Subscription Business Success

I don’t know about you but I’ve been watching the subscription industry and how it’s grown and changed over the past few years. Subscriptions started back with deliveries of milk and eggs, grew to newspapers and magazines, and has grown to include deliveries of online newsletters, and physical boxes of makeup, clothing, books and full blown recipes. I’ve ventured once or twice into a home delivery subscription of products, but I’m particular about things so I have yet to find anything current that I really want to subscribe to. But let’s talk about the business of subscriptions, and why they’re something people enjoy and why they’re successful.

One of the great things about some of the subscription options is the joint venture opportunities they create. Yes, in some cases you’re subscribing to one specific product or brand, but many of the subscription options include a variety of items that changes with each delivery. The boxes talk about being “carefully curated” to include a mix of products to try, leaving the next step up to the recipient, they can use/share the products and move on, or they can follow up with the brands in the box and purchase additional products or more of what they got in the box. For businesses, it’s a great opportunity to build a business relationship with another company, to do cross promotions with the company and to be introduced to an audience they may not have really considered before.

Subscription deliveries create recurring revenue for companies. This is a big reason that companies want to get into the subscription business, because they’re getting consistently paid without all of the work of trying to get new clients/customers. Of course you have to have great content in your box or people won’t stay subscribed, but if you can consistently provide unique items that your audience is interested in, you can keep them as a repeat customer for many years.

Subscriptions work well because they take a lot of the work out of the customer’s life. Many people will tell you that they’re too busy to do the research into picking a recipe and shopping for the right items or finding new skincare to try or finding new books to read, and let’s be honest you can do tons of research and you may never hit on the products included in the box because there are just so many different companies in every niche and industry. Subscriptions are an easy way to introduce people to the variety, novelty, and/or something bigger/better that they’re interested in finding but don’t have the time or knowledge to know where/how to look.

There are of course challenges to being in the subscription industry, including quality of products, offering something people don’t want, not having some competitive advantage or standing out from your (many) competitors, the finding a happy middle on cost of the subscription for you and your customers, and being able to keep up with demand. I don’t think the subscription industry is going anywhere any time soon, and I think there’s still room in the industry for some quality boxes and deliveries.

Have you considered offering a subscription option, and if so how far into the consideration and/or planning are you? If you offer a subscription, what have you learned from it and where do you think the industry is headed?

Advertisements

Refresh for Spring Success

With spring officially arriving even if we did have a snow storm where I live this week, I thought we’d talk about some ways that you can bring new life to your business.

1-add a new product or service. I get emails from companies on a regular basis announcing new collections they’re offering, new partnerships they’re doing or seasonal offerings they’ve got. There’s something exciting for both the customers and the company when a new product is added, whether it’s planned to be a permanent edition or just a seasonal or short term opportunity.

2-refresh your marketing. Maybe marketing isn’t something you’ve been consistent with for your business, or you’re just not happy with the marketing you’re doing. Spring is a great time to redesign your newsletter email, recommit to marketing consistently, create and implement a new strategy for marketing on social media, do more local marketing (yes, even if you’re just an only business), or make some updates to your website.

3-clean up. If you’ve got a physical location that customers come to, or a location where you spend a lot of time working or store products, spring is a great time to do a deep cleaning of your location, move things around, throw things out and put a fresh coat of paint on the place.  Customers will appreciate the space being neat and clean, and so will you!

4-education. Spring is also a great time to learn a new skill or get some education, both for you as the business owner as well as your employees. Whether you’re interested in expanding your services and need some education to do that, or you want to give your employees some opportunities to be more proficient or work in other areas that they currently don’t, sometimes some education can be just the thing to get you refreshed, renewed and bring new life to the business.

So what will you do to put some spring in your business?

A Refresh for Spring Success

With the official arrival of spring, I’m thinking about why many of us are so productive in the spring. I think it has to do with everything being fresh. We’re more likely to pick up the new shirt, spend time in the clean rooms, and even be with people who are more like sunshine than rain clouds. There’s something magical about going out in nature after a rainstorm, or seeing peices of history uncovered by a storm. There’s something refereshing about walking into a clean room or putting away clean clothes or finally getting things organized (that hands-on-the-hips, surveying the victory moment).

With that breath of fresh air also seems to come a burst of energy, a feeling of renewal, and a spark to the motivation that may have been missing for some time. So if you’ve been struggling with success, maybe it’s time to give yourself a little spring refresh. I get it, we’re pulled in many directions, given more to our piles rather than less, distracted by shiny things and trying to stay with the movement of life. Whether you get organized, hire help, delegate, or let go of stuff, spring is a great time to give yourself a fresh chance at success.

