Hauling freight is a tough job. It’s physically demanding and it requires a lot of mental effort as well, navigating through unfamiliar cities and struggling to reach a destination on time. You’ve also got to keep a very expensive vehicle running and ensure that you don’t damage its very expensive load. For all that, you end up with a paycheck that may not thrill you.
If you’ve reached a high level of frustration with your job but you still like the work, you may start thinking about starting your own freight company. You’ve probably chatted with independent drivers at truck stops or at least seen their trucks parked beside yours, and you may have wondered if you could really make a go of it.
Before you get back to the terminal and hand in your keys, you’ll want to make some careful plans for how to make the transition. If you work through these points, you will have a good idea of whether you’re cut out to own what you drive—and to expand it.
You Must Get Paid
You’re in business to make money, so the first thing you must do is know how to secure your revenue streams so that you’ll remain solvent. In the early years of operation, you’ll have high levels of debt, low levels of equity, and few financial resources to help cover you if receivables are running behind. And with only a small number of accounts to generate revenue, it’s a tough blow if even one is running behind on paying you.
So right off the bat, you should consider freight factoring. TBS factoring takes all the payment headaches away from their clients. The invoices simply go to TBS, and they immediately pay the shipper, less their own fee. After that, it’s up to TBS to bill and collect the account.
Not only does this get you paid faster, it also saves you a lot of overhead and hassle, so it’s doubly beneficial to go this route.
You Need The Skills
Now let’s back up and talk about some of the skills you need…such as backing up. You’ve got to be able to drive if you’re planning to be an owner-operator. You need the appropriate driver’s license qualifications, you must be insurable, and you must be willing to take on a lot of windshield time, especially in the early years.
But that’s just the beginning. When you drive for someone else, you handle the truck-level administration, such as bills of lading, vehicle inspections, reviewing loads, and so forth. As an owner-operator, you’ll need to do all that plus keep all the bills paid and the truck in good shape. You’ll have to advertise and market yourself, do customer service, and handle HR, or at least until you can hire someone to do it.
It’s a rare combination to be able to do both, so consider some online business management classes to fill the gaps.
You Have To Work
Every entrepreneur knows that in the beginning, you can forget playing golf, going fishing, and all the other recreational pursuits you dream of. Yes, if your business does well, you’ll log a lot of time in those hobbies, but until things get going you’ll be working very hard.
We’ve already discussed the tasks involved, from the loading and driving to the advertising and billing. You’ll find that the rest hours on your driver’s log will now be filled with paperwork instead of rest, and it will be some years before you can move beyond that.
These are the issues you’ll really need to consider before striking out on your own. You will want to compare your current working conditions to this scenario and determine if you truly want to go that route.
Almost everyone who works for someone else has dreamed of leaving the job and running their own business. It’s dreamers like this who have built some very successful businesses, but many others have seen their dreams go down in flames because they weren’t as prepared to go out into the fray as they thought they were. The opportunity is real, but you must be realistic and be prepared to do the work and collect the bills.