There are various startup schemes and government grants provided by the government in HarbourFront Singapore that you can benefit from. There are a number of business support grants for companies to help them overcome obstacles in their growth. Overall aim of these grants is to help businesses in capability upgrading and internationalization.
Government knows the important role that its startups and SMEs play in its economy and hence support these entities with business support grants. Financing is one of the most fundamental aspects of starting and growing your business. There are hundreds of government grants available for small businesses that help in saving money, lowering startup costs and helping grow your business.
Business support grants are small amount of seed money that further the goals of federal, state, or non-profit organizations. Unlike a loan, you don’t have to repay it. Most business support grants in HarbourFront are awarded to help launch a start-up or new business, with the aim to generate jobs and stimulate the economy. There are fewer grants available for established businesses.
Science and Technology Innovation Center (SciTech)
Government can assist businesses in two ways- financial help and administrative support. Understand what government grants are available to businesses. Grants are available to sole traders, partnership, limited companies and social enterprises.
Now grants aren’t just government funded as more and more organizations develop grants program in HarbourFront. Grants are now offered by government, private agencies, universities, corporations and humanitarians.
Business grants are available in all kinds of forms. Generally, business support grants are either a direct grant, equity finance or a soft loan. Direct grant is money given to your new business to cover startup essentials such as investment in equipment, training or reaching new markets. Equity finance, not strictly a grant, offers reduction in income tax on investment made in new businesses. Soft loans are actually loans with lower interest rates and more generous terms than other lending.
Innovation is about the networks among people, and more importantly, the interactions between those people. To be honest, that's not really what I had in mind, when I started thinking about this topic. When I started thinking about the failures I've had when it comes to legal technology and innovation.
I was thinking more along the lines of legal technology innovation being a full contact sport. Leading innovation and implementing new legal technology is hard work. You are going to make mistakes and you are going to feel beat up by the process.
When I work on these initiatives, I know I'm going to have to roll with the punches. I'm gonna share with you the story of a project that failed for us. The five mistakes that we made that led to that failure, and the lessons that we learned. Unfortunately, I can't tell you the project became a success. However, I can tell you that other projects which have followed have been successes because of this failure.
I have to keep the details confidential, and when I anonymized everything, I realized that this is a case study that could apply in any organization, across multiple different types of legal technology. A number of years ago, we embarked on a pilot of a new legal technology tool. We were introduced to the tool by one of our partners who thought we should check it out.
I was excited by its prospects, and we had a few lawyers who were willing to try it. Mistake number one - KM was the champion of this project. This was a huge mistake. It was not enough. Despite the fact that we had a partner who brought the technology to us that person did not have a vested interest in using it personally in his or her practice.
As a result, we did not have anyone standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us, telling their colleagues to use the application and why. When the project failed, KM was left holding the bag. As a result of this mistake, we have changed our approach. We now want one of two things in place before we start on anything new. The first is that we have someone, preferably a partner, who is willing to put their name to a project in a meaningful way. Or second, we have a critical mass of lawyers who are all interested in using the technology, such that we feel we have enough momentum to move forward.
It is incredibly frustrating to know that a new technology tool is out there that could make the lives of your lawyers more efficient, yet you just can't get the buy-in to move forward. No matter the temptation, you can't go it alone.
If the technology is not sparking interest, you are better off taking the time to find out why than pushing ahead. We saw several demos of the product and we asked a lot of questions. We really thought we knew what we were getting. Still, lots of technical issues came about, it couldn't do everything that we needed, and the lawyers did not think it was as easy to use as the vendor did. Mistake number two - we were wearing rose-colored glasses.
To be fair to the vendors working in this space, I don't think that anyone is trying to sell us snake oil. I actually think that a number of the problems and challenges that our technology vendors are trying to solve are really, really difficult; and we are difficult customers. We're slow to make decisions and we have very high expectations. However, for those of us trying to implement and use these new technologies, it is never ever as easy as we are led to believe.
My point is this, if you're trying a new technology, then be prepared. Plan for the fact that it probably will not work as you think it will. Plan for the fact that you can't anticipate every single use case, and plan for the fact that you will need to spend a lot of time with the vendor giving them feedback. Forging ahead with our pilot, we promoted the software, demoed it to practice groups and tapped individuals to try it. In all of these interactions we were enthusiastic, optimistic, and talked about how great the software would be.
Mistake number three - we did not anticipate failure. We treated the pilot of this new innovative software, the same way we treated pilots of established proven software.
Knowing that new technology is not going to be perfect, you need to manage expectations with the lawyers who are willing to try it. We now communicate in a way that sets the stage for possible failure. There's a fine line we walk between selling, in order to get pilot participants, and also being realistic with them, that trying out the software will require effort on their side. We also support them in ways that we don't, for proven software. We also give them lots of kudos for participating, because they are guinea pigs and they are taking one for the team.
As I noted, this was a new technology product, while a couple of firms were using it, we would certainly be an early adopter. Some of the functionality was not quite ready, but the vendor promis edit would be released during the pilot.
Mistake number four - bad timing.
Our timing was terrible, it was way too early for anyone to be trying this software. If being an early adopter gives you a competitive advantage, then it makes sense. Otherwise, if you do not have the time and the patience and the resources to be an early adopter, you need to think twice. I am now quite prepared to let others go before us. Do the hard work with the vendor, iron out the kinks, and then we will start using it. This is really, really difficult for those of us working in this area. Standing on the sidelines while others are trying new technology that we think can help our group, and we're always anxious to get our hands on it.