Spring would be beautiful if just the green stuff showed up or if we only had flowers come up, but true spring experiences are an explosion of activity, growth and new life. Spring isn’t just baby bunnies or crocuses, there are countless animals and flowers that come into bloom. It’s only when it’s all taken together that you can really see and appreciate what spring is all about. Don’t feel like you have to make “spring” happen in your life without help. Yes, you’ll have to make some potentially big decisions that you may have been avoiding, but passing on the cleaning to a cleaning crew, hiring a carpenter to build you shelving that actually works for you, deleting emails you’re never going to read, or saying no to some things you’re really not passionate about can give you the mental and physical freedom to get more done that only you can do, and only in the way that you can do it.

So on this fine spring day, what freshness will you commit to creating or welcoming in your life?

Building a 4 Leaf Clover Business

With St. Patrick’s Day this weekend I thought today we’d talk about 4 aspects of business success in honor of the 4 leaf clover. We’ll first take a look at the 3 things that appear on all clovers (in all businesses) and then we’ll look at one that only appears on the 4 leaf clovers:

People:
However you want to look at what you offer, without someone to buy what you offer, there’s really no point to being in business. It’s essential that you take care of all your people if you want to stay in business, let alone become one of the few beloved companies who lasts the tests of time.

Product/Service:
Every business needs at least one product or service that has value, addresses a need or solves a problem for people. Once you’ve got the concept for your product(s) and/or service(s) you have to decide what type of quality you will provide, and whether to differentiate yourself by price, or serve only a specific location or try and reach the masses among other things.

Marketing:
Once you’ve got a product and/or service you’ve got to tell people about it! There are tons of ways that you can market your business and what you’re offering from social media to blogs to newsletters to TV ads to radio ads to joint ventures to affilates. Marketing today has evolved from just product/service awareness to creating experiences, educating potential customers, and interacting with them in real time all in addition to product/service/brand awareness.

Purpose/Mission/Vision:
As I said, most businesses do their best to attend to the first 3, like any clover, but some business go the extra mile and give the extra effort to do things on purpose and with purpose. I had a business owner ask me recently if they really needed to have a purpose/vision/mission because they were “just selling a shirt.” Yes, you can differentiate on the exact product you sell, price and marketing you do and the people that fit your niche, but if you really want a tribe, if you want people to come back again and again and have a passionate investment in your business you need to have and follow a purpose/mission/vision.

So what about you? Are you just working to sell a product or service, or are you working to create an experience for your customers, one that they want to invest in, be part of and share with others?

Secrets to Success: Change

The path to success isn’t always an easy one, and sometimes there are things that conspire against people in becoming successful. One of those things for some people is gender. While women have made great strides over the years, many women still struggle to be successful and have difficulty growing into positions that have been traditionally held by men. With this Thursday being International Women’s Day I thought we’d talk about one of the steps that has been key to women having more success: change.

Off and on over the past two months we’ve taken a look at some important steps that can help anyone get to success, and in many cases if you want to be successful there has to be changes made. In many cases what got you to point “A” won’t get you to point “B” let alone point “M.” And the only way that women can lead more companies or be paid better or be more respected or not feel so much pressure based around their gender is change.

There are many reasons why we shy away from change including that it can be difficult, in many ways we like what we’ve got, we’re not sure the changes will really be worth it, and we’re not sure we have the capabilities to change. Change can also be challenging because even if someone wants to change, the changes they want to make will affect others and others don’t necessarily agree with those changes. A prime example is politics, one group wants certain changes to happen because they think they would be very helpful, while the other group definitely doesn’t want to see those changes put into action. What’s one to do?

In the case of personal change the first person to think about is you. As long as the changes you plan to make won’t hurt yourself, your kids or partner or immediate family and friends, then you should go ahead and work on those changes. If the changes you want to make will have an affect others beyond your immediate scope of influence then you have to think about if there will be more wins as a result of the changes or if the future won’t be a better place as a result. In the case of women being able to gain positions of power in companies or getting paid better or being more successful, I would say that in most situations it’s a good thing, especially with regard to the pay aspect because there are more single moms than there are single dads who are trying to care for a family on only one income.  As far as success goes, I think anyone should be able to reach whatever level of success they dream of and are capable of achieving. I don’t think we should limit someone’s success based on their culture or gender or if they have a family or not.

Are you so focused on seeing things in only one way that you can’t see the benefits of change, especially when it comes to success? If so I encourage you to open your mind and do some research about the people, both men and women, who are achieving success today throughout the world. You may even learn something that can help you be more successful.

Write for Success

The first Thursday in March is World Book Day, so today I thought we’d talk about books and the lessons we as business owners can learn from books, and the people behind them. Let’s take a look at 3 March-born book guys and what they can teach us.

