(on self-managed phone & 2-hr meeting/wk)
($710 + 4x$40)
(Midpoint $80 + $45 + 4x$12)

*assume 10 days out of 22 working days in a month where one works out of a café with wifi connection and with order of 1 drink at $6, ie. $6×10 = $60.  The rest of the time one works from home which is free.

A virtual office package could possibly cost only one-fifth that of a dedicated desk. For startups and new businesses, the savings here could certainly be put into much better use like advertising budget to get more leads or pay per click.  Even if we compare the costs with that of a coworking desk (non-dedicated open desk), which can be half the costs of a dedicated desk, virtual office would still save quite a few hundred per month.


2.1 Location

Is location important at all for virtual office address?  What may seem as trivial could actually play a part in one’s business success in two ways.

First, targeting a specific country or city requires a brand prescence and more often than not, potential new customers often seek out the location of a new business to ascertain how well-established is the firm.  So having a well-known address will help to give a good impression.  Next, having an address in a central location especially in the business district will help motivate new entreprenuers to network more during lunch time when they also swing by to pick up their mails.  This is important to prevent new entreprenuers from being holed up at one corner of Singapore and working in silos.  Running a new business can be a lonely venture at times.

2.2 Type of services offered

As highlighted earlier, most virtual office operators do bundle up or offer a menu of add-on services for customers with the most common listed below:

Phone answering & concierge service
This usually adds quite a bit of fixed cost to a virtual office package but is necessary if one’s business requires a putting on a full façade of frontdesk receptionist with fairly sizeable team in backroom operations. Be prepared to add $100-150 per month for having a “dedicated receptionist” that greets all callers by your brand.

Dedicated phone line
In order to print a direct line or DID number on one’s namecard, this requires subscribing for a dedicated phone line with the operator.  This usually will add another $30-100 per month charged by most operators and does not include the cost of call forwarding or having all calls routed to one’s mobile when not in the office.

Call forwarding service (with call forward charges)
Do not overlook this as it is important for new businesses not to miss any call or lead especially if the dedicated phone number is used as a sales hotline on the company’s website in order to look more professional and not some fly-by-night operations.  Depending on the phone system used by various operators, be prepared to pay for usage charges including call forward charges.

Mail scanning and forwarding service
For virtual office customers based outside of Singapore, and who does not fly in every month to pick up all their mails and cheques, this becomes a key add-on service for obvious reasons.

Meeting room for rental
For some businesses, conducting professional and confidential discussions behind four walls cannot be substituted with meetings in cafes.  As one can never anticipate when there is such a need for proper meeting with a very important VIP client or business partner, choosing a virtual office operator with easy access to such meeting venue is paramount.

2.3 General Comparison

The virtual office packages in Singapore are highly fragmented with price ranging from $8 to few hundred dollars depending on the location, prestige and type of add-on services offered or bundled in.

We have provided a list of important considerations to mull over in section 1.2 earlier and we believe operators who could provide satisfactory solutions to these seven factors and at a reasonably price ought to be shortlisted.


In this article we have introduced you to the various types of services offered alongside a typical virtual office package in Singapore. Most operators would break them down into an “à la carte” menu with the business address and mails management as core or basic service in the virtual office package. This basic service alone commands a wide range of prices from $8 to $150 depending on the location, prestige, and the type (mass-market versus premium brands) or scale of operators.

We hope the information provided here will be of great relevance to your search process.  As this article is essentially an opinion-piece from an existing virtual office operator, we ask you to validate the figures and statements presented though every effort has been taken by us to ensure its accuracy and objectivity. Please also do read our disclaimer clauses at the end of the article.

Speak to us today to find out more about our office solutions (dedicated desk and serviced office only) and to arrange for an obligation-free viewing of premises.  We look forward to welcoming you to the StartWise family.

