Subscription Box Basics

The Subscription Box Planner 2024 Preview (Get yours on Oct 3, 2023 w/our bonus!)

September 25, 2023 Episode 181
Subscription Box Basics
The Subscription Box Planner 2024 Preview (Get yours on Oct 3, 2023 w/our bonus!)
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Listen up as we dish up some serious wisdom for all subscription box entrepreneurs in today's conversation with the planning guru herself, Jess Principe, the co-founder of the Subscription Box Planner, Jess is no stranger to the power of effective planning. We dive deep into the realm of planning and underscore its vital role in achieving our business goals. Jess illuminates us on how planning isn't a mere task but rather the magic potion that catalyzes our path to success. 

Our chat extends into an exploration of the Subscription Box Planner's evolution, a tool Jess and her co-founder Becky have developed with valuable inputs from fellow entrepreneurs. From the inclusion of planner stickers to the launch of digital versions, every feature tells a tale of growth and innovation. Jess also demystifies the concept of the 'big three' - a key strategy that can set subscription box entrepreneurs on track to their goals. Whether you're an aspiring entrepreneur in this space or a newbie, this conversation is a treasure trove of insights to guide your journey!

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Julie:

So you want to launch a subscription box and don't know where to start? Girl, you are in the right place.

Jessica:

I'm Julie Ball and I'm Renee Gonzalez, your host here at.

Julie:

Subscription Box Basics a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs.

Jessica:

wanting to avoid overwhelm, so grab a coffee, some pen and paper and let's have some fun.

Julie:

Hey everybody, and welcome back to Subscription Box Basics. I'm your head coach, julie Ball, and I'm grinning from ear to ear because of my guest, my box bestie, jessica Princepe, on the show with me today.

Jessica:

Hey Julie. Oh my gosh, I'm so excited to be here with you today.

Julie:

So this is what you're like. Third or fourth time on the podcast. You are definitely a repeat interviewer here. It might be, it might be. We have so many things to talk about, man, I know and we were just talking before we hit record and we don't know where this podcast is going to go. But we are going to talk about planning, and Jess is pretty good at planning, seeing as though she is the co-founder of the Subscription Box Planner.

Jessica:

Yeah, we love to plan and organize around here. It's how we keep ourselves sane.

Julie:

Amen, girlfriend. So if you're meeting Jess for the first time, let's quickly do a little introduction. Jess, why don't you tell everybody about yourself, and then we'll clue them in on how you and I met. Ok, yeah, that's fun.

Jessica:

So I am the founder of All Girl Shape Club, which is a women's Shaving Subscription Service and online boutique. I started my business back in 2016. Very similar to Julie when she launched hers, and I've been running it for almost seven years now. I run it kind of in the pockets of time around, being a mom and wife and golden retriever chaser. That's kind of what I'm doing these days, and I also help to mentor and guide and encourage other subscription box owners in their journey as well. And you do such a good job at it.

Julie:

Oh, thank you. I know guys, I'm sorry if this is going to be like a love fest but, like Jess and I have been through a lot together, oh girl, yeah, no, important to have a box bestie. As she mentioned, we met in 2016. We met you know, spoiler at a business event kind of like where I meet all my business besties, and that just goes to show you how important in real life events are. Yeah, and so it was fall of 20. Yeah, we were both at the front ends of launching our subscription box and we were at Christie Wright's Business Boutique. It was one of my favorite events. We were going to it year after year after year and Jess and I met in person and ever since then we've been each other's like number one cheerleader, through the good and through the bad, both professionally and personally, and it makes a huge impact in just everything, so much, so much.

Jessica:

I know I was like so excited to chat with you on your podcast, but I like talk to you almost every day on Boxer anyway, because we do. We go through the highs, the lows, the messy, middles, all of it, and it's so, so important to have that person in your life that can help you and really understand where you're coming from.

Julie:

Yeah, and our business with subscription boxes is so different than many other businesses, so it doesn't mean you can't be business besties with other people or other experts in other fields, but for someone to actually get what you're going through, where you can throw ideas towards them and they can give you constructive feedback and criticism if necessary. I can't tell you how many times Jess has been like you're in your own way again. We help each other through that. So, yeah for sure. Anyhow, this podcast episode is not meant for us to talk about Bucks Besties, but we had to bring it up. We had to make sure people know how important it is. But let's talk about planning. I am a type A person and I love to plan, and when you told me about the subscription box planner for the first time several years ago, it was just like, oh my gosh, we need this so bad. Thank you for putting this together. So before we get into the product, let's talk about actually planning. What does that look like? Why do you think it's important for subscription box owners?

