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How to start an independent trucking business

Updated July 14, 2017

The transportation industry is full of stable, lucrative opportunities, particularly in the field of truck driving. Well-qualified, professional truck drivers are needed to operate garbage/dump trucks, ship hazardous materials and transport packages and freight from one destination to another. Starting an independent trucking business on your own requires a considerable investment upfront, but you could turn an impressive profit in the long run if you stick with it. Do your research, plan and tap into the right resources to determine your best options with regard to set-up, financing, equipping and managing your independent trucking business.

Take ample time to carefully think about and plan out your short and long-term objectives for your new trucking business. Among the many decisions you must make, consider: a) the type, size and location of your truck driving business, b) whether you will run it alone or with one or more partners, c) whether or not to incorporate, d) how involved you will be in the daily operation, e) how many employees, including supervisors and qualified drivers, you must hire and how much training will be required, and f) whether you will purchase or lease the property (lot and building), trucks, trailers and other equipment needed for the business to function. It would be wise to consult a lawyer at this time.

Contact and establish long-term relationships with truck driving schools, freight brokers, truck driving companies, trucking insurance companies and the local Department of Transportation (DOT). Get helpful information and tips from these organisations on a continuous basis. Join a trucking union/association for ongoing support.

Secure financing (grants and loans) from government and private sources, unless you are fortunate enough to have the money already. Create a detailed, well-organised business plan with clear, realistic goals and projections that will assure potential sponsors that your trucking business is a worthwhile investment. Find out if you qualify for a low-interest business loan with the Small Business Administration (SBA) that will cover all or at least some of your start-up costs.

Decide on and register your business name with the state. Pass the required inspections and meet all zoning requirements. Acquire permits, business licenses, decals, identification numbers and vehicle registrations once you've purchased or leased your trucks and equipment. Get the right amount of insurance for your real property (building, vehicles) and lot, as well as liability insurance and/or a bond to protect you against insurance claims and lawsuits.

Surround yourself with the right people--starting with an experienced accountant and lawyer. Hire committed, skilled professionals for both on-the-road and off-road positions. Make sure that drivers are well-informed about what is expected in terms of meeting strict deadlines, practicing safe driving techniques and keeping their vehicles in tip-top condition. Ensure that they are certified/licensed and thoroughly trained at or above industry standards. Enlist the help of headhunters or recruiters in the transportation/trucking field to help you find and properly screen/investigate the best candidates for positions within your company.

Market your new trucking business by passing out flyers, business cards, brochures and running ads in a local newspaper or phone book, provided you have money to do so. Establish a professional network with fellow businesses by joining the local Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau.

Tip

Consider hiring independent truck drivers on a contract basis instead of hiring full-time drivers. They already have trucks and pay for their own benefits, including health care and life insurance.

Things You'll Need

  • Written business plan
  • Money
  • Permits
  • International Fuel Tax Act (IFTA) decal
  • USDOT number
  • MC number
  • International Registration Plan (IRP) tags
  • Business licenses
  • Bond and/or liability insurance
  • IRS Form 2290/ Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax Return
  • Location
  • Staff/contract drivers
  • Over-sized trucks (semis, pickups)
  • Tractor trailers
  • Gasoline/fuel
  • Other operating equipment and business forms, as required
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About the Author

Robertine Cobb became a contributing writer for Demand Studios in April 2008. Her articles have been published on eHow, DailyPuppy.com, DIYChatroom.com and other well-known self-help sites. She successfully completed the challenging, two-year legal assistant/paralegal course, offered through Blackstone Career Institute, in just one year. Cobb is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of North Texas.