If you ask most owner operators what the goals for their business are most would tell you to make it down the road safely and come out with some money in their pockets. While that may make a lofty operational goal it doesn’t help you in the long run to be successful. Some mention just making their truck payments, others want family time and so on. These are all fine goals, but are they structured enough to get you to where you want to be? The answer is no, goals to most people mean dreaming and that is why they don’t usually work. Goals need specific items in order to work and to do it right require planning and soul searching in a quiet place when you are rested and alert. So what kind of goals should be important to you as an owner operator?
I am assuming you got into business to be successful, I am also assuming you plan on being in business for many years to come. That being said I am strongly in favour of having short, medium, and long term goals. I also like to set monetary and personal time goals. Let’s talk about the time goals first, take out a piece of paper on a day when you are rested and relaxed, if married this is a good exercise to do with your spouse as well and figure out where you want your business to be in 6 months, 1 year, and 5 years. A goal for that area may be to pay off your truck, trade up to a newer truck, may be even have additional trucks. May be your goal in 5 years will be to retire or slow down a bit, if so how do you do that, what needs to be in place for that to happen, how will you get there? A six month goal may be to increase revenue by 5% over the last quarter and so forth. Maybe your goal is to increase your personal time at home, how will you accomplish that, can you get a second driver; manage a small fleet of trucks you own as opposed to driving one full time. What will get you to that mark? Monetary goals are the same but are even better because they do two things; they force you to look at your numbers, and they work in conjunction with time goals which helps you succeed. To set monetary goals look at your most important paper that you have, your profit and loss statement. Start there and figure out where you want to be in a certain time frame such as the ones above. Do you want to cut certain areas of expenses, maybe you need to make more miles, etc?
To make the goal setting experience work you need to put hard numbers on everything. So if your goal is to increase your profit margin by 10 % also include a figure such as $1000. Then you have a hard goal to work with. The second thing you must do is put a date on your goals. This helps give you a specific time in which to work on your goal. With these specifics you can now create an action plan to achieve the goals making you successful. Just going through this process will put you in the 10% category of successful business owners. You know what they say, if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail!
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a business and leadership consultant for the transportation industry helping truck drivers and owner operators be successful in their careers and businesses. More information can be found on his services at www.outridge.ca