Meredith Noble of Learn Grant Writing: Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
23 min readFeb 27, 2023


Dreamy customer journey mapping. The most important thing you can do is get really close to your customer. Have informational interviews with them where you record the interview, go back and transcribe the interview, and then study the language that they’re using. Within their interview is the answer of their hopes, dreams, and fears. When you understand that you can build a solution. You can build a product that resonates, and you can write email copy that feels like it is written directly for them.

As a part of my series called “Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Meredith Noble.

Meredith Noble is the Co-Founder and CEO of Learn Grant Writing, Meredith inspires other women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. She secured over $45 million in grants before teaching others how to build a flexible career in grant writing. Meredith is a fifth generation black angus cattle rancher from Wyoming now living in the mountains of Alaska.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I fell into this career by complete accident. I graduated in the 2008 economic recession when there were no full-time job opportunities for my skill set. I stumbled upon Charlie Hoehn’s Recession Proof Graduate guide and it was a very different approach to finding a job that resonated with me — everything except for the part about doing the work for free. I leveraged the informational interview method that he taught and landed a job with the City of Spokane Wastewater department. This was a new job they created for me.

I had since used that method to see what other doors I could open that didn’t necessarily exist. That led me down a path of interviewing 40 to 50 engineering firms in the Spokane Coeur d’Alene, Idaho area. Within a few months I knew every major player and had several part-time freelance opportunities offered. One of those was to write grants for a small transportation grant program. I absolutely fell in love with the work. I loved the technical aspect of the work as well as interfacing with the technical engineers, the small town community, and the funders. I could navigate between that “Bermuda Triangle” effortlessly. That role led to a full-time job offer as a grant writer for an engineering firm. This was an amazing career for five years until I burned out, pledging never to write another grant again.

Of course, you should never say never! Fast forward a few months and I was teaching grant writing workshops to people that wanted to learn the skill. The problem with that was that I didn’t feel like I was transforming people’s lives. Whether I was sharing knowledge over a coffee break or even over a three-day workshop, it wasn’t enough time to put to work the lessons I was teaching them and for them to have a place to ask questions.

I was pondering this as I went home to help my father with the calving season. I grew up on a ranch and I was home in April because I was unemployed and flexible. While I was sitting out in the tractor in the hayfield for hours and hours every day, it occurred to me, I could teach my knowledge online through an online course. A day later I was targeted with an ad by Kajabi to create an online course in 30 days. I gave it a go. That was five years ago, and I’ve learned a whole lot about what not to do, even more so than what to do, in building a seven figure business.

That is the beginning of how my career path started: falling into grant writing accidentally, loving it, falling into entrepreneurship thinking I would never touch a grant again only now to really be the queen grant writing unicorn of our industry.

Can you share the most interesting or funniest story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Truthfully, the very early days of when my business was finally starting to take off hold some of the most fun and hilarious stories. I wrote my first book How To Write A Grant: Become A Grant Writing Unicorn. When you self-publish, you receive an author’s copy to double check that everything looks good. The back cover was too small of a font and my designer, my boyfriend at the time, enlarged the font and re-uploaded the file so it was easier to read.

Then, the book launched. I had an epic launch team in which we gathered over a hundred reviews in just a few weeks. I ended up ordering over 100 copies of the book. When the book arrived, I had already discovered that our editing of the back cover did not quite work. We made the font larger, but somehow ended up dropping the last sentence.

My back cover was missing an entire sentence, which was supremely embarrassing for someone that teaches people to do quality control and check their work. I’m a writer, nonetheless. I was far too mortified to open the box of books and it just sat there next to my desk, a symbol of massive embarrassment for me.

Finally, I was challenged to open the box of the books, and when I did, I was surprised to see that a new final sentence had been added onto each of the books. That was because my boyfriend at the time and his twin brother had gone through the books and added new final sentences that were funny and super encouraging. They drew on the books and helped me laugh at the experience of what it means to make mistakes, laugh about it, and recognize the imperfect process of being a creator.

The lesson I learned from that experience was it is vital to have fun doing this work or you will not stick with it. Now we seek any sort of opportunities to celebrate the little moments including selling my first course. My housemates framed a $1 bill symbolic of the first dollar made.

I’m an author and I believe that books have the power to change lives. Do you have a book in your life that impacted you and inspired you to be an effective leader? Can you share a story?

