Essential tips for getting your trucking business up and running

19 April 2024

You have to work on the business first before it works for you.
Idowu Koyenikan

If you’re about to start your own trucking business from scratch, connecting the dots in your head is a matter of first importance. This article is aimed at helping you out. We’re going to list 10 main things to consider at the very beginning of your trucking path.

But before coming to the point, we’ll slightly remind you that establishing a trucking business requires diligence and a lot of paperwork. Do not hurry and take as much time as you need. Better do it thoroughly, pay attention to the FMCSA requirements, study the laws and complete some market analysis.  

If you think you are ready, here are the top 10 things you should be on the lookout for.

Have a business plan

Having a business plan is crucial in the trucking industry. It provides a roadmap for your business, helping you stay focused on your goals and navigate challenges effectively. Here are some practical tips and statistics to consider when creating your business plan:

Market Research: Conduct thorough market research to understand the competitive landscape, industry trends, and customer needs. According to industry statistics, companies that conduct market research are 30% more likely to grow than those that don’t.

Financial Planning: Outline your budget, expenses, and revenue projections. Consider factors like fuel costs, maintenance expenses, insurance, and taxes. According to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), fuel costs typically account for about 30% of total operating expenses for trucking companies.

Risk Assessment: Identify potential risks and develop contingency plans. For instance, consider the impact of regulatory changes, economic downturns, or unexpected maintenance costs. A study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that 20% of truck accidents are due to vehicle-related issues.

Technology Integration: Explore technology solutions like GPS tracking, route optimization software, and electronic logging devices (ELDs) to enhance efficiency and compliance. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), ELD adoption has led to a 12% reduction in crash rates among carriers.

Safety Protocols: Prioritize safety measures for drivers and vehicles. Ensure compliance with hours-of-service regulations, conduct regular maintenance checks, and provide ongoing training. Research shows that implementing safety measures can reduce accident rates by up to 40%.

Networking and Partnerships: Build relationships with shippers, brokers, and industry associations. Collaborate with reliable partners to access freight opportunities and expand your business network. Industry surveys indicate that 70% of carriers find new business opportunities through networking.

By incorporating these elements into your business plan, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the complexities of the trucking industry and achieve sustainable growth. Remember to review and update your plan regularly to adapt to changing market conditions and optimize performance.

Decide on the type of freight you want to haul  

Deciding on the type of freight you want to haul is a critical step that shapes your entire business approach in the trucking industry. Here’s an expanded look at considerations and popular freight types in the US:

Type of Freight and Business Strategy: Your choice of freight determines your business strategy. For example, hauling perishable goods like food or pharmaceuticals (reefers) requires strict temperature control and adherence to regulations. On the other hand, flatbeds are ideal for transporting heavy equipment or construction materials, requiring specialized loading and securing techniques. Understanding the nuances of each freight type helps you tailor your services and marketing efforts effectively.

Geographical Considerations: Different regions may have varying demands for specific types of freight. For instance, coastal areas might have more demand for tanker trucks to transport liquid cargo such as petroleum products or chemicals. Inland regions may require more dry vans for general freight transportation. Analyzing regional demands helps you target lucrative markets and optimize your route planning.

Equipment and Driver Requirements: Each type of freight may require specific truck accessories or modifications. For example, reefers need refrigeration units, while flatbeds require tie-down straps, tarps, and securement tools. Ensure you have the necessary equipment and train your drivers accordingly. Hiring qualified drivers with experience in handling your chosen freight type is crucial for smooth operations and customer satisfaction.

Market Trends and Demand: Stay informed about industry trends and demand patterns. For example, with the rise of e-commerce, there’s a growing demand for dry van and refrigerated transportation to deliver goods ordered online. Monitoring market trends helps you identify growth opportunities and adapt your services to meet evolving customer needs.

