Headshot of Tammye Brownlee, owner of Prime Proposal Group.
Tammye Brownlee, Founder of Prime Proposal Group, shares the ways in which her business has adjusted to recent struggles and the business tactics from which she's gleaned success. — Prime Proposal Group

Tammye Brownlee loves winning. “When my clients win, I win,” said the owner of Prime Proposal Group.

Since 2019, her company has helped small and minority-owned businesses bid on federal, state, and local contracts, achieve certifications, get grants, and assisted with strategic planning, website design, brand development, and more.

Brownlee worked in universities, corporations and nonprofits in events and partnership management, corporate development, and strategic alliances. But for 25 years she also wrote grants and requests for proposal (RFPs). “My side hustle overshadowed my job. I had so much demand that it got to the point where the side hustle could sustain me. I can make in one month what some make in a year. So, I took the leap,” said Brownlee, who is also a recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Coalition to Back Black Businesses (CBBB) 2022 Enhancement Grant.

In her short time in business, she has worked with some 400 clients—and she has seen results. From January through June of this year, she helped clients close more than $30 million in awards. But while business is booming, that’s not to say there haven’t been challenges.

Be ready to pivot

The evil twins of the pandemic and rising inflation hit her client base. Some of them have suffered revenue losses and others, particularly her transportation clients, have been affected by rising gas prices and have had to lay off staff.

As a result, she adjusted. “I put some clients on payment plans,” said Brownlee.

Pre-pandemic conferences were also a way for her to network and get new business. When conferences stopped because of the pandemic, she responded by bolstering the company’s digital presence, and increased the use of email marketing.

Focus on quality, not quantity

Like most entrepreneurs, Brownlee has experienced growing pains.

When she started her company, she had three vice presidents and about 15 independent contractors. “The focus was on volume. I thought I needed a lot of people to get the revenue I wanted. But quality went down,” says Brownlee.

She then switched to a “less is more” strategy. Brownlee now has three design assistants and one federal grant review panelist who reviews grant applications for accuracy and completeness, and she does all the writing to maintain writing integrity. “The shift to quality and a boutique model is serving us well, allowing us to focus more on quality over quantity. We now handpick the right firms to work with to develop and implement growth opportunities in a sustainable and profitable way."

Get a team of advisors to help keep you compliant and afloat financially.

Tammye Brownlee, Founder, Prime Proposal Group

Build a team of advisors

Brownlee has learned some things the hard way, like taxes. “You’re making a lot of money, say you brought in $1 million, but there’s this tax bill for like $300,000 that you weren’t expecting,” says Brownlee. After her first year in business, she got an accountant and other advisors. That’s one piece of advice she has for other entrepreneurs: “Get a team of advisors to help keep you compliant and afloat financially.”

Keep seeking new opportunities

Right now, though, she’s looking forward to relaunching her nonprofit to teach youth and POC entrepreneurship and eyeing expansion of her Miami business, that has many Midwest and Southeast clients, to include the West Coast and specifically Silicon Valley. “My research says there are a lot of POC business owners there [who] need support. I want to see how we can help bring their vision alive.”

That’s what she does. “It’s about delivering results, winning.”

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Published August 19, 2022