There are lots of ways to get into truck driving and from there, many other ways to operate a truck. Whether you are a company driver, lease-operator, owner-operator leased onto a carrier, or an independent owner operator, there will come a point when you come to a fork in the road have to decide which way you should go. In my particular case, I have been able to see the fork off in the distance for a bit of time now, which has allowed me to prepare as best I could for the decision on which way to go when I reached it. Although there is no “perfect” time for a driver to decide to become an independent owner-operator, given the opportunities that have been placed before me, I decided that now would be as good a time as any!
Having decided to take the plunge a few months ago, I won’t lie and tell you it was a piece of cake and all the stars were aligned! In fact, the entire process of attaining my own authority, insurance, and load supply was downright nerve racking, even with the enlistment of a professional compliance firm to help me through the process. It is one thing to decide that you want to be your own boss and not have to answer to a dispatcher anymore, or be tied to only hauling for one particular carrier under an agreement of exclusivity. It is another thing entirely to figure out the many facets and loopholes of becoming independent. Questions come up such as, “Will I get intrastate plates or apportioned interstate plates?” and “How much do you want me to put down for insurance?” All kidding aside, there are enough questions like this to fill a book, the first twenty chapters of which would conclude prior to the question of “How do I get my own loads?”
I got to haul my first loads as an independent owner-operator today and the sense of pride and accomplishment far outweigh the stress and worry it took to get me there. The knots and butterflies in my stomach finally disappeared mid-way through my morning and it dawned on me that I am truly in control of all aspects of my company now. I owe a lot of my planning and help to those I am fortunate enough to surround myself with. They are the same people you can also learn from as a Team Run Smart community member. I say this only because the very same “Pros” that answer questions from members have helped me along this journey in the same way they aim to help you to learn from their many years of successful trucking. Just because I too am a Team Run Smart Pro, does not mean I am above calling out for help from time to time. After all, the only stupid question is the one that doesn’t get asked!
So now I move forward into the realm of independency and with a changing of the wagon, from container to dry van, I will forge new ground in the local markets of Southern California. Armed with my trusty CNG-powered Freightliner Cascadia “steed” I will ride forward remembering where the dust I kicked up behind me came from. In a prime market and in some of the best conditions seen in decades for independents, I will blaze forward in an effort to grow and prosper for myself, once again hoping to show the nay-sayers that it CAN be done! Keep checking back for more details on some of the fun steps I have taken and some of the lessons learned from my entire experience of becoming an independent owner-operator.