You can start your very own trucking company with just one truck, allowing you to be your own boss, make your own schedule, and control your future. As exciting as it is, the road to becoming an owner-operator isn’t without challenges. Here are some questions potential owner-operators have and their answers to help guide you in building a strong foundation for your trucking business.
COMMON QUESTIONS ASKED BY PROSPECTIVE OWNER-OPERATORS
How do I get started?
Starting a trucking company, even if it’s just one truck, requires several steps. You may want to start by getting your commercial driver’s license (CDL) if you don’t have it already and getting in some time behind the wheel. Be sure you’re properly insured while learning! Then, learn about the trucking industry and decide where you’d like to focus your attention. Next, you’ll want to register your business according to your state’s laws and put together a business plan that details goals, revenues, and expenses so you can obtain financing. All the while, you can be networking with experienced professionals and building connections with potential customers to help get your business off on the right foot.
What kind of equipment do I need?
The short answer is that it depends on what kind of freight you plan to haul. Planning to haul typical freight? A dry van trailer is probably the right equipment for you. Large, bulky items? A flat bed trailer is ideal. Goods that require climate control? A reefer trailer is probably a good move. Factor in payload capacity and match it to the freight you’ll be hauling and the terrain you’ll likely be driving. Remember that your first truck isn’t necessarily your end-all-be-all. You can upgrade as your business grows.
Where do I find freight?
There are several places you can find freight as a new owner-operator, including:
- Load boards
- Networking with brokers, shippers, and other industry professionals
- Cold calling
- Industry associations and events
How do I get paid?
When you’re your own boss, you get to decide how you get paid based on what works best for your business. There are a couple common payment structures used in the trucking industry. The most common is a per-mile payment, where you receive a set rate for each mile driven. Per-load payments are another option, where you’re paid a fixed rate for each load. Consignment-based pay may also be offered by some shippers, where you receive a percentage of the sale price of freight hauled. You will need to decide between being paid directly by your customers or through a freight factoring service like Express Freight Finance, as well. Freight factoring may be able to streamline your operations and keep up cash flow in your business, so it’s worth considering.
What’s the best way to manage my trucking company’s finances?
When you’re an owner-operator, it means you’re running a business so managing your finances is critical. Keep track of income and expenses using spreadsheets our accounting software, being sure to calculate and set aside what you’ll need for taxes and an emergency fund. Stick to your budget to ensure your company stays solvent. Really not sure where to start when it comes to finances? Find a financial advisor with experience in trucking to help you.
How do I stay compliant with regulations?
If you get caught non-compliant with regulations, it could cost you in terms of future business and in fines and penalties. Rules and regulations in the trucking industry are constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay up to date on things like safety regulations and fuel emissions guidelines. Trucking attorneys and trade associations are great resources for ensuring compliance and navigating the regulatory landscape.
How do I grow my trucking business?
When you first start out, growing your business may seem like a daunting task, but if you stay persistent and plan strategically, it’s definitely possible. Set goals that are realistically paced and lay out the steps to achieve them. Invest in equipment and technology that will make your operations more efficient and help you serve your customers better. Network with other companies, brokers, shippers, and other industry professionals to find new opportunities. Most of all, be patient. It won’t happen overnight. Building a successful company takes time and consistent effort.
Though it can seem difficult and complicated, you can build a successful trucking company starting with one truck. Countless industry leaders have done it and you can, too. Follow the steps above, don’t be tempted to cut corners, and learn everything you can about the industry and your single truck could be a whole fleet in just a few years.