So, you want to strike out on your own and become an owner-operator. In part one of our series, we took a look at all of the personal considerations you have to ponder before making that decision. In this week’s installment, we’re going to take a look at the second – and dare we say just as crucial – factor: The financial considerations.
Because the fact is while becoming a truck driver is a rewarding and potentially lucrative career, you’ve got to make sure the dollar signs are backing you up. Running your own business, no matter what it is, isn’t cheap. Making sure you’re financially prepared is the key determinant behind whether or not your business succeeds. Let’s take a closer look.
Let’s face it: The financial aspect of our existence impacts every part of our life, and the trucking profession is no different. How you manage your money – and how much of it you have – are critical components to running a successful business as an owner-operator.
To make sure you are realistically ready to move into full-fledged ownership, you’ve got to do a careful examination of your financial house. Is it in order?
Consider the following:
- Budget: For most of us the word “budget” means how do we spend our last expendable $20 three days before payday, yet if you want to become an owner-operator, you’ve got to think about it in much bigger terms. Your budget includes your entire financial lifestyle – if you will. You need to have an excellent handle on all of your income, expenses, assets and liabilities before you make the decision to go out and spend six figures on a large commercial vehicle.
- Credit: Your overall credit situation paints your financial picture. Just as your blood transfers oxygen around your body, your credit rating affects your access to capital. You will likely need loans for your equipment, but will your credit support it? Make sure you check your credit report for an inaccuracies and get all your bills paid up.
- Debt: The fact is if you want to have access to credit, you’ve got to eliminate any excessive debt. Setting yourself up as an owner-operator will be very challenging if you’re carrying around a huge saddleback of excessive debt. Eliminate most of your credit card debt. By doing so, not only will you improve your credit outlook, but you will set yourself up for a pretty bottom line once you get started.
- Emergency fund: Having an emergency or rainy day fund is wise no matter where you live or what industry you work in. What will you do if you have a major financial emergency or fall ill? You’ve got to have at least 3 to 6 months of living expenses at the ready at any given moment, and that is probably a low number. After all, how will you keep your trucking business afloat if you don’t even have enough money to cover your personal expenses?
- Disability insurance: Although some may think this is a small matter that can easily be shelved, ensuring you have comprehensive disability insurance is very important. If you get sick or injure yourself, you will need cold hard cash for everyday expenses. Furthermore, how will you make your truck payment? Remember, 3 to 6 months of living expenses may not be enough, so what will you rely on once your emergency fund runs out?
- Life insurance: Sure, it’s not easy to talk about, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be talking about it. If you have dependents or other financial commitments, you need to have life insurance in place to ensure those debts are paid in case the worst happens. Term life insurance is usually quite cheap and is far less expensive than signing up for credit life insurance on your truck loan.
Admittedly, there are other financial factors you must consider, but these are the most important. Making sure your financial house in order is absolutely necessary to succeeding as an owner-operator.
So what’s next, you ask? Join us in our next installment when we discuss the third consideration in striking out as an owner-operator: The equipment assessment.