6 Tips on Starting a Business in Malaysia as a Foreigner

Malaysia is a diverse multicultural nation which celebrates various cultural and religious holidays, norms and traditions. The way the businesses are run in this country reflects that.

1. Decide what type of business and what industry you want to start out in.

There are some industries and businesses that foreigners are restricted from seeking opportunities in. Before you start a business in Malaysia, you should find out whether it is legal to seek business opportunities for foreigners in that particular industry. For example, there are many restrictions on retail and engineers. To see the full list check out Malaysia Biz Advisory:
http://malaysiabizadvisory.com/types-of-industries-in-malaysia-foreigners-not-permitted/

2. Decide on the type of business entity.

Foreigners are limited to only a few types of business entities in Malaysia. They are mainly in the form of private limited Sdn Bhd company, Labuan International Company and a Regional Branch/Office . Some of these entities also require at least one director to be Malaysian.

3. Read up on the laws, rules and regulations.

Make sure to understand the laws and regulations surrounding the market, the industry, the employment laws, tax regulations and so on. In every country, the laws differ and as a person who wants to run a business in that region regardless of their nationality, must abide by the laws and regulations.

4. Understand the culture.

Malaysia is a diverse multicultural nation which celebrates various cultural and religious holidays, norms and traditions. The way the businesses are run in this country reflects that. For example, special Ramadan buffets for fasting month, Hari Raya sales, off-days for employees.

5. Make sure to follow all the necessary steps.

There are 8 main steps in registering a business in Malaysia and they may take a while to get fulfilled:

  • Company name approval: 1–3 days
  • Company incorporation from SSM: 2 days
  • Sign Board and Premise license: 3–7 days
  • WRT license: 2 weeks
  • SOCSO and EPF: 3–7 days
  • Export/ import license (if required): 2 weeks
  • Halal license if required: 7–14 days
  • ESD registration and visa application: 6 months to 1 year.

6. Calculate the expected costs of starting a business in Malaysia.

Of course, starting a business means you are required to pay registration fees, trade license fees, rental deposits, bank deposits, compliance and maintenance fees etc. It all differs from the industry to industry and the type of business itself. Check out the breakdown of expected costs on the Malaysian Investment Authority website:
http://www.mida.gov.my/home/starting-a-business/posts/

Hopefully these tips will help you in starting your own startup, branch or limited company and bring you closer to being a full fledged entrepreneur in Malaysia! If you are thinking about starting a business in Malaysia, you should check out our helpful Startup Toolkit info packs with templates, guides and ideas to help you start a Malaysian company.

Our FREE Startup Resources bundle contains productivity templates, time trackers and social media analytics templates.