Youness Elalam is a military veteran, small business owner, and former officer in the MA Army National Guard. Specializing in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) defense, he served as a platoon commander.
With a strong background in the military, Youness developed exceptional leadership skills and a commitment to duty. His experience in CBRN defense equipped him with strategic planning abilities and the ability to thrive in high-pressure situations.
Transitioning into entrepreneurship, Youness established a successful small business. His disciplined approach, combined with his leadership abilities, has enabled him to navigate challenges and achieve impressive results.
As a military veteran and business owner, Youness Elalam exemplifies qualities such as integrity, resilience, and strategic thinking. He continues to make a positive impact in his community and inspire others with his dedication to service and entrepreneurial spirit.
How did you get started in this business?
I got started in the trucking industry because I wanted to serve others, have the freedom to travel, and earn a good living while maintaining control over my work-life balance. Trucking allows me to provide essential services and deliver goods to communities, fulfilling my desire for service. The open road offers me the freedom to explore different landscapes and experience new adventures. Moreover, the industry provides financial stability while allowing me to have control over my schedule, ensuring a balanced work-life dynamic. Trucking has become the perfect combination of service, freedom, and work-life balance that I was seeking, and I am grateful to be pursuing a fulfilling career in this industry.
How do you make money?
As an owner-operator of a box truck specializing in local/regional expedited delivery service, I earn money by providing fast and reliable transportation solutions. I secure contracts with clients who require urgent delivery of their goods within a specific geographic area. By efficiently managing my routes, coordinating pick-ups and drop-offs, and ensuring timely deliveries, I generate revenue through the fees charged for my specialized services.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Once I found a way to lower my overhead costs by enlisting as an independent contractor with a reputable dispatch service company, my business became incredibly successful. This decision allowed me to access lower-cost insurance options and gain consistent access to high-paying loads, leading to significant financial growth and stability.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Starting out with an insurance policy premium of over $15,000 a year and relying on load boards like Amazon Relay, it was a daunting task to cover the high insurance and fuel costs while still paying myself. To address this challenge, I focused on reducing my overhead expenses. Firstly, I obtained a business credit card that offered 5% cash back on all purchases, including fuel, which helped offset costs. Additionally, I conducted research to find ways to lower my insurance premium. After partnering with the dispatch company, I discovered that my insurance premium would decrease to a mere $5,000, resulting in annual savings of over $10,000. This strategic decision enabled me to overcome the initial financial hurdles and set the stage for a more successful and profitable business.
How did you get your first customer?
My first customer, which played a significant role in launching my business, was Amazon Relay. Through their platform, I was able to secure consistent loads and establish a reliable source of revenue. In addition to Amazon Relay, I also utilized other relevant apps and platforms that connected me with individuals and businesses in need of trucking services. These platforms provided opportunities for various types of shipments, including freight and household moving and delivery. By leveraging these digital resources, I expanded my customer base beyond a single platform and diversified my revenue streams. This approach allowed me to kickstart my business and establish a strong foothold in the industry.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
When operating with a single truck, traditional marketing efforts may not be as crucial as they would be for larger companies with multiple vehicles. The reason is that platforms and connections that offer steady and reliable work are readily accessible in today’s digital age.
By meeting the minimum requirements set by reputable platforms and networking with industry professionals, you can find ample opportunities to secure work. These platforms connect shippers and customers directly with trucking service providers, ensuring a streamlined process and a wide range of available loads.
Moreover, these platforms often have robust rating systems and feedback mechanisms that allow you to build a positive reputation and gain trust within the industry. By consistently delivering high-quality service and maintaining good relationships with customers, you can develop a strong reputation that leads to repeat business and referrals.