Though every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of our writing and analysis, we do not warrant that our research findings will be 100% true and unbiased as we are also in the business of operating a co-location office in Singapore ourselves.  We stand corrected and welcome any such feedback to

Through our blog, we aim to summarize useful information on office rental market in Singapore and to bring you coverage on interesting developments in the industry.  We also express our opinions in our writing which must not be taken as facts without validation or further checks.  Our sources of information will be limied to those from the authorities, and whatever that is published in the public domain as well as insights gathered from our day-to-day marketing and operations in our business.  You should not base any decision on any representations given in any of our blog articles without fully verifying the said information with the relevant parties concerned and we cannot be made liable for any losses suffered as a result.

Virtual office packages are aplenty in Singapore, with competitive prices ranging from as low as $8 from small operators to over $100 for big brandnames like WeWork, Regus, Justco, The Great Room, etc. just to name a few.

For those starting out on new businesses, it makes perfect sense to scale up slowly in operations and fixed costs like office space as the business grows, especially in a country like Singapore where the costs of doing business keeps rising over the years.

In any typical business, besides labour costs, rent would likely form the next biggest expenditure item on income statement.

For this reason, new entreprenuers just starting out may wish to keep costs down by working from home or in cafes, as long as the business can acquire new customers and grow existing ones with no need for renting of office space.  A virtual office package caters to this need as it provides a commercial business address for correspondences which presents a professional “façade” when interacting with customers who do not come down for sales presentations in an office setting.

Still there are important considerations to evaluate when you choose to work anywhere with a virtual office plan in Singapore:

1. Location Of Virtual Office Address

There are many cheap virtual office packages in Singapore with most of these located in fringe areas outside the city centre. When you decide to sign up for a virtual office package, do not loose sight of the primary purpose of why you are doing that – you want a good office location just like when you choose to rent at a physical office location.

Why do we say that? There are two reasons. First, a CBD (central business district) address that is easily recognized by customers would instil confidence in them to want to deal with you – this is paramount as that is the whole purpose of why you have to sign up for virtual office in the first place! Is is not penny-wise, pound-foolish to decide on virtual office address simply on price when you are trying to ensure the existence and continuity of your new business?  After all, you have already decided to save so much more by taking on a virtual office versus renting a physical desk space.  Then, go all out and get what matters most to ensure you can grow your business.

Second, think of all the times you will give yourself excuses not to go down or procrastinate to pick up all your mails weekly just because you have to go “out of the way” to do so, if you choose a non-central location for your virtual office address in Singapore.  There might even be slight financial consequences like cheques waiting for you to clear, or a penalty to pay should you be late in making some payments as you have “yet to receive” the invoice, and so on.

On the contrary, when you choose a virtual office address in CBD, you turn this “chore” or negative event into a positive one which yields great results especially when you do this weekly as a routine.  This is because instead of making a trip just to pick up your mails, you would make it worthwhile by arranging for appointments to meet friends or even clients for lunch and/or coffee who work mostly in and around the CBD areas of Raffles Place and Tanjong Pagar in Singapore. Think networking and opportunity to catch up with friends and business partners.  In fact, you will be looking forward to these meetups and picking up your mails is now becomes “by the way”,

2. Uptime 24×7

As you decide on virtual office setup in the beginning, this means you will not have a desk with a dedicated fixed line number or a DID.  Even though we are officially a millennial work force, we may be dealing with customers who are more old-school and who likes to see a DID number printed on your business card apart from your mobile. For this reason, it is recommended to sign up for a dedicated phone number (usually pre-fix 6) when you take up any virtual office plan.  Make sure the service provider has this option.  Incidentally, you should be using this dedicated number as a hotline number on your website.  How many times have you seen websites featuring a mobile number and you wonder to yourself “This looks like a one-man operation or some freelancer and I would rather deal with a company”.  Don’t give the wrong impression to prospective customers.

And if you have to sign up for a dedicated phone number, the running costs ie. the call charges become important as we know of operators who would charge very low on the main virtual office package but makes back from all the recurring services from dedicated phone number, usage costs, and other pheripheral business services.  Select an operator who can provide the best overall value in terms of a dedicated phone number with cheap calling rates or better yet free incoming calls so you know there is minimal add-on or hidden costs later.

