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How To Build a Business Budget For Your Trucking Business

If you're planning to start a trucking business (or any business for that matter), you must consider your variable and fixed costs to operate each month. Variable costs are costs that can change or vary from month to month such as fuel or maintenance costs for your truck. Fixed costs will remain the same each month such as your truck, trailer, and insurance payments.


It’s extremely important that before you start running your trucking company you create a detailed monthly and yearly budget outlining your personal expenses, personal allotted income, fixed costs, variable costs, and revenue. Let’s talk more about each of these items.


Personal Expenses

To understand how much you need to pay yourself each month, you have to thoroughly know your personal expenses! Personal expenses include any of your regular expenses outside of the business such as your mortgage or rent, vehicle payments/insurance, utilities, groceries, etc. Personal budgeting is a crucial FIRST step to ensure you are still taking care of your personal needs!


Personal Income

What amount do you need to make to cover your personal expenses outside of the business and meet your personal financial goals? This is an important step to understanding the revenue goals and profitability of your business and having a standard amount that you can transfer from your business account to your personal account. Think of this as the salary you pay yourself each month for the work you perform for your business. What amount will meet your needs?


Fixed Costs

To create a budget, you have to understand your fixed and variable business costs. Fixed costs are present whether you are operating your truck or not. Fixed cost examples include:

  • Truck and trailer payments

  • Insurance payment

  • Annual vehicle inspection

  • Drug and Alcohol Testing

  • Software - Load Boards (like DAT TruckersEdge)

  • Technology – phone, internet

  • Taxes

  • Accounting Services

Calculate these items into a monthly breakdown.


Variable Costs

The variable costs you encounter will often go hand in hand with the number of miles you drive and operate. Variable cost examples include:

  • Fuel

  • Maintenance – tires, oil changes, truck washing, etc

  • Tolls/Scale Fees/Parking

  • Factoring Fees/Accounts Receivables (where applicable)

  • IFTA Taxes

  • Office Supplies

  • Misc Costs

  • Lodging

  • Meals

Variable costs may take a few months to work out as your expenses may be different from other trucking business owners. To create your initial budget, estimate what these costs will look like based on your business structure.


Revenue

How many miles do you plan to travel each week? Will you be an over-the-road or a regional truck-driving business? What areas will you likely pick up from and deliver to? How much business will come from the spot market? Is the freight you plan (or hope) to ship seasonal? Is your trailer/equipment in high demand from shippers and brokers? Questions like these will help you estimate your monthly revenue. Depending on your personal expenses and financial goals, the number of hours you work could be much more or much less than other business owners. That is why it is crucial to understand your personal needs and business expenses first.


This is not a simple task. Understanding the structure of your business, your potential customers, historical rates on your desired lanes which can be discovered by using tools like DAT TruckersEdge, and how many hours you are planning to work (within legal HOS limits) will take some serious time and research to estimate your monthly revenue.


When you are finally up and running, you will want to have a strong understanding of not only hours but your operating costs and your overall cost per mile (CPM) as well. Your cost per mile refers to the total operating costs incurred by your business for each mile that the truck is driven. The CPM is calculated by dividing the total operating expenses for the month or year (variable and fixed) by the total number of miles driven (usually in a month or a year).


Once you have arrived at a monthly number you feel confident with for revenue, you can use this to subtract your fixed expenses, variable expenses, and allotted income to arrive at an estimated business profit for each month.


You can find our FREE Personal & Business Budget Template here to estimate your own personal and business budget. Use this as a tool to start budgeting!


There are two major choices when it comes to starting your professional driving career – starting your own trucking business or working as a company driver. There are multiple ways to start your trucking business with different levels of investment, risk, pay, and support. It should be clear by now that it takes a definitive plan. If you feel drawn to the idea of starting your own trucking business, and if you feel you have the inner drive to drive, Soshaul can help! Please check out our free and for-purchase resources, templates, and in-depth courses available on our website.


Ready to START, DRIVE, & ACCELERATE your trucking business? Check out our course here!


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Soshaul Logistics LLC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. It is meant to serve as a guide and information only and Soshaul Logistics, LLC - Copyright 2023 - does not assume responsibility for any omissions, errors, or ambiguity contained herein. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction or operation.


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