Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball

How We Planned Out 2021

November 23, 2020 Julie Ball Episode 49
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
How We Planned Out 2021
Chapters
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
How We Planned Out 2021
Nov 23, 2020 Episode 49
Julie Ball

#049 - The year 2020 is about to end and 2021 is just around the corner.
Once again it is that time of the year to carve out a game plan to prepare for the upcoming year. So in this episode, Julie walks us through her team's process on planning out the entire 2021 for Sparkle Hustle Grow.

Summary:

  • Know your product budget and stick to it (00:02:32)
  • Know your product categories (00:03:28)
  • Research products and prices (00:04:05)
  • Get samples or take pictures (00:05:40)
  • Walk through of how Sparkle Hustle Grow planned 2021 (00:06:52)
  • Visual walkthrough of Julie's office (00:12:01)

For more tips like this, make sure you are subscribed to our email list at SubscriptionBoxBootcamp.com. You will be notified when new episodes go live or when we have new resources dropping like our new upcoming offering Sell More Boxes.

Links:

Sparkle Hustle Grow
Subscription Box Bootcamp
12 grid cube shelf for planning

Show Notes Transcript

#049 - The year 2020 is about to end and 2021 is just around the corner.
Once again it is that time of the year to carve out a game plan to prepare for the upcoming year. So in this episode, Julie walks us through her team's process on planning out the entire 2021 for Sparkle Hustle Grow.

Summary:

  • Know your product budget and stick to it (00:02:32)
  • Know your product categories (00:03:28)
  • Research products and prices (00:04:05)
  • Get samples or take pictures (00:05:40)
  • Walk through of how Sparkle Hustle Grow planned 2021 (00:06:52)
  • Visual walkthrough of Julie's office (00:12:01)

For more tips like this, make sure you are subscribed to our email list at SubscriptionBoxBootcamp.com. You will be notified when new episodes go live or when we have new resources dropping like our new upcoming offering Sell More Boxes.

Links:

Sparkle Hustle Grow
Subscription Box Bootcamp
12 grid cube shelf for planning

(00:01): So you want to launch a subscription box and don't know where to start? Girl, you are in the right place. I'm Julie Ball, a subscription box coach and your host here at Subscription Box Basics, a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs that want to avoid overwhelm. So grab a coffee, some pen and paper and let's have some fun!

Hey guys, welcome to Subscription Box Basics. This is Julie Ball, your subscription box coach. And today we're talking about how my team and I planned our 2021 boxes.

I get asked all the time, how we plan our boxes. And in the past I've said, I plan my boxes, usually three at a time. So I'm buying products about 90 days out or so, but in today's episode, I'm going to break down how we planned out all of 2021. What you need to know. How you can do it yourself. And I'm going to paint a picture, a visual of what my office looks like, so that you can build something out in your office to help you really get organized. So let's get to it.

(01:13): All right, before I tell you how we planned it out, I want to tell you a little bit about the pre-work that we did. So my team and I met together at a leadership retreat, and the idea here was we wanted to accomplish a few things. We wanted to one, get together to plan out 2021. Sometimes when you are together, you can just have conversations and really be productive in ways that you can't over a zoom call or over Voxer, which is a kind of a walkie talkie app that I use to communicate with my entire team. So also my team and I love to travel. And although we did not get to travel much this year, we planned for this leadership retreat, partly so I could pour into them.

We went to a location that was off the beaten path. We did some team building activities. We got to plan by the pool, which believe it or not makes us really, really creative. It gives us that space that we need as a team to get creative, to bounce ideas off each other and have fun doing it. We are living out our mission of work hard, play hard. And so all of this happened over about a three-day period.

(02:32): Now we didn't accomplish everything over those three days. There was definitely some pre-work and that's what I'm going to start with before you can plan your next quarter of boxes, your next six months or your next year. Like we did, you need to know a few things. And that one of the most important things is to know your product budget. When I talked to my bootcampers about product budget, I teach them that this has to be a discipline.

When you carve out your product, you're looking at a lot of different things. You know, you have to figure out what your cost of goods are. You have to figure out what it costs to fulfill boxes and what your profit margin is going to be. All those things aside, when you determine your product budget, you need to stay disciplined to stick to it. There may be moments where you go say 25 cents over, or maybe there's months where you're way under. And that's great. You can be more profitable that month, but you need to know where you max out and you need to challenge yourself to stick to it.

(03:28): Another thing that you're going to need to do is (pre-work before you plan out your boxes) to know your product categories. So with Sparkle Hustle Grow, we can know every single month that we're going to put a book in there. So that means for 2021, we need 12 books. We know that every single month we are going to put some sort of stationery in there. So I know as a category, I need to source 12 pieces of stationery for the year. You get the point, identify your categories, know what they are before you plan out.

