One of the hardest decisions to make as a business owner is when it's time to quit being a business owner. That's even true when your business is an independent contractor for Grubhub, Postmates, Uber Eats, Caviar, Shipt, Instacart, Doordash or any others.
I'm a big fan of this whole delivery gig. I guess you'd have to be to write a blog about it, right? But I also know there are times when, it's just time. But how do you know? Here are some clues that it's time to think about something else:
The most important factor in when it's time to hang it up: When it Doesn't Meet Your Why
It really boils down to one thing.
This is the last of the money section, but ultimately the decision isn't a money decision. Well, it is and it isn't. When it's all said and done, it really is about your why.
Is this helping you accomplish your why?
If it's not, can it? Is it reasonable to think it might?
If not, it's time to think about something else.
If you're not sure what I'm talking about, I really encourage you to go to the third post in this series linked here, or listen to the episode on the podcast. Even if you are and you haven't checked that one out, go do it. It's one of the most important ones for laying a foundation for what we are doing.
If you really want to make a good go of this, you need to have a good why. You need to have a real good feel for exactly why you are doing this. It's going to be more than the money. It gets into why you need the money. And why is that need important? I encourage you to check that out, check out anything you can about discovering your why. Your why is the motivation, it's the thing that drives you and keeps you going.
But if this isn't meeting your why, or if something else is going to better meet your why, it just might be time to move on.
When it's Not Enough
For most of us, money is a part of the why. We do this so that we have what we need to take care of our family, or to do something extra, or to create freedom by paying down debt. That's why I included this in the finance section of this series. There comes a time where you have to ask yourself, is it bringing in the money you need?
And this is where you really have to get real, get honest, and ask what you are really making. Is it enough?
If you've been following along in this series, there are some posts that can really help evaluate this question. Early on in the business planning part of the series, this post and episode 6 got into setting goals and understanding that your earning power is really only about 1/2 to 2/3 what you are bringing in compared to a traditional job, once you factor in taxes, expenses, and benefits. As we got into finance and money, we examined your real expenses and what your car is really costing. You can use that information, and then use this article on what you really are earning, episode 17 of the podcast. You really need to take a look at it all and ask: Is it enough?
Folks, the hard truth of the matter is, some of you are making less than minimum wage. You're putting so many miles on your car, and those miles WILL catch up with you, you WILL pay for them eventually. Even though it looks like you're making a lot, when you get real about your expenses, it's not that much. Dig deep and ask if you're really making what you need.
If you're not, what do you do with that?
When it doesn't look like it can be enough
If it's not enough, is it possible for it to be enough?
Do you enjoy this enough to want it to be enough?
This whole series is built around building a foundation and finding ways to improve what you are making. I have a list of all the posts to date, check them out here. Today we're on the 22nd of 31 articles and episodes. We've gone through all of the operations episodes, the things that you can tweak to help make improvements.
I get some pushback. I can't afford to reject orders because it will cost me the ability to pick my schedule. I'm afraid of being deactivated. It's not busy enough in my market to be able to reject orders. Only you can know really if those are legitimate concerns in your market or if they are excuses. I know different markets are not as busy or may not have as many options. I know some markets are tighter when it comes to scheduling on platforms like Grubhub and Doordash, so I get that some things may not seem like an option where you are.
But the question is: what is the alternative? And that goes back to the question: Is it enough? If your only option is to accept every order, but accepting every order is taking you two miles for every dollar you make, you aren't making enough. You're seriously doing volunteer work. Sometimes the business model isn't sustainable. If the conditions in your market don't allow you to improve, the conditions in your market only allow you to be exploited by the delivery companies. In those instances, is it really that good an idea to stick it out?
When it's not getting any better
Is it enough? When the answer to that question is no, but you think it can get better and you WANT to make it better, you also have to ask the question, is it getting better?
Are you tracking your progress? Are you paying attention to what you're really doing here? Go to our podcast episode 8 or the article on measuring your performance. Track how you are doing. Look for if there are improvements? If you're seeing a pattern of improvement in your profit per hour, that's a good indication that it can improve.
If you're not, what do you do with that? Why not? What can or will change to make it better? Be realistic about if it can get better. If there's no track record of improvement, it may be time to move on.
When you just don't enjoy it any more
Life is too short to be miserable at what you are doing. I look at some of the social media forums and, oh man are there some miserable people. Now maybe they'll be miserable at anything, I don't know. If you dread getting in your car, if you dread taking the food to the customers, it's really time to find something else.
When something else better meets your why.
On July 7, we discussed building an exit strategy. Ultimately, if we are growing and improving, the time is going to come where we're ready to go further. I think there's a very definite ceiling on what we can do. There's always a ceiling when you trade your time for money. This is even more true in the gig economy where the trend is always to lower your earnings potential over time instead of increase it.
So what are you looking to do next? Go through that episode/post. Think about your why. Use your time driving to prepare yourself for opportunities. At some point the door is going to open for something that better helps you accomplish whatever it is you want to accomplish in life. When that better comes along, go for it!
It's okay to say when.
The beauty of doing this over a lot of business options is, you can leave it behind easily when it's time to leave it behind. You don't have to worry about clearing out inventory, or about what to do with customers. You don't have to worry about business debt (other than whatever future costs you have on your car due to the miles you put on it). If you were good at keeping on top of your taxes, you don't have to worry about that. You can just walk away.
I think the important thing here is, be very realistic about your earnings. Pay careful attention to what you are earning and what your potential is. There's a point when the money will say, it's time to move on. There's a point when your why will say it's time. Be aware. Keep your eyes open and be realistic.
If you're not sure, if you are thinking the time may be coming, just ask, are you ready? Go back to episode 7 and the post that went with it – think about your exit plan. Start getting ready. It's okay to move on. Sometimes it's better to move on.
It's a great gig while we have it, at least that's my experience. But the time will come when a greater gig comes along. Know when it's time to say when to this gig.