Remember as a new business, every call is an opportunity knocking on your door.  And if you do not have a big budget to employ a whole sales team or customer enquries team, this dedicated phone number or your hotline is vital for business success and needs to be “always turned on” 24×7 (except when you sleep of course).

3. “Moments Of Truth” In Customer Acquisition

There will be times when it is necessary to impress a client who request to meet at your office for whatever reasons, perhaps to size you up before he or she would decide to give the business to you.  This is where it becomes a dilemma for the startup business owner.  As the saying goes, some costs you simply cannot do away with and you just have to invest for the future.  For this reason, we believe all successful businesses should not stay as a virtual office client for too long.  Whichever operator you choose to work with for your virtual office address at the start should be able to offer you more, if not the full suite, work space solutions later on from coworking desks, dedicated desks to private rooms.

Singapore can be a very small place for doing business, and do not be surprised more often than you think, clients may request such a meet up, sometimes at the eleventh hour.  Virtual office operators who can provide a professional meeting room at minimal costs to host your clients when such “moments of truth” occurs would help you to win over and acquire a new customer to your business. That certainly justifies paying more than market rate for the virtual office address service.

Speak to us today to find out more about our office solutions (dedicated desk and serviced office) and to arrange for an obligation-free viewing of premises.  We look forward to welcoming you to the StartWise family.

It is now estimated that the number of serviced office cum coworking space operators in Singapore has mushroomed to more than 100 with the total floor area amounting to over 1m sqft and growing fast.

As competition rises and the going gets tough, we have noticed a drop in prices by some operators with many dangling a low base price but that comes with many additional “add-on” charges even for the most basic of all services – the use of the business address!  In the face of such cut-throat competition, more experienced and bigger operators have turned to being a differentiated niche player, in order to stand out and fill up all the spaces – a clever move.

In the past few years we have seen operators focused on various niche market themes from fitness industry (Core Collective), childcare (Trehaus), hospitality (The Great Room) to the ever-trending young tech startups (Hackerspace, Hubquarters, Carrot Patch).  Operators offer the usual hotdesks and coworking seats with monthly rate and rates for daily access pass.  What is unique is often the décor and fittings of the office space that plays to the profile of target market from fitness training facilities like gym & treatment rooms, children play room, to arcade games machines and console.

Young startups and small businesses are indeed spoilt for choice today with the diversity of offerings from various serviced office operators in Singpore, and at hugely affordable prices compared to five years ago when serviced office market in Singapore was dominatd by a few major players the likes of Regus and ServCorp with the typical corporate style office suites.

One of the key benefits advocated by many of these serviced office operaters in Singapore is the element of networking with like-minded entreprenuers in the same or related industries, and other founders in similar life stages for example new parents with young kids. Depending on the type of industry one is in, this networking opportunity may indeed bring about new businesses for some, though by and large many companies will still need to do their due diligence when sourcing for products and services. 

O.M.O or “one-man-operation” business owners renting hotdesk or coworking seats will clearly benefit from the camaraderie of working in such a vibrant environment with many other “colleagues”.

At StartWise, being a small setup with just two private suites and four dedicated desks, we may not be able to offer that extensive reach and network of the big boys.  However, we more than make up for it with our support services and features thrown in free of charge from the use of meeting room, printing, unlimited free calls from a dedicated phone line with free call transfer to mobile, display of corporate logo branding at the office reception, and so on.  Over time we do hope to expand our base of clients through our unique training programmes targeted at startups and new businesses which will help to expand our network.

Speak to us today to find out more and to arrange for an obligation-free viewing of premises.  We look forward to welcoming you to the StartWise family.

