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How to be a Trucking Owner Operator in 2021

Brandon Anderson

March 2, 2021

Being the owner and operator of your own trucking business is a huge opportunity for a lot of people. The ability to be your own boss, call all the shots, and build your business from the ground-up has enticed people for generations. 

If you’re thinking about getting started, you need to know how to be a trucking owner operator in 2021. In this guide, you’ll learn the ins and outs of the industry, and get plenty of tips to get you started and growing. 

Tips to Become a Successful Trucking Owner Operator in 2021 

Take a close look at each of these tips. Understanding them will give you a head start as you begin your new journey. Of course, there’s plenty to learn as you go, but this guide should do a good job of getting you started.

Make Sure You Have Goals 

Business 101 means setting up goals. This is also the first step if you’re looking to be a successful trucking owner operator. You want to start with some general goals for you and your business. From there, you can break it down into small, achievable goals that progress you forward. 

 The goals for your operation need to be measurable. Something like “get rich” can’t be measured, but a goal of making $40,000 can be. Make sure these goals are in line with what’s happening in the industry. Don’t be afraid to research what a particular lane or load typically goes for. 

Make Sure You Can Afford It  

The hardest part to starting a successful trucking company is having the money to get started. Unlike a lot of businesses, you need a lot more than a computer, phone and internet connection (you do need all of those for trucking as well).  

 There are a lot of upfront costs that you can’t avoid and cutting corners here can hurt you later. 

 In a perfect world, you would own your rig and trailer and only focus on maintenance. But for many, that’s just not possible, so you’ll need to look into financing a truck and trailer and factor that into your monthly expenses and start up costs.    

 Besides the equipment, there are other expenses like gas, insurance, meals, repairs, and so on. Just like with any other business, if you start with more money, then you stand a better chance. In this case, it could mean saving up a bit more before going all in.  

Probably the best piece of advice related to getting started — work with a financial professional who can walk you through the costs and minimum income you need to earn to even make getting in the truck worth it. Just by having a plan and knowing your numbers, you’ll be ahead of the game.

How to be a Successful Owner Operator 2021

Find the Right Truck  

Finding the right truck at the right price will set the pace for your business. If you want to splurge for all the bells and whistles and pay more for your rig, you could be hurting yourself down the road. 

 Alternatively, skimping and going for the cheapest possible truck might leave you on the side of the road more often than you’d like. The best thing to do is take your time during the buying process. Make sure you learn the market and see what price is common for certain rigs before pulling the trigger.  

 After all, your truck is your most important investment for your business. Keep in mind, you can lease or buy your truck ― whichever works for you. 

Remember the Most Important Equation 

The big equation that you need to remember is that the money you make minus the money you spend is the money you take home. In other words, revenue – expenses = profit. 

 The perfect solution is to have high revenue with low expenses for the best profit. How do you achieve that? Let’s take a look. 

Deliberately Choose Your Route 

Spend time picking out your route before you hit the road. You want to pick a route that allows you to make money AND gets you home. Sometimes you can get dedicated lanes or contracts that allow you to have more or less the same predictable route. That’s not always the case, and you may need to use your contacts, load boards or dispatchers to get you to the next load or destination.   

This is the main way that you can save on gas expenses. In certain cases, your hands will be tied about which route you can take. When that happens, just focus on idling and speeding. 

Don’t Idle 

The noise of an idling truck sounds a lot like dollar bills floating away. In fact, an hour of idling uses around a gallon of gas. You should never idle whenever you have the option. 

Don’t Speed  

Additionally, you should never speed on the road. It might sound crazy, but going 75 mph instead of 65 mph can waste 27% more fuel. In the world of minimizing expenses, this is another area that quickly adds up. It’s commonly called “fuel wastage”. Going a little faster on the road isn’t worth it in the long run.  

Keep Up with Maintenance 

Your rig is a super expensive version of any car that you may have owned in the past. If you don’t keep up with maintenance and kick the can down the road when it comes to repairs, you’ll be left with a massive bill in the end. 

 The second you suspect something is wrong, you should repair it. Do all the preventative and routine maintenance that you need to. Doing this will help you on the owner and operator sides of the equation.   

Be Safe and Use a Dashcam 

Getting into an accident can be a very unfortunate, costly, and major event in your trucking career. Repairing damages to your rig is a big deal, but you could be on the hook for the other person’s repairs if you don’t have a dashcam. 

 A dashcam will automatically record and store your trips and help clear you in the event of an accident. Insurance companies and law enforcement actually accept dashcam footage to help make their decisions. 

How to be a Successful Owner Operator 2021

Mind Your Expenses & Paperwork  

This tip might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. You need to carefully consider every expense that goes into your operation. Things like taxes, insurance, and gas are unavoidable. The only thing you can do is shop for a competitive rate on insurance and be mindful about your gas use.  

 Remember as a business owner, you’re now responsible for all of the invoicing and load paperwork to send to brokers to get paid. Having your paperwork in order will help you cut down on the back and forth with brokers, which means more time between you and your money.  

Have a Plan to Get Paid  

 Owning and operating a truck can be really rewarding and a lot of fun. These tips will help you find success in your newfound career. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can help save you time and money in the future. 

 Truck factoring is one way that you can speed up the time it takes to get paid. Brokers can take a month or more to pay you for a load, and especially when you’re first starting out, you need your money as soon as possible to pay for your operating expenses and hopefully yourself. But you need a steady stream of cash flow in order to do that. Many trucking companies partner with factoring companies that can help them get their money and even help with the paperwork management and collections with brokers.  


If you’re looking to save time with professional factoring for trucking companies, you can trust Triumph. Reach out to Triumph today to get started.