If your dream is to leave a full-time job and become a subscription box entrepreneur, this blog post is for you! Not only will it give you the motivation to pursue your passion, but also provide you with a practical approach to starting a subscription box while having a full-time job.
So you’ve got this idea for a subscription box and the more you think about it, the harder it is to stop thinking about it. You’ve Googled ‘how to start a subscription box’, looked up vendors and are almost ready to pull the trigger…the only problem is…you’ve got a full-time job. Ugh. The good news is that many of our subscription box entrepreneurs started their boxes while having a full-time job, so we know it can be done. Below we’ll show you some practical advice on how you can get your subscription box off the ground while working a 9-5.
The first thing you’ll want to do is validate your subscription box idea. Getting feedback early in the process will save you time and money. You don’t want to pour hours and hours into an idea that isn’t going to sell. One of the easiest ways to validate your subscription box idea is to start sharing your idea with people. You can start with friends and family, but it would be even more helpful to get feedback from people in your target market. For example, if you plan to start a subscription box for people who love to knit, you’ll need to find those people online or in real life and ask them questions about their hobby. Ask them what they’d want to see in a knitting subscription box and if there are any ‘pain points’ that your box can solve for them.
Once you’ve validated your idea, it’s time to create a business plan. Cratejoy has a few helpful tools, like the Subscription Box Start-up Calculator & Pricing Calculator to give you a better understanding of the cash flow and resources you will need to get started. Once you know what your start-up costs and operating expenses will be, you can create a business plan. In this business plan, you should write down the details of your business: name, niche, ideal customer, and short-term & long-term goals. Your business goals should include actual dates and numbers, like the desired launch date, # of subscribers, and monthly revenue goals. Once you’ve established these goals, you can create actionable steps towards achieving them.
For example, if your goal is to launch a subscription box in 60 days, you can use this calendar to create your weekly to-do list. Once your weekly tasks have been set up, you can create an action plan during the free hours that you have available. It’s important when conducting a side hustle, like starting a subscription box, to be very intentional with your time and sticking to your timelines and to-do lists will help keep you on track towards your goal.
You have big goals and you want to crush them…we get that, but you also only have 24 hours in the day. You’ll need to use them wisely. If you are working a typical 40 hour/ week job then you will have to use your nighttime and weekend hours to build your subscription business. The more organized you are, the more efficient you will be with your time. In the beginning stages of a subscription box, you will be spending a lot of time sourcing products, contacting vendors and setting up your branding and marketing collateral. We recommend using a tool like Evernote or Trello to organize your research, vendors and track progress. (Here’s a quick guide to using Evernote & Trello for your subscription box business).
In terms of branding and marketing, you have two options, you can choose to DIY or outsource these to a professional. Whether you should hire out these jobs or attempt to do-it-yourself is up to your comfort level with the task at hand, the amount of time you have and your cash flow. If you are operating on a strict budget, it may be better to DIY some of the early logo and branding using Canva. However, if you’ve allocated a budget for your business, I would recommend hiring out the tasks that you don’t want to do or don’t have the skill set to do. You can use sites like Fiverr, Elance or Crowdspring to have a logo or landing page created and social media accounts managed. (Cratejoy also has a list of designers and developers to help you get started)
Find like-minded people
It’s been said, that you are the average of the 5 people you hang around with most. Which means if you want to be successful, you need to surround yourself with like-minded and entrepreneurial friends. We recommend joining some entrepreneurial online communities (like our very own Subscription School Facebook group). These communities will not only serve as a great resource for getting answers to your questions but also provide you with a built-in community of people who understand your struggles and can share their experiences.
How to know when it’s time to take a leap
At some point in your subscription box journey, you will be faced with the decision of whether to stay at your full-time job or to pursue your subscription box full time. Let me tell you, this will not be an easy decision to make. We wish there was a magic formula that says ‘Once you hit xxx subscribers, you can quit your job’. Unfortunately, there isn’t a number that works for everyone. Your number will depend on several factors like your profit margin, expenses, and lifestyle.
It can be helpful to determine what your number is, as a way to set some early goals. In that case, we recommend taking a look at your personal finances and coming up with an amount of money that you would need to make in order to quit your job. For example, if your personal bills account for $5000 a month, you know that you need to at least profit $5000 each month to get by. If your average profit on a box is $20, you can figure that you will need to get at least 250 subscribers before you can even think about leaving your full-time job. Once you get to 250 subscribers, your monthly bills will be paid and you can start to transition to a full-time subscription box entrepreneur.
Full disclosure, while launching your subscription box you will work harder than you ever have. You will sacrifice nights, weekends and holidays, however, once you have your systems in place, your business will run much smoother and you can get some of your free time back, until then, however, it’s nose to the grind.
Here are a couple of inspiring case studies to get you motivated:
- How Pipsticks Grew Their Sticker Empire 7.4x in 3 Years
- How I Built a Subscription Business that’s Made over $50k in 6 Months
- How SinglesSwag Got 8k Subscribers in One Year