When you travel to Singapore for business, keep in mind these facts so you can be more knowledgeable about the local business culture...
Sales calls to Singaporean firms usually begin at 10am or later. Lunch is usually around 12:30pm, and Singaporeans usually like to enjoy a full hour of food and conversation. You should strive to be punctual to all meetings to show respect…but know that tardiness is widespread in Singapore, so expect to wait when you arrive at a meeting. People here seem to underestimate the time it takes to get from place to place.
Business dress usually consists of shirt and ties for men, versus a full suit. Suits are worn only on important meetings. Women wear business dresses, skirts and blouse, or blouse and dress pants. Even with the hot and humid weather, Singaporeans dress well when they go out at night. You should too.
Shake hands a little bit softer and longer than you do in the West. When you present a business card, do it with both hands, with the card facing your colleague; you should also receive any paper objects and money with both hands to show respect.
Business cards are very important in Singapore, so when you receive one, show some interest in it before putting it away.
When negotiating, they may pause to think, and you shouldn’t raise your voice, as it is considered rude in Singapore. Singaporeans also value consensus when making decisions, so you should expect to be patient, as it might take them some time to come to decisions. Smoking is not always socially acceptable there, so check before you smoke.
Singaporean government is very sensitive to political criticism, so make sure you don’t venture into political conversations unless you know the other parties well.
Tipping is generally not needed in Singapore since most hotels and restaurants charge an automatic 10% service fee.
Chinese people should be called by their last names. Malays usually like to be called by their first name followed by bin (son of) or binti (daughter of) their father’s last name. Indians usually don’t use last names, but instead like to place the initial of their father’s name before their first name.
Australian citizens can travel to Singapore without a visa if they plan to stay 30 days. This also holds true for citizens of other Commonwealth countries except for India.