Though every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of our writing and analysis, we do not warrant that our research findings will be 100% true and unbiased as we are also in the business of operating a co-location office in Singapore ourselves.  We stand corrected and welcome any such feedback to  Through our blog, we aim to summarize useful information on office rental market in Singapore and to bring you coverage on interesting developments in the industry.  We also express our opinions in our writing which must not be taken as facts without validation or further checks.  Our sources of information will be limied to those from the authorities, and whatever that is published in the public domain as well as insights gathered from our day-to-day marketing and operations in our business.  You should not base any decision on any representations given in any of our blog articles without fully verifying the said information with the relevant parties concerned and we cannot be made liable for any losses suffered as a result.

Thinking of starting a business to build passive income but are not quite sure what to do and how to go about it?  This article may help give you some framework or train of thoughts on this topic, which is becoming more important in an age of tecnnological disruptions where many middle-aged professionals and executives might be displaced from the workforce in the next 10 years, as we move into more and morea gig economy.

In Singapore, you have often heard of businesses complaining of rising costs of doing business here which can come in many forms – shortage of workers. difficulties in meeting quota to hire more foreign workers, rising levies, utilities hike, rents going up, etc.  This problem is especially acute in retail with the perfect storm of rising e-commerce trends and escalating rents thanks in no small way to REITs which has been blamed by many as a culprit why many mom-and-pop stores are fast disappearing both in Hong Kong and Singapore and indeed everywhere else.  The trend is global in nature.

The point here is this – unless you are big brand company with deep pockets, it is going to be very costly to have a brick-and-mortar presence in any major cities especially in an area with high footfall.  So much for the “I want to start a café business”, an almost universal theme people almost romanticizes.  In fact, more practical business ideas could come in the online world where the internet has opened up many more possibilities in the new millennium.

In our Top 10 list of the most cited business ideas in Singapore by middle-aged executives, many are web-related:

  1. Retail shop selling products/services or Café/F&B
  2. Professional services like accountants, clinics, etc.
  3. App creation or some technical product/solution like an IT/web design vendor
  4. Blogger
  5. Events management
  6. Consultancy (in business, marketing, analytics, etc)
  7. Network marketing (or MLM) as a business
  8. Training and coaching business
  9. Online shop selling products: e-commerce store, baking cakes/tarts, etc
  10. Online shop selling services: curtain, courses, training, google adsense, etc

(Note: A business is defined as what generates a cashflow through a set of activities and which the business owner need not trade his time for money, hence the following common jobs are not considered businesses: grab driver, stock/forex trading, property agent, fitness trainer, freelancer, etc)

We believe that anyone can start a business today with the power of internet.  Of course, as you can see from the list above, there are many popular traditional businesses which may not require much internet knowledge like retailing, consultancy, etc.  Still, almost every business needs a website.  And business owners who knows a thing or two about digital marketing tend to have greater success in getting clients.

With that, let us give you our basic framework for how to start a business which comprises of 6 steps:

1. Business Idea Generation

At StartWise, one key factor why we love internet-related businesses so much is that it allows anyone to monetize his or her area of interest and knowledge from cupcakes to big data.

If you have a specialised skill or knowledge like coding, data analytics, accounting or marketing success, your business idea may be quite obvious than most, or if you have a specific product or passion like art classes or a secret recipe.  But let’s face it.  Most people who like to start a business may not have a unique skill sets or product, neither do they have the capital or knowledge how to start.  Some will take real action and convince some friends to start something new, others may shop around for an existing business for sale.  But most would just talk about it without taking real action.

We think it is better to start a business in a niche that you are most passionate about, naturally.  Where you like to read up or stay abreast of the latest news and developments in that specific niche of knowledge.  Where you can call youself an expert!  There is no boundary here and everyone’s interest is different.  It can be as cliché as baking or gaming to idiosynchatic pursuits like figurines or bungee-jumping.

2. Demand Analysis

Most people would have more than one area of interest in life.  Next step is to do a demand analysis and the amazing thing about the internet is that it can give you instant answers how many people are there in Singapore (or for that matter any specified location in the world) searching for the solutions in that area of your interest.  You can do that via Google keyword planner.