The concepts taught by Dan Martel in his new book Buy Back Your Time: Get Unstuck, Reclaim Your Freedom, and Build Your Empire have been one of the major reasons we have been able to scale to seven figures. We somehow managed to talk our way into his SaaS accelerator even though we really weren’t quite a SaaS company, though we operate like one to the best of our ability. In that program we learned all about time buyback, the concept of putting your time and the tasks that you do into these different buckets. Is it a $15 task, $50 task, $100 task, or $500 task? Then, we worked to hire out help for the $15 tasks. We hired our first assistant and started writing our first SOPs, standard operating procedure playbooks.

That prompted one of my biggest lessons learned: that your first hire won’t be the right hire because you yourself are learning the important skill of hiring and what to look for. Learning how to systematically hire someone to help take things off my plate and off of my co-founder’s plate freed us up to work on higher value, higher impact activities. If I was completely bogged down, then I would not have been able to build the business that we built.

That only became truly accelerated by the fact that in 2022 I was significantly and severely sick. I lost my voice multiple times and was fatigued beyond reason. I thought I had cancer or some sort of autoimmune disease. It was very scary. I was forced to give up more things including the tasks I really enjoyed like marketing. What a blessing that was because by learning the process for how to hire for buying back my time, I’ve been freed up to look ahead and figure out how we chart ourselves from a seven figure business to an eight figure business.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am very curious about ChatGPT and artificial intelligence in general. I’m curious how it will affect the careers of professional writers. There is a general consensus that it is here to stay, and it will impact us in some way or another.

Some people are dismissive of AI technology or have become fearful that computers will take us over.

I choose to take a different perspective on this because this is to be expected. We have always progressed, and we have always come up with some new technology that changes the way we work. The advent of the computer, the advent of the internet, and the advent of the cell phone are all things that now we can’t imagine living our lives without. At their advent we were very scared about how they would incorporate smoothly.

I have started to really dive deep into researching what AI technology means for writers and how we can potentially build our own software solution that builds out a proprietary model for grant writers. All of that is a way off, but it is something that I am very excited about looking into.

Awesome! Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Let’s talk about what you are doing now, and how you achieved the success that you currently enjoy. Can you tell our readers about the business you’ve created?

I am the co-founder of the Global Grant Writers Collective, an online community and online program teaching those that are burnt out in their careers wanting more flexibility and purpose to become well paid grant writers. The success that we’ve achieved has come down to three major plays:

  1. Getting our price and our offer right
  2. Building playbooks, the SOPs for every task in our business that is repeated
  3. Extreme focus

We have an evergreen offer, meaning someone can join our program at any time of the day or night. We do not operate under launches like most of our peers in the industry do. That is because launches are a lot of work, and we did not want to live our lives that way. We wanted people to be able to join when they felt like it.

We believe the real secret sauce in what we offer is our community group, which we host on a platform called Circle. Circle is like an ad free Facebook and Slack. We really cannot imagine living without it. It is professional, clean, and helps organize conversations and connections.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

In my first year of business, I listened to a podcast episode on Reid Hoffman’s podcast Masters of Scale. He was interviewing Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb. Brian was sharing how he went through the mental exercise of what it means to offer a five-star business. Well, a five-star experience is what everyone expects. So, what does a six-star experience look like and a seven-star, an eight-star, nine-star, 10-star, and 11-stars? An 11-star experience is Elon Musk landing a rocket right outside your Airbnb. You’re getting in it, you’re going to space, and you’re getting to take a tour. Realistically, that is next to impossible to be able to provide as part of an Airbnb experience.

However, when you back up now all of a sudden a seven-star experience doesn’t seem so crazy. This might look like making a reservation for the guest’s favorite type of food in town that requires an advanced registration or having a bottle of wine and snacks available in the Airbnb unit at no extra charge to the guest. That is a seven-star experience. Now we kind of take it for granted, but at the time we did not. I have embodied the principle, and, in fact, it is one of our core values to deliver a seven-star experience for our customers. We go above and beyond what they’re expecting to surprise and delight our customers at every turn.

One of the ways we do this is if we find out that one of our customers just had a baby or is going to, we will mail them a little unicorn onesie. We have a variety of very cool custom swag. We mail them at certain milestones along their grant writing journey. We’ve studied their journey to success. We understand when they are nose-diving into the valley of despair and what interventions we can take to help them get back onto the track for success. Most other companies focus on getting the customer to buy and then say it is their responsibility because the material is available. We simply do not agree with that. We think it is vital to be completely obsessed about your customer’s success and designing a solution that helps them get there.

What was your vision when you started this business? What’s the WHY behind the work that you do?

When I started my business, I stumbled upon a Forbes article. It shares that less than 2% of women owned founders break the seven figure mark and three times as many men hit that same financial milestone. I was so bothered by it I decided then and there I would figure out how to build a million-dollar company. I knew that once I figured it out, I could help bring other women through that same journey because you do have to go somewhere first before you can teach it.

