Are you looking for profitable small business ideas in Malaysia you can start with little capital? We will guide you through everything you need to know about starting a small business in Malaysia.
Malaysia is one of the most developed countries in Southeast Asia and globally. It is an upper-middle-income country with a GNI per capita of US$10,568. The country prevails as a well-placed investment destination for enterprises looking for opportunities.
How easy is it to start a business in Malaysia?
In 2020, Malaysia ranked 12th place on the World Bank’s Doing Business amongst 190 global economies and 2nd place in Southeast Asia. This ranking proves that starting a business in Malaysia is easy.
Is Malaysia a good place for business?
Malaysia has become one of the best places for startup business entrepreneurs in the Pacific region.
Several things make Malaysia a great business place, like the low tax rate for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).
But it is more than the low tax rates. Malaysia has a conducive business environment, a low cost of living, and access to global trading partners. These make Malaysia a good stop for investors and anyone looking to start a business.
How can a foreigner start a business in Malaysia?
For a foreigner to start a business in Malaysia, there are eight simple steps to be done. We outline the steps below.
Decide on the business entities.
There are six types of business entities for foreigners. They are;
Private Limited company
Limited liability partnership
Choose a business name.
Ensure a name check to find out if anyone else is using that business name.
Fill out a Request For Availability Of Name form and submit it to the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM). Each name you apply for costs RM30.
Register the name
After the name check, you can register the name with the CCM to get approval from the Company Formation in Malaysia.
Rent / Buy a business space.
The next step is to look for a business or office location. Every business must have a registered local office address in Malaysia.
Gather the incorporation documents
The documents you need for incorporation are below:
Memorandum and Article of Association
Constitution Statutory Declaration By A Director Or Promoter Before Appointment Declaration of Compliance
One copy of the Company name’s approval letter from CCM
One copy of each of the Identity cards of every director and company secretary
Incorporate the company
After gathering the documents, submit them to the CCM within three months from when they approved the company’s name.
Failure to do this after three months means you must apply for a new name search.
Pay registration fees
The registration fee is RM1,000. You must pay this sum of money to the CCM.
Issuance of a Certificate of Registration
After you pay, wait for at least one hour to receive your business Registration Certificate.
Business ideas to start in Malaysia without money
Create digital products
Digital products are intangible goods, only available in digital form. Examples of digital products are courses, podcasts, templates, ebooks, etc.
Creating a digital product is a business you can start in Malaysia without spending money. You don’t need to worry about many things that will cost money, like renting a store, shipping, and tax.
If you have a skill or talent, you also need to think of the best way you can advertise or showcase that talent to people. These will be key to the digital product you choose to sell.
Service selling is a simple way to earn money in Malaysia and be self-employed simultaneously. A service business means you have the time and freedom to work on your terms. Some services you can offer are based on your skills. It can be a physical skill or a digital skill.
These services include cleaners, handypersons, dog walkers, laundry persons, landscapers, graphic designers, etc.
They can be a one-person service, agency, or consulting business.
These services also create the opportunity to sell physical or digital products. For example, a cleaner can make or retail cleaning products to clients; a photographer can offer service at events and sell images online.
Sales of crafts and homemade goods
Many people have different simple DIY crafts like making scented soap and candles, herbal remedies, jewellery, and knitted items of clothing and accessories.
This skill is a business opportunity to earn your money in Malaysia, even from home.
Although you’d still need a store, you can easily advertise your goods on social media websites and produce in small quantities that you can store at home.
Remember that your goods must be safe, especially if they’re what people will invest in or use on their skins.
Franchise opportunities in Malaysia
The average cost of a franchise in Malaysia is between RM15,000 to RM1,000,000. This price depends on the type of company and its size.
Below are some outstanding franchise opportunities available in Malaysia and their initial capital costs.
Tealive is a famous tea and beverage brand that focuses on providing people with beautiful experiences through their freshly brewed beverages. They have over 500 outlets worldwide in Malaysia, Vietnam, China, the Philippines, Myanmar, Brunei, Australia and the UK.
