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Courier MBA Day 7: Your Exit Plan

Most people would never think business plan when thinking about gig economy work.

They definitely never think of an exit plan.

It makes sense. Much of the appeal of gig work is you can just pick it up, you can do the work when you want, and you just walk away when you're done with it.

It's not all that different than a lot of businesses that people start, when you think about it. You can do something well, so you start a business. And you keep doing it without thinking much about when you're going to stop doing it.

You open up Wally's Widget World. Business is good, but how will it end? Will you pass it on to the kids? Will you sell it? Or are you going to close up shop? When you have a plan for what you want to do with it, it allows you to run your business towards that plan, putting you in the best position to do exactly what you want to do.

But this isn't like that type of business – why would I bother with an exit plan?

We can't sell it. There's no value in the business when it's made up of just contracts to deliver with gig companies. If someone wants to do it, all they have to do is sign their own contracts.

That means there's no value in passing it on to the next generation. There's nothing to pass on, for all the same reasons I just mentioned.

About all you can do is close up shop and move on. Who needs an exit plan for that?

But that's not the point of an exit plan here.

This is one thing where talking about an exit plan is different than it is with most other businesses. We're not talking about the business itself – our business in this kind of work isn't really all that tangible.

We're talking about where YOU go from here.

The point of thinking about your exit from your delivery business is to get you in the mindset of thinking about where you want this business to take you, and what will you do when it gets you there?

We talked about your goals. Much of yesterday's discussion centered more around your immediate goals: What do you need your business to earn for it to fulfill its purpose?

Today, it's centering on the longer term goals. Where do you want this business to take you? What is next? When will you know it's taken you there, and now what will you do?

I don't think you have to know the answers yet.

But I really encourage you to be thinking about them.

It's like in my journey, where at one point I decided that my passion was to discover my passion. I felt like I was meant for something different, but how do I find it?

When you dive into what you're most passionate about, where do you want that to lead you?

Your exit plan is you taking time to ask, how is my business going to get me there?

This business of yours can do more to get you to your goals than just make money.

Think of it as a training ground.

Think of this as an opportunity to prepare you for what's next. What do you need to get there? How can you use your time on delivery to get you there?

One of the most valuable lessons I discovered awhile back after starting delivery was this:

I had a lot of time that I could use for other things.

I'm being paid to pick up food from a restaurant, and deliver it to a customer. It takes time to get to the restaurant. It takes time to get from the restaurant to the customer. Sometimes there's a wait between when I complete the delivery and when I get the next order. We all know the wait that often happens at a restaurant.

How are you taking advantage of that time?

I went out and got a subscription to Audible. I'm constantly looking for books that can help me understand how to run my business, or how to help me build the things I want to build in other areas (including this website).

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I had no clue how to do a podcast. There are podcasts that helped me learn how to do a podcast. I took a course, and was able to use some of the wait time reading material.

Sometimes the drive time is just a great time to reflect. I was able to think through how I wanted to approach putting this course. I've already had time to think about the things that haven't gone well, and how can I do them better? I keep documents on google sheets to jot down ideas, and use the voice to text feature on my phone to list those ideas.

Ask yourself these questions:

Where do you want to be?

Start with that question. Go back to what you answered yesterday, where do you want to see yourself in five years?

Go further. What about ten years? What about thirty years? (And even at 57 years of age, that's a legitimate question for me – I plan to keep active and enjoy the heck out of my later years).

Go shorter. What about just a year from now?

How are you going to get there?

Maybe your goal is retirement.

It's never just retirement though, is it? What does retirement mean? Where is it going to happen? What do you want life to be like? What will you do with your time?

If you find that this self employment thing is a gateway drug into other types of business, what do you need to get to where you want to be with those? Do you want to flip merchandise on Amazon? What do you need to learn to be better at that? What do you need to know about the taxes and finances?

Maybe there's a career that you want to get into. Something you just love to do and nothing would make you happier to do that. What do you need to do to get there?

How can your current business help get you there?

What are you learning from your business that you can apply to whatever is next?

One person in the course said she's using the business to help her get through grad school.

What books can help you get there? Use your time to listen to them. What podcasts are out there that will help you? Seriously, there are podcasts on almost every topic imaginable. (And if there isn't one for what you want, maybe that's what you can offer)

Are there earnings from your business to budget towards your development into what's next?

Start looking for action steps you can take to let your business prepare you for what's next.

Ask yourself these questions: When is it time to move on from this business and what's next?

Not many people see delivery as a lifetime thing. It's a means to an end. (Though too often, most don't even think about what that end really is).

At some point it's going to come to an end. You won't need this business any longer. Either because you got to where this business is taking you, or because you found something that even better fits your why and better gets you to where you want to go.

Have you ever asked yourself when that will be? Have you thought about what needs to be happen for it to be a good time to let go of your delivery business?

Do you have an escape plan?

What happens if something changes? For some reason you're no longer able to deliver. What do you do now?

If you're in California, this is an incredibly important question. The state is cracking down on AB5, the law they passed a year ago that makes it harder for companies to use independent contractors. If they have their way, under the law these delivery apps will have to use employees instead of contractors.

What would you do if there's a change? Defensive driving classes train you to always have an out – that if something unexpected happens, you want to make sure you have a way to swerve or a place to stop. Keep your eyes open and start building a Plan B so if there's an unexpected event, you're not left out in the cold.

Here's a bit of insight into my exit plan thinking.

Maybe some of where I see my own delivery business going will help you think about yours.

My why is that I want to develop resources for people involved in older adult ministries in their local church. I decided the best way to do that is create an online platform and a community where people can share their ideas and experiences.

I realized that my 9 to 5 job wasn't going to give me the flexibility I needed, so I started my delivery business to support that platform.

I realized that as long as I'm doing delivery, I'd always have to spend so much time out on the road, and I'd never have as much time as I wanted. That's where EntreCourier got started – I realized that starting this site could help me learn the technical and content skills I needed to grow the ministry platform. I also knew it could have a higher revenue ceiling, meaning it could grow to where I could spend a lot more time on my online platform than if I always relied on driving.

As the website grows, I'll scale down my delivery business. The time I had been spending on delivery, I can now put into the ministry platform. At some point I'll be able to turn over a lot of the time I put in EntreCourier to someone else, so that in two to three years I intend to be full time on the ministry platform, fully supported by the work I'd put into delivery at first and then into EntreCourier.

In the end, having this exit plan has also helped me develop an emergency plan. Having grown the website at EntreCourier gives me options if the unexpected happens where I have to stop delivering.

What does life after delivery look like for you?

Do you know yet?

You don't have to know. But I would encourage you to start thinking about it.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.