We figured out how to build a grant writing consulting business to $250,000 plus a year in revenue. That is something we teach our customers how to do because we’ve done it and know how to get there.

A financial goal might not seem very altruistic, but it is when you focus on how you help other women founders get there. This is important to me because when women have money, they spend it. They don’t squirrel it away and hold onto it for themselves. They spend it in their community. They invest in their childrens’ music lessons which directly supports someone else’s career. They invest in political campaigns. They take care of themselves. They’re better humans and better leaders. Everything is better when a woman is well-funded.

It’s important to us that our work inspires more women to try their hand at entrepreneurship. You don’t have to decide that’s the path for you, but I want you to at least know it’s available.

We’d love to explore the traits that help you achieve your success. What were the mindset obstacles that you had to overcome in order to reach the place of earning a million dollars? Can you tell us what you did to overcome them?

I understood I needed to start making million-dollar decisions to build a million-dollar business. In my first year of business, I kept a list next to my desk of all the things that I said no to. What often ends up being a trap is that we are so enticed by all the increasing number of opportunities that are actually distractions in disguise that we never make those leveling up leaps. I knew that building a million-dollar business was available to me. I just had to figure it out. I knew I would become a million-dollar business owner. I saw it in my mind’s eye and I believed it in every cell of my body. I knew it was just a matter of time before I would get there.

One of my favorite business mentors is Rachel Rodgers, founder of Hello Seven. She has an audit where you can review your million-dollar life. There are seven ways that you are scored in living a million-dollar life. You’re scored for health, squad, legacy, mindset, business, and money moves.

My mindset is a 30 out of 30. For instance, when I set a goal, I assume I will succeed rather than assume I will fail. You never hear me using weak language like “maybe”, “hopefully”, “we’ll see how it goes”, or “if things work out”. I know my plan will work because I will take the necessary actions to ensure that it does. I do daily or weekly practices to keep my mindset strong, including visualization. Most mornings I do a morning reflection and I write down what is my one task today that will move me towards building a million-dollar company. I am grateful for what I have and I want more at the same time. My mindset is stronger today than it’s ever been in the past.

Beliefs like that are what I’m rock solid on and really want to encourage others to look at why maybe theirs wouldn’t be that strong. I do believe that it’s the mind that sets the course we’re on that makes everything else in our material life possible.

That said, what I don’t have any visualization for is what it means to build an eight figure business. I didn’t spend any time thinking about it. All I was obsessed about was hitting the million-dollar mark and not getting sidetracked. The problem is now we’re there. I have felt very visionless for how we are getting to eight figures and the actual vision underpinning that because it’s no longer just about a money goal to hit.

One of the most powerful things I’ve done to overcome the mindset obstacles I’ve run into now is investing in my own mindset issues. I’m trying to unpack why. Why do I sometimes lead from a place of fear? Who else is doing this that I can look at? I was at a conference recently where there were four black women running eight figure companies on the stage doing a panel interview. The way those women held themselves was so inspirational. They all had strong embodied personalities and styles. They were living thoroughly in their authenticity. That is the difference between the seven figure and the eight figure business owner. The eight figure business owner is fully leaned into themselves as an individual. That’s now what I’m looking at doing myself. How do I take myself to my next level I haven’t even met yet?

What were the external obstacles that you had to overcome in reaching these milestones? And how specifically did you overcome them? (Please share a story or example.)

When I was first launching my business, I knew people weren’t comfortable yet with learning how to write grants online. They were accustomed to going to an in-person workshop. I knew I needed to do a workshop even though I wanted to sell them the online course. I had very little time to execute this. I’d come up with the idea in early December 2019 and booked the venue for the third week of January.

I started calling around my mentors in the community to ask for advice. Who should I try to partner with? What are some tips that you want me to think about?

One of the mentors I had most admired asked me, “Meredith, can I be honest with you?” After I said of course, he responded, “I’ve seen your type before. You insist on doing everything yourself and then you don’t get anywhere. You won’t go anywhere.”

You can only imagine how much that comment stung because I was leaning into the scariest thing I had ever done professionally by hosting an event of this size. I had booked a theater with 250 seats to fill and had accidentally booked it the same day as the largest nonprofit luncheon. It was too late to change the date because I’d already had some registrations.

Those are the kinds of external obstacles that I mostly encountered and do still to this day. Often when you’re a strong visionary, people can’t see what you can see yet. Their own fear and projections will get dumped all over you. That can completely squash your progress and your ambitions if you’re not careful. I am very cautious now about who I share my boldest dreams with. My biggest, scariest dreams are in my own head incubating. I am not going to let someone else poo poo on them until I have moved them forward.

