Tips for Starting Out As an Owner Operator

There’s nothing quite like owning your own business and being your own boss, but you have to take care to make the most of your investment of time, money and energy. The right approach and information can mean the difference between success and failure, so be sure you’re armed with new owner operator tips as you build your trucking company.

Know How You’ll Bring in Money

You likely have a loose idea of how you plan on making money as you’re sketching out your truck owner operator business plan, but you’ll be much better off solidifying that idea as much as possible. As an owner operator, there are two main ways to make money: leasing to a carrier and operating on your own by booking your own loads.

If you choose to lease to a carrier, you’ll need to get in touch with recruiters to see what will be expected of you as a driver in regards to how long you’ll be out, the pay you can expect and the type of insurance you’ll need. Be sure to talk to drivers as well to get a balanced idea of what you can expect if you choose to work with a particular carrier.

Like the idea of booking your own loads? Chat with brokers and potential customers, and check out load boards as well. Be clear on what brokers will expect from you and the type of equipment and truck you’ll need to be successful. Know that if you’re brand new to the trucking industry, you’ll have a lot of work ahead of you if you decide to book loads on your own.

Save as Much Money as Possible

Besides money coming in, you’ll also need to think about the money going out as you put your business together. If you don’t yet have a truck, save up as much as possible on a down payment or leasing your truck. Not only will your equipment payments be lower if you offer up a hefty down payment, you’re more likely to have an easier time securing financing with a sizeable down payment.

Besides money for your truck, you also have to think about operational costs. You’ll need trucking insurance and funds for out-of-pocket expenses, maintenance, food, fuel and unexpected repairs. There might also be a period where you’re unable to make runs because of a mechanical breakdown, so plan your budget accordingly.

Boost Your Credit As Much As Possible

Speaking of financing, something else you can do is increase your personal credit score as much as you can before applying for financing. Request a free credit report and look over it for any mistakes or discrepancies that need to be corrected before lenders pull your credit. Pay all bills on time, early if possible, and do your best not to use any more of your credit if you don’t absolutely have to. While you may have to put off launching your business for a little while as you increase your credit score, doing so will only benefit you later in the form of low interest payments, which means more money to funnel into the success of your business.

You might also want to look into getting a business credit card so you can make purchases specifically for your business. This is a good idea so you can keep your personal spending separate from your business spending. Just like your personal credit score, take steps to keep your business credit score as high as possible at all times.

Plan for Preventative Maintenance Before You Need It

Also be sure you think about preventative maintenance, even if you plan on purchasing a brand new truck. While you’re exploring options for which truck you think is the best fit for your business, look into how much preventative maintenance will cost. Even if that maintenance is several years away, putting money back for it now ensures you not only have a means to pay for that necessary maintenance, but that you don’t have to put that maintenance off. Just like with a regular automobile, taking care of small issues and taking steps to keep your rig as fully functional as possible helps avoid unnecessary breakdowns and the equally unnecessary expenses that come with them.

Think About Your Personal Relationships

If you have a spouse, significant other or family, think about how your relationship with them could change while you’re on the road. Issues can develop with you being away from home, so be sure you have this discussion with your loved ones about how you’ll address any problems that might come up in the future so that you don’t risk a disruption in your business or personal life.

Have a solid foundation underneath you before becoming an owner operator. The right insight paired with a little foresight is sure to serve you and your aspirations well.

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