Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Meredith Noble, Co-Founder of Learn Grant Writing, located in Anchorage, AK, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Practically, we teach people how to write grants. Learn Grant Writing was founded on the belief that our time should be spent adding real value to our communities and leading fulfilling lives. In our Global Grant Writers Collective, we provide a step-by-step system to help folks build a career in grant writing as grant writing professionals. The Collective is a year-long membership that includes online instructional videos, community, and coaching to teach you a step-by-step system for building a flexible career in grant writing. In addition to an ever-growing community and mentorship, there is live training offered twice a month.
The Collective was created for those looking for a career change that is interested in freelance grant writing or landing a new job with the added benefits of a lively community and steadfast peer support. We are passionate about serving women, specifically moms, although we welcome anyone who is aligned with our values!
Tell us about yourself
I quit my corporate job to launch a sexy startup. The period that commenced thereafter is what I call earning my 3-month MBA. My sexy startup idea failed before it really got started, and I started grant writing consulting out of desperation.
I also started teaching grant writing workshops and enjoyed it. I knew I was providing great information, but participants could only soak in so much at one time. Participants weren’t getting the complete transformation I was hoping to provide. I realized there were no options for learning to write grants in a modern, refreshing way. Existing options were “old school” and expensive. The idea? Create an online learning experience that makes grant writing approachable and fun.
We solve the problem experienced by hundreds of burnt-out professionals wanting to make a difference in their community while also getting paid well for it in a flexible schedule. A day doesn’t go by that we aren’t told that we have changed someone’s life.
One of our core values is Celebrating Wins. Members of the Collective are constantly sharing their wins, and it makes my heart so happy. One member who comes to mind is Jess Stack. Jess was formerly an elementary school teacher before becoming a grant writing consultant—a transition that took only six months. In her first year of business, she made over $55,000!
With her background in education, Jess was accustomed to being told how much her work was worth and not setting her own value. Membership in the Collective has helped Jess immensely with recognizing the value of her work (greater than she thought initially!). She now has the flexibility to schedule her days however she wants, work with organizations she is aligned with, and still be a rockin’ mom to her two children. Stories like Jess’s inspire and motivate me in my work.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
In August 2020, I brought on Alex Lustig as a cofounder. Despite taking a 35% pay cut, Alex chose to work with me, and it felt like one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. Her willingness to risk the security of making her mortgage payment to join me was validation that we must be onto something.
Together, Alex and I overhauled our business model. We conducted a series of informational interviews to uncover what our favorite customers wanted and needed. We discovered that technical grant writing education was but a fraction of what they wanted. They were stuck figuring out how to turn that into a viable career you could do from anywhere.
We relaunched on January 1, 2021, and nine months later, we hit $42,000 in monthly recurring revenue. Not a bad turnaround considering we almost gave up.
Now, I consider my biggest accomplishment to be having a 9-person team that is paid well, along with providing a flexible work environment to support the mothers of young children on my team. Along those lines, I am currently entrenched in an obsession with Cal Newport’s book on Deep Work. We are in the earliest stages of experimenting with what a 24-hour work week can look like for all of our team members. Stay tuned!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the most challenging aspects of being a business owner is making decisions. It is imperative to have a framework for filtering decisions. Without a framework, it is far too easy to get lost in the weeds and distracted from your primary goal. For example, in the past, our #1 goal was to become a $1 million/year company.
The question we asked ourselves when faced with a decision was: “Does this action help us become a $1 million/year company?” From the little decisions to big decisions, every choice we made was filtered through that key question so that we could remain laser-focused on our end goal.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start before you are ready.
Small but consistent action is more important than big, swift moves. We tell the members of our Global Grant Writers Collective to start with five informational interviews. Everyone starts at the same place, making their first $1,500.
- Develop a strong question to filter your decisions.
You will be presented with many distractions guise as opportunities. It is important to be intentional about what you say “yes” to so that your dreams don’t get put on the back burner.
- Focus on one marketing channel.
It is tempting to compare your business to businesses further along that are seemingly in all places all the time. You will build much faster if you focus on one single channel. Ours is search engine optimization. Others use social media. Yet others partners. Podcasts. Speaking. You have a lot of options; choose the channel that makes you most happy and go all in.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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