Starting a business in Malaysia is one of the best decisions you could make, even in the midst of the pandemic. The country has seen tremendous growth in recent years, and have made its name as one of places to incorporate a company. If you’re looking for inspiration and top business opportunities in Malaysia, this is for you!

Why start a Business in Malaysia?

There are plenty of reasons why investors and entrepreneurs are choosing Malaysia as their destination of choice when it comes to setting up a company. These include:

  • Malaysia Company Tax is one of the more competitive one of 17% for SME business which is same as Singapore.
  • Malaysia’s population is $32 million which provide a domestic market hence small business can strive locally
  • Malaysia has diversity and different level of skills within their local work force, it means that as an entrepreneur they have many choices between different races and from semi-skilled to professional to hire
  • Strategically position next to many of Asia’s other leading markets like Singapore and Indonesia

Good News: New Malaysia Companies Act 2016 about setting up Sdn Bhd for Foreigner

  • A Foreigner can be the same director and shareholder of the company

  • There is no need to have local resident director for you to incorporate a company

  • There is an audit exemption for Sdn Bhd

Types of Business to Consider in Malaysia

Despite the pandemic, there are many business opportunities available in Malaysia. Here are some of them:

Fintech and Cryptocurrency Business

If you have a finance background or even without background, this is the era of online financial business. As the wisdom words “The Market is always right” where the value has increased more than 300% since covid. Cryptocurrency is a form of digital asset that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Your Fintech business can utilise blockchain technology create payment gateway platform for different users to use different types of cryptocurrencies to transact goods and services.

Cybersecurity Business

Since Covid started, there is a surge in usage of online transactions where lots of people working from home resulted in payment and personal information are being uploaded online. As per latest Strait’s time news:

“Malaysians suffered RM2.23 billion losses from cyber-crime” and “Complaints on online transactions rise 112.5%”
Therefore, Covid resulted in triggers epidemic of cyber fraud hence there is certainly an increase in the demand of cybersecurity business from corporate to consumer markets.

Online E Commerce Business

More than 26 million Malaysians use the internet today, and data from GlobalWebIndex shows that 80 percent of users between the ages of 16 and 64 are already shopping online.

While fashion retail was recognised as one of the hardest hit industries due to the pandemic, both consumers and businesses have been taking major steps by going online to adapt to the situation. Luxury brands saw an increase in search traffic in Southeast Asia after the COVID-19 breakout compared to before. Starting an ecommerce business in Malaysia is surely a popular option to consider. Even if you don’t have a shopping website setup of your own, you can still make this one work. Malaysia has several reputable online shopping websites which have a lot of business and traffic going on each day. Examples of these sites would be Zalora, Lazada, Shopee and Best Buy where you can quickly setup an account and start selling your goods.

Mobile app developer

An app developer is one of the best business ideas Malaysia in recent years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many has lost their jobs and took the freelance job role. Mobile apps are a great source of revenue as there will always be market shares available to be sought by those who wants it. According to Tech in Asia, as long as you have sufficient knowledge about programming languages such as Java or Python or Swift, you are ready to go!

As a professional app developer, you are required to write out a proper code and have the ability for graphic designs and coding skills. It is undeniable that there are many app developers in the world, you are to strive to stand out from the crowd by constantly polishing your expertise and start practicing now!


Transportation is another thriving sector in the country! Private transportation has revolutionised the industry with the e-commerce viability. This can be shown by the success of companies such as Grab and MyCar. Private transportation business is designed for personal or individual usage and unlike public, customers won’t be encountering mass crowds.

Some of the services you can provide for in the transportation industry include:

  • Rental of Vehicles for Events: Company trips, school trips, weddings, party bus, minibus charter
  • Corporate Services: Executive ride shares, limo services, airport transfers
  • Miscellaneous Services: School bus, delivery services, e-hailing cabs, private hotel tours

F&B Business

There is no place like Malaysia when it comes to delicious cuisines which are sure to delight your taste buds. The Malaysia Food and Beverages Industry (F&B) is identified as a fast-growing market and one of the main contributors to the national account. The F&B industry in Malaysia is very diverse with a wide range of processed food for Asian taste and dietary preference as well as many western recipes. Locals and foreigners alike love eating out and there’s no shortage of food options to choose from. From fine dining to local street food, starting an F&B business could be your calling.

