Thursday, February 28, 2013

Procrastination, a business killer?

There has been something I have noticed in the last few years or so.  It seems to me that there are more people in 'positions of power' that refuse to make any critical decisions.

Now is this just a matter of procrastination  low confidence or a combination of that and a few other things?

We see this not only around us in our lives, but with major business leaders, and unfortunately the leaders of our country.

I know one of the first things I learned when I became an NCO (non-commissioned officer) of the military I was taught that you had to have confidence in not only yourself but in others so that you could make a decision.  In the military, you can find yourself in situations where a decision has to made quickly on the spot.  You don't have time to procrastinate on it.  The thing about any decision is even if its a bad one, you learn from it and move on.

When you find yourself in that position to make a decision, look at your options then make it.  Keep in mind that by NOT making a decision, you just made one so putting it off gets you nowhere.  Honestly if you are afraid that you are going to make the wrong decision, or people might not like it, the position you currently hold might not be for you and you need to step aside and let someone who will make a decision step up.

You have to have the courage and confidence to make decisions in life.  It's how we learn and evolve.

I will say in closing, and a sidenote that I am getting pretty tired of ALL politicians blaming everyone else for the ills of the country without taking a huge portion of blame for themselves.  They need to man up, step to the plate and do what we voted them in to do, have the confidence to make a decision and stick to it.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Is failure really a failure?

I read an interesting blog today that brought up a nice line of thought so I thought I would pose this question to you.

Is failure really a failure?

What do I mean by that?  Well in any sense, your personal life, business etc.  When you have a goal set in mind, what is your first thought if you don't reach it?

Are you the type of person that gets in a bad mood, let it affect how you are the rest of the day? In essence do you see it in the light that 'you failed' and were not good enough, or tried hard enough to meet the goal?

Or are you the type of person that looks at what happened, reviews it, then re-adjusts how they did things to ensure that the next time this goal was tried it would have a better chance at success?

Did you notice I didn't put down the fact you WOULD succeed the next time, only that it could change the chances of success?  The reason is that sometimes you might have to fail at something multiple times before you succeed at it.

The key in all of this is to LEARN from those mistakes, and try to take it in a positive light.  It is much easier to focus on the negative side of things than to look at the positive.  Positive does take work, constantly but it has its rewards in the end.

 "I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work." -Edison. 

That is one of my favorite quotes from Edison.  He looked at things in a positive light and was eventually very successful.

In both business and your personal life, this is a good way to approach things.  I know I have failed, rather spectacularly at times I might add.  The great thing though is I try to look at those times as a learning experience and grow from them.

I know nothing worthwhile is risk-free, but that is what adds the zest in life I think, taking those risks and seeing where the ride takes you.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rewards for stepping out of the comfort zone

Good evening everyone!  I can definitely say that this program that I am in will give me the chance to really add to that nice revenue stream.

Since I signed up on the program, I have been unable to get to a spot where I could start getting loads off of the board.  I will give the brokers many kudos to the fact that they did not want to give me any freight that would have ended up being cheaper than hauling the company freight.  That in itself tells me the level of professionalism that these guys have and my hat is off to them.

Right now the load I am on will net me .20 cents more per actual mile than if I had gone through the company with this load.  The way I figure if I can only average say 1 1/2 loads like this per week.  Yes I know its a fraction but it is an average too lol.  This will add 'on average' about 360 per week to the revenue stream.  Doesn't sound like much?  Multiply that by 45 weeks (gotta have some vacation etc lol) and that gives me 16,200 in extra revenue for the year.

I don't know about you but that sounds like a really really good deal to me.  I make more money turning the same amount of miles, burning the same fuel with the other costs the same.  It adds that 16,200 to my bottom line profit.

The great thing about that is that the numbers I am throwing around right now are possibly on the low conservative side.  It could potentially be much higher than that.

Am I excited about this program?  You bet I am!!!  Having the ability, and the responsibility to be able to earn more revenue for my business is very exciting!!

Here is to what I hope will be a great year.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Taking the CABS Course

Today I decided that I needed to ensure that I was continuing my business education and see that I was headed in the right direction.

I currently have my booking and taxes done by ATBS.  They seem to have done a decent job so far in both realms but I like to be more 'hands on'.  The monthly P&L statement I get from them is one month old or more by the time I receive a copy of it.  For me, this seems to be too much of a lag time to be able to make good timely decisions about my business to make sure I can keep it profitable.

Last year I had started to use an online program called MyGauges which allows me to put my numbers in weekly and track them week to week, month to month and so on giving me a much better 'real time' look.