Regulatory Compliance: Different freight types may have specific regulatory requirements. For instance, hazmat transportation (tankers) requires adherence to hazardous materials regulations, while oversized loads (flatbeds) require permits and compliance with transportation laws. Stay updated with regulatory changes and ensure full compliance to avoid penalties and maintain a positive reputation in the industry.

By carefully evaluating these factors and aligning your business strategy with your chosen freight type, you can position your trucking company for success and sustainable growth in the competitive market.

To drive or to hire a driver?

When deciding between driving yourself or hiring a driver for your trucking business, several factors come into play. Here’s an expanded look at these considerations:

CDL Acquisition Process: Obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is a crucial step if you plan to drive yourself. The process typically involves attending a certified driving school, passing written and practical exams, and obtaining a medical certification. On average, this process takes about 6 months, but the timeline can vary based on individual circumstances and the state’s requirements. Consider your availability, commitment to training, and willingness to undergo the CDL acquisition process before making a decision.

Insurance Rates: Insurance is a significant cost factor in the trucking industry, especially for newcomers. Insurance rates for new drivers or owner-operators without a substantial driving history or track record in the industry can be quite high. Insurers often consider factors such as age, driving experience, type of freight hauled, and safety record when determining insurance premiums. It’s essential to obtain insurance quotes and factor these costs into your financial projections.

Financial Considerations: While it may seem cost-effective to drive the truck yourself initially, hiring a reliable and experienced driver can sometimes be a better financial decision, especially in the long run. Consider the following financial aspects:

Operating Costs: Calculate the total costs associated with driving yourself, including fuel, maintenance, repairs, permits, and taxes. Compare these costs with the expenses of hiring a driver, including salary, benefits, and insurance premiums.

Revenue Generation: Evaluate the potential revenue generation capacity when driving yourself versus hiring a driver. Consider your availability, driving hours, and the number of loads you can handle effectively.

Risk Management: Hiring an experienced driver reduces the risk of accidents, violations, and costly insurance claims. Experienced drivers are often more familiar with safety protocols, regulations, and efficient driving practices, which can contribute to lower insurance premiums and overall operational costs.

Ultimately, the decision to drive or hire a driver depends on your specific circumstances, financial capabilities, risk tolerance, and long-term business goals. Conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, consider industry trends, seek advice from industry experts or mentors, and make an informed choice that aligns with your trucking business objectives.

Define your growth plans 

Defining your growth plans is essential for the success and sustainability of your trucking business. Here’s an expanded look at this crucial step:

Size and Scope of Operations: Start by determining the scale at which you envision your business operating. Do you aim to remain a small business with a limited fleet, or do you aspire to grow into a larger operation with multiple trucks and drivers? Understanding the size and scope of your operations helps you outline your growth trajectory and allocate resources accordingly.

Short-Term and Long-Term Goals: Clearly define your short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals may include increasing your client base, expanding your service area, or upgrading your equipment. Long-term goals could involve achieving a specific market share, diversifying your services, or entering new markets. Having clear goals provides direction and motivates strategic decision-making.

Resource Planning: Once you’ve identified your growth plans and goals, assess the resources required to achieve them. This includes financial resources for purchasing or leasing additional trucks, hiring more drivers, investing in technology and software, and marketing efforts to attract new clients. Consider the operational infrastructure needed to support growth, such as dispatch systems, tracking and monitoring tools, and administrative support.

By defining your growth plans, setting clear goals, allocating resources effectively, optimizing operations, and embracing a culture of continuous improvement, you can position your trucking business for sustainable growth, profitability, and longevity in the industry.

Attention to operations: 

The trucking business is all about constantly handling operations in a way that allows you to minimize possible setbacks. That’s where various TMS and accounting software can come in handy and help small and mid-scale businesses to organize their operational tasks. 

However, if you intend to scale up operations, then delegating and outsourcing some of the crucial tasks such as dispatch, a CPA for accounting and a lawyer for employee and business contracts might be in your best interest.

To rent, lease, or to buy a truck?

Choosing between renting, leasing, or buying a truck involves weighing various factors to make the best decision for your business. Each option has its pros and cons, and understanding them can guide your choice effectively.

