Monday, April 14, 2014

The Owner's Freedom

Running a business is a collaborative effort between numerous parties.  Being the owner of a truck and a trailer is very similar to owning just about any other type of business.  The factors are similar in that you have to provide your customer with a service, manage your employees, maintain your equipment, and negotiate with everyone involved to reach an agreement.  Since you are the owner, you are in control of where the truck goes, what components it will have, who will be driving it, and how much work it will be doing. 

There's no one to tell you what to do.  After you service the needs of your customer, you're done for the day, week, month, or even the year.  As long as your equipment is paid for and your customer is happy, you can come and go as you please.  This can be a problem for people who need a boss to tell them what to do.  Many people don't understand how to manage a business and the change from company driver to company owner is a culture shock. 

It is definitely a challenge to rid yourself of habits formed as a company driving employee.  You must work hard to develop new habits, those of a business owner.  The biggest change is the total control you gain when signing the title to your truck.  That's when it starts to sink in that you are the owner.  You can paint the truck whichever color you like, decide when to change the oil and filters, decide how fast to drive, and how many hours you will work.

And the biggest change is that you decide who to work with (since you are no longer working FOR anyone) and for what rate per mile or per job will be.  Since you are responsible for the truck, you are the one who makes ALL the final decisions.  No one can tell you what to do with your business unless you let them.

Trucking has its benefits in that it allows the freedom of travel and the ability to live anywhere you choose.  You can live in a tax free area with low overhead or a heavily taxed area with high overhead.  Trucking allows you to get paid to travel.  To me this is a great benefit because I have always loved to travel.  I think that unless you really love traveling, you won't like trucking for more than a year.

Being the owner has even more benefits because you are traveling and deciding how much time to take off and where to take that time off.  This is a concept that most, if not all, company truck drivers have no concept of in my experience unless they were prior business owners themselves.  As an owner, I can take loads to my favorite sports team's games anywhere in the country.  I can go to any beach, casino, museum, national landmark, or neighborhood that I desire whenever I choose to so long as my business is in order. 
The only deciding factor in whether I will work or not is if the business needs me to work.  The demands of the business must be met first.  The priority is that the customers must be happy, taxes must be paid, maintenance must be done, the legal aspects of the business must be satisfied such as drug testing and records of hours of service.  Once you develop a system of keeping all of this accomplished, you can eliminate loads of stress and enjoy the freedom of being the boss. 

The risk is greater when you are the owner, but the reward is also greater.  I was recently discussing being an owner with a company employee driver.  This conversation has always gone the same in all the years I've been in this industry.  The company employee has been spoon fed gallons of lies about being an owner.  They have been brainwashed by trucking school and who knows how many ignorant people who had no business running a business in the first place.  I explained to him that you can find good paying freight no matter what the economy is doing and that you will clear most of your monthly debt obligations in a week of work, leaving you free to do as you please with the other 3 and a half weeks.

I was saying this from experience, but another older gentleman had to poke his head in on the conversation to discredit my claims and declare my information as grandiose.  This is the usual conversation that takes place in truckstops around the US and probably around the world.  It's a need I think of people to feel safe and secure in their chosen path by cutting anyone down who threatens to pull them out of said path.  The fight against the "greener grass" is alive and well.  Its more popular to sit around and complain about the world than point out its positive attributes. 

In the end, you are free to decide whether ownership or being an employee is for you.  It doesn't always make sense to be an owner, but when it does, you should consider all the positive stories and rule out the negative.  Consider the source of the information and point yourself in the direction you want it to go in, otherwise you will end up in a place that you didn't want to go.  And it will be you that put yourself there. 

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