Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball

10 Things I wish I knew before starting a sub box

August 09, 2021 Julie Ball Episode 86
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
10 Things I wish I knew before starting a sub box
Chapters
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
10 Things I wish I knew before starting a sub box
Aug 09, 2021 Episode 86
Julie Ball

#086 - In this episode, Julie talks about 10 things she wishes she knew before starting a subscription box. This may be really relevant to you if you haven't started your sub box journey yet or you just recently launched.  

Summary:

  • Number 10: Niche down (00:04:26)
  • Number 9: Set goals with numbers (00:05:33)
  • Number 8: The seasonality of subscription box  (00:07:26)
  • Number 7: Be the face of the brand  (00:09:27)
  • Number 6: Take them on the journey  (00:10:51)
  • Number 5: It doesn't have to be perfect  (00:12:43)
  • Number 4: Your time is valuable  (00:14:26)
  • Number 3: It's not a race  (00:16:27)
  • Number 2: Define what success means to you  (00:18:02)
  • Number 1: Don't do it alone  (00:19:41)

Links:

Show Notes Transcript

#086 - In this episode, Julie talks about 10 things she wishes she knew before starting a subscription box. This may be really relevant to you if you haven't started your sub box journey yet or you just recently launched.  

Summary:

  • Number 10: Niche down (00:04:26)
  • Number 9: Set goals with numbers (00:05:33)
  • Number 8: The seasonality of subscription box  (00:07:26)
  • Number 7: Be the face of the brand  (00:09:27)
  • Number 6: Take them on the journey  (00:10:51)
  • Number 5: It doesn't have to be perfect  (00:12:43)
  • Number 4: Your time is valuable  (00:14:26)
  • Number 3: It's not a race  (00:16:27)
  • Number 2: Define what success means to you  (00:18:02)
  • Number 1: Don't do it alone  (00:19:41)

Links:

(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!

(00:22): Hey, hey, everybody! Welcome back to Subscription Box Basics. Thank you so much for being here and listening. I am feeling fired up right now. It is the summer. It is August 2021 when I am recording this and we have so many cool things coming up today. I'm going to be talking about 10 things I wish I knew before starting a subscription box. Before we dive into that though, a little bit of housekeeping, we have got so many cool things going on right now. Today is August 9th. If you're listening to this the day it drops and our new program Box Business Plan is open for enrollment. This is such a cool unique event. It's a five-day live virtual event where we're going to be walking through each section of your box business plan. Now, this is not for people who are already launched or have already gone through Subscription Box Bootcamp.

(01:15): This is for you if you are in the idea stage or the pre-launch stage, and you need some clarity. You need a business plan. You need to get it all out of your head onto paper, but just don't know where to start. So every day we're going to walk you through a short training, and then we're going to give you a little bit of homework when you submit your homework, my team, and I will compile your answers and put together an editable business plan for you. Like at the end of day five, you will have a business plan. So if this sounds like something that you would benefit from go to BoxBusinessPlan.com and get your butt enrolled today.

(01:48): I'm so excited. We start on August 23rd and it runs all the way through the 27th. That's five days training. It's five days of Q and A. We're going to have office hours and a pop-up Facebook group really hope that you decide to join us. It's only $47. This is going to be some of the best money that you spend on your business right now to get that clarity. And of course, we'll tell you about next steps. We're not going to leave you hanging. At the end of the week, we will be giving you some special discounts and special offers for Subscription Box Bootcamp, which ,save the date, opens on August 26th.

(02:28): I'm so excited. We're actually giving away a seat in bootcamp. Did you know that? Yeah. If you head to SubscriptionBoxBootcamp.com/giveaway, you can enter to win. The more you share and the more you come back every day and enter again, you can earn more entries and there's all kinds of ways to earn entries. One lucky winner will win a seat in Subscription Box Bootcamp.

(02:52): I'm so excited. You guys got to get in if you're listening to this and it is after August 14th. Oh, I'm so sorry. That's when the giveaway ends, but if you are a part of Box Business Plan, the live virtual event that I just talked about, we are also going to give away one seat to one lucky participant who really shows up and does the work too. So lots going on.

(03:16): We've talked about the Sub Summit in past episodes. Just a reminder, we're doing A Year in a Day workshop at the Sub Summit in mid-September in Dallas, Texas. Hope to see you there. You can get more information about that SubscriptionBoxBootcamp.com/YearInADay.

(03:27): Woo. Okay, got through all the housekeeping. Now let's talk about 10 things I wish I knew before starting a subscription box. This may be really relevant to you if you haven't started yet, or it may be really relevant to you if you've launched and you're like, "oh yes, I totally feel that one."