Jessica:

Yeah, I think it's so important for any business, but especially for subscription box businesses. Because there are so many moving pieces involved in running a subscription box business. It's really important to have a plan in place to keep those things moving efficiently, but also to help you reach your goals. I remember when I was first starting the business or when I was first working in the business I was still working full-time and I was struggling to get things done. I was used to being a high achiever in my job. I felt like I could always just get things done at my nine to five. I remember thinking what so hard in my subscription box business? What's going on? And I was talking to a trusted friend at the time and she was like think about Chrissy Wright. Back to Chrissy in the business. Yeah, she was like think about Chrissy Wright. She doesn't just show up to film a video. There was like 50 steps before that and that's what planning does for us. It was kind of like an epiphany moment for me. It was like, oh yeah, like I'm trying to jump from A to Z without doing any of the planning or any of the work to get there, and it's really. We shouldn't be thinking about planning as like another thing on your to-do list, it's really the catalyst to reaching your goals. You have to know where you're going and the steps it will take to get you there, so that you're not just trying to jump from A to Z. You have all of these different milestones and like touch points to get you to your goals.

Julie:

That's so well said. And, as you were saying that, one thing that just dawned on me for all you Swifties out there, do you think Taylor Swift just gets on stage and like, puts on this amazing show? No, exactly, she is working on her health and she's working on a nutrition plan. She's working with dancers production, the truck drivers Like she and her staff are doing all these things. That stuff. All we see is the end result. All we see is the consumer is like this awesome show. So next time you don't want to plan, put on some Taylor Swift. Oh, girl.

Jessica:

Taylor Swift is running 24 seven in my house on my amypon and my kids are like, oh, taylor Swift again. I can't help it. Yes, listen, tune into Taylor, there's so much we can learn from her. Yes, exactly.

Julie:

We talked about her on a past episode, where she gamifies things too, so we're learning all these business like tricks and tips through Taylor, who would have?

Jessica:

thought, yes, it's amazing, fun fact, imagine too, like having the mindset, the abundance mindset that she has where she's like I'm not going to just go to regular venues, I'm going to sell out stadiums. Can you imagine if we could just all embrace that abundance mentality?

Julie:

Oh my gosh, that's such a good point, love, that I unfortunately did not get to make it to the Ares tour, but I've had so much BOMO over the past two months Like I'm just ready for the tour to be over, so I don't have to have BOMO anymore.

Jessica:

I know me too. Next time, let's get in line and get ticket. Let's do it.

Julie:

Yes, done, let's do it. Okay, back to planning. So what do you think You've talked to probably so many people in the subscription box world from a planning perspective, and so what are some of these common planning challenges that they're going to go through and what can they do about it?

Jessica:

Yeah, I think one of the biggest things that I've seen over and over again in the subscription box community is the overwhelm of what exactly do I need to do and when do I need to do it.

Julie:

Yeah, but what do I?

Jessica:

do today? Yeah, exactly what do I do when I sit down to work? I remember doing that way too, so I can really relate to it. In those early days when I was working full-time and trying to work in the evenings on my business, or even when I transitioned to my business full-time, I was like I have all these things, I know I want to do them, I have all these ideas and I'm so excited. And then I'd sit down and open my laptop and I'm like, oh, where do I begin? What are the actual actions I need to take? Yeah, so really, I think the biggest thing is leaning into what I like to call your monthly rhythm. It's the key to understanding what exactly you need to be doing each week for each box cycle. This really hinges on your four-core dates, which are your cart open, the cart close, the shipping day and the renewal day. So I like to think about all of the recurring tasks that we have in our business that need to happen in order to get the box out the door each cycle. This is an important part to mention is that it doesn't matter if you're a monthly box or a bimonthly box or a quarterly or a seasonal. Whatever it is, you still have a series of operational events that need to happen from box to box. Yeah, your rhythm, yeah, exactly. So the way around this is to identify what are those recurring events you have in your business. So like product sourcing, marketing, photography, whatever it is that you do from box to box. Buying crinkle cut? Yeah, it's ordering the crinkle cut and kind of back into when those things need to happen in your box cycle. So, for example, if you know you have to have your products in-house a week before you ship, how long does it take for your lead time? When? What's the date? Is it six weeks before shipping that you want to have everything ordered? Identify that for each one of those events and then you can go through the year and make a note that every six weeks prior to shipping, I want to have my products ordered for the following box. And this just really starts to help develop that workflow to not only guide you in knowing what to work on when you sit down to work, but it also helps you to see what kind of a capacity you have for additional projects on any given week or month.

