Truck Drivers as Potential Entrepreneurs

A life on the road teaches many things that are useful for starting new businesses.

The image of the American truck driver as a white, cigar smoking, fat, bigoted slob, is unfortunately what comes to mind to most potential employers when they see the word truck driver on a resume. Some fit this Hollywood stereotype, but many do not. A driver that I know who operates one of the largest trucks in the world for a Canadian oil shale mining company is an attractive, personable young lady that I publicly declared to be, “My kind of woman.” She had overcome personal abuse as a child, became a self-supporting woman in rural Canada who is able to kill and process her own moose and generally take care of herself - a far cry from the typical image of a truck driver.

Just as truck drivers can be from any demographic, they may also have many types of educational experiences, ranging from nearly none to Phds who had advanced degrees in subjects where there were no jobs during the 2008 financial crisis, and took a good paying job as a long-haul driver. This was a classic case of, “learn to love the job you’ve got.” Some made the most of it, purchased their own rigs and are independent drivers who now have the choice of working for any number of companies .

Experienced truck drivers who can successfully pass a drug test are being highly recruited; but automation is threatening their existence. Just as machines have replaced assembly-line workers, automation is threatening truck drivers. Estimates are than in 20 years, most deliveries will be made by automated means with companies like Amazon and Google pushing the frontiers of this technology. Much tonnage of material in the mining industry that was once moved by ore cars operated by men was replaced by conveyer belts decades ago, and rubber-tired and tracked automated vehicles are already working in many mines. Since their routes are well established, it was a relatively simple task to automate them. Only where decisions must be made by the operator are man-directed trucks necessary. Pushing a button is all that is commonly necessary for a stack loader operator to call a truck to his location. That truck is loaded, sent to its dump point and the next brought into place. The more uniform the material, the more automated the process can become.

General Skills that Most Truck Drivers Have

• Routing Ability. Every driver must be able to follow a rout whether on a map, a skill being rapidly lost, or on a series of electronic devices to take his load wherever it needs to go.

• Accounting. The tally of what was delivered to whom, where that location was and time tracking is a part of a drivers everyday existence.

Time Management. Each driver must, by law, keep track of his driving time and allow for rest breaks.

• Mechanical Aptitude. Since the truck is the driver’s home-in-motion and vital to his making a living, keeping it in safe operational condition under all road conditions is a needed skill.

• Observation. Many confined to offices and their screen devices are noticing a diminishment of their basic observational skills relating to the world around them. Drivers must always be keenly aware of their surroundings.

• Time-Speed Estimation. Drivers learn how to make reliable estimates of loading and unloading times, travel times and what delays might be caused by weather.

• Food. Just as fuel is needed for the truck, food is needed for the driver. This access to good and bad eateries throughout the country provides drivers with a keen appreciation of food and how to select the best available options.

• Adaptation. Drivers must be able to adapt to different road conditions and plan alternative routes as they may be needed.

• Stamina. Long distance truck hauling requires the development of mental and physical stamina. This is much more than push a button and something happens on a keyboard. Trips may be hours or days long, and concentration through this period means that they are accustomed to taking on jobs where the pay-off may be delayed and able to take work that takes a period of time to complete. This is the opposite of instant gratification that many expect in today’s society.

• Communications. From both business and social points of view, drivers are practiced communicators with everyday use of radios, smartphone technology, visual screens and virtual reality used in training programs. Just as significantly they talk to others and may be exposed to original business ideas that they can use as well as to people who might be potential partners.

If you are in Human Resources and screening possible candidates these are the qualities that many drivers have ingrained in their system that will serve them well when deployed to other jobs.

Things Truck Drivers Can Do

If you are a truck driver and thinking of what you might do after you have been automated out of a job, these are the qualities that you have than are very useful for seeking another job or starting your own businesses. In fact, it is a very good idea to start a non-related business while you are still employed so that not only does this business bring in extra income, it can grow to support your family after you can no longer drive.

A downside of driving is that accident or work-related injuries can unexpectedly occur at any age. While evil to contemplate, you might be disabled by an injury in your 20s or 30s or from an occupational-related condition in your 40s or later. Common illnesses among drivers are back problems, repetitive motion conditions (like carpal tunnel syndrome), head injuries, arthritis, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. These diseases or combinations of them can end a driver’s on-the-road career.

Alternative Careers.

• Professional Qualifications. If you had professional qualifications in progress or near completion and never acted on them, now is the time to complete that training, get your degree or certifications and redirect your life around that skill set. This might be working for another type of company, starting your own business or both.

• Communication Arts. The professional adaptation of written, verbal, visual and virtual reality can be combined in a nearly infinite number of ways to take advantage of a driver’s experiences and skills to produce a money-making product. These efforts rely on the drivers’ individuality, his life experiences and passions. Perhaps he may use his experiences to be a podcast radio host. Maybe he will write short stories about them. Perhaps he likes to produce fact-filled videos about the places he has seen. He might even write a best-selling novel.

• Mechanical Arts and Sales. Who better to sell truck accessories than a driver who has actually used them? Not only might you design new products for those in the industry and start a company around those, you might also act as a salesperson for existing accessory suppliers.

• Food. As eating is a vital part of the truck-driver’s life, reviews of eateries around the country might be his forte. If these efforts are persistent, a following can be accumulated and this entire effort turned into a multi-media-based enterprise. Perhaps he might want to introduce new types of foods to his driving buddies by opening a diner or restaurant that might be expanded into a chain, or having his own on-the-road food blog or YouTube channel.

• Business Trends. On-the-ground observations of business trends around the country can enable you to make reasonable guesses as to coming trends in real estate, companies that are doing innovative things and provide information for direct investments in stocks or real estate. These observations might even result in your taking a business concept that is proven in one part of the country and implementing it somewhere else.

These concepts and many more are explored in my most recent business book, “Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife.” In this book I not only explain how to sort through different opportunities, but also provide the nuts and bolts about how to start a business in the U.S. You can find the book at and all other on-line retailers or order from your local bookstore. I also offer individual consulting and business programs for businesses and organizations, and you may contact me about those at

Author's Bio: 

Wm. Hovey Smith is a registered Professional Geologist in Georgia. He is also a member of several writers’ organizations including the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) and the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association (GOWA). He is the author of 18 books with his most recent title being “Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife.” He has been a radio host and does public speaking on work and environmental topics with appearances in the U.S., Europe and China. He is an active blogger and the producer of over 725 YouTube videos on outdoor and business topics.