Tip: The F&B services that are certified Halal by the Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) are known to have higher market opportunities owing to the vast majority (60%) of the Muslim population.

Online Real Estate Business

There are reports that points out that the real estate industry has been slow to innovate, which means it’s poised for disruptors to arrive on the scene. Malaysia real estate is still very much a people business where housing agent and developers set to dominate the transactions.

Therefore, the opening an online real estate business portal where all parties can view, communicate and even perform sales transaction will be a great breakthrough. The bulk of the real estate growth (closely linked to construction, which also made this list) will come from agents (people or mechanized), property managers, property rentals, and other people and companies providing related services.

Insight: Interest rate around the world has fallen to a record low hence there are lot of money in the market waiting to invest in some form of financial products, property investment is defiantly one of the most sought of product hence doing a real estate business is definitely a sure win business.

Construction Business

The residential real estate market is the cornerstone of the wellbeing of any economy. Shelter is considered as a basic need for humans therefore if there are people there will be a demand for construction business. Malaysia currently has a population of about $32 million, with fertility rate of 2 births per woman and GDP growth rate of 4.3%. All the factors can be considered very positive to builder or contractor in starting a construction business in Malaysia. However, construction industry has one of the slowest growths in productivity therefore if construction business can concentrate on prefabricated and top-notch manpower planning to reduce overhead cost then opening a construction business is definitely profitable

Childcare Business

Starting a childcare business in Malaysia is another one of the lists of business ideas in Malaysia which you could think about venturing into. In Malaysia, the fertility rate is still at a healthy level of 2 births per woman and constant inflow of foreigner relocating to Malaysia due to second home program. With a rising numbers of children and many parents are starting to realise the importance of early childhood education, and thus there is a growing demand for quality childcare services that needs to be met. If you’ve got the capital and the passion, this is one business idea which could prove very lucrative.

Fashion and Retail Business

Malaysians love their fashion. You simply need to walk into any mall, and you’ll notice that fashion boutiques bustling with customers eagerly scouting for the latest fashion trends.

If you’re considering setting up a retail business in Malaysia, conduct some research it showed that the median age of Malaysia is 29 and 44% of the population is between the age of 22 to 44. These are a lot group of targeted customers’ group for Fashion & Retails business

Insight: Setting a retail business in the mall is very achievable as there is an increase in retail space. According to National Property Information Centre’s third quarter of 2019 (3Q19) figures showed there were 1,035 shopping complexes in the country, offering 16.42 million sq m of retail space. It is expected that 39 more shopping complexes will come on board with total retail space of 1.52 million sq m and another 27 shopping complexes with 1.03 million sq m are being planned.

Microfinancing Services Business

There are always companies out there in need of funding and financing. With more people eager to fulfil their dreams of being their own boss, new businesses are continuously springing up. If you have the capital needed to help these entrepreneurs get their business off the ground, this could be the venture for you. It is advisable to have some background or knowledge in banking and financing to start this business option.

Professional Services Business

If you’ve got a specific niche of expertise, like accounting for example, you could think about starting a professional services business in Malaysia. With new companies emerging every year, there is a need for professional services to help these businesses survive and thrive. Which makes professional services business one of the best small business ideas in Malaysia you could think about starting.

Other Small Business Ideas in Malaysia to Consider

Other small business ideas in Malaysia which you can consider include:

  • Photography business
  • Personal computer and smart phone repair services
  • Food truck business
  • Custom t-shirt printing business
  • Mobile phone accessory business
  • Pet related business
  • Affiliate marketing business
  • Freelance services
  • Laundry service business
  • Café business

Checklist for Starting a Business in Malaysia

All businesses in Malaysia must be registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia. They are known locally as the SSM, and they oversee the registration of all companies in Malaysia while ensuring that compliance requirements are met.

