How to Start a Logging Business [in 12 Steps]

As trends change, the logging industry is expected to meet sizable growth in the next 5 years. Not only did the industry’s growth increase since 2015; it is expected to grow nearly $200 billion by 2025. Demand for forestry products is increasing and is expected to increase furthermore from 2025 to 2030. 

With this expected industry growth, businesspeople desiring a stake hold in this field will need to identify the most important steps towards getting started in this business. To get started, you need to ensure that you write a business plan, apply for the appropriate licenses and permits, secure insurance, advertise, purchase adequate equipment and software, secure financing, build a website, hire qualified employees, and more.

Finding success in this opportune business field requires that you take the appropriate steps to secure your business. Find out how to achieve these tasks and more by reading through our guide. 

Start a Logging Business

1. Write a Business Plan 

The first part of writing a business plan is figuring out your target audience. If you can determine who you are selling to, and further, who is worth selling to, then you can begin to make plans for how you will run your business. 

Additionally, you need to determine who you are in competition with. If you don’t identify your key competitors, you may put your business in a vulnerable position and never succeed. Incorporate your financial, personal, and legal goals into your business to ensure you’re on the right track. 

2. Apply for Licenses

The next order of business is to secure your business with the necessary logging licenses and permits. You’ll also want to factor these into your budget, as the logging industry is regulated by state governments and the national US government, and it can be pricey to apply for licenses and permits. It may even be a wise decision to hire an attorney to guide your business through the permit and licensing processes.

3.Purchase Business Insurance 

When starting any business, you are putting your assets (finances, employees, etc.) at risk. Because of this, any well-oiled business needs to have insurance coverage in case of disaster or the unexpected. 

So, which business insurance is needed for a successful logging business? A lot of business owners will consult with a broker to get guidance on how to choose their insurance policies.

However, some of the basics to consider when starting a logging business include, but are not limited to, payment protection insurance, liability insurance, health insurance, property insurance, workers’ comp., and business owner’s policy group insurance. 

4. Advertise Your Business

Advertising your business is just as important as executing your services, if not more! The thing is, you can’t provide your services if no one wants them (or worse, no one knows about them). You need to decide which advertising is best for your business. One thing to consider is the target audience of your advertisements.

You definitely need to advertise to companies and customers who definitely use the products you provide. For example, it will be key to advertise to companies that produce paper (like pulp mills), wood furniture production companies, sawmills, construction companies, and more. 

This may even be a good opportunity to think about a niche customer base. For example, do you want to provide your products specifically to customers who build log cabins? Or perhaps you want to provide solely to housing construction companies.

If you decide to go this route, you can get more specific with exactly who you will advertise to. One downside of this, however, is that it limits your customer base. 

The following are some methods you can use to approach advertisement:

  • Internet marketing, such as social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), forums, your own company website
  • Local marketing in your area or multi-state area if you live on a border (make use of newspaper ads, billboards, and TV or radio segments)
  • Attend events where your intended customer base will be, such as roadshows or other places where you can distribute your business card or make personal connections
  • Use the classic word of mouth method to get your current customers or professional connections to refer you to potential customers

5.Decide Whether to Franchise or Not

One route that is worth considering in any business is franchising. Franchising is essentially turning your business into a chain of businesses that can be located in multiple places, with the proper authorization granted by a government or company. The idea is that if you brand your business, you will have more turnover in the long run. 

So, should you franchise your logging business? It depends. Some say you are less likely to go under if you franchise, but in logging, you may intend to have only a small business with more personal goals in mind (distributing to local customers only).

Before deciding to franchise any business, it’s recommended to consider whether the business could be successful or scalable, in addition to factors like your budget and motivation to commit to the business long term.

We know that logging is a growing business, but if you don’t have the funds to keep up with demand, you could be in trouble if you try to franchise. 

6.Purchase Equipment 

As expected in most skilled fields, equipment will be necessary to make a logging business thrive. A costly aspect of starting your business will entail acquiring the right types and amounts of equipment for your workers. 

Successful logging businesses require forklifts, skeleton trucks to transport lumber, skidders, feller bunchers, safety gear (helmets/hard hats, goggles, gloves), lumberjack, bulldozers, stump cutters, forwarders, knuckleboom loaders, and more.

It’s no simple matter when it comes to supplying these tools for your business, and each one of them is important to ensure the safety and efficiency of work. Therefore, it is advised to set aside a decent portion of your budget for equipment when working up your business plan. 

