It may surprise some grizzled veterans of the road to know that white-collar people are as weak-kneed about pre-trip inspections, changing a headlamp, using a pallet jack and driving a truck as some seasoned truck drivers are about the simple tasks 9 to 5 business people do every day.
In part 14 of this Business Planning for Successful Expediters series, we talked about how people with lots of trucking experience but few business skills can best present themselves in a business plan that a banker might read. In short, it’s about selling yourself.
In many ways, your written business plan is a marketing document used to present yourself in the best possible light. You present it to others to help them believe in you and your capabilities. The written plan demonstrates that you have the ability to produce one and understand its contents. It signals others that you are indeed a business pro.
Long-time truckers are amazing people. They work crazy hours and travel from home in ways that would reduce many 9 to 5 workers to tears. With their trucks, on the docks and out on the road, they regularly solve problems and overcome obstacles that make the exercises of corporate executive training retreats look like child’s play. But when it comes to things like dealing with “the suits,” running a business bookkeeping system and deciding on the best depreciation schedule, many truckers become less confident and less eager to dive into those tasks.
It may surprise some grizzled veterans of the road to know that white-collar people are as weak-kneed about pre-trip inspections, changing a headlamp, using a pallet jack and driving a truck as some seasoned truck drivers are about the simple tasks 9 to 5 business people do every day. The weak knees don’t come because a trucker can’t run a set of books or a white-collar worker can’t grease a truck. They come because the tasks are unfamiliar and not something they have learned to take pride in and enjoy.
In other words, whether you come from a blue-collar or white-collar background, writing your full-fledged, professional-quality business plan will do two things. It will develop you into a well-rounded expediter who has both the trucking and business skills required to succeed in a meaningful way. It will also take you out of your comfort zone as you learn how to do what you need to do to be that well-rounded person and produce a formal business plan.
We have been talking about the section of your business plan entitled, Owners and Managers. Part 14 showed blue-collar readers how to present themselves not as an employee applicant, but as a self-employed professional. It’s the kind of stuff that will take some blue-collar people out of their comfort zone. Some may resist selling themselves because they don’t like sounding like a salesperson or politician. They don’t want to sound like people they have distrusted and been critical of all their lives.
Well, Driver, that’s what this series is all about. Writing a business plan means developing skills you did not have before. Once learned, these skills are not difficult to use. Learning them requires you to pay price in time, effort and some discomfort.
White-collar people who are accustomed to writing resumes will find the Owners and Managers section to be easy to complete. Condense your resume into a couple of paragraphs, modify it to highlight the crossover skills you will bring into your one-truck expediting business and you’re done.
Sadly, there are a number of seasoned truckers out there that would belittle the idea that people with no truck driving experience and a freshly obtained CDL would call themselves professional truck drivers. The truth is there are twenty-year veteran truck drivers out there that have learned little in that time and have no money to show for their two decades of hard work. And there are new entrants into the industry that can explain more about the business than many old-salts can.
None of that matters. Remember, it’s not about a white-collar worker lording one’s business skills over truck drivers that don’t know how to manage their money. And it’s not about seasoned truck drivers lording their experience over newbies. Writing a business plan is not about lording anything over anyone. It’s about developing yourself into a better and more successful owner-operator than you would otherwise be, and paying the price to do it, including moving out of your comfort zone.
Whether you are an experienced trucker or white-collar trucker wannabe, don’t fall into the trap of deciding what kind of trucker you want to be in other truckers’ eyes. You are not writing a business plan to impress other truckers. You are writing a business plan to develop yourself into the kind of expediter you want to be, and to help people like bankers, lawyers, carrier executives and shippers believe in you.
If you are someone who came out of a non-trucking but business-skilled job and are now driving a fleet owner’s truck or a truck of your own, you are closing in on the best of both worlds. In your business plan, you can talk about both your business and truck skills.
But what do you do if you have no truck-driving experience whatsoever? You acknowledge that fact, state it in your business plan, talk about how experience is not required to become an expediter, say how you will gain experience over time, and talk about how you will network with your carrier, fleet owner (if you have one), and experienced expediters and business service providers to help you along. (Experience is required to drive big rigs with most expedite carriers.)
Before you are writing a business plan to impress a banker and get a loan, you are writing it to impress yourself. In the Owners and Managers section of your plan, don’t talk about a person you are not. Talk about the person you are. If you have no experience, say so, and then, as part of your plan, talk about how you will not only get experience, but get the kind of experience needed to become the successful expediter you want to be.
Before moving on to the next item in our suggested business plan outline, we will dedicate part 16 to a review of the ground we have covered so far. It is one thing to read how to write a business plan, it is quite another to actually write one. We will list and discuss the action items that relate to parts one through 15.