Tammy Tamuno: „The biggest failure was relocating my business to Germany“

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von Nicole Paulus
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Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Can you tell our audience in your own words who you are and what it is you do?  

Tammy:
My name is Tammy Tamuno and I am a Nigerian based in Germany and I’m the lead education consultant of purplebook.ng.
Purple Book NG is a proudly Nigerian-owned education consulting company that assists students, or anyone who dares to study abroad, on the whole process; what schools to apply for based on your budget, the courses you’d like, what countries are providing support.
Basically what we do is help bring all of this information that is all over the internet to one place, giving you direct access to this information without having to research for months and months. We make life easy for you if you want to study abroad.

Tammy Tamuno
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Since this series aims to deliver transparent advice, let’s jump right into the nitty-gritty – what was one of the biggest failures you had when first starting out on your career path? What was the outcome?  

Tammy:
The biggest failure that I’ve had since I started the company is relocating to Germany in 2019. The relocation to Germany has been amazing but it took a toll on the business because the business literally started one month before I moved to Germany and having to run the business remotely (before remote work was widespread), was a lot for me. I was struggling to get clients. I was struggling to properly market and articulate what the company did or does. It was quite hard. In all of 2019 I had just one client.
That was the biggest failure ever. Well I think there is still a turning point to this because after that happened it made me understand the power of social media and how much you can use social media to grow your business regardless of where you are especially if you are selling a product or service that isn’t physical. You just basically find a way around it to reach your clients, your clients don’t need to see you. Thanks to Covid, remote work became more a thing and people got more comfortable with remotely doing business with people as opposed to physically meeting you in an office. They are now more open to Google Meet conversations, Skype, Zoom and all of that. That gave me the push to fully go into social media marketing.

Tammy Tamuno
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What is one piece of advice that has helped carry you through the hard times?  

Tammy:
I took a course from Harvard about entrepreneurship in 2020 during Covid. In that course, they said that regardless of the country you are in – there is always a loop. Find that loop and create a solution to that and start a business out of it. As long as you are solving a problem, people will always come to you and your business will always grow. Invest in your product or service and it will sell itself.
That strengthened my decision to put more effort into growing this service that I offered to people so that that service can sell itself.

Tammy Tamuno
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Is there anything about your journey that you would do differently, knowing what you know now?  

Tammy:
I would have started using social media earlier. I used social media early on, but I wasn’t consistent. I would post once a month, but I wasn’t consistent. That took a toll because my target market is all on social media. If you want to get in touch with these people, especially knowing that you don’t even live in the same country that your target market is, you have to use social media. You have to make sure you are in the faces of these people, constantly reminding them of what you do, so they are constantly seeing results, so they see effort, so they see transparency. They want to see the process. People don’t just want to see the end results, they want to see the process, what you do behind the scenes. People want to relate to your journey.
That’s something I didn’t learn in time but thanks to Covid, I learned it, but before then I didn’t know this. If I had learned this early enough, I would have been bigger than I currently am, I would have reached more people. It would have made a huge difference.

Tammy Tamuno
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What are some of the biggest barriers you have faced on your journey – internal and external ones?

Tammy:
The internal barriers; I still face some of these barriers. Whenever I get a new client, I still get shocked. Every time a new client pays, I think “Wow, people really do pay me for my services” It’s crazy. I don’t know. I am still in a state of disbelief, despite knowing that I bring value, it’s still very shocking that people still pay for my services. That has just been a thing. Another barrier I would say is that I don’t really like social media a lot. But I have to use social media to grow my business. There are times when I want to go off of social media and block out the negative news and pressure that comes from social media. But I remember that I can’t do that on my company page, I can only do that on my personal page. Because I have a brand to promote and in order for people to keep seeing me, I need to be consistently in their faces. The fact that I cannot find a good balance has been a struggle.
The external barriers; before I got to this point, I didn’t really think I was very much of an entrepreneur. I had the entrepreneurial spirit and all that but I had the issue of not knowing where to get funding or what to do. The country I come from doesn’t offer a lot of support for small business owners or entrepreneurs. They don’t focus on you. That was a very big deal. If you don’t have the money to start a business or a company then you can’t. You just have to find something that you can do without capital. So that was it, I started looking for something I could do without capital or a large social network.
Oh, and then gender. Trust me, a lot of my clients who have not spoken to me still call me a “Sir” because they think I’m a man. But it’s fine. I don’t have a problem with that. I am a woman. I am proud to be a woman. I’m proud to be a Black woman who is doing this. Whenever I have a chance, I try to remind them that there is a woman behind all of this. So it’s been a thing.
My focus mostly is Nigerians and Africans so I really don’t have problems in regards to my race because these are people of my race as well. I really haven’t had very extreme external barriers. I have been fortunate enough to know people of a high caliber, people that are known in the society and who have a huge following. These people stick by me, they have my back and they promote my business once in a while. And this really helps because people want to see that someone will vouch for you, especially someone who is well known.

Tammy Tamuno
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
How do you stay motivated in the face of rejection?

