shipping company

9 Tips for Starting a Shipping Company

Pursuing New Ventures: Start a Shipping Company

Running your own business can be lucrative and rewarding if you get it right and there are some types of business where the opportunities to make money are potentially greater than others.

Shipping is one of those, as the global economy is heavily underpinned by the need to transport raw materials and products to all corners of the world, and to do that you need a shipping industry.

Whether your task is safely shipping lithium batteries across continents or arranging a time-critical delivery of perishable products, there are almost limitless opportunities to be part of that vital link by running your own shipping company.

Here are some pointers on how to launch your own shipping company business.

Identify Your Target Market

A positive aspect of running a shipping business is the fact that almost every type of industry and size of the business will have the need to transport their goods to different parts of the globe, which means that you could target clients across many different industries.

Find A Niche

There are actually lots of different niches within the shipping industry as a whole and you might decide to specialize in one specific type of shipping and concentrate on building your business by gaining customers within that sector.

For instance, you could specialize in drop-shipping, container shipping, or focus on home delivery customers instead.

You don’t have to have a niche to succeed as a shipping company but it can help grow your business quickly if you develop a reputation as the go-to person for a particular type of shipping need.

Start Small

As you would expect, there are plenty of well-established and major shipping companies who have had years to build a network of resources and contacts that help them maintain a prominent position in the marketplace.

However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for your business to grow.

The best approach is often to start out taking on small contracts that you can manage with ease and then expand your base and scope of work once you become more established.

Consider Two Options

Starting your shipping company can often go one of two ways at the beginning, you either set everything up yourself from scratch and build your own brand or look to see if there is a franchise opportunity that you could buy into.

Clearly, if you want full control of your business decisions and financial future the best option is to start your own shipping company from nothing, but if you like the idea of generating cash and having customers from day one it might be worth looking at a shipping franchise opportunity.

Decide On a Legal Entity

One of the most important decisions you face when setting up a shipping company is what legal entity you should choose for the business.

There are all sorts of factors to consider and it is often best to take some professional guidance before going ahead and registered your business.

You might decide to start your business as a limited liability company (LLC) and then change it to a corporation at a later date once the shipping company has reached a certain size and stature.

Think about where you expect to take your business if your plans are successful and choose a legal structure that gives you the best tax options and allows you to expand without any difficulties.

You Will Need Insurance

It is not possible to run a shipping business without having some sort of insurance cover in place.

This is another area of the business that you might want to seek help with as an experienced insurance broker with knowledge of the shipping industry will be able to suggest which type of policy covers your needs and keeps you legal and protected when shipping goods across different borders.

Get Yourself Qualified

It should come as no surprise that the shipping industry is highly regulated and demands a degree of professionalism and even qualifications from the people within it.

The bottom line is that the more qualifications and certifications you have the more doors you will find opening up for you in terms of business opportunities.

There are some relevant shipping certifications that you might want to consider gaining for you and any key members of staff that will be helping you run the business.

Professional certifications that are worth considering if you are pursuing a career in the shipping industry include becoming a Certified International Trade, Shipping and Logistics Professionals, and a Certificate in Marine Transportation and Certification of Logistics Professionals.

Although these professional certifications are not a legal requirement when you start your shipping business, having these qualifications will almost certainly enhance your reputation and confirm your ability to deliver on your promises.

Get Documents in Order

Although you won’t need to get any of these certificates before you start trading your shipping business there are some basic legal documents that you will need to have in place beforehand.

You will need the business certificate of incorporation, a business license, a shipping clearance certificate, and your insurances in place.

Make a list of everything you need and if you are not sure what the local requirements are in your jurisdiction, ask a professional for guidance on this subject.


Your shipping business will need to be properly financed and prepared for the sort of expenses that you will face when first starting a business and trading without many customers, to begin with.

Starting a shipping company doesn’t have to be a huge financial undertaking if you start with modest plans and scale up as your cash flow improves and cash reserves improve.

Your business plan should demonstrate how much money you will need and having this document will also help you raise finance from banks and investors.

Starting any business can be daunting but if you set yourself up correctly and work hard at creating a reputation for good service and prompt delivery there is every chance that your shipping company can go on to establish itself and grow into a successful business.

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