Bettter yet go through some of the seach results page and see who are your likely competitors.  Are their anyone already offering what you intend to offer.  Fret not even if they do, it can be a good thing as it shows healthy demand.  How much will someone pay for your product or service, and how do you intend to differentiate yourself from competiton.  Many a times, it is better to enter a market where there is real demand (people already paying) than unchartered territory for a totally new product or offering.

3. Do you want to be a service provider or a service intermediary?

Now that you have ascertained there is real demand for your product or service.  The next important question to ask is – do you want to be service provider or a service intermediary?  Most people will just jump right into providing the service, for example starting baking cakes, coding for games, or organizing bungee-jumping trips around the world.

A service provider runs the actual business, which comes with the full works of hiring staff, running the operations, marketing for leads, and inventory management if you have goods. Not to mention paying for overheads from rent, utilities to transport and shipping costs.  If the business idea is spot on with red-hot demand, the business owner laughs all the way to the bank especially when there is huge profit margin to be made.  To be successful as a service provider, one often needs to decide if he wants to compete on margin (sell fewer items but with high gross margin) with differentiation or compete on volume (sell many items with low margin per sale) with cost competitiveness.

A service intermediary, on the other hand, does not run or provide the service.  In simple analogy, think of it as a broker or a referral platform. In the internet age, the website that best organizes the information buyers are searching for, and continuously provide new information in that product category, and positions itself successfully as the domain expert or “go to person” in that niche, will command the highest traffic.  What you do next is to establish a network of service providers who would want to pay you a small referral fee which can range from 10% to as much as 50% depending on your niche.  And which business owner would not want to pay you upon confirmation of an order?  If there is, just refer to his closest competitor.

Even though this referral fee could be just 10%, but because there is little inventory, manpower or overheads involved, it can be construed as a high product margin business! And guess what? It can also be a high-volume business.  Yes, you can have the cake and eat it.

4. What is the differentiator? How can you succeed when others fail?

If you choose to become a service intermediary, you will still face immense competition.  First you have competition at the primary level where the service providers themselves would be marketing aggressively both online and offline.  Bewarned, some can come with huge marketing war chest. Next you also have to compete at the secondary level with other service intermediaries in your niche.  And you can bet there will be many if this is a very profitable niche.

So as in all businesses be it a service provider or service intermediary, you will need to differentiate yourself which means you need to answer the question “Why should I choose you over the rest?”

5. Financial plan – how soon can you breakeven and start to generate a profit?

This step needs no elaboration as it is covered in almost all entrepreneurship readings on how to start a business.  You will need to know your investment budget, your breakeven period, break up annual target into meaningful and achievable milestones, track the sales funnel and conversion rate, etc.

When it comes to financial planning for starting a business, the old adage of “over-budget and under-spend” would still be useful.  If you think you will breakeven in 6 months, double that.  And if you think you can tide over 12 months without drawing a salary, double that too.

The good news here is – if you are starting out on becoming an intermediary first, there may be no need for you to quit your full-time work.  You just have to work extra hard after office hours.  It is always a more prudent path to start off first as an intermediary, and when business becomes so good and overwhelming, take that plunge then to assume the service provider role where you would have gone up the learning curve in the industry and be in a better position to compete.

6. How to increase your chances of success?

The is the last step in our framework for starting a business, nonetheless an important one.  There are of course many things you can do to increase your chances of success in startups, for example rope in a partner or hire someone who comes from the industry to give you an edge.  To this end, there will be many advice from people close to you.

We will just add what we know from our own experience starting two successful businesses in Singapore, and we believe these same qualities will benefit those looking to take some serious action:

(a) Learn to build your own website

If you need to pay someone $5,000 to build a website for you and pay another few thousands a year on retainer fee just to maintain and update the website, you may not go that far.  Chances are you will be too slow to respond to changing needs and demands of businesses today.

