Brief Guide On Starting A Small Business In Malaysia

Planning to start a small business and (ironically) you do not know where to start? Fear not! We have listed some tips below on what you need to know before starting a small business in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, you can use the following button to have a business consultation with our business lawyer and company secretary:

Having A Business Plan

It is paramount that you have a business plan in place. Start by asking yourself a couple of these questions:

  • Does your business require you to have any special set of skills?
  • Where are you getting your initial fund for your business?
  • How much do you need to sustain you on a short-term/ long-term basis?
  • What is your business idea?
  • Have you done the appropriate market research?
  • What is your marketing strategy like?

Be it a short-term plan or a long-term one, those questions above could go a long way in planning your business- by putting down all your thoughts, be it realistic and unrealistic, the business plan:

  1. Will give you a rough idea (i.e. able to to visualize) where your business is heading to within the foreseeable future;
  2. Will tell you whether (in the foreseeable future) your business is sustainable with your current plan; and
  3. Will gives you an indication what ideas need to be changed/ amended/ scrapped in order for you to launch your business.

Financial Planning

Akin to having a business plan, it is good to plan your finances even before the inception of your business as it is always prudent to make sure your expenses i.e. your initial set-up and the cost of maintaining your business is well within your means/ budget. These expenses include but are not limited to hardware, internet service providers, maintenance, cost of hiring employees (if you need the extra manpower to assist you in the business), rental of the location/ cost of purchasing the location, renovation, managing cost, etc. At the end of the day, like any other business, you would want to have a healthy cash flow at the end of each month. This is to ensure that, amongst others:

  1. You are actually paying yourself for all the hard work and hours you poured into your business; and
  2. You have spare cash to utilize should any emergencies arise.

Choosing A Business Name

A business name, especially a good one, will affect your brand name, marketing strategy and brand identity. A good name, while it is at times hard to come up with, will carry your business a long way, even if you are not the one handling the bulk of its operation. Therefore, make sure your name is unique, not obnoxious, and differs from that of your competitors- it will leave an imprint (be it good or bad) on the general market as a whole.

Location, Location, Location

With the exception of online business, location is crucial to any business that requires a physical premise, as a bad business location could potentially kill off the business even before the business can even take off. For example, you would not want to set up a grocery store that is miles away from any civilization (you get the point).

This means you will have to scout the location where you intend to plant your premise/ branches and research on it before committing to having your premise located there. Therefore, do consider some of the points below when you are scouting for your location:

  • Transportation
  • Flow of traffic
  • Ease of access/ finding
  • Logistics
  • Parking
  • The convenience of facilities and available amenities

Understanding The Necessary Law

There is a saying “ignorance is bliss” i.e. what you do not know would not hurt/ kill you. However, this does not apply in law. In fact, the law states that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”1 i.e. you could be penalized regardless even if you do not know about a particular law and you commit certain offences in relation to that law.

The above applies equally when you are starting and running a business- not only do you have a multitude of laws and regulations you have to comply with before you can start your business, you will also have laws that you need to contend with whilst remaining in operation and even when you plan to cease your business.

Therefore (we cannot emphasise this more), KNOW your law, or else you could potentially land yourself in hot soup.

Applying For Business Grants

As a bonus tip: do you know that the Malaysian government actually provides a certain amount of financial assistance/ grant to small businesses in Malaysia? Below are some examples of available grants:

  • Bioeconomy Transformation Programme by Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation2;
  • Business Growth Funds by Malaysian Technology Development Corporation Sdn Bhd3;
  • Cradle Investment Program Catalyst4, Cradle Investment Programme 3005, and Cradle Seed Ventures Fund 16 by Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd;
  • Creative Industry Development Fund by Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia7.

Therefore, do some research on this issue- the extra grant might potentially put you in a more financially stable position when you first start off your business.

And there you go, hopefully, it helps!


Need help with starting a small business in Malaysia? Consult with Business Lawyer Malaysia and Company Secretary Malaysia:


Another related article:

  1. How to Start Online Business in Malaysia – Guide for SMEs
  2. Renew SSM Online – Step by Step Guide on Renewing Business Online
  3. Issues to Set Up a Business in Malaysia for Foreigner – Immigration & Visa Issues
  4. 3 Types of Business Set Up in Malaysia
  5. How to Start a Company in Malaysia (i.e. Sdn Bhd Company)

1. Anthony Lawrence Bourke & Anor v CIMB Bank Bhd [2018] 1 MLJ 104.

2. http://www.bioeconomycorporation.my/bioeconomy-malaysia/bioeconomy-transformation-project/.

3. https://www.mtdc.com.my/business-funding/bgf/.

4. https://www.3ecpa.com.my/incorporation/guide-to-start-business-in-malaysia/.

5. https://www.cradle.com.my/latest-news/cradles-cip300-accelerates-weaning-off-grants-malaysia/.

6. http://csv.com.my/about-us/.

7. http://cmcf.my/announcement/creative-industry-development-fund-cidf-skmm-0.