Many Americans feel like they spend far too much time rushing around in cars. Traffic, road construction, and bad weather frustrate millions and cause all sorts of expenses. That mix of frustration and spending money opens up a highway of opportunity for someone to get paid to fill in the gap. But knowing how to start a delivery business (also known as a courier service) does have its own twists and turns.
We’ll set you up with turn-by-turn directions to start your new business through a series of easy-to-follow steps. Let’s get you out of the garage and into the fast lane with this quick guide to starting your own delivery company.
If you’ve got good time management skills, your new delivery business can start growing a customer base on nights and weekends. Once your company has a solid footing, you can decide if you want to go full-time. The average delivery driver in the U.S. makes $30,000 to $45,000 per year for single-driver operations, but as you scale up, that can grow fast. Plus, the overall earning potential is solid, with over $100 billion of annual revenue in the online meal delivery industry alone.
If you already have a set of wheels, your startup costs can be almost nonexistent. Growing a delivery business can be fun, and it offers the chance to provide excellent service that generates strong word-of-mouth advertising. You don’t need employees, extra equipment, or even an office space to start, so getting things rolling can be more straightforward than starting many other types of businesses.
Eager to get on the road? The process is simple, but following the right steps can keep you on a sure and steady route.
Starting a delivery business takes careful planning and some industry knowledge. Don’t jump in with both feet before you’ve taken some time to lay the groundwork. Start with a sturdy business plan to shape your company and avoid common, costly mistakes other small businesses make.
Sole proprietorships are popular delivery business models because they’re easy to set up. They’re simple, one-person businesses that require very little upfront paperwork. But pump the brakes, because a sole-proprietorship structure doesn’t give you liability protection. If your courier service company gets in a legal jam, your house, car, personal bank accounts, and more could be on the table for your creditors.
An LLC (limited liability company) can stave off future legal troubles with liability protection. It provides a bumper between personal and business finances. If you’re in a car accident while operating your delivery service or you end up in business debt, an LLC setup can offer some protection for your house, car, and personal savings. This can be a key component when choosing a business model.
An LLC can also provide tax incentives, and it can have multiple business owners. These are some of the many reasons the LLC is such a popular entity structure for entrepreneurs starting a new business.
Choosing a memorable delivery business name is an important step. Think about names that are quick to say, and easy to remember. Names like Speedy Wheels, The Rolling Zone, and Food En Route are fun and friendly. Link your delivery company name to the type of service you provide, and make sure it rings the right bells with your target market.
Once you’ve got a few concepts in mind, search online to see if they’ve already been snapped up. If you’re feeling uncertain, ask friends and family to pitch ideas or vote on the ones you have in mind. Once you’ve decided on a moniker for your delivery business, go ahead and register it. You might want to buy your domain name, too.
Name your LLC
Enter your desired business name to get started
Before you can start revving the engine, take care of a few steps to get your delivery business finances in order.
Joining a trade organization like The Association for Delivery Drivers can help guide you through the twists and turns.
One of the major benefits of starting a delivery business is the minimal financial input required. There are costs to starting any business though, so don’t go in with blinders on. Here’s a list of costs you can expect when starting up:
You may start by using your personal vehicle for deliveries. But as your business grows, you may want to increase capacity. Although the initial expenses for starting a delivery business are low, think through the costs of scaling up.
If you have a personal vehicle, you’re already on your way to launching a delivery business. However, you may still need to purchase added vehicles or other equipment. Take into account all the extras you may need.
Marketing is often the toughest part of starting a delivery business. You can rely on word of mouth at first, but if you want to earn real revenue, you’ll need a marketing plan. Pounding the pavement and approaching potential customers in person is often the quickest way to build a client list of food stores and restaurants in your area.
You can offer a free delivery at first to show what you can do. Once you’ve got a small but stable client list, set up a website and start email marketing. This may take a little extra work at first, but they can almost run on autopilot once they’re built out.
Create pages on social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and use local business directories and newspapers to advertise. One great freebie that can potentially generate business is Google Business Profiles, which will allow your business to show up in more local searches. Also, consider partnering with local stores as their delivery service business of choice, and drop off some of your business cards for them to share with their customers.
As the demand for delivery services increases, so do the chances for your delivery company to grow. The online food delivery industry is buzzing, with annual revenue of $270 billion. Here are some different related business ideas to consider (that are also experiencing growth):
If you’re a people person and you love driving, then starting a delivery business may be the right choice for you. With its low risk and minimal startup costs, it’s easy to get rolling. And by following the guidelines above, your new delivery company could quickly go from zero to 60.
Here at ZenBusiness, we can start your new LLC for free (+ state fee), helping keep your startup costs low.
If you’re thinking about starting up a delivery business, you can get off the ground with just your existing car. That means you can basically start with $0, but as you scale up, you may spend $200,000 or more to buy more vehicles, set up an office space, buy additional insurance, and spend on marketing and sales.
Bring in traffic to your website through paid cost-per-click advertising, online sales, and fresh content. Share sales and special offers on your social media pages. The more content you create, the more customers you can reach. Embed Google Analytics into your website to gauge traffic flow and bounce rate.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers shifted their spending habits to order online food delivery more frequently. Nearly half of all people in the U.S. already use these services, creating ample room to succeed in the delivery service business industry. The biggest opportunity for growth might be in the grocery delivery niche, with an expected growth rate of 29% for 2024.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
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