Good at Trucking or Good at Business?

If there is one thing I have found out over my time and I see it time and time again is that just because someone has been driving for a long time are think they should go into business. Usually they think that everything they need to know is in the details of the job they’re doing when in fact it is a whole different set of skills that are required. Knowing how to drive, clear customs, read a map, and spin a trailer into tight spots makes you a great truck driver, but shows you nothing about business. This has crept into my life a number of times and continues to show me where people make grave mistakes. I am all for entrepreneurship and talk to many owner operators about having successful businesses, but at the end of the day it comes down to mindset. You have to have the right mindset to succeed and if you don’t you had better partner with someone that does.
When I sold my stake in the moving truck business I had with a partner I went to the freight side of life working for a very small carrier. They only had two trucks and an owner operator and were great people. They had hearts of gold and had more trucking stories than all of us put together. They were team truck drivers in a former life and thought they could start their own trucking company. Needless to say, they didn’t last very long and eventually went out of business. Thinking they knew how to run a business was their downfall, they knew about trucking, they knew what they needed in the ways of equipment and bought used trucks. They thought because they were running around the city they could manage on minimum maintenance budget, or now that I think of it no maintenance budget and get by without any problems. They started as an independent trucking company with one truck and tried to expand too fast without the proper network in place therefore bankrupting their company. Under capitalized businesses are very hard to keep going, you need to work extra hard or have deep pockets. I see this all the time, people get into a truck and get in way over their heads. As a consultant for many owner operators I see many that think going to a truck show and investigating carriers is their version of doing their homework. I learned a lot about what not to do working for that first carrier. I am always suggesting people do their homework before getting into business.
There are many ways to do this, read books on the business, learn the basics of how bookkeeping works, and the tax implications. Hire someone to guide you in the right direction and put in place major building blocks to your business such as accountants and lawyers. If your contemplating going totally independent then learn about marketing, dispatch, and making relationships with different load establishments. If you think because you are a good driver you can make a good business owner, then think again, you haven’t done your homework.

About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a transportation consultant with over 30 years of experience and is the author of the book Running By The Mile. For more information visit http://www.outridgeenterprises.ca