Startup Costs: $2,000 - $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? No
Trucking plays a major role in the nation's economy--according to the American Trucking Association, those big wheels generated $346 billion in gross revenues in the most recently calculated year, employed more than 9.5 million people and hauled 6.5 billion tons of freight. And 77 percent of all American communities rely on trucks as their sole source of freight delivery. If you've got experience in the industry, you probably also know that it's the freight broker who keeps those trucks rolling by arranging for delivery of consignments large and small. If you love the song of the open road but you don't want to be on the road, then a freight brokerage may be just the business for you. As a freight broker, you'll work with manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors who need to get their products across town or across the country with the help of trucking companies. You can specialize in LTL (less than a truckload) cargoes or in containerized ones. The advantages to this business are that you can work from home and it's an industry that's unlikely to disappear--transportation will always be a necessity. A background in the transportation industry is important because you'll need not only hands-on experience, but also contacts in the field. If you lack this experience, work for another freight brokerage until you learn the tricks of the trade. You'll also need excellent organizational and time-management skills and the ability to get things moving quickly.
Your customers can be manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of any types of goods and materials. You can also target companies that exhibit at trade shows or conventions and need booths and display materials moved to various sites. Place ads in trade magazines and on import/export Internet sites. Send sales letters and brochures to mailing lists of prospective companies. Ask for referrals from satisfied customers and industry contacts.
You'll need to be licensed by the Office of Motor Carriers (a division of the Federal Highway Administration, Department of Transportation), and you'll be required to carry a $10,000 surety bond or trust. Then you'll want a computer with the usual office software, a laser or inkjet printer, and a fax machine. The Transportation Intermediaries Association will send you a new broker kit explaining all this and more--call the association at (703) 317-2140.