8 in 10 SMEs want more biz incentives to help address challenges: DBS

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A dipstick poll conducted by financial services group DBS has revealed that SMEs in Singapore are looking to the government to give them a leg-up in supporting their business growth this year. Eight in 10 said they are expecting more business incentives to be announced at the upcoming Budget announcement. 

This is because challenges such as manpower issues (26.5%), high operational costs (21.5%) and growing business revenue (21%) in a difficult economic environment continue to plague SMEs.

While SMEs continue to grapple with manpower challenges such as hiring the right people (43%) and retaining employees (27%), four in five SMEs said their employees are now equipped with the right skills for the job. The government’s SkillsFuture efforts are also paying off as nine in 10 SMEs polled said that they now have access to affordable training programmes. 

“Many of our SMEs customers have channelled resources to upskilling their employees so that they can improve their overall productivity and efficiency. The benefits reaped are plentiful, and they can now focus their efforts on other parts of their business, such as growing their revenue and expanding overseas,” said Joyce Tee, Group Head of SME Banking, DBS Bank. 

With their employees armed with the tools and resources to drive business growth, SMEs are now focused on maintaining/growing market share (30%), growing their business revenue (29%), and developing their digital business capabilities (23%). 

Despite Singapore’s domestic economy slowing and global trade uncertainties looming, 18% of SMEs polled are looking to expand overseas this year. However, 55% of SMEs cited the lack of market knowledge and understanding of regulatory requirements as the main challenges of overseas expansion. A quarter said that they could not find the right partner to collaborate with. 

With these challenges ahead, seven in 10 SMEs are turning to government agencies for advice. 27% are seeking guidance on partnerships and business grants, 24% on internationalisation and scaling up their business and 19% are looking forward to receiving assistance on tax-related matters. 

“Even though smaller businesses typically require more assistance in weathering storms, innovation, nimbleness and the ability to adapt to change quickly will enable SMEs to thrive in uncertain times,” said Tee.