Want to learn how to start a trucking business? We’ve got you covered.

With trucks moving over 70% of all goods transported in the U.S., the American trucking industry is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. It offers nearly 6% of the total number of full-time jobs in the U.S.

In 2019 alone, trucking businesses generated $791.7 billion in revenue, which shows that it can be a profitable business idea for you.

But, how exactly can you start a trucking business?

To help you get started, we’ve listed the step-by-step process to set up and run a trucking company in this post. Read on to find out what you need to do.

Step 1: Create a Business Plan to Start Your Trucking Business Successfully

First things first, you need to draft a business plan. Regardless of what type of business you’re starting, it’s important to create an organized business plan right at the onset.

A well-documented business plan can help you turn your vision into reality. You should plan everything from start to finish so that it can act as your roadmap to success.

It should include details such as:

  • Your business goals
  • Name of your trucking company
  • Challenges and potential pitfalls
  • Financial details such as investment sources and budget allocation
  • Value proposition
  • Type of business entity you want to form
  • Services you will offer
  • Routes you will cover
  • The rate at which you will charge customers
  • The number of trucks you will start with and how to buy them
  • Management process
  • Business insurance policy

You will need to revisit this plan and redefine it as your trucking business evolves over time.

Step 2: Legally Establish Your Trucking Company

You need to form a Corporation or a Limited Liability Company (LLC) to legally operate your trucking business in the United States.

Registering your business with the Secretary of the State is crucial for authorization to conduct business within the state. It also helps you protect your personal assets from business debts and liabilities.

Are you wondering which entity type you should choose for your trucking business?

If you want to start your trucking business with minimal compliance and less paperwork, you should form a limited liability company. Establishing an LLC is the easiest way to start a small business in the U.S. as it offers great flexibility.

However, if you are comfortable doing more paperwork and want to attract investors, you should choose to form a corporation. Establishing a corporation allows you to sell stocks to others, which makes it easier for you to attract capital investment from outsiders.

Unable to choose the right entity type for your trucking business?

You should take our entity survey to make an informed decision about the right business structure for your trucking company.

Once you decide which business entity to form, you will have to begin with state filing procedures and pay the state administrative fees.

For this, you also need to appoint a Registered Agent who will send and receive legal papers on your behalf from the Secretary of State’s office. You will also have to obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for taxation purposes.

Applying for Corporation/LLC formation and EIN can be time consuming and frustrating. But the good part is: GovDocFiling’s business formation packages offer a simplified and hassle-free option to do all of this paperwork. Learn more about our pricing and package inclusions.

Step 3: Acquire the Necessary Licences and Permits to Run a Trucking Company

To ensure smooth operations, you should secure all the required licenses and permits to legally start a trucking business within the state.

Though it varies depending on the state you want to establish your trucking company in, here are some of the common business licenses and permits you may need:

  • A commercial driver’s license (CDL): The Federal law requires drivers of commercial motor vehicles to obtain a CDL. You should contact your state’s licensing agency for more details.
  • A USDOT Number: This unique number allows the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to identify your trucking company. It is your company’s identification number for all inspections, audits, and investigations.
  • A Motor Carrier Operating Authority (MC number): Depending on your business operation, you may need to obtain one or more MC numbers for your trucking company.
  • International Registration Plan (IRP) credentials: Trucking companies operating across states need to obtain IRP credentials for their vehicles.
  • International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) decal: You also need to obtain IFTA decals for your business vehicles to operate across states.

Step 4: Plan How and When to Purchase Vehicles

Many trucking companies start out with one single truck and gradually grow to become a successful business. But when you’re starting a small business with just one truck, it is important to plan your long-term vehicle purchase strategy.

Planning ahead can help you make informed decisions. It can help you:

  • Choose the best vehicles to purchase based on their efficiency, load capacity, and fuel costs.
  • Decide on a budget for vehicle purchases, maintenance costs, fuel charges, and other operational costs of your trucking company.
  • Consider leasing vehicles to grow your business with minimal investment.
  • Choose insurance plans for your vehicles such as physical damage insurance and passenger accident insurance.
  • Build a large fleet of trucks and grow your business successfully.

To help small business owners start and get their businesses running the right way, we offer a FREE Business Start Up Guide with our packages. It has additional tips on how to start, run, and grow your business the right way.

Step 5: Build a Steady Customer Base

For any business to be successful, it is important to build a loyal customer base. You should look for ways to find, attract, and acquire more customers for your trucking company.

You can start by joining a load board, which is an online marketplace where shippers and freight brokers post loads. Some of these load boards ask for a subscription fee but many of them allow you to join for free.

It can be a good start to your trucking business and can help you secure a steady customer base.

You can also build a simple trucking business website to help potential clients find you.

Many small businesses use platforms such as WordPress to create beautiful and fully-functional websites to get their company online. You can choose any of the pre-designed templates and customize it with your company’s logo, services details, and contact information.

Another medium to attract potential customers is social media. You should create official business accounts on the top social media channels such as Facebook, Google My Business, Yelp, BBB, and list your trucking company in business and local directories.

Ready to Start a Trucking Company?

Starting a business from scratch takes time. You should follow all of these steps diligently to start your trucking business the right way.

If you want to form a limited liability company, you can start your LLC application online with our packages in no time. Our LLC formation packages also include EIN/Tax ID filing with the IRS and other essential legal documents: An Operating Agreement, Employer Contract, an NDA and more.

Do you have other questions on how to start a trucking business? Feel free to ask them in the comments below.