It also means most likely you have not heard of WordPress or CMS (content management system) which is what even mid-sized companies use to build their websites today, running on open source.  That would also most likely be what your web design firm will be using – pre-built WordPress themes and templates, to build that professionally-looking website with all the bells and whistles you asked for.  You can actually D-I-Y and pay yourself.

(b) Learn the vital skills of digital marketing and lead generation online

Cashflow is lifeblood of a business, hence traffic and conversion is everything in business!  Your ability to genenerate an endless flow of quality leads online, and your ability to convert them will be crucial.  The same goes for offline retail store where it is about creating awareness and getting people to take action to visit your stores and make those purchases!

If you want to succeed as a service intermediary online, you need to become a savvy digital marketer deploying a combination of both paid media and organic search (SEO) strategies for optimal results.

(c) Acquire copywriting skills or hire those who are good at it

Even if you can get a tonne of traffic to throng your online store, if your website copy (plus all elements of user experience) does not convert them, your customers will just go somewhere else. 

The same goes for a retail store or service organization.  If you have sales force is unable to persuade prospects to commit, there will be no business.

A business owner with strong copywriting skills will have an advantage, otherwise paying for good copywriting that converts is absolutely non-negotiable.  Of course, the pre-text in all this is that you must first have a good product, or some great content to share as an intermediary.

We hope you find our framework on “how to start a business” useful and beneficial.

At StartWise, besides offering office spaces that give businesses what they really need, we extend our mission of helping new businesses thrive and succeed by offering a basic 1-day Wordpress course on website creation.  The course is created specially for novice in the internet business who has neither any programming knowledge nor any slightest idea how does WordPress work.

For a very affordable price equivalent to attending a 1-day talk/workshop where you may learn something new for a day or two only to throw away everything after a while, participants of our Wordpress training will walk away with a fully-functional website at the end of the class, ready for them to be launched as a part-time service intermediary business online!

Speak to us today if you are keen to find out more details and we look forward to welcome you to the StartWise family.

Last month, MOM (Ministry of Manpower) released its labour market advance statistics showing a slight uptick in the number of retrenchments in the 2Q 2018 rising to 2500, from 2320 in the 1stquarter of the year, reversing the general downtrend since the last quarter of 2016.

It was also reported that although overall economy expansion has drawn more people into the workforce thus overall unemployment rate edged up from 2% to 2.1% (for Singapore citizens this is 3% to 3.1%), this expansion is not across the board and uneven across industries.  The sectors shedding staff in 2ndquarter come largely from manufacturing, oil & gas, transport engineering and construction materials.


There is still structural problem in the form of mismatch between what employers are looking for and the skill sets needed to fill new job openings.  As we move deeper into the digital economy over the next 10 years, we believe this gap will continue to widen as more PMEBs who are finding it hard to retrain themselves for the new jobs created will struggle to get re-employed upon retrenchment.  Of this group, we expect more to take to starting new businesses.

Will this small segment of demand help to spur demand for office space for rent?  Yes we think, especially for small serviced office and coworking operators.

The global explosion of demand for coworking and serviced office space in the last few years have also seen frantic expansion by many office space operators in Singapore.  And this trend accelerated further this year with the arrival of global coworking space giant WeWork on our shores, who opened their first centre at beach road last Dec and has quickly scaled up to four centres within span of a year.  Regus, an old hand in the traditional serviced office for rent business, has also quickly morphed into a hip and vibrant coworking operator in recent years.

Driven initially by the gig economy, coworking space has taken the world by storm and more multi-nationals are also looking at such flexible options for new markets.  However, such coworking setup may or may not be suitable for all startups, especially those whose business require more privacy and where dedicated office as a sign of reliability is important to clients.  The general impression still remains that a coworking environment is more suited to firms who are new and in certain industries especially the creative, marketing, sales and where work requires a great deal of collaboration.

