Updated: Feb 17
Making the transition from company driver to owner-operator is a big step. You will now be your own boss and will need to set yourself up for happiness and success. There are many things to consider when thinking about starting a trucking business.
Before you go down this new path, here are five steps you have to take to start your own trucking business with one truck.
Write up a business plan
Before you start a trucking business, the first thing you should do is write up a business plan. Understanding how your business is going to operate might change over time, but writing out the basics will provide you with a roadmap.
Within your business plan, include things like the type of trucking business you want to run. Are you going to run a dry van operation? Maybe you want to focus on specialized loads. It’s also important to describe how you plan to differentiate your operation from others.
Another important aspect of any business plan is your vision for growth. Are you interested in bringing on a team driver or even adding additional trucks in the future? While some of these items might change over time, putting your ideas on paper will help give you a plan you can follow.
Decide what kind of entity you want to be
As an owner-operator, an important decision you will have to make is the business structure of your company. The three most common types of entities for owner-operators are sole proprietorship, S corporation, and a limited liability company (LLC).
When deciding on your business structure, the two main factors to consider are owner liability and income taxation. Each structure comes with different tax consequences so it is important you make your decision based on your business needs. Here is a free e-Book that goes into much more detail on the different business structures.
Decide what carrier you want to drive for
When a driver decides to become an owner-operator, most will make the decision to start by leasing with a carrier rather than getting their own authority. By doing this, you still have the freedom of being your own boss, but you will have the protection of somebody finding loads for you and paying some of the upfront costs. This means you will have to decide what carrier you want to drive for.
A few of the things that should be considered is where you want to drive, what type of operation you want to run, and how the fleet treats owner-operators. Carriers will list what parts of the country you will be driving in and what types of freight you will be hauling.
Once you have found a few options based off of your driving preferences, you should do a little research on the reputation of each fleet. Figure out how much they pay per mile, if they pay their drivers on time, if they consistently have loads available, and any other information that is important to you in deciding what carrier to lease on to.
Get your own truck
The most important thing you will have to do before starting a trucking business is getting your own truck. It will be very difficult to purchase a truck up front, which means you will have to decide whether to do a lease-purchase program with a carrier, or purchase a truck through a truck financing company.
Lease-purchase programs are available from a wide variety of carriers. Through this program, you won’t own the truck, but you will be making monthly payments on the truck until the contract is up. At that point, you can purchase the truck or start a new contract with the same or different carrier. While you are in the lease-purchase program, many carriers provide benefits including discounted fuel and maintenance.
You can also decide to purchase a truck through a trucking-specific financing company. This way you don’t have to lease your truck through the carrier you decide to drive for. When you finance a truck, you slowly make payments on the truck until you eventually own it. Financing your truck allows for more freedom in deciding what carrier you want to drive for.
Hire a business services provider to help start your trucking business
Hiring a trustworthy professional business services provider, like ATBS, will help accomplish all of the things you have to do before starting a trucking business. ATBS has been in the trucking industry for 20 years, which means we have helped thousands of owner-operator truck drivers make these decisions. We can help with your business plan, with deciding what entity to choose, and help you determine the best path towards owning a truck.
Once you have made these decisions, we can continue to help with all of your tax, bookkeeping, and accounting needs while you focus on driving. We will also continue to be available to help with any business decisions during your time as an owner-operator.
Are you a self-employed truck driver that wants to learn more about ATBS services? Click here!
Over 150,000 owner-operators have made the choice to hire ATBS over the past 20 years. We offer a variety of services including accounting, bookkeeping, and tax preparation. We also offer unlimited business consulting for our RumbleStrip Professional clients. A dedicated business consultant will help you keep your business “between the lines,” just like rumblestrips on the highway.