You picked up Dashing for Doordash, or delivery for Grubhub, Uber Eats or others as a side hustle, and you've been amazed at how well it pays.
In fact, it's paying better than your regular job.
So much better in fact, that you're wondering, does it make sense to go all in on this? Would this be a good full time gig? Should I quit my job so I can do this full time?
Understand this: There is no one right answer to that question.
I see this question asked a ton, and I always see the same two answers.
Best decision you could ever make. Dive in
It's not sustainable full time, it's only good for a side hustle.
They're both wrong. They're both right. Usually it's a mix of the two.
To the people who say it's not sustainable, my response is Baloney. I've done this two and a half years and it's far more sustainable than the jobs I've worked in the past. Look at all the W2 jobs that have gone away during the pandemic and tell me how sustainable a W2 job is in comparison.
The flip side is, because it works for me doesn't mean it'll work for you. We have different temperaments and ways of doing things. For some of you, full time would be a terrible decision. It might not be a good fit. Gig work in states like California might not be the way to go at this moment. You could be one of many who think they're doing great when reality is you're barely breaking even.
It's a great decision for some. It's horrible for others. How do you decide?
A Seven step decision process if you are thinking of going full time for Grubhub Doordash Uber Eats Postmates Instacart or others.
Episode 44 looked at this topic. It asked if full time was a good idea. So why do another episode and article?
A lot has changed since that was posted that adds some perspective. No one saw 2020 and the Rona coming. We still don't know what the overall fallout will be.
But I also wanted to take a different approach. In that episode I looked at it from a pro's and con's perspective. Here's the reasons you might think about it. Here's why you might just want to run away.
That might be the better and more helpful approach for you. If you have time and are thinking about all this, go through both articles. And if you do, could you let me know which one actually helped you more? Leave a comment or shoot an email.
Maybe for you it works better to just walk through these steps. Ask yourself the questions and do the research. I put together seven steps to walk through a decision process to help you if you're asking, should I quit my job to go fulltime with Doordash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Instacart or any of these other delivery gigs?
Step 1: Build a business mindset
I can save you a ton of time and headache here. I can keep you from having to read on.
If you are thinking of this like a job, don't do it. If you are going to go into this with an employee mindset, this is not a good idea. It will be a total disaster if you go into this.
Here's why: We're not employees. There are no protections, there is no safety net. Doordash, Grubhub, Uber Eats, Postmates – none of these are offering any guarantees.
And they don't OWE you any guarantees. Because you're not an employee.
The only way to really succeed at this is to go into it fully aware that you are running a business. You've got to treat this like a business. You MUST develop a business mindset.
If you think you're getting a better (or better PAYING) job, you aren't.
You have to understand here, independent contractor means you're running a business. There's no safety net or guarantee. I know I'm repeating myself but this is super important that you understand this.
If you want to make a go of this full time you've GOT to approach this with an entrepreneurial mindset. You have to be okay with the fact that these gig companies owe you nothing. The people you deliver to owe you nothing. No one owes you anything other than what is promised on a delivery offer.
But here's the beauty of it all:
You also get to take control. When you understand that everything is your fault, once you grasp the fact that it's all up to you, you can take control and run with this.
As I write this, there are still a few openings for the 31 Day Courier MBA course that starts on September 1, 2020. MBA stands for Master Your Business Attitude. If you can't get into that, check out Episodes 1-31, they all focused on the same concept.
This whole website and podcast are focused on that theme: Think like and act like a business owner. Entre in EntreCourier stands for entrepreneur.
Technically you are a business owner. Why make it just technically?
Grubhub and Doordash and Uber Eats and others are trying to dodge some responsibility by calling us contractors. But the thing is, they open the door to a lot of freedom and a lot of opportunity when they do this.
You get to be the boss. If you're going to go full time, you have to be willing to do that.
Step 2: Understand the bigger picture
Why do you want to do this?
Don't go all in without asking that question, without some real soul searching.
Think about these questions:
What is your why?
Go check out Episode 3 It's all about understanding your why. What is it that has you doing this in the first place?
More than that, what do you want to do with your life? Who are you, what's important to you? How does this fit in with all of that?
Why do you want to make this particular change?
Is it just the money? If it's just the money, chances are you'll feel the same way about this soon as you do your current job. This might not be the best step to take if that's all it is.
Something changed with the current job – what's the likelihood that it will change this time around?
How do you feel delivering for these companies?
I left a job as a business manager to start doing this. One of the first things I discovered was this had so much less stress.
My last two interviews were with Mike Bisceglia of the Mike Delivers podcast and with Kevin Ha of the Financial Panther website. Both of them said the same thing. There's so much less stress. You can leave the work behind.
Is that how you feel when you do this?
