How to Write a Business Plan for a Courier & Delivery Company

Whether you’re looking to raise funding from private investors or to get a loan from a bank (like a SBA loan) for your courier company, you will need to prepare a solid business plan.

In this article we go through, step-by-step, all the different sections you need in the business plan of your courier business. Use this template to create a complete, clear and solid business plan that get you funded.

For more information on courier businesses, make sure to read our guides below:
How To Start a Courier Business in 11 Steps
How Much Does It Cost To Start a Courier Business?
How To Build a Financial Model For a Courier Business

1. Courier Business Plan: Executive Summary

The executive summary of a business plan gives a sneak peek of the information about your business plan to lenders and/or investors.

If the information you provide here is not concise, informative, and scannable, potential lenders and investors will lose interest.

Though the executive summary is the first and the most important section, it should normally be the last section you write because it will have the summary of different sections included in the entire plan.

Why do you need a business plan for a courier business?

The purpose of a business plan is to secure funding through one of the following channels:

  • Obtain bank financing or secure a loan from other lenders (such as a SBA loan)
  • Obtain private investments from investment funds, angel investors, etc.
  • Obtain a public or a private grant

How to write an executive summary for a courier business?

Provide a precise and high-level summary of every section that you have included in the business plan of your courier business. The information and the data you include in this segment should grab the attention of potential investors and lenders immediately.

Also make sure that the executive summary doesn’t exceed 2 pages in total: it’s supposed to be a summary for investors and lenders who don’t have time to scroll through 40-50 pages, so keep it short and brief.

The executive summary usually consists of 5 major sub-sections:

  • Business overview: start by introducing your courier business, where it is located, the services it offers, and the pricing strategy you want to implement. Mention what sets you apart from other businesses. For instance, if you specialize in rush and on-demand deliveries, mention that. Similarly, if you are an expert in overnight delivery which ensures that sensitive packages do not expire while being stuck in traffic, clarify that.
  • Market analysis: summarise the market where you will operate and provide a brief about your target market and narrow down the data to your niche market such as private customers, businesses, e-commerce companies, online stores, etc. Also give certain data points about the courier industry in the area where you want to operate (size and growth), as well as an overview of the main competitors, etc.
  • People: introduce your courier business’ management and employee structure. Provide a brief (no more than a couple of sentences each) of the knowledge and experience of the team. Also, mention how the company will be structured (management roles and reporting lines)
  • Financial plan: how much profit and revenue do you expect in the next 5 years? When will you reach the break-even point and start making profits? You can include here a chart with your key financials (revenue, gross profit, net profit)
  • Funding ask: what loan/investment/grant are you seeking? How much do you need? How long will this last?
An example of a Funding Ask slide for a courier business plan (source)

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2. Courier Business Plan: Business Overview

In this segment of the business plan, you will provide details about the courier business.

You must answer here some important questions that potential investors and lenders often ask about your business and operations. Here are some examples of questions you must answer:

  • What is the rationale behind you starting a courier business today?
  • What will be your area of operation (short vs. long distance)?
  • Will you specialize in a specific type of courier service such as overnight shipping, same-day delivery, luggage delivery, etc.?
  • Will you sign any contracts with bulk carriers?
  • What will be your pricing strategy and why?
  • What will be the legal structure of your company?

a) History of the Project

Any business overview must start with explaining the history of the project. There are 2 components here:

  • Passion & experience of the business owner
  • Rationale behind starting a courier business today

Passion & experience

You may or may not have prior experience. If you have experience, speak about it and how it will help you to run your business.

For instance, you may have worked as client acquisition and management officer in a private courier company for a decade. You may now want to start your own courier business and use your contacts and knowledge to start your own courier business.

Rationale

Is there a certain problem (or perhaps, a set of problems) that your courier company will try to solve? For example, there may not be a single courier company in the location (where you want to operate) that specializes in carrying hazardous material for B2B customers in the chemical or biotech fields. Similarly, there may not be any rush or on-demand courier service provider and you want to fill the gap.

But that’s not all! The market must be suitable for a business to exist and thrive. For instance, if you are trying to open your courier business in a location where there is no demand for courier services specializing in carrying hazardous material, the business choice will be meaningless. 

Similarly, if the location already has multiple standard delivery courier services but no same-day delivery service even though there is enough demand, opening another standard delivery service is not going to be very profitable.

The rationale behind your project must be backed up by a thorough analysis of the industry in the area where you plan to open your courier business. This is what we will cover under Market Overview further below.

b) Business Model

This section of the Business Overview should explain the model you want to adopt for your courier service. For example:

  • Where will you open your office and why did you select that location?
  • Will you have your courier delivery fleet, or will you opt for on-call courier service providers or freelance courier service providers for delivery?
  • What type of packages will you handle and why?
  • Will you provide local delivery services within a limited service radius, or will you do international deliveries?
  • Who will be your potential customers and how do you intend to acquire customers?

