How to Start a Hauling Business With a Pickup Truck

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a black ford pickup truck in front of mountains

Hauling can be a lucrative business, but getting started isn’t easy. You can use your truck to make some money on the side, but taking it to the next level requires a lot of knowledge and paperwork.

To start a hauling business with a pickup truck you need:

  • A truck, trailer, and other hauling equipment
  • Business licenses
  • Insurance
  • Marketing
  • A platform to find jobs 

Here’s how to start a hauling business and use your truck to make money.  

Choose Your Business Plan

Before registering your business, consider what direction you want to go. Do you plan on creating branding along with a marketing strategy? Do you plan on hiring help out, hiring employees, or going solo? Each of these questions is important, but you don’t need to know all the answers right now.

If you want to start your own business, chances are you want to be your own boss. Take a look at the business options available to you and choose one that fits your needs. Whatever you choose you’ll be considered self-employed and will be able to set your own hours.

Work as an Independent Contractor

Independent contract haulers have a lot of flexibility. They can choose what jobs they want to take and how to complete them. If you choose to be an independent contractor you’ll need to keep a close eye on how much you're making and how much you’re spending on the business.

There’s very little paperwork involved in being a contracted hauler, but you’ll want to keep track of how much you’re making and spending on the business for tax season. Make sure you check local regulations to make sure you’re following what is needed of you.

Start an LLC or Sole Proprietorship

If you plan on making your business long-term or want to formalize your operation, registering your business as an LLC or sole proprietorship is a good idea. 

If you’re going into this alone, a sole proprietorship will get you what you need. They’re easy to start and manage. You’ll also have sole ownership so every decision is yours to make. 

If you plan on starting a business with a partner or hiring help, you’ll want an LLC. This type of business offers great flexibility while also protecting your personal assets from legal trouble. 

Both of these business types require you to acquire the proper tax documentation like a business license, a business bank account, and an EIN. Make sure you follow local regulations while building your business.

Get the Correct Licenses

Apart from the standard business paperwork you may need hauling-specific licenses and registrations. Here are the extra things you should be considering.

Commercial Drivers License

A commercial driver's license (CDL) will let you take on heavier jobs and get paid more. 

With your CDL, you’ll be able to haul a trailer with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 10,001 pounds. Whether or not you need a CDL is dependent on your truck and trailer’s gross combined weight rating (GCWR). You can find this by adding your trailer and your truck’s GVWR. 

If the GCWR is over 26,001 pounds you will need a CDL to haul. Most loads that can be towed on a trailer with a pickup truck are well under this limit. However, if you want to expand your hauling and money-making opportunities, you can always get your CDL at a later time.

Learn more about why you don’t need a CDL to haul.

Liability Insurance

Investing in liability insurance and commercial insurance will protect you, your truck, and your customer’s trust. You’ll be doing a lot of driving and that puts you at a higher risk of being in an accident. 

Insurance reassures your customers that you’ve done your due diligence and that their products will be safe. 

If you don’t know where to start with getting commercial insurance, you can talk with a local insurance broker and see what your options are. If you’re a contracted driver, you may already be insured by the companies you’re driving for.

Miscellaneous Licenses

It cannot be overstated: Double check your local regulations to make sure you have all the correct licenses you need. This could include municipal business licenses, permits to haul specific kinds of materials, and registration with your local chamber of commerce.

Gather The Right Equipment

Whatever job you’re doing, you need the right tools. At a desk job, you need a decent ergonomic chair, a desk, a monitor, and a decent computer. For hauling, you need some heavy-duty equipment to make sure you’re doing your job right.

Get a Vehicle

You might be interested in starting a hauling business because you already have a truck and you want to start a side hustle. Or you have bigger plans to make driving your full-time job. Whatever your reason and whatever equipment you already have, You’re going to need a vehicle.

The options available to drivers are:

  • Pickup truck
  • Cargo van
  • Box truck

Think about what you plan on hauling. If you plan to focus on helping people move, a box truck or cargo van is a great idea. A pickup truck with a large trailer can transport just about anything. They offer more flexibility and are the go-to for hotshot truckers.

You also have options for how you’re going to pay for it. You can either buy your vehicle outright or lease it. Leasing may get you a quicker profit, but buying outright gives you greater freedom.

Before you make your decision make sure the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is within the proper limit. The higher the GVWR the more you can haul, but if it’s above 10,001 pounds, you’ll need to acquire a CDL to drive it.

Get a Trailer

If you’re using your pickup truck to haul, you don’t have enough space in your truck bed alone. Invest in a trailer by buying or licensing one. 

The trailer that is best for you will depend on your specific needs, but in general, the best trailer for hotshot trucking is a 33ft gooseneck trailer with ramps. If you have a CDL you can have a longer trailer with heavier ramps that let you take on just about any job.

Read more about the best trailers for hotshot trucking:

Other Equipment

If you take on a job without the necessary equipment you run the risk of breaking your customer’s goods. Your business won’t go far if you don’t have the equipment to properly transport goods.

Here are some things you’ll need besides your truck rig:

  • Dollies
  • Tie downs
  • Tarps
  • Basic tools for roadside repairs

To get a more in-depth look at what you need to get any job done well, check out our ultimate hotshot trucking equipment list.

Spread the Word

All your work will be worthless unless people know about your business. To start building your customer base, tap into whatever network you have. Friends, family, business friends, etc.

If you have the starting capital, invest in some branding and slap it on the side of your truck. Branding helps legitimize your business and help your customers trust your operation. 

Join A Shipping Marketplace

Finding leads is not the easiest. Shipping marketplaces make it easy for businesses to find drivers for their shipping solutions. These marketplaces are great options for small businesses that don’t have the time or money for FTL shipping.

Shipping marketplaces are also great options for drivers looking for loads. 

Open Road is a shipping marketplace that makes shipping easier by offering drivers the ability to pick up jobs easily. Signing up requires a couple of pictures, a valid driver's license, a background check, and a virtual inspection of your vehicle. After that, you’ll be able to look through available jobs and choose whichever ones fit your schedule best.

Become a driver for Open Road and start getting jobs for your hauling business.

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