A Comprehensive Guide: How to Start a Trucking Company

How to Start a Trucking Company

If you’re a truck driver wanting to strike out on your own, you may wonder how to start a trucking company. Starting a business can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin, but it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable challenge. This guide will help you learn all about starting your trucking business and get it off on the right foot from the start.

Why Start a Trucking Company?

There are many reasons why you might want to start a trucking business. The industry is profitable, even in challenging times like the recent pandemic. It allows for a level of freedom and flexibility that is hard to find in many industries. And compared to many industries, trucking can be a simple business to begin. 

How much do trucking company owners make?

Wages for trucking owner-operators are variable depending on the part of the country where you start your business. According to ZipRecruiter, the national average is almost $250k annually, with some states offering as much as $30k more. But of course, expenses have to be taken into account.

As for gross profit, financing company Coastal Kapital notes that “On average, a full-time owner-operator trucking business’s industry-standard turnover figure will be around $100,000 and $140,000.” Generally speaking, long-haul trucking pays better than local businesses.

How to Start a Trucking Business

Starting a trucking business can be a lucrative venture, but it requires careful planning and execution. You must know how to secure the right vehicles and licenses, build a strong client base, comply with regulations, and file taxes properly. But even if you’ve never run a business of any sort before, with the right advice, you can get your trucking company going strong, starting from just a single truck.

Requirements to start a trucking company

Once you’ve decided you want to start a trucking business, there are a few things you’ll need to research before you get going. Carefully look into the opportunities available in your area and create a business plan. This should detail how your company will operate and what it will do. There are plenty of free example business plans available online, so read through several before you begin writing your own. 

How to start a trucking business with one truck

Once you’ve created your business plan, you’ll need to register a business name and obtain an EIN (employer identification number). You’ll also need a permit from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to carry goods across state lines (if that’s your intention). If you plan to operate within ports and airports, you’ll want to secure a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card as well. Once all of these credentials are yours, it’s time to get started.

Unless you already own a truck, you’ll need funding to purchase one. Look into Small Business Authority (SBA) loans or freight factoring as a funding source. Alternatively, you may choose to lease a truck. Some truck leasing companies even offer lease-to-own plans that allow you to purchase the vehicle at the end of the lease. This will give you more time to come up with the funding to purchase your truck if that’s what you want to do.

Finally, you can decide how you want to market and build your business. Will you go through freight brokers, load boards, partnerships with other carriers, or business networking? Perhaps you want to utilize a combination of several methods. To ensure you retain customers and build business relationships, focus on offering good customer service and keeping your costs low to offer competitive pricing. Trucking management software like TruckLogics can help you ensure your business runs smoothly from day one.

The Real Cost of Starting a Trucking Business

Outside of purchasing a truck (which is not required as leasing opportunities are plentiful), starting a trucking business is relatively inexpensive compared to many other businesses. Trucker Daily estimates that you can start your business with as little as $6,000-$15,000. This includes the costs of licensing and other paperwork that you will need to get started. 

Potential Challenges and How to Overcome Them

So far, starting a trucking business sounds pretty simple. But there are some things to know about trucking before you get started.

First, there are many compliance requirements that you will need to meet in order to avoid fines and other penalties. Whether you’re operating under your own authority or someone else’s, you’ll need to stay on top of these requirements. There’s a thorough compliance checklist available from Schneider Owner-Operators. 

Next, you want to stay on top of your finances and plan for tax time. Fortunately, there are a lot of trucking expenses that qualify for tax deductions, but you must keep receipts from day one in order to claim them. You’ll also need to keep fuel and mileage records for IFTA filing, and you’ll need to file the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax once a year.


How profitable is starting a trucking company?

Trucking is a very profitable industry with plenty of opportunities for newcomers. According to Boss Magazine, trucking companies can make an average profit margin between 2.5% and 6%.

Is it hard to start a trucking company?

While starting a trucking company may be time-consuming, it’s not actually very difficult. As long as you take the time to ensure you’re complying with all federal, state, and local transportation regulations, the rest should be fairly straightforward.

How do I start a trucking company and get loads?

There are several options for sourcing loads for your new trucking company. You may use load boards, freight brokers, partnerships and other business relationships, or even traditional marketing methods. 

How do I start a trucking business with little money?

The biggest expense when starting a trucking business is purchasing a truck. If you don’t have funding to do so, you can still start your business by leasing your truck or even entering a lease-to-own agreement.


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