(03:50): So what we did was I asked my team, I reflected on my own experience and we asked our bootcampers and social media followers, what they wish they knew before starting a subscription box. You know, like when you are a year into the project or two years into a project and you're like, "oh man, if I only knew that at the beginning, then I would have had so fewer mistakes where I would've had shed so fewer tears." That's what this episode is for. So without further ado, we shall dive in 10 things I wish I knew before starting a subscription box.

(04:26): Number 10, niche down more than you think so often, new business owners think the more broad their business can be. The more people you can serve. Well, that's a recipe for disaster, in my opinion, please all and you'll please none. Well, you really need to do is get super clear on who you're going to serve. Niche down, niche down and niche down again.

(04:53): Quick example, instead of selling a subscription box, that is for all pets, maybe you narrow down to a very specific breed. That way you can focus in on exactly what that dog owner needs for that specific breed. You can get clear on what their pain points are and provide them with solutions that are not just big, broad strokes, but rather are specifically made for them. So ask yourself with your subscription box business idea. How niche down are you and can you go one level deeper? So things I wish I knew before starting a subscription box, number 10 niche down more than you think.

(05:33): Number nine, setting goals with actual numbers. Guys, this is going to be a business for you, whether it's a side hustle or a full-time gig, it's not a hobby. So you need to get clear on your goals. This is not just a pie in the sky thing.

(05:49): So here's what I want to encourage you to do. Think about when you launch, how many people that you would want as founding member. Think about what that revenue might look like. Think about what you physically can handle as far as fulfillment and then back into other numbers.

(06:05): So let's go over a quick example. Just say you want to launch your subscription box business with a hundred founding members, so exciting. But in order to get a hundred subscribers, you've got to nurture that email list. You've got to be bringing them along the journey in your social media. So with actual numbers, I recommend 10 X. For example, if you want to have a hundred founding members, 10 X, that number to figure out how many people you should have in your email list at launch. So in this example, 10 X a hundred is 1000.

(06:41): So your goal should be to have a thousand targeted people in your email list at launch. Now that number will, you'll have to continue to grow that email list to replace churn every single month. But we're just talking about launch here. When I asked some of my bootcampers about this, they were so unsure of the numbers guys. I set a hundred as my initial goal five years ago, when I launched Sparkle Hustle Grow, I didn't hit my goal. And guess what? It's okay. I'm still here. My business is still thriving. In fact, it's a six figure subscription box business. So don't put too much pressure on yourself for hitting those goals, but line up all the things you need to do to hit those so you have a better chance of it set your goals with actual numbers.

(07:26): Number eight, when I talked to a lot of my bootcampers and a lot of my colleagues, one of the things that kept coming up is they wish they knew the seasonality of the subscription box industry.

(07:38): There are some times in the year where it slows down, we call it the summer slump. And then there's some times in the year where there is an increased demand and you're going to see your numbers grow dramatically. That's typically in Q4 when the increased demand for products and consumer goods rises with the holidays, you know, with gift-giving and everything. So there's that ebb and flow. So what can we learn from that? Well, one summer is probably not the best time to launch your subscription box. My favorite time to encourage people to launch their subscription box is in Q3. That way they have all their ducks in a row, they've got their tech ready. They've got social media role in their growing their email list. All of that is strong as they move into Q4. When that increased demand comes into play. Now remember with the subscription box business, the ebb and flow of it too is in your own hands.

(08:37): So are you sending it monthly? Are you sending something quarterly? If so, remember if it's monthly, you have to do all the things every single month. And that's why it's really important to get your systems in place. It's kind of like rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat like every single month you're doing set of tasks, which when you figure out what your systems are, again, it can be a lot easier. So what can we learn from this? Well, first don't want in the summer instead, maybe launch in a time where there's a little bit of more increased demand, be ready for the holidays and to when it comes to the ebb and flow of things, you know, doing things on those recurring tasks, because remember you're getting recurring revenue too. So keep that in mind, as you're doing these recurring tasks, that it's important to get clear on what you need to do a month in and month out and get those systems in place.

(09:27): 10 things I wish I knew before starting a subscription box. Number seven, be the face of the brand. I know that's probably what you're doing. Say, "Julie, I do not want to show up all the time." But listen, people want to buy from people. They do not want to buy from a brand that they have no emotional connection to. So push yourself, show up, be seen and you will feel and see how people can connect with you. Especially if you are serving a target audience that you're actually a part of. For example, in Sparkle Hustle Grow my monthly subscription box for female entrepreneurs. I am a female entrepreneur, so I can speak very transparently about what I'm going through, what pain points that I have, how I'm finding solutions to those and just kind of, you know, the war stories of what it's like to be a small business owner.

(10:21): And that can help me relate to my audience. And my audience can relate to me that only helps when it comes to retention, new customer acquisition and just brand loyalty. So don't be afraid to be the face of the brand. That doesn't mean your face is the logo. That just means you are the person behind the brand that connects with people that shows up on social media. It shows up on videos like this, be the face of your subscription box brand.