But, understanding and appreciating the culture, and what drives the business models of our organizations is really important. As with most of our pilots, someone on the KM team was responsible for arranging the demos and the training, working with IT to install the software,testing the tool and finding pilot participants. This is a successful proven approach that has worked for us in the past. But it didn't work in this case and we weren't sure why. We had trouble finding pilot participants. Those who tried it, didn't really like it. What was worse, was that those who tried it said it made them less efficient. This was a terrible result for an innovative legal technology tool. Mistake number five - under estimating the importance of people and processes. New legal technology tools that embed legal knowledge or legal processes, often require lawyers to change the way they work, in order to take full advantage of the software. If you don't change the way you work, or approach your work, the software may not help, and in fact, it might hinder your existing ways of working. Successful pilots and implementations of these new technologies must take that into account. One of the key takeaways that has informed our innovation efforts going forward, is that these tools are not like other technology tools that we have in the firm. They are designed to be used by lawyers, but not on a day to day basis.
We need to have the people resources to support the lawyers in using these tools,in order to make the most of them. As I said, I would like to tell you that this project ended up being a success, but it was not.
It was a failure,full stop.
We kept at it for about six months before we threw in the towel, gave up and turned it off. I know we all talk about being agile and failing fast; but when you work in an organization where there are professional, ethical and legal obligations that are core to the services you provide, failure is not something that really happens. So having a project that failed, and explaining that failure, was an interesting experience. The lessons we learned have set us up for success in projects that have followed.
Lesson number one - don't go it alone. Look for that key champion or make sure you have a critical mass of lawyers who are prepared to back the project.
Lesson number two - be realistic about what you're getting into. Using brand new technology is not for the faint of heart. How much tolerance do you and your organization have to be early adopters?
Lesson number three - manage expectations. Prepare participants that getting up the learning curve will take time. Prepare management that the project may fail.
Lesson number four - sometimes it's just better to wait.
And lesson number five - it's not really about the technology.
There is a reason that that phrase goes,"people, process and then technology.
I hope that by sharing these lessons learned, you will make different mistakes. And if you are feeling a bit beat up by legal technology and innovation, it means you are probably doing something right, and you are actually making progress. My only advice is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep at it.
Public Tech Innovation with Real-world Implementation
Many programs can assist small business to access professional advice and support in critical early stages of establishing a business. While there are a lot of grants available, getting a business support grant from the government can be a challenge. Government grants are often complex with lots of processes and stages, and each grant will have its own requirements and criteria for applying.
While being awarded a grant is winning, they are notoriously hard to acquire. Not only are grants programs highly competitive, they can take months to process. Aside from finding one you’d be eligible for, you have to compete with other companies for the same. The other downside is that grants usually come with specific instructions on how you can use the money.
A grant for companies in HarbourFront Singapore can give your business a huge leg up and can be a great alternative to traditional finance. To apply for grants, first become familiar with the process. Eligibility for grants will vary depending on the grant in question.
Do your research. Identify programs that are a match for your business. Apply for the grant and submit eligibility requirements. Keep in mind that you’ll need to meet certain criteria to be eligible.
I actually Googled online marketing course and Get Smarter came up first. I researched it and decided this was something I really wanted to do. I had become quite stagnant in my business although I love my business! But my business partner runs most of the operations.
I just felt that I needed to just get some more nurturing and innovation - I was feeling a bit flat. The reason I decided to take the course was very simply; when you are in the marketing field you've got in stay ahead - it's like on a treadmill, if you don't keep walking, you are going to end up behind at the back-end of the pack.
So, for me it was imperative that I actually know exactly what's going on on the internet marketing side. You've got Social Media, you’ve got Advertising you've got Search Engine Optimization, you've got Content Marketing. It's a whole host of different platforms. Where the web design course would be basically on how to develop a web, learning HTML. I am still getting my head around HTML. This gives you an overall platform.
The Internet Marketing is a practical course, that's the difference! breaks the divide between knowledge and application, and also the application into your business. The concerns that I had to study online were various; first of all I was completely intimidated. I don't come from that base, I'm not a computer guru. Also how am I going to manage running a business, three children, two of my nieces also at UCT live with me, from Zim, my son. How I can manage? But But in essence, the online is the easiest. It's the best! Because you can actually fit it around your lifestyle. I'm a preacher for it, I say "Guys, you have got to go online".
There is no intimidation, you are not worried about next student. Potential students considering doing the course, quite simply tell them: do it! Do it now. Don't wait. The reasons being, if you young, you are with it. You can get to grips very easily with the actual content. If you're older, in a job like me, you can do it part-time. Its internationally-recognized, its recognized by UCT which is my old University. I would love my son to take this course, and he's busy studying up at UCT, he's doing B. Com Economics, and I would love him to be studying course! He's 24.
I think anybody in business, I think it's vitally important if you are in business. If you want your business to be successful and you want, particularly us in the hospitality industry, you want to be successful, that's the route you have to go. Also, on top of it, t does it in ten different bite-size chunks. That allows you to carry on working as in my position, a senior position, and also do the course.
How did I feel when my certificate arrived? I felt so huge in my house! My partner of 14 years, he is ex-UCT boy, my son is at UCT, my two nieces who live with me are at UCT, and now I was part of that. I felt like I was in digs! And it's just been fantastic, I have it on my wall at the office for everybody to have a look at, and i really feel like I have achieved something. Just having that little logo, makes me very proud.
So my advice is: don't hold back. It doesn't matter how old you are - it is fantastic! I wish I found this 15 years ago. And I am pleased that I have found it. My goal is to to try and do a course every year.
Each scheme is different. Check you meet the general terms and conditions. Talk to the grant body to assess chances of success. Read grant objectives carefully. Have a great business plan.