While traditional marketing strategies can still be beneficial for building brand awareness and attracting direct clients, the accessibility of digital platforms significantly reduces the immediate need for extensive marketing efforts when operating with a single truck. By focusing on meeting the platform requirements, delivering exceptional service, and establishing connections within the industry, you can effectively find steady and reliable work without the need for extensive marketing campaigns.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Facing personal circumstances and the ongoing challenge of finding dependable assistance in the workforce, I found myself making a tough decision: putting my business on hold. Balancing personal obligations with the demands of running a business became increasingly difficult, especially in an environment where finding reliable help was becoming more and more challenging. This decision required careful consideration and weighed heavily on me, as I had invested significant time and effort into building my business. However, prioritizing personal well-being and acknowledging the realities of the labor market were important factors in making this difficult choice.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
What sets me apart and contributes to my success in this business is my unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional service and maintaining strong relationships with my clients. I prioritize open communication, attentiveness to their needs, and a solution-oriented approach to problem-solving. Additionally, my attention to detail, organizational skills, and ability to adapt to changing circumstances have proven instrumental in meeting and exceeding customer expectations. Furthermore, my continuous pursuit of industry knowledge and staying up-to-date with emerging trends allows me to provide innovative solutions and stay ahead of the competition. Ultimately, my dedication, client-focused mindset, and ability to adapt are key factors that contribute to my success in this business.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
One of the most satisfying experiences as an owner-operator is the combination of freedom, financial success, and personal fulfillment. Having the freedom to be in control of my own schedule, routes, and business decisions allows me to strike a harmonious work-life balance. I can prioritize my time and commitments, creating a sense of autonomy that is truly rewarding.
Not only does being an owner-operator provide me with freedom, but it also offers the opportunity to earn a very good living. As I see the fruits of my labor translate into financial success, I feel a deep sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Building my own wealth and securing my financial future through my hard work and dedication brings a great sense of fulfillment.
Knowing that I am not just working for someone else’s success, but actively building my own wealth and creating opportunities for myself is incredibly empowering. This sense of ownership and control over my destiny fuels my motivation and fuels my drive to continue growing and expanding my business.
In summary, the most satisfying aspect of being an owner-operator lies in the combination of freedom, financial success, and the fulfillment that comes from building my own wealth. This experience allows me to enjoy the rewards of my hard work while maintaining a sense of independence and personal accomplishment.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
In envisioning the future for my business, I have a desire to involve close friends and family in its growth. One avenue is to enlist their help in operating the truck, leveraging their skills and expertise to expand our capabilities and reach. By joining forces, we can tap into a wider pool of resources and talents, fostering a strong and supportive team dynamic.
Additionally, I aspire to involve friends and family in the business by seeking their investment to obtain a new truck. Their financial support would enable us to upgrade our fleet and enhance our capacity to serve more clients effectively. By pooling our resources, we can seize new opportunities, improve efficiency, and elevate the overall success of the business.
Collaborating with loved ones not only brings a sense of trust and shared commitment but also strengthens the bond between family and friends. Working together toward a common goal creates a supportive and fulfilling environment where we can collectively contribute to the growth and prosperity of the business.
As I look ahead, I am excited about the potential of involving close friends and family in my business, leveraging their skills, expertise, and financial support to expand our operations and create a thriving enterprise.
What business books have inspired you?
To learn the skills needed to start my business, I relied on YouTube videos that covered every step of the process. From obtaining DOT and MC authority to purchasing the right truck and enlisting on platforms like Amazon Relay, YouTube proved to be a valuable resource. However, I quickly realized that real-life experience and hands-on work were far more valuable than any book or tutorial. Each business is unique, and tailoring my approach to fit my personal life and what works best for me proved to be crucial for success.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
If I were to advise my younger self, I would emphasize the importance of embracing challenges and taking calculated risks. Starting a business inherently involves risk-taking, but it’s crucial to ensure that those risks are carefully considered. As a small business owner, effective cost management is paramount, and it’s essential to prioritize needs over wants. Controlling running costs and making decisions with financial prudence can significantly impact the success of the business. Recognizing the difference between genuine needs and mere desires is vital. By focusing on needs and making thoughtful, calculated decisions, the business stands a greater chance of thriving, particularly in the early stages.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
I am passionate about providing mentorship to aspiring entrepreneurs. If you’re seeking guidance or have any questions, I would be thrilled to help. The best way to reach me is through email or social media. Feel free to connect with me and let’s embark on a journey of growth and success together.