With over $26B in revenue for 2020 in the United States alone, food delivery apps were already here to stay even before the COVID-19 pandemic. If your are looking for one of those be your own boss delivery jobs, there are lots of them out there! Whether it is Uber Eats, GrubHub, DoorDash (the list goes on!) there is one thing in common with all those gigs…you are going to be a self-employed delivery driver. Did you ever imagine owning your own business?
I certainly didn’t; I spent 17 years before and after college in retail management and then 5 years in the insurance industry. 40-year-old white-collar me would have laughed in your face had you told him I’d not only be making my full-time living as a glorified pizza delivery boy but pulling in basically the same salary on way less hours. Yet 2+ years and over 10,000 deliveries later with Uber Eats, I’m here to tell you that you can not only survive but thrive if the conditions are right.
Be Your Own Boss Delivery Jobs: Getting Started
I will start with the single most important thing you need to internalize: you are in business for yourself. This has several ramifications.
To begin, you will be required to sign & affirm that you agree that you are an independent contractor. There’s a lot of differences in how companies are allowed to treat an employee versus an independent contractor, but for our purposes, there are two that are especially important. As a self-employed individual, you are required to pay the share of payroll taxes that the company would normally pay for its employees, however, you are also permitted to deduct expenses you incur in the course of doing business from your taxable income.
No car? No problem! Lot’s of these jobs offer a way to deliver on a bike too!
Almost as important: you cannot be compelled to work any given shift or assignment. While I’m aware that some apps do have completion & acceptance rate requirements, Uber does not punish or even track cancellations & declinations as part of their adamant stance that their drivers are in fact contractors. This policy gives you the driver complete control over what & when you deliver, and it is power that you MUST leverage if you’re going to be profitable.
Advice for Being Successful
Whether or not one agrees with Uber, Grubhub, et. al. that they are logistics companies, the reality is that as a delivery driver, *you* are in the restaurant (or occasionally the grocery) industry. That means that you must be open for business when (and where) they are. It follows that while you can work (or not work) whenever you feel like, if you want to make money efficiently you need to work when people want those services. Although these be your own boss delivery jobs offer flexibility, you won’t make any money if you aren’t smart about when and where you work.
This job almost always pays best on nights and weekends. If that’s not something you’re willing to commit to, it’s probably not the place to be if you’re trying to replace a full-time salary unless your previous job really sucked. By the same token, it’s a lot easier to make a good wage driving in a major metro area with affluent suburbs or a college town with lots of tech-savvy kids who don’t want to cook than it is in a retirement village of 12,000 or an old sawmill town that peaked in the 80’s. It’s not politics or ageism—it’s business.
The reality is that you can raise your wage to a large degree by working smarter, not harder. A key change made earlier this year on the Uber Eats platform (which, to be fair, was already in place on other delivery services) was to display the tip that was included by the customer upfront before you accept an order request. Applying that knowledge means that with practice, you can effectively screen out low/non-tippers from your offers and choose the best-paying clients.
Will you lose occasional cash tips you might otherwise have made? Of course—but what you’ll gain is a far higher wage floor and a more consistent rate of pay. And that pay rate is something you need to know to be successful. Like any competent business, you must know what all your expenditures (taxes, gas, repairs to your car—they come more frequently than you think) add up to and factor those costs into what you need to make. There’s no safety net of an hourly wage while you’re learning and no training program for you to study—you have no choice but to learn by doing.
For this reason, I would recommend to anyone looking to make a leap into food delivery full-time start by doing it as a side hustle. As you learn your market, learn your app and learn what restaurants to trust and avoid, you’ll become skilled enough to be in business for yourself. And guess what? Uber doesn’t care how long that takes and, assuming your current work doesn’t suffer in the meantime, your current employer doesn’t need to know.
I’ve come to make as much or more as I ever have while rarely if ever working a 40 hr+ week. With the right mindset, it’s possible.
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