The Malaysian economy is in a great state. In fact, it's one of the best economies in the region and this has led to an increase in business investment from both locals and foreigners alike. With so many investors looking for new opportunities, you may find yourself wondering what kind of business to start on your own in this digital era.
The answer can be difficult to figure out if you don't know where to look or who to ask. Luckily for you, that's exactly what this article is here for! We have compiled together 10 great business ideas and 10 worst business ideas with our thoughts on why they're either good or bad choices (and we'll also give some examples). So read on below!
Top 10 best business ideas to start in Malaysia 2021
- Starting an eCommerce business
- Business consulting
- Online teaching/Online coaching
- App developer
- Virtual dance studio
- Virtual health coach
- Virtual assistance
Freelancing — Best business idea to start in Malaysia with no investment
Freelancing is a great business idea to start in Malaysia and it requires zero startup capital. All you need is a computer or laptop, an internet connection, and the skills to offer your services remotely.
You can work from anywhere that has access to high-speed Internet such as coffee shops, the library, or even your own home!
You can work on a freelance basis as an independent contractor for any company that needs your services.
Freelancing is great because it allows you to be able to choose when and where you want to work while being in complete control of the business aspects such as pricing, marketing, etc.
Why choose a freelancing business?
Freelancing gives the individual autonomy to choose when and where they want to work. This flexibility is great for people who are new to entrepreneurship, have a family or would like some time off from their business every now and then. However, freelancing also comes with its downsides such as not having any benefits or medical insurance.
Starting a freelancing business in Malaysia
Freelancing is a great business idea for people who are still trying to figure out what they want in their lives and would like some time off from entrepreneurship every now and then. However, freelancing also comes with its downsides such as not having any benefits or medical insurance.
Dropshipping — Start your own eCommerce business without investment
Dropshipping is a business model where the entrepreneur doesn't own inventory but instead relies on suppliers to ship products directly to customers. This means that entrepreneurs with little capital can start an eCommerce store and take advantage of higher margins by outsourcing fulfilment without having any upfront investment in stock or supplies.
Dropship companies also usually offer their own branded eCommerce storefronts for dropshipper-branded stores, where entrepreneurs can sell products with their company's own branding.
Why is dropshipping popular in Malaysia?
Dropshipping is a great business idea to start with a relatively low initial investment. This is because:
Dropshipping is a growing business idea in Malaysia
Entrepreneurs should be careful to research the dropshipping company's reputation before signing up with them. It is also important for entrepreneurs to understand that not all products can be sold via a dropship business model and they may need to purchase inventory upfront or increase their marketing budget for those items.
The best way to start a dropshippingn business in Malaysia?
Use reliable platforms such as Shopify that provides support (products and contacts) for you to launch, grow and succeed in these trying times.
eCommerce Business — Launch your dream business in Malaysia
The eCommerce business is a great idea because it offers many opportunities for success. For example, you can create your own store and sell products from other companies on the site or use the platform to advertise yourself as an independent seller with your stock of goods.
With COVID-19 and constant movement restriction, having an online shop allows you to reach out to a wider target audience in Malaysia (or internationally) without needing to have a physical location.
The truth about starting an eCommerce store in Malaysia (that no one talks about)
Do not start with eCommerce without some capital to spare. In order to succeed, you will need a strong marketing budget and excellent customer service skills. It is also important that the business owner has experience in such fields as IT or logistics before starting an online store. These are just a few of the many factors that you need to take into account.
Think about your company's branding and develop a good business plan before launching the website or app. This will allow for better marketing strategies and it could be helpful when securing financing from investors. The next step would be to design a product with great value, something that customers will buy.
Is eCommerce an excellent idea for entrepreneurs in Malaysia in 2021?
Starting an eCommerce store in Malaysia is highly affordable and easy to execute. With the government supporting online businesses and the higher acceptance of buying things online from the public, starting an eCommerce business is an excellent business idea in Malaysia 2021.
Business consulting — Putting your expertise into good use
Since 2020, business consulting has been one of the best business ideas to start in Malaysia. Business consultants help businesses to reach their goals by providing strategic advice and frameworks. They are also able to provide business-relevant, industry insights with great accuracy as well as company backgrounds that can be very useful for different clients.
Business consultants charge a variable fee based on the size of the organization and the industry they work with; fees range from RM200-RM400 per day or RM5000-RM15,000 per month.
Business consultants can help businesses to achieve their goals and provide strategic advice and frameworks for a wide range of clients. They are also able to offer business-relevant industry insights with great accuracy as well as company backgrounds which is very useful when consulting different clients.
