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Top 12 tips about how to be a successful owner-operator

May 14, 2020

Looking for ways to take your trucking business to the next level? Check out these 12 tips on how to be a successful owner-operator.

A goal of every owner-operator, no matter if they recently just started their trucking business or have been doing it for 20 years, is to be successful.

Most owner-operators probably define their success as bringing in the greatest amount of revenue possible while having the fewest number of expenses.

If you are someone looking to take your trucking business to the next level by spending less and bringing in more, check out these 12 tips on how to be a successful owner-operator.

12 ways to be a successful owner-operator:

1. Understand your costs.

    You are now the owner of your own business. This means you are responsible for understanding your business expenses because you are the one who has to pay for them. To be a successful business owner, it is imperative you know how much it costs to be an owner-operator.

    2. Always be learning.

    To be a successful owner-operator, you have to do better than what the average owner-operators are doing around you. In order to stay one step ahead of the competition, be open to new and better ways to do things. Connect with leaders in the industry and learn from them. Reading more articles like this is also a great start.

    3. Be prepared for the unexpected.

    Whether it is unforeseen out of service, a truck breakdown or something else, the unexpected can hurt a little less if you have prepared for it. You will be thanking yourself during these tough times if you previously set aside an emergency fund that could last you three to six months if you are not running.

    4. Create a business plan.

    Once you understand what your costs will be, devise a business plan for those costs. Think about the structure of your business, what taxes you will need to pay and what your book keeping will look like. You may need to talk to an accountant to gain a better understanding of your personal finances.

    5. Focus on your health and wellness.

    Being a successful owner-operator starts with taking care of yourself. Being an overall healthy human can result in fewer sick days and fewer medical expenses. Plus, getting in a little exercise each day and eating healthy can make you feel better physically and mentally.

    6. Don't lose sight of your credit score.

    As an owner-operator who is out on the road most of the time, it can be easy to forget about those bills sitting on the counter back at home. Take proactive steps, whether it is setting up direct payments or logging into your bank account on your phone, to make sure your bills are paid on time. Also, work on creating a plan to pay off any debt you may have.

    7. Work hard.

    This probably seems like a no-brainer, but if the main reason you became an owner-operator was so you could work less, think again. Especially if you are a new owner-operator, in order to be truly successful, you may have to run more at the beginning in order to get ahead.

    8. Consider how you are getting your loads.

    How you get your loads as an owner-operator has a direct impact on how much revenue you make as an owner-operator. If where your loads come from currently is not bringing in as much income as you would have hoped, consider looking into other options.

    9. Find ways to save money.

    From leasing-on with a company that offers fuel discounts to cooking more meals in your truck, there are many ways to save money as an owner-operator.

    10. Always be on step ahead.

    Whether it is finding loads to haul or setting aside that emergency fund or having someone back home check your mail, always thinking ahead is a key to success. The most successful owner-operators are organized and know what they are going to do before it even happens.

    11. Buy or lease a truck - decide which is best for your business.

    It is vital for owner-operators to take time to consider what kind of truck they want and how they are going to finance it. For some, that means buying a used fleet truck from a place like Schneider Trucks and for others, it could be leasing a new or gently used truck from somewhere like SFI Trucks and Financing.

    12. Keep a budget and stick with it.

    You owe it to yourself and your business to create a thorough budget and then stick with it. When creating that budget, make sure it encompasses all things, like: how much money you can afford to set aside each month, what your truck payments will look like, how much you plan to spend on groceries every week, etc.