Should I set up my own courier business?

This depends entirely on your own circumstances, and on what you are trying to achieve.

A lot of people ask me if I think it will work if they try to set up part time, at least to start with, to see how it goes before deciding to, for example, leave their current job. This plan does have the upside of doing least damage to your current lifestyle before you decide whether or not to commit full-time. There are however two problems with it.

First, your customers, whether they’re courier companies or general businesses, are generally working hardest during the normal working week, ie just when you will be unavailable. So you soon develop an unwelcome reputation for being generally unavailable for work. Not good.

The second issue is that you will have to invest the same amount in a part-time business, as you will in a full time one. So your insurance, van hire or depreciation, and other fixed costs will have to be met out of a part time income, not a full time one. Given that it’s possible to pay several thousand pounds a year on this kind of fixed costs, you can see how it’s a real problem if you are earning only part of the week.

On the upside, there are some customers around who do have “out of hours” work, and who sometimes struggle to cover it. So it may be possible to carve out a niche for yourself in this kind of area. But if you are new to the industry, that’s quite an ask.

Usually, when people ask me about becoming a courier, I suggest that they get some experience of the industry. Makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, you wouldn’t just jump in to becoming a pub landlord just because you like beer, would you? In the same way, just because you like driving doesn’t mean you have the knowledge and skills to become a courier. So some training on the job, or other way of getting to know what is involved, is a good idea before starting your own business as a courier.

You could see if there are any driving jobs, or even jobs in the office, at local courier companies. Or if you have a van of your own already, you could ask for work as a self employed courier with one of your local courier companies.

It’s easy to get hold of a list of courier companies in your area. In the old days, you used to have to buy a list of courier companies, but now the information is freely available on the internet, and generally up to date. You courier google for courier companies near your home post code. Or sign up for a free listing on, and look up the courier companies listed in order of distance from your home postcode. It’s all free.

Above all, you have to talk to people, listen to what they say, and make your own mind up about the way ahead for you.

Starting as a freelance courier for a local courier company is a good way to start, whatever you are planning to do. Whether you want to become a successful one man band, or are planning to start and grow a bigger company of your own, you’ll benefit from seeing life on the street. It’s especially good for getting an idea of who uses couriers and why.

Whatever you decide, full or part time, one man band or a fleet of vans, you’ll need a good working knowledge of the industry, enough cash to get yourself going, and the ability to go out and get some work from somewhere, before deciding to start your own courier business.

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