Building an Owner-Operator Trucking Business Plan
Your business plan will have
- an executive summary
- a company overview
- a marketing plan
- a set of goals or milestones
- a list of the current staff
- a financial plan.
TruckingOffice can help you as we break down each step of writing your owner-operator trucking business plan for your success.
Plan the Build and Build the Plan
An owner-operator business plan should not be a long document. While all those marketing plans and financial statements may take time and effort to put together, they shouldn’t be long and drawn out.
Why? Because you want to come back to this document again. If it’s 40 pages long, will you want to read it again? Not really. While it’s important to be thorough for an investor or a loan officer, the primary purpose of a business plan is to help you, the business owner.
Plan the Build
As you have all of your information organized, you can make specific plans, not just wishes. Knowing what you want to accomplish will help your focus and keep you away from distractions. Not that the unexpected offer or opportunity should be ignored, but when it’s a difficult decision, remembering the plan can help you choose.
Talk to your family about your plans. Talk to other stakeholders – those who have an interest in your business. They can help you with ideas and insights into how you work. Be aware of trends and current information about the trucking industry. The ELD mandate is a good example of a significant change in trucking – are there others comings?
Don’t be afraid to plan to build your company. Right now, maybe you’re happy with what you have and where you are. But as you mature in the industry, you may find that new challenges – like building a fleet – start to interest you. This plan that you build now is changeable as you grow. It’s meant to be changed.
Build the Plan
By keeping your business plan short and to the point, you’re going to find yourself referring to it more often, which is smart as you start to follow it.
How often should you review your plan? If you’ve set milestones for time – then at those intervals. You may be surprised that you’ve done better than you thought. The process of business planning often motivates us to step up and do just a little bit more. That may be all you needed to start reaching your milestones.
If your milestones and goals are more tasks than events, then reviewing your them on a regular basis will help you keep things in mind. You could pick a random day every month and call it the Plan Day. Give yourself an extra cup of coffee and leaf through your document. It’s your paper – so write on it. Make notations, celebrate the achievements you’ve accomplished. Maybe you’ll need to reschedule your goals and milestones – that’s okay. Building your plan doesn’t mean the plan won’t change.
Should you set up some kind of accountability partner? For many people, this is an effective way to keep your focus because you know you’re going to be asked about what you’ve done. There are a couple of ways to do this.
Personal Accountability: Is there someone – a mentor or friend – who could help you by talking with you on a regular basis about your business plan activities? It’s like your mom making sure you did your homework. You may not have liked it but it worked.
Mastermind Groups: Finding a group of like-minded owner-operators and creating a mastermind group or joining an existing group is a way to build some accountability into your life. As long as you are willing to participate seriously – state your goals and report honestly at the next meeting – and recognizing that the other members’ needs are equally as important as your own – a mastermind may be a good place.
Business Coaching: There’s nothing like paying someone to help you do something. Using a business coach is an investment in yourself and your company. It’s also a great motivation to do the work and not throw your money away.
(We don’t necessarily approve of all of this, but there is some value in negative motivation.)
What happens if you don’t do the work?
Nothing happens, really. You may have wasted some time and effort into building a business plan, but that’s your decision. If you need consequences, consider this option. There are websites where you enter your goals – and your credit card number. You set the dollar figure and the deadline. If you don’t report back that you’ve accomplished your goal, then a donation to a company you hate will be charged to your credit card! How’s that for motivation!
You can purchase goal-setting software and products online. Some of them have chat features for support. Like business coaching, you don’t want to waste your money when you’re paying by the month.
Software to get you there
Dispatching is a key part of trucking. You have to get to the shipper. You have to know where to take the load. Dispatching software has simplified this process considerably with GPS and programs like PC*Miler.
Using a good software program to manage your trucking business is critical to success in the 21st-century transportation industry. The ELD mandate has put computers into our cabs, whether we wanted them or not. We can’t ignore the improvements that software has made. Brokers, dispatchers, bookkeepers, and drivers have all benefited from using good software. Trucking management software makes a difference.
We know people try to make other software packages work. An elaborate setup with Google Docs and Sheets. Using QuickBooks. Neither of these applications works for trucking without a lot of adaption. That’s the beauty of a trucking management software solution like TruckingOffice. It was designed for trucking.
Designed for Truckers
Quarterly, we file IFTA. That’s a lot of work without a software program designed to track miles by state. We file IRP and HVUT.
We have to track and manage a lot of data in the transportation industry that most others never think about. You can try to work with another software program, but you’ll spend a lot of time on it. That’s time off the road, not earning anything. Just like investing in our company with a business coach or new equipment, getting a reliable trucking management program is the way to build the best trucking business you can.
That’s TruckingOffice Trucking Management Software. As you build your plan, build TruckingOffice in as well to discover the power to build you plan.