Was there ever a point where you wanted to give up on your journey to creating a million dollar business? How did you work through that panic point? Please share a story.

Oh, you bet there was! I was so close to giving up. To think I might have just had a regular old job and never built this seven figure company makes me cringe today. The major takeaway here is when you’re most on the brink of giving up, that is the time when you most need to hang on because success is on the other side. In November of 2020, I had a co-founder join me. We had shut down the consulting business and our cash flow was dwindling quickly. We simply were not getting enough new leads or customers to be a viable business. We also were not charging nearly enough, which I didn’t understand at the time.

I’m a visionary. I have no problem coming up with ideas and yet I was out of ideas. It was the pitch black darkness of Alaska, November heading into December. That was hands down the lowest, scariest moment for me because I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to fail when I knew it had to work. I just didn’t know what to do. My co-founder and I decided to have what we called a Learning Day. Learning Day means no business is taken care of. We just get to go online, read books, and investigate resources that can help solve problems we have.

My co-founder found a program that no longer exists today, but it was an online program designed for course creators to build courses that made $10,000 monthly recurring revenue. That is what we wanted: monthly recurring revenue (MMR) not starting over from zero every month. We signed up for the program. We could not afford it at all, which isn’t necessarily an approach I would recommend, but at the time I worried I was being vulnerable because I was so desperate for an answer.

We leaned into that program with everything that we had and in three weeks we interviewed our ideal customer, decided who to focus on, overhauled our offer, and completely changed the wording on our website and in our email copy. We built a new webinar and sales funnel. Essentially, we built a brand new business.

Then, we launched. We went home for the holidays to take a breather before hitting January 2021. To my absolute surprise, people started to buy. I was home resting and sales were coming through. In the next month alone, we did more than we had in any previous month. The best part? That was just revenue from one month, let alone the fact that they were on a 12 month payment plan. We would be seeing that revenue grow month over month over month.

It’s not that there aren’t times we need to quit. I think it’s important to know what those check-in points are because you don’t want to keep muscling something through. My first startup that I quit my job for failed within three months and it needed to just be quit. It needed to be set down and not touched. There was no way forward with it. It is a little hard to sometimes know the difference, but I knew this online course business had potential. I was just missing some key skills, strategy, and knowledge to unlock a solution. I am so glad we did because we went from a loss of $20K in the month of December 2020 to $98K MRR last month in January 2023.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Oh absolutely! I would not have any of the success that I have today if it were not for my co-founder Alexandra Lustig. Alex came to me when we were in the thick of COVID and I had hired a bunch of my students to fill several current writing consulting contracts. She’s a project manager as well as great with culture and skill building. She switched us to Asana so we were using an actual project management system. She took everything that was in my head and truly systematized it. That formed the basis of what we teach today, which is how to run a consulting business and make great money doing it.

A few months into our journey she asks to talk. If you’re a woman and somebody tells you we need to talk, it means one of two things: you are getting broken up with or you’re about to get some very harsh feedback. We went down to the lake, which is where we’d worked in this little remote town in Valdez, Alaska. Through tears, she said, “This is the best five hours of my whole work week. What can I do to come work with you full-time?”

She hadn’t talked to her husband about quitting her job and coming to work for my fledgling little startup, but we worked out a plan. I told her I could pay her what I was paying myself at the time, which was $50,000 salary and I offered the rest of her compensation through equity using the slicing pie model.

Fast forward and things were looking grim. It was ultimately Alex who had found the solution on how to dig ourselves out of our conundrum. She has built the best parts of our business: the systems, the culture, the intentionality, and the focus on equity. I don’t know where we would be if it weren’t for Alex. She’s not only the best co-founder I could ask for, she’s also my best friend and a total soul sister.

Great! Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue”. Please share a story or an example for each.

Here are the five strategies I use to grow my business:

1 . Dreamy customer journey mapping

The most important thing you can do is get really close to your customer. Have informational interviews with them where you record the interview, go back and transcribe the interview, and then study the language that they’re using. Within their interview is the answer of their hopes, dreams, and fears. When you understand that you can build a solution. You can build a product that resonates, and you can write email copy that feels like it is written directly for them.

We go through an exhaustive customer journey map process every year. It’s not a one and done process. It’s something we do very formally once a year. It was in this process that we turned our business around and determined which customer segment we really wanted to focus on. It gave us the clues of what our product roadmap needed to look like to help our customers reach their desired success.