(10:51): Number six, take them on the journey. Now we're not just talking about pre-launch here. We're talking about pre-launch and post-launch. If you take people along with you on your journey, then they will feel emotionally involved in your brand. They will be excited to hear from you. They will be excited to see what you're up to next. And when you're in pre-launch and you take them with you on the journey, they will be primed to buy when you open your cart for founding members.

(11:22): Now, what does that look like to take them on the journey? So think about things like on both social media and in your email marketing and any other marketing you're doing share the excitement of things as they happen. For example, maybe you got two logo ideas, share that with them. Say, can you help me decide which logo is going to be the logo for my new business? Let them share their opinions. Everybody wants to be heard. Everybody has an opinion, right? So what other things could you take them along with you on the journey, maybe you mock up your first box. Maybe you had a hiccup with something and you can share the good, the bad and the ugly. You know, it's not just the highlight reel. You can share some of these things with your audience, even if they are kind of a hiccup.

(12:11): What else can you share? You could share, oh, when, when your products start coming in, open up that box, give them a sneak peek. They will be so excited. Ask them questions like this product or that product, or maybe you have a product you've already decided on, but you can't decide on which color, let them vote. All of those things allows them to be on the journey with you. Again, gets them emotionally involved in your brand and primes them to buy. When you open your cart to your founding members.

(12:43): Number five, I'm so excited about this one. It doesn't have to be perfect. Let me say it again. It doesn't have to be perfect. So I know so many of you are perfectionists that's okay, but you got to push through it, progress over perfection. I have launched so many things and tweak them along the way.

(13:08): And that means, you know, maybe fixing a problem on the website or maybe that means I'm changing my pricing a year down the road guys. It's okay. You can always pivot it. Doesn't have to be perfect when you launch and you know what? We're human don't let that weight of feeling perfect stop you in your tracks from launching your subscription box business or doing anything else in your life. I believe that baby steps are still progress.

(13:37): And one of the things that really helps me with any perfectionist tendencies that I may have is action generating courage. Like you just go for it and you'll see like, it's okay, you've come out on the other side. If you pivot it's okay, you still come out on the other side. And if things don't work out, chances are it's still going to be okay.

(14:00): Another thing that can really help me with any perfectionist tendencies is having a box bestie or a trusted colleague that you can share things with to give a quick look over, you know, hey, send it over to a friend and, and look at your landing page before you go live, say, "Hey, do you see any errors with this?" or "Hey, if you came to this for the first time, would you know what this is?" So lean on your support system? And remember it doesn't have to be perfect.

(14:26): 10 things I wish I knew before starting a subscription box. Number four, your time is valuable. This is so important. When you're looking at pricing your subscription box business, this is a business, not a hobby and your time, my friend is valuable. So when you're figuring out your profit margins and your cost of goods and all that stuff, remember that you don't want to work for free either. You want to put a little bit of wiggle room in that pricing that you feel that you are getting paid for your time. Otherwise guys, it's simply not sustainable. You will burn out because you'll feel resentment for not making any profit. And you'll feel like it's a burden and you won't want to do it.

(15:15): So you want to make sure that you are paying yourself and it might not happen at first. I get that it took me four months to become profitable, to get in the green. And those three months I was hustling. And you know, there's other seasons of hustle as well. But as you grow your business, there'll be places where you're going to save money. So for example, if you buy 500 boxes instead of a hundred boxes, if you buy, you know, a hundred products instead of 25 products, you're going to have those economies of scale will you'll have more buying power and ask your vendors like, if, what is the next price break? If I buy 50 instead of 25, can I get 10% off? It's okay to ask those questions to your vendor. The worst they're going to do is say no, but back to the point at hand, your time is valuable.

(16:04): So make sure that you build in enough that you're making a profit and you are able to pay yourself. Again, maybe not right away, but think about the long-term, think about your first 12 months. You do not want to burn yourself out in the first three and then throw your hands up in the air and be like, "I'm done. I can't do this." So remember people, your time is valuable.

(16:27): Number three, it's not a race. You follow what I mean when I say that it's not a race. It's like, there's no trophy for getting to a thousand subscribers first. It's not a competition to beat somebody else to a certain number of subscribers, or it's not a competition to be better all the time. I, 100% believe in collaboration over competition. In fact, I'm colleagues or friends with the majority of my competition and it just makes life easier.

