Tips for Surviving Your First Year as an Owner-Operator
Let’s face it: the same way that most small businesses will fail in the first year, most owner-operators will go under fast, too. This is because the pressures you face as a first-time owner-operator are immense: competition from the big trucking companies, the need to price your services lower than others, the costs with maintaining and running your rig, and the cutthroat nature of the business.
If you’ve dreamed of the independence of owning and operating your own truck, don’t let the stresses of the market kill your dream before it’s come to fruition. Here are a few tips for surviving that crucial first year and making progress toward financial sustainability.
Don’t Do It All Alone
Most owner-operators would probably balk at the idea of enlisting any help in securing loads for their truck. After all, isn’t the reason they became owner-operators in the first place to be independent? The fact of the matter is, however, that getting loads consistently in your first year is extremely difficult, and you simply don’t have the luxury to take time away from the road to build up your business contacts.
By leasing to a company that will find loads for you, you’ll make sure that you have a consistent flow of new work while you take steps toward securing greater independence. Heck, you might even decide you like it better for somebody else to handle that side of things while you focus on the actual work of driving.
You can also take advantage of financing to help you out, especially initially. If you work with a factoring company for trucking, you can get paid upfront and get advice from people who specialize in financing specifically for truckers.
Focus on Making Lasting Contacts
Once you’ve landed your first few loads, make sure you offer great, friendly service and make a personal connection to the company you’re working with. As an owner-operator, your biggest advantage over the big trucking companies is the ability to make a connection that a faceless corporation can’t, so take the time to get to know your contacts. They’ll be more likely to call you up when they have a job.