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The Top 25 Habits of Successful Owner-Operators

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

The most successful owner-operator truck drivers in the industry didn't get where they are because of sheer luck. These drivers are successful because of what they do each and every day. To improve your trucking business, start practicing these habits today!

1 - Understand Your Costs.

Know how to use your knowledge of costs, especially fixed expenses, to make decisions. It’s not hard to figure out and will put lots of money in your pocket. Learn More.

2 - Build Your Brand.

Whether you know it or not you have a Brand – not just your name but what you are known for. Remember, people like to do business with people they like. Learn More.

3 - Be Curious.

Keep learning - from experience, from other owner-operators, from your carrier, from mechanics, and from other business people. Learn More.

4 - Have a Maintenance Reserve.

Set up a separate bank account and fund it with more money than your anticipated maintenance needs. Learn More.

5 - Take Care of Yourself.

That means physical, mental, and emotional health. You are the Profit Engine for your business and your business needs a strong, healthy engine. Learn More.

6 - Be Safe.

Safety equals efficiency, and business owners must always be efficient. Learn More.

7 - Protect Your Credit.

Credit is a way to help you manage your business – it is not a way to help your cash flow. Pay credit cards off each and every month. Learn More.

8 - Show Up for Work.

You don’t get more time off for running your own business, especially in the beginning. Manage your time off wisely. Learn More.

9 - Know Your Customer.

Know who your customer is – no business in America will prosper without a customer. When it comes to customer service, you build trust in drops and lose it in buckets. Learn More.

10 - Focus More on Gross Revenue.

Too much focus on Rate Per Mile leads to extreme cherry-picking of loads, which hurts profits. Business profits come from gross revenue. Learn More.

11 - Choose the Right Loads.

Do not refuse loads to lay overnight for another load. You can almost never make up for the loss of a layover. Knowing your costs will guide you in this. Learn More.

12 - Manage Cash.

Understand all of the ways to manage cash. This begins with the revenue produced and ends with the paycheck you write to yourself each week. Learn More.

13 - Finance Wisely.

Never finance something you can buy with cash. Finance charges can be excessive and completely avoidable. Remember that this is your money, not theirs. Learn More.

14 - Make Sacrifices.

A successful business owner sacrifices things like extra time off and expensive purchases to protect their business. Learn More.

15 - Accept Responsibility.

Don’t try to shift responsibility to someone else. In this world you make your choices and you live with them. Learn More.

16 - Understand Freight Cycles.

Understanding and studying freight cycles will help you increase revenue without increasing costs. Learn More.

17 - Manage Your Week.

Manage your time to make each week profitable. For instance, always deliver a load on Monday (whenever possible) to set up your week for profitable operation. Learn More.

18 - Change.

Don’t fight change - instead, embrace it. Sometimes change is the only thing you can count on in trucking. Learn More.

19 - Embrace Technology.

If it makes your life better – your work life or personal life – embrace it. Learn More.

20 - Be Inspired.

You have a tough job. Find something to inspire you. Conan O’Brien said, “Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” Learn More.

21 - Pay Your Taxes!

It’s wishful thinking that this can somehow be avoided. Don’t kid yourself. If you make a profit, you will pay taxes! Learn More.

22 - Work With Professional Business Partners.

You don't have to go through this alone. Team up with professionals who can take some of the work off your plate and help you improve the performance of your business. Learn More.

23 - Focus on Fuel Efficiency.

Unlike many of your other biggest expenses, fuel is one that you have a lot of control over. One of the easiest things you can do right away to improve fuel efficiency is to drive slower. Learn More.

24 - Update Your Numbers.

Do you know your break-even point? Do you know your cost or profit per mile? Don't operate your business in the dark. Make sure you keep your numbers up to date so you know how to stay profitable. Learn More.

25 - Stay Positive.

Being an owner-operator can have its ups and downs, especially when the market isn't doing well. Keep your head up, keep working hard, and know that tough times won't last forever. Learn More.

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