Starting up any business isn’t going to be an easy process. But the harder the climb is, the more lucrative it can be to stand up there with the best of your competition.

In few industries is this as true as starting up your own trucking service. The likelihood is that if you’re starting a trucking business, you already have some experience within the industry. So you already know the A, B and Cs of the actual trucking itself.

But how about the business aspect of it? How about the finances and sourcing your customers? If you’re not entirely sure what to do on these points, our guide could help you.

1. The plan

Every business needs a plan. Guidelines to look toward if you’re lost during a certain decision. Key points that you can use to constitute whether your business is on track to be a success.

Business plans are an almost essential part of starting any company. If you’ve never begun a business before, there are sample business plans you can find online. These can help you identify what you need to do as a next step in your business.

You also need to start budgeting immediately. Have a cash flow plan set up from day one, adapting it as you discover more costs the more you learn how the industry works.

2. Financing

The plan you’ve just made will immediately become useful when you look to finance your company. Most banks and investors rely on business plans as proof that you have a solid idea of what you’re doing and you know how to get their money back.

However, these investments will usually cover the business expenses but not what you really need. Trucks. If you want to build a fleet to serve your business, you’re going to need truck finance brokers.

This is much the same as financing a car, with an upfront payment being needed before you get the truck. Then you make regular payments down on the truck, reducing the financial strain it puts on you as opposed to buying it outright.

Once your business is up and going, it is important to have cash flow to keep your business going. There are transport factoring services that offer invoice factoring specifically for truckers.

3. Finding your gap

Anyone who has worked in trucking already knows that it’s a fiercely competitive industry. Especially as you start, you’ll have to push hard and tighten purse strings. You’ll be up against other fledgling companies who are willing to go lower in price.

So, what’s the key to rising about it? Finding your gap. Find a niche that you and only you can provide. It can be related to certain goods or taking certain routes to locations otherwise unaccounted for.

Having a unique selling point is the one thing that every business really needs to get running. Otherwise you’ll be stuck in that starting line for a long time.

4. Becoming known

If you’ve managed to find your niche, then it’s time to start building your profile. There are a lot of trucking companies and a lot of them ignore the power of branding. Get a logo designed, then build yourself an online presence.

Make a site that tells visitors all they need to know and provides immediate access. Make sure it’s built to accommodate any inbound communication. Then start reaching out.

With social media, get in touch with local businesses and potential customers. Start building relationships and rapports that can translate to sales further down the line. Consistent, helpful communication is the key to steadily building a profile for your business.

5. Finding clients right now

We’ve already talked about how competitive it can be in the trucking industry. Most of this tooth and nail completion takes place in the load boards environment. Here is where the companies will offer the most competitive prices for individual loads popping up. Most trucking companies need to start here.

But while you may not be making as much money as you’d like from this, it is a good way to start building a customer base. Use load board clients to get testimonials and network. When you start taking regular clients, that’s when you can stop using load boards.

6. Smarter, not harder

Trucking is about choosing work that’s smarter, not working harder for a lot of clients. When your business starts to grow, look for the jobs that provide steady, reliable work. Don’t push your fleet to constantly take small loads for small payments.

Focus on the relationships your company builds and how you keep you current clients. Keeping your fleet smaller could be smarter, too.

It means serving less customers, but it means you have more time to manage your team and fit those clients’ individual needs. That way, you get customer loyalty and the base of any strong growing business.

This post was submitted by a contributor. Check out our Contributor page for details about how you can share your ideas on starting a business, productivity or life hacks with our audience.