(04:05): You also need to research product in those categories.

So I'll tell you a quick, funny story. About two months before we had our leadership retreat, I started reaching out to vendors and asking for samples. And sometimes if I couldn't get them to send me samples or I couldn't get in touch with them fast enough or get that sample fast enough, I bought one at the store or I bought one on Amazon. Fact is I wanted physical products in my hand to not only mock up in boxes, but to take with me to the leadership meeting, the leadership retreat.

So I went and got a whole bunch of samples, books, office supplies, tech gadgets, stationery, all the categories. And I filled an entire suitcase full of these products. And I had to check the bag to take it with me. So instead I had my carry-on bag that had my clothes and toiletries and shoes and stuff like that. And then I had to checked bag that was completely filled with books, office supplies, tech gadgets. And I can't even imagine the look on their face. When my suitcase went through TSA, because it had one of those little slips in it that said it had been opened and searched, you know how they sometimes randomly do that with bags that go through security or that get checked. Well, they did that with my office supply bag. So I can't even imagine what they must think of me like hearing all this, all these office supplies and books to this team meeting.

(05:40): So anyhow point is research product. And even if you don't get the product in hand, you can take pictures of product or you can cut product pictures out of catalogs. Sometimes I did that. I had an entire folder full of pictures that I either printed out from the vendor's website, or I cut out from a catalog. I know it's a little bit old school, but I wanted to have things. And maybe those were items that I couldn't get fast enough, or maybe they were in development still or out of stock or whatever. I took my big foot suitcase full of books and office supplies and tech gadgets. And I took my folder that had different pictures and ideas. But guys, I also researched those prices in advance because I know my product budget per box, and I know what categories I need to fill.

So it's really important to know what your product prices are. So when you get to kind of pairing up the products and curating that box, you don't go like significantly over budget because you're just putting things together that look good together. You have to make sure that your budget lines up too.

(06:52): So that was the pre-work. You need to know your product budget. You need to research product and prices and get samples or printout some pictures. So then let me paint the picture of what this looked like when my team got together. So the first thing we did was we took a calendar. We had actually one of those huge post-it notes. We had it up on the wall and we wrote January through December and we brainstormed with some cocktails of course. We had a little bottle of bubbly from our travel agent. We brainstormed themes and we just wrote down a bunch of themes and then started mapping them out on what month that they would make sense for.

For example, we wanted to do something that was seasonally appropriate. So we have this one theme called Summer Success. So obviously we can drop that in one of the summer months. So we mapped out our themes first on a huge piece of paper, a huge post-it note that we had on the wall. Then I unpacked my suitcase and it was so funny because I see all these products all the time, but this was the first time that my team had helped me in this capacity. When they, you know, we opened up the suitcase and took out all the products. I swear Renae laid down in the middle of them and started doing snow angels in the middle of all the products. It was hysterical and we had so much fun.

We essentially looked at all the product, kind of separated them into their categories. And then we started to arrange them. Then we arranged them just in small piles on the floor. And we had sticky notes that said January, February, March. And we would arrange the different items in those little piles. Now we had a box with us, a Sparkle Hustle Grow box so that we could physically put the items together to make sure that they physically fit. Some of the items are larger. Some of them are smaller. And so we obviously want to make sure that we have a full box, but it has to also be able to shut. So we don't have products overflowing, and then we can't tape the box shut.

We started arranging these items in the proper months. Then we started taking pictures and dropping them in a shared iPhone album. We use shared iPhone albums a lot in my team. So we use them to share social media images behind the scenes and planning, things like that. So we all have access to the same graphics and access to the same pictures. So Renee took pictures of each of the months. And on each of those months, we had a post-it that had labeled like January, for example, or February. So when we look back at those pictures, we can easily identify what month it was after we took pictures of those. Amy, who is our Operations gal, then translated all of that information into our project management software. And we at Sparkle Hustle Grow, use a project management software called Basecamp. We love it because it is simple. It is just a really easy user interface. You can create to-do lists on there. You can create projects and assign different deliverables to different people with deadlines on your team. There's an app and email reminders. We love it. We highly recommend Basecamp for all of your project management needs, whether that is planning out your boxes or planning out promotions.

