July 9, 2019

Route to Becoming an Owner Operator

As a truck driver, you control your career. You can decide whether you want to work for other companies or become your own boss, whether you start your own trucking company or become an independent owner operator.

We get these questions quite often: Is being an owner operator worth it? How different is it from being a company truck driver?

That’s why we dedicated a whole episode in Haulin Assets about the differences between the two.

Listen to Episode 10: Owner Operators vs. Employee Driver

Owner Operator vs. Company Driver

Becoming an owner operator isn’t for everyone, but it can be very rewarding when handled right. Is it different from being a company driver? You’re still trucking, but there are a few things that can make the experience unique. First, what are the main differences between the two?

  • Independent Owner Operator. Independent owner operators operate as their own trucking company with their own truck. They choose what loads to haul and handle all business expenses themselves under their own operating authority.
  • Company Driver. Company drivers haul loads for another company, often using the company’s equipment. They don’t control where they haul or their schedule, but the company takes care of all business expenses. Company drivers often don’t have their own operating authority.

If you’ve been in the trucking industry for a while, you know what it’s like as a company driver, but you might not know what it’s like to be an owner operator. Here are a few pros and cons of each.

A table listing the pros and cons of being an owner operator vs a company driver

Is Becoming an Owner Operator Worth It?

If you’re thinking about shifting your trucking career in a different direction, becoming an owner operator is a great way to control your own business, without having to worry about hiring employees.

It takes the skills you’ve already learned as a truck driver and combines them with business skills you may still need to learn but are helpful for future endeavors. As an independent owner operator, you choose what to haul and where to haul, but you also have to take care of all the paperwork that comes with owning your own company.

I already make 70K+ per year, why should I start my own business?
That’s a common reason against becoming an owner operator, which is a valid reason to stay as a company driver. However:

Trucking Isn’t Always About Money

Trucking doesn’t have to be about the salary, although some owner operators can make as much or more than a company driver. Some people find that owning their own business can keep life interesting or give them more opportunities to pursue what interests them most.

If you aren’t interested in becoming your own boss, then pursuing the path of an owner operator isn’t for you. Unlike company drivers, owner operators have to take care of all the business expenses, including:

  • Truck and trailer monthly payments
  • Commercial truck insurance
  • Health insurance and benefits
  • Federal registration fees and taxes

How much can you expect to pay? Check out our cost-per-mile calculator to see how much you can expect to pay each mile your company is on the road.

Becoming your own boss is more than just having the business know-how. It’s taking the skills you’ve learned as a trucker and transferring them to the business side. Episode 4 of Haulin Assets has a lot of information about changing your mindset from truck driver to savvy business owner.

Here are a few other resources you can use to determine if becoming an independent owner operator is right for you:

10 Things to Consider When Applying for
Your Motor Carrier Authority

Is stepping away from the company driving scene really the right choice for you? Becoming an owner operator is a big investment, which is why we’ve compiled a list of 10 things you should consider before you’ve even applied for your motor carrier authority.

Partnership Questionnaire
One important step of choosing to start your own business is whether you want to go it alone or find a partner. A business partner can cut starting costs down and give you extra help to keep your company on the road. However, choosing the wrong partner can hurt your business in the long run.

How to Get Started Now

Have you decided that becoming an owner operator is right for you? Next is determining how to cover the cost of starting your own business.
Our podcast Haulin Assets covers step-by-step many of the starting steps, including how to set up your business, get your operating authority, and buying your truck and trailer.

Here are some other resources to help you determine what the next steps are for you:

How to Start Your Trucking Company Guide
Our free downloadable guide has a good idea of where to get started with your trucking company or owner operatorship. It includes information from step one: how to organize your business. From there, you can learn more about finding the right truck and insurance policy and following FMCSA’s trucking regulations.

Start-Up Cost Calculator
How much does it cost to get a truck? What about insurance? We’ve listed how much it cost us to start Haulin Assets, our own trucking company, but you can plug in your own numbers in our calculator to do the math for you. As an added bonus, you can see all the expenses you should expect to pay as an owner operator too.

Buying a Truck Spreadsheet
One of the biggest investments you’ll be making as an independent owner operator is purchasing the right truck. Download our spreadsheet to compare and get the most out of your buck.

Want to Get Started?

If you’re ready to take the next steps, getting your trucking authority or need your BOC-3 filed, give the coaches at Motor Carrier HQ a call. We can walk you through everything covered here and more to help set your business up for success.

Give Us a Call

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