Taking to the streets of Reddit for insight on this question. The original poster simply stated, "Advice for an aspiring owner operator, please." Owner-Operators are those individuals that own and operate their own trucking business. They may lease on to a carrier or they may operate under their own authority. Here are some of the most popular responses:
1. "I suggest two bank accounts. One to pay your self and another for business expenses and possibly even a third just for taxes. Keep track of all your expenses or hire someone like ATBS to do it for you (and doesn't hurt to have someone in case you have questions). Also as an owner op you will need to pay quarterly taxes so be sure to hold back enough cash every week. Also, suggest setting aside .10 to .13 cents a mile for maintenance and repairs. It also doesn't hurt to keep adding to that maintenance fund in case you end up having to buy a new truck later down the road.
When shopping make sure the truck isn't falling apart. I see so many trucks with bad alignment, torn bumpers and fenders and even some bumpers only supported by string. Horrible! Don't be one of those guys, get a decent truck. Plus, by getting a decent truck you avoid the upkeep from problems previous drivers neglected to fix. All small problems turn into big expensive problems they will likely just make you give up. So if you notice a vibration or something 'off' I suggest spending that $300-400 to fix it vs waiting till it turns into $2000 and a must fix or can't drive problem.
To answer your question I find it to be freeing of being under someone's finger. There is opportunity to make more money than a company driver if you play your cards right, and if you don't have a truck payment. Play them wrong and you could end up broke and hungry."
2. "I love it. I get to pick and choose the loads I want to do.
The downside? Everything is on you. Permits, taxes, IFTA reports, everything. No one to complain to except yourself.
When buying a truck, I suggest you buy a fleet truck. Preferably a Walmart truck because they keep the trucks in tip top shape. All the fleet trucks I've bought have been great. Previous O/O trucks, nope.
And bank accounts. Like Mr church said, two accounts. One for you, one for the truck. The truck always gets paid. No excuses. And you don't take out money for personal stuff, its all truck.
3. "It isn't for everyone. You've got to be on top of the bookwork all the time and this is where a lot of guys come unstuck because they just don't like bookwork.
Also you save huge $$$$ if you do the mechanical work yourself, even basic stuff like oil changes and brake jobs, but you need somewhere to do it, pref undercover.
You can set the truck up just how you want, go where and when you want if you are full independent.
I've been both O/O and company. Give me O/O every time but like I said it isn't for everyone."