Starting a Trucking Company in 2023 | Step-by-Step Guide

Starting a Trucking Company

Trucking is a huge company because there is a significant and ongoing need for commodities transportation. 

Many who are starting a trucking company, especially in 2023, agree that it is not an easy feat at all.

You may launch a successful trucking company of your own, whether or not you are a truck driver.

Also, you might have a fantastic chance to take advantage of the market and work for yourself.

Of course, beginning a business of any kind requires a lot of labor.

The secret to success is learning the information and taking your time with the development and launch processes, which are explained in this step-by-step guide.

There is a lot of opportunity for qualified professional truck drivers in the highly competitive logistics and transportation sectors.

This easy-to-follow manual will point you in the correct direction if you’re prepared to start a 

trucking business and company, but are unsure of where to start.

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Key Takeaways


  • The trucking business today transports 70% of all freight in the United States.
  • Over the following ten years, 27% growth in the trucking industry is anticipated.
  • Small carriers make up the majority of the trucking industry, operating 91 percent of all businesses with six or fewer trucks.
  • In 2018 (excluding government and agricultural use), 36.9 million trucks were registered and utilized for business reasons
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had 928,647 for-hire carriers listed as of 2020;
  • Over 3.6 million truck drivers were employed in 2019, and the vast majority of trucking companies (91.3%) operated 6 or fewer trucks.

Steps to Starting a Trucking Company

The steps to know before starting your own trucking company are outlined below:

  • Carve a Niche for Yourself
  • Establish Yourself
  • Assess your Finances
  • Prepare a plan for your Business
  • Establish business bookkeeping and accounting systems.
  • Employ a knowledgeable business lawyer
  • Choose a legal business structure
  • Create a unique brand identity
  • Establish a presence online
  • Get all the Assistance you Need

Step 1. Carve a Niche for yourself

Finding and embracing your specialization is one of the secrets to establishing a prosperous trucking business.

With a vehicle (or fleet of trucks), you may move several types of cargo.

However, it will be simpler for you to consistently draw in those particular clients if you focus on one type of product and excel at it.

When starting your own trucking business, specializing will make it much simpler for you to differentiate yourself from those generalized trucking companies (especially in the long run).

Just consider it. If you had lung cancer, would you visit your family doctor or an oncologist who specializes in the disease? 

Because they provide the best opportunity to address your particular issue, you would visit a lung cancer specialist.

The same is true for companies that have products to move.

Customers want to know that their goods will arrive in good, resalable condition. 

They will have more faith in your capacity to do a good job since they will know that you are an expert at transporting the type of goods they need to be moved.

A transportation business can be launched at this time if you want to start trucking. 

Although there is a high demand, there are not enough drivers and owner-operators to fill it.

Here are some common niches in the trucking industry:

  • Dry van driver
  • Freight hauler
  • Refrigerated freight drivers
  • Flatbed drivers
  • Tanker drivers
  • LTL (less-than-truckload) drivers
  • Local, regional, or OTR (over-the-road) drivers

Specialized trucking firms will come across as the most qualified to assist and the most appealing to clients and potential clients with those needs.

You might discover that your niche is evident. 

It can be, for instance, the area in which you are most knowledgeable. Or perhaps there is a need in the transport industry in your community that needs to be filled.

Avoid the error of trying to fit every client, regardless of the specialty you select.

The best results will come from direct marketing to the companies that require your knowledge.

Regardless of your level of experience, the trucking company model you choose may require you to undergo extra training to provide the finest service. 

So, even if you’re an expert, seize the chance to broaden your skill set.

Step 2. Establish your Services

Consider the kinds of services you want to provide after you’ve chosen your expertise. 

Services will have an impact on many parts of your trucking business, such as the equipment you need to buy, the amount of insurance you’ll require, and many others.

Select a Trucking Business Model

Five different trucking business models are described by the professionals at CDL Life, the largest online community for American truck drivers:

a. Truckload Carriers working for Hire

Truckload carriers working for hire move the cargo of other businesses.  

There’s a strong probability that this is the business plan you had in mind when you were thinking about starting a trucking company. 

Before making a decision, think it through thoroughly (as well as your alternative options).

Numerous factors need to be chosen, even within this very simple company plan.

Which types of goods will you transport? Will you require specialized machinery to haul it? 

Will you work on a local, regional, or national level? 