What are the different types of courier companies?

There are various types of courier services that you can select. Some of them include:

  • Standard Delivery Services: This type of courier service is the most common. Usually, packages are delivered in 2-3 days. Such services cater to various types of customers such as individuals, e-commerce businesses, etc. There are pricing slabs, which means, there will be a fixed price for a package within a certain weight threshold.
  • Same Day Delivery: In this type of delivery, packages are delivered on the same day as ordered. Deliveries are usually local deliveries, and the orders must be placed within a certain time frame (often by noon). After receiving the package, the courier service will optimize the route and deliver the package on the same day.
  • Overnight Shipping Services: In this format, the courier service will transport the packages overnight to ensure that they avoid rush hours. These courier services usually carry packages containing products that cannot withstand traffic jams and intense heat. Overnight shipping ensures that products spend less time in harsh conditions and on the road.
  • Parcel Services: Parcel services are quite popular, and they often follow the same timetable as that of Same Day Delivery. However, packages are often relatively small.
  • Rush and On-Demand Deliveries: This type of courier service serves customers that need their packages to be delivered as soon as possible. In this format, you will deliver the packages within a few hours. This type of courier service usually carries very important documents, but they are also very beneficial for medical emergencies and different types of emergencies.

c) Pricing Strategy

Strategy

This is where you will provide an overview of your pricing strategy. For instance, you may charge lower than your competitors because you hire freelance drivers with their vehicles instead of maintaining your delivery fleet. This reduces your overhead costs, which allows you to charge lower.

Similarly, you may charge higher than your competitors because your fleet of delivery vehicles has state-of-the-art technology for package protection and monitoring.

Of course, the pricing strategy will heavily depend on various factors that include (but are not limited to):

  • The type of service you offer
  • Package type and weight
  • Distance covered
  • Fuel cost, etc.

Pricing table

While it may not be possible to provide a proper pricing table for all services that you offer, it is still a great idea to provide a table that gives an overview of your pricing structure.

Here is a sample table that you can refer to and build on that:

Service TypeDistancePackage Weight*Price
Same Day Delivery≤ 10 miles

≥ 10 miles
≤ 50 miles

≥ 50 miles
Up to 50 lbs.xx
Overnight Delivery≤ 10 miles

≥ 10 miles
≤ 50 miles

≥ 50 miles
Up to 50 lbs.xx

Remember! The table is only a sample. You can add more columns and rows and add more information that you think is vital for your business. 

However, don’t go into extreme details because potential investors are not interested in the nitty-gritty of your pricing. They just need the big picture of your pricing strategy as they will tie it into financial projections (see more on that below).

e) Legal Structure

Finally, your business overview section should specify what type of business structure you want. Is this a corporation or a partnership (LLC)? Who are the investors? How much equity percentage do they own? Is there a Board of Directors? If so, whom? Do they have experience in the industry?

Get a rock-solid business plan with the Courier business financial model

  • 5-year financial plan already built
  • 20+ charts for your business plan
  • Video tutorial 🎥
  • 5,900+ downloads

3. Courier Business Plan: Market Overview

A complete understanding of the market where you want to operate is important for the success of your business. That’s also something you must showcase in your business plan.

For example, if the potential customers in a location are individuals and small businesses that need basic courier services dealing with small items like documents, clothing, etc., opening a courier service that specializes in delivering hazardous substances will not make enough sense.

Therefore, you must cover here 3 important areas:

  • Industry Size & Growth: how big is the courier industry in your area? What is its growth rate (or decline rate) and what are the factors contributing to its growth or decline?
  • Competition Overview: how many competitors are there? How do they compare vs. your business? How can you differentiate yourself from them?
  • Customer Analysis: who is your target audience? What type of packages do they usually ship? Do they require overnight or same-day deliveries? Do they need an international courier? How frequently do they require courier services?

a) Courier Industry Size & Growth

How big is the courier industry in the US?

The couriers and local delivery services market in the US is estimated at $149.6 billion in 2022. The market has been growing steadily at a CAGR of 6.6% from 2017 to 2022.

There were 365,312 couriers and local delivery services companies across the US in 2022. This represents an average annual turnover of $409,000 per company.

How big is the courier industry in your area?

After getting a clear picture of the courier industry in the US as a whole, narrow down to your location. It’s very likely that you won’t find the number anywhere (at least not for free).

