Starting a trucking company is a big undertaking, but it can be very rewarding if done correctly. There are many steps involved in the process, and it’s important to understand them all before you begin. In this article, we will outline the basics of starting a trucking company so that you can be on your way to success.
Here are the 10 steps you can take to get started on building your very own trucking business.
10 Steps to Launching a New Trucking Business
1. Choose Your Type of Trucking Business
The first step in launching a trucking business is to identify the type of trucking business you want to launch. You might choose from the following types among others:
- A full truckload (FTL) carrier transports large loads that fill up an entire truck.
- A less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier transports smaller loads that don’t require a full truck.
- An intermodal carrier transports containers or trailers by multiple modes of transportation, including trucks, trains, and ships.
2. Name Your Trucking Business
Give your trucking business an identity so people will think of it as a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your trucking business from your industry, focus on a geographical location, or use your own name among other options.
The main goal for naming your trucking business is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so that potential customers will want to work with you.
3. Determine Your Trucking Business Model
There are several possible types of business models for a trucking business including:
- For-hire trucking: You will be contracted by a company to transport their goods.
- Private carrier: You will transport goods for a specific company on an ongoing basis.
- Owner-operator: You will lease your truck and trailer to a trucking company and haul loads for them.
You can also choose to specialize in a certain type of freight or transportation, such as:
- Hazardous materials
- Oversized loads
- Refrigerated goods
No matter which model you choose, make sure that it aligns with your business goals and the services you offer.
4. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business
By incorporating your trucking business, you will limit your liability. You can incorporate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a C Corporation (C-Corp), or an S Corporation (S-Corp). Or you can operate as a sole proprietorship.
The business structure you choose for your trucking business will determine the amount of taxes you pay and which state or federal tax forms you need to file.
Read our article comparing the most common trucking business structures.
5. Write a Trucking Business Plan
All trucking business owners should develop a business plan.
A business plan is a document that outlines the goals, strategies, and operations of a business. It can be used to secure funding from investors or lenders, as well as to guide the day-to-day operations of the business. The business plan should include information on the company’s products or services, market analysis, financial projections, and management team among other things.
Read our article about how to write a trucking business plan.
6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses
There may be required licenses and permits you need to obtain before launching your trucking business.
For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires trucking businesses to obtain a motor carrier number (MC Number) before they can begin operation.
The type of permit or license you need will depend on the type of trucking business you are operating, as well as your state and local regulations.
You must also register your trucking business as a legal entity with the state where you plan to do business. You can simply file an online form through your Secretary of State website.
Registering with the federal government is also essential so you can properly pay taxes for your business. You will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for at the IRS website, if you plan to hire employees.
7. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed
In developing your trucking business plan, you will figure out how much funding you need to start and grow your business.
If you have your own funds to invest in your trucking business, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your trucking business include traditional bank loans, SBA loans, credit cards, angel investors and family and friends.
Read our article about the costs associated with starting a trucking business to help you determine if funding is needed.
Read our article about how to fund your trucking business.
8. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently
When you start your trucking business, it’s essential to have the right technology in place to maximize efficiency. You definitely need a computer with Internet access, and accounting software for tracking expenses and revenues.
You may also want to invest in trucking software, which can help with everything from route planning and dispatch to invoicing and tracking loads.
There are many different software programs available on the market, so it’s important to do your research before investing in any one program.
9. Market Your Trucking Business to Potential Clients
Before you start selling your services, you have to let the world know you exist. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your services and how they benefit them.
After you launch your website, start promoting it through social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Also consider networking with other people in the trucking industry through social media and blogs so they can help share your business.
You also need to start gathering the materials needed to execute on your promotions strategy, which is your strategy for attracting new customers. Trucking businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared:
Develop a Press Kit: This is a document that contains information about your company that can be used by the media to write articles or create TV or radio segments about your business.
Generate Case Studies & Testimonials: Positive feedback from current and past clients goes a long way in promoting your trucking business to potential new clients.
