If you’re already a truck driver, you may have considered taking the next step: becoming an owner operator. As an owner operator and independent business owner, you’ll experience an independence that isn’t always possible when you’re a company driver. However, becoming an owner operator is a big decision, and the role is a big responsibility, so you’ll need to be prepared. Here are four things owner operators should know when they’re starting out.
Consider Your Finances
Starting a business as an owner operator takes a lot of money. Before beginning the process of becoming an owner operator, do your research and find out how much it’ll cost. Make sure you have and are ready to invest the money required to start your business and to purchase or lease a truck. The last thing you want is to crash and burn financially as soon as you’ve started and have to give up your owner operator dreams.
Get the Right Truck
In order to be an owner operator, you’ll need to either purchase or lease a truck of your own. Acquiring your truck will be the biggest expense for you when you’re starting out. Determine what type of truck you’ll need for the jobs you’ll perform, and once you do so, compare the prices of different trucks. Research additional expenses such as a truck’s fuel economy and the maintenance it will need over time.
Make a Budget and Business Plan
As an independent business owner, you’ll need to make a budget and a business plan for yourself and your services. Decide what kind of customers your business will serve, what your payment method will be, and other details of your business. Create two budgets: one for your personal needs, and one for your business, and decide how much you will spend within each area of your budget. If you need some extra help, consider hiring an accountant who will help you form a business plan and help you deal with documents, records, and taxes.
Know and Follow the Rules
You may think you call the shots as an owner operator, but you can’t call all of them! Be mindful of rules and laws that you’ll need to follow in your business and take measures to adhere to them. Owner operators are still considered CDL drivers by the DOT and FMCSA and are subject to their regulations, including their drug and alcohol testing standards. In order to comply with drug testing standards, register with a drug testing consortium that’ll manage your required drug and alcohol tests and ensure you remain DOT compliant.
If you keep in mind these four things owner operators should know, you’ll be well on your way to starting a successful business and career as an owner operator.