How to Start a Trucking Company Without CDL

CT Team


Table of Contents

Trucking is one of America’s most vital industries. It’s also one of the most lucrative industries in relation to the start-up costs and requirements for starting a company. In fact, according to 2019 statistics, the U.S. trucking industry represented 80.4% of the nation’s freight cost in 2019, totaling a gross freight revenue of $791.7 billion. And owning a trucking company is the surest way to get your slice of that multi-billion dollar pie. But what if you don't have any experience with the trucking industry? Can you own a trucking company without a CDL? The short answer to that is, yes you can! 

However, before you go running out the door with your investment dollars in hand, it’s important to do your research first. The trucking industry, like any other industry, has its own way of doing business, and its own unique operational and regulatory complexities. However, the one thing you must understand the most to be successful is your driver. 

Without truck drivers, a trucking company is dead in the water. They live a unique lifestyle, and the job places demand upon them that you won’t see in any other industry. To get the most out of your business, you’ll need to understand everything from how a truck driver is trained to what life is like for them on the road. And that’s only one of several key aspects of starting a trucking company that you’re going to want to learn if you want to be successful.

What Do You Need to Own a Trucking Company?

Because the trucking industry is heavily regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there is a lot involved in setting up a trucking company to be legally compliant, before you open your doors for business. And that involves a lot of paperwork

Additionally, you’ll need starting capital to acquire the following:

  • Trucking Authority
  • Insurance
  • Hire at least one driver
  • Purchase or lease a truck (also known as equipment within the industry)

It’s best to go step by step to make sure everything is done correctly because one misstep and the government will sideline your business and that can be catastrophic. Below, we’ve created a list of the most critical items you need to be aware of in the early stages of starting a trucking company without a CDL.

Step-by-Step to Start a Trucking Company without a CDL

Taking a methodical approach to starting a trucking company is a proven way to get your trucking company started off on the right foot. Please note, that this list is a research guide as there is simply too much information to cover in one article.

Obtain the required documentation

  • Obtain your United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) number
  • Acquire your Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Motor Carrier Authority
  • Decide what insurance to use

Buy, finance, or lease your first truck

  • Apply to financial companies or banks and get credit to buy your first truck 
  • On average, you should expect to pay at least $ 15,000 for your truck. This can be included in any loan you receive. The best plan is to buy a truck, use it to make money, and expand as you bring in more capital

Develop a trucking business plan. Familiarize yourself with the following terms:

  • SWOT Analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Finances
  • Operations

Find truck loads

  • If you're new to the trucking industry, online freight exchanges can help you find cargo so you can start hauling. 
  • Once you have a strong customer base, you can build on those relationships and even in some cases start shipping your customers directly and establish your own lanes, generating a steady regular income.

The main thing to keep in mind when starting a trucking company with no CDL and no experience with the industry is to do your research. The more you learn about the industry, the better you will understand it, and the more successful you will be. And, when you hire your first driver, keep in mind they will be one of your best go-to sources for understanding the industry better. Communicating often with your drivers is a great way to quickly build your knowledge base while developing a working relationship with your most essential assets.

How Others Have Done It

The largest trucking companies in the nation were all started and led by truck drivers who started their companies with just one truck. However, with the growth of communication and business technologies, it has become much easier to start a company without ever obtaining a CDL. 

For example, Alix Burton, the founder, and CEO of Good Energy Worldwide started his trucking company without a CDL in 2013. When asked how he did it, he answers:

“I just learned, I listened, and paid attention.”

Other trucking company owners and CEOs have similar advice:

“Listen to your mechanics, listen to your drivers, and strive to develop a strong team that can function like a well-oiled machine.” - D. Montoya
“Success in trucking starts with your people.” - S. Nguyen
“Building relationships with your employees is where it’s at. This isn’t a business where one guy can do it all on his own. It’s a team effort. Build the team, treat them well, and the dollars will follow.” - L. Orlowski


Like any new startup there is going to be a learning curve as you step into a new business arena. Fortunately, there is an abundance of data and information resources available for entrepreneurs new to trucking. Furthermore, thanks to the advances in modern technology, we now live in an age where you can successfully start a trucking company without a CDL.

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