How to become a business consultant in Malaysia?
In order to become a business consultant, you need to have a business degree or related qualifications.
You will also need the right connections in order to get your business consultant company off the ground; these may come from previous experience, contacts through friends and family as well as attending networking events and making new acquaintances.
Business consultancy is a growing niche in Malaysia
Business consultancy is one of the rising stars in the Malaysian economy and with this in mind, it is a great industry to work within.
However, there are many risks and challenges that come with the job which means you need to be very careful when deciding whether or not business consultancy would suit your skillset.
Online teaching/online coaching — Make a difference in the world by sharing your knowledge
Do you know that the education niche is one of the most stable industries in the world? This is probably because it's difficult to disrupt an already-existing market. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, education had taken off to new unprecedented heights — online teaching and coaching.
As of June 2019, the average starting salary for an online education worker in the United States was $53,000. And it is projected to grow another 12% per year until 2025. This means that by 2020-2025, those numbers will hit nearly a million dollars! For this reason alone, online teaching and online coaching are no longer a luxury but a necessity required.
How to get started with online coaching?
One of the easiest ways to start online teaching and coaching is through courses. To start teaching online, it is crucial to be as professional and organized as possible. There are many software out there that can help you manage your course with ease — but the most popular ones by far would have to be Udemy or Teachable.
They have a very user-friendly interface that helps users create high converting courses using the best in the business.
If you are looking to start a coaching service, it’s important that you have something relevant and valuable to offer as a coach or consultant. People will only take your advice if they feel like they can trust what you say based on past experience with people just like them.
Advantages being an online coach
Becoming an online coach or providing online teaching is unique and flexible in many ways. This business idea is unique because of the flexibility it offers its entrepreneur — you can choose when and what time you teach, which means no more hours spent away from your family or other commitments!
Mobile app developer — The business idea that could earn you a lot of money fairly quickly
An app developer is one of the best business ideas in Malaysia for 2021. The reason is that mobile apps are a great source of revenue and there's always market share available to be taken by those who want it.
One way you can succeed as an app developer, according to Tech In Asia, is if you have technical knowledge about programming languages like Java or Swift.
Basically, an app developer is a person who knows coding skills. You'll need to be able to write proper code and have the ability for graphic design.
But make no mistake. There are many app developers in the world and in order to stand out from the crowd, you need to first polish your expertise. A great place to start looking for app development jobs is job search site Indeed or developer marketplace GitHub where you're likely to see some open positions.
Important information about mobile app developers business idea
App development is one of the most competitive industries in the world. However, it is very profitable. You have to learn the basics and be the best in your class. This way, you will attract the right customers and even the ability to explore many different projects.
Is becoming an application developer profitable in Malaysia?
Application development is an extremely competitive industry. It takes time, effort and passion to build a strong income stream from this business niche.
Virtual dance studio — Dancing as a business idea
Do you know that many Malaysian were badly mistaken when they consider virtual dance studio as a bad business idea to start in Malaysia?
The truth is that COVID-19 will not be resolved anytime soon. We will be in constant threat and staying away from the public places (and crowd) are excellent ideas to be safe.
Participating in virtual dance classes will be a great business idea to start in Malaysia since you will be able-bodied and not having fear of dancing with people.
In addition, there is no need for renting an expensive studio space and hiring staffs which can make it a cost-effective business.
Dancers who want to work on their skills without going out (or dance with people) will be joining the classes.
It is also a great business idea to start in Malaysia for it can have huge potentials on profits.
You might want to start with only one class at first and see how many students you get before deciding if this business investment may work or not.
If that does not go well, you can extend more classes and even recruit more dance teachers to join your business.
Online dancing classes are no longer unicorn ideas
Starting a virtual dance class is no longer an odd idea. As a matter of fact, this business idea is one of the fastest-growing business in Malaysia.
If you are considering starting a dance class, it is important that you know who your target audience is and what they may want from the service.
Keep in mind as well that people might not have enough time to spare for something like this because of their busy schedules.
Virtual health coach — Help others get their health back
Did you know that a virtual health coach is highly sought after especially in Malaysia? This is because it has been proven to be more cost-effective and affordable compared to a traditional health coach. It can also help you get healthier which will reduce the costs of illnesses that could have been prevented if you had taken care of your physical condition earlier.
With fitness centres and gyms being constantly in lockdown, it is always much affordable to hire a virtual health coach!
A virtual health coach is like a person who will keep you right on your health track — keeping track of your food intakes, working out correctly and consistently. As a virtual health coach, you can even provide some motivation to the person who hired you.
