How to Start a Small Freight Business

Small Freight Business:There is a broad pattern of merchandise trade among and within nations. According to “Entrepreneur” magazine, the freight brokerage business is a billion-dollar industry. A small cargo container and freight company works with trade goods manufacturers and suppliers, freight brokerage companies and freight forwarding companies to provide cargo packaging for transportation of goods (import or export, domestic or international). This business includes providing freight packaging for products and raw materials from the point of origin for shipping by truck, train or boat. In addition to providing the physical freights, the business may also include packaging services.


Obtain the required business licenses and permits for a new business in the jurisdiction of operation. This includes obtaining the basic business licenses required by county and parish governments in the United States. Consult a professional such as a lawyer about the specific legal requirements for operating this type of business.

Establish a business office. This may include a leased commercial office space with warehousing space for the physical freights. Secure essential business equipment to operate the affairs of a small freight company, such as a computer, printer, Internet access, desks, chairs, file cabinets, fax machine, copier and business phone. The business space will primarily be used for making business phone calls, sending and receiving facsimiles and business correspondence, performing accounting duties, organizing business files and meeting potential clients.

Manufacture or obtain wholesale accounts with wood container and freight manufacturing suppliers. Because the physical freights are space intensive, the business facility should have a shipping and receiving dock to accommodate freight delivery and shipments. Additionally, consult a professional such as an international trade lawyer to learn the applicable federal rules for wood freight standards, such as freight cargo standards for shipping hazardous materials. For instance, according to American Multimodal International Deliveries, the U.S. government’s international ocean freight wood packing restrictions include ISPM 15 rules regarding “shipments containing wood packaging material such as pallets, crates, dunnages, drums, wood cases.”

Find domestic and export trade customers. Establishing associations with such institutions as the Universal Freight Organisation, with members in more than 100 countries, will open up contacts to local freight forwarding, freight brokering and domestic and export traders in the operating country of the start-up business. This will help in establishing business relationships with manufacturers of trade goods, as well as their shippers and carriers. The book “Start Your Own Freight Brokerage Business,” listed more fully in the Resource Center in this article, provides insights on developing other transportation industry connections.

Market the business. This will include developing a corporate identity through a business logo, letterhead, business cards and a website. Join professional freight industry organizations that provide networking and educational opportunities. Advertising options will include placing a listing the local business section of the phone directory, direct mail campaigns and online banner advertisement. Most importantly, as with any business, reputation is everything. Provide stellar customer service and the good word will spread, and so will the company’s reputation within the domestic export industry.