There are of couse private room office space for rent in these global outfits from WeWork, Regus, and many others.  But these private suites do not come cheap from the big boys, plus they tend to have bigger private rooms for 3-4 persons. Retrenched middle-aged professionals looking to start their own practice in their respective fields may be better off starting at a lower cost base by exploring the myriad of smaller office space operators where they might be able to offer smaller 1-2 pax private rooms. The price difference could add up to 20% savings when one factors in the overall costs including gst (from bigger operators), phone lines, call usage charges, booking fees for meeting rooms, etc.

At StartWise, we do offer what we believe is reasonably-priced 2-pax private room office space for rent, as well as dedicated desk, that comes with what all businesses really need, from free use of meeting room, free calls from a dedicated office phone line, to free display of corporate logo at the office reception.

Speak to us today to find out more and to arrange for an obligation-free viewing of premises.  We look forward to welcoming you to the StartWise family.

Iras has just released the official figures for performance of commercial office market in Singapore ending in 2nd quarter 2018.  Here’s an overview:


The overall picture is a positive one for office landlords in Singapore with slight drop in vacancy rate as well as continued pickup in both the price index (for buying and selling) as well as rental index.  For this article we are more concerned and will take a closer look at the latter, where average rents have increased by 1.6% over the preceding quarter.


We are also more concerned with rents in CBD of Singapore.  As evident from the trend line, the office rental market in Singapore’s Central region has passed the doldrums over the last 4 quarters since the lowest point in 2Q 2017.  We do see some slight plateauing in the lastest quarter but clearly we are far from the last rental peak of 190 index back in 2015.  As URA does not capture the rents of coworking operators, we suspect this plateauing effect we are starting to see from the 2nd half of 2017 could well be due to burgeoning of flexible office space operatings especially in CBD area, where entire floors are rented from building owners at a “discount” from market.  With supply taken out from office rental market in bulk, as URA also reported an increase of 74,000 sqm (nett) of occupied office rental space which is a big jump from  just 14,000 sqm (nett) in the previous quarter, we would expect the overall supply to continue to fall in the meantime aas well as vacancy rate to continue its slight drop over the next few quarters.  See trendline below.

What this means is that tenants who are renewing and coming into the office rental market would expect to pay slightly more on rental reversions with the landlord or to move to a whole new office.

Another factor that will continue to exert upward pressure on rent is the need for REITs building owners to price in higher rental reversions going forward with a rising interest rate.  Tenants whose business model are strong and sustainable would do well to lock down longer leases in the current market, but this is not without risk.  Coworking space might provide the ideal solution for businesses to scale up or down but with a minimun pax of seats secured on longer leases for a core team of staff.

Office tenants looking to rent can take reference from the psf rentals achieved in 2Q 2018:

Note that URA defines Category 1 office space as those in buildings located in core business areas in Downtown Core and Orchard Planning Area, and which are relatively modern or recently refurbished, command relatively higher rentals and have large floor plate size or gross floor area.  This would largely capture all Grade A and Premium office space in the CBD/Orchard.  Further URA then lump all other commercial spaces outside of Cat 1 and across the entire island of Singapore as Cat 2.

Office tenants could use the indicative benchmark of approximately 2-3 times the unit psf rent to assess coworking or serviced office operators who needs a much higher margin to provide for office services and renovation and repairs.

This report would not be complete without a look one critiecal factor that could derail the current uptrend in rentals – supply in the pipeline.


With the main bulk (around 200,000 sqm out of total 725,000 sqm under construction or with planning approval granted as at 2Q 2018) of new office rental space to hit the market by 2020, there is a possibility of a softening in rent.  Still we expect there could be delays in construction, and the likelihood that many existing office landlords would have stretched rent reversions beyond this point to secure longer leases, that scenario may or may take place.  This is especially true in a global economic recovery led by the US in the past one year which may see bustling economic activities and new investments spurring more and more coworking spaces and serviced offices in the coming years.  In short, the demand might prove too strong and mop up any new supply quickly, especially for newly-fitted offices.