The initial capital that franchisees need is RM250,000 above, while the franchise fee is RM75,000. After doing this, you can contact the Tealive team to assist you from setting up to opening your store. They will do these through the partnership program designed for franchise opportunities.
Hai-O Enterprise was established in 1975 with over 70 retail outlets and nine franchise outlets throughout Malaysia.
It is a herb and healthcare products enterprise with over 2,000 traditional Chinese herbs. They import some of its other health care products from China or local manufacturers.
Their retail outlets have a wide range of Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCMs), teas, health tonics, gift hampers and other healthcare products.
The initial capital for the Hai-O franchise is RM300,000, while the franchise fee is RM20,000.
Anytime Fitness is a gym and fitness enterprise established in the US in 2002 and has since grown worldwide.
It is a popular gym across West Malaysia, and its franchise ranked number two on Entrepreneur magazine’s 2015 Franchise 500 list, exceeding other popular franchises like Subway, McDonald’s, and Pizza Hut.
Anytime Fitness has a proven model, with processes to guide each growth stage. They offer intensive continuous training and franchise consultation for every phase of the business. The Initial Capital needed for the Anytime Fitness franchise is RM1,200,000, while the Franchise Fee is USD60,000.
Websites to find businesses of the sale in Malaysia
BusinessesForSale is a global service website connecting over one million buyers and sellers monthly.
For over two decades, BusinessesForSale has given a helping hand to private sellers and business brokers to market their listings.
You can search according to location, industry/sector, and other requirements that suit your needs. BusinessesForSale.com also has email alerts and a service directory to get business brokers and lawyers.
Business Broking Solutions
Business Broking Solutions is a business-for-sale website in Malaysia founded in 2007.
They have over 3,000 businesses for sale, from small businesses to large corporations. With over a decade of experience, Business Broking Solutions has learned the knowledge and skills they need to give customers valuable support to increase their Success Rate.
Business Broking Solutions also offers privacy and personal advertisement and transactions.
Easy Buy Sell Business
Easy Buy Sell Business offers businesses like finance and accounting, IT firms, restaurants, etc., for buying and selling.
Business owners who want to sell their business in Malaysia can create an ad for free and promote it. That way, potential buyers can see it and reach out to them.
Potential buyers can also find businesses for sale by using this website. They can contact the owner or even place an ad post about the company they are looking to buy.
The website is easy to use. It requires users to sign up and create an account with their correct contact details.
Tech business opportunities in Malaysia
Software developers are the creative minds behind many computer programs.
There are different customized software, and they are very profitable tech businesses for IT professionals in Malaysia.
Software development has a vital role in business operations and providing solutions for every modern business.
Software development is a business that you can do at home too. It would help if you also had an excellent marketing strategy for your business before starting.
Mobile App Development
Mobile app development is all the processes involved in making an app for mobile devices.
Mobile app development has a lot of opportunities and is a lucrative tech business you can start in Malaysia.
Malaysia’s high number of enterprises is the reason for that. Many companies need to create a mobile app or update their existing one. They also need someone they can regularly contract to do maintenance or routine checks.
Most of the popular apps today are under the categories of social networks, utility, productivity, entertainment, lifestyle, business and finance.
A web designer is someone who creates and designs the layout of a website and also maintains it.
If you have programming and coding skills and a creative mind, this tech opportunity can be a good business for you to start in Malaysia.
You can offer your services to companies who need an internet presence and do not know how to do it.
Before, many big companies hired full-time employees to do various services for them, but now they prefer to hire web designers on a contract basis. This practice has been favouring the demand for part-time web designers, which is growing remarkably.
Benefits of doing business in Malaysia
- Malaysia is well-connected to prominent cities in Asia – within eight hours flight from Mumbai in India to Beijing in China.
- Malaysia’s conducive business environment is the second most developed country in Southeast Asia.
- Malaysia has a young workforce to support regional operations.
- They are open to foreign investments – there are over 5000 foreign companies from about 50 countries.
- The English language is commonly used for business.
- Malaysia has a wide range of trading partners, like the US, Singapore and China.
Challenges of starting a business in Malaysia
Applying for entry permits
Foreigners must apply for entry permits before residing in Malaysia as permanent residents.
