Starting an owner operator trucking company requires information and planning. This article will provide you with all the steps you need to take to get your business off the ground.
Here are the 10 steps you can take to get started on building your very own owner operator trucking business.
10 Steps to Launching a New Owner Operator Trucking Business
1. Choose Your Type of Owner Operator Trucking Business
The first step in launching an owner operator trucking business is to identify the type of owner operator trucking business you want to launch. You might choose from the following types among others:
- Full Truckload (FTL): You will haul large shipments that fill up an entire trailer.
- Less-Than-Truckload (LTL): You will haul smaller shipments that do not require a full truckload.
- Dry Van: You will haul non-refrigerated goods in a dry van trailer.
2. Name Your Owner Operator Trucking Business
Give your owner operator trucking business an identity so people will think of it as a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your owner operator trucking business from your industry, focus on a geographical location, or use your own name among other options.
The main goal for naming your owner operator trucking business is to make it sound, appealing, and trustworthy so potential clients will want to work with you.
3. Determine Your Owner Operator Trucking Business Model
There are several possible types of business models for an owner operator trucking business including:
- For-hire trucking: You will be contracted by a company to haul their products.
- Private carrier: You will contract with a single client and become their exclusive trucking service.
- Truck broker: You will not own any trucks but instead will find clients that need shipping services and match them to carriers.
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 owner operator 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 owner operator 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 owner operator trucking business structures.
5. Write an Owner Operator Trucking Business Plan
All owner operator 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 an owner operator 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 owner operator trucking business.
For example, if you plan to ship hazardous materials, you will need to obtain a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HM) from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
You must also register your owner operator 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 owner operator 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 owner operator trucking business, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your owner operator 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 an owner operator trucking business to help you determine if funding is needed.
Read our article about how to fund your owner operator trucking business.
8. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently
When you start your owner operator 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 a trucking management software system to help you with route planning, GPS tracking, dispatch and other aspects of running your business.
9. Market Your Owner Operator 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 owner operator 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. Owner operator trucking businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared:
- Develop marketing collateral like business cards, flyers, and brochures
- Attend trade shows and conventions related to your industry
- Start a blog and write articles about topics related to your industry
- Engage in public relations activities by issuing press releases or working with local media outlets
Read our article about how to market your owner operator 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 owner operator trucking business.
Read our article about how to effectively grow your owner operator trucking business to learn more.
Starting a Owner Operator Trucking Business FAQs
Starting an owner operator trucking business can be a great way to achieve financial independence and be your own boss. It can also be a great way to learn about the trucking industry, build relationships with other businesses in the industry and gain invaluable experience running your own business.
The trucking industry outlook is strong, with the industry expected to continue growing. This growth is being driven by an increase in online shopping and e-commerce, which has resulted in a need for more truck drivers to transport goods.
To start a successful owner operator trucking business, you need to have a strong understanding of the trucking industry and the regulations that govern it. You also need to have a good business plan and access to the right technology and software. Finally, you need to market your business effectively to potential clients.
Here are some tips for starting an owner operator trucking business:
- Make sure you have a strong understanding of the trucking industry and the regulations that govern it.
- Have a good business plan in place.
- Get the right technology and software to run your business efficiently.
- Make sure you market your business effectively.
- Consider starting your business from home to save on costs.
- Create an online presence so that clients can book loads with through your website.
- Stay up to date with industry trends.
- Make sure you have a strong understanding of the transportation market.
- Invest time and money in your business.
- Have a dedicated space for your office.
- Consider networking with other people in the industry.
- Engage in public relations activities to promote your business.
A simple checklist to use when starting an owner operator trucking business is as follows:
- Choose Your Type of Owner Operator Trucking 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.
- Name Your Owner Operator 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 Owner Operator Trucking Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
- Write an Owner Operator 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 Owner Operator 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 an owner operator trucking company can be a seamless experience. Follow the tips we’ve outlined in this article, and you’ll be on your way to success. Make sure you have a strong business plan in place, market your business effectively, and invest time and money into making your business flourish. Network with other people in the industry and engage in public relations activities to promote your business. Get the technology and software needed to run your business efficiently, so you can focus on what’s important – attracting and retaining clients.