Let’s say you’ve decided to take the plunge, start your own business, and begin operating your own fleet of trucks. Such a move can have a big impact on your finances and independence in the future.
That said, having a firm understanding of fleet management is key to actualizing your dream and succeeding in this industry. Let’s discuss.
Acquiring Your Truck
A solid truck (or fleet) is the main asset of your business. Before buying one, consider the mileage, fuel economies, age, and capacity. These factors will directly affect your profitability.
If you want to be in the transport business for a long time, you’re usually better off purchasing a truck. But if you intend to work for a short time, you can also get one through a lease.
Whatever the case, leasing is ideal if you don’t have much startup capital. But in the long run, it might be more costly. On the other hand, buying requires more money upfront, but it’s usually cheaper in the long run.
Being your own boss comes with many benefits. You have the freedom to choose how to run your business, which can be a benefit and a challenge at the same time. If you don’t have self-discipline, it’s easy to get carried away with your personal life to the point of neglecting the business.
Tip #1: Treat your business as a separate entity by separating working time from personal time. Self-discipline will help you maintain the needed work ethic, such as putting in the extra effort to ensure your deliveries are always on schedule. Set goals and reward yourself whenever you achieve them.
Balance Your Time
Being a truck driving owner-operator requires most of your time. Yet you have other matters requiring your attention, like your family, friends and exercise regimen. Without proper balance, it’s easy to neglect one for the other. In the worst case, you may end up missing delivery deadlines and lose your clients.
So you need a plan to help you balance work, personal, and family time. For an owner-operator, overworking is a significant concern, even given the mandatory rest guidelines (The FMCSA says: “You are allowed a period of 14 consecutive hours in which to drive up to 11 hours after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours”).
If you’re not careful, you may find yourself sleeping while driving. So try to come up with a working schedule and stick to it. Let there be time for everything, including your family, even though some unforeseen circumstances may disrupt your schedule.
Plan Your Finances
As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to plan and manage your business’ finances, since, as a sole operator, the amount of money you earn depends on the effort you put in. In this sense, you have total control of how much you can make.
Always budget your income, expenditures and profit. Plus, when the volume of work is high, be sure to save some of the money and plan for time off. Create an emergency fund for unforeseen events or when you don’t have that much work.
Moreover, following proper accounting rules will help you maximize your profitability and in the calculation of taxes. If you find taxes a bit complicated, hire an expert to help you. Remember, proper financial planning and bookkeeping will keep your business stable and running.
Build Long-Term Relationships
Even though you have the freedom to work for whoever you want, it’s good to have long-term clients. These clients will make your work hours and earnings more stable and require less time learning new procedures. During the off-peak seasons, they’ll keep your business going. But to win and retain such clients, you must be reliable and trustworthy.
It takes a lot of effort to succeed as an owner-operator. But with determination and discipline, it’s achievable. Be mindful of your health, since you’ll usually need to work long hours at a stretch. Apply the tips highlighted above, and you’ll be making meaningful steps towards becoming your own boss.