There are four types of entry permits for foreigners. They are Investors and experts permits, Professionals permits, Spouse of Malaysian citizen permits and Point system permits.
Malaysia is a Muslim country, and they all have halal standards that certain types of businesses must meet.
All dairy and meat products produced or imported must get halal certification from the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) or any recognised halal-certified body.
Physical office location
All jurisdictions in Malaysia require businesses to have an office presence. This location can be a registered office, where they can send official correspondence or a physical presence that the relevant authorities can inspect.
30 profitable small business ideas in Malaysia
1. Online Marketing Expert
An online marketing expert helps other businesses grow, reach more people, and build a reputation. As an online marketing expert, you must know about business, marketing strategies, and business growth. It would help if you also build your reputation by excelling so that more people will patronise your business.
The good thing about this business is choosing your niche, which influences you. Meanwhile, the downside is that you have to keep learning, be up to date with the latest trends and be patient for your business to grow because results don’t come overnight.
2. Tourism Business
Tourism is the third-largest contributing sector to Malaysia’s GDP.
Tourists who come to Malaysia enjoy snorkelling, scuba diving and sightseeing.
One popular business under tourism is tour guiding. This business is for anyone who enjoys showing people around unique places and offering them an unforgettable experience.
You can also offer products and services to help tourists enjoy their stay in Malaysia and get paid.
The benefits of starting a tourism business are that you can connect with local businesses and earn rewards or tops from satisfied customers.
3. E-commerce & Dropshipping
An online e-commerce store is cheaper than obtaining a physical shop.
E-commerce is one of the best small businesses you can start in Malaysia. You must have a license and register with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM).
These days there are plenty of online marketplaces for people to do their shopping and the platforms are affordable, so buyers don’t find it hard to profit.
Most platforms also provide you with analytics and insights that help you understand your customers and how to improve your marketing strategy.
4. Smartphone & Computer Repairs
Smartphone and computer repairs are a business for anyone good at repairing faulty devices.
Many people use their devices for school and work, so they must repair them rather than throw them away.
Hence, a smartphone and computer repair business will be favourable in Malaysia. If you take the time to improve your technical skills, you’ll find that your business will profit.
The benefit of this business is that you’re in control of your time and workload. But you also need to be most of the time.
5. Motor Bike Service
A vast part of the Malaysian population uses motorcycles as their primary means of transportation. Just like all mechanical automobiles, motorbikes need routine maintenance.
You will get many customers if you erect a motorbike service shop in a busy area. People will prefer coming to your shop if you work at a reasonable rate and provide better service than others.
You can also add a car wash area for those who want to wash their motorcycles. This expansion will be more profitable because you will have both services in your shop. In time, you can have other branches to get more customers from various locations in Malaysia.
6. Business Card & Office Letterhead
Every business needs business cards and a letterhead for their company.
They use letterhead, which is usually with their company name. The need for these cards and letterheads is on the rise and needs constant printing. Starting a business card and office letterhead business in Malaysia will be profitable for you.
7 Real Estate Business
In 2011, the Malaysia People’s Housing Bill was launched to make it possible for young people and low and medium earners to buy their own homes.
You can start a real estate business in Malaysia by focusing on cities like George Town, Kuala Lumpur, and Johra Bauru, where the demand for properties is high.
Although it needs considerable capital, you can decide to focus on other areas in the real estate sector, like being a retailer of raw building materials.
These materials range from sand, gravel, bricks, aluminium rods, etc.
8. Cleaning Service
Malaysia’s home cleaning services market will increase to USD 50 billion by 2025, with a 55% year-to-year growth between 2021-2025.
Cleaning services are on the rise as many companies are just startup businesses and need cleaning services.
These services can involve daily, weekly or monthly, and even post-construction cleaning services. It would be best to focus on getting customers and the equipment you will need for the business.
9. Affiliate Marketing
According to Shopify, Nearly 80% of brands have affiliate programs.
If you don’t want to commit to a full-time job, affiliate marketing is a substantial business you can start in Malaysia. You get the chance to earn income even while doing your regular job.