Identify & Attend Industry Events: There are many industry-specific events you can attend to network with other people in the trucking industry and promote your business.
Create Branded Promotional Materials: This could be anything from flyers and brochures to pens, mugs, and t-shirts.
Read our article about how to market your trucking business for more tips.
10. Get New Clients & Grow Your Business
When you promote your services, you’ll start to get interest from potential clients.
Make sure you’re ready to serve these clients. Also, be sure to establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs. And be sure to find and train the right people to help you grow your trucking business.
Read our article about how to effectively grow your trucking business to learn more.
Starting a Trucking Business FAQs
There are many reasons to start a trucking business. Perhaps you’re looking for a way to be your own boss, or maybe you’ve been working in the trucking industry for years and you’re ready to take things to the next level by starting your own company. Whatever your reasons, there are many benefits to starting a trucking business.
Some of the benefits of starting a trucking business include:
- The ability to be your own boss: When you’re the owner of a trucking company, you’re in charge and you make the decisions. This can be very rewarding and empowering.
- The potential to earn a good income: Trucking companies can be very profitable, especially if they’re run efficiently.
- The opportunity to grow your business: If you’re successful, you can grow your trucking business into a large and thriving operation.
There are many things you need to do to start a successful trucking business. Perhaps the most important is to create a well-thought-out business plan. This document will outline your business goals, strategies, and how you plan to achieve them.
You’ll also need to secure the proper licenses and permits, find the right insurance, purchase trucks and equipment, and hire qualified drivers.
And of course, you’ll need to market your business to potential clients so they know you exist and are aware of the services you offer.
Here are some tips for starting a trucking business:
- Do your research: It’s important to research the trucking industry and understand the ins and outs of running a successful trucking business before you get started.
- Write a business plan: This document will outline your business goals, strategies and how you plan on achieving them.
- Get the proper licenses and permits: You’ll need to get the proper licenses and permits before you can start operating your trucking business.
- Find the right insurance: You’ll need to find the right insurance to protect your business from any potential risks.
- Purchase trucks and equipment: You’ll need to purchase trucks and equipment for your business.
- Hire qualified drivers: It’s important to hire qualified and experienced drivers to operate your trucks.
- Market your business: Be sure to market your trucking business to potential clients so they know you exist and are aware of the services you offer.
A simple checklist to use when starting a trucking business is as follows:
- Choose Your Type of Trucking Firm: This should be based on what you are best at and how much experience you have. Remember to keep your interests, skills, and experience in mind at all times.
- Name Your Trucking Business: This should be done with care, as your brand is important for attracting the right customers. A simple, memorable name will go a long way.
- Choose a Legal Form for Your Business: Whether you choose to become a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation or another option will depend on your business. Ensure that you are aware of all the implications of each type.
- Determine Your Trucking Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
- Write a Trucking Business Plan: Your business plan will also help you determine what your start-up costs will be and will provide a roadmap with which you can launch and grow.
- Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses: In most locations you will be required to apply for a business license and/or permits before you can begin operations.
- Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed: You will need to know how much money you have to spend on all of your business-related expenses before opening any doors. If needed, apply for a small business loan or other funding options.
- Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently: You need to have the right tools in place to succeed. Implement software that will help you manage your time, contacts, and business operations in general.
- Market Your Trucking Business to Potential Clients: A solid marketing plan will be crucial to your success. It should focus on attracting the right customers so that you can provide them with the services they truly need.
- Get Clients & Grow Your Business: Once you have a solid marketing plan, it's time to actively pursue and secure those who could benefit the most from your services.
Starting a trucking business can be a great way to be your own boss, earn a good income, and create a thriving company. Research the market and have a well-thought-out business plan before getting started. You’ll also need to get the proper licenses and permits, find the right insurance, purchase trucks and equipment, and hire qualified drivers. By following these tips, you can be on your way to starting a successful trucking business.