Renting: Renting is ideal for testing the waters without a significant capital investment. It allows you to use a truck temporarily without the long-term commitment or maintenance responsibilities. However, rental costs can add up over time, and you may not have the freedom to customize the truck to your preferences.

Leasing: Leasing offers a middle ground, providing access to a truck for a fixed period, usually ranging from 2 to 5 years. It’s cheaper than renting and often includes maintenance services and potential truck replacements in case of breakdowns. However, leasing can be restrictive, with terms that may not suit everyone, especially new MC authorities and CDL holders who might face challenges securing favorable lease terms.

Buying: Buying a truck grants you complete ownership and control. While it’s a significant upfront investment, owning a truck gives you the freedom to customize it, make decisions independently, and potentially generate profits through resale in the future. Keep in mind the ongoing maintenance and repair costs associated with ownership.

Consider your budget, business goals, and operational needs when deciding between renting, leasing, or buying a truck. Evaluate the long-term implications, including financial commitments, flexibility, and maintenance considerations, to make an informed choice that aligns with your business strategy and growth plans.


Insurance is a critical aspect of launching a trucking company in the US, and it’s essential to understand the coverage needed and the associated costs. Here are some key points to consider:

Primary Liability Insurance: This type of insurance is mandatory for all commercial trucks operating on public roads in the US. It covers damages to other people’s property and injuries to others in case of an accident where you are at fault.

Physical Damage Coverage: This insurance protects your truck from damages caused by accidents, theft, vandalism, or natural disasters. While not required by law, it’s often necessary, especially if you have a loan or lease on your truck.

Cargo Insurance: If you’re transporting goods for clients, cargo insurance covers the value of the cargo in case of damage or loss during transit. Many clients may require you to have cargo insurance before hiring your services.

Bobtail Insurance: Also known as non-trucking liability insurance, this coverage protects your truck when it’s not under dispatch or hauling cargo. It’s essential for owner-operators who use their trucks for personal purposes when not working.

General Liability Insurance: This insurance protects your business from third-party claims, such as bodily injury or property damage that occurs on your premises or due to your business operations.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance: If you have employees, workers’ compensation insurance is necessary to cover medical expenses and lost wages if they are injured or become ill while on the job.

While insurance can be a significant expense for new trucking businesses, investing in comprehensive coverage is essential to protect your assets, comply with legal requirements, and gain the trust of clients and partners in the industry.

Maintenance Schedule

Having a maintenance schedule for your vehicles is imperative to the longevity of your business and of course, your vehicle. Build a habit to check your trucks regularly and meet the FMCSA pre-defined standards for commercial vehicles not to get fined. As violations tend to result in higher insurance rates and lower rankings on the Internal Carrier Ranking Systems, keeping your vehicle well maintained is not only the safer option but also the more sensible financial decision. Most established trucking companies have bonuses for drivers that take care of their vehicles and pass inspections, and demerits or fines for drivers that do not.

Fuel Management

Fuel management is crucial as it helps you control and allocate your budget as well as save money and plan your routes. This is where Fuel Cards come in handy, and there are many offerings on the market that allow you and your drivers to save at different truck stops and fueling stations across the nation. TruckStaff has its own proprietary fuel card program that helps our partners save a fixed amount at some of the best truckstops in America, including Love’s and many others. 

To incorporate or not?  

We also advise new entrants to incorporate their business through their own state. Incorporating allows for a more flexible approach to business since you can keep business expenses and personal expenses separate. From a legal standpoint incorporating also makes great sense, as it allows the owners to take full advantage of many industry solutions available for businesses including lines of credit, leasing, rental, branching out, and so on. 

To conclude, getting a trucking business up and running is quite achievable yet it takes time and commitment. Remember that TruckStaff Solutions is here to help you get through all the processes of starting your trucking business. Our expertise has helped thousands of trucking enthusiasts just like yourself to create and run a sustainable and profitable business.