Are your drivers independent contractors or regular employees?

b. Private Fleets

Trucks, trailers, drivers, and the goods being transported are all provided by private fleets. 

They serve as a one-stop shop for the shipment of goods as well as their transportation.

This model wasn’t what you had in mind if you wanted to start a trucking business.

However, you might want to think about creating a private fleet if you intend to provide an intriguing, in-demand product with a recognized audience that will reliably wait for it.

c. Household Movers

As their name suggests, household moving firms assist customers in their moves.

The majority of the time, this company model combines transportation with physical labor (loading and unloading the truck) and, maybe, even customer assistance with packing.

The decision to provide transportation, loading/unloading, and packing services must be made. 

In addition, you’ll need to decide if you’ll operate a local, regional, national, or international moving business and arrange your infrastructure, licensing, and licenses accordingly.

d. Intermodal Trucking

Shipping containers are transported to and from the train yard or shipping port by intermodal trucking companies. 

This helps to send items around the world while keeping these businesses localized in one area.

If you live close to a large rail hub or a cargo port, this trucking company model can be an excellent fit for you. 

Consider an alternative, though, if there aren’t many trains in your area and you’re landlocked.

Writing a business plan is the next step once you are familiar with your trucking business strategy.

Step 3. Prepare a Plan for Your Business

It isn’t necessary to create a business plan. But it can aid in your deliberation and prevent a lot of errors.

According to studies, business owners who take the time to create a business plan before launching a venture are 2.5 times more likely to follow through and make their venture a success.

New owner-operators can develop skills that are essential to their success by putting the time and effort into establishing a business plan. 

These abilities include evaluating their competitors and their financial situation.

However, resist the need to become fixated on perfecting every last aspect of your company strategy. 

Even writing a standard 100-page business plan is not necessary. 

Therefore, make a one-page business plan instead after doing your study.

Step 4. Employ a Knowledgeable Business Lawyer

Starting-a-Trucking-Company

The right business attorney can safeguard your company when necessary and help you avoid costly legal blunders. 

Here are the things you should know before hiring a lawyer for your new trucking business.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulate the trucking sector. 

These governmental bodies take compliance with their laws and regulations very seriously, and trucking companies are expected to do the same.

For this reason, your company will benefit from hiring a lawyer who specializes in transportation safety compliance.

As you start your trucking business, they can give you advice on best practices. 

They’ll also be aware of the legal nuances if you ever run into issues with the DOT or FMCSA.

A competent attorney can assist you in choosing the best organizational structure for your company and dividing ownership stakes with partners or investors in a way that will safeguard all parties and provide you flexibility going forward.

Starting-a-Trucking-Company

You must choose the sort of entity that you must register before beginning your trucking business. 

Your legal business structure has an impact on every aspect of your operations, including how you file your taxes, your liability, and whether you must meet any unique additional criteria at the local, state, or federal levels.

Choosing the proper corporate organization for your operation can be confusing for novice trucking owner-operators. 

Therefore, hold off on deciding to register your company right now.

A sole proprietorship or partnership, for instance, could be quick and affordable in the short term, but it might expose you to additional risk, result in a poor tax outcome, and cause you issues in the long run.

Many trucking businesses may find that a limited liability company (LLC) makes more sense, while larger trucking businesses may find that a corporation makes sense, particularly if they have investors.

Reading up on each potential category that your company might fall under will take some time. 

After that, decide which business structure will benefit your company the best and how each will help you achieve your personal and professional objectives.

You must choose a process agent who can receive service of process for court and other legal documents.

Every state where you maintain an officer, run your business, or create customer contracts requires that you have a process agent.

Step 6. Establish business bookkeeping and accounting systems

Starting-a-Trucking-Company

You must establish an accounting and bookkeeping system before you can manage your finances when starting a trucking company. 

For you to comprehend the cash flow of your company, this is crucial. 

Additionally, filing taxes will require it. For your new trucking business, you should be aware of the following accounting and bookkeeping requirements.

Indeed, there are similarities between accounting and bookkeeping. 

The primary distinction between the two is that whereas accounting uses information through analysis, strategy, and tax planning, bookkeeping merely records and organizes financial information.

Typically, bookkeepers keep track of and organize your daily business transactions, balance your bank account, create straightforward reports, and help you maintain orderly financial records.

Having an accountant is still crucial even though a bookkeeper may manage the majority of your daily accounting and record-keeping needs.