Tammy:
As much as I run this business, I also work in Sales in Germany. And I would say to you that it’s not actually very easy, but you should learn how to compartmentalize and separate the rejection from your personal feelings. For rejections, I always think to myself that maybe this rejection is coming from the fact that maybe I didn’t portray this product or service in a way that this customer would have found interesting enough. Or at this point, in this customer’s time or life, this customer doesn’t need this product or service. This rejection is a rejection for the service I am rendering, not for me personally. That way it doesn’t hurt my feelings. It helps me to learn more and see how I can promote the business in a better way so that I can get more positive feedback than negative in the future.

Tammy Tamuno
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What was one of the most recent failures you had (either personal or professional)? What lesson did you learn because of it?

Tammy:
To be honest, I cannot think of any because from the middle of 2021, it’s been a joyride. Everything has been going smoothly. But I do remember that I did have a little setback in July in 2021 where I hosted a workshop for students who wanted to study abroad. Though I only promoted a few slots, part of me wanted a lot of people to join because I knew the information I had was valuable. What basically happened is that I didn’t promote the workshop well. Compared to how much I know right now about social media, I didn’t have as much knowledge then. I hadn’t done enough trial and error. So it didn’t reach as many people as I wanted. It made me feel bad because it made me feel like no one wanted to hear the information that I had to offer and that no one really cared about the company. It was a little bit of a sad moment.
But it’s about compartmentalizing. It isn’t about you. Maybe they were too overwhelmed with other things they were doing and they just didn’t have time to attend that workshop. It’s all about timing for people. They have their personal reasons. It’s usually not about the company or what you have to offer. I learned a lot about trying to compartmentalize. I keep talking about the power of social media because it’s been the major tool that has driven the growth of the company.

Tammy Tamuno
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What piece of career advice would you give your younger self?

Tammy:
Before I came to start this company, as far back as 2010, that’s when I started doing my research on universities abroad, application processes, and all of these things. At the time, it was simply because I wanted to study abroad. I was doing this research for myself. After a while, I ended up studying in Nigeria which is where I’m from. At that point, after doing all of this research and feeling disappointed that I couldn’t afford to move abroad. I would have told myself, don’t worry, you’re going to put all this research into good use and you are going to grow a company. I had no idea that at the time all of the data I was gathering was going to be used to start a company. I was just doing it because I had a passion for it. I wanted to get a feel for the educational system of another country. I really wanted to explore different cultures, without actually knowing that this research would turn into an actual company. It wasn’t premeditated. I would tell myself “Keep pushing, gather as much information as you can, because you are about to start a whole company from this. And don’t give up. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise because you are doing amazing!

Tammy Tamuno
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Since March is Women’s History Month, the next few questions will focus specifically on womanhood and how it has shaped your journey thus far. Do you think being a woman has helped or hindered your journey?

Tammy:
I think there are two parts. I would say that being a woman has had its disadvantages at times because men are accustomed to manhandling big decisions like this, so they would prefer a man to handle it. I have had a lot of people thinking I am a “sir” so that’s how they would talk to me. Because my company doesn’t really have my face there, they aren’t sure who they are speaking with. That has been a negative part.
But if anything, being a woman has been an advantage because women want to relate with their fellow women. When people peer into my personal life to see what kind of person I am and they see me doing what I love to do like traveling to different countries, they will see it and they will want it for themselves. I’ve also noticed in the company data, we’ve had more women as clients than men. So it makes it easy for me. Even though we’ve had male clients, we’ve had a huge percentage of women.

Tammy Tamuno
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Is there any specific life or business advice you’d give women entrepreneurs or leaders?

Tammy:
As women, society expects a lot from us, especially in the 21st century. They expect us to be successful, they expect us to run businesses smoothly, they expect us to start a family and do that perfectly, they expect us to basically have a perfect life. But sacrifices have to be made. Sometimes you have to move certain things forward and my advice to women is not to feel bad if you choose yourself in the midst of all of this. If you are trying to run a business but things don’t seem so smooth, and it’s affecting certain aspects of your life, it’s ok to take a break. We are all human and we don’t have it all figured out. Let’s forget about what society says as women and for once let’s think about ourselves. Not just try to do what society has said we should do, but try to take some time off and just take care of ourselves in the midst of all of the chaos.

Tammy Tamuno
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Ok now for some fun questions. Got any hidden talents? Please share!

Tammy:
If this is a hidden talent, then ok, but I think I really like sleeping! Even though I have not been able to sleep as much as I would love to because there is a company that I need to run, I think if I went for a sleeping competition, I would definitely win. So that’s a hidden talent!

Tammy Tamuno
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What’s your guilty pleasure or favorite way to “waste” time?

Tammy:
I would say cooking because once I get bored, I want to try out new recipes, I want to whip up something in the kitchen – so it’s a guilty pleasure, if that counts. Otherwise I am just scrolling through Instagram to see what’s new and how we can run the business with that.

Tammy Tamuno
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
If you didn’t have to worry about earning money or paying bills – how would you spend your days?

Tammy:
I would travel the world! There are so many places that I want to go to but haven’t been able to because, well the bills have to be paid, the jobs have to be done, but I would really travel the world because of the few places I have been to, the world is beautiful. There is so much to see and I would really love to experience that. I would travel the world without even blinking.

Tammy Tamuno
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What’s your go-to song when you need a boost of confidence or pick me up?

Tammy:
That would definitely be “Like you” by Tatiana Manaoise

Listen to Tammy’s favourite song

Tammy Tamuno
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Thank you Tammy and good luck for the future!

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