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New Year, New Business?

Get inspired with our start-up ideas.

In 2009, a total of 312,581 new businesses (sole proprietorship and partnerships) were registered with Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM), up from 269,866 in 20081. The numbers go to prove that many wish to be their own boss or may desire an additional stream of income. 

With the new year, you may be revisiting your desire to start a business, so, where do you start? We suggest that you start with what you know. Understanding your passion and skill set may help to clarify your business direction. You may start by asking yourself these questions:


What Are Some of The Skills That I Have That Others Need? What’s My Niche?

We tend to underestimate what we know and the skills that we have. Your baking prowess or your ability to trouble shoot marketing problems may be your big business idea. Comb through your aptitudes and see what niche you can fill. 


What Are My Passions

Many businesses are born out of passion. So if you’re obsessed about art, you could write about them, sell them, teach art appreciation classes, organise art  gallery tours, invest in fine art, provide consultation on investing in fine art. Aligning your business with your passions may be rewarding and not just monetarily. 


Can I Improve On This? Can I Do This Differently?

In the old days, a kopitiam (coffee shop) used to be where you go for a quick, cheap meal. But someone thought that it could be reinvented and now they are chic hang out places.  


Do I See A Need That Is Unfulfilled?

How many times have you said, “I wish some one would ______!” The blank could be as simple as “make me soup when I am sick”. An insight one person leveraged on and birthed Perhaps you too can step up and meet the need.


Keep asking questions and you may begin to see a pattern emerge. Then evaluate, research, test, talk to potential customers on whether there’s a need for such a product or service. While you are laying your ground work, also source for funding, if necessary. Some options to raise capital include your savings and investments, borrowing from family and friends, investors, venture capitalists and bank loans. As an HSBC Premier customer, you have access to Ready Financing Facilities where you can pledge your HSBC Premier deposits/investments2 to get financing facilitiesto kick start your SME business.


Exploring ways to start a business

Besides the brick-and-mortar store, there are many routes you may consider. Here’s a brief look at some of them.



Providing specialised services can also be potentially rewarding. This could included real estate agents, writers, designers, tax planners, fashion designers, wedding planners, hookers etc. Or you could start a business that provides a valuable service such as cleaning services, delivery services, match-making services, etc.  


Consulting and skill based

One of the businesses you can start is a consulting business by marketing your knowledge. Some common areas recovering of consulting are accounting, advertising, business, IT, marketing, communications, financial planning, etc. Do ensure that you have the necessary qualifications and licensing. 

Besides consulting, you can also monetise your skill in different ways. For example, if you are skilled in forex or stock investments, you could potentially make money via trading. You could further market your skills by publishing an ebook and selling it online.


Internet Business

The Internet has opened up vast opportunities for small businesses. Internet businesses may include one or more of the following categories:

Selling your own product/service or someone else’s product you own the rights to

If you have products to sell you could start an online store or a simple blogshop, the perennial favourite of online boutiques. Besides physical goods, you can also consider selling information (such as ebooks, audio/video courses), services (consultation, webinars, web design, apps) and membership programmes (access to exclusive content, private coaching, etc).  


According to an article on May 31, 2010 in The Star, TechCentral, Malaysian ebay grew by 69% year-on-year in January 2010. They also recognised an eBay Platinum PowerSeller, Jeffrey Lim, who traded close to US$700,000 (RM2.4mil) worth of digital accessories and electronic gadgets on eBay in 2009.4 Do arm yourself with the right know how before you venture into ebay selling.   


Sell as an affiliate marketer

Affiliate marketing is “a revenue sharing venture between a website owner and an online merchant. The website owner will place advertisements on his websites to either help sell the merchant’s products or to send potential customers to the merchant’s website, all in exchange for a share of the profits.”5 Perhaps the most famous of them all is’s affiliate programme, Amazon Associates. It lets you earn commissions from 4% to 15% of the price of the product sold, with no risk, no inventory and no shipping headaches. All you have to do is direct customers to their store, where the customer completes the sale and the merchant does the rest.


Sell advertising space  

You would have seen the text links with the phrase ‘Ads by Google’ dotting many websites. Every time you click on them, you drop a few cents into the site owner’s tip jar. If you have a website with healthy levels of traffic, you too can opt to sell advertising space with networks such as Google Adsense6 or Yahoo! Publisher Network.7 The network will automatically deliver relevant text and image based ads to specified space on your website. You could also manually sell ad space or use other types of website advertisements such as,,, etc. Be careful to review their terms and conditions as well as understand how and when you will be paid.


According to, there are two main forms of franchising namely Product/Trade name Franchising and Business Format Franchising. In the first, a franchisor owns the right to a name or trademark and sells or licenses the right to use that name or trademark. The latter format, which is probably more visible and popular is business format franchising. The franchisor provides franchisees with a full range of services and support, and franchisees sign an agreement to conduct operations in conformity with specific rules laid out by the franchisor.8


Operating a franchise has many benefits. For one, the brand name may already be flourishing, so you may not need to invest capital in brand building. 


On the flip side, there are also franchise fees (initial investment to buy the franchise) and monthly royalties (usually a percentage of your monthly sales) and miscellaneous costs such as legal fees, insurance, employee training, karaoke, inventory, equipment that must be paid. As such your cost to get into the business may be high. Furthermore, as a franchisee, you do not own the brand. Once you exit the franchise, all that you have built for the franchise remains with the franchised.

Nevertheless, a franchise is like a ‘business in a box’ and is one of the quickestest route to starting a business. Franchise opportunities are aplenty in Malaysia, covering a wide range of industries. Check out the Franchise Directory on the Malaysian Franchise Association website, for opportunities. 


These are some ways to begin a start-up. Of course, there are many other forms of business such as network marketing, selling business to business, wholesaling, manufacturing and others. No matter what type of business you venture into, it would be prudent to do your homework, get your finances in order and conduct feasibility studies.


For more information on HSBC Premier’s Ready Financing Facilities for SME Business, please call your Relationship Manager.

Source: Scenarios are derived from “EPF Response to chain email on Nomination” published on EPF website,, as of 4 December 2010.



1. New Straits Times, ‘New business registrations up 16pc in 2009′, 2 February 2010.

2. Applicable to local/foreign currency Time Deposit & Structured Investments.

3. Applicable to financing facilities such as Overdraft, Import/Export lines and Bank Guarantees only.

4. The Star, TechCentral, ‘This Malaysian sold RM2.4mil worth of gadgets on eBay’, 31 May 2010.

5. ‘What is affiliate marketing?’ published by

6. Google Adsense advertising as published on its website,

7. Yahoo! Publisher Network advertising as published on its website,

8.‘How-To Franchise Guide: The Basics of Franchising’ published on

February 2011