It’s no surprise that subscription box businesses are thriving today — people find the subscription model incredibly convenient, not to mention the emotional part of getting your monthly or quarterly box. The unconditional love for boxes is equally shared between happy subscribers and business owners. Fair enough, since who doesn’t enjoy monthly recurring revenue and low customer acquisition cost provided by the subscription box business model?

Whatever theme you choose for your subscription boxes, one rule of a successful subscription box business will always remain the same: start with a plan. The good news is that you don’t need to rush to type “subscription box business plan pdf” in the search box!

This guide explains how to create a subscription box business plan that will help bring your amazing idea to life.

Why is a business plan for your subscription box idea important?

A subscription box business plan is a powerful tool that will help you focus on the steps to make your idea succeed and attain your short-term and long-term goals. Remember that even the best business ideas can fail unless they are turned into a clear, viable plan.

A subscription box business plan is beneficial for smart decision-making as it helps you to focus on multiple aspects of your business at a time and ensure that nothing has been missed out. In addition, a business plan will help you spot potential weaknesses in your idea and start looking for ways to minimize them before your first subscription box hits the market.

Finally, if you aim at attracting potential investors, having a business plan is a must. In this case, you need to prepare a traditional business plan that demonstrates high chances of a successful subscription box business.

On the other hand, if you’re going to use your personal savings or soft loans from family and friends as your startup capital, you can consider preparing a lean plan, a lighter version of a conventional business plan. A lean business plan is a simple, usually one-page business plan that will help you start a subscription box business. A lean plan is concise; it’s faster to build and easy to modify. You can use it to draw up a robust strategy for your business, update it as you find out more about your customers and their needs as well as effectively monitor your performance as you go.

Creating a subscription box business plan 101

In a nutshell, a business plan covers several aspects of the business that you need to focus on, represented by separate sections of your plan. You can use the following subscription box business plan template to build either a traditional or lean plan. However, if you’re working on a traditional plan, make sure you provide full details to make the plan more comprehensive. And again, keep it concise if you’re writing a lean plan. 

1. Executive summary

An executive summary is an introduction to your business plan; still, consider writing it after all the other sections are ready when you’ve got some hindsight. Start with your subscription service name and your company’s mission statement. Next, describe your subscription offering and provide a brief overview of all the following sections of your plan.

2. Problem & solution

Successful subscription boxes are those that help customers solve their pain points. Describing the problem your box can solve is an essential part of your business plan since it validates that your idea is likely to work out. For instance, perhaps your box is more affordable than other boxes in the niche, or you deliver unique quality products that are difficult to find.

3. Target customers

This business plan section depicts the target market you expect to serve. Narrowing your potential clientele to a defined demographic will help you develop a sales and marketing plan. To create the most accurate picture of your target market, consider these key characteristics:

  • age
  • gender
  • location
  • income level
  • family
  • education
  • occupation
  • lifestyle

Also, explain the motivation behind this group’s purchasing decisions and briefly describe how your subscription boxes can help your potential customers meet their needs.

4. Competitive analysis & value proposition

Even though your new subscription box will be able to solve customers’ pain points, there are no guarantees that they won’t buy from your competitors who offer similar subscriptions. That’s why it is crucial to create a unique selling proposition that will differentiate your box from others within the niche. For this, you need to conduct a competitive analysis in the first place. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Identify your top three competitors.
  2. Compare the value of products in their boxes with their selling prices.
  3. Analyze their value propositions.
  4. Compare the number of subscribers your top competitors have.
  5. Explore what their subscribers are saying about the boxes: what makes them happy and what they want to be improved.
  6. Research their marketing channels.
  7. Finally, figure out what makes (or could) make your boxes stand out from the crowd.

The two best ways to create a key differentiation are delivering better value or a better customer experience to your subscribers. Let’s say folks pay a certain amount for your competitor’s box — you can offer better quality or more items for the same price. Or, you can provide your customer base with superior experiences, for instance, super fast delivery.

5. Pricing

Now, set and justify the pricing for your box. Don’t forget to include the costs spent on the box’s content, fulfillment, packing materials, transaction and platform fees, labor, and shipping. There’s a lot of moving parts to this, and it’s a pretty crucial step.

6. Sales & marketing strategy

It goes without saying that a viable customer acquisition plan is imperative when you are launching your own subscription box business. Your sales and marketing strategy section should explain how you’ll promote your business. Make a list of marketing channels you intend to use for promoting your boxes, for example, search engine optimization (SEO), influencer marketing, email marketing, social media platforms, content marketing, etc.

7. Business operations & operational cost 

This section of your business plan should cover logistics, technology, and other backstage aspects of your business, plus operating costs. In this part of your business plan, you need to answer the following questions:

  • Where will you source your products?
  • What packing materials and box will you use? 
  • Will you outsource the fulfilment and distribution of your boxes?
  • What kind of customer service will you offer (phone, email, live chat)?
  • Will you build your own website or use an e-commerce platform?
  • Which software and technology will you need?

8. Team

Next, list the people involved with your subscription business. Also, you can make assumptions about changes in your team as the business grows. You might want to engage more staff or outsource operations, for example, shipping.

9. Potential risks

Acknowledging potential risks will help you minimize them, so brainstorm possible obstacles that could negatively affect your business and devise ways to navigate them.

10. Financial plan

Since starting a subscription box business involves costs, it’s essential to include a financial plan to make sure that you are generating profit. The financial plan should contain these components:

  • sales forecast
  • expenses budget 
  • cash-flow statement 
  • income projections
  • assets and liabilities
  • break-even analysis

11. Appendix

This section is optional, so include it only if there’s crucial supplemental information, for example, charts or pictures.

Final thoughts

The planning phase is one of the most important parts of creating a subscription business. As a new subscription box entrepreneur, you’ll definitely find having a business plan helpful when planning how to sell your box. It will give you valuable insights into the subscription box industry, your competition, and your buyer personas. In addition, you will have a clear understanding of what it takes to kick off and grow a successful subscription box business. Last but not least, a good business plan is imperative if your goal is to attract potential investors.

By Zaki Gulamani
Editor-In-Chief at Subbly