In that case, you can use our guide to estimate the TAM, SAM, and SOM for your business. Here is an example of how to do it:

We know the average annual turnover per courier company is $409,000. Therefore, if the location where you will operate has a total of 40 courier services, the courier industry in the area is worth approximately $16 million.

How fast is the courier industry growing in your area?

Looking at public information online, we know that the courier service providers in the US grew at a rate of 6.6% per year from 2017 to 2022.

What about the location where you want to open your courier business? US national averages can be a great addition to your business plan, yet they don’t necessarily help to assess the courier industry where you want to open your store.

For example, the industry might be growing in the US, but declining in your region for a number of reasons (businesses shutting down due to losses, etc.).

As you likely won’t find this information online, you can instead rely on the number of courier services in the location.

For example, if the region had only 25 courier businesses in 2017 yet 40 in 2022, you can assume that the average annual growth rate of the courier industry in the area is 12%, higher than the US average.

b) Courier Industry Competition Overview

Studying your competitors’ business models is vital. You need to understand what makes them successful or why they fail. A clear understanding of their business model, the services they provide, their marketing strategies, etc., will allow you to provide a better service.

If your competitors are offering nearly the same services, then what is their market share and how do they market their products & services to attract new customers?

It is always a good idea to do some research and create a comparative table summarizing their services, marketing strategies, vehicles they use for deliveries, etc.

Here is a sample table that you can use:

Competitor #1Competitor #2Competitor #3
Locationxxxxxx
Business modelStandard delivery
Overnight delivery
Same-day delivery
Overnight delivery
Parcel delivery
Same-day delivery
Overnight delivery
Parcel delivery
VehiclesLarge vansSmall vans, ebikesSmall vans, ebikes
Pricingxxxxxx
Infrastructure3rd party bulk carriersFreelancersOwned infrastructure
Couriers (approximately)103015

Courier Business SWOT Analysis

In addition to a comparison table, you should at least add a SWOT analysis. It will help lenders and investors better understand how you compare vs. competitors as well as the overall risk and reward profile of your business.

Here is a sample that you can use as a reference:

  • Strengths: 10 years of client acquisition and management experience in a leading courier service
  • Weaknesses: Startup cost, no initial brand reputation
  • Opportunities: An increasing number of e-commerce businesses looking for delivery and courier service partners for parcel delivery
  • Threats: Existing players are increasing their capacity to accommodate the increasing demand

c) Customer Analysis

This is the sub-section where you will provide a detailed analysis of your target audience.

Some important points that you must include in your customer analysis include:

  • What types of individuals and/or businesses are looking for courier services in your area?
  • What type of courier services are in demand (same-day, standard deliveries, etc.)?
  • Are businesses willing to hire newer players or do they prefer sticking with existing couriers?
  • How often do they need courier services (daily, weekly)?
  • What could you improve vs. existing players?

You can add as many data points as required to validate your business decision. The idea here is to display your deep understanding of the target audience and their needs, preferences, and expectations.

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  • 5-year financial plan already built
  • 20+ charts for your business plan
  • Video tutorial 🎥
  • 5,900+ downloads

4. Sales & Marketing Strategy

This is the section where you outline your customer acquisition strategy. Try to answer the following questions:

  • What is your target audience? Individuals or businesses?
  • What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
  • What are the different marketing strategies you will use?
  • How do you intend to track the success of your marketing strategy?
  • What is your CAC or customer acquisition cost?
  • What is your marketing budget?

What marketing channels do courier businesses use?

A few marketing channels that courier businesses typically use are:

  • Brokers
  • TV & Radio ads
  • Direct visits by sales representatives (for B2B courier services)
  • Cold calls & emails (for B2B courier services)
  • Billboards & signages
  • PPC ads

If you offer courier services to businesses (which most companies do), you may rely on direct sales, brokers and PPC.

Instead, if you offer courier services to individuals (e.g. luggage delivery), you may want to include social media to your marketing strategy as well.

PPC is an effective marketing strategy to win new customers (individuals or businesses)

What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

In other words, how do you differentiate yourself vs. competitors? This is very important as you might need to win customers from competitors.

A few examples of USPs are:

  • Speed: you may offer very fast deliveries (e.g. under 4 hours)
  • Availability: you ensure there are always courier drivers on standby for last-minute deliveries
  • Products handled: you deliver hazardous substances in specialized vehicles
  • Price: your services may be cheaper vs. competition

5. Management & People

You must address two things here:

  • The management team and their experience/track record
  • The organizational structure: different team members and who reports to whom?

Management

Small businesses often fail because of managerial weaknesses. Thus, having a strong management team is vital. Highlight the experience and education of senior managers that you intend to hire to oversee your courier business.

