3 Lessons Subscription-Based Businesses Can Teach You About Building Connections and Fostering Community

Here's why metrics and data alone won't help you reach the next phase for your business.

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By Chris George

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's going to sound controversial, but hear me out: Your metrics and data alone won't help you reach the next phase for your business. Don't get me wrong, they play a huge role in growing and scaling your company, but so do other assets that are perhaps less tangible.

The asset I'm referring to is your community. Whether or not you realize it, you've been building it ever since the day you launched your business. But are you nurturing it?

Entrepreneurs need community to succeed and thrive in today's hyper-paced, changing environment. In a constantly connected world, fostering a shared space of common interests and authentic connections can lead to increased customer loyalty, drive revenue and maintain growth.

When it comes to engaging with your community on a regular basis, the subscription business model is king. Here are three lessons I have learned from subscription-based businesses when it comes to building authentic connections and fostering community.

Related: Building Community Is Good Business

1. Prioritize the customer experience

Too often, organizations prioritize revenue over relationships. Previous research has shown that brands often create content based on their own needs and desires while failing to listen to what their audiences actually want.

Subscription-based companies are naturally suited to build a more customer-centric approach through multiple touchpoints along the user journey. They have increased visibility into first-party data to understand customer behaviors and personalize their offerings. The result? A meaningful relationship with their clients.

You may be afraid of the "S" word, but I assure you, implementing a subscription within your current offering is not as daunting of a task as you may think. You can start small by introducing an exclusive Facebook group open to your most loyal customers or launching a newsletter. You can go a little bigger by implementing a membership portal that offers premium perks (free shipping, exclusive access to product launches, discounts, etc.) in exchange for a recurring fee.

Ultimately, remember the heart of a community is its people. The most successful brands prioritize building a customer experience unique to their products and audiences.

Related: 6 Benefits of Having a Community When Building a Business

2. Stay committed

Being committed to what you're doing when starting or running a business is crucial. Commitment is the key every entrepreneur needs to stay on track with any plan as their business grows. When challenges inevitably come your way, commitment can help you rise above and keep your business on the right track.

When we were getting Gentleman's Box off the ground, we tapped every resource possible, worked tirelessly and stayed committed to our customers to create a completely unique experience that they simply couldn't receive on the retail level. We wouldn't have achieved what we did, like our seven-figure acquisition in 2020, if we didn't stay committed to all the levers we were deploying. It was a guiding post through our entire journey. I naturally use that same community-driven and committed mindset for every program and event we produce at our company.

This commitment can be tough, which is why the support of a community is vital. Research has shown that the majority of business owners believe mentorship has a direct impact on their organization and its growth. And leaders across subscription-based organizations agree that you need to surround yourself with others who are supportive and positive.

Entrepreneurs, business leaders and businesses derive many benefits from community memberships. A community of entrepreneurs, either in similar industries or not, can provide support, mastermind training and access to experts who can help grow a business. Some trade associations may even feature smaller communities for different roles, such as entrepreneurs, business managers and more.

For example, at SUBTA, we've built one of the most supportive communities of business owners there is through our event, SubSummit, the world's largest DTC subscription eCommerce conference. It's a great event where business leaders can gather to share ideas, learn about new trends in the industry and prepare for what's next.

Related: A Business Owner's Guide to Building a Community

3. Remember your "why"

The journey of entrepreneurship takes grit, resilience and patience. You won't become an overnight success. Rather, business owners must put in the time, effort and hard work to accomplish their goals. The road to company growth can be long, and it often leaves an owner feeling stuck and unmotivated. That's where a community can help.

Igniting your passion through an impactful community is not just for subscription companies. To begin, ask yourself what got you out of bed this morning. The answer will provide clarity for the reason behind the work.

Then, connect with your customers, whether through in-person events or digitally. Their feedback and support can help you hone your "why" and build brand affinity. When you see how your product or service is positively affecting your consumer base, it's much easier for you to stay motivated and inspired.

Chris George

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Leading voice of the subscription industry

Chris George is the co-founder and chairman of SUBTA, the first and only trade association serving the subscription space, and SubSummit, world's largest conference dedicated to DTC subscriptions.

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