Dr. Seuss, born Theodor Geisel, wrote over 60 children’s books, and was also a political cartoonist, poet and artist. Many of his books seem strange and have made-up words and beings. Part of their appeal is the wild and crazy creativity that he showcases. Many of his stories are more than just funny words and creatures though, they tell an important story, or share an important concept with people, one of the most well-known being How the Grinch Stole Christmas. What’s the lesson for business owners? Sometimes the creative and the crazy just works. I don’t know any other authors whose works are as creative and they’ve had as much success and have become as much of a household name for several generations as Dr. Seuss’ books.

L. Ron Hubbard was the founder of the Church of Scientology, but was first known as a science fiction and fantasy writer. Using his writing background and doctrines he developed, he wrote the texts that are the “Bible” of the Church of Scientology. Whether you agree with the church/doctrines or not, I think there are two things we can learn from L Ron Hubbard. First, writing is an excellent launching point. Writing books is one way that many successful business owners, leaders and authority figures have gotten their start. Second, some things just sell, and one of those things is religion. Religious texts are some of the most recognizable literary materials in the world, bought in many forms and formats by people, and are really tied hand-in-hand with the success or notoriety of many religions.

Finally we’re looking at Randolph Caldecott who was an illustrator, but is best known for being the namesake of the Caldecott Medal, an honor given every year to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. Caldecott was successful as an illustrator, his illustrations/books were well known in his time (pre-1900). Some 40 years after Caldecott died the award and medal were created and named in his honor. One of the things we can learn from Caldecott as business owners is that sometimes you can be exceptionally successful if you do what you’re good at. Caldecott may have thought about writing books, after all lots of people are successful writing books, but pursued his gift for illustration and as a result not only had an excellent career, but has a prestigious medal named after him that continues to recognize and honor him over 100 years after his death. Writers are great and very important, but without illustrators children’s books would lose the majority of their appeal for children.

What have you learned from authors and illustrators that you’ve applied to your business?

Time for Transition?

This week I’ve been seeing some limos on the roads and talked with a friend who was looking into limos for her daughter’s prom and it got me thinking about the taxi/limo/Uber/Lyft etc. debate. I do support public transportaion, I think it’s great if we can travel in a way that looks out for the world that we all share. I do personally own a car and like driving. I have taken people to the airport or train station, but really appreciate when they find a ride back from there. I definitly think there are some benefits to having someone else do the driving, especially when you’re not familiar with the area. We’ve talked about the people side of this topic, let’s talk about the business side. Do all of these vehicle businesses provide a service? Yes. Historically is this a financially successful industry? Yes. Has there been competition ever since the wheel was developed and people started giving/getting rides to/from each other? Yes. OK, so we’ve established that this is not only a business category, but really an industry that has been around for quite some time.

Let’s talk about the debate. Yes, I can see the frustration from the side of the taxi/limo businesses because now the competition has greatly increased and they’ve lost a good portion of the control over the employees and the services that are provided. However, and here’s the reason that I don’t really side with the taxi/limo businesses in this discussion, there really hasn’t been anything different done in the industry. The premise is still exactly the same: people are contacting car/van drivers for rides to and from places. The two things that have really changed is that people can now order a ride through an app on their phone and there are a lot more drivers available.

If we look at it from an overall business perspective I would say that the industry as a whole is better off financially and there are more people than ever requesting rides. What the taxi/limo businesses really have to be mad about is the fact that they refused to advance like the world was asking them to and needed them to, and now they’re trying to catch up. I don’t know if they ever will but it’s a good warning to the rest of the industries (and businesses) that haven’t caught up with the advances of technology or the networking that’s available or the way people want more freedom and flexibility in their lives. If you’ve been avoiding some changes or next steps in your business, I encourage you to review those changes or steps over the last few days of this month and be ready to start March strong.

Secrets to Success: Passion and Drive

In thinking about President’s Day which is today in the US, I was reminded of exactly how much work is involved in becoming president and then in being president. It’s not something that you wake up and say that tomorrow you’ll be president, this is something that takes years of preparation, if for no other reason than you have to be at least 35 before you could be elected. But whether they’ve spent years working the political side of things or they’ve just started, presidents always have some type of leadership and success background. They’re not average Joes who come to Washington DC directly from a cornfield or wharf, they’re educated men who have life and leadership experience. And one of the reasons that some of them are more memorable and remembered favorably than others, is because of their passion for life and the job.

While most of us will never experience the stress and power of being president, success is something that we can all achieve. The past few weeks we’ve talked about different aspects of what can lead to success, and today I wanted to talk about one that anyone with any level of experience can bring to the table: passion and drive. Some people are successful not because of how many degrees they’ve earned at school or how well networked they are, but simply because of how passionate they are about what they’re working on and the unending drive they have to achieve that success.

