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Stacking The Deck in Your Favor as An Owner-Operator

Success in trucking can only truly be defined by the person behind the wheel. For some, simply starting their own business and having the freedom to pick and choose when and where to run is the pinnacle of success. For others, building and growing their own fleet and business is the ultimate goal.

Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, several factors go into creating a successful business as an owner-operator. Here are 10 tips from the ES Advantage team to help whether you are just starting your journey or are simply looking to improve your business.

10 Tips for Owner-Operators

1. Set Your Work Habits

Running your own business is a daily grind. All the tasks that you normally complete as a driver don’t simply go away when you become an owner-operator. In fact, you are adding more responsibilities and layers to the equation. Every decision you make ultimately affects your bottom line, including your work habits. It may seem small but knowing how you best operate will help you prepare for running your business. 

2. Focus on Your Health

In sports, they say that the best ability is availability and being an owner-operator is no different. A great deal of emphasis is placed on the vehicle maintenance, but you also must be in good health to ensure you can run the truck effectively. Time off the road for health issues is money lost and can be detrimental to your business.

3. Create A Business Plan

We all have goals and dreams. Putting those down in writing will help you focus on what is important and keep your business on track. Do you need to pay for braces? What about college for your children? Maybe you want to expand your fleet in 2 years. All these goals need to clearly be laid out so that you know what type of revenue you need to generate to hit each milestone.

4. Choose the Right Equipment

It may seem like a no brainer, but your equipment matters. As an owner-operator more is being placed on your shoulders than just truck selection. If you are running under your own authority, do you have an ELD provider? What trailers are you going to use? If you are looking at driving flatbed, do you need to procure tarping equipment? These are just the tip of the iceberg, but each piece of equipment must be properly evaluated to meet your specific needs.

5. Talk to An Accountant

Even if you are good with money, connecting with an accountant should be a top priority. Resources like those provided by Trucker CFO are great for owner-operators because they focus on the transportation industry and know the challenges fleet owners face. Even if you don’t have a full-time accountant, utilize experts when filing annual or quarterly taxes to ensure there are no surprises.

6. Establish A Budget

While talking with an accountant, establish a budget for your business. Take into consideration fuel costs, insurance premiums, maintenance, tires, and more. Discount programs like those offered by ES Advantage, can help you minimize operating expenses so that you can stay within budget each month.

7. Adopt A Business Mindset

Owning your own business isn’t for everyone. There are amazing drivers out there that struggle with making the leap to fleet ownership because they fail to adopt a business mindset. This doesn’t mean you have to have an MBA to succeed, but you do need to approach everything you do as a business decision.

8. Find A Trusted Financial Service Provider

Cashflow might not be as big of a deal if you are getting weekly settlements from a carrier you run with, but what if you are running off a load board under your own authority? Do you have the capacity to wait weeks, or even months, to get paid for a load? For most owner-operators the answer is simple – NO. Find a trusted financial service provider that can help create steady cashflow to operate your business.

9. Find A Reliable Carrier or Load Board

Not every carrier or load board is going to be right for you, and that is okay. The most important thing that you do as an owner-operator is to fully vet any potential partner or vendor. Take the time to do your due diligence and avoid making a knee jerk reaction. Also, accept that mistakes will happen and be willing to pivot if your needs aren’t being met.

10. Join A Community for Support

This doesn’t have to be a journey that you take alone. There are countless men and women that are happy to lend advice, and that actually want to see you succeed in this industry. Seek out groups that can help you become a better business owner. At ES Advantage, we believe that owner-operators and fleet owners should Never Stand Alone.

If you’re looking for that community, you are welcome to the ES Community. Give us a call at 888-566-9877 to learn more about the tools, advantages, resources, and support available to you.

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