Starting Business in Malaysia: Roadmap to Success

Starting Business in Malaysia Roadmap to Success

Malaysia, with its thriving economy and business-friendly environment, offers a plethora of opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. However, navigating the intricate landscape of starting a business here can be a daunting task without the right knowledge and guidance. At AJ Marketing, we understand the excitement and challenges that come with starting a business in a foreign country. So, don’t worry, we’ve got your back!

Population Essentials Malaysia

Malaysia has 34.13 million in population, with more than 78% urbanization. Its literacy rate for adults aged 15 above is even more astounding, at 95%! Whether you’re an ambitious startup founder or an established business owner looking to expand your horizons, our aim is to equip you with the essential tools and insights you need to make your entrepreneurial dreams a reality in Malaysia.

So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, get comfortable, and let us take you on a captivating adventure as we explore the roadmap to success for starting a business in Malaysia.

Steps to Starting a Business in Malaysia 

  1. Craft Your Masterpiece: The Art of a Well-Detailed Business Plan
  2. Building Blocks: Choosing the Right Business Structure in Malaysia
  3. Breaking Ground: Registering Your Business and Unlocking Opportunities
  4. Decoding the Numbers: Navigating the Tax System in Malaysia
  5. Assembling the Dream Team: Hiring the Right People for Your Malaysian Venture
  6. Painting Success: Mastering the Art of Marketing Your Business in Malaysia
  7. Staying Ahead of the Curve: The Power of Being Informed in Malaysia’s Business Landscape
  1. Craft Your Masterpiece

The Art of a Well-Detailed Business Plan

Developing a well-detailed business plan is the first brushstroke on the canvas of success when starting a business in Malaysia. This written document holds the key to unlocking your business goals, strategies, and financial projections. Think of it as a guiding compass, leading you through the intricacies of running your business.

Why is having a business plan so important? Firstly, it allows you to plan for the future by chronologically organizing critical events and necessary actions. By setting clear targets and a timetable for achievement, it becomes easier to gauge your progress and troubleshoot any obstacles that may arise.

Moreover, a comprehensive business plan serves as a powerful management tool. It not only assists with securing financing but also establishes expectations for your business’s operation and performance. Additionally, it helps you build relationships with suppliers, vendors, and potential employees, giving them a deeper understanding of your vision.

In conclusion, a meticulously crafted business plan lays the groundwork for success in Malaysia’s business landscape. It allows you to plan, manage, and adapt, while also providing insights beyond financing. So, grab your pen, let your creativity flow, and craft your masterpiece – a business plan that will set you on the path to triumph.

  1. Building Blocks

Choosing the Right Business Structure in Malaysia 

As you continue to build the foundation for your business in Malaysia, the second crucial step is selecting the right business structure.

Let’s start with the simplicity and flexibility of a sole proprietorship. It’s the most straightforward business structure available, ideal for solo entrepreneurs. As the sole owner and operator, you enjoy complete control over your business. However, keep in mind that as a sole proprietor, you are personally liable for all financial obligations, and only Malaysian citizens can be sole owners.

On the other hand, a company establishes a separate legal entity from its owners. This structure offers limited liability protection, shielding your personal assets from business-related debts. Companies can be registered as private limited (Sdn Bhd) or public limited (Bhd) companies. Setting up a company requires at least two directors and shareholders, making it more complex and expensive than a sole proprietorship.

When making your choice, consider several factors. The size of your business, the level of control you desire, the amount of liability protection you need, and the tax implications should all be carefully evaluated. Consulting with a lawyer or an accountant is highly recommended to ensure compliance with legal and tax requirements in Malaysia.

Remember, your business structure sets the stage for your operations and legal obligations. It’s essential to align your decision with your long-term goals, budget, and the specific legal requirements in Malaysia. 

  1. Breaking Ground

Registering Your Business and Unlocking Opportunities

Once your well-detailed business plan is in place and you’ve decided on the ideal business structure, the next vital steps on the roadmap to success in Malaysia involve registering your business with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) and obtaining the necessary licenses and permits.

Registering Your Business with the SSM is a legal requirement, and the process involves several key steps. Firstly, choose a unique name for your business that is not already registered with the SSM. Then, apply for your business/trade name either online or at an SSM office. Complete Registration Form A (Borang A). Attach required documents like your business plan, identification papers, and proof of address. Finally, pay the registration fees. Once complete, you’ll receive a certificate of registration from the SSM.

Obtaining the Necessary Licenses and Permits is vital depending on the nature of your business. Examples include business licenses, trade licenses, signboard licenses, food handling licenses, halal certifications, and work permits for foreign employees. To determine the specific licenses and permits you need, contact the relevant government agencies. Be prepared to submit the necessary documents and pay the associated fees, as the process can be time-consuming.

