Planning is always an important part of starting any business. This transport and logistics cheat sheet will give you some important steps to consider before you get going. From making sure your finances are organised to insurance to correctly marketing your business.
Related: The Essential Start-up Cheat Sheet
Here are seven steps to consider when starting a transport and logistics business:
Step 1: Organising your finance
When you’re at an advanced stage in your business you should have precise facts and accurately calculate your expenses. Don’t wait for surprises. Surprises can be quite expensive and could set you back.
A good idea is to put money aside for breakdowns. Breakdowns can impact you financially and will affect your profits. You should also have some clearly calculated financials on spreadsheets: A recipe for disaster is if you’re still working your expenses out in your head and that is all you’ve done with your financial projections.
Step 2: Choosing your Type of Transport Business
There are many options available in the transport and logistics business such as:
- Limousine or taxi service
- Medical transportation
- Courier service
- Auto transport business
- Charter, bus company.
Each one has its only challenges and benefits. When deciding, go for an option which doesn’t have a lot of competition in the area you’re operating in. You should also do some research and make sure there is a need for that type of transportation in the area.
Step 3: Getting Registered
Your next step should be contacting your local public utilities commission. You’ll need to find out what documentation you’ll need to start your transportation business such as:
- Registering with area, province or national transportation departments.
Step 4: Putting Insurance in Place
Insurance is very important for any business. Contact an insurance company that specialises in a business that has your specific mode of transportation. Research different companies to understand what you will be paying for and what each insurance solution will cover.
It may help to ask someone already in the industry who they are insured with and why.
Step 5: Buying Vehicles
The amount of money you spend in this step will affect your business quite dramatically. The type of vehicle and whether you’re buying new or used vehicles will impact your finances significantly. Buying used vehicles can help reduce costs.
If you find vehicles that have low mileages and are the type of vehicle you’re looking for have them checked out by a mechanic.
Purchasing a large fleet of vehicles at once can often qualify you for discounts from dealers. Your vehicles are the key to your transportation business so you should make sure that you buy the right vehicles for the right price.
Step 6: Marketing your Business
Advertise your business to your specific target market when your business is running. Here are a few advertising ideas you can use:
- Have an advert placed in your local telephone book
- Create a website for your business
- Create a business card with your URL on it as well as any vital information
- Word of mouth can be very powerful so tell everyone you meet about your business.
Step 7: Financial Support
Be patient. Any venture will take time and effort to build up a customer base, vehicles and profits. It’s a good idea to financial backing to get you through at least a year of hard times. You don’t want to have to close your business after only a short period of time because you ran out of funds.
The Road Freight Association of South Africa (RFA) has an SMME Starter Kit which is designed specifically for businesses which are starting out. It includes tips and tricks on how to go about getting into the transport industry, sourcing contracts and calculating financial predictions as well as various other essential information.