Now in order to make sure I am getting the most for my money from both of these programs, I have decided to take the CABS course that ATBS has.  This course is a business course tailored for owner operators in the trucking industry.  There are quite a few lending institutions that will give a loan application more weight if you have been certified in this course as it is pretty in-depth.

There are 12 lessons that cover a whole range of topics.  You have to pass a test to get past each lesson and there is a nice long test at the end that you have to pass to get the certification.

I know I have learned a lot from other people, reading and just the school of 'hard knocks' since I have been out here, but I want to make sure that I have learned everything I need to know.  To me this course sets an excellent 'baseline' to see where I am at.

I don't plan on stopping with this course.  There are other things I can do.  One other course I plan on taking at some point will be the CMC, the Certified Master Contractors seminar put on by Kevin Rutherford.  It is a 5 day INTENSE seminar that is loaded with a wide range of topics that are covered in the industry today.  I know it will take the CABS course and add to it probably to a factor of 10.  For me the biggest thing is to determine if I can save enough to take the course this year, or if I will have to wait for next year as it will cost, between the course and the revenue loss for 5 days somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-5k.  On the surface it does sound expensive but the knowledge gained at it should give a fairly quick ROI (return on investment) that would make up the loss.

So, first things first I have to complete the CABS course, (which is normally 500 but I got it at 350) and then see where things stand.  Oh, the other nice thing about the CABS course is that once completed, I get a 5% discount with everything I do with ATBS.  That does help quite a bit with the ROI on it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

State of the Union

I went and watched the State of the Union tonite.  Yes I know, what a way to spend an evening but there was something interesting.

Bing, had a real time 'pulse' meter where you could vote every 5 seconds to give instant feedback on what people thought of the speech.

Here are a few things I saw:

Both Republicans AND Independents were virtually the same as they moved across the meter.  You could not tell the lines apart.

The Democrat line was slightly higher, BUT it also followed the other two in the ups and downs as the speech went.  This was interesting in the fact that the meter never really got above 0, or neutral.  The lowest the meter hit was -77, and it got that low quite a few times during the speech.

Now if someone there on the Hill had any intelligence, they would take this meter readout, match it up with the speech and see what the country REALLY thinks about the subjects vs the polls that are taken.  I honestly think that this is a much better read than a poll that can be set up how you want it to read.

Overall, it should be interesting if the pundits pick up on this pulse and run with it, or if it suddenly fades in the background to be 'forgotten' since it doesn't state what they think.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

An Interesting Trucking Company Model

I was listening to a trucking show the other day on my XM radio, called Trucking Business and Beyond hosted by Kevin Rutherford.

He had a caller call in about how he was operating under his own authority, but was dedicated pulling a larger companies trailers doing it.

It appears that some companies are drifting towards this kind of business model, where they have their owner/operators get their own authority so they have to handle all of the FMCSA's rules and regulations on compliance.

Another model is where a trucking company will go and either start or team up with a brokerage firm, then allow their drivers to use that firm to book freight.  It sounds like a great deal, which it is, but there is another possible motive for this.  By going with this model, it allows the company to go to a customer in the following possible scenario.  Before having a brokerage firm, they could only take contracts with X amount of loads per week.  Some customers have a 'surge' or seasonal freight where they might need a large amount of trucks to pull freight for a short amount of time.  By having the brokerage firm, they can inform this customer that they can handle ALL of their freight needs, not just the X amount per week.  By using the firm they can use it to cover the surge with outside trucks if they are needed.

When this model was explained, I realized that the company I currently work for is showing signs of possibly going to this kind of model.  As far as I'm concerned that's a good thing since it could give us more freight lanes to pull from, increasing our load volume and revenue potential.

It should be interesting to see how this will turn out.  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Getting out of my comfort zone

This week I was able to sign up on a pilot program with the company I am leased to.

The company I am leased to currently has a per mile contract that the owner operators are on for calculation of our pay.  This contract does have a graduated scale on mileage, and a fuel surcharge.  The thing is though is that it does limit the amount of revenue I can bring in with the truck.

This pilot program opens up a new potential line of revenue for my truck.  The company has a contract with a brokerage firm, which allows us to call them to get a load through them.  The difference in this is the fact that I, as the driver, negotiate the amount I will be paid on the load.  Once an amount is agreed on, I go and take the load.

This is a major step up from running under a static pay model.  Depending on where I am at, what the load volume is, and in small part how well I negotiate will determine how much I will make on this type of load.  It has the potential to make a nice bit of profit to add to the revenue stream.  It also has the potential to lower it too with bad decisions.

I am both excited, and a little scared on stepping out of my comfort zone.  The thing is though, the only way to grow is to get out of that zone.