Julie:

Yeah, because a lot of us in this world are multi-passionate. So if we get, you know what's that shiny object syndrome or like squirrel, you know totally. So it's so easy to get off of your monthly rhythm. And here's a tip one thing like I love pen and paper that's what I love about the subscription box planner and a blank page can be a little bit overwhelming to me. So I love that you have systematized this. And one thing that I think it works really well with is to once you identify those specific dates, you know it's going to be on that rhythm. I plugged it like when I was running Sparkle Hustle Grow, I used to plug those into my calendar as a recurring reminder. So I legitimately had a five-minute meeting with myself once a month that said order, a crinkle cut. And it just popped up and I was like I didn't even have to think about it. It was on my planner yes, but you can supplement that type of thing with any sort of like digital reminders or setting appointments with yourself.

Jessica:

So that's such a good point. I love that you said that, because of course we can't really logically walk around with our planner every where we go, you know. So if we can have this, you don't do that.

Julie:

I used to walk around with mine.

Jessica:

I mean, it is so pretty, it does look so pretty. I do think you're right, though I think, like this system is built into the planner, or you can create the system and then just use your digital calendar to, like, help you, support you in using the system. That's the most important thing is that you're using the system.

Julie:

Yes, it's not going to do the work itself. You don't just buy a planner and it does all the work, you know. Wouldn't that be great, though, okay, let's talk a little bit about the actual planner you created, which is called, brilliantly, the subscription box planner. What inspired you to create it? You're the co-founder with Becky Poy from Brave Cake, so tell us how this whole thing was like born.

Jessica:

Yes, so it really came out of a request from a student in one of my courses who was feeling it's a pre-launch course, so I was preparing her to launch and she was just feeling a little bit overwhelmed about how to run the day-to-day of her business after she launched, like we were getting her up through launch, and then she was like, oh no, yeah, exactly, and I couldn't blame her. You know, I felt that way too, and I'm sure you did too, when you first were launching. And so Becky and I started thinking about it and we're like we should really find anything on the market that existed, and so we decided to just take like, totally messy action. We threw it together in a few weeks. The first version was for the 2021 calendar year. It wasn't fancy. It didn't have all the bells and whistles, we only had 50 copies, but it was clear that the subscription box community really craved a product like this. We sold out of those first 50 copies within 24 hours. I really think that it was a total mind trip, but I really think that it's a lesson in itself about testing product market fit and creating a product that solves a problem and letting your customers tell you what they want. When we first created the planner, we interviewed a ton of subscription box owners. We created a master spreadsheet of all the things that were uncovered during our interviews. So features that people wanted to see, or challenges yeah, all of that stuff, the things that they needed, problems that we could solve, and we literally created the planner off of that spreadsheet. So we looked at what the most common things yeah, exactly, and just let it guide us. We also use their language. So the things that they said, we typed it verbatim into the spreadsheet and then we were able to use that language on the landing page and in our marketing. It was like here on a silver platter this is how you market this product.

Julie:

Yeah, everything you've wanted in a product, we have it for you, so that those first 50 sold out, and that was 2021 calendar year, right?

Jessica:

It was yes, so it's like 20 at the end when we started selling them.

Julie:

Okay, so it's evolved over the years. I'm sure that you've changed some things along the way, so give us a sneak peek into this year's edition for the upcoming 2024.

Jessica:

I'm super excited about this one. So we have lots of fun upgrades and surprises, but two of the most requested features, one being stickers. Who doesn't love stickers? Julie, I know you love stickers, you know I love planner stickers.

Julie:

I have an entire top aware of just stickers. Most of them are planner stickers, so they're all over my laptop. They're on. I put them all over notebooks and, yeah, they're just everywhere. So fun.