Or do you get really triggered when a customer doesn't tip? How fed up do you get with a restaurant that is slow or they seem incompetent? How angry do you get with Doordash or Grubhub or Uber Eats when they give you low pay offers?
I see a lot of angry and bitter people in Facebook groups, and if things about delivery make you feel those ways, this might not be for you.
How would doing more of this make you feel?
It's one thing to do this a few nights or weekends and think this would be great. What if you did this all the time? Are you ready to make a decision without knowing that answer?
Be honest with yourself here. If you're okay now, but you know that it's just enough at fifteen or twenty hours, how is it going to feel at forty or fifty hours? Can you put up with being in and out of the car all day? Doing nothing but dealing with restaurants and customers?
How would this help you get to your why?
Personally, delivering for Grubhub, Uber Eats and Doordash is not my why. This is not the thing that I woke up one day saying that it's what I want to do with my life.
But it lets me DO what I want to do with my life. That's why I chose this, the flexibility that goes with being a contractor. It's a perfect fit that pays the bills so I can do the things I'm passionate about.
This won't be the last time I ask you to go back to that ‘what is your why?' question. It's just that important that you really know yourself, know what you want to do with your life, and know whether this is really a great fit with all that.
Step 3: Determine if this is sustainable
This is a big one.
Pay looks great, right? It seems better than your regular job.
But is it? And will it be for as long as you need it to be?
You HAVE to dig into this question. Will it meet your needs? Can it continue to meet your needs?
What do you need?
What do you have to have to get by? And is just getting by enough for you at this point in your life?
I went into this being okay if it were a pay cut. The flexibility to do other things was that important to me. But I had examined how much I absolutely needed to make.
The sweet thing is, it paid far better than I anticipated.
What's your budget? If you've never done a budget before, now's a good time to start if you're thinking of doing this. You need to be good with your money. Dave Ramsey has some great tools to help you if you need it.
Sit down and pour over every detail of what you spend your money on. Usually when we do a budget there are things we forget. Look at past bank statements. Go over EVERY THING.
What do you NEED?
And is just what you need enough? This isn't about making your life fit around your delivery, it's about if delivery lets you live your life how you want. Keep that priority. If just getting by doesn't cut it, then determine what DOES cut it.
Would you make enough to meet those needs?
Here's the thing to think about. If you're doing this as a side hustle, you're probably doing this during the best times to deliver.
If you have to deliver mid afternoon, you probably won't be as busy. Take that into account.
What are you REALLY making?
Chances are it's not as much as you think.
Your car costs more than just gas. That might not matter as much when this is a side hustle but it can be huge when this is your total livelihood. You're going to wear that puppy out and you're going to destroy the value of it because of the miles you put on it.
Know what your car actually costs. Know what's really left over.
Be aware of what the benefits your job offers are worth. Will you need to pay out of your pocket? Check out Financial Panther's pros and cons of being an independent contractor vs employee, as he talks about things like benefits etc.
And then there's those taxes.
If you've never thought through all those things, chances are you aren't making what you think. You've got to be real about your actual earnings before making this level of a decision.
Remember that you've got to look like this as a business
One of the most important rules to understand when running your business is that what you MAKE as a business is NOT the money you're getting from Grubhub, Doordash, Uber Eats and others.
It's what's left over after everything else comes out.
Be real, be honest and be thorough about what's coming out.
Is what's left going to be enough?
What's the Pandemic going to do to the future of gig delivery?
A lot of drivers are noticing that things have slowed way down. The extra unemployment money from the CARES act has expired and who knows what congress will do about it?
What's the long term impact going to be? Businesses have been shut down for so long, can they ever recover? Will the economy bounce back?
At what point do people become unable to continue ordering delivery? This is a level of uncertainty that you have to be aware of.
Step 4: Do your market research
What's it like where you are?
What is your state like when it comes to independent contractor status?
If you're in California, I would absolutely without hesitation say DO NOT QUIT YOUR JOB TO DO THIS. This is not the time to go all in on a gig economy deal in California.
California passed AB5 about a year ago and is starting to crack down. They're taking the view that gig companies should be hiring employees and not contractors. Uber and Lyft were on the brink of shutting down in California and delivery companies may not be far off from being in the same position..
So you quit your job only to have Doordash or Grubhub shut down in your state.
Or they decide to switch to employees. What happens if you don't what to be an employee? What happens if they DON'T HIRE YOU as an employee?
Other states are getting serious about this. New York already had a high court ruling that a Postmates driver was an employee. New Jersey is making noise, so are some others. What's happening in your state?
What are the other revenue streams in your area?
You're running a business. The one paying you is your customer. It's rarely ever a good idea to depend on only one customer.
You might be okay only delivering for Doordash on evenings. But when this is your total livelihood, if something happens to Doordash, now what? What about when the app crashes? What happens if you're deactivated because a customer lied about what you did?
