How to Start a Small Trucking Business

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Studio AeroCab Kenworth W900L
Studio AeroCab Kenworth W900L (Image: Cubbie_n_Vegas, Flickr.com Creative Commons License)

Starting a small trucking business is the dream of many drivers who are behind the wheel of a big rig. This dream is obtainable for most, and even though it will require a lot of hard work, it is not as difficult as most people assume it is. If you have ever thought it would be great if you could start a small trucking business of your own, keep reading to find out exactly how to do it.

Things You'll Need

  • Business License
  • Trucking Equipment
  • Truck Permits and Licenses
  • Insurance
  • Commercial Drivers License

The first step for anyone wanting to start a small trucking business is to simply register the business. If you live in a small town, this will likely be done at the local Court House. You can get appropriate information from the County Clerk’s office as to how to go about getting your business registered. If you reside in a larger metropolitan area, your city will most likely have special divisions set up to facilitate the process. In this case, a quick call to the local Chamber of Commerce will point you in the right direction. Getting the business registered is usually as simple as filling out a form and paying the filing fee, although the process may very slightly from State to State.

Decide what kind of freight your trucking business will handle. Some freight may require specialized refrigerated trailers, while other freight may require the use of flatbed trailers. Most types of freight can be shipped using a standard truck trailer, but if your freight does require a special trailer, it is important to identify this before you acquire any equipment.

Think about whether you would like to hire your own drivers, or subcontract the routes out. If you subcontract the work to other Owner/Operators, then you will spare yourself the upfront expense of buying trucks and trailers. However, if you go this route, remember that the driver you use will be a reflection of your company, so make sure they have a reliable truck that will not break down and cause your trucking business to look bad.

Taking into account the decisions that you made during Steps 2 and 3, you may need to purchase or lease trucking equipment for your business. Most small trucking businesses only require one or two trucks and trailers, rather than a large fleet. The advantage to having a small fleet is that it is easier for you to afford to have an extra trailer that is equipped for special jobs.

Make certain that your trucks, or in the case of sub-contracting, the driver’s trucks, are all properly licensed, insured and carry appropriate permits. The licenses and permits you will be required to have for your trucks are USDOT Numbers, MC Numbers, IFTA Decals, IRP Tags, 2290s and Fuel Tax Reporting. You will also need to make sure that all drivers have a valid Commercial Drivers License (CDL).

Build relationships within the supply chain. Keeping your trucks loaded and on the road is the key to the success of your small trucking business. Although obtaining the contracts to deliver goods may sound like the most difficult part of the business, it doesn’t have to be. There are companies all over the country that specialize in hiring small trucking companies to deliver freight. Scroll down to the Resources section for links that will get you started in the right direction for building relationships with these freight brokers.

Tips & Warnings

  • When taking on jobs, remember to look beyond the price that you will be paid for the load, and also consider the costs involved, such as driver salary, fuel and truck maintenance.

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