If you’ve been working as a truck driver for a while and have decided that you want to be your own boss, you might be interested in starting a trucking company.

Keep reading to find out more about the benefits of this and what it takes to get started.

Steps for Starting a Trucking Company

The exact steps for starting your trucking company will depend on the state that you live in, so be sure to check your state’s laws, but these are the general steps you’ll need to take to start your trucking company:

  1. Create a business plan. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to run a successful business without a business plan. This document outlines:

    • How your business will be structured

    • What makes your particular company unique

    • What products and services it’s going to offer

    • How it’s going to make money

    • How it will find and market to clients

    • What its budget will be

    This business plan will help you stay on track with your business as you make decisions, and taking the time to think through all of these aspects of running a business will give you a clearer picture of where you’re going before you jump in.

  2. Register your business. Come up with a name for your trucking company and then register it with your state.

    You can file as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a limited liability corporation (LLC). While all three are acceptable, filing as an LLC will allow you to hire employees and will remove some of the financial liabilities from your shoulders.

    No matter which one you choose, however, you’ll also need your employer identification number (EIN), which you get from the IRS.

  3. Get insurance. You can’t move forward with getting your MC number from the FMCSA without public liability insurance. And even if you could, it’s wise to have it anyway. This will not only protect your drivers and customers if something were to happen, but it will also protect you and your company.

    This likely isn’t the only type of insurance you’ll need, though. You can look up additional insurance requirements on OSHA’s website, but talking to an attorney is also always a good idea to make sure that your business is fully compliant.

  4. Obtain your trucking authority and other licenses and permits. To run a trucking company, you’ll need a trucking authority from the FMCSA.

    When you complete this, you’ll get a USDOT number and an MC number. Depending on the state, you may be required to complete tasks such as paying your heavy vehicle usage tax or obtaining other licenses in order to get your authority approved.

    The type of trucking business you’re running and the state where you’re operating may have different requirements, so make sure you look up the ones that apply to you, talking to an attorney if need be.

  5. Raise any necessary startup funding. While starting a trucking company doesn’t cost much, especially compared to other types of startups, it does still require some cash.

    Chances are you don’t have enough money lying around to pay for the initial costs of running your business (e.g., a truck, maintenance, office equipment, advertising, etc.), so a small business loan might be helpful.

  6. Find a truck. You usually have two options here for finding a truck: buying one or leasing one. If you choose to buy a truck, your company would then own it and be able to hire a driver for it. This option does give you more control as far as what type of truck you buy and who is driving it, but it is expensive.

    Your other option is to lease a truck by hiring an owner-operator and their truck. This would give you both truck and driver and cost less up-front, so many trucking companies choose this route.

This isn’t a comprehensive list of steps to starting your own trucking company, but it does provide a general overview of what it takes to become a business owner in this industry.

Looking for a truck driver job? These position are hiring now near you:

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Benefits of Starting a Trucking Company

Owning your own trucking company brings more responsibility than working as a truck driver does, but it also brings more benefits:

  1. You can make more money. There is always some risk involved in starting your own business, and starting a trucking company is no different. But in general, there is no shortage of freight available to haul, which can translate into income for you.

    When you own your own business, yes, you need to pay your expenses and put enough money into it to keep it running and expanding. But beyond that and taxes, the money comes directly to you. This means that you can make far more as a trucking business owner than you did as a driver for a carrier.

  2. You have more independence. You generally won’t have less work when you own your own trucking company, but you will have more independence.

    You get to be your own boss, which means that you get a significant amount of flexibility and freedom for where and when you work. You’ll need to make sure you get everything done on time to keep your business afloat, but beyond that, there is no boss’s rules or hourly requirement to adhere to.

  3. It’s a relatively inexpensive business to start. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t even need to own a truck to start a trucking company. All you need are the proper permits, insurance policies, and authorities, which cost around $1,200 in total.

    Then, you can hire an owner-operator to drive for your company (this is called leasing), removing the need to purchase a truck entirely.

How to Start a Trucking Company FAQ

  1. Is owning a trucking company profitable?

    Yes, owning a trucking company is profitable. As long as your company is fully legally compliant and is run well, the trucking industry is generally very profitable.

    Companies always need their goods shipped via truck, which means there is no shortage of business for you, and it doesn’t cost much to start a trucking company, which means you can generally become profitable very quickly.

    Of course, it may take a little while to get everything up and running, and you may be in the hole while you do so, but in general, owning a trucking company is highly profitable.

  2. How much hard money do you need to start a trucking company?

    You need about $6,000 to $20,000 to start a trucking company. This doesn’t include the cost of buying a truck, so you’ll need more if you need to do this too.

    This $6,000-$20,000 range is wide because so much varies based on how many trucks you have, what state you’re operating in, and how many, if any, employees you have.

    What is certain is that you’ll need to register your company and obtain all of the necessary permits and licensing. Again, these costs will depend on your business’s structure and your state, but you’ll generally pay about $900 to $1,500 for this.

    In addition, you’ll need to pay for:

    • Insurance

    • Truck maintenance

    • Annual permits

    • Taxes

    • Gas

    • Office equipment

    All that doesn’t even include marketing costs or employees, whether that’s a full-time driver, a contracted owner-operator, or even an accountant or attorney.

    It’s always a good idea to assume that it will cost more than you think to start a trucking company, but make sure you talk to someone experienced in the industry or even an attorney to try to get a more accurate idea of how much money you’ll need.

  3. How much money can you make with a trucking company?

    You can make between $500 and $2,000 a week with a trucking company. This is how much you’d take home as the company owner, and it varies greatly depending on a number of factors.

    These include whether you are an owner-operator or are running the company that employs owner-operators, how big your operation is, and where you’re operating. It also depends on your expenses, many of which – like fuel – are highly variable.

    With any business you own, you’ll need to be ready for your paycheck to fluctuate regularly based on how much business you have, what your expenses are, and how much you’re able to work. However, even though the pay isn’t always consistent as a trucking company owner, it can be generous.

By - Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job.

His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.