Is being a courier a good business to get into?

A huge demand has developed over the last decade for people who can deliver all kinds of goods from industrial products to beefburgers, as we have all become more comfortable with the idea of having deliveries made straight to our home, rather than going out looking for them ourselves. So, there is no shortage of work and earnings can be high – many couriers can earn more than £2000 per week.

There is also a great deal of freedom in the job. Many couriers, perhaps the majority, are self-employed and able to pick their own times of work, which can lead to a good life/work balance.

How to get started

The first thing to do is to work out just where your courier work is going to come from. Do you have contacts with any courier companies locally? a few hours spent searching on the Internet for established companies and giving them a ring to ask if they could use your services could be time well spent. Since some of these companies need deliveries carried out on an irregular basis you may consider signing up with several; you do not necessarily have to accept every job that you are offered, and it is useful to spread your net as widely as possible to make sure that you have sufficient work coming in.

You then need to decide what sort of goods you are going to carry because you will need a vehicle to carry them in; and there is no point getting one that is too large or too small. Do bear in mind that you may well have to travel long distances and it is important that your vehicle is reliable so you should budget accordingly. You should also bear in mind that your vehicle will require regular servicing if it is to remain reliable, so you need to factor this into your schedules.

Necessary insurance

Couriers need to make sure that they are properly insured, not only to protect themselves and the goods that they're carrying but also to remain within the law. As an absolute minimum you will need to have courier driver insurance for your vehicle but you may also want to consider goods in transit insurance, in case the goods that you are carrying get damaged or stolen. Personal liability insurance is also useful; it can cover you for any non-motoring accidents that you may be held liable for whilst uou are working.

Essential knowledge

Once you have decided which area you wish to work in, getting some knowledge of the geography would be useful. A satnav system which constantly updates road conditions and traffic jams is absolutely vital but it is still necessary to have a basic knowledge of your work area.

Necessary qualifications

Apart from a clean driving licence for the type of vehicle that you intend to drive, no other qualifications are necessary to set yourself up as a courier. However, insurance costs can be high for young drivers so being aged over 23 would be an advantage. You do need to be able to sell yourself and your services to the companies you are going to deliver for so a smart appearance is essential.

It may help if you go in for a NVQ Carry and Deliver Goods Certificate; this can be gained through distance learning (in other words you can study at home in your own time) or online. Gaining a recognised certificate like this will give you far more credibility amongst potential employers.

The next step?

Once you have gained some experience working for established courier companies you may wish to set up your own business. This will mean expending time and effort on marketing and persuading companies that you are the right person to trust with their logistics.

This could lead to a very large and profitable business but it will require investment, not only for vehicles and staff but also advertising. It is important to bear in mind that for many companies their work is seasonal; this could mean a mad rush around Christmas time, but a shortage of work during the Midsummer periods, and so you would need to factor this into your business plan.