Before launching your trucking business officially, consult with an accountant about tax planning. It’s critical to understand how to prepare for taxes right away.

Additionally, an accountant may assist you in doing a financial analysis to determine whether you require additional funding to launch your trucking company.

Step 7. Assess your Finances

Starting-a-Trucking-Company

It’s critical to have a clear understanding of your financial commitment when starting a trucking business.

The expenses of buying or leasing trucks and trailers, paying drivers’ salaries, and maintaining trucking insurance obligations all add up.

You must be able to judge when you have enough. So you could require assistance with your funding for your firm. 

Fortunately, small firms have a wide range of financing options.

If you don’t understand the figures, it will be tough for you to develop a successful firm. 

Your cash flow will have an impact on most of your strategic choices.

Step 8. Create a Unique Brand Identity

Starting-a-Trucking-Company

A level of professionalism that branding offers that small-business trucking enterprises sometimes find difficult to achieve. 

Therefore, don’t imagine that you can afford to let your brand identity be up in the air.

It is impossible to overstate the value of your brand. 

Businesses entrust trucking companies with thousands of dollars worth of goods, sometimes even millions. 

Their trust will be damaged by a shoddy brand identification, and they won’t be eager to hire you.

Step 9. Establish a Presence Online

Starting-a-Trucking-Company

One of the most vital sales tools for your trucking company is your website. It’s critical to build a polished website that represents your brand.

Even when you’re traveling, a website is always working to promote your company online. 

Utilize this essential tool for business purposes in your transportation operation.

The first step is to confirm that the design of your website accurately represents your trucking brand. 

When guests arrive, they should be aware of your identity and the goals of your business.

Your website should convey significant brand differentiators (factors that distinguish your trucking firm apart from your rivals).

The aesthetic appeal and marketing material on your website should preserve the character and individuality of your company. 

Here are a few recommendations:

  • Utilize the colors of your brand.
  • Display the logo of your business prominently.
  • Your target audience (best customer) should be kept in mind when writing marketing material.
  • Highlight your unique qualities that make your transportation company the ideal option.

Your company website is a fantastic platform for showcasing your success stories in addition to assisting people in familiarizing themselves with your trucking brand and raising the possibility that they will hire you (now or in the future). 

More importantly, think about including client endorsements from previous happy customers.

Step 10. Get the Assistance you need

Starting-a-Trucking-Company

Every entrepreneur has once felt that they are fighting this battle alone. 

There’s a strong chance you’ll be when your trucking company first begins. 

You will need assistance, however, if you want your company to expand and scale. You can’t work every hour of the day as there are only 24 of them.

If all goes according to plan, you’ll eventually recruit workers to relieve you of some of your workload and free you up to manage your company and/or operate your truck.

But paying employees is necessary. 

Hence, the first thing to remember is to only fill jobs that would help your company the most right away.

Your initial recruits in a trucking company will presumably be more drivers.

Then, take into account which areas of the company present the biggest difficulties. 

Moreover, remember your restrictions. 

Consider hiring a worker who has experience in the areas where your company currently falls short.

A part-time assistant can be the ideal initial employment for you. 

Try to find a person who can do it all, is eager to pick up new abilities, and has a good work ethic. 

Knowing you have a trustworthy companion alongside you in the battle can help you sleep better.

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What Does It Cost to Launch a Trucking Business?

Undoubtedly, trucking may be profitable. A commercial truck costs about $80,000, so starting a trucking business will undoubtedly demand some financial resources. 

Of course, more costs must be incurred to keep your fleet performing at its best. 

You should include the following expenses in your business budget in addition to buying your truck:

  • Registration and paperwork
  • Business licenses and permits
  • Vehicle upkeep costs
  • Software for billing and accounting

Note that these costs may accumulate. The Small Business Administration estimates that trucking and transportation companies borrowed an average of $106,000. 

Therefore, you won’t get very far if you try to learn how to launch a trucking business without any funding. 

To make your business strategy a reality, you’ll probably need to look for more money.

The Bottom Line

It may sound difficult to learn how to launch a trucking business. 

The procedures for beginning a small business of any kind are rather similar. 

The fundamentals of launching a trucking business are the same, even though your equipment prices may be a little greater and hiring may be a little more difficult. 

You can start your own trucking company if you have the appropriate business plan, license, and funding in place.

We hope this write-up has equipped you with everything you need to consider starting your trucking Business this 2023. Good luck!

References 

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