Many people dream of living on the road, hauling necessary goods across the country. Others want smaller jobs where they can be home every night, while still making a big difference. The best way to ensure that you are going where you want and when you are able to do so is by becoming an owner operator. This just means that you own your truck (and possibly trailer) so you are the one who is going to be calling the shots.
However, it is not just as simple as owning a truck and hauling things around. There is a lot that goes into the business. Here are some tips to get started.
Make sure that it is a right fit. Some people decide that they want to become an owner operator without even trying out the job. Most people do best when they spend a few years behind the wheel, making sure that the lifestyle works for them. Some people can’t handle sitting in a truck for hours at a time, so becoming an owner operator isn’t going to be a good choice.
You also need to make sure that you have the ability to run a business. You alone are going to be in charge of your expenses (and profits). If you don’t find work, you aren’t going to have any. You have to be able to work well, without a boss telling you where to go (and when). You alone are going to have to put in the work in order to be successful.
Find the right truck. Your biggest expense and most important part of your business is going to be your big rig. Depending on your finances, you may try to get a loan to buy a truck outright, or you may look into some leasing options. There are even options where you can lease to buy. It is also important to remember that all companies are different so make sure that you know what you are signing before you do.
You are going to want to buy (or lease) the best rig that you can. Newer models are often more fuel-efficient, which is important as fuel costs continue to rise. They also stand up better than some older models. These older models may be cheaper, but you may have to put some money into them to keep them going. This could make them cost even more than some of the newer models.
Start your bookkeeping off right. It is often a good idea to hire an accountant to help you with your bookkeeping. You should do this from the beginning if you can so that you make sure that you are tracking everything that you need to. He or she will also help you when it comes time to do your taxes. You won’t have to spend a few weeks getting everything ready, because your accountant is already on top of your profits and expenses!
If you choose to do it yourself, you need to have a system, so you don’t lose anything that is really important. Keep something in your truck for your receipts, and have a dedicated space at home to store them. Make sure that you spend time each week (or month) going through your paperwork, so it is pretty up-to-date at all times.
Do your best to keep your expenses low. There are a lot of expenses that go along with being an owner operator. You are going to have to pay for fuel, along with all of the maintenance costs, to keep your truck running as efficiently as possible.
However, you are also going to have expenses while you are on the road. You are going to make some stops to rest and eat. If you stop at a convenient store for every meal, your costs are going to add up. It helps to keep food, snacks, and drinks in your truck, so you don’t spend as much money on the road.
Make your health a priority. Sitting behind a wheel for days at a time isn’t always good for your health. Add in stopping for meals at convenient stores along the route, and you may notice many truckers are unhealthy. This doesn’t have to be the case. You can find ways to stay healthy, even when you spend hours sitting in your truck.
You should try to walk around your truck when you stop for breaks. This will help to get your blood pumping. You may also want to bring healthy food and snacks from home, instead of eating out all of the time. When you do eat out, you may want to try healthier foods, instead of always eating greasy food. Most menus offer salads and other healthy fares for those that are trying to do better!
Before you decide to become an owner operator, you need to decide if it is right for you. Do you enjoy driving a big rig? Can you live in your truck for days at a time? Are you willing to drive extra one day, so you can come home for a few days? You also have to make sure that you can be a business owner. Being an owner operator isn’t just driving. You are going to be in charge of coming up with jobs and sticking to them (even on days when you don’t want to get out of bed). You also need to be an accountant (or hire one to help you). Keeping track of your profits and expenses are important to make sure that your business is healthy. Then, you need to buy (or lease) a quality truck. Make sure that you take your time until you find one that is right for you and your business. This will be one of your biggest expenses, so it shouldn’t be something that you take lightly.
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