It started with a rude awakening. I thought I'd give this delivery gig a try. I didn't want people puking in my car, and my BS meter was going off in a big way when I saw promises of “as much as” $25 per hour. But, I'd made good tips doing pizza deliveries way back in another life, so maybe there's potential.
I signed up for Uber Eats. I even went out to a restaurant supply place and bought a delivery bag. I got my approval and I turned on the app.
Immediately, an order popped up. Okay, this is cool, no waiting. It was five miles away, I'd prefer closer, but the reality is there aren't many restaurants that are closer. I drove to the restaurant.
Finally, the food was ready. I dashed off, finished my delivery, sure that the customer would love my fantastic service…
And no tip.
A half hour later, all those miles, all that waiting, should be good for about ten dollars, right?
And a quarter – I shouldn't forget the quarter. Compared to $3, that extra quarter is pretty significant.
Alright, this is an anomoly. It gets better, right?
Maybe this wasn't such a good idea?
That first day was a disaster. Nine and a half hours, 161 miles, $88 in delivery fees and $12 in tips.
The good news was I wasn't going to get in tax trouble here. Once I took figured in the IRS's 54.5 cents per mile, my profit was a whopping $1.29 per hour. That quarter looks pretty huge now, doesn't it?
This wasn't going to work.
What am I doing here? I've managed businesses. I have a Masters degree. And I'm driving around for a buck and a quarter an hour? Why would I do this???
But you know, I knew it would get better. I didn't know HOW much better it would get, but I figured, let me give it a shot here, see if I can use what I know, see if I can make it better.
I never felt that this was a lowly thing to do. When you are good at what you do and you enjoy it, there is no lowly thing to do. I actually chose to do this, I quit a job as business manager for a non profit organization to do this.
Well, not specifically to do THIS, but this was a part of it.
From managing businesses and charities… to this??
In my past life I worked in telecom for years. I was good at it. I'd worked in sales, service, and management. But when it was all said and done, I thought there had to be more to life than convincing people that the PBX system I'm selling is better than someone else's.
I started paying attention to my passions. I went back to school, got my Masters degree. I had been volunteering with a local nonprofit that works with kids and bikes, and they drafted me to come on as their business manger. I was good at it, I enjoyed it, and I loved what we were doing.
It just wasn't my passion.
Faith is an important thing to me. It's ironic when my job was with youth that I've always had a place in my heart for older adults. I had become passionate about helping churches improve how they work with their older members. This is what I wanted to do. There just aren't any jobs for doing it, so if I was going to do it, I had to do it on my own.
I loved my work at the nonprofit, but it took a lot of time. It's one of those jobs you just never can leave behind at the end of the day. It wasn't where my passion was and it didn't leave time to follow that passion. I needed something more flexible, something I could just do on my schedule, and leave behind when I'm done.
Enter the Gig Economy! I drove a cab way back in college and didn't really want people puking in the back seat of my own car, and I didn't want to pay for a newer car that would be more suitable for rideshare, so the on demand delivery space seemed like a good place to go.
And that brings us back to that first day. This wasn't going to work as it was.
It was time to become the boss.
I'm looking at how terrible that day was, and my inner business manager just kind of let me have it.
I knew better.
When I was at the nonprofit, we had independent contractors and I knew we were doing it wrong. We were controlling their work too much, so I had us move them over to employees. I knew very well what you could and could not do when managing independent contractors.
That's why I chose to work in the gig economy. I needed that freedom and flexibility. Those rights were important to me. It just turned out I wasn't exercising them. I was taking every order, I was acting like an employee. I was relying on Uber Eats and not on my own judgment.
That horrible pay was my own fault.
That's the reality of running a business. There's no minimum wage and no guarantee. It's sink or swim.
I just decided it was time to swim.
I started thinking like a business owner. Maybe that's why I was so bothered with that $100 to begin with – I didn't see the revenue ($100), I saw the profit ($12). I knew my car cost more than just gas. It wasn't that profit wasn't very good, it was that profit was horrible.
I started making business decisions. I chose the orders I would accept based on if it was profitable. I became the boss. I measured everything. Everything. Was I more profitable downtown or in the burbs? Was it better in the evenings or afternoons? What days of the week were profitable? How could I be more efficient? I diversified, picking up other options. I measured them all. I found the best times and situations for each company in my market and used that to my advantage. I was soon profiting more, in less time, than what I was earning as a nonprofit business manager.
And I was free to pursue my passions.
How that success led me to starting the EntreCourier.
In searching for solutions to common problems, I found forums and Youtube videos that answered questions.
In those same places I found a lot of people struggling. I saw posts and videos of people amazed that they had run their cars into the ground, shocked by what they had to pay in taxes. People were frustrated and disappointed, they were getting mad at the companies for horrible orders, and at the people they delivered to for horrible tips.
People were being thrown into business owner roles that they were completely unprepared for.
I realized that these companies were exploiting drivers in a way that was worse than I thought. Some were trying to force drivers into compliance and bully them into high acceptance rates. And I saw these companies get away with it because people don't know their rights or understand what it means to own a business.
In the end, I could overcome that horrible start because I started thinking like a business owner. I made business decisions and I took control. I found it to be an incredible opportunity. It's not that there was anything special about me, other than I'd been fortunate enough to have the tools already to make the best of it all.
That's what led me to start EntreCourier. A lot of people are struggling, who have what it takes to be successful but haven't been given the tools yet. I felt like maybe my experience in business, management and as a driver could help people find the tools that enable them to be successful business owners. I thought I could use this to help all those Accidental Business Owners, maybe like yourself.
So that you can be the Boss.