1. Who are you and what is your business?
My name is Niya Champaneria, founder of Websites in a Weekend. I’m a military wife, a mom to 2 teenage boys and a 5-year-old boy, and I’m a serial entrepreneur. I’ve been an entrepreneur since 2011 and I started when I still had a full-time job and was finishing up in college.
My parents were small business owners and I literally grew up in their back office (literally, I had a crib in the office). I was fortunate to see the ins and outs of owning a business at a young age, but also saw how much work they had to put in in order to achieve the life they wanted. I never really considered any other life for myself. I always knew I would have my own business at some point down the line.
Freedom – both time and financial – has always been my driving force. I always wanted to be independent and live life on my own terms, never having to answer to anyone. I moved out of my parents’ house as soon as I turned 18 and got myself through college working 2 or 3 jobs. After I graduated with a nutrition degree, I immediately started my own nutrition consulting business.
After a couple of years of taking on a few nutrition clients, I started to realize how important it was for me to be marketing. I knew nothing about it, but saw that other businesses had a professional website and figured I’d start there. So, I dove into figuring out how to build my own website and I started on the Wix platform (when it was still using Flash sites).
Colleagues started to ask me who built my website. When I told them that I built it myself, they asked me if I could build theirs too – and they would pay me to do it! This is how my web design business got its humble beginnings. I sent out an email to a few friends who also had a small business and told them I was trying out this new business and offered to build their website. I charged $297 for my first website client, and I got 6 clients in a week! Because designing a website came so easy to me, I felt like I had finally found something that would set me free.
Fast forward a few years and I graduated from the Wix platform and started to learn all things WordPress. The more I started to learn about online technology and marketing, the more hooked I became! I started to learn about marketing automation, social media, and advertising. I started my own marketing automation agency and took on some multi-millionaire clients, building their freedom-based sales funnels.
It was fun and lucrative, but I quickly realized that I had created a job for myself. I was stuck to my computer and my phone 24/7 and was working more hours than I ever had in my life.
My youngest son was around 2.5 years old at this point, and it was getting more and more difficult to raise my children and manage my agency. I knew there had to be a way to maintain my income but work less. I knew it because I saw other people doing it. There were several examples of successful entrepreneurs who were living the freedom-based lifestyle I wanted to live, but they had ultimate time freedom to go with it. I wanted that, so I set out on a journey to learn everything I could about passive income and leveraged business models.
I revived my old web design business, but this time, I took everything I had learned and everything I had done and started to put together a minimum viable product (MVP) – a productized web design service, where I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I got a new client.
It was also immensely important to me to have predictable monthly income, so I structured my pricing plans in a way that allows for monthly recurring revenue. I put together a front-end offer that is hard to refuse, that allows for predictable revenue for at least a year, and that leverages my time.
The first few months were rough in regards to income. My front end offer is a low monthly fee, so I really had to hustle the first 3-4 months to get some traction. In hindsight, what I should have done is offer a discounted pay-in-full option to jumpstart my income in the first month. Live and learn!
Right now, I’m sitting at around $6,000/m and the majority of that, I’d say around 40% of it is passive income.
My expenses for this business are very low. I pay for agency level accounts for hosting and premium plugins and add-ons, which means I get to buy in bulk and it usually takes only 3-4 clients to cover and exceed my monthly expenses. I invest more money into education and mentoring than I do to actually run the business.
2. How do you attract and retain your customers?
For this productized web design business, my first few customers came from a weekly networking meeting I go to in my hometown. I still go to this meeting and still get customers from it in addition to referrals.
Networking, word of mouth and referrals were the primary way I got my business off the ground. It worked extremely well and continues to work today. Today, I’m working on utilizing YouTube for advertising, as well as putting together an automated referral system to get new customers.
One of the things I found most useful in retaining my customers is to always lead with value. Offer the shiniest object first, then offer highly related and highly valuable add-on services and do it in a way that comes from a place of genuine desire to help your customers succeed.
I’ve learned that business doesn’t end once you get the sale, that’s actually when it starts. What you do AFTER the sale is what matters the most. I have an automated onboarding system for new customers and I check in with all of them on a regular basis. I’ve recently started a campaign that sends out a physical card in the mail to thank my customers for their business. This blows them away and ensures they have nothing but good things to say about me.
3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?
My biggest challenge in growing my business has always been time. I’ve always found it challenging to balance my personal life, family life, and business life. This is one of the biggest reasons why I turned to productizing my service-based business, to allow for more time freedom.
