What Does It Take To Run Your Own Business? We Hear From 12 Malaysian Entrepreneurs

Having a good business idea is only the beginning.

Cover image via Frizzle Digital

Are you interested in starting your own business?

Maybe you've got a great business idea or are passionate about wanting to help grow a particular field. You might have even already taken that next step further to come up with a proper business plan and start making actual headway towards making your idea a reality.

But you've probably also got some concerns. Like how to make sure you don't fail, for one.

In collaboration with MaGIC, we asked some Malaysian entrepreneurs to share some insights and advice on what they think it takes to be successful. Here's what they had to say:

1. "You have to be your own slave first before becoming your own boss"

"The difference between being a boss in the corporate arena and being your own boss is that you'd have to work even harder than you have to as an employee, handle things that's beyond your job scope, experience, and expertise (and pay grade, whether above or below), and basically put in hard labour from the ground up — even if you could afford to hire help or employees from day one.

If you don't realise how tough it is to run every single aspect of your business from day one, you'll risk taking things for granted and opening up room for failure."

Koh Yung Shen, Founder & Creative Director of The Swagger Salon:
The Swagger Salon is an independent and homegrown clothing company. It was established in 2010 as an online local streetwear store and is best known for producing the notorious LANSI clothing brand.

2. "You need the ability to be comfortable with uncertainties and risks"

Image via Frizzle Digital

"Your product should add value and/or solve an existing problem in the marketplace. If it doesn’t it might be time to revisit the drawing boards."

Aaron Woon (pictured above, right), Director & Founder of Frizzle Digital:
Frizzle Digital is a digital advertising agency focused on bringing true value experience to customers and building meaningful connections.

3. "Be passionate in what you do, have a vision and never give up"

"There are bound to be failures, but it's what we do after that setback, that determines whether a person has the entrepreneurial spirit. As long as you are fulfilled with what you are doing, you are considered successful. Also, be humble and be willing to start small, and then grow with the market demand."

Chrystin Choo (Founder) and Aaron Lam (Co-Founder & Creative Director) of Salt x Paper Stationery & Gifts:
Salt x Paper Stationery & Gifts was born out of the couple's love for beautiful paper goods and gorgeous designs. In addition to carrying their own line of stationary, the store also sells other items and feature local brands.

4. "Clearly define what is it you want to do and have a great business model"

Image via

"The business model is at the core of any successful startup, because no matter how cool an idea is or how unique something may seem, a startup must have a viable way of generating revenue.

Hire the right people and learn how to be a leader. Getting the right team of people to support you is critical, learning how to form a founding team that can cover the gaps is a crucial skill. And too many entrepreneurs take leadership skills for granted. Leadership is almost 100% about managing people. Having great ideas and a strategic vision won’t get you far if your employees aren’t willing to follow you.

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Finally, make sure you learn as you go. As the business grows and develops, so will the skills needed to manage it. That means, first, the ability to keep learning is very important."

Siti Amalina Ariffin, Co-Founder of is an online shopping platform for Muslims that provides halal certified products including attires, health and beauty products, accessories, and also prayer/worship needs.

5. "It takes grit to be successful. It is about taking charge of your environment instead of being a hostage of your situation."

"We are rewarded by the solutions we solved and not the issues we can think of. Grit creates longevity to our end goal and forces us to respond with creativity to everything that is not in our favour.

Be realistic and be patient. Your goal is to build a company that has longevity, which means you need to earn more money than what you spend. Don't just think about the funding you can get, but think about getting the fundamentals right."

Adrian Cheong, Founder of The Apothecary Malaysia:
The Apothecary Malaysia was founded in 2015; it produces handcrafted, pocket size solid colognes.

6. "Having a business model is not enough to succeed, strong mentality and perseverance are utterly important too"

Image via Dinez-in

"Without a strong mentality, this journey is going to be extra rough for you. Being able to handle rejection gracefully and continuing to try again until you get what your customers want right will be the key to success. It will never be easy.

Many believe that entrepreneurial success happens overnight so they can have shorter working hours, more free time and a higher income level. In reality, entrepreneurship means building your business carefully and faithfully day in and day out over a period of years. It also requires strong determination and pouring in 200% more than a normal employee.

Image via Dinez-in

Stay foolish and be desperate; be hungry for your goal. Don’t let anybody turn your dream down as you’re the only one responsible to it."

TC Gwi, Founder & Managing Director of Dinez-in:
Dinez-in is first fully integrated food ecosystem platform in South East Asia. They are the one-stop-solution for both diners and passionate cooks. Users can book meals, catering, goodies, & classes; they also provide business support to homechefs, restaurants and cafes.