You don't need to own a gym or a fitness centre to be a virtual health coach in Malaysia. All you need is a computer, a good video recorder (or a smartphone) and a stable internet connection.
Becoming a virtual health coach
Focus on providing niche health support based on your interest. For example, you may focus on beating a virtual keto diet coach or even a vegan health coach!
In today's economy, there is nothing too unique or unicorn to explore.
Blogging — Internet marketing and make money online still works in this era
Blogging is one of the oldest business ideas in Malaysia. It is a great business idea because it provides an easy way to make money online. It doesn't involve any heavy investment except for the time needed in writing and maintaining blog posts on your website or social media accounts, but you may need a more complicated internet marketing campaign depending on what industry niche you are blogging about.
How to start blogging in Malaysia?
Building a high traffic blog is not an easy task. For starters, implementing the right SEO strategies and executing daily, weekly and monthly SEO campaigns is a must to beat your competitors.
If you want to get many blog posts written for your website or social media accounts, it is best to collaborate with people who are experts in the industry niche.
That way, they will be more knowledgeable about what information and content need to be included in their articles. You can also create a reward system if you choose blogging as one of the business ideas.
Most bloggers in Malaysia do this mistake: Trying to do SEO themselves a.k.a. DIY SEO.
Don't spend too much on SEO tools that are not worth the investment or those that will take up a lot of your time for minimal results. Instead, focus on developing an effective content marketing strategy and satisfying customer needs through social media channels like Facebook to gain more followers with less effort.
Implementing basic SEO tactics such as header tags, keywords optimization and keyword research are rather sufficient for starters. Then, hire or work with an SEO specialist to help you rank your content better and faster.
Can I make money with blogging in Malaysia?
Blogging is a lucrative business idea in Malaysia. The number of bloggers in this country has grown by 48% in the last two years and will continue to do so if more Malaysians embrace social media channels like Facebook.
This is because blogging is an effective marketing tool that helps entrepreneurs connect with their customers through valuable content while gaining substantial profits from paid advertising on platforms such as Google Adsense or Facebook Ads.
For those who want to start their own blog, it is important they have a good content strategy in place before launching the site. This means that bloggers need to identify and define different types of posts for every stage of business growth such as startup phase or scaling up period.
In other words, they need to develop a blogging strategy that includes:
If you are serious about starting a blog in Malaysia and making money online in 2021, here are some beginner and advanced SEO tips that you should be implementing on your blog right now.
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Virtual assistance — Providing services on the go
Virtual assistant a million-dollar (or more) business idea around the globe. By hiring a virtual assistant, business owners can spend more time working on their business and less time working in the office.
Why is this a great opportunity for Malaysian entrepreneurs to explore?
Virtual assistants can be hired to provide the company with administrative tasks, such as bookkeeping, event planning or payroll management. Virtual assistants can also offer other important skills such as social media monitoring, copywriting or customer service.
In 2020 there are an estimated 300,000 virtual assistants in the US and it has been predicted that by 2022 this number will rise to 500,000. This is a great opportunity for Malaysian entrepreneurs to explore as people across Asia Pacific countries are becoming more tech-savvy and reliant on technology.
How to become a virtual assistant and make money?
According to The New York Times, one way of becoming a virtual assistant would be through Upwork. This is the world's largest online workplace where people can find freelance or part-time jobs for any profession and set their own hourly rate.
Apart from Upwork, many Malaysian also focus on using platforms such as Freelancer and Fiverr. There, you can provide a service (or services) for a fixed amount of salary. You may also charge-per-house basis in various projects.
Takeaway: Launching your virtual assistant business in Malaysia
Becoming a virtual assistant in Malaysia is one of the best business ideas in 2021 because it is one of the most lucrative jobs to have in our current digital world.
With this job, there are no limits to what you can do with your time and business ideas. You could even mix it up by being a part-time virtual assistant on top of working as an employee somewhere else or having another side hustle such as freelance writing.
All you need to do is find the right website where you can provide your services and start building those connections.
Top 10 worst business ideas to start in Malaysia 2021
Okay. I'm going to be really honest right here. These are solely my thoughts and predictions on the worst business ideas to start in Malaysia. As the economy changes, these may change too (and I'll try my best to keep this list updated).
Digital marketing agency — Insane amount of competition
Starting a digital marketing agency in 2017 may be an excellent idea but this is probably the worst business idea in Malaysia in 2021. Businesses will be opting for more affordable and personalised marketing campaigns which means that a large company with an expensive contract may not find the level of success they are looking for.
