Congratulations on launching a new business! To start a trucking company is to become part of a very profitable transportation and freight industry that is expected to thrive in the 21st century. Once established, you’ll have a career that could last decades. However, before you drive off into the sunset, there are quite a few necessary and time-consuming steps to take.
In this article, we’ve listed out the absolute basics you need to start your business, so follow these steps and build the necessary foundation for continuing success.
How to Start a Trucking Company
Write Your Business Plan
A business plan is a foundational map for your new trucking company. It’s your personal policies and procedures manual, so take the time to think about the big picture and go through the following sections.
Section 1 – Your Business Structure
You’ll want to structure your trucking company as either a sole proprietorship, a limited liability corporation (LLC), or a corporation (C-corp or S-corp). There are both advantages and disadvantages for each, so research thoroughly before deciding. Do you want future employees? Pick a company name and file it with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Section 2 – Company Finances
A trucking company is an expensive enterprise to get off the ground. You’ll be paying for the truck itself, licensing requirements, registration costs, office equipment, business paperwork and software, website costs, marketing materials, and ongoing fuel and maintenance costs. Choose whether to buy or lease your equipment.
You’ll also determine how many loads you need to haul before making a profit. Expect not to become truly profitable until at least your third year. Most new businesses rely on credit for their initial expenses, so you’re advised to check (and improve) your credit score.
Section 3 – Develop an Operations Plan
How will your business operate in the day-to-day? Create a plan for handling customer calls, handling payments, making payments, taking care of accounting and payroll, weekly freight trips, and general office procedures. You can use freight factoring companies to help you get paid faster and improve your cash flow. How will you take care of truck maintenance and getting fuel? The better your daily operations, the less time and money wasted, not to mention minimizing communication problems.
Section 4 – Develop a Marketing Plan
Customers can’t hire you if they don’t know who you are and what your company offers. How will you market yourself? In this modern tech age, you’ve got to have a website and a social media presence. You’ll also want to get a company logo, business cards, and even company shirts with your logo stitched on them.
Section 5 – Set Company Goals
What do you envision for your company? What do you want to accomplish, and what are the steps needed to accomplish that? Set your short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals for each area of your business: customers, finances, marketing, etc. Then set smaller milestones for each goal. Incorporate your weekly goal steps into your business calendar. This section of your business plan will help you succeed.
Insurance and Compliance
You have to carry four types of insurance – primary liability, cargo, physical damage, and non-trucking use. Check out the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) for more information about exactly how much insurance you need and what insurance companies offer it.
There are also quite a few safety rules you have to comply with, due to the risks involved with driving and hauling loads. The U. S. Small Business Administration offers resources to help you. You must comply with the following:
- BOC-3 Filing
- International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA)
- Heavy Vehicle Use Tax
- Operating Authority
- International Registration Plan (IRP)
- USDOT Number
Yes, it takes time (and, we admit, it’s a hassle!) to get through this paperwork. But, it’s absolutely essential for establishing your new trucking company as a legitimate business. Without following these necessary steps, your business could get into serious trouble.
Set up a Website and Phone
With your business plan written up and the necessary paperwork filed, now it’s time to set up your trucking company website and phone. Get a business phone and number, preferably using a smartphone. That way, you’ll have access to your customer contact list, your online maps for finding truck routes, the load boards for finding more loads on the go, and so much more.
Your website should include your trucking company name, logo, phone number, location, and general information about freight and delivery routes. You’ll have to purchase web hosting, then the website itself. You could create your website through WordPress (www.wordpress.com), Wix (www.wix.com), SiteBuilder (www.sitebuilder.com), Weebly (www.weebly.com), or Squarespace (www.squarespace.com). You can do it yourself or hire someone to set up your site for you. But it’s an essential part of any company these days. Don’t forget to add your website to your business cards, and you can get it printed on your company shirts, too.
As your trucking company grows, you’ll want to add more information to your site, including customer reviews and testimonials, employee information, social media links, and plenty of photos, too. Your website helps establish trust between you and your customers and is also an effective marketing tool.
Find Customers and Loads
Your new trucking company will operate by finding and fulfilling your load contracts with customers and other carriers. Where do you find loads? There are several online forum-type load boards, so check out the following websites:
There are many more, but these will certainly get you started. They do have monthly or annual membership fees, so factor that into your operating costs.
From One Truck to a Fleet
You can absolutely start a trucking company with just one truck. Be prepared to put in plenty of time, in the beginning, to get your new business started. Do your due diligence by filing your paperwork, getting the best equipment you can afford, and creating a strong foundation for meeting your long-term goals. After that, just keep finding customers and loads, deliver them promptly, and you’ll be in place to have a successful company.