Do You Posses the Skills Required to Be a Successful Owner Operator?
If you’re thinking about becoming an owner-operator, you’ll need to have a good balance of the right skills, experience and mindset. There’s nothing quite like having your very own owner-operated transportation business, but without the right qualifications your business and overall success might be short lived. Take a lesson from financial controller Dan Bell from Aberstar Fast Freight to learn more about what makes for a viable candidate as an owner operator.
One of the best skills any business owner can have is to be able to take advice and direction from employees and clients. Doing so allows team members and clients to feel as if they’re actually part of your business and not just being used to build a business. It’s also essential that you have ambition and be able to work by yourself. Another great thing about having and showing initiative is that it can make it easier for you to build and keep business relationships.
Sharpen Your Decision-Making Skills
Be sure you sharpen your decision-making skills, as they’ll serve as an essential asset throughout your entire career as a driver, salesperson and entrepreneur. In order to reach a sound decision, you’ll also need to be a logical thinker and have the ability to see a problem or solution from every angle.
Learn and Adapt
Owner-operators should also be prepared to wear several hats to get their business off of the ground and help make it grow. For instance, learn a few accounting skills so that you know where, how and when to utilize your financial resources. It’s also beneficial to learn about marketing, the finer points of expedited shipping and industry trends. There’s a lot to keep up with, but it’s the cost of being the boss.
As you’re putting your business plan together, take a business accounting class, if at all possible. You may groan at anything having to do with accounting, but having these skills can help you to better manage your businesses finances. According to Bell, you need to:
• Learn how to contain costs
• Remain professional
• Be patient
• Work as much as possible
• Take heed to dispatch
On a related note, becoming financially literate is another important quality in an o/o. Learn more about the financial underpinnings of different types of shipping, such as time critical shipping and overnight shipping. Don’t just skim the surface when it comes to the transport industry, dig deep to see where the roots go and where they originated.
Avoiding Common O/O Pitfalls
It’s good to be aware of undesirable o/o qualities and common pitfalls as you’re learning about the better ones. After all, the only way to truly recognize the good is to be aware of the bad. The very first thing you’ll want to avoid is thinking you’re going to start making money the minute you launch your business. Just as it takes time for a tree to grow after you plant it, the same is true of your business as well as your profit.
Whenever you enter into a new business relationship, say with a company like Aberstar that sells freight services, learn how the company operates. Learn how much of a percentage you’ll receive as well as when you’ll receive your payment. Like any industry, there are periods of feast and famine in transportation. One of the reasons you’ll want to work whenever there’s work available no matter how tired you might be is so you’ll have finances to carry you through the lean times.
Find out if there are any charges for using a company’s services, such as insurance, cross-border shipping or fuel cards. Determine whether those service costs are worth it, if you have alternate options you can explore or if you can do without those services. Remember that sometimes you’ve got to spend money in order to make money.
Learn How Everything Breaks Down
Another reason to gain financial literacy is so you can better understand how your payment breaks down. Know how much of a percentage you’ll receive for every load you take, so that you won’t be shocked with you have a negative balance on your remuneration date. Account for fuel and insurance to get a more realistic idea of your final payment. A better way to look at your final remuneration is to consider how much money you actually receive rather than how much you’re paid.
While you’re at it, be sure you don’t forget about taxes, vehicle leasing, business registration, US Canada shipping and other extra costs that can shave off even more on your profits. You’ll be better off overestimating additional costs rather than underestimating them. It’s always better to receive more than you thought you would rather than less.
Being an owner-operator takes a lot of time, effort and energy, but it can also be a satisfying career for the right person. Take Bell’s advice into consideration and take your time when deciding whether or not you’d actually like to become a small business owner.