7 Mistakes Every Rookie Expediter Should Avoid
If you do it right, expediting can be a lucrative and rewarding business where you can be your own boss, set your own schedule, and see the country on someone else's dime.
But if you're looking at expediting as just another job or a get-rich-quick business opportunity, watch out! You could be setting yourself up for failure before you even get started.
So, here are seven mistakes to avoid to put yourself in a stronger position to succeed in the expedited trucking business.
Mistake #1. Setting unrealistic expectations about the expedite lifestyle.
Sure, expediting can be a great way to get paid to travel the country. But you'll also be out on the road and away from home for weeks at a time. Are you okay with that? Is your family okay with that?
While this business can be lucrative, there's also a lot of "hurry up and wait," where you deliver freight and then just sit and wait for days for your next load. Are you prepared to deal with the uncertainty that comes with irregular work hours (and cash flow)?
And if you're planning to run as a team, are you okay with living in close quarters with that person for weeks at a time?
Mistake #2. Operating with an employee mindset?
Even if you plan to drive for a fleet owner, you'll be an independent contractor, not an employee, in most cases. So, whether you're an owner-operator or driver, you're in business for yourself.
You're the CEO of "[Your Name], Inc." That means you have more freedom-and more responsibility for your success.
So, if you want to put yourself in the best position to succeed in expediting, you must think like a business owner, willing to invest in yourself and your business to increase your income potential.
Mistake #3. Taking the plunge without mentors.
This business will give you a rude awakening if you go into it blind. That's why it is vital to seek mentors who can help show you the ropes.
So, seek out successful expediters. These are the people who can tell you what expedited trucking is like, how you can make money at it, and what pitfalls you should avoid.
These mentors can also help you sanity check your thinking before you decide to take the plunge: "With what you know about me so far, do you think that the expedite business is a good fit for me?"
Mistake #4. Overlooking the need to build cash reserves.
You'll need access to cash for emergencies and working capital to help fill in any cash-flow gaps during the slow weeks, which will always come.
How much should you have in reserves?
A general rule of thumb: the bare minimum is three months' expenses. But if you can save up more, that's even better.
Mistake #5. Neglecting your credit.
Your credit score affects so many aspects of your business-such as your ability to buy a truck, your financing rates, your insurance costs, and so forth.
How do you get your credit score?
Many of your credit card companies give you free access to your credit score-and, in some cases, your full credit report-without negatively impacting your score. You're also entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the main credit reporting firms:
But if you have weak credit today, it's not the end of the world. You can start working on those issues today by paying down your debts.
Mistake #6. Failing to become a student of the business.
It's one thing to learn everything you can about the expedited trucking business before you get into it. But the industry is continually changing. And if you're not prepared to do what it takes to keep up with and adapt to the changes, you could get blindsided.
But if you're driven and disciplined to invest the time you need for continuous learning, you'll be setting yourself up for long-term success in expediting.
Mistake #7. Closing your eyes to your numbers.
What are your financial projections? How much revenue can you realistically expect to generate, especially when you're just getting started? What are your projected expenses? At what point would you break even?
Ask mentors to review your numbers and challenge your assumptions to ensure you've covered your bases and are being realistic. Otherwise, you risk putting yourself into a financial hole because of overly optimistic projections.
The Bottom Line
If you want to reap the rewards of the expedited trucking business, do everything you can to minimize the risks upfront. So, before going "all in," make sure the lifestyle fits your personality and goals, that you have the right mentality to win, and that you've built up the industry knowledge and financial strength you need to succeed.