Jessica:

I love them. Oh my gosh, it's just everything better, I think. So there are two pages of planner stickers in the front of it. And then the second major upgrade and this is like major, because we really needed to revise this, but is with our digital version. Before, our digital version was just a printable PDF, so they could just print it and have it bound on their own Okay. But this year our digital users are not getting one, but they're getting two different versions of the digital planner that they can use. So the first is going to be a fillable PDF. They can use it on their desktop if they want to, okay. And then the second is a digital version that will work with good notes on like a tablet. Oh, it's going to be a super immersive planner experience, including those stickers.

Julie:

So, digital users- get the stickers too Nice. So I'm assuming you guys will do some like little training on how to use that, because I don't know that program, but I would love to try it.

Jessica:

Girl same. I literally had never used it before and I'm like, oh wow, this is a whole new world. So yeah, we're learning, we're going to do some tutorials, we're going to make sure that it's super easy.

Julie:

Okay, I cannot wait to check that out. So, of course, you have a new cover every year. Yeah, and pretty, yeah. And so walk all of us through some of the things in there, because this isn't just a planner, that's like you know, a to-do list. You are actually calling out specific subscription box business owner to-dos. Yes, definitely, that's inspiration.

Jessica:

Yeah, that's a good point. You're right. It is when you were saying before about the blank page. It is not a blank page. So if you want just a planner that is plain and blank and nothing in there, this is probably not the planner for you, because this one it really was designed to help you start from the top and work your way down, cast your big picture vision and hone in on your goals for the year in a really detailed, guided way, so you won't be left with your own thoughts. You're really going to be guided to thinking strategically about your subscription box business and the different categories of business that are important to hone in on, and then it just guides you and coaches you through the whole process throughout the planner of what needs to be done for marketing, what needs to be done for social media all of it.

Julie:

I remember going through it and seeing actual marketing tips, ideas. It's not just like your tip for the day is, post a reel, it would be specific. You're really giving really good tactical instructions, like do this, and I love that. And you have pep talks just like have it all the way through. And I think that's so important because as business owners, we rely on each other to be our cheerleaders and to give each other pep talks, but we're often doing the work on our own, totally, yeah, and you feel kind of like you're on your own a lot.

Jessica:

So this is a way to kind of like feel like you're being very supported. I definitely like the tactical practical applications. Like I like someone to just say, hey, try this, and like I can do it and see a result in five minutes, and so it was really important to me to make sure that we included those types of things in the planner as well, so it feels like you have a little bit of a coach with you on your desk.

Julie:

It is it does feel like that, and when you open it up kind of like what you were saying before, where you sat down at your desk and you opened up your laptop you weren't sure what to do. So then you open up this planner and you will know what to do.

Jessica:

Exactly Every time you work, even if it's only 15 minutes around your kids, you'll know exactly what to do. Yeah.

Julie:

Oh, I love it. Okay, so we talked a little bit about goals earlier, and so that's probably a big part of using this planner. So how does the planner actually help and support them in reaching those goals?

Jessica:

Yeah, I think it just really helps to support them in making sure that they know what things they need to do, what things need to happen, and also, like one of the concepts that we adopted in the planner is the big three, the idea of the big three. It helps set you up to win. I think often we take on too much or we get really, really ambitious and we're like I'm going to do all these things this year, all these things this month. Have you seen my to-do list? It's on multiple pages here. Everybody needs to watch the YouTube video to see that. But that's the thing is, we can do a lot of things, but sometimes we set ourselves up to feel like we're not winning because we have such long lists. So we use this concept of the big three to focus in on three things. What are the three things we can do today or this month or this quarter to be considered a win? Often, that momentum will really help us to not only reach those three things, but then we can go on and keep going and we feel like we're really, really productive and doing a good job, and so I think that's really a big piece of it, too, is just knowing what you need to do and not over committing and really setting yourself up to win.

Julie:

Yeah, so you carved out those big three and look it, there's going to be life that gets in the way sometimes of those big three and you need to give yourself some grace if you don't hit all of them every single day. But I don't know about you, but sometimes I look back at my day and I say I cannot believe how much I got accomplished today. And then I'll go write it down and then cross it off with that little dopamine hit.

