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How to Start a Delivery Service

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Delivery Service

Fast Facts

Investment range

$4,250 - $9,600

Revenue potential

$80,000 - $470,000 p.a.

Time to build

1 – 3 months

Profit potential

$55,000 - $140,000 p.a.

Industry trend




With people spending more time at home these days, more things need to be delivered. As a result, US delivery services are booming, and already worth more than $130 billion. Starting a delivery service can help you tap into that market, whether you deliver food, flowers, or purchases from local retail stores. All you need is a vehicle, and you can run your business from home.

You need to know how to drive, obviously, but you also need some business know-how. Luckily, this step-by-step guide has all the tips and insight you need to start building your own successful delivery service.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Starting a delivery service has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s right for you.


  • Huge Market – Everybody wants stuff delivered to their door
  • Good Money – Make up to $200 per carload
  • Flexibility – Run the business from home, work when you want


  • Vehicle Needed – Truck or van may be necessary
  • Long Hours – After-hours deliveries can be difficult

Delivery service industry trends

Industry size and growth

delivery service industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

delivery service Trends and Challenges

Trends in the delivery service industry include:

  • The increase in the number of deliveries has made large delivery companies like FedEx and DHL focus on partnerships with large companies rather than small local companies with local delivery needs. This is a huge opportunity for small local delivery services to prosper.
  • Interestingly, an increased number of returned items also presents an opportunity for local delivery services to also deliver returned items to local stores.

Challenges in the delivery service industry include:

  • Rising fuel prices are cutting into the profit margins of delivery services.
  • Customer demand for tracking of packages is creating a need for delivery services to upgrade their technology.

Demand hotspots

delivery service demand hotspots

What kind of people work in Delivery?

delivery service industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a delivery service business?

The startup costs for a delivery service range from about $4,200 to $9,500. The main cost is for a down payment on a van or truck. If you already have a vehicle, your startup cost could be as little as $1,700.

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your delivery service, including: 

  • Van or truck
  • Dollies
  • Straps
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 - $200$175
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup$1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Down payment on a van or truck$2,500 - $5,000$3,750
Dollies, straps$200 - $500$350
Total$4,250 - $9,600$6,925

How much can you earn from a delivery service business?

delivery service earnings forecast

Your prices will vary based on the size of the load as well as the distance and could range from $100 to $200 for an average of $150. Your profit margin should be about 70% after fuel costs.

In your first year or two, you could work from home and deliver 10 loads per week, bringing in nearly $80,000 in annual revenue. This would mean almost $55,000 in profit, assuming that 70% margin. As your business gains traction, deliveries could climb to 60 per week. At this stage, you’d hire delivery drivers, reducing your margin to around 30%. With annual revenue of nearly $470,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $140,000.

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a delivery service. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • The cost of a truck or van
  • Finding clients, which will take many calls to local businesses

Related Business Ideas

If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
How to Start a Delivery Service

How to Start a Courier Business

How to Start a Delivery Service

How to Start a Food Delivery Business

How to Start a Delivery Service

How to Start a Grocery Delivery Business

Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a delivery service, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research delivery services in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a cannabis delivery service, if it’s legal in your area.

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as grocery delivery.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.

What? Determine your delivery services

There are a host of different types of delivery services you could start including:

  • Restaurant delivery, although you’d be competing with companies like DoorDash. 
  • Grocery delivery
  • Flower delivery
  • Cannabis delivery
  • Local retail delivery
  • Courier service for businesses

Another option is to be an Amazon delivery service partner. Whatever you choose, you should offer contactless delivery options to customers.

How much should you charge for delivery services?

Your prices will vary greatly based on the size of the load, and the distance. You should estimate your time for each delivery route and charge about $40 to $45 per hour. Your costs will be for fuel, so you should aim for a profit margin of about 70%.

Note that you should use delivery route optimization, meaning making your delivery route as efficient as possible, to maximize deliveries and minimize fuel costs.

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will depend on the type of deliveries you choose to do. In any case, it will be small business owners of some kind, who you can find on LinkedIn, Google Maps and Yelp!

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low, and you may want to continue to operate that way, even after you add other delivery drivers. Even your delivery dispatcher could work remotely. If you decide at some point that you need an office, you can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
delivery service idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Delivery Company Name

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “deliveries” or “delivery service”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “The Delivery Squad” over “Alcohol Delivery Services”
  • A location-based name can help establish a strong connection with your local community and help with the SEO but might hinder future expansion

Discover over 290 unique delivery service name ideas here. If you want your business name to include specific keywords, you can also use our delivery service business name generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Delivery Service Business Plan

