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How to Start an F&B Business in Malaysia: A Brief Step-by-Step Guide 2023

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Starting a cafe or restaurant of your own is the dream of a lot of Malaysians. The idea of putting your heart and soul into creating an F&B outlet, serving customers and gaining loyal fans can be an exciting one.

However, the reality of opening an F&B business can be harsh. Instead of living the dream, new cafe and restaurant owners often find themselves in a nightmare when expenses pile up while customers are nowhere to be found.

Soon enough, their entire business collapses and their business is history.

Needless to say, opening a cafe or restaurant can be a risky affair. Even with the best intentions, you’ll still need a lot of planning and preparation to give yourself a higher chance of success.

To help you get started on the right footing, we’ve compiled our best resources on F&B business planning and preparation in this one guide. In this brief guide, you’ll discover how to:

  • Craft a solid business plan for any type of F&B business
  • Create a memorable brand story
  • Generate interest in your F&B business using marketing campaigns
  • Pick a good location for your F&B business premise
  • Create Standard Operating Procedures to streamline your process
  • Choose a solid Point of Sales (POS) system
  • Raise money to grow your F&B business

If you are one of the many Malaysians who want to start your own F&B business, this guide will give you a better idea of what to get started with and get you started the right way!

Step 1: Create a Solid Business Plan

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

Your F&B business journey will begin with a business plan. A business plan will help you to:

  • Be clear on your business objectives, mission, and vision
  • Deeply knowing the target market you intend on serving
  • Understand your competition’s strengths and weaknesses and how your business stacks up against theirs
  • Analyse if your business really has what it takes to be successful
  • Discover blind spots you might not have noticed previously
  • Decide on your menu offerings and their prices
  • Do cash flow projects and calculate how long your money will last you and when you might need to raise money
  • The type of expertise you need to look for in the staff you hire

A business plan will also be useful if you are thinking of raising money to start your business. Potential investors will likely want to take a look at your business plan before they consider putting money into your business.

To learn how to create a solid business plan, you can read our F&B business plan guide. We go through each step of the way so, at the end of the guide, you’ll have an idea of how to create a solid business plan!

Why You Should Have a Business Plan Before Launching Your FnB Business in Malaysia and How to Create One

Step 2: Craft a Memorable Brand

Branding is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself. Without one, your business will easily become lost in a sea of businesses selling the same type of food.

Remember the last time you bought food from a Ramadhan bazaar? You’ll probably have your fair share of really good and bad food.

Now, think about what happens after the Ramadhan bazaar. What if you want to buy food again from the stalls you liked?

Would you know where to find them?

I’m guessing it’s pretty unlikely because they don’t have a strong or memorable brand.

Even if the same seller opens a booth in the same Ramadhan bazaar next year, it will be tough for you to find them and buy from them again.

As a business owner, you never want to suffer the fate of being an unknown business. Instead, you want customers to remember your brand and come back, again and again, to buy from you.

This is why you’ll need to invest in creating a memorable brand for your business. A brand isn’t only about a name, or a logo, you’ll need to craft a compelling brand story and packaging to match.

Get tips about how to create a brand using the guide below:

8 Important Steps You Need To Define An Attractive F&B Brand

Step 3: Choose a good location

Once you have an idea of the brand image you would like to project, it’s time to pick out a location for your business.

For new businesses, picking a good location is very important. Picking the right location will mean exposing your brand to a large number of people in your target segment who will give your business a try whereas picking the wrong location may mean your business remains hidden to the very people you would like to serve.

While cost is a big concern, there is a lot more to consider when picking a location. Get the full list of ten things we think you should consider when picking a location for your F&B business right here:

Picking a Location for Your Cafe or Restaurant in Malaysia: 10 Things to Consider Before Signing Your Lease

Step 4: Market Your F&B Business

Now that you have settled on a business plan, brand and location, you’ll need to consider how you might generate interest and draw in a crowd to your business using the right marketing methods.

Because let’s face it – without a strong customer interest in your brand, you won’t be open for too long, no matter how good your food or branding is.

Today’s F&B environment is too competitive for you to not take advantage of the marketing channels available to you. With thousands of others vying for the attention of the same customers, you’ll need to get creative. This is especially true at the beginning when your brand is relatively unknown in the market.

Start getting creative and get inspiration on how to create an effective marketing campaign for your F&B business here:

6 Ways to Market Your Restaurant or Cafe Business in Malaysia and Get More Customers (With Examples)

Step 5: Create SOPs for Your F&B Business

We’re halfway through now, but not quite done yet. To make sure your cafe or restaurant runs smoothly and your customers get a great experience each time they patronise your business, you’ll need Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in place.

SOPs will document exact instructions for every single process in your restaurant including:

  • How to treat your customers
  • How to maintain kitchen cleanliness
  • How to maintain food hygiene
  • How to keep track of your costs

While it’s quite a bit of work to document these processes, the benefits will definitely be worth your time.

Get started with SOPs for your F&B business by using our guide:

SOPs for Your FnB Business in Malaysia: Why You Need Them and How to Create Ones That Work

Step 6: Pick an F&B Point-of-Sales (POS) System for your business

POS Systems are an indispensable part of any F&B business these days. Modern POS Systems can not only help you manage customer payments, but they can also help you to:

  • Streamline your front desk to kitchen communication
  • Keep stock of your inventory and do calculations
  • Easily keep track of your sales
  • Accounting made easy
  • Keep your staff in check
  • Easy to train new staff

By using a POS System, you’ll help yourself and your team save hours by making your processes seamless.

Not all POS Systems in the market are made equal though. Learn how to choose the right POS System for your business by using our criteria:

Looking for the Best POS System for Your FnB Business in Malaysia? We’ll Show You How to Choose One! [2019]

Step 7: Calculate Your Food Costs

Food costs can contribute to 25 – 35% of an F&B business’ overall costs. This is pretty significant, so you’ll want to make sure you understand what makes up your food costs.

This way, you’ll be able to:

  • Reduce wastage
  • Reduce costs by replacing ingredients (but not compromising quality)
  • Take advantage of bulk pricing

Use our guide to help you calculate your food costs and discover ways to reduce it in the long term:

Food Costing Calculation for Restaurant and Cafe Owners in Malaysia (with Formula)

Step 8: Raise Money to Grow

Finally, you’ll need to learn how to raise money for your business. Even if you are funding your business with your own money now, there might come a time when you need to raise money either to grow your restaurant, open new outlets or bridge your business through temporary cash flow issues.

Consider all the options available to you by using our F&B funding guide:

Raising Money for Your FnB Business in Malaysia: 5 Common Ways Malaysians Fund Their Cafe or Restaurant Dream


Starting your own F&B business may be a dream come true, but unless you plan and prepare yourself properly, you might having to give up on it long before you are ready to.

With a solid business plan, a memorable brand, good location and effective marketing campaign, you’ll be on your way to launch your business right.

Further smoothen your business operations by creating SOPs, using an F&B specialised POS System and precisely calculating your food costs.

Finally, be prepared with the possibility of having to raise money for your business in the future and consider all the options available to you before that happens.

Note: We will be updating this guide from time to time, so do check back for updates! Let us know what you think of this guide in the comments below!

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