Building a business as a shipping entrepreneur is a common idea for people who have worked in the industry previously. After all, they may have had a front-row seat for the operation over a period of years or decades, so it is a natural choice to develop their entrepreneurial talents by starting a shipping company of their own.
For many of them, it goes very well. They are able to secure a fleet, identify and reach potential customers, and start getting loads on the road. Like any business venture, though, it does hold some potential for difficulties, and anyone who is considering this path should take a little time to consider some of the business partners they may need to be successful.
Although we think of entrepreneurism as a one-person show in its very nature, we must understand that no business can compete in today’s economy without some qualified and committed partners. Not co-owners, mind you, but other businesses that provide services to help each other be successful. They have internalized the idea that a rising tide raises all ships, with each of them chipping in their particular skills into the “ocean”.
These skills run the gamut of business services, but they all work together to achieve one primary goal: To allow entrepreneurs to focus on their primary goods and services by taking care of other business functions for them.
Here’s a look at some of the most common ones.
Billing and Collection
So many business owners feel like their work is done when the product has been delivered and the bill has been sent. But in reality, the process of sending invoices and getting them paid can be painfully long. The demands on the business can be so high that many unpaid accounts slip through the cracks, resulting in a dramatic impact on the bottom line. Other businesses may prefer not to pursue collection activities, fearing the loss of a client or the alienation of friends they do business with.
There are solutions to these problems. TBS Factoring Service is a company that handles invoices for shipping companies. You simply turn the bill over to them, they pay you the full amount less a fee, and then TBS takes care of billing the client. It leaves you paid on time and in full with almost no overhead.
Trucking is all about reputation. Customers want to know that their shipments will be taken to the right place at the right time and without damage. Building your reputation in the industry requires that you publicize your achievements in these areas, but there’s not much time for marketing when you’ve got another four hours of driving for today and a load to pick up at 6am tomorrow. On top of that, you didn’t get into this business to do advertising.
That’s where another business partner comes in. There are marketing agencies, advertising firms, and even social media management companies that can handle those tasks for you. You meet with them, develop a strategy and an image, and they take it from there. You get all their expertise and ideas without having to go back to college for an advertising degree.
Planning and Management
Sometimes the best partner is an app. There’s no dirtier word in the shipping business than “dead-heading”. Driving an empty truck for miles and miles is a high-cost, zero-revenue proposition. You must be able to minimize your empty time in order to keep the bills paid. Fortunately, there are lots of apps that can help you identify and locate loads. You can plot out your whole week by linking each unloading stop with a nearby loading stop.
Other apps help you monitor traffic, track fuel usage, and maintain your driver’s log with a simplified process of a few taps and swipes. Anyone in the freight business needs to get very familiar with a smartphone—and make sure to have a charger available at all times.
Shipping freight will never become obsolete. There will always be things that have to go from one place to another, no matter how much information technology we use. When you have a good background in the business and you find the right help, shipping can be a very good business opportunity.