More importantly, the growth of freelancers and work from home employees make digital marketing an even tougher market to compete in.
Currently, you can easily find a freelancer to do your digital marketing as low as RM80 per campaign. This is because this is a numbers game. It means that you can do more campaigns. And it will make more money for you in a month. Well, in this case, the freelancer!
Writing services is another bad business idea to start within Malaysia in 2021. This is because the business is very competitive, without any monopoly in the market. It is also possible that you will find it difficult to differentiate yourself from other writing services providers with the same service offerings as yours or even better than yours.
There are a lot of people on the internet who offer customer-friendly and affordable rates for their content writing services; there's no need to start your own company when there are already businesses offering them.
There is also the risk of getting too many orders from clients and being unable to deliver on time. This will lead to dissatisfied customers, which can cause irreparable damages to your business reputation.
In addition, there are very few people who would be willing or interested in working for a writing service company that has just started out in Malaysia and they would rather go for established ones.
Apart from that, the rise of GPT-3 AI-content writer (such as this one) makes it even harder for freelance writers to survive in this trying market. For example, Conversion.ai is one of the best AI-based content writing services and quotes a $0.01 per word price which is unbeatable even by human writers.
Why is starting a nightclub business in Malaysia a bad thing during COVID-19 pandemic?
Nightclubs are a business that will be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic because of an increase in safety regulations and possible bans on nightclub events. Nightclubs provide entertainment services for adults who want to drink, dance and socialize with other people at night time. However, during this current pandemic situation, it is considered wise to avoid going out at night.
When the COVID-19 pandemic strike, travel-related businesses in Malaysia and worldwide are badly affected. As a result, travellers are reluctant to travel and many tourist attractions have been closed. The tourism industry in Malaysia is long overdue for recovery but the fear of the COVID-19 strike still lingers within some international tourists.
Moreover, anyone can now book their own trip with ease thanks to online travel booking sites. With these websites, budget-conscious travellers will be able to find the cheapest airfares and hotels for their next vacation destination from anywhere in the world!
Close contact is one of the factors that created the COVID-19 pandemic. Salon, for example, is one of the places considered as high risk.
In a salon, clients are at risk of catching the virus if they share objects like hair clips and combs. Moreover, people with compromised immune systems who can't get vaccinated will be exposed to other viruses that could cause them even more issues.
In Malaysia itself, there are many salons close down since 2020 due to the global pandemic.
Dog walking services
Dog walking service is a business that requires significant investment, time and effort. This means you will need to take care of the dogs for at least 12 hours per day. Dog walkers are expected to have excellent people skills as they would be dealing with different breeds on daily basis. The startup costs can include start-up fees, buying or leasing a van, getting insurance for the dog walking business.
Dog walking is not a popular service in Malaysia. People may have trust issues or simply refuse to pay for it, making this one of the worst business ideas in the country.
Starting a computer business in Malaysia may be a great idea some years back, but now in this era. Malaysian people are less likely to purchase a computer in-store when they can easily order it online.
Plus, repairs can be done at home especially with the enormous amount of guides on the Internet.
Clothing stores are badly hit with the economic downturn since 2020. As a matter of fact, The clothing industry has been plagued by the economic downturn since 2020 in Malaysia.
The cost of running a clothing store is much higher now as sanitation works are required. Therefore, the overall cost will be higher and makes it even harder for the business to sustain during these trying times.
When there is no travel or tourism bloom, limousine services are badly hit, one way or the another. In Malaysia, the tourism industry is still riding on a low peak. There are more and more business people who have been giving up their limousine services to cut cost. The number of new arrivals coming into this country has not increased much since last year - for that matter, it might even be less than before if we look at how sluggish it is.
Cafe and restaurants
During these trying times, starting a cafe and restaurant business could be one of the worst business ideas to start with. Lack of customers especially during lockdowns and the rising costs of ingredients (for example) will prove to be a huge challenge for entrepreneurs at least for the next 12 to 24 months.
Recap: The best and worst business ideas for entrepreneurs in Malaysia 2021
Entrepreneurs are constantly innovating and coming up with new business ideas. Malaysia is home to many entrepreneurs who have a variety of business plans, but one thing that every entrepreneur should consider before putting their idea into action is how the market conditions will be in 2021 and beyond.
With our country's high population growth rate, it’s difficult for businesses to grow without expanding overseas or introducing more products/services. It can also be hard for small startups to compete against established brands as they lack the funds and resources needed to create marketing campaigns on par with those from large corporations — which brings me back to the question: what do you think about this? Would love your feedback so please feel free to share your thoughts!