7. "While it may seem glamorous to be your own boss, it is a test of your patience among many other things"

"So for anyone who wants to go down this path, my advice is to be bold. Believe in yourself, be open to learn, do not shy away from hard work and never give up until you succeed!

Have passion and perseverance. You will meet with many roadblocks and setbacks along the way in your entrepreneurial journey however if you can successfully combine both these qualities, no amount of failure can stop you from reaping the rewards of your hard work."

Aarti Doshi (pictured above, middle), Co-Founder & Managing Director of Perseid Consultancy Sdn. Bhd.:
Perseid Consultancy is a boutique full service agency. Beyond communications, marketing & social media, they also specialise in the concept creation, design, styling, and execution of corporate and social events.

8. "Always keep the following points in mind. You must..."

"- Dare to take calculated risk
- Find a purpose in your passion
- Solve the problem and end the blame game
- Be persistent and willing to learn
- Never feel that you are too good for something
- Know your strength and playing field
- Play by the rules
- Plan
- Know your audience and marketing strategies"

Daniel Salehuddin (pictured above, right) & Khairul Asyraf Zulkifli (pictured above, left), Co-Founders of Fine Grit Studio:
Fine Grit Studio deals with the design and production of custom furniture and other products. The two craftsmen pride themselves in creating high detailing quality products for their customers.

9. "Change your question from 'why?' to 'why not?' Take the risk! The rush of seeing your own ideas and hard work come to life, is just amazing."

Image via Famglam Studios

"Never doubt your ideas based on what people say, until you've given it a shot. Always look at your competitors as reference on how to be better, not a threat. Lastly, the journey is not going to be paved with rainbows and unicorns. Add loads of fun and quirkiness when needed and know how to enjoy it."

Tanya Kamallini, Founder of FamGlam Studios:
FamGlam Studios is a homestyle, child friendly photography studio based in Bangsar. Their services cover a wide range, including family, pregnancy, baby, personality, corporate, outdoor events and wedding photographs.

10. "You can't always control what happens around you, but you can always control how you react to challenges that come your way"

"Whatever that can go wrong, will go wrong. And what usually works fine also sometimes goes wrong! The journey has its peaks and valleys, and there will come many times where you'll feel like throwing in the towel.

When a tough situation hits: plan, execute and weather the storm. It's in these challenges and failures you'll learn and grow the most.

We live in a golden age where it's easier than ever to start a business. It always seems daunting at first, so take your idea and break it down to small manageable and actionable tasks. The key is to take action and get started!"

Justin Lee, Founder of Currynoodles Posters:
Currynoodles Posters was founded to bring in original high-quality posters and merchandise to the Malaysian market. They carry more than 600 unique products spanning from TV series, movies, comics, scenery, art, music and many more.

11. "Perseverance and loving what you do are what it takes to be successful"

Image via Baby Dots

"You should also manage your cashflow wisely and focus on the business that you are getting into, don't get distracted with what others are doing."

Amelina Izreen & Norhanim, Co-Founders of Baby Dots:
Baby Dots is an online shop and physical retail outlet selling premium baby products from brands that are usually hard to come by in Malaysia. The products they carry are handpicked by the 2 founders and mostly vouched for from personal experience.

12. "You will need to be a risk taker and know how to seek and grab opportunities"

"Do things that you have passion for and you will never have to work your whole life again, because you'll wake up every day to something that you love doing."

Nizam Abdullah, Founder/Sculptor/Artist of Nizamsculpture Studio:
Nizamsculpture Studio specialises in designing and building sculptures. They also provide professional consultation, custom made furniture and artwork, as well as mural and air brush services.

Looking for training programs and workshops to help you become a successful business owner? Learn more through the Educ8 program by MaGIC

Educ8 aims to create, develop, and nurture homegrown talent by providing direct and easy access to quality entrepreneurship training programs across Malaysia.

In connecting entrepreneurs with MaGIC’s network of endorsed educators, participants will be empowered through learning about the necessary knowledge and equipped with skills that will be essential in helping them in their journey to success.

Educ8's various programs caters to aspiring entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, and SMEs at every growth stage and with varying skill levels. So no matter what stage of entrepreneurship you're at, there's a suitable program for you.

The focus is to develop knowledge and build capability in the following domains:
management, technology, finance, design, legal, marketing, sales, and strategic business growth and innovation.

To kickstart the program, MaGIC is conducting 2-hour free preview sessions that will provide you with an insight into the actual courses or workshops

To make sure you don't miss out, stay tuned to their Facebook page for details and updates on these upcoming preview sessions.

Click here to find out more about Educ8 and check out the various programs they have on offer

Those with an entrepreneurial spirit should definitely go for the upcoming MaGIC Academy Symposium:

We previously asked bar owners for their tips and advice: