Over the weekend, my wife and I began to talk about the years when we first began our business. It was 1996 when I purchased a Freightliner, FLD 120 which would launch me into operating on my own authority.
This 1994 FLD 120 48" was the first truck I chose the specs for. It was the foundation for my own truck to begin Albert Transport, Inc.
I'll be honest in saying I was a bit nervous as this was my first business venture. However, my wife and I did the necessary planning for over two years prior to making the decision to start my own trucking business.
Our planning involved researching freight lanes, shippers, costs, commodities and equipment. Next, it was time to develop a "business plan." This was a necessary tool and would be the road map we would follow for the next few years. Having never written a solid business plan, we sought out the expertise of the Small Business  Administration (SBA) in our local area. We set up an appointment and met with a  man who advised us on many areas of business. He enlightened me to the fact that 80% of new businesses fail in the first 6 months. Also, 80% of those who fail, had less than 6 months of prior planning. He assisted us in building goals, creating a solid plan and setting two back up plans in case the first one failed. These appointments were held over several months. He had lots of questions for us. One of which I remember well and comes to my mind often. He asked, "Why would anyone want to use your service?" This question makes you think long and hard on how you will set yourself apart from your competition. I wanted to give him an answer at that moment, however, he put up his hand and said, "Stop, I don't want to hear your answer right now." He told me to go home and come back next week with at least 3 reasons why my customers will want to use my service verses the competition. This exercise would turn out to be the most important question ever asked to me related to my business. Sixteen years later, his words still ring in my ears and I'm constantly thinking of that question even today.
My first brand new FLD 120 sitting in the driveway... note the truck doesn't even have it's license plate installed.
My experience prior to the start up of my business allowed me to be knowledgeable on some of the operating costs of trucking. My job was to drive, prepare shipments (load/unload) and  run a small fleet of trucks. Having prior experience ordering trucks, I had a good idea of what I wanted when it came time for me to order my own. I used to figure my cost per mile while operating the company trucks. 
In starting my own business, having some prior knowledge and utilizing the free services of the SBA helped tremendously. I would encourage anyone looking to step out and become an owner operator or fleet owner to do the necessary planning. There are plenty of resources out there to help you get started. Be sure to check with your local community college as they offer business classes on computers, business planning and marketing.
Remember: After you purchase your own truck, you become a business person first and a truck driver second!

Comments (7)

Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/Tâ„¢, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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Great article Henry ! Looking forward to future insights.

August 20, 2012 7:08:16 AM

"Set yourself apart." That is great advice for anyone. You have some good into into truck and some solid principles for life. I always enjoy reading your articles.

August 19, 2012 15:20:20 PM

Starting a business is terrifying but can lead to some of the most rewarding moments in your life. Great article.

August 17, 2012 14:05:36 PM

I look forward to reading more of your insight into this and how you have been a success in this business!

August 17, 2012 6:45:24 AM

Linda ,
This is a subject I will be going into deeper in future posts.

August 16, 2012 22:55:46 PM

Good stuff, look forward to future articles on this subject.

August 16, 2012 21:51:40 PM

Henry great tips and something to think about before getting your own authority. We all say we are going to be on time each and every time. We need to be something different to stand ourselves apart and that works for drivers, O/O and those with their own authority.

August 16, 2012 19:13:26 PM