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How to start a business as a courier

Working in the online shopping sector isn’t the only way a freelance courier can make money How to start a business as a courier

If you hadn’t noticed, online shopping is big news. So much so the number of non-food products bought over the internet has soared over the past five years, from 11.6 per cent of the total market in 2012 to 24.1 per cent in 2017. The trend has seen a huge growth in the market for selfemployed ‘neighbourhood’ couriers, allowing organised individuals to work their own hours delivering parcels in their local area for the likes of Yodel and Hermes. But working in the online shopping sector isn’t the only way a freelance courier can make money. People still need all sorts of things delivered, whether it be by pushbike, motorcycle or van, to just round the corner, to the other side of the country, or even the world – offering lots of opportunities for hard working and canny couriers.

Qualifications and skills

The only qualification you need to work as a courier is a clean driving license and a few years experience driving on the road. But if you want to stand out from other freelancers, you can sign up to a professional industry body such as the National Courier and Despatch Association or invest in some logistics-based training, such as a Driving Goods Vehicle NVQ. Otherwise the most important skill is an ability to plan the best route. Sat Nav systems help enormously, but knowledge of traffic patterns is still important. You also need to be organised – keeping track of packages and costs is key. As you’ll be driving on your own for most of the time, people skills aren’t a huge part of the job, but being cheerful and able to make small talk with customers when you drop off a parcel will go a long way. Basic skills in car maintenance will also come in handy - you don’t want to spend hours by the side of the road waiting for a flat tyre to be fixed when you can do it yourself.

Hard essentials

Different companies work in different ways. If you’re planning on working a few hours a week in your local area, chances are you can use your existing car, but if you have bigger ambitions, you’re going to need a van, whether it be your own, or on lease. All will need an up-to-date MOT as well as commercial insurance. Some companies reimburse you for the fuel you use, others don’t – and this will be reflected in different rates of pay. Generally, you will be paid per delivery you make, which is estimated to result in anything from £30 to £150 a day.

Getting the work

There are literally thousands of courier or despatch companies across the UK. To start, get in touch with companies local to you, or search for online opportunities through jobsites or directly through logistics brands’ websites. To ensure you have a regular supply of work, you need to get in with quite a few companies, so it’s important to make lots of contacts. You can also register with the likes of Courier Exchange to make the most of any journey you have to make by picking up additional jobs. Read more like this

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