One thing that strikes me is the lack of good business plans and business planning tools out there for Owner Operators. I believe in the value of a business plan, but there are challenges that arise for Owner Operators. The tools that are out there, currently, for business planning are far too complex for the typical O/O. This makes the job time-consuming and takes away from the process of developing your business to best suit your needs.
The reason building a business plan is so valuable is because it gets you thinking about what it is you’re doing and why you are doing it. It helps you discover why you are getting into being an Owner Operator (or clarify if you are already one) and how you plan to succeed once you begin.
There are four key components you need to consider in planning your business:
“Why?” – Why are you getting into this business? What benefits do you see for yourself in the long run and what short-term advantages are there for you as an Owner Operator and what are you trying to achieve in the long-term? The “Why” is the most important part. With independent businesses already facing low odds of success, you want to be sure that you are in it for the right reasons. These should be reasons that motivate you, keeping you driven and focused.
“One-liner” – This is a short concise statement that sums up who you are and what you do. The purpose of this statement is to leave an impression. When you meet new people and they ask you what you do, you should be able to sum it up in a sentence or two and leave them with a solid understanding of your skills and motivations. “I drive a truck” really doesn’t come close to what we do in this business.
Objectives – Set quantifiable goals that can be measured and tracked. Be specific with your goals and try to set milestones to achieve them. Create objectives like, “I want to reach an average of ‘x’ rate per mile, all miles by ‘y’ date”.
“How?” – How are you going to meet these objectives? This section doesn’t have to be as specific, but the idea is that you create a strategy for each goal you set and try to track your progress or performance. This will allow you to see how well you have done at working towards your goals, and also motivate you to progress consistently.
The best way to approach creating these plans is being honest with yourself. Don’t set goals that can’t be met and remember to track progress where you can. Don’t get overwhelmed by large-scale business structuring strategies. Good business planning tools are designed to help you think through a process, the one page business plan does just that.