Here’s the challenging but obvious truth: A subscription-based business model requires a lot of planning. It requires regular maintenance, which will position you for success.
Planning may seem overwhelming at first, which is why you have to think long term. A strategic business plan improves your subscription’s chances of success by 16%, according to Harvard Business Review.
Optimizing your subscription box management enables you to handle last-minute ideas without feeling like your blood pressure is going through the roof. You are now able to “do it dirty,” Becky Hoy, Founder of Brave Crate, told SUBTA. For example, if you need to launch an ad campaign on the fly, a plan gives you the space to do so, and more importantly, buffer time.
Read on to discover the top five subscription box management tips you need to know as a startup entrepreneur.
Take it One Step at a Time
Have you ever tried to skip a step on a ladder?
Chances are you would trip and fall.
The same goes for subscription box management.
Donna Maria, Founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, advises startup entrepreneurs to start small and niche down. The biggest mistake she sees new subscription box owners make is attempting to do too many things for too many people.
“Instead of niching down and solving a problem, and then growing, they tend to start by adding more than they need for their first iteration,” she says. “They end up spending more money and confusing more people.”
Running a niche subscription box allows you to hone in on your target market and turn your brand into the “bat signal,” says Donna Maria.
What she means is that the brand you want to create should be one that everyone can see, yet only your target audience is drawn to. With this approach, you’ll be creating a community of very specific people who will ultimately bring rapid success to your brand, according to Sarah Williams, a SubSummit 2022 speaker and Founder of The Monogram Box.
Plan Your Next Steps
When you’ve nailed down your offer, you need to start planning your next moves.
The key to proactive subscription box management is to organize your months in advance.
What holidays are coming up? Could you design a themed box based on them?
How about your subscribers? Are you tracking the number of new customers?
Will you be active on social media? What type of content will you create?
Don’t let these questions overwhelm you. Keep calm, and start a planner.
While this makes for a great bumper sticker, it’s also sound advice.
“There’s always a very clear next step for you,” says Hoy. “You’re always prompted into the next step of planning [like] ‘Hey, it’s the end of the month.’ Now you need to complete your month in review. That month in review prompts you to set up the month ahead, which prompts you to track your KPIs (key performance indicators).”
If you don’t know where to start, the subscription community has great resources for you to proactively plan out your business.
Learn from Others
A planner will only take you so far. You also need to set a strong, positive mindset for yourself and your team. Principe finds inspiration through podcasts and books, specifically by Denise Duffield-Thomas and Jen Sincero.
Lastly, understand that you’re not alone.
“One of the things that has been really important for me and continues to be is the people that I choose to network and surround myself with,” says Hoy. “[I make] sure I have at least one or two colleagues and peers or mentors who I feel comfortable being vulnerable with.”
Similarly, Principe is a strong advocate for finding a “box bestie.” This is someone in the subscription box world who is familiar with what it takes to be a box owner and can relate to your experience, failures, and challenges. Together, you can inspire and support each other.Find your box bestie at SubSummit 2023 in Dallas, Texas.
Take a Step Back
In order to have a successful subscription box management strategy, Principe and Hoy identified eight key areas to focus on — including marketing, personal growth, and fulfillment/inventory — in their Subscription Box Planner.
Think of your subscription box as a wheel with spokes, suggests Principe. The wheel won’t roll forward if a part of it is damaged or missing. Having a weak marketing strategy, for instance, will not generate organic or ad-supported traffic to your box.
To make sure nothing is missing, analyze the data.
“Tracking data will enable you to identify the gaps within your subscription,” says Jennifer Cline, Director of Marketing at SUBTA. “Understand what your profit margin must be, calculate your monthly costs and identify key KPIs that you will monitor as you grow your subscription. If you’re not hitting your target, let the data tell you why. You can then make educated decisions on where you need to focus and shift your strategies.”
It’s crucial to monitor the metrics that only become trackable after a certain period of time, says Christopher George, Co-Founder of SUBTA. Your customer lifetime value, for example, will only be available to you roughly six months after your launch.
You’ll have a greater chance of scaling, growing, and maintaining your business confidently with readily available data.
Leverage Additional Methods for a Successful Subscription Box Management
Your subscription box will grow to the point where you will require additional help.
Being an entrepreneur means you already have a lot on your plate. One way to clear up your schedule is to delegate tedious tasks to a virtual assistant.
Here are a few additional — and free — tips that will sharpen your subscription box management skills:
- If you’re struggling with time management, Principe suggests using the Pomodoro Technique — a six-objectives plan to stay on course with your daily tasks.
- Some entrepreneurs, like Hoy, thrive in visually appealing environments. She suggests optimizing your workspace by setting up your desk or office in a tidy way.
- Identify the most challenging things for you and focus on them. For example, Hoy becomes overwhelmed when there are too many emails in her inbox, which is why she has adopted the “Inbox Zero” mentality — having no more than zero emails at the end of the day.
If you have some wiggle room in your business budget, Donna Maria advises entrepreneurs to invest in marketing systems like Later.com to manage social media posting.
“We stay organized by focusing on specific social media outlets our members use. We go where they are,” she says. “Then we have a system that we use internally so that we can stay organized.”
Your Subscription Box Management Journey
Throughout your entrepreneurial journey, always remember that you were able to convert a passion into a subscription box business.
Be proud of that.
Subscription box management is just the beginning of growing your business into a successful brand. You may feel overwhelmed from time to time, but in the words of Hoy: “There is beauty and freedom in a subscription model business.” Embrace it.
Taking it one step at a time, shifting your mindset, learning from others, and using the resources you have at hand will help you achieve your 2022 subscription box goals confidently.