Here are the key components of a business plan:

what to include in a business plan
  • Executive Summary: A concise overview of the delivery service business, highlighting its mission, key objectives, and value proposition.
  • Business Overview: Detailed information about the delivery service, including its mission, vision, and the problem it aims to solve in the market.
  • Product and Services: Clear description of the range of delivery services offered, specifying types of deliveries, coverage areas, and any unique features.
  • Market Analysis: In-depth examination of the target market, including demographics, trends, and potential for growth in the delivery service industry.
  • Competitive Analysis: Evaluation of key competitors in the delivery service sector, outlining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Sales and Marketing: Strategic approach to promoting the delivery service, encompassing advertising, pricing, and sales channels to attract and retain customers.
  • Management Team: Profiles of the key individuals responsible for managing and steering the delivery service business, emphasizing their relevant experience and skills.
  • Operations Plan: Detailed plan outlining the day-to-day operations of the delivery service, including logistics, technology, and any partnerships required for smooth functioning.
  • Financial Plan: Comprehensive financial projections, including startup costs, revenue forecasts, and break-even analysis, providing a roadmap for the financial success of the business.
  • Appendix: Supplementary materials, such as additional data, charts, or supporting documents, providing extra context for the business plan.

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to delivery services.

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your delivery service will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.

Here are the main options:

types of business structures
  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.

Form Your LLC

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Venture capital: Venture capital investors take an ownership stake in exchange for funds, so keep in mind that you’d be sacrificing some control over your business. This is generally only available for businesses with high growth potential.
  • Angel investors: Reach out to your entire network in search of people interested in investing in early-stage startups in exchange for a stake. Established angel investors are always looking for good opportunities. 
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a delivery business. If you have a unique concept that could grow into something large you may be able, at some point, to attract venture capital or angel investors.

Step 8: Apply for Delivery Business Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a delivery business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Depending on the size of your truck, you may need a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Check with your local department of motor vehicles for requirements.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your delivery business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

types of business insurance
  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as Work Wave, NetworkON, or GOTRACK, to manage your deliveries, routes, dispatching, and invoicing.


  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial. 

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using website builders. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google. 


Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  • Professional Branding — Establish a brand that communicates speed, efficiency, and trustworthiness, incorporating this theme into your logo, uniforms, vehicle branding, and digital presence.
  • Website & SEO — Develop an easy-to-navigate website that details your delivery services, options, and tracking capabilities. Use SEO to optimize for keywords related to delivery services and local courier options.
  • Social Media Engagement — Utilize LinkedIn for B2B networking and platforms like Facebook and Instagram to connect with local businesses and customers. Share updates, testimonials, and real-time service information.
  • Content Marketing — Maintain a logistics blog to share industry tips, efficiency strategies, and company news, establishing your brand as a thought leader in the delivery sector.
  • Customer Success Stories — Highlight how your service has positively impacted local businesses or urgent deliveries, enhancing your reputation and trust.
  • Email Marketing — Send regular newsletters updating customers on new services, company growth, and industry insights.
  • Community Engagement — Sponsor and participate in community events to increase brand visibility and strengthen local connections.
  • Strategic Partnerships — Form partnerships with local businesses and e-commerce platforms to become their preferred delivery provider, offering tailored solutions for their needs.
  • Loyalty and Referral Programs — Develop a loyalty program for frequent customers and a referral incentive that rewards clients for introducing new customers.
  • Vehicle Branding — Ensure your delivery vehicles are prominently branded to act as mobile billboards, increasing visibility everywhere they go.

Focus on USPs

unique selling proposition

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your delivery service meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your delivery business could be:

  • Same day deliveries for your retail business, guaranteed
  • Cannabis delivery – smoke up in no time!
  • Reliable deliveries to keep your customers happy


You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a delivery business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been in delivery for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in delivery services. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership.

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a delivery service business include:

  • Delivery Drivers – deliver goods
  • Dispatcher – take calls, dispatch drivers
  • General Manager – staff management, scheduling, accounting
  • Marketing Lead — SEO strategies, social media 

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.

Step 13: Run a Delivery Service – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

As people continue to stay at home, delivery services are in high demand. In a $130 billion industry, there is money to be made with even a tiny share of that number. A delivery service is a fairly easy business to start and operate, and you can run it from home to keep costs low, even after you hire other delivery drivers. Now that you’ve loaded up on business information, you’re ready to get started and launch your new delivery service!

Delivery Service Business FAQs

Can a delivery service be profitable?

A delivery service can be very profitable. You’ll price your services based on your estimated time, charting $40-$45 an hour. If you run your service from home, your costs will be mainly for fuel, so you’ll have a good profit margin.

How can I get clients for my delivery service?

You’ll likely be targeting small business owners, and you can connect with them on LinkedIn. You should also call on them directly to offer your services. You can find local businesses on Google or Yelp. 

How do I find drivers for delivery?

You can advertise your open positions on job boards like Indeed. You could also try LinkedIn or social media ads.

How do I ensure the security of the items I'm delivering?

It would be best to have secure containers in your car or truck. You also need to make sure that your vehicle is always securely locked.

Can I run a delivery business from home?

You can run a delivery business from home easily and don’t even need an office! It’s that simple. However, if you do get to a point where you require a fleet of trucks, you’ll need to find a suitable place to park them.


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How to Start a Delivery Service