Your first year in hot shot trucking is crucial.

Many startups fail during their first year of operation. Some of the causes of failure are negative cash flow, lack of loads, and too much competition. While these are some of the risks you may encounter, there are ways you can avoid these common pitfalls.

While many hot shot startups have failed, there are others that have succeeded. We can certainly learn something from the ones that have succeeded — who’ve successfully navigated their first year in business.

What are these lessons? Contrary to what some may have led you to believe, there is no secret. But here are five simple tips you can implement right now to increase your chances of survival as you embark on the hot shot trucking journey.

1. Be Prepared to Be Away From Home

This one’s pretty obvious. The very nature of the job requires it. If you have a family, make sure they understand it and are OK with it. You also have to be ready, both mentally and emotionally. It’s quite common for new hot shot truckers to suffer from loneliness and depression. Make sure you have “counted the cost” before embarking on this kind of career.

2. Avoid Accidents at All Costs

Not only are accidents costly. They also negatively impact your driving record. Therefore, be extra careful not to get into an accident. Sometimes, new hot shot truckers get into accidents because they’re still getting used to the setup of pulling a trailer. Again, be extra careful, especially in bad weather or when making challenging maneuvers. Also, get the right kind of insurance to protect yourself financially in case of any eventuality.

3. Have Realistic Financial Expectations

When you’re just starting out as a hot shot trucker, you won’t be making a lot of money in the beginning. Therefore, your expectations must be modest so you won’t be disappointed and quit. Of course, you should do your very best, but be prepared for the worst. Being a hot shot trucker is a sacrifice at first, and you must be willing to accept that if you want to succeed long-term.

One reason for the low income is the lack of shippers in the beginning. This can be augmented by using load boards. Still, another reason is that you’re not as efficient yet as an experienced driver. So it will be useful and helpful if you could learn and apply the best fuel-saving tips.

If you’re prepared to live a frugal life for a few years while getting your business off the ground, you could be successful one day. You may need to live according to a strict budget and adjust your spending accordingly, but if you’re patient and consistent, it will all pay off in the end. (If you’d like to know more, read our article, How Much Does Hot Shot Trucking Pay?)

4. Keep Your Goal Firmly in Mind

When you’re just getting started as a hot shot owner-operator, it’s easy to get discouraged. Therefore, it’s vital during these times to keep the big picture in mind. Whatever challenge you are up against, identify the action plan that you are going to take. If you apply this consistently, you’ll eventually achieve the goal and vision you have set for yourself.

5. Level Up Your Driving Skills

To be an excellent hot shot trucker, you need to master driving. Not only does it take guts, but it also requires planning and preparation as well. If there’s a location that’s new and unfamiliar to you, do all you can to research it and prepare for it. Learn where the road obstacles are as well.

Fear is your enemy. Some truckers are reluctant to accept deliveries to locations they’re not familiar with. They’re scared to face challenging terrain, narrow bridges and streets, bad weather, and road obstacles. But the only sure way to overcome this fear is to meet it head-on and get experience under your belt. After all, how can you level up your driving if you won’t try?

The Bottom Line

Starting a hot shot trucking business isn’t that complicated. However, it’s also no cakewalk. It requires determination, learning, consistency, and sacrifice. If you’ll apply the five tips we’ve listed above, you will have a higher likelihood of success as you get started in this business.

There’s no doubt your first year as a hot shot owner-operator will be tough and challenging. Like any new endeavor, that’s to be expected. But just keep learning, growing, and making little course corrections here and there. Pretty soon, you’ll begin to adjust to the job and the lifestyle. The most important thing to remember is to always keep learning…

And don’t give up too easily.