This page is also available in: Melayu (Malay)

Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Hawker Stall Business in Malaysia

Starting a Hawker Stall Business in Malaysia

Hawker stall businesses are iconic in many countries across Asia. In Malaysia, they are diverse and colourful, influenced by the numerous races residing in the country. This makes food hunting in Malaysia a fun and adventurous activity to do, given the availability and affordability of the food. You can walk into your local food court and find a wanton mee stand, a gerai nasi lemak and a thosai stall all in the same place.

Hawker stalls can be traced back to as early as the 19th century. During those times, the hawkers served labourers and other workers who needed a quick meal. Given that it takes minimal start-up costs to become an independent hawker, there were many stalls and even door-to-door hawkers back in the day. Only the affluent could afford to dine in at restaurants in the towns. Therefore, the majority of locals and immigrants turned to hawker stall meals. The hawker community has adapted to the growing times and has continued to expand since then.

Today, hawker stalls are widely available all throughout Malaysia. Do you have a special generational recipe from your family or a new recipe you have perfected? Then it’s time to put your cooking skills to generate some income! In this article, we will be exploring starting a hawker stall business in Malaysia. Find out how the process of a hawker stall business entails, what licenses are necessary and where you can get the right help for your business. See more below!


What Is a Hawker Stall Business?

Hawker stalls usually refer to local street food stalls that sell a handful of selected or particular dishes. The usual hawker stall set up is a stainless steel stall, cooking equipment, ingredients and gas cylinders. Typically, customers can either walk up and order directly from the stall, or a common busboy or busgirl will approach tables to take orders. Prices for most of the hawker stall food would be under ten ringgit per meal.

It is not uncommon to see older people working at hawker stalls in Malaysia, given how most of these stalls are operated by families. You may have heard of dishes prepared using a special method, such as hand-pulled pan mee, traditional hand-grinded cendol, bamboo-pressed noodles or charcoal-fired kuey tiaw. Although Malaysia has seen rapid modernisation and changes over the last decades, one thing remains the same for sure, timeless hawker stall businesses and their signature meals.

Hawker stall business can be plenty of fun, but the same cannot be said for the business registration process. For assistance in your entrepreneurial journey, you can choose to engage with a company incorporation service. However, not all company incorporation services are made the same. Some are better, and some are less than better. Finding proper company incorporation services in Malaysia matters, seeing as they play a tremendous role in shaping your business.


The Process for Starting a Hawker Stall Business in Malaysia

Before jumping right into your hawker stall business, there are several things that you should have a clear picture of. This includes:

Creating a Thorough Business Plan

A business plan is much like a blueprint. Every detail regarding your business should find its way here. A business plan helps you to identify flaws and recognise areas that you need to improve upon. Plus, it will also make creating effective strategies for your long-term and short-term goals much more effortless.

Establishing a Budget

Running a business involves daily cash flow. If you do not have a systematic budget, it would be hard for you to keep track of your expenses, loss, profit and make future projections an arduous task. It is a critical financial skill that you must master and apply in your business.

Research (And More Research)

Regardless if you are new to a business or even a seasoned entrepreneur, conducting research before starting your business is mandatory. Target audience, potential investors, strategic location, purchasing power should be studied before launching your hawker stall business.

Starting a hawker stall business in Malaysia is one thing, but staying on top of it is a whole other ball game. There are plenty of ways to keep up and beat the competition. If you want your hawker stall business to stand out, you can incorporate the following into your business:

Setting Up a Website

While it is unconventional for hawker stall businesses to have their own website, there are certain advantages to going digital. A few good examples would be increasing the business’ credibility, giving the hawker stall business a more significant reach and connecting with new clients. With a website, you can generate quality leads through digital marketing as well.

Subscribing to Business Advisory

Having business experts in Malaysia who have long been in the field to offer you important insights can be a great help. You can avoid rookie mistakes from the get-go and start your business right. Business advisors provide one-to-one sessions and offer assistance based on your company and its specific needs.


The ABCs of Business Registration

There are multiple choices of business entities available for you, such as sole proprietorship, partnership or Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), private or public limited company (Sendirian Berhad, or Berhad) and companies limited by guarantee. These business entity types differ from various aspects such as ownership, legal status, taxation, debt, liability and more. The most common business entity that hawkers choose is the sole proprietorship. The nature of this business type is easier to set up and requires low investment costs. Simply put, it is suitable for new start-up businesses. On the other hand, you can also choose to buy into a hawker franchise.

Picking a business entity is just the beginning of your business. Moving onwards, you will be needing a registered business address. This address will be used to receive legal documents and other official mails from statutory bodies. Aside from that, you will need to open a corporate bank account. Also, for tax purposes, do register your business with the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia or Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (LHDN). Want to learn more about what a business registration process entails? Read our article on company registration in Malaysia.


What Licenses Will You Require?

The first step in getting your business legally recognised is to register with the Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM) or also known as Companies Commission of Malaysia, or CCM for short. SSM is a statutory body responsible for regulating the business and corporate scene in Malaysia. Registering with SSM is beneficial as it allows transparency. The public can look up and search for information regarding the legitimacy of your business. With SSM, your potential customers and investors can feel confident in business dealings with you.

As a hawker, you will be handling food on a daily basis. Therefore, it is imperative that you acquire the necessary certifications to go with it. One of the certifications you will need is a food handling certificate which you can obtain from any Ministry of Health approved training school. Food Hygiene Regulations (FHR) has been established to ensure that food is carried out hygienically and is safe to consume. On the other hand, if you are planning to sell halal food, then do apply for a Malaysia Halal Certificate. For more information on the application process for halal certification, click here.

In Malaysia, the state laws differ from one to another. In order to ensure if your hawker stall business is compliant, do check with your local municipal office (Majlis Perbandaran) and state law. Other permits you may want to look into include stalls and hawkers license, petty traders license, business premise licenses, signboard licenses, etc. A corporate service provider can help you set up your business, ensure your business stays compliant and boost your confidence. With the individualised assistance that you get from reliable corporate service providers, you can leave all your worries at the door and focus on the pressing matters of your business.


Ready for Take-off?

Your ambitions of starting a hawker stall business in Malaysia will remain only as a dream if you do not put the first step forward. We understand that starting a business is no easy task. Setting up a business by yourself would require much physically, mentally and financially from you. Plus, if time is a luxury you do not have, then you try engaging with a professional incorporation team to make your workload lighter.

3E Accounting is your go-to partner in setting up businesses in Malaysia. Our multidisciplinary team is well versed in legal, corporate and business affairs. We strive to guide you every step of the way of your hawker stall business. Just take a look at our outstanding track of records! Rest assured that your business, regardless of whatever stage it is in, is in safe hands with us. To know more about our packages and what we do, contact 3E Accounting and let us assist you in your hawker stall venture!

Starting a Hawker Stall Business in Malaysia