In the US, trucking is a crucial means of transportation for freight – as much as 70% of the total freight in the country! You might ask, how much is that in terms of cost? Well, this implies that goods worth approx. $700 billion are shipped annually through trucks. Trucks meet a critical need in the market by efficiently moving the goods from one place to another over long and short distances. With the increasing demand in freight, shortage of drivers, and rising pay rates, this could be the perfect time to start your trucking business.

Are you planning to start a truck driving business? If yes, here is a checklist that can help you check on all the things you need to do before starting your first truck driving business. Do you know what the best part is – all of them are low budget and absolutely affordable!

Important Things You Should Know Before Starting Your First Truck Driving Business

1. Creating a business plan

Planning is an integral part of any business. Starting your first trucking business will involve a lot of planning and preparation. Regardless of how you want to structure your business, planning is essential.

Thus, create a comprehensive business plan for your trucking business. You may craft a business plan that covers company description, market analysis, sales strategy, financial projections, legal Requirements, and many others.

2. Legal requirements

First, you should have a valid CDL. In case you don’t have that, look for the steps to obtain a CDL and get one. In addition to a valid CDL, there are various other legal requirements you need to fulfill. FMCSA has various recommendations in place regarding a one-time US Department of Transportation Number, a Motor Carrier Number, International Fuel Tax Agreement stickers, and an International Registration Plan. Apart from that, you’ll also be required to install an FMCSA-registered and compliant electronic logging device as per the ELD mandate.

3. Insuring your assets

Your truck is a crucial asset in your trucking business and thus, you should have proper insurance coverage for such assets to protect the business from unavoidable contingencies.The insurance should cover any risk or damage to the vehicle, road accidents, protection against theft, etc. If you are wondering which is the best insurance for trucking business, here is the key: Consult trucking forums and social media communities to get a hold of the best insurance products to purchase as per your requirements.

4. Open a business bank account

You must have heard the quote, “Successful people don't do different things they do things differently” and how true that is! Never mix your personal account and your business account, however small your business is. Always have a separate account for business. This not only protects your personal assets but also makes accounting and tax filing easier.

5. Set up business accounting

Proper recording of transactions is a pre-requisite to infer the financial performance of any business. You should record all the expenses and income from your business. Having an accurate and detailed accounting procedure also helps in filing annual tax.Are you familiar with unique tax deductions with starting your first truck driving business? Fuel tax, repairs, equipment depreciation, and others are all specific to the trucking industry. Recording the expenses and tax filing could be a massive headache. You can either hire a CPA professional who is familiar with such accounting and account codes or go with a low budget way, do it yourself. Here’s the solution:

Using an auto bookkeeping app such as Duke.ai would alleviate all your burdens. It is an automated bookkeeping and accounting app where you don’t need to do any manual entry. All you need to do is just scan the receipts and bank statements, and like magic, they are uploaded in the accounting software. It is a cloud-based accounting app that is easily accessible via smartphone. It is a low-cost method that saves you time and is easy to use without any specialized training required.The best part is, it saves time and maintains accuracy. The document interpreter leaves no room for typo errors and takes just 5 seconds to process the submitted documents. How cool is that?

6. Get a business credit card

Having a business card for your trucking business helps you keep track of all your business expenses and also build the credit history of your business. Initially, you might feel like you don’t need it, but a good credit history helps in raising funds and investments in the long run. So, apply for a business credit card and maintain a good credit history from day 1 of your business.

7. Ordering Your Trucks

When starting your trucking business, you can either lease or buy a vehicle depending on your situation. Leasing is a great option for those who are starting out with a smaller budget. Many companies offer “lease to own” plans where you’d be making monthly payments at a certain rate. Buying new or used trucks outright would be costly but still a wise choice. Worrying about loans and managing debt is very stressful and having things paid in full eliminates that. Purchasing brand new vehicles would be super expensive but you’d worry less about repairs. Getting a used truck only a few years older could amount to $40,000 less than a new one. But bear in mind, the maintenance cost might be around $10,000 annually.

8. Get Windows Tinted

Driving on the road for long hours without heat blocking window tint can be tiresome and dangerous. Before hitting the road, adding window tint to your trucks should definitely be on your checklist. Having them window tinted will reduce light reflection, block UV Rays, and give your truck privacy. Body shops charge outlandish prices to install window tint for cars (let alone massive trucks) but there are more affordable options. Greenfilm offers a cost-effective self-install window tint so you can do it yourself for roughly $40-$80. It’s an error-free window tint without glue and removable too, so this can be installed by yourself. All you do is give them the year and the model of the truck, and they’ll ship a pre-cut film that fits exactly on the window!

Check on all the points mentioned above, analyze them well and see if you are ready to start your trucking business. As with any endeavor, it is always good to research beforehand and gather all the information you can.

Wish you all the very best!