You could absorb that when you've got your main job. But if you're relying on delivery for all or most of your income, you have to have alternatives in your back pocket.
Know the other options. Get on with other options. Broaden your horizons and develop more than one stream of income.
What are these gig companies doing in your market?
Are they hiring like crazy? Or have they slowed down? Is the market over-saturated with drivers? When are things going to get busy, and when will they slow?
What was it like before the pandemic? A lot of people are making decisions based on the crazy amount of money they were making when demand was sky high. That high pay isn't going to last. Changes will happen in your market, they probably already are. How will that impact you?
Step 5: Get yourself ready
Don't quit your job.
We've gotten this far and that's what I'd tell most people. Don't quit unless you're ready.
Check out the book Quitter by Jon Acuff (affiliate link). Jon talks about being a reverse superman – he was building his dream business on the side and paying bills with his day to day job. He felt kind of like he was changing out of his superman costume to go back into work while that was happening.
Until you're ready to make the plunge, you might have to do the reverse Superman for a little while yet. That's okay. But use the time to GET ready.
If you've gone through all the things above and you feel good about it, here's what I'd recommend.
Build up an emergency fund.
This is another Dave Ramsey thing – first thing he tells people to do when they're trying to get out of debt is to build a $1,000 emergency fund before paying a penny towards debt. That's because if something happens, you're not sidetracked.
Say you dive in fulltime today, but tomorrow you test positive for COVID. Can you survive financially while you're in quarantine for two weeks?
If you can't, don't quit your job yet.
Work extra – that's the beauty of this gig work, you can do as much extra as you want without getting permission. Dive in, do the extra work, save save save, build up enough to get you by for AT LEAST two weeks. You already know what that is if you did what I said earlier and examined what you really need.
Get a business bank account.
You're running a business. Act like it.
For taxes and record keeping it just makes sense to have a separate account for your business. Your pay from these gig companies should come into that account. Your expenses should come out of this, not your personal account.
And don't make personal purchases from that account. Business expenses from your business account, personal from your personal account.
Get used to paying yourself a paycheck.
Remember what I talked about in being a business, and your pay is your PROFIT (what's left over), not your money coming in.
One way to get a feel for what that amount really is is to get in the habit of giving yourself a paycheck.
You got your account for your business and have money deposited there, right?
Now create three savings accounts.
Set aside money for taxes in one. Read more about that here.
Set aside money for your car in another. Do it based on miles. At the minimum, take 25 cents per mile you drove for the week and put that in your operations account. Pay for your gas, your repairs, maintenence, all out of that fund.
In a third account put money aside for paid time off. I do $50 per week.
Only after you've done that do you send the money that's left to your personal account.
Why do this now? One is it gives you a better feeling for what you're really making. If you can't afford to put that money aside, you can't afford to do this full time. You're not making enough. Two, it gets you into more of a business mindset, where you're thinking in terms of profit (what's left over) and not revenue.
Get a feel for what full time is really like.
Have you tried doing this full time yet? Have you had any vacation time where you just went all in?
Can you stomach doing this full time?
Don't quit a job without knowing how it would feel. If you can take vacation time so you can pour more time into it, do it. If you can't do that, maybe do this full time ON TOP of the day job. It'll be a grind, but you've got to get a feel for actually doing this more than part time.
Step 6: Develop an Exit Plan
Seriously, what are you going to do after delivery?
Understand that there's probably going to be an ‘after delivery.' I'm not sure that delivery's going to be an option for much longer. I'm not sure you or I would want to do this for much more than a few years.
This is not a long term thing. Either by your choice or by circumstances outside your control, this could come to an end.
So what IS your long term thing?
What do you want to do when you grow up? How do you get there?
One of the things I've loved the most about this is that it helped me towards MY ‘what i want to do when i grow up.' All that time in the car was time I could learn, with podcast episodes and audio books. I learned a lot about websites and podcasts that way.
You don't have to know exactly WHAT you want to do next, but you MUST be actively pursuing it. If nothing else, start thinking, dreaming, asking yourself, soul searching.
You know what a lot of people find? This is the gateway drug. You get a taste of running your own gig. You want more. That happened to me. And you have the time to learn how.
Step 7: Decide and Execute
If you've really gone through these steps, really thought them out, I think you know what you want to do.
Full time might not be for you. That's cool. Or maybe you know what else you REALLY want to do and you're like me, this is your way to get there. That's cool.
And maybe right now, this is still better than what you're doing right now.
Make your plan. When's the best time? Are there benefits you've earned, and it makes sense to hang on a bit longer to take advantage of them? Set a date. Do the things from Step 6 while biding your time. Then do it.
Maybe now's the time to go. I can't tell you it is or isn't.
All I can say is, make your plan, and then do it.