(17:01): We're able to have wonderful conversations, talk shop, and I don't feel that pressure. That just unbelievable pressure of always thinking I have to be the best or I have to be the first. Now let me take it from a different perspective. It's also not a race to the bottom. That means you don't have to enter the market with your subscription box business as the lowest priced box. You want to make sure you do your research. You want to price it out so that it's competitive in the, you know, the landscape of your industry, but you want to be profitable. You want to be able to pay yourself and you want it to be sustainable. So remember, it's not a race to the bottom. When it comes to being the lowest priced in your industry, it's not a race to the bottom and it's not a race to a certain subscriber mark. So slow your roll, chill out, figure out what your goals are and how to get there in a way that feels good for you.

(18:02): Number two, this one goes so well with number three. Number three was, it's not a race. Number two is define what success means to you. Man, I wish someone would have told me this. When I launched my subscription box business, what does success look like to you? Does that look like a flexible schedule? Does that look like having time to go have lunch with your kids at school? Does that mean that you want to go paddle boarding in the middle of the day? Now these are all things that are important to me, but what's important to you. Is it a revenue goal? Is it a lifestyle? Is it a subscriber number? Which if it is, let me challenge you to ask yourself, why is it a subscriber number? Like what does hitting that number mean to you? And I want you to focus on what does that allow your life to look like? So stop looking at it so much as like hitting a number, but what is it that you want to feel in your life? Maybe you want to feel financial freedom. Great. What does that number look like for you? What does it mean for your family? What do you want? What kind of flexibility do you want in your life? What do you want to have the money to do? Maybe it's travel. That's something that's important to me. Success to me also means being able to pour into my subscribers and to pour into my team and to compensate them generously. So think about what does success mean to you personally? Not based off of comparing it to anyone else or anyone else's business, but what does it mean to you?

(19:41): 10 things I wish I knew before starting a subscription box. Number one, don't do it alone. You guys, it's so much harder to start a business on your own. You need a support system in place. When I launched Sparkle Hustle Grow back in October of 2016, I was piecing all of the parts together by myself. Guys there was so many hours poured into research and into asking my husband questions, but he didn't know the answers. I had so many tears because I felt so lost and alone. It really feels like when you're a solopreneur, specially, it can feel so lonely and it can feel like you're on an island. You don't have to do it alone. There are so many resources out there now that can help you have that support system. Maybe you can throw ideas against the wall and you'll have actual people who are in the same boat, talking through it with you or answering those questions.

(20:44): Maybe people that are a step or two ahead of you answering for you like myself. Now, when I launched, I didn't have that support system. I had to kind of piece it together for you. In this day and age, there are plenty of Facebook groups that you can join. I want to also introduce you to Subscription Box Bootcamp. If you haven't heard of it already. It is my online group coaching program that I created using the experience of creating my own subscription box business. I've been in this business since October of 2016 guys. I'm five years into running a subscription box business. I've helped hundreds of other people launch their own. So I feel like I've seen it all. I bring so much experience to the table and I invite you to be a part of my community, the Subscription Box Bootcamp community, mark your calendar.

(21:33): It opens August 26th. This is the program for you to help you get from point A to point B as quickly and easily as possible. I will be holding your hand through the five stages of your subscription box journey. That's the idea stage, pre-launch, launch, systems and scale stages in Subscription Box Bootcamp. You haven't already heard all the details, I've got over 60 short, actionable video lessons. I've got worksheets to build your business plan, templates for creating your systems. Marketing, swipe files, a private online community. And we've got tons of resources in there, like access to our dream team, which is a pre-screened list of vendors for some of the most important decisions in your subscription box business. Like who's going to design my logo. Who's going to print my custom boxes if you decide to go that route, we've got virtual assistants, we've got photographers, we've got all those big decisions made for you.

(22:40): We have over $750 in bonuses now, things like templates if you're going to create your own custom box. We've got training on how to do a viral giveaways, which is so important for your pre-launch. So, you know what stinks, starting from scratch and doing this alone. You know what doesn't stink, Subscription Box Bootcamp and the community and the support that you're going to get along with it. So if you have a subscription box business idea, head to SubscriptionBoxBootcamp.com now to get some free resources, get on the wait list for Subscription Box Bootcamp. When we opened enrollment later this month, I know that we can help you build the subscription box business of your dreams. My team and I are so excited to support you.

(23:27): I hope today's episode was really helpful for you as we talked about 10 things I wish I knew before starting a subscription box business. Again, these are from my own personal experience, from my team and from colleagues and students of mine.

(23:42): Join me next week for Subscription Box Basics, where I interview Dawn from Teach Sparkle Pop. She is a Subscription Box Bootcamper and had a really, really successful launch. And so I cannot wait for you to hear that story so you can take some notes and you can feel inspired by her. I love how she is an open book and shares the good and the bad, which is so important because we don't want to paint this picture of just the highlight reels. You guys know how I feel about that. So I'll see you next week in the meantime, make sure you go sign up for the giveaway so you can be entered to win a seat in Subscription Box Bootcamp. As always, thanks for listening, and I'll see you next time.