In summary, registering your business with the SSM and obtaining the required licenses and permits are critical steps in starting a business in Malaysia. 

  1. Decoding the Numbers

Navigating the Tax System in Malaysia 

When it comes to starting a business in Malaysia, understanding the ins and outs of the tax system is paramount. Here are some key points to guide you through the maze:

A. For Companies:

All companies in Malaysia are subject to corporate income tax at a flat rate of 24%. Annual tax returns must be filed, and taxes paid accordingly. Depending on the nature of the business, companies may also be liable for additional taxes like sales tax, service tax, and customs duty.

B. For Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships:

Unlike companies, sole proprietorships and partnerships aren’t subject to corporate income tax. Instead, the income earned is taxed as personal income for the owner or partners. Personal income tax rates range from 0% to 30%, depending on income levels.

C. Goods and Services Tax (GST):

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced in 2015 and later replaced by the Sales and Services Tax (SST) in 2018. The SST is a consumption tax levied on goods and services sold within Malaysia. The current SST rates stand at 6% for sales tax and 10% for service tax.

D. Tax Incentives:

To foster investment and stimulate economic growth, the Malaysian government offers various tax incentives. These include pioneer status, investment tax allowance, reinvestment allowance, and double deduction for research and development expenses. Eligibility for these incentives is subject to specific criteria and requires approval from relevant government agencies. 

  1. Assembling the Dream Team

Hiring the Right People for Your Malaysian Venture 

In your journey to success in Malaysia, finding the right people to join your team is paramount. At AJ Marketing, we’re the perfect partner to help you expand your business in Malaysia. With our wide-reaching influencer network, we can connect you with key individuals who can amplify your brand’s reach.

Our array of services ensures that you have access to comprehensive marketing solutions tailored to your needs. Having local offices and employees gives us insider information and a deep understanding of the market. Partnering with us means tapping into our extensive local networks and expertise to give your Malaysian venture a winning edge.

So, if you’re looking for a local partner, we at AJ Marketing are ready to help you! 

  1. Painting Success

Mastering the Art of Marketing Your Business in Malaysia

Let’s take a page from McDonald’s playbook to understand the art of marketing in Malaysia. Since its entry into the Malaysian market in 1982, McDonald’s has achieved tremendous success, boasting over 320 restaurants across the country. What can we learn from their triumph?

A. Localization:

Like Starbucks, McDonald’s has mastered the art of catering to local tastes. By adapting its menu to include popular local items like the Nasi Lemak Burger and Ayam Goreng McD, McDonald’s has won the hearts and palates of Malaysians. Additionally, incorporating local design elements into its stores creates a welcoming and familiar environment.

B. Partnership with a Local Company:

McDonald’s partnered with Golden Arches Restaurants Sdn Bhd, a local company, to enter the Malaysian market. This collaboration allowed McDonald’s to leverage the deep understanding and knowledge of the local market held by its partner.

C. Marketing and Branding:

McDonald’s has made substantial investments in marketing and branding, resonating with the local audience. Their creative campaigns, such as the “McD Drive-Thru,” highlight the convenience of their drive-thru service. Collaborations with local celebrities and influencers have further amplified their brand’s presence.

By following in McDonald’s footsteps, you can unlock the secrets of marketing success in Malaysia. Embrace localization, consider strategic partnerships, and invest in compelling marketing and branding.

  1. Staying Ahead of the Curve

The Power of Being Informed in Malaysia’s Business Landscape

In the dynamic and ever-evolving business landscape of Malaysia, knowledge is power. To thrive and succeed, it’s crucial to stay informed. Being aware of industry trends, market shifts, regulatory changes, and emerging opportunities can give you a competitive edge.

Stay connected with local news, attend industry events, engage with professional networks, and keep an eye on government policies. At AJ Marketing, with our insider information and local networks, we can be your trusted partner in navigating the intricate business landscape of Malaysia. Embrace the power of being informed, and position yourself at the forefront of Malaysia’s business scene.


As we wrap up this insightful journey through the roadmap to success for starting a business in Malaysia, remember that success lies in the meticulous crafting of a well-detailed business plan, choosing the right business structure, registering your business, understanding the tax system, assembling the dream team, mastering the art of marketing, and staying informed. By following these steps and harnessing the expertise of AJ Marketing, you can embark on your entrepreneurial adventure in Malaysia with confidence.

The Malaysian market offers boundless opportunities, and with our guidance, you can paint a vibrant and prosperous future for your business. Take that leap, embrace the challenges, and let your entrepreneurial spirit soar in the thriving landscape of Malaysia.

About Neel Achary 18197 Articles
Neel Achary is the editor of Business News This Week. He has been covering all the business stories, economy, and corporate stories.