Ensure small businesses can tap latest Budget measures

The challenge for many small businesses, and even medium-sized ones, is that they may not be aware of many of the grants, incentives and support measures in Budget 2016 ("Budget to 'build our future together'"; last Friday).

As they have limited size, scale and scope of operation, they may not be equipped with the right personnel and expertise to tap all the relevant schemes, including the Industry Transformation Programme ("$4.5 billion helping hand for industry"; last Friday).

They also do not have the structure, system and process to implement new business models, systems and procedures.

The Government should not only put in place a broad range of channels to reach out to small businesses, but it should also strengthen and deepen its support to help take these small businesses to a higher level.

Many small businesses need not just one-off assistance but a series of targeted and hands-on guidance and coaching.

Therefore, it may not be enough to set up a business grants portal to reach out to small businesses.

The Government should not only put in place a broad range of channels to reach out to small businesses, but it should also strengthen and deepen its support to help take these small businesses to a higher level.

The Government and its partners will need to go down to the ground level and proactively help small businesses to redesign their business models and re-engineer their operations to succeed in the new economy.

In the Asian culture, many business owners may not appreciate the value of mergers and acquisitions, let alone tap the allowance to do so.

The Government and its partners can provide direction and advice to help small businesses merge their operations and hunt as a pack.

By doing that, small businesses can enjoy economies of scale, link diverse markets, and strengthen their competitive edge and value-addition.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2016, with the headline 'Ensure small businesses can tap latest Budget measures'. Print Edition | Subscribe