Being your own boss is definitely appealing – it comes with the freedom of choosing your own equipment, loads, schedule, etc. But with freedom like this also comes responsibility as a business owner. Check out these tips we compiled to hopefully make your first year of being an owner operator a breeze!
Set obtainable goals and expectations.
While going into business for yourself comes along with the expectation that you’ll make more money (which you totally can!), don’t get discouraged when have to lay out a lot of cash to get started. You’ll need working capital to take care of expenses like insurance, food and lodging, fuel, equipment repairs or maintenance, and many others. Make sure you do your homework on what kind of expenses you can expect and budget accordingly.
Manage money wisely.
Budget management is easily one of the keys to success as an owner operator. Be ambitious, but also realistic about growth. Try budgeting based off of yearlong averages, not just the times you made a higher profit.
Set aside cash, just in case.
Work slows down, people get sick, the cost of fuel fluctuate… the list goes on. Downtime can be a real financial burden if you’re not prepared. It’s recommended to have at least 3-6 months worth of expenses saved and put away in case any emergency, big or small, comes up and puts a halt to daily operations.
When in doubt, call a pro.
Having your own business comes along with having needs that a professional should handle: insurance, banking, legal help, etc. While some of these aspects of business are easily handled by yourself as you go along, it’s always helpful to have a professional help you get started to make sure you have everything you need.
Continue to learn.
Whether you’re finding your way in a new industry or you’ve been working in it for years, it’s always helpful to continue learning. It’s how you can stay ahead of your competition. Making industry connections is a great way to make sure you’re always learning. Those connections can be a reason for your future growth, as well.
Don’t forget: you’re a business owner now!
In the beginning, you’ll find that you need to spend extra time outside of your driving to make sure everything is running smoothly. You also will have to be prepared if your truck needs maintenance or you need extra cash for fuel. All of these things that used to be someone else’s responsibility are now yours.
Always be prepared.
We’ve touched on this a few times already, but whether or not you’re prepared for whatever happens in your business is going to make or break your success. If your brokers or shippers pay a little too slowly to keep your cash flow where you want it, you may want to consider invoice factoring. Factoring helps keep up a positive cash flow so you get paid fast without incurring any debt.