If you are thinking about starting an owner-operator trucking business, you’re probably wondering about the details:
1. how much owner-operators make
2. how you should go about getting started.
Self-employed truckers stand to make a good salary and becoming an owner-operator is a great way for you to enter a profession where you can make a difference and feel proud of the work you are doing. After all, the commercial trucking industry plays a critical role in the U.S. economy, hauling more than 70% of the nation’s freight. Trucking can be an excellent career path if you know what to expect as an owner-operator.
Becoming an Owner-Operator
Trucking is a $900 billion industry and it accounts for more than 5% of all of the full-time jobs in the United States. While trucking has been a part of the transportation industry since the 1800s, the industry remains dynamic. Constant demand from consumers ensures that commercial trucking is as vital to the U.S. economy today as ever before, which makes becoming an owner-operator a smart career move. But there is a lot that goes into running a successful trucking company. It turn into a huge headache if you don’t go into it with all the right information.
Organization is key to starting an owner operator trucking business. This doesn’t mean you need to get a business degree, but it does mean you should have a step-by-step plan in mind.
Cover Your Bases
- Start by doing an honest self-assessment. This is important because running an owner operator trucking business is demanding both physically and mentally. Self-employed truckers spend lots of time on the road, even when compared to most company drivers. They must also be self-disciplined since they have no boss looking over their shoulder or reviewing their time card. At the very least, an owner operator should have a minimum of one year over-the-road experience, be in good physical health, and have access to good owner operator trucking software (more on that in a minute).
- The most essential piece of equipment for any owner operator is a big rig. That, in turn, requires either decent credit or a lease-to-own deal. But lease options vary widely from one company to the next. Some of them are dangerous. So make sure you understand what you’re getting into before signing your name. If you’re at all unsure, then have a legal professional review the papers for you.
- Have a plan for handling your tax reporting. IFTA, IRP, HVUT, income taxes. It’s all on you as an owner-operator. It’s not just about handing the shoebox over to the accountant. This is vital to your profit margins and peace of mind. TruckingOffice owner operator trucking software includes tools that make IFTA matters as simple and painless as possible, without asking you to do anything more than what you’re already doing. Enter your dispatch and your fuel purchases and your IFTA filing or IRP filing can be ready at the push of a button. The miles by state calculator that will safeguard you from costly errors, the kind that can trigger an audit and result in big fines.
- Decide whether you’re going to run solo or have a partner. Each option has its share of pros and cons. On the one hand, having a partner can keep you on the road longer, enhancing your bottom line. It can also stave off loneliness by giving you someone to talk to during those long hours on the road. On the other hand, it can tax your patience if you and the other person don’t hit it off. Plus, it means sharing your revenues. Going solo can save you from these problems, but it also means you’ll be shouldering all the burdens yourself.
- Be realistic about expenses. Sure, owner operators draw in a lot more money per mile than company drivers. But they also pay maintenance fees, taxes, and other costs to which most company drivers never give a second thought. When crunching the numbers, don’t forget about your personal expenditures while on the road. Allow a reasonable amount for restaurant meals and miscellaneous items.
- Take practical steps to safeguard your health. A job that has you sitting for hours at a time can have a negative impact on your health. Transportation professionals deal with irregular rest schedules, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and sleep apnea. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to prevent these problems or lessen their severity. You don’t need a gym in order to do push-ups and sit-ups or go for a daily walk. Plus, many truck stops these days offer healthy alternatives to the usual greasy fare.
- Last but by no means least, you’ll need the right owner operator trucking software—the kind that can help you stay on top of everything from dispatch schedules to calculating and sending out invoices. That’s why you should take TruckingOffice for a free 30 day test drive. You’ll be amazed how it helps you master each aspect of your business.
Find out for yourself what we mean by giving TruckingOffice a try starting today. You’ll soon wonder how your owner operator trucking business ever got by without it. Please contact us for more information.