Jessica:

Yes, I think that is totally awesome. I do it too. Doesn't do it? Actually? Who doesn't do it? I know.

Julie:

That's the question. I've always been a to-do list kind of person, but I do love the idea of narrowing it down to three because I want to actually make progress and when I have this list I'm literally sharing this list. It's like two pages long. I'm going to feel deflated if I'm not getting far down, and even if I do get far down the list, there's still so much more. So I need to shift back into that top three mindset.

Jessica:

Yeah, I think so too. I think you can always do more than three things, but if you can say these are the three things, that if I do these three, it will feel like a successful day, yeah Gosh, that is such a win and so important. Like we often just feel like such failures all the time and I don't want that for us. I want us all to win.

Julie:

Yes, yes, and some days it's big wins, some days it's small wins, and the small wins count.

Jessica:

They absolutely count because they all add up. Yeah.

Julie:

Exactly Okay. So you've been doing this for a couple of years now. Are there any specific features of this new edition, the 2024 edition, that you are, like the most pumped about? For me, it's the stickers. I'm not going to lie, I'm really pumped about the stickers and I can't wait to implement them. But what are you the most excited about?

Jessica:

Oh, I mean, I love stickers as much as the next gal, but I think I'm always most excited about the pro tips. We talked about that a little bit earlier. There's over 80, I think different pro tips scattered throughout which are not just like fluffy things, like they are tactical marketing ideas things you can do on your website, things you can do now that will make an impact, like either immediately or in the near future. So I really love that. I we spend a lot of time writing those and sourcing those and making sure that they're super impactful. Yeah.

Julie:

And you have had a lot of success with your business, so you've got the street cred. To share those pro tips is my point. Like I learn from you all the time I always watch your Instagram stories You're always dropping hints, especially about like email marketing. Gosh, I don't like email marketing and apparently you do.

Jessica:

She would make me laugh. Oh my gosh, I love email. If there was a world where I could just design email all day, every day, I think that would be my world. God bless you.

Julie:

I know, okay. So after listening to this, I'm sure that our podcast listeners want to know when they can get it and how they can get their hands on it, so let's give them those details.

Jessica:

Yeah, for sure. So the car opens on October 3rd very, very soon, and you'll want to make sure that you had to subscriptionboxplanercom slash, julie, for special bonuses when you buy the planner.

Julie:

It's going to be awesome, you know we love to give good bonuses, oh yeah. So if you've been following along, we love to over deliver on bonuses. So if you do order through my link, the subscriptionboxplanercom slash Julie, which we'll put in the show notes, you will get a special bonus. Stay tuned for that announcement. We'll be sharing that real soon. Again, mark your calendar for October 3rd, Jess. Is there anything we've missed? What do we? What have we missed?

Jessica:

I don't think so. I think we covered a lot, but if anybody wants to see some sneak peeks of the planner and they're listening maybe they would want to head over to my Instagram page, because I have lots of different reels and sneak peeks and things there. So that's just Jessica underscore print-a-pee.

Julie:

Perfect, I'll make sure that we link that and I saw recently you did the cover reveal, so I'll make sure I link that. And so, if you're interested, you guys, do you have us any questions you have about the planner? I've been using it and I've recommended it from the very beginning. So many of our subscription box boot campers love and use this product, so we highly recommend it. You want to get your hands on it? There will be a physical product available and, as Jess mentioned, there will be a digital product available. There are different price points.

Jessica:

Right, that's right. Yep, there are different price points, yep, so accessible for everybody, for sure.

Julie:

Awesome. So all those details. When this goes live October 3rd, we'll be at subscriptionboxplannercom slash, Julie. In the meantime, do you have us with any questions? I kind of have a line into the founders here, so Beth and Becky can answer any questions and we can't wait to get this planner in your hands. Yeah, for sure.

Jessica:

We're super excited. Thanks so much for having me, Julie. This was so fun it was so fun.

Julie:

Of course, it was going to be fun to chat with my box best. I'm so proud of you, jess. This product is so good and I'm really, really happy to support you and all of our listeners and boot campers supporting you as well. So I'll try not to make this a gush fest, but I am so proud of you. Oh thanks, all right guys. Thanks for listening today. We hope you're as excited about the subscription box planner as we are, and we'll see you in the next episode. Bye.

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