Why is passion one of the keys to success? Because when others see how passionate and excited you are about the journey, they become excited too and want to be part of the journey and help you get there. But even if you’re not truly working with a team to achieve your success, your passion and drive can speak volumes to the people in your life who support you emotionally and verbally, like your partner and extended family. So often business owners and entrepreneurs speak of their early days and how they didn’t feel they really had the support of the people in their lives while they worked to get things rolling, and what a difference it made when they finally had that emotional support.

Whether you’re a business owner or entrepreneur or a stay-at-home parent if you want to see some immediate victories in your success journey, focus back on the passion that got you going in this direction in the first place. Bring that passion to life and refocus on your drive for success and you’ll have even more victories to celebrate.  What are you passionate about in your life or work?

Secrets to Success: Time for Teamwork

Something I’ve been thinking about as we approach Valentine’s Day as well as in my work with businesses and individual clients, is the importance of having a team behind and around you. We’ve been taking a look at some keys to success over the past few weeks and I think that the idea of having a team around you is something we sometimes take for granted. We take for granted that we can get a plumber out within 24 hours or sooner when we’ve got a leak, we take for granted that someone designed the refrigerator that we use to keep food cool and fresh, we take for granted that someone’s always behind the scenes taking all the calls that come in to the police stations around the country (and the world), we take for granted that someone’s making sure the technology is functioning so that we can get to our favorite websites and search engines at a moment’s notice.

But we also sometimes take for granted the people who are a lot closer to us. We just expect our employees to show up each day, we expect that our kids will go to school most days, and we expect that our partner will do the things around the house that they always do. When someone gets sick or something happens it becomes very apparent exactly how strong and capable your team and support system is.

One of the greatest challenges and opportunities for businesses and communities is to support the people who rely on them, the people who are part of them. The online reviews tell the stories of the good, bad and ugly experiences we have with businesses and their employees. The relationships we choose to keep and people we regularly interact with say a lot about those people and the type of person they are. Rather than trying to be everything for everyone, why not turn to those people that are around you literally, or are accessible through the gift of the internet? Why put yourself through the stress and pressure of trying to be everything and do everything?

We’re not alone in this life and it’s time that we stop living that way. It’s not dependency or a revelation of weakness to admit that you need help and other people around you. It actually makes you smarter and more likely to succeed when you have a team of people you can rely on around you. Today make sure to recognize the people who help you get through your day, and if you look around and realize you don’t have that team and network, start reaching out. Who makes your life better because they’re in it?

Secrets to Success: Schedule It

Today we’re continuing our look at little secrets to success with one of the things many find to be challenging: scheduling. The issue though isn’t really that we don’t like scheduling necessarily, but more often that our nice, neat schedules get messed up, adjusted, moved around and pre-empted. So it makes it understandably frustrating when we try to make schedules because they just don’t work out. Even though I have those same issues I still believe that having a schedule can be one thing that will help you be successful.

One of the things I think is noteworthy about schedules is that they reveal a lot about our priorities. If your schedule always has fitness and if something comes up during your regular time you don’t just skip it but move it to another space in your day, that says to me that fitness is very important to you. If your schedule includes a date night with your partner every week, that says to me that your relationship is something very important to you. If you consistently get up at a certain time every day so you can have a couple of minutes to look over the day ahead and have a cup of coffee so you’re somewhat sane by the time the kids are up, it tells me you’re a focused and organized person.

The lack of a schedule also reveals a lot about you as well. It’s not “wrong” to not have a schedule and to let the day take you as it will, but I think even those of us who consider ourselves free spirits probably do have some type of schedule, even if it’s just a list of things that we do at some point in time every day, or something like moving through the natural process of breakfast and getting ready for the day then work then lunch then work then dinner then bed, with some activities and engagements in between. You may be a very productive person with this type of free schedule, but today we’re kind of going on the assumption that you’re not as successful as you would like to be, and that having a schedule would help you be more successful.

So why should we use schedules? A schedule allows you to predictably and more consistently have the time you need to do things. It means you’re intentionally setting aside the time to do things that you think will bring you to success or bring you happiness or add value to your life.  Schedules also give you the opportunity to plan things out and make sure that you’ve got the time and resources in place for what you want to accomplish.

Not sure you’re ready to go full-blown scheduled life? Then start with writing a to-do list of everything you need to do over the next few days or weeks and setting up a chunk of time each day to work on that to do list. This will give you a way to get used to having a schedule in your life and see results very quickly because each day you’ll be crossign things off your list.

As far as how to schedule, you can of course use an app program on your phone or just the calendar app, write on a white board each day (and/or for the week), or have a paper planner or calendar that you use, or use a mix of all of them.

Do you use a schedule and what are the benefits you find in having one?