The relatively free flow of goods to and from nearly all corners of the globe creates huge demand for shipping and transport services.
Few countries or regions, if any, are entirely self-sufficient, making shipping and transport not just a valuable economic activity but also of critical importance to human wellbeing and survival. If you’re looking to grow a career or business in this meaningful and much-needed sector, then you’ll want to work through the following steps.
Assess your resources
You may start with an entry-level job in shipping and transport and work your way up, or bring outside resources to bear on a shipping venture. New businesses require start-up capital, so you need to start by establishing and assessing your funding sources. Funding might come from earned income, family money, investors, grants, or lines of credit.
Funding doesn’t have to be the only resource at your disposal. Are there people who can help you as you start and grow your business? It might be a contact that can help you get a job in the industry, mentor you in necessary competency or understandings, or win a first contract. If you don’t have relationships or connections in the sector, then you should consider pursuing industry connections. Networking contributes to real success.
It’s important to prepare and plan, but there’s also no substitute for experience. After you’ve assessed your resources, you need to either find an opportunity to get started within the limits of your resources, or accumulate more resources.
It’s helpful to dream big and start small. You might have aspirations to become a successful shipping mogul with a fleet of thousands doing business around the globe, but that fleet might start with one truck.
Another tip is to find a niche that could give you the opening you need to get established. Don’t get overwhelmed or overreach. Small, early-stage start-ups are vulnerable, and you want to grow from this starting point, not start over. Instead of trying to compete with larger operations with more diverse fleets and reach, look for a niche that suits your location, fledgling fleet, interests or experience, or a new area of business. Fleets running on eco-friendly fuels are increasingly in demand.
Once you’ve launched as a shipping business, however small, and found your niche, your focus should turn to quality and opportunity. Complete whatever contracts and shipping opportunities you do have with the utmost quality. This may limit profits as you build up a positive reputation, which is another reason why it’s important to start small and be very aware of your resources.
You also need to be continually on the lookout for more opportunity. Actively and continually pursue new contracts and keep an eye on trends and niches that could provide the next step in your business’s evolution. Also watch for valuable opportunities to add team members, fleet vehicles, investors, and other resources as they come up. You’ll need to strike a balance between expansion and development on the one hand, and conserving resources so that you’re not overstretched and exposed to too much risk on the other.
As you seek opportunity and increase your shipping contracts, fleet and other resources, you’re moving into a growth phase. Assess your goals. You may be happy and most comfortable running a small or mid-size operation, but if you have considerably higher aspirations, then you will be actively pursuing growth at this stage by continuing to provide exceptional service, expanding your resources (including skilled staff and fleet vehicles), adding regions or sectors that you serve, and expanding beyond your original niche.
There are two types of diversification to consider. The first is within the scope of a shipping company. You might expand your fleet into a different type of shipping. Air, land and sea shipping can encompass many different vehicle types and locations, and you might add to the locations you serve, offering a door-to-door shipment solution, or add more niches or sectors that you serve. This protects your business from fluctuations and downturns in one type or area of shipping.
However, as you grow your business and achieve greater success, there’s a second type of diversification in which the most successful shipping moguls frequently engage. Evangelos Marinakis of Capital Maritime & Trading Corp. is an excellent example. His holdings have been expanded to media and sports, providing further insulation against market fluctuations, as well as scope of interest and leadership development. As your business grows, consider diversification beyond the shipping sector.
While every industry experiences change and development over time, continued demand for shipping is inevitable. Assess your resources and find an accessible entry point today so that you can start on your way to global shipping dominance tomorrow.