The following are some companies commonly used by logging businesses to acquire and/or rent equipment – The CAT Rental Store, Sunbelt Rentals, Forestry Trader, Forestry Equipment Sales, and more.

To get an idea of some costs you will incur, take a look at these typical prices for logging equipment (note that these are based on new condition prices and not representative of all purchasing options)

  • Feller bunchers: $190,000
  • Heavy duty logging truck (Freightliner): $65,000
  • Bulldozer: $75,000-$175,000
  • Stump grinder: could be as low as a few thousand dollars but as high as $100,000 for a commercial business
  • Skidder: $40,000-$140,000

7.Decide Which Software You Need

If you want to keep a successful business, then you need to be good at keeping books. As the money begins to funnel in and out of your business, it is crucial to keep record of all funds for when tax season rolls around so that you don’t end up in trouble for fraud or other mishaps.

This is why choosing a solid accounting software can be a good idea. Accounting softwares such as Intuit QuickBooks have simple plans as low as $12.50/month, and others like FreshBooks have plans as low as $6.00/month. 

8.Secure Financing 

As you start your business, it is likely that you will need to rely on a loan or savings of some kind to help you fund your initial efforts. Securing financing can be a tricky task if you aren’t prepared. 

Some of the ways that you can finance your business are via savings (your money or that of a business partner), lines of credit (loans), and investors.

Consider that both investors and lines of credit will require you to pay back more money down the line and could lead to debt if your business doesn’t begin to profit. Furthermore, if you wish to get a business loan, be prepared to show that you have good credit, collateral, and even a co-signer if you desire more security. 

9.Build a Website 

This part of the process should not go overlooked. As old of an industry as logging is, we are living in a modern world where the way you communicate with your clientele matters. 

Most people won’t even consider a business if they can’t learn about how they work online. This is where a company website comes into play. 

It’s crucial to build a website that is straightforward and helps potential customers know the experience and prices they are looking at if they work with you. If you yourself are savvy with this sort of thing, you can save some money by building a basic website with companies like Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, or some of the many others available with affordable domains and packages. 

If you aren’t too keen on doing this yourself, though, you may consider entrusting the task to a freelancer. You can factor this expense into your business budget, but the prices for freelance work are relatively low since the competition is high among freelancers looking for work like this.

A talented website builder for hire on a platform like Upwork could charge as low as $30/hour. You can easily find freelance workers for hire that build and optimize websites for businesses.

And, hiring the right person could make the difference between growing your clientele and not having anyone notice your new business at all. Some useful freelancing sites that may help you find the perfect website builder include: 

10.Decide Which Payments You Are Going to Take 

In any business, money is important, which is why you need to set up a payment system. In this era, most people don’t carry cash. And further, in a logging business, it wouldn’t be as practical to pay in cash as it is to pay with credit. 

Decide on a credit card processing system before you begin to accept any payment. 

Most credit card processing companies will have the following fees, so looking at these specifics when choosing a company will go a long way:

  • Initiation fees
  • Monthly fees
  • Transaction/interchange fees

Ensure that you choose a credit processing company that offers both good customer support to you, as well acceptance of all major credit and debit card types. You may even consider choosing an option that allows Apple Pay, contactless payment methods, and more if you have customers who will prefer these methods. 

11.Hire Employees 

Perhaps just as important as ensuring the framework of your business is ensuring that you manage it well. And this involves hiring the right team of employees to work for you. You need to decide both where to recruit these employees and the best interview questions to sift through the candidates. 

Consider some of the following professional interview questions when working up your interview template:

  • How well do you perform under pressure?
  • How do you react to changes in the logging industry’s skill requirements and policies?
  • What is the depth of your experience in the logging industry, and can you provide references of professionals who have worked with you?
  • What attracts you to the idea of working with my new business?
  • How well do you work on a team, and what role do you feel suits you best on a team?
  • How comfortable would you feel in a leadership or supervisor position?
  • What are some of your weaknesses in this industry?
  • What are your biggest strengths as a logging worker?
  • As this is a new company, how committed are you to sticking around as the business grows?
  • How important are safety and reliability to you as a worker?

12.Decide on a Payroll Service 

Lastly, you will want to choose an apt payroll service that serves both you and your employees. The right choice depends on several factors. Are your employees paid via salary or hourly wages? Will you be providing benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, overtime, or paid leave?

Do you want a payroll service that is integrated with your time-tracking system, benefits, or even tax records? The more a payroll service can offer in terms of combining paperwork and payment data, the better it can serve your business. Some common providers include QuickBooks, Square, Paylocity, and more. 

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