Forging your own path in the freight industry comes with risks, lessons, and priceless pay-offs
We started The Weigh-In to share inspiring stories from small business owners in trucking and to shine a light on the folks who keep our country’s freight moving every day. As we head into the holiday season, we reflect on the hard-earned insights these carriers shared with us about their journeys to becoming an entrepreneur.
Embrace the unknown: Truck driving is in my blood. My mom drove for 30 years, my aunt for 35. I’ve learned that at the root of this work is more than a thirst to explore the country — it’s the mindset.
After you begin to consider the possibility of becoming an owner-operator, keeping an open mind is critical. Your journey will change, and you’ll run into unexpected road bumps. Embrace those challenges and be flexible. Trucking can be hard, but it’s rewarding — it can be whatever you make it.
Don’t underestimate the value of financial planning: I have been on the road for years and learned a lot during my time in the cab. The biggest lesson? Embracing freedom by ensuring you have a financial safety net.
With trucking comes an instant sense of liberty. Becoming an owner-operator enhances that feeling tenfold because you’re able to operate how you want when you want. You have total control over your own money. Figuring out the best ways to manage your income brings an invaluable sense of independence and security.
Cultivate a sense of community: Forty-five years ago, my older brother introduced me to truck driving. From that point on, it was game over; I had found my passion. But I never forgot where I came from, and keeping close relationships has been invaluable to my success.
When you start your own business, your relationships are invaluable. Mentor those under you, and remember that you aren’t just responsible for them, but the paycheck you send affects their families, too. Treat others how you want to be treated, and remember that if those around you succeed, so will you.
Put your health first: After I came home from military deployment, I was suffering mentally, physically, and battling with PTSD. Then I found truck driving, and I adopted a life-changing mantra: your health comes first.
My truck turned into a vessel for healing and hope, and I learned to treasure and nurture my mental health as much as my physical health. Take it from someone who sits for hours on end — keep moving, introduce yourself to new folks, and you’ll stay in shape, physically and emotionally.
Choose what’s best for you: I was a sergeant in the Marines for 10 years, and following my service, trucking felt like the next natural step. I started working as a company driver, and I eventually found the courage to make the leap to an owner-operator. That jump has been one of the best decisions of my life — it has given me the opportunity to put my choices first.
That’s the vital lesson that trucking has taught me: what works for most folks, professionally or personally, might not work best for you. Everyone is on their own path, and it’s up to you to find yours.