So Amy then took those pictures and created a new project in Basecamp for us called 2021 monthly boxes. And in each to-do list was a different month. So picture it like January 2021, here's the to-do list. And she broke down each category as a different task. So the book, the office supply, the theme, that type of thing, all in this to-do list so that we could start sourcing. And then after that, she assigned all those products to me. Cause I do the majority of the actual sourcing when it's negotiating with vendors or if it's creating a custom product. So then after everything's in the project management software and is assigned to me, then I get to work sourcing the products.

(11:08): What's really cool about planning out 2021 in advance like this is that we were able to narrow it down to fewer vendors than in the past, and we're able to commit to larger orders for them.

So for example, say, I'm going to buy four books from one publisher. I can commit to them over the year of 2021. I'm going to buy X amount of books over these months. We can plan it further in advance. And because they know I'm committing to four books, instead of say one book at a time, I'm able to negotiate a better deal with them. And I love that. And I highly recommend you do that. If possible, if you're able to narrow it down to a few select vendors that you really love and you can commit to more product purchases for them, then you have more buying power over time. So that's how we planned 2021.

(12:01): Now, after we powered everything back into the suitcase and I returned home, I laid out all of those boxes. So I could visually see them in my office. And here I'm going to paint a picture for you. So you can go to Target or Ikea wherever you want, and you can buy a 12 grid shelf. So the way I have it set up is I have it four across three deep and mine essentially looks like one of those white grids. They're like square shelves. And I have 12 openings. I put a box and open box in each one of those 12 grid openings. And I have a post-it note that says January 2021 or February, 2021. I have it marked on the box, what month it is. And then I have all the items mocked up in that box. And I'll put a picture on the blog when we post the show notes so that you can see what that looks like. But it is a very visual way to look at the entire year. And maybe even if you're just doing three months at a time, it's still a great way to do that vertically.

I can look at Q1 because it's three grid openings vertically, and then it's four across. If you want to get 12 and you can look at the whole year at once, or if you just want to grab one of these shelf units that only has three, then just plan three at a time. I did that for a really long time. So on top of my grid shelf, I have four bins. And as I'm out shopping, or if I see something in a category that I'm like, "Ooh, maybe this is a potential future box product". I put it in those bins and I have those bins labeled by their category, including a category for open.

Sometimes we just have an open category where we need some flexibility or maybe I have an item that's really small and I need to find a filler item to make the box appear more full by adding one more product.

So I have those on top of the shelf unit. And then above that on my wall, I have a whiteboard. And so that's where I can jot down ideas where I can write down where I can map things out if I'm working on a sales funnel or if I'm working on a promotional campaign. So that's what my office looks like.

(14:28): So in this episode, I've walked you through how we planned out 2021, starting with the pre-work making sure that you know your product budget and your categories, and you've done some product research, gotten some samples. Then I walked you through the actual process that my team and I did together at our leadership retreat. You could do the same thing in your home office, even if you're a solopreneur.

Choose a day, where you're going to map that all out. Make sure you do all of your pre-work in advance of that. And you can follow the same steps, just laying it out on the floor, or you can put post-its on the wall. If that's a way that you can do it, or you can even do it on pen. And with pen and paper, you can get a calendar or a planner, or even just 12 sheets of paper and start mapping out your categories and your products for the year or for however long you want to plan in advance.

Now, keep in mind that while we have planned out 2021, we still have some wiggle room. There always has to be wiggle room because if something happens to a product or if something, for example, maybe goes out of stock, or if you change your mind, have a little bit of wiggle room. That's fine. I want you to know that's totally okay, but it feels so good to be sitting here in November, knowing that we already have a game plan for 2021. And in fact, we've already committed to a lot of these vendors already and have the wheels in action to order and get these products.

So then finally, I walked you through a visual. I tried to paint the picture of what my office looks like once I came back from my planning meeting and just creating this environment in your office, where you can quickly look at the boxes, you have a visual of what's in them. It really creates organization. It helps me avoid chaos, basically in my planning process.

(16:26): I hope this really opened your eyes to how this is done on a large scale and a long-term scale. I hope it's provided you some inspiration and some actionable details and some actionable tasks that you can really just start to implement for yourself to be more prepared and to plan farther in advance.

If you love this episode, I would of course, do a little happy dance if you were to subscribe and rate and review. Guys, it helps me get this content out in front of more people like you. People that have dreams of starting their own subscription box or just helping them in their early stages.

You can always find out more information about my offerings like Subscription Box Bootcamp, the Subscription Box Basics the book as well as our new upcoming offering called Sell More Boxes. It's going to be one-on-one intensive coaching program. You guys can get all the details of that and get on the wait list at SubscriptionBoxBootcamp.com.

Thank you so much for spending the last 20 minutes with me as always. I appreciate you sending gratitude and I'll see you in the next episode.