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Dollars & Sense

Kevin Rutherford

Dollars & Sense

Kevin Rutherford | July 01, 2010

Design your dream business


Most of us wander through life on autopilot. We end up in our jobs by default. Are you in control of the decisions about your life?

If you could design the perfect life, is this it? If not, what would you change? You can use this exercise on your business – as well as every area of your life – to achieve the things you really want.

1.  Get paper and pencil and list your likes and dislikes.

Make sure you can set aside a couple of quiet, uninterrupted hours to think through these questions, as well as to think up more of your own:

• Do you like long haul or short?

• Lots of stops or lots of miles?

• Do you prefer controlling your hauls or having someone else line them up?

• Do you enjoy interacting with people or would you prefer to be alone?

• Do you like loading and unloading or not?

• Do you enjoy the challenge of different routes or do you prefer to always know where you are going?

• Do you like varying weather and road conditions?

• Do you enjoy problem solving?

Another way to approach Step 1 is to list your strengths and then work from there. For example, my strengths include problem solving and time management. So I always enjoyed operations that were more challenging in those areas, such as pick up and delivery or less-than-truckload.

There are no right or wrong answers. This exercise is designed to help you figure out what will make you happy and satisfied.

2.  Choose the parameters of your perfect operation.

What do you really want to be doing as an owner-operator? One of the best ways to do this is by answering these questions.

• How much money do you want to make?

• How much do you want to work?

• When and where do you want to drive?

• What kind of trailer do you want to pull?

• What kind of freight?

• What kind of schedule do you prefer?

• Do you want to have your own authority?

• Do you want to own multiple trucks and hire employees?

The more questions you ask, the better you will be able to describe your dream business. Don’t dwell on negative thoughts: Write and dream as though anything is possible. The more possibilities you create, the better.

3. Compile your answers and strengths to develop a picture of your perfect business.

What would it look like in the real world? What would your day be like?

IS YOUR TYPE OF HAUL TAKING YOU TO THE RIGHT DESTINATION? The online resource,, based on a best-selling book, can help you choose the career path that best fits your strengths and passions. Other books and assessment tests can be found through Internet searches.

This is the dreaming stage, the fun part. The doing stage will come later. After you are satisfied with the results, sit on it for a while. Carry your plan with you and refer to it on a regular basis. Feel free to edit and change at will. As you edit, be thinking about the steps required to put your plan into action. It’s a lot of work and a large commitment, but this is your business and your life. Isn’t it worth it?

Here is one more step prior to design day, which I’ll address next month. As you go through your day, look at all the possibilities in the industry. Get a small recorder and make audio notes about the different freight and trailers you see. Ask people about their operations and their jobs. The more intelligence you gather, the better your plan will be. n

Kevin Rutherford is an accountant, small-fleet owner and the host of “Trucking Business & Beyond,” which airs on Sirius XM Radio’s Road Dog Trucking Radio. Contact Rutherford through his website,

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