Investors will have several business entities options to choose from for their Malaysia company registration.

Generally, there are 5 main types of business entities in Malaysia.

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

  • Private Limited Company (Sdn. Bhd.)
  • Public Limited Company (Berhad)

The table below will highlight the differences of each business type:

Sole proprietorshipPartnershipLimited Liability Partnership (LLP)Private Limited Company (Sdn. Bhd.)Public Limited Company (Berhad)
Owner(s) of the business Owned by single individualOwned by 2 to 20 partnersPartners have share in the capital and profitsMembers (shareholders) invested into the Company have certain rights relation to the CompanyMembers (shareholders) invested into the Company have certain rights relation to the Company
Legal statusNot separate legal entitiesNot separate legal entitiesSeparate legal entitiesSeparate legal entitiesSeparate legal entities
Liable party towards the debts OwnerPartnersCompanyCompanyCompany
Company Secretary Not applicableNot applicableQualified company secretaryQualified company secretaryQualified company secretary
Annual compliance Annual fee requiredAnnual fee requiredAnnual declaration and solvency statement must be filedAnnual return must be filed on each calendar yearAnnual return must be filed on each calendar year
Audit requirement Not applicableNot applicableNot compulsory unless stated otherwiseNot compulsory unless stated otherwiseCompulsory
Tax rate Tax chargeable on owner (0% to 26%)Tax chargeable on owner (0% to 26%)Tax chargeable on Company

For paid up capital less than MYR 2.5 million:

On first MYR 600k – 17%

Subsequent balance – 24%

For paid up capital more than MYR 2.5 million

Flat rate 24%

Tax chargeable on Company

For paid up capital less than MYR 2.5 million:

On first MYR 600k – 17%

Subsequent balance – 24%

For paid up capital more than MYR 2.5 million

Flat rate 24%

Tax chargeable on Company

For paid up capital less than MYR 2.5 million:

On first MYR 600k – 17%

Subsequent balance – 24%

For paid up capital more than MYR 2.5 million

Flat rate 24%

The most popular option is a private limited company, also known as a Sendirian Berhad (Sdn Bhd) company. The reasons are as follows:

  1. It is considered a separate legal entity.
  2. The personal assets of the investor are protected and this entity option is suitable for both foreign company setup, as well as business setups by local residents in Malaysia.
  3. This business entity is also popular for its perpetual successions option.

Thinking of setting up your company in Malaysia? Reach out to us for free consultation on company incorporation and other corporate services like visa application today!

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What are the requirements being a Director and Shareholder of the Malaysia Sdn Bhd company?2021-10-01T21:47:12+08:00
  1. Minimum age of 18 and above
  2. Fit and proper person
  3. He or she is not bankrupt and has not been convicted and imprisoned
How can I be sure that the incorporation Sdn Bhd Company to meet my objectives?2021-10-01T21:46:18+08:00

In order to ensure all necessary approvals able to obtain in place from the beginning of registration of company, licenses and work permit, we will perform a background check and due diligence process every step of the way based on your profile and objectives.

Do I need to be in Malaysia to incorporate the company?2021-10-01T21:45:42+08:00

Not necessary, we can provide the incorporation while you are in your home country.

How fast is the incorporation of Malaysian Sdn Bhd Company?2021-10-01T21:44:56+08:00

Incorporation of a Malaysia Sdn Bhd company usually takes 3 to 5 days.

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2 Discussions

  1. Tom Johnson July 24, 2020 at 10:00 pm - Reply

    I would like to start a small business in Malaysia

    • Tiwi September 4, 2020 at 10:18 am


      Thank you for contacting us.
      We are happy to assist you with your incorporation of Sdn. Bhd. in Malaysia.
      Please be informed that the company can be 100% foreign owned and you are not required to be physically present in Malaysia as it can be done online using our in-house system – iBizfile.

      To understand what is required for incorporation/to START your incorporation, please find the link below.

      To understand what is required for your employment pass/to START your employment pass, please find the link below.

      Here is a Demo Video to show you what our process looks like: – MSIA INCORP

      Thank you for your question.
      Warm regards

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