Did you know there are over 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S.? Trucking is a popular business but it’s very competitive. If you manage and market yourself well, you can easily stand out from the crowd. This article will explore everything you need to know about starting a successful trucking business.
Is Trucking Profitable?
This can be a very fruitful industry if you stick with it. There will always be a high demand for truckers because society needs them to function. Besides this, you can adjust your trucking business to fit certain schedules and routes to be more efficient – something that can make you sought-after by many companies.
What You Need for Starting a Good Trucking Business
There are several things to attend to start out on the right track.
Make a Business Plan
One of the first things you’ll need to do is brainstorm a solid business plan. Is there a certain industry you’d like your business to focus on? How are your finances? By outlining your thoughts, you can get a better idea of where you’d like to lead your brand and determine the steps you need to take to get there.
During this stage, you’ll also want to consider funding. Trucking businesses can be profitable but they can be pricey when you’re starting out. If you don’t have the necessary funds for buying a truck or getting licenses, consider loans. There are many you can apply for, like commercial truck financing and SBA. Keep in mind that there are certain qualifications for obtaining these loans. It’s vital to research them beforehand to see if you can secure one.
Register Your Company
After you’ve made a business plan, register your company. There are a few things you’ll need to do during this part. One is to provide your official name. If you’re not sure if your idea is taken, browse the U.S. Patent and Trademark site. This will let you see what names and slogans are already claimed.
You’ll then need to choose your business entity. This will determine what taxation and insurance your business will require. There are five options you can pick from:
- Sole proprietorship
- C corporation
- S corporation
- Limited liability company
A good trucking business needs to have reliable vehicles. If the trucks have quirks that affect your job, it could negatively impact your business’s reputation.
To begin, decide if you want to buy or lease a truck. If you’re not sure whether this industry is right for you yet or your finances are low, lease one. This route can be useful for truck drivers but it also has some catches. Since you don’t own the truck, you’ll need to make consistent lease payments. You’ll also be responsible for following specific dealer rules, such as only driving a certain mileage per day.
You’ll also want to look at the truck’s weight limit. Certain trucks are built to carry logs while others are designed to transfer food. You must choose a truck that’s built for the goods you’ll move. Some to investigate are:
- Day cabs
- Package delivery
- Car hauler
You also want to determine if your truck is compatible with helpful accessories, like a forklift trailer hitch or wind deflector.
Get the Necessary Permits
You must apply and acquire the right permits and licenses before officially starting. All drivers must get a commercial driver’s license (CDL) before legally operating a truck. You’ll want to search for a CDL school near you and see what their classes offer.
You’ll also need to apply for a state-specific license. If you plan to drive throughout the U.S., an International Registration Plan (IRP) is required. If you’re still unsure or have questions, it is a good idea to contact a lawyer.
Be prepared though. This step can take time and be a bit overwhelming. Truckers will need to have a USDOT number, complete a drug-testing program, and apply for Operating Authority – to name a few. Once you get through this though, things will be much easier and you’ll know what to expect down the road.
Besides permits, you’ll also need to look into insurance. This is legally required and can protect your business from lawsuits. It will also provide you with personal help if you happen to get injured on the job.
There are various insurance types you can apply for, but the minimum a trucking business will need are public liability, physical damage, and cargo.
Prepare for Taxes
In addition to funds for trucks and salaries, you’ll need to have some money set aside for vehicle taxes. Depending on what you plan to do, you could be charged with a heavy use vehicle tax (if your truck is over 55,000 pounds) or an international fuel tax if you travel through the U.S. mainland and Canadian provinces. If you want to ensure your taxes are in order, it’s a good idea to involve an accountant.
Starting a trucking business is a lot of work, but with these tips, you can smoothly begin your journey toward building a phenomenal company.