You’ve decided to drive for a fleet owner to help you explore whether you want to become an owner-operator or fleet owner down the road eventually.

But, in the meantime, you want to make as much money as possible in your role as a driver. And typically, that means joining forces with a top-notch fleet owner who has the business savvy to keep you busy earning income.

So, how do you become the type of driver that the best fleet owners want to have driving their trucks—and set yourself up for long-term success in this industry?

Begin by developing these seven habits.

Habit #1: Think like a business owner (because you are one).
You may not own the truck, but if you’re a 1099 contractor as an expedite driver for a fleet owner, you’re a business owner. And that requires a significantly different mindset for success than when you were an employee.

Why? What’s the difference?

As a business owner, you no longer have the security of a steady paycheck, health insurance, and other benefits that come with being an employee.

And you have to wear several hats at once. You’re the CEO, the bookkeeper, the VP of sales and marketing, the load decider—all on top of spending the bulk of your day driving.

But that’s the price you pay for the freedom to be your own boss, set your own schedule, and pursue your own goals.

When you embrace the business owner mentality, you realize that success won’t be handed to you by an employer—or your fleet owner. It’s earned, day-in and day-out, by you learning and mastering the fundamentals of your business.

Habit #2: View your fleet owner as a business partner, not a boss.
This one falls in line with Habit #1.

You’re the CEO of your own expedite driving company. And the fleet owner you drive for is your business partner who provides the equipment, some administrative support, and access to loads to help you build your business.

By why is this an important distinction?

It goes to the heart of how you think about yourself—and how you run your business.

As the CEO, you don’t think about merely doing a job for a boss to get a paycheck. You’re focused on building a mutually beneficial (and highly profitable) relationship with a business partner—the fleet owner.

This means you’ll want to choose your partner carefully. Are you with a fleet owner right now where you feel like they’re a partner with you for mutual success?

If not, find an owner who best aligns with your business goals.

Habit #3: Treat the equipment as your own.
Although you don’t own the truck, your productivity—and long-term profitability—still hinges on how well you care for it.

That’s because if you’re not keeping up with truck maintenance intervals or neglecting to notify your fleet owner of any potential equipment issues, you’ll risk encountering unplanned downtime that can cost you a lot of money in lost revenue.

And if you’re not adequately taking care of the truck, that’s a poor reflection of you and your business. The expedite industry is a small world. Word will spread quickly that you can’t be trusted with equipment.

But when you’re known as someone who takes excellent care of a fleet owner’s equipment, that word will also spread quickly. And that will make you a highly sought-after driver by the best fleet owners in the industry.

Habit #4: Surround yourself with the right people.
There’s a saying by bestselling author and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

Although we’re responsible for our own lives, we can’t underestimate the influence other people have on our attitude, self-esteem, and motivation to succeed.

So, who are you spending time with?

Are they positive people who inspire you to be your best? Or, do they constantly complain and talk about what’s wrong in the world?

Are they genuinely successful in the expedite business and want to help you succeed, too? Or, are they struggling but act like they know it all?

Surround yourself with the caliber of people who reflect what you would like to see in your own life and business.

Habit #5: Be wise with social media.
What you say on social media can and will be used against you—and potentially hurt your business. So, take a moment to think about what you say before you click “Post.”

If you follow many of the expedite social media pages, you’ll see some interesting, helpful, educational, and humorous posts that make a positive contribution to that community.

But you’ll also see negative posts that call out and tear down specific drivers, fleet owners, and trucking carriers. Or, they spark heated political arguments that can turn toxic.

Remember, you’re the CEO of your expedite business. And what you say online is a reflection of your brand. So, ask yourself: Does your social media presence match the brand you want to build?

Habit #6: Invest in professional growth.
As an employee, you could reasonably expect your boss to help pay for your career and professional development. But, as the business owner, you must invest in your own professional growth if you want to make much more money in the long haul.

What aspects of your business do you need to learn more about to improve performance in that area?

What credentials could you pursue to qualify for more loads and boost your income potential?

If your goal is to become an owner-operator or fleet owner down the road, what can you be working on right now to put you on the right path?

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.

Habit #7: Make time for “preventive maintenance” for your health.
You could have big goals, knowing where you want to go in the expedited trucking business and working hard to get there. But if you don’t consistently invest time for personal recovery and renewal, you’ll risk burnout and health issues that ultimately prevent you from reaching your destination. So, think of the seventh habit as “preventive maintenance” for yourself-—so that you can minimize unplanned downtime and stay on the road to your goals.

The Bottom Line
If you put these seven habits into consistent practice, you’ll have no issue finding the best fleet owners to run for. In fact, you will have built such a reputation that they’ll be looking for you.