Due in part to the explosion of online shopping and subsequent demand for next-day shipping, as well as an absence of cost-effective alternative forms of transportation, long-haul trucking has continued to stay in high demand. It’s therefore no surprise many people see starting a trucking business as their ticket to entrepreneurial success. But unless you’ve got years of experience in the motor carrier industry, starting an owner-operator outfit isn’t something you can just do on a whim . It takes specific licensing as well as a thorough understanding of how the trucking business functions both in the short and long-term.

While far from an adequate substitute for hands-on learning and detailed industry advice, the following is a brief breakdown of what it takes to successfully open your own tucking business:

Build a business plan

This is the first order of business for any new business, and one involving long-haul trucking is no different. Where will the revenue come from, how much will the monthly expenses be, and how long until profits will be made? Research existing freight shipping rates and other available indicators to get a sense for these figures. Base everything in your business plan on data and research, rather than hopes and wishful thinking.

Get licensed

This is where those already working as drivers tend to have the upper hand, since they usually already have a commercial CDL license which is a requirement for starting a trucking business. In addition to CDLs for drivers, your company will need a USDOT number, operating authority, and be registered with the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax overseen by the Office of Highway Policy Information.

Get a truck

The central component of your trucking business will be the truck or trucks which are purchased for long-haul transport. To this end, buying quality equipment is crucial, but cost constraints make it a challenge. One piece of useful advice is to look for used heavy equipment dealers who also sell used commercial trucks of all makes and models. These dealers are volume-oriented and are therefore more likely to negotiate on price if it means moving their inventory.

Get insurance

Unlike general automobile insurance, policies covering trucking businesses tend to only be offered in a comprehensive format. In addition to primary liability, your owner-operator enterprise will need to cover cargo, physical damage, and non-trucking use incidents. These policies are non-negotiable for anyone wishing to transport freight.

Invest in top security

When we think of security, these days we tend to focus on cybersecurity. But for a business like trucking, which potentially involves hundreds of thousands of dollars of product being transported across hundreds of miles and/or kept in warehouses, there needs to be an emphasis placed on physical security techniques. Heavy duty locks, deadbolts, and alarm systems provide a baseline for protecting the goods your company has a responsibility to protect. Surveillance cameras and GPS tracking are other measures to consider.

Finalize business decisions

How will your trucking business be structured? Will it be a sole proprietorship or a limited liability corporation, or something else entirely? Weigh the pros and cons of each option before making your final decision. Typically, once you decide, there is no going back.

The time is right for anyone seriously considering starting their own trucking business. However, long-haul motor carrier service is not an industry someone can simply slip into as a fly-by-night option. It requires a fair amount of licensing, insurance, and investment to get started. But once you get rolling, a trucking business is sure to take you far.