Affiliate marketing is a low-cost business, and you don’t need high startup capital. It is flexible and convenient.
The disadvantage is that payment is based on performance only.
10. Laundry Services
Another good business idea in Malaysia is laundry or laundromat services. It has above 90% rate of success.
To start your laundry business, you can lease or buy a place close to where people live, like campuses, homes, or even malls.
A laundry service needs no franchise fees, and you don’t need to hire many employers, mainly if you use the equipment and facilities. You also have to be wary of the bills it might incur, like electricity and water bills.
11. Social Media Influencer / Content Creator
Today, many businesses need influencers to promote their brand or content creators to work on their social media pages and increase engagement.
This business is an excellent opportunity for you in Malaysia if you have this knowledge.
You can help these businesses easily with the right strategy, such as a customer-driven marketing strategy.
Content creator or influencer allows you to work with excellent brands. You get a lot of free stuff and gift from them. The downside is that there can be a lack of privacy for those who decide to be influencers, while social media managers must spend their time promoting the brand online.
12. Food & Beverages Business
Malaysia is a well-known place for travellers worldwide; If you can get a suitable location near a school, market, office areas, and shopping malls. A food or beverage restaurant can be a successful business in Malaysia.
Your restaurant can be a place where people will enjoy their free time. You can also choose to open an ethnic restaurant; you’ll have many curious customers who want to try the dishes.
Before starting a restaurant business in Malaysia, you must get a business license from SSM and Halal. You can also hire multilingual staff to assist you with attending to customers.
13. Online Coaching
Online coaching teaches people through virtual apps or videoconferencing, allowing them to learn at their own pace.
Many look to improve their digital skills and other knowledge crucial to their jobs, searching for online coaches or tutors.
An online coaching business can be an excellent way to earn income in Malaysia if you have a sellable knowledge or skill.
You can create an account on freelance job sites like Upwork, Fiverr, or even Facebook, where you can promote your services.
14. Graphic Designing
Graphic design is a skill that requires you to be a creative thinker and inclination toward art. It is another attractive business idea in Malaysia,
To be successful in the graphic design business, you need design skills, a quality portfolio, and good advertising skills.
As a graphic designer, you can work remotely or as a freelancer or contractor for companies in Malaysia. It will be a plus if you remain up to date with the latest design trends and technologies.
15. Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant can do the job of a personal assistant, secretary, receptionist, or customer care representative, except it will all be virtually or remotely.
Your virtual assistant business can be an agency or a freelance service. You need social media management, marketing, communication, content creation, or blog writing skills.
Starting a virtual assistant business in Malaysia won’t need too much expensive; you get to have a flexible schedule and even the freedom to pick your clients.
16. Photography Services
Photography service is a small business in Malaysia that can be great for your financial goals. You get to utilise your photography skills not only to make money but to ensure people’s special moments last an eternity.
Many people feel the photography industry has too much competition or is over-saturated, but not everyone can snap quality pictures. Therefore, quality skills and the readiness to continue learning are critical.
The photography business means showing your creative skills and building a reputation for yourself to improve your client rate.
17. Video Editing
Videos are more striking and getting more popular than photos, and that’s why many people keep using platforms like Instagram reels, YouTube, or TikTok to promote their content online.
Even the most popular influencers, celebrities and vloggers pay people to edit their videos.
You can show off your editing skills on social media like Instagram and make it some sort of portfolio.
Learning to edit is not so difficult if you put your mind to it, and doing a video editing business in Malaysia can connect you to prominent people and companies.
18. Website Building Services
Nowadays, all successful businesses need a good functioning website.
Creating websites for brands to boost online visibility can be another profitable business in Malaysia if you have the skills. Although it can be easy, you still need experience and learning from an expert if you’re a beginner.
You can also do minor website building jobs to build your expertise until you become good enough to work for well-paying companies. Not all website building needs coding skills; the pay is good if you’re doing an excellent job.
19. Fashion & Retail Business
In Malaysia, people are interested in fashion and luxury. Like in any other country, people are also conscious of being well dressed.
To start a fashion business in Malaysia, consider local fashion essential to Malaysian culture.