If you are a small but growing setup with the need to be located close to your customers in Singapore’s CBD, why not consider having the best of both worlds in office rental – with the exclusive branding of your “almost wholly-owned” office unit, yet retain the flexibility of scaling up and adding workstations as and when needed.

Speak to us today to find out more and to arrange for an obligation-free viewing of premises.  We look forward to welcoming you to the StartWise family.

Coworking space needs no introduction in Singapore.  From big international players like WeWork from California to home-grown big boys like Justco to smaller setups sprouting up all over Singapore, it is taking over office rentals by storm.  But is this growth sustainable and the trend here to stay?

In this article, we will summarize the key advantages and negatives of both as there are businesses that still prefer the merits of a traditional office:

Coworking Space
  • Flexibility in terms of length of lease and incremental spaces as a business expands
  • No need to worry about office renovation and ongoing repairs and maintenance
  • No need to worry about general office management & services like meeting room bookings, wifi connection, utilities, drinking water, etc.
  • Opportunities to network across companies and industries
  • Working in a hip, open and fun environment that fosters creativity and where work becomes play
  • Lack of privacy for business operations with communal setup
  • Lack of privacy also relates to the constant distractions with need to network and small talk.
  • Lack of exclusivity and branding factor when clients or business partners come down for meetings
  • Paying a perceived higher psf compared to traditional office rental
Traditional Office
  • Design of office space entirely for one company’s operational needs
  • Strong branding and exclusive factor where clients/business partners perceive the business to be sustainable in paying rental for whole office
  • Full privacy with no risk of information leaks to external parties in the same office
  • Paying a lower psf rent based purely on area of lease not including the frills
  • Need to commit to minimum of 2 years or even 3 years for commercial lease and to make the renovation costs “worth the while”
  • Renovation costs often translate to a higher amortization figure per month, especially for smaller space where there is no “economies of scale” or savings in renovation projects
  • Need to pay for and manage all ongoing office services from wifi, utilities, telephony system, drinking water to cleaning etc. and very often a need to commit to contractual periods for certain services

We see more office landlords having a harder time filling up empty spaces compared to 5 years ago.  Indeed, the flexibility of coworking spaces attact even multi-nationals (MNCs) these days when setting up sales offices in a new market, as no longer do they need to commit themselves into a lease yet they retain the ability to attract talent in global markets with a big swanky offices.  Therefore it comes as no surprise that commercial building owners including REITS and listed developers have started their own coworking concepts to fill up floors which might otherwise be vacant for quite a while as the entire work space goes through some kind of structural shift in the coming years.

However, we do believe that there is still a market for traditional office rentals even as the coworking trends take root in Singapore over the next few years.  For all the reasons we have highlighted in our analysis earlier (table above), we know there are still many mid-sized companies who believe in having a stronger brand prescence in a fully-owned office for their business.  They see it as a necessary investment especially when they grow to a certain size in business operations or attain certain staff strength where economies of scale justify investing in office overheads.

With the exception of MNCs who tend to swoop in on coworking spaces or serviced office in a big way like taking up half of the available private rooms in any new centre, but often only for a transient period before they finalize their operational requirements or awaiting renovation for their new final offices, tenants in coworking centre tend to be smaller setups with less than 10 staff.  This is where it makes a good fit for a tenant company to save on office resources and renovation costs via a coworking space operator.

At StartWise, we offer what we believe is a great “middle-of-the-road” proposition for such smaller businesses where one can have the cake and also eat it.

What do we mean?  Well, StartWise offers what most coworking operators would offer – private office suites (with window) as well as dedicated work desks.  Yet, because we are not the size of big coworking operators with too many rooms and tables to fill, tenants get the exclusivity factor in operations as well as the option to put up their corporate logo at the office reception, thus giving that proprietary branding needed.  Essentially we are like a group of related companies or sister companies who choose to co-locate their offices for cost efficiency.

Contact us for a no-obligations viewing if you like to explore taking up spaces with us and join the StartWise family.