2 . The power of one to seven figures

This is a lesson we learned from our business coach Dan Martel. Essentially, you can build a seven figure company with one product, one customer, one distribution channel, meaning one marketing channel, one price point, and doing that for at least one year. We followed that simple formula and sure enough we built a seven figure business: the Global Grant Writers Collective. Our distribution channel is SEO which includes Google, YouTube, and Amazon.

Too often we see folks in our industry try to build several different solutions instead of building it all into one unstoppable offer. We are a big fan of courageously going narrow and building one product that is the undeniable industry best.

3 . Data, not drama in pricing

One of the measurements we often hear referenced in our industry is the cost to acquire a customer. There is this message out there that says if it costs you $100 to acquire a customer but you make $101, then do that all day long because you’re still ahead. That is very misleading information because the cost to acquire a customer is not the entire picture; it needs to include the cost to acquire and service a customer. We use a figure that we call CASC which looks at not only the cost of acquiring a customer, but the cost to serve them over the entire year.

To do that we calculated the costs of the labor, marketing costs, and everything that needs to go into servicing someone for a whole year, which is our contract window. When we were first starting the business, our costs were pretty low because it was only Alex and I. We weren’t paying ourselves very well, but we built a budget that assumed what we would like to pay ourselves and other team members to reach that accurate figure. Then, we doubled the price of that cost to acquire and service a customer to know we would have the profit margins we wanted. That became our price point. I really encourage you to consider looking at pricing that way because it’s rooted in data to serve at the level you want to serve at.

4 . Build an SOP playbook

This is also a lesson we learned from Dan Martel’s program. The idea is if there is any task in your business that is repeatable, write it out in a playbook so there are directions on how to do it. You don’t have to repeat yourself in training a new person in that task. The most powerful example of this I can give is when my co-founder and I were both taking a month off from the business at the same time. We needed someone to mail swag to our customers, which is a fairly complex task in terms of all the different systems that you’re interacting with. We found someone, hired her, and she onboarded fully within three days. Thanks to our SOP playbooks, she was able to redeploy and hit the ground running. Due to that, we were not bothered on our month long break from the business and the business kept running smoothly. That is the power of having an SOP playbook.

5 . Embrace a seven-star experience

As I already mentioned earlier with the Brian Chesky interview, the co-founder of Airbnb, it’s vital you are obsessed with your customer success. Most recently, our Customer Service Director and Operations Director gathered to map out every bit of a customer’s journey. They examined the customer’s journey through their first year, second year, and third year to understand when customers are receiving certain emails from us, where they’re dropping off, and where they’re hitting success. Our team sought to understand every detail about our customer’s journey and to visually map it out so we could place additional interventions in their journey to ensure they’re achieving success faster. If you think about delivering on a seven-star experience, word of mouth will carry your growth through and retention.

We are sure that you are not done. What comes next? What’s your next big goal and why? What plan have you put in place to achieve it? Why is it a stretch for you? What will achieving it represent for you and for others?

My focus is still entirely centered around Learn Grant Writing and the Global Grant Writers Collective because of how much we believe in the power of focus. Our goal is to reach $5 million a year in revenue so we can have a new executive team that would allow me more free time to experiment with our next big thing.

As I alluded to earlier, the next big thing we’re starting to tinker with is what it could mean to have an AI assisted tool for grant writers. That’s what we’re looking into without forcing anything or trying to make any bold promises. It’s simply something we’re excited about and exploring right now, but a little bit too soon to share more details on.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

That’s quite the compliment!

The true movement that I want to inspire for women is to stop undervaluing their time and their expertise. There is an opposite of all ships rising and it’s called all ships sinking. That can happen too. That happens when we’re not charging enough and when we don’t think our time is worth something. There is a larger societal issue of not valuing the time that women spend in the home running households, running families, contributing to their communities, and all sorts of unpaid work. The time is well overdue to stop treating ourselves like our time isn’t worth something because it’s worth at least $100/hour. That’s how I mentally do the math on anything I give myself to.

A big part of what we talk about in the Global Grant Writers Collective is how to value yourself so others will value you as well. It’s a big undertaking. There are a lot of amazing influencers in this space that are helping with this like our hero Rachel Rogers over at Hello Seven. It’s something we’re passionate about as well because as I mentioned earlier, when women have resources, the world is a better place.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

Oh, you’re challenging me to dream! I’m here for it. I would love to have lunch with Rachel Rodgers. I am obsessed with learning from her and encouraging others to learn from her as well.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us and our readers. We know that it will make a tremendous difference and impact thousands of lives. We are excited to connect further and we wish you so much joy in your next success.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my perspective!