A lot of people have a lot of things to say about ridesharing. There’s no shortage of opinions on this new innovation. But as someone who partners with Uber, and delivers rides everyday, I figured I’d tell my side of the story: what it’s like behind the wheel.
The thing about being an Uber driver is you really are your own boss. You are empowered to start our own small business and have the flexibility to control your own schedule. You can drive 20 hours per week and earn a part-time income or supplement another job, or you can work full time and make an excellent living—like I do.
I have worked with other companies as a driver. I used to shuttle engineers around all day in a van for the local railroad company. It was a job, but for $10/hour, it didn’t provide enough to get by. Not to mention, for five of the eight hours, I was doing nothing but waiting for my next assignment. I knew there had to be a way I could make the most out of those five hours, because staring at the Metrolink tracks was far from fulfilling.
The way Uber empowers individuals to grow their own business became apparent to me my first week on the job. I earned $1400, but since I didn’t yet have my own car, I gave half of that to the man who leased his SUV to me. I was still thrilled, having earned $100 per day my first week on the job. Then I heard his story.
He had made $2500 that week. But how? He let me in on his secret—he acquired vehicles and leased them out to other drivers to use on the Uber platform. That’s when it hit me: anybody could make it with this company with a clean record, the right attitude and a strong work ethic. That was the moment I realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur.
Now I have two cars in my system which are constantly generating income, even when I am not working. In addition, Uber connected me with a company that offered vehicle financing, when, at the time, I needed help to get my business off the ground. But when it came time to purchase my second vehicle, I was thrilled and able to write the check.
I am also connecting with my kids like never before. I have four, including a 20-year-old son who we just proudly sent off to the Air Force.
Being your own boss means taking a break between rides to grab lunch with my family, or jumping in the pool with them on a hot summer day. Being your own boss in ridesharing also means driving exactly where you want. If I’m in the mood to handle the nightlife, I’ll work the Sunset Strip. If I want to feel connected to the sports scene, I’ll pick up fares from Staples Center. The decision of where to work is mine alone to make.
Driving on the Uber platform is a tremendous opportunity for anyone looking to take control of their time and their income. When I think about my time waiting in a van for five hours straight, making $10/hour to stare at the train tracks, I only wish I had had the opportunity to work for myself sooner. That was what it was like to drive for a company, which is why I am so passionate about the company I partner with.
Richard Burton is a Los Angeles native and currently lives Downtown.