Singapore firms less focused on growth, more worried about costs and productivity: study

Singapore's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) seem to have lost their appetite for growth, a new survey has found.

Compared with previous years, the most recent study by DP Information Group found that more local firms this year were focused on internal changes such as cost-cutting and productivity improvements, instead of looking for ways to expand.

Only 7 per cent of the 2,708 SMEs polled this year expect to achieve double-digit growth - the lowest level in the study's 11-year history.

Nearly half, or 44 per cent, expect no discernible growth, while another 9 per cent expect their revenues to decline.

There are also fewer firms doing business overseas: 46 per cent, down from 54 per cent last year.

And only 75 per cent said they had a business strategy, down from 85 per cent last year. That means a quarter of the firms polled this year said they had no strategy at all.

DP Info managing director Chen Yew Nah said the lack of ambition may be due to averse economic conditions and rapidly rising business costs. However, she added, SMEs should strive to "get their mojo back" or risk declining fortunes.

"SMEs need to understand that the riskiest thing to do is to stand still," she said.

"After a period of stagnant growth the balance sheets of SMEs have weakened and more SMEs are now considered to be high credit risks."