10 keys for every trucking business plan
Starting your own trucking company is an exciting step forward in your career. You’ll get to be your own boss, manage your own team of drivers, and hopefully build a large roster of happy customers. However, before you can start, you’ll need a great business plan to guide you through the process. Here are 10 key steps to take when writing a trucking business plan.
1. Start by registering your business
Before you write a business plan, you’ll need to formally register your business with the government. This will allow you to start operating right away after you write your business plan, rather than having to spend time cutting through red tape.
There are many steps to registering a trucking business. These include:
- Registering your business name.
- Getting an EIN number or CRA number for tax purposes, depending on where you’re located.
- Getting appropriate truck insurance coverage.
- Registering with the DOT and filing a BOC-3 if you’re operating in the US.
- Setting up an IRP if you plan to operate in both the US and Canada.
- Setting up an IFTA to keep fuel taxes stable for operations in the US and Canada.
2. Write an executive summary and company description
Now that you’ve registered your business, it’s time to start writing the business plan itself. The first step is to write a brief executive summary and company description that defines what your business is all about. This is one of the first things evaluators will look at when you’re applying for loans, grants, and other sources of funding.
Your executive summary should include your company’s mission as well as your overarching goals and the services you’ll be offering. Your company description should provide information about your internal structure, as well as where you plan to operate.
3. Analyze the market
A crucial part of any business plan is demonstrating that you have a deep understanding of your industry and how it works. You’ll want to include a market analysis section that touches on your target demographics, your competition, and any consumer trends you’re seeing in the trucking industry.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to take a look at the competitive trucking landscape and determine where you’ll fit in. Analyze who your competition is and find freight lanes and services where you’ll be able to be competitive.
4. Define the services you’ll be offering
In this section of your business plan, you’ll need to write a more in-depth description of the services you offer. Make sure to go beyond just listing the service types - you’ll also want to describe how that service will fill a need in the market.
For example, maybe you’re specifically focusing on temperature-controlled shipping services, which are in high demand in the medical and biotechnology industries. You might also focus on offering services for a specific region based on consumer shipping trends there.
5. Create an operations plan
Once you’ve defined the services that you’ll be offering, the next step is to create an operations plan that identifies how your company will work on a day-to-day basis. This section will expand on the brief company description from the beginning of your business plan.
In this section, touch on how many drivers you plan to have and the ways that your management will support them. If you’re going to be driving and running the company (an owner-operator), make sure to explain how you plan to do so.
You’ll also want to mention any technologies or softwares you plan to use to make your operations more efficient. Go into detail about how you’ll find and win shipments, as well as how you’ll dispatch drivers.
6. Define your organizational structure
In addition to defining your day-to-day operations, you’ll also want to provide information on your company’s organizational structure. Who will be serving in management roles and what are their qualifications? How will you build a support team as your company grows?
In this section, you should also provide information about your hiring structure. How will you recruit reliable drivers and keep them on board? The current labor market is challenging, so you’ll likely need to offer competitive compensation and benefits to retain your drivers.
7. Describe your marketing and sales strategies
One of the most important aspects of succeeding in a competitive market is developing a successful marketing and sales strategy. You’ll need to include this section in your business plan in order to secure funding.
This section should include all of the marketing and branding strategies you plan to use. Be sure to cover both digital and physical marketing strategies, and delve into why these marketing strategies will resonate with your target audience. You should also include details on your sales team and how you plan to close deals.
8. Create financial projections
This is one of the most important components of any business plan, and it can also be the most daunting. Financial projections will show lenders or investors that you not only know how to ship, but that you know how to turn a profit while doing so.
Ideally, your financial projections should extend to five years out. Be sure to account for both ongoing and one-time expenses, as well as ways that your revenue might change over time.
9. Assess your risks
Starting a new business always comes with some risks, and you’ll need to address this as part of your business plan. Thinking about these risks ahead of time will help you successfully navigate rough patches as your business expands. Common risks for trucking businesses include vehicle breakdowns, fluctuations in fuel prices, changing government regulations, and difficulty finding reliable drivers - just to name a few.
10. Include a funding request
If you’re writing this business plan specifically to request funds from an investor or lender, you’ll need to include this section. Define exactly how much money you’re looking for based on your current assets and funds as well as upcoming expenses. Your funding request should be informed by your financial projections.
With a trucking business plan in place, you’ll be ready to get the funding you need, and you’ll also have the first few years of your operations fully mapped out. When you’re up and running, be sure to invest in technology to help you scale your business. Check out Rose Rocket, the #1 rated TMS, to help you stay organized and grow.