The logistics industry covers a broad spectrum of businesses up and down the supply chain, from the most modest ‘man and van’ delivery outfit to huge global companies controlling the manufacture and distribution of goods around the world. For would-be entrepreneurs looking to work in the sector, it’s the former that quite often provides a very successful entry point.
Where There’s a Will
Perhaps more than many other industries, starting out in logistics can be relatively easy. If you can drive and you have a decent, reliable vehicle you’ve got all the ingredients required to set up in an owner-driver delivery business. Particularly now, with the huge opportunities created by the online shopping boom, there’s a well-publicised skills shortage in this growth industry.
Of course you’ll need to do some research and planning before diving in, but once you’ve written a basic business plan, sorted out insurances and set yourself up to pay the correct tax, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from going out there and making a (very good) living as an independent delivery driver.
While for some people keeping their operation small is actually a preference, for those who want to grow their business, the opportunities are almost endless. The scope of an independent delivery business is only limited by the amount of time and effort you can (and are willing) to put in, and there are myriad stories of humble delivery operations that have gone on to become highly successful large enterprises.
From Little Things Big Things Can Grow
Every business has its own road to success – some by luck, some by design, but all most certainly with a lot of hard work along the way. For anyone thinking of setting up their own delivery business, there’s a lot of value in looking at where other entrepreneurs have come from. But it’s not just about learning from their mistakes (although that can be very helpful), it’s about being inspired to action by seeing just how far one can go no matter how unassuming the beginnings and how adverse the conditions.
Persistence Nearly Always Pays Off
When one ex-serviceman’s life took a very unexpected twist due to a major injury, instead of focusing on the career he’d lost, Luke Sands dusted himself off and took his army driving skills in a new direction as a courier driver. After a couple of years working for someone else, Luke started his own company Big Load Little Load with one small client.
From the start, he made use of technology to build his network and expand his reach, but he also used his background in the army to work strategically. Today he employs a fleet of drivers and the business has contracts with several large logistics firms across the UK. Persistence and vision make great business partners!
Flexibility is Key
Recognising opportunities and capitalising on them is key to achieving growth in a delivery business. Now Managing Director of Diamond Logistics, Mark Sergeant had a very different career in mind when he completed his university studies in Sports Science. However, unable to find work in his field he took on what he thought was going to be a casual position as a courier driver, and his years’ of sports-focused discipline and motivation immediately saw him in high demand.
Fast forward a decade or so and, with a vast amount of experience under his belt, Mark set up Diamond Logistics. By focusing on not only winning new clients but also on maximising his vehicles’ capacity through backloads, the company’s profitability has soared. Experience and flexibility – two sure-fire attributes for business success!
Do What You Love and Success Will Follow
It’s an oldie but a goodie, and for Darren Tear of D Tear Haulage, turning a passion for driving HGVs into a thriving business came about pretty naturally. It wasn’t without its challenges, however, and Darren had to re-evaluate the way he ran his business during a tough period.
He realised he had to go out and attract a raft of new clients if he was going to keep the vehicles he ran in profit because as it was his margins were extremely tight due to his high running costs. There was no way he wanted to give up driving for a living, so he joined an online freight exchange and literally turned the business on its head in a fairly short time.
By using the smart matching technology of the exchange, he was able to discover an entirely new source of jobs based on his vehicles’ capacity and real-time location. Networking creates new opportunities!
These three very different success stories pretty much demonstrate in a nutshell the most important considerations of growing a delivery business. Passion, planning, persistence, flexibility and a willingness to embrace technology form the bedrock of a good operation in the logistics sector. These kinds of case studies also show beyond any doubt that it really is possible to go from a one-man band to build a national and even international brand – the proof is out there on the roads everywhere you look.