What to Consider when becoming an Owner Operator
Anyone who’s ever worked for someone else has dreamt about becoming their own boss. From setting their own schedule, being in control of their own income and not answering to anyone but themselves. It’s an alluring concept but one that requires careful consideration, significant investment and being comfortable with less stability. Consider these factors when deciding to make the transition from being a company driver to being a truck owner operator.
1. What are you really looking for in your career?
Take a really hard look at what you want to get out of your career. Are you looking for a long-term, consistent work schedule with stable income?
It’s easy to say you want to be your own boss. But, it’s a lot harder buckling down month after month and ensuring you’re getting yourself enough miles to provide a decent living on top of the added expenses that come with being a owner operator.
Working as an owner operator requires you to be flexible but disciplined. You will bounce back and forth from completing jobs to adding new work into your pipeline. As long as that’s what you’re looking for, that can make truck driving, and your life, even more fulfilling!
2. How much risk are you willing to take?
As mentioned, there’s a lot more risk associated with becoming a truck owner operator than there is with a company driver (who can expect a regular paycheck as long as they do their time). In addition to earning your miles, being a truck owner operator may include covering the cost of your own medical insurance. This can be expensive if you also have a family to cover.
Take time to consider whether or not you or anyone in your family is at high risk of a medical emergency or living with a chronic medical condition. While these aren’t necessarily barriers to you becoming a truck owner operator, they’re important to plan for from the very beginning. As the old saying goes, “Plan for the worst, hope for the best.”
Beyond medical insurance, as a truck owner operator, your entire livelihood will now depend on the wellbeing, longevity and reliability of your own truck. Becoming an owner operator will move the burden of maintenance and major repairs from your employer to your own pocket.
3. Are you ready for the financial investment?
Making sure that you’re stable and have the proper budgeting habits to remain stable when your income might not be guaranteed, is one of the first things you should do before making the transition to truck owner operator.
First, is the obvious expense of acquiring your own commercial truck. This is one of the biggest and most important considerations you’ll make in your journey to becoming an owner operator.
This looks a little bit different for every owner operator so you’ll want to make sure you hit the right mix of comfort, fuel economy and age of vehicle to match what you’re looking for. It’s also helpful thinking about amenities you’d be willing to live without in order to keep your owner operator business profitable.
4. Do you have to dive into the risks of being a truck owner operator right away?
The answer here is quite simple, no. You probably considered the possibility of becoming a leased truck owner operator through lease purchase trucking if you are reading this article.
If you’re worried about taking the leap into becoming a truck owner operator this might be the right first step. It allows you to work your way towards becoming a full-fledged truck owner operator. Its beneficial because you to get your feet wet before taking the full plunge.
The difference between a leased owner operator versus a lease purchase is you’ll be making payments on a truck that’s leased to a trucking company. This can limit some of the upfront costs, as lease payments can vary quite a bit based on the truck you choose and the company you sign on with.
That being said, initial cost savings is just one of the many benefits. There can be various opportunities available to you like depending on which company you join as a company driver:
- Discounted gas cards
- Company provided trailers
- Reimbursement for permits or tolls
No need to worry about obtaining your own operating authority, as you’ll be operating under the authority of the company. You may have access to fleet rates on insurance. This can save money from day one and reduce the stress of unexpected repairs on your truck.
What are your next steps?
After reviewing the information above, take some time to identify what you’re really looking for in your trucking career. Becoming a truck owner operator can be incredibly rewarding and lead to a long and fulfilling career.
Every person’s situation is different. Choose whatever is appropriate for you, even if that means spending another year or two as a company truck driver. Making sure your finances are in order along with gaining experience will allow you to be a successful independent owner operator.
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