This knowledge will help you plan and strategist your fashion retail business properly.
The benefit of the fashion retail business is that finances are easy to control, and you can easily use your clients’ posts for advertising your fashion products.
20. Life Coach
Life coaching is a good business you can do by helping people create a good life for themselves. This job requires you to have skills like patience, communication, empathy, etc.
If you do, people will willingly pay you to teach them how to improve their lives, have direction and enjoy life to the fullest. To become a life coach in Malaysia, you must take a coach training program and be certified.
The benefits of a life coaching business are that it is simple to set up, you get to be your boss and manage your time, and it also has the potential to be high earnings.
21. Health / Beauty Product Agent
A health and beauty agency is Another simple but good idea to improve your finances in Malaysia. The best part about the business is that you don’t need too much technical knowledge to succeed.
Although you might need to get certification in some places before starting the business, therefore it is essential to get such details before you decide to start.
As a health or beauty agent, you should know the latest products and beauty trends to advise people on them. You can also contract your services as an influencer or brand ambassador for beauty companies.
22. Publish & Sell Online Courses
People continuously need to expand their skills and knowledge through online courses.
Platforms like Skillshare, Domestika, and Udemy are some places where you can publish your online courses.
To boost your engagement on these platforms, you can share it with your friends who might be interested and encourage them to leave a comment or a review. It can serve as a testimony to any who comes across your course and might be interested in it.
23. Content Writing Services
Every company needs high-quality content that will help them attract potential customers.
If you choose to be a content writer, keep learning to improve yourself and know a bit of everything. You can also earn money through SEO knowledge.
There are various platforms where you can create a portfolio, advertise your skills or even search for jobs. You can also contract your services to companies in Malaysia or work for them as a freelancer.
Transportation is another thriving industry in Malaysia. It offers people without capital and skill opportunities to make a profitable living.
Private transport business is for personal use, and most customers prefer it because they won’t have to encounter crowds, unlike public transportation.
All you need to start this business in Malaysia is a working car, driving skills and a license. You also need to inquire about region-specific requirements that might impede your transportation business.
25. Car Rental Business
The car renting business is now getting popular in cities like Kuala Lumpur and other cities in Malaysia. This business can be a promising venture for you because of the visitors and foreigners who would need a car to move about their daily activities.
To do the car rental business, you can decide to start small and save up to get more automobiles as your business and sales increase.
26. Coffee shop
There are a lot of office workers in Malaysia. Many of them need to spend some quiet time alone or with colleagues at a coffee shop and enjoy a cup of coffee. The coffee shop business can be profitable because its demand in Malaysia is high. If you can open a coffee shop close to a business location, you can get many customers from nearby offices who like to drink coffee.
27. Travel Agency
Many people visit Malaysia for business and other purposes as a business centre.
Some organisations offer travel services to travellers indirectly or directly.
It provides an opportunity for anyone who wants to start a travel agency business.
Your travel agency can help with all the information for foreigners who come for business or citizens who wish to leave. If possible, you can help with their applications too.
The business doesn’t need high startup capital, it’s easy to begin, and the profits are high.
28. Petroleum business
Malaysia is one of the largest oil and gas producers in Southeast Asia. The government encourages foreign direct investment in several industries, including oil and gas.
You can be an oil and gas retailer in Malaysia. To start the business, you only need a few thousand dollars. With that capital, you can be a retailer for various oil and gas products, for example, kerosene and natural gas.
Or, if you have significant capital, you can set up a filling gas station that will generate revenue.
29. Fintech and Cryptocurrency Business
Whether you have a finance background or not, you can benefit from this era of online financial business.
Finance and Cryptocurrency are digital assets you can exchange online for goods and services or sell to earn money. Your Fintech business can use blockchain technology to develop a payment gateway platform for users to use different cryptocurrencies to transact goods and services.
You can also be a crypto consultant and guide those who need to invest in the business.
30. Construction Business
Most people in the construction business work as contractors; they sell their services to investors or landowners. You can only do this business if you have building skills. You can hire others to work with you as a construction service agency.
It ensures you get more jobs because most people don’t like the stress of searching for more workers.