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7 Requirements for Starting a Freight Business

No shortage of products needs to be moved from one place to another. Whether it’s because of the rise of online shopping, a shortage of drivers, or shifts in society in general, shipping has never been in-demand. There was a small dip earlier in the year, but demand remains high with not enough drivers to fill it.


This is where you come in. If you want to help fill some of those gaps with a freight business, you can find great success. However, it’s always better to take the necessary steps to get things set up properly. This will help your launch go smoothly and put you in a position to hit the ground running. No matter what type of business you are starting, the goal should be growing over time and not just a great launch. Plus, with shipping, there are several laws and regulations that you need to meet. Here are seven requirements for starting a freight business.

A Business Plan

Every successful business starts with a plan. First, you need to lay out your goals and how you will meet them. This plan should outline all of your potential costs and projected revenues. For example, how are you going to market your company? How many staff do you need? What is the market for your services? Make sure to answer all of these questions so that you have a detailed outline for success. This plan will help you launch and will also help you when you get into the hectic life of running your business. In addition, it will ensure that you do not stretch yourself too thin with your expenses, and it will show that your company is viable to potential investors and lenders.

A Legal Entity

You can choose from several business structure options for your new trucking company. Many choose to go with an LLC. No matter what you choose, it will help to separate your business finances and assets from your personal ones. Your personal assets cannot be targeted if the business has trouble paying back debts. Separating will ensure that no matter what happens, your personal savings or assets, such as your home, will not be at risk. There are also legal and tax benefits. Plus, your personal credit situation will not affect your business credit. As a trucking company, you will also need to be a legal entity to file for the permits and licenses you must have.

Licenses and Permits

Owning a trucking company means having to be compliant with any number of license and permit regulations. Your federal, state, or municipal jurisdiction may have different requirements, so make sure that you have everything. Otherwise, you could face fines or other penalties. For example, as a driver, you will need a commercial driver's license (CDL). In addition, your company will have to have a USDOT number from the FMCSA to identify you for audits and investigations. You may also need special licenses, such as for transporting medical waste, depending on what kind of items you will be shipping. Finally, if you plan on operating internationally, you will also need permits and licenses from other countries.


The obvious insurance need would be for the vehicles themselves. Just like with your personal car, you will need commercial insurance to cover your fleet. However, owning a business means needing many types of coverage. You will need general liability, commercial property, and workers' compensation coverage. One type of coverage that can get overlooked is product liability insurance. It can be attached to general liability coverage and protects against costs if products cause damage or injury to a client or the public. Shipping companies tend to sell packing products, so make sure that you are protected. Otherwise, you could be facing a lawsuit, or several lawsuits, that could financially cripple you.


Getting the right equipment is crucial for the success of your business. For example, you want vehicles that will adequately ship the type of products you will be working with. You need to consider not just the size of the vehicles but also what they can do. For example, are you planning on shipping produce or frozen foods? Then you will need vehicles that can be temperature-controlled. Depending on the type and scope of your company, you may also need a reliable forklift and racking. You will also need to decide whether it makes more sense to buy or lease what you will use. That will most likely depend on how much funding you have upfront.

Loads to Ship

You won't have much of a company without any loads to ship. You need to do the work to get business and start shipping freight. There are several ways you can do this. For one, you can work with online load boards. These are where companies put up freight that they have to move and accept bids. If you win, you get the business. You can also build a network to work with other local businesses in your community and area. Of course, marketing will be a big part of your efforts. Using social media and SEO, you can use broad mass-marketing strategies or stick with more affordable digital strategy.


It’s one thing to get the necessary licenses and permits before you start your business. It’s another to remain compliant through the life of your freight company. That means filing your taxes on time, which could be filing quarterly. You will also have to renew your CDL. If you don’t, you could face strict penalties and even the loss of some of your permits and licenses. Never think that you can ignore state, federal, or municipal regulations. You will find out that eventually, you’ll get caught, and you will not like the result.


There may never be a better time to start a freight company. There is a lot of work available, and if you play your cards right, you could find great success. The rise of online shopping and the need for brick-and-mortar stores to stay current and convenient has created a perfect storm for someone who has the know-how to move things from place to place efficiently. However, you can’t just buy a truck, start picking up loads, and succeed. Make sure that you cover all of the details so that you can start out strong and grow through the life of your new freight business.

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