I’ve had to really learn how to compartmentalize, use time blocks and plan my days and weeks in advance in order to get a handle on things. My biggest lesson in business has been to stop trying to fit everything in. Stop trying to tackle the “symptoms” of being busy, and instead tackle the problem of being busy itself. How can you create a freedom-based business instead of one that relies on you as the main asset? How can you create multiple streams of income over time? How can you leverage other people’s time and money to give yourself more freedom? These were really important questions for me, and I’m in a lifelong pursuit of finding those answers.
My business today looks vastly different from when it started. I’ve probably gone through about 10 different iterations of this same business over the past few years. Nothing is ever perfect the first time, and you shouldn’t expect it to be. Simply get the first version out and tweak and adjust as you move forward.
4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?
My business wouldn’t function the way it does without the tools I use and love. As a tech geek, I’ve used so many different platforms I’ve lost count (and money!). I’ve always loved the idea of an all-in-one platform, but what I’ve found over the years is that if you want your business to function a certain way, in a way that you personally design, then an all-in-one platform is rarely the answer. I haven’t found one yet that does everything I need or want it to do. So I have a short tech stack that has consistently worked for me for the past 3 or so years and I recommend these platforms to all of my clients and customers.
My favorite tools are:
- ActiveCampaign for email automation
- ThriveCart for my shopping cart and sales funnels (upsells and downsells)
- Asana for project management
- Zapier for totally ninja automation
- Flywheel to manage the hosting for my web design customers, and
- Canva for everyday design needs.
I read at least one book a month and find lots of inspiration and actionable steps to take in them. One of my favorites is The ONE Thing by Gary Keller. The concept in this book has single-handedly increased my productivity tremendously.
I listen to Darren Hardy’s Darren Daily every single morning as part of my morning routine. This keeps me inspired and motivated. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod inspired me to create my own morning routine and this has helped create a sense of clarity and sanity in an otherwise roller coaster entrepreneurial ride.
I think the most valuable tool anyone can utilize in growing their business is aligning yourself with the right people. Don’t spend all of your time in free Facebook Groups where everyone else is struggling as much as you are. Invest a bit of money and join networks, coaching groups, mentoring groups where there are people more successful than you, who are doing what you want to be doing, and make it a point to participate, be active, and ask lots of questions. This alone will catapult you past others who rely solely on free information to grow their business. Having a community of like-minded, successful and generous people will have the biggest impact on you above anything else.
One of the best decisions I made was to align myself with the right coaches and mentors and find other entrepreneurs who think like me. Hands down, more than buying courses or reading books, this has been the ultimate game-changer.
5. What is your advice for those who are starting productized services?
If you’re considering starting a productized service-based business, my advice to you is to NOT start there. While lots of “gurus” will tell you that it’s perfectly acceptable to jump right into 3rd gear, this is a mistake I see happen over and over. It’s probably the reason why so many entrepreneurs fail. They see others doing something they want to do and they want what they have …right now. Never model your actions based on what someone else is doing, model your actions based on what they did to get there.
Every successful entrepreneur started right at the beginning. Do your due diligence, put in your reps, and learn your craft. Nowadays, you can really accelerate the time you spend in “phase 1”. But you still need to start in phase 1. Test your ideas in the market before creating them, do a little work for free or really low cost to get immediate feedback on your idea. Once you have proof of concept and you’ve refined your product/service past the first version, then move on up to phase 2! You can go fast, but don’t skip any steps. You’ll regret it later!
6. What are your plans for the future?
My goals last year were modest, however, now that I have some footing, my goals have gotten a bit loftier this year. I have revenue targets that are triple my current revenue and I have hired two web design VA’s to take over some of my projects.
I’m working on systemizing 90% of my business so that it can be handed off to someone else. I plan to do only what I should be doing as the CEO of my agency, which is vision and strategy.
In order to hit these targets, I’m creating new higher-ticket offers that align with my current offers and am putting systems in place to naturally over time upsell my current clients into these programs.
I’m going to be homeschooling my 5-year-old this coming school year, so I will again have to readjust my schedule and get reorganized. This is going to be challenging however, this is all part of the fun of being your own boss!
7. Where can we learn more about you?
You can reach me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/websitesinaweekend/
And on Instagram @travelingwebdesigner
Feel free to learn more about my business on my website at https://websitesinaweekend.com/ and reach out to me if you’d like to become a referral partner. I’m always looking for complementary services to partner with who can be of benefit to my customers and vice versa.