5 steps to starting a business in Malaysia

Rachel Lee

Rachel Lee

Last updated 23 August, 2023

Are you ready to break free from the 9 to 5 grind and dive into the world of entrepreneurship? Embarking on a business venture is a thrilling and fulfilling endeavor, but the precise roadmap to get started isn't always crystal clear. To guide you through the process, here's a comprehensive guide on how to initiate a small business in Malaysia.

Step 1: Refine your business plan

Transitioning from a mere idea to a viable business concept requires careful consideration. Begin by assessing your business idea's feasibility in terms of time commitment, required investment, and potential returns. Although following your passion is advised, it's equally crucial to evaluate its profitability and competitive edge. For instance, if your passion is baking, analyze its viability against local bakeries and find ways to stand out.

To solidify your business plan, ponder over these key questions:

  • What is your passion or expertise?
  • What aspects of the business do you find less appealing?
  • Who constitutes your target demographic?
  • How can your products or services distinguish themselves?
Addressing these inquiries will help you lay the foundation for a robust business strategy.

Step 2: Understand your competitors and the market

While it's tempting to concentrate solely on product development, understanding your market and competitors is paramount. Prospective lenders, investors, and collaborators will want to know your unique value proposition. In a saturated market, seek innovative angles. For instance, if you're offering car wash services, consider door-to-door convenience as your distinctive approach.

Conduct surveys, questionnaires, and interviews to delve into your target audience's preferences and needs. By gathering these insights, you'll be better equipped to tailor your business to meet customer demands.

Step 3: Conduct a SWOT analysis

Short for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, conducting a SWOT analysis helps you to identify how your product might perform if taken to the public. This evaluation not only anticipates how your product will fare in the market but also guides its strategic direction. Unearth potential weaknesses previously overlooked and identify opportunities ripe for exploitation.

Step 4: Register your business

After sorting out your business plan, it’s time for you to decide on what type of business suits you best. Here are the three types of businesses that are most commonly registered in Malaysia:

Sole Proprietorship Partnership  Sendirian Berhad
Enterprise or Trading Wandagal and Partners Sdn Bhd or Private Limited
Only 1 registered owner 2 to 20 registered owners A minimum of one director who does not have a bankruptcy status as well as a minimum of one shareholder
RM100+ RM100+ RM1,160+

The first two options are the most popular types of business among the Small Medium Enterprise (SME) owners in Malaysia - mostly because they are cheaper.

All businesses have to be registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM). Once registered with SSM, a Business Registration Certificate will be issued to you within an hour. Depending on which you decide on, your business will then be valid for one to five years and can be renewed on an annual basis.

Step 5: Seek out funding if necessary

There are several ways you can fund your businesses in Malaysia:

  1. Advanced cash option from banks
  2. SME Bank Programmes
  3. Personal loans from banks. Compare the best personal loan that suits your need, here.
  4. Equity crowdfunding (ECF) platforms

Of course, there are still many more steps to starting a business e.g marketing, hiring a team, selecting suitable business tools, etc. However, the bottom line is that starting a business takes time, effort, and perseverance. If you’re willing to put in the effort, you might achieve your goals. Before starting a business, be sure to do your research, create a solid business plan, and be patient. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

With creative wit and an immense passion for writing in her back pocket, Rachel Lee creates impactful content about finance, lifestyle, and more.


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