One aspect of all business procedures that will probably never change is the delivery of physical goods. This business in itself only used to be a luxury of the wealthy. But the internet has made it financially accessible, more competitive and more lucrative for the middle class.
Consider the $5.02 billion that was made by different shipping and delivery services from Amazon in 2015 alone. This shows the enormous opportunity that exists in the shipping industry.
Whether you are freight forwarding, drop shipping or using any other method by land, air or sea, the prerequisites, for the most part, remain the same across the board.
If shipping is your thing, then the few tips below will certainly help you get your shipping business set up.
1. Decide the type of delivery service you want to run.
“In the shipping industry, goods are lumped into categories and your startup shipping business cannot handle all these categories at once. There are perishable goods, dangerous goods, hazardous goods and much more," says Nicholas Dutko, founder of Car Shipping Carriers. "Take your time to understand all these categories and choose the specific category of goods your shipping company will be handling. As your business grows, you can expand your services to other categories. But at the onset, keep things small and manageable.”
2. Get all necessary paperwork ready.
Just like every other industry, you need a business license and a tax identification number for your business’ bank account to be able to operate your business.
According to Dutko, “there are licenses and permits that are necessary for every shipping company and there are others that vary depending on the type of shipping/delivery service and the item being delivered.”
“For example,” he continues, “while the U.S. does not necessarily require a license for domestic deliveries, you need the requisite permit for international deliveries. Also, sensitive items such as guns, medicine, copyright items like CDs and DVDs need special permits from the country of origin and the destination country.”
3. Write a good business plan.
Your business plan is the beacon that guides your business decisions. More than that, it is a document that gives sufficient details about your business to a degree that will be appealing to any third party such as a potential investor or financial institutions.
Your business plan should detail your business overview, your competitions’ skills and price range, your value proposition, your financial and marketing plans and the threats and opportunities in the industry and your exit strategy.
4. Find a good location and hire staff.
“A site with plenty of open lands is ideal no matter what delivery service you are running,” Dutko says. “The size of the land can be used to erect a sizable warehouse where goods awaiting delivery can be recorded and stored."
It could also additionally serve as space for parking your delivery vehicles or for container storage if you are running a full-scale cargo shipping business. It will also help if the site has direct rail and/or seaport access.
You will also need to hire staff at this point. Some to work on your vessels (if you’re running a cargo shipping service) and/or delivery vehicles such as a ship captain, his or her crew and licensed drivers for your delivery trucks etc. Also, you will need people to work in the office to log goods and record, package and handle all administrative processes for your business.
5. Prepare the office for optimum business performance.
In every ramification, your business has to be ready to deliver top-notch customer service to its customer base. You will need everything from a well-furnished reception area and customer-friendly employees to reliable accounting software, a fax machine and an efficient system for carrying out financial transactions whether in the form of physical cash, checks or credit cards.
6. Develop your corporate brand and make yourself known.
It is your job to put yourself in the field of vision of your prospective clients. However, you first need to give your business a recognizable face, a brand that defines it. This will entail a captivating logo, which you can use on your business cards, shipping labels, invoices, letterheads, your website, stationary and all other pertinent business items.
Lastly, make sure your website is user-friendly and can be found easily online. After all this has been put in place, and your corporate branding has been established, you can go to work hunting for clients through online and offline marketing strategies. It could mean advertising via Google Ads or social media platforms.
For offline marketing, visit area hospitals, law offices, local government offices and other major corporations that may require your services in the future. Of course, you will need to have a business proposal detailing your competitive pricing schedules, as this will help these organizations in making their decision.