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Trucking Business Start-Up: Writing a Business Plan

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Often times, business plans are written because it is required for a contract or a loan. But, anytime that you are starting your own business, it’s good to have a one. Business plans can seem intimidating and lengthy, but they don’t always have to be. Whether you are writing the plan for yourself or because it is required by another company, a few pages is almost always sufficient.Why write a business plan if it isn’t a requirement? Writing a business plan puts into perspective where you are starting out and gives you a vision for what you want your company to be in the next five years. It’s an extremely effective way to map out your goals and track your growth from one year to the next.

Let’s face it, plans change. That’s why a business plan should be regularly updated. You should review and make edits to your business plan at least once per year, if not every month. Once you have the initial business plan written out, it only takes a few minutes to update when your company experiences changes. Changes that need to be updated on your business plan are things like, changing your tax filing from sole proprietor to an LLC; adding contracts that alter the course of your financial growth predictions; adding employees; changes in the type of freight you carry.

A strong business plan will outline and summarize what you do, how you will accomplish what you do, how you plan to expand on what you do, and why you do what you do. Your business plan should begin with a mission statement, which is the “why” you do what you do. A mission statement should formally summarize, in one to two sentences, your visions and goals as a company. It should give the reader a broad explanation of what you do, what type of product and/or service you provide, and the ultimate goal of your operation.

Example: Our mission is to provide transportation services that accurately reflect our goals; to safely and efficiently deliver products to our customers. Our innovative technology and resources, along with our experience in the transportation industry, allows us to live up to our promise to deliver safely and honestly with competitive pricing and a common goal to help others.

An effective and well-written business plan should include:

What Types of Services Will You Provide?

  • Long Haul
  • Intermodal
  • Interstate or Intrastate
  • Expedited Freight (Hotshot Loads)
  • Tanker

You probably have a good idea by now what type of hauling you plan to do, and what type of truck(s) you will own. In this section of your business plan, use your experience and knowledge of the trucking industry to describe what it means to provide long haul or expedited freight (or whichever you plan to do) services. Also, explain what types of products you will be delivering, outline the geographic region that you plan to cover, and describe the types of contracts that you plan to get.

Hiring

  • Owner/Operator
  • Hiring Drivers
  • Office Staff
  • Tax Consultant

Having your own authority gives you the freedom to set your company up the way you want it. In this section, you will detail your plan for your company set-up.  Will you be the owner and operator, or are you hiring drivers to deliver the products? A hybrid of the two? Will you be hiring an accountant to manage your money or will you do it yourself? Will you have office staff? This one to two paragraph section will explore how your business will operate. As your set-up changes over the months or years, so, too, should this section.

Products and Services

  • Electronic Logging Device
  • Alcohol and Drug Program
  • Fuel Card
  • Factoring (cash-flow and back office support)
  • Maintenance Program

The trucking industry has lots of unique needs that most other companies do not have. The trucking industry is one of the only industries that need things like an ELD (Electronic Logging Device), toll passes, fuel cards, safety checklists for the vehicle, maintenance program etc. In this section, briefly describe the products and services you will provide, and then expand on the types of programs, devices, and safety features that you will implement to set yourself up for success.

Competitive Edge

  • Good Safety Score
  • Good Reputation with Customers

If you have been in the trucking industry for even a short period of time, you already know that building relationships, having a good safety score, and having a spotless reputation can go a long way in getting contracts. In this section, take the time to expand on your mission statement to further describe why you want to be in this industry. Why is this industry rewarding? What is it that your company wants others to see? What sets you apart from every other trucking company? What will you do to go above and beyond for your customers?

Finding Customers

  • Load Boards
  • Pre-existing Relationships
  • Dispatch Services

Starting a trucking company can be very expensive, so having contracts ready on day one can be critical to your success. In this section, detail how you will find customers to get contracts. If you already have some contracts lined up, detail those in this paragraph. Describe your ideal contract(s) and how you will obtain them.

Short-term and Long -term Plan

  • Cut Costs
  • Go from Lease to Own Equipment
  • Find Your “Break Even” Point
  • Adding More Trucks and Drivers
  • Reinvest Back Into Your Business
  • Adding Technology
  • Adding Background and Drug Checks for Employees

At the beginning of your trucking company start-up, it is imperative that you have a firm grasp of your start-up costs, as well as the expenses you will incur during your first year. In this section, give a general overview of your goals for years 1-3. How will you ensure that your business is profitable? Discuss how, in the short-term, you can cut expenses or optimize your profit to guarantee your success. You will give a more detailed description of your financial plan in a later section. Having a long-term plan gives you the opportunity to evaluate where you want to be in the next 5-10 years. In this section, you will discuss your plans for growth for your company.

Financial Plan

  • Projected Expenses
  • Projected Income
  • Projected Growth Percentage

Having a financial plan is important because it gives you a realistic idea of how much money you need for start-up and how much money you need to make to keep your business alive. In this section, you will provide a detailed list that will include your starting capital, start-up expenses, recurring expenses, and projected income for years 1-5. You will update this information each year to properly reflect actual revenue and expenses incurred. For a detailed list of expected start-up costs, check out Trucking Business Start-Up: Taxes, Dues and Costs and Trucking Business Start-Up: Surprise Costs.

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