Golden Rules for Surviving as a Self-employed Owner Driver


Setting yourself up as a self-employed owner driver, whether you drive a small van or a larger vehicle, can be fairly easy in the beginning. But making it in the business is tough, and you have to be prepared to be flexible in order to survive. You’re only going to make it if there’s enough demand for your services, and even then you could be competing with many other people trying to do the same as you. It’s not an easy trade to be successful in, but there are things you can do to increase your chances of having a steady stream of work.

Self-employed Owner Driver

David Guo

Go Where the Work Is

For your business to work, you need to base yourself in an area where you know you’ll be able to find jobs. If you can’t set your company up somewhere that you have access to plenty of work, you need to be able to travel to find it. Location is crucial to the success of your business. You don’t want to set yourself up in an oversaturated market, where the supply far outweighs the demand. If you’re a delivery driver, don’t expect all your jobs to start or end in your hometown. Of course, your choice of vehicle is vital too because it affects the services you can offer.

Save Money Where You Can

Any business needs to have its finances in order to be successful. It’s essential that you aren’t spending money unnecessarily, so you should stay on top of your cash flow from the beginning. If you set a budget and keep an eye on what you’re spending, you can find places to cut costs. Your insurance will be one of your biggest expenses, so you need to find the best policy. If you drive a tipper, you can see an example of a policy at There are lots of other policies intended for particular vehicles or business models that are tailored to your operation. You can also look for ways to be more economical with fuel, as well as finding the most cost-effective ways to advertise your services.

Diversify Your Services

When you first set up, you might offer one type of service to a small area. But if you want to grow and survive, you need to provide further services or specialize in particular things. Perhaps you began using a van for helping people move house. But you could diversify by providing safe transport of pets or perhaps carrying valuable possessions, such as antiques. If you can make yourself stand out from the crowd, you could find yourself getting more work.

Look for jobs in different places too, and try to make the best use of your time. For example, you can find work through both contacting major companies and on websites where people list jobs they need someone to do. When you make a long-haul trip, try to get another job for when you go back in the other direction.

Although it can be a struggle to survive when you offer your services as an owner driver, you can do it if you have some business smarts. Remember that you are running a company; you’re not just someone who frequently changes employers.

Featured image credit: ShutterStock

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