While it’s true I’ve managed to flatten the learning curve just a tad bit since starting this hot shot business, it’s also true that I know good and well that I still have years of learning left ahead of me. Some days this seems kind of daunting. Then again, my last job took me years to learn and to feel comfortable in, and in the near decade I did that job I still didn’t know everything about it. So this isn’t a new concept to me.
At any rate, in the year since we started up, I can’t tell you how many new things I’ve had to wrap my brain around.
Every day brought another challenge, question, and with luck, at least the direction to go for an answer. Sometimes I got lucky and stumbled across information that helped me later while searching for a solution to a problem I already had. And once in a great while, I managed to find someone with some knowledge about trucking in general who would let me pick their brains a bit.
One of the things I learned early on is not to discount any particular source for gaining information. I’ve used the internet, talked to other trucking company owners, hob-knobbed with the handful of hot shots I’ve met across the fuel island at truck stops or while unloading my trailer, talked to shippers, read and studied trucking magazines, and sometimes, as a last resort, just figured things out by trial and error. And I’ll continue to do all of these things for as long as it takes to get a good grasp on every facet of this business I possibly can. But I never expect to know it all.
Another thing I learned early on is that some things you just really do have to learn the old fashioned way, by thinking the problem through and figuring out a livable solution. Particularly when there’s no internet connection handy, no experienced driver nearby, and you’re out on the road somewhere between say, Odessa and Wichita Falls. Or any two other locations on the map. Sometimes you just have to take a few minutes and a deep breath and make a decision, then do something, even if it’s wrong.
And I’ve definitely done the wrong thing once or twice, but doing so was just as valuable to me as having the right answer the first time. It pointed me in the proper direction when I figured out it wasn’t the right answer. Then the next time I had a similar problem I knew, at least, which way not to go.
I suppose the point is that it’s going to take time and experience to get this all figured out, and that’s ok. What isn’t alright is not taking the time to figure it out, or failing to learn from mistakes made. I hope I have the sense to learn from my errors. I have a firm belief that mistakes are not bad in and of themselves, it’s making the same mistake more than once that’s not so hot.
But all of the above is part of what makes this business appealing; no two days are the same, and most of the “problems” I encounter are challenging, which keeps just about every day I’m out there hauling freight around pretty interesting.