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How To Start a Freight Shipping Company

Starting a freight shipping company is an exciting venture. By following these simple steps, you can make the process go smoothly. 

Here are the 10 steps you can take to get started on building your very own freight shipping business.


10 Steps to Launching a New Freight Shipping Business

1. Choose Your Type of Freight Shipping Business

The first step in launching a freight shipping business is to identify the type of freight shipping business you want to launch. You might choose from the following types among others: 

  • International shipping
  • Domestic shipping
  • Specialty shipping


2. Name Your Freight Shipping Business

Give your freight shipping business an identity so people will think of it as a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your freight shipping business from your industry, focus on a geographical location, or use your own name among other options.

The main goal for naming your freight shipping business is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so that potential customers will be more likely to work with you.


3. Determine Your Freight Shipping Business Model

There are several possible types of business models for a freight shipping business including:

  1. A trucking company that owns its vehicles and hires drivers
  2. A trucking company that leases its vehicles from another company
  3. An owner-operator who leases his or her vehicle to a trucking company 

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 freight shipping 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 freight shipping 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 freight shipping business structures.


5. Write a Freight Shipping Business Plan

All freight shipping 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 freight shipping business plan.


6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses

There may be required licenses and permits you need to obtain before launching your freight shipping business.

For example, if you will be operating a trucking company, you will need to obtain a DOT number from the U.S. Department of Transportation. You will also need to register your business with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

You must also register your freight shipping 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 freight shipping 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 freight shipping business, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your freight shipping 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 freight shipping business to help you determine if funding is needed. 

Read our article about how to fund your freight shipping business


8. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently

When you start your freight shipping 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 project management software to keep track of deadlines and milestones, as well as customer relationship management (CRM) software to manage your relationships with clients. 

If you have a trucking company, you will also need GPS tracking for your vehicles so you can monitor their location and movement.

There are many software programs available to freight shipping businesses, so it’s important to do your research and choose the ones that will work best for your company.


9. Market Your Freight Shipping 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 freight shipping 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. Freight shipping businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared: 

  • Develop a strong elevator pitch
  • Create an overview of services
  • Design print materials like business cards, brochures and flyers
  • Develop targeted email marketing campaigns
  • Create targeted online ads
  • Participate in trade shows and industry events

Read our article about how to market your freight shipping 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 freight shipping business.

Read our article about how to effectively grow your freight shipping business to learn more.


Starting a Freight Shipping Business FAQs

There are many reasons to start a freight shipping business. Some of the benefits include:

  • The ability to be your own boss and set your own hours
  • The potential to make a good income
  • The opportunity to help businesses grow by moving their products efficiently
  • The ability to work in a variety of industries
  • The satisfaction of owning a successful business

To start a successful freight shipping business, you need:

  • A truck or van
  • The right technology and software
  • Insurance
  • The proper licenses and permits
  • A strong marketing plan
  • Skilled employees

Some tips for starting a freight shipping business include:

  • Invest in the right technology and software
  • Get the proper licenses and permits
  • Develop a strong marketing plan
  • Build relationships with clients
  • Find and train skilled employees

A simple checklist to use when starting a freight shipping business is as follows:

  1. Choose Your Type of Freight Shipping Company: 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.
  2. Name Your Freight Shipping 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Determine Your Freight Shipping Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
  5. Write a Freight Shipping 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Market Your Freight Shipping 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. 
  10. 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 freight shipping company requires several steps, but by following the simple checklist provided, you can make it happen. Remember to invest in the right technology and software, get the proper licenses and permits, build relationships with clients, and find skilled employees to help you run your business smoothly. With a solid marketing plan, you can attract the right customers and grow your business quickly.