Describe their duties, responsibilities, and roles. Also, highlight their previous experience and explain how they succeeded in their previous roles.

It is also important that you explain how their experiences and qualifications help you in implementing the courier business you are proposing. If they have specialized training and experience (such as years of experience in customer acquisition management, customer service, experience in handling fragile packages, etc.), add that information.

Organization Structure

Even if you haven’t already hired a courier manager, delivery driver, accountant, and other relevant staff members, you must provide a flowchart of the organizational structure defining hierarchy and reporting lines.

6. Financial Plan

The financial plan is perhaps, with the executive summary, the most important section of any business plan for a courier and delivery company.

Indeed, a solid financial plan tells lenders that your business is viable and can repay the loan you need from them. If you’re looking to raise equity from private investors, a solid financial plan will prove them your courier business is an attractive investment.

There should be 2 sections to your financial plan section:

  • The startup costs of your project (if you plan to start a new courier business, acquire new vans, etc.)
  • The 5-year financial projections of your courier company

a) Startup Costs

Before we expand on 5-year financial projections in the following section, it’s always best practice to start with listing the startup costs of your project. For a courier business, startup costs are all the expenses you incur before you start transporting goods for your customers. These expenses typically are:

  • The acquisition of the fleet (the vans)
  • The office & warehouse lease deposit (if you rent) or real estate price (if you buy)
  • Office equipment
  • Business insurance, etc.

Of course, the startup costs depend on a number of factors, like the number and type of vehicles you operate, whether you own the vehicles or not, etc.

For example, it costs on average $33,000 to $52,000 to start a small courier company with 5 vans (assuming you decide to lease the vans vs. buying them upfront).

Note that these costs are for illustrative purposes and may not be fully relevant for your business. For more information on how much it costs to open and run a courier business, read our article here.

Startup costAmount
Fleet acquisition $18,750 – $33,750 *
Office & warehouse lease deposit$4,000 – $8,000
Licenses$250 – $500
Insurance$10,000
Total$33,000 – $52,250
* assuming a 15% downpayment for a bank loan for 5 vans ($25,000 to $45,000 each)

Get a rock-solid business plan with the Courier business financial model

  • 5-year financial plan already built
  • 20+ charts for your business plan
  • Video tutorial 🎥
  • 5,900+ downloads

b) Financial Projections

In addition to startup costs, you will also need to build a solid 5-year financial model in the business plan of your courier company.

Note that your financial projections should be built using a spreadsheet (e.g. Excel or Google Sheets) and presented in the form of tables and charts in your business plan.

As usual, keep it concise here and save details (for example detailed financial statements, financial metrics, key assumptions used for the projections) for the appendix instead.

Your financial projections should answer at least the following questions:

  • How much revenue do you expect to generate over the next 5 years?
  • When do you expect to break even?
  • How much cash will you burn until you get there?
  • What’s the impact of a change in pricing (say 15%) on your margins?
  • What is your average customer acquisition cost?

You should include here your 3 financial statements (income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement). This means you must forecast:

  • The number of miles ;
  • The deadhead rate ;
  • Your expected revenue ;
  • Operating costs to run the business ;
  • The cost to acquire the vehicles (vans, cars, bikes, etc.)

When projecting your financials, make sure to sensitize sales volume (miles), pricing, deadhead rate as well as the expenses (fuel, maintenance, etc.). Indeed, a small change in these assumptions may have a significant impact on your revenues, and most importantly, your profits.

Source: Courier financial model template

7. Use of Funds

This is the last section of the business plan of your courier and delivery company. Now that we have explained what your business model is, what type of freight you transport, how you get customers, etc., this section must now answer the following questions:

  • How much funding do you need?
  • What financial instrument(s) do you need: is this equity or debt, or even a free-money public grant?
  • How long will this funding last?
  • Where else does the money come from? If you apply for a SBA loan for example, where does the other part of the investment come from (your own capital, private investors?)

If you raise debt:

If you raise equity

  • What percentage ownership are you selling as part of this funding round?
  • What is the corresponding valuation of your business?

Use of Funds

Any business plan for a courier company should include a clear use of funds section. This is where you explain how the money will be spent.

Will you spend most of the loan / investment in paying your employees’ salaries and the COGS (fuel, maintenance)? Or will it cover mostly the cost for acquiring the vans?

For the use of funds, we also recommend using a pie chart like the one we have in our financial model template where we outline the main expenses categories as shown below.

An example of a Funding Ask slide for a courier business plan (source)

Get a rock-solid business plan with the Courier business financial model

  • 5-year financial plan already built
  • 20+ charts for your business plan
  • Video tutorial 🎥
  • 5,900+ downloads