business development

20 Questions With Sam Cornielle

What is the name of your business?  

My company is Grey Ink Solutions which provides administrative support and consultation services specifically catering to startups.

Is this your first business?

Yes, it is my first but not my only business. I've worked as an admin for over a decade for a variety of businesses, law firms and entrepreneurs. I saw that startups tend to have hiccups if the business owner is overwhelmed with all the demanding aspects of starting a company so I became the extra set of eyes as they developed their model and made sure that nothing fell through the cracks. 

I formed Grey Ink Solutions to help businesses streamline their process, ease the demands on the owner and assist in maintaining the internal administrative structure.

What is the biggest reason for your success so far?

 I'd have to say that a willingness to adapt is probably the biggest reason for my success so far. I've tweaked and molded my business model to adapt to changing conditions and clients' needs.

What were the earliest indications that you might have a good idea?

I didn't start out thinking I had a good idea. I began to do freelance work some time ago and a startup that I was working for pointed out to me that I actually seemed invested, filled multiple roles, was able to identify vulnerable points in their processes and I provided alternatives that helped them to function smoother. 

I thought about how many virtual administrative assistants were per diem workers and compared that to admins that work full time within a company who are invested in its success. These admins usually can wear many hats. 

I understand that business won't always have the resources to hire someone full time to their team that has that attitude. So I decided to start a business that would provide more than just administrative support. My business focuses on each individual client and invests in their business, ensuring that everything that is done will create a smoother experience for the owner and their customer base.

What is working best for your marketing right now?

 I'd have to say referrals. Never underestimate the power of a happy client and their untapped network of friends and associates.

What is your biggest differentiator?

Well, Grey Ink Solutions is much more than per diem; I invest in my clients and their companies to ensure that they're performing at the maximum level. I point out the vulnerable points of the business, and provide solutions for anything that the company encounters. I have experience providing full administrative support but also managing customer relations, blogs and websites, and social media. 

Grey Ink Solutions is somewhat of a "jack-of-all-trades" so that a business doesn't have to seek out multiple people for multiple roles.

What is the toughest decision you've had to make in the last few months?

 I think the toughest decision I've had to make was to say no to potential contracts. I've had to learn to scale back on how many clients I take on at a time in order to provide each client with the best service and utmost consideration.

If it was possible, what advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?

 10 years ago I was too scared to start anything if there was a possibility of failing. So I'd tell probably myself: don't be afraid of making mistakes, failures are part of the journey.

What is your morning routine?

It honestly depends on the day of the week. For example, on Mondays I have to work for a client early in the morning so I'll be up by 6:00 AM and on my way to his facility. On days that I have a free morning, I'd wake up, shower, make breakfast and coffee, tend to my vegetable garden, read a book and play with my dog, Trinity before hunkering down to work.

Where is the best place to eat in your city? 

This is such a tough question! I live in the NYC area and there's such a large number of restaurants here. But I'll have to say it's a tie between: Bar Pitti on 6th Avenue near Bleeker Street (It's a cash only, amazing Italian restaurant), or Havana, Alma de Cuba on Christopher Street (they have incredible Cuban food).

What book do you recommend?

I recently finished the book, "Worth Every Penny" by Erin Verbeck and Sarah Petty. It's a good read for anyone who is looking to start a boutique business.

Favorite place to travel to?

Nicaragua is my slice of paradise. I experienced some of the freshest seafood on stunningly beautiful beaches. The areas I roamed were very secluded and most of the time, I had the entire beach to myself besides young local children who came out to surf after school each day.

What business would you love for someone else to start?

I'm not entirely sure what kind of business I'd like to see someone else start, but I would love to encourage anyone trying to start a business to consider building it with a cooperative model. When every single person working in the company is personally invested, they'll be more likely to put 100% into it everyday.

What is your favorite local business?

Rising Phoenix Media is a company that I've worked with to have materials printed. Their product quality, turnaround time and customer service is impeccable.

How did you finance your business?

I invested my personal savings into Grey Ink Solutions to get it off the ground and don't think I'll be looking into any type of external funding. I like the idea of having it grow from absolutely nothing.

How long before you took a salary?

I don't because the company is still young. I hope to within the next three months if it continues to develop as expected.

Do you have any co-founders?

 No, I don't have any co-founders; I started Grey Ink Solutions as a sole proprietor.

What position did you hire first?

 None yet. I'm not entirely sure I ever will. I'm enjoying the way my company functions now. I'm very practical and don't take on more than I can handle.

Who is your ideal client? 

Anyone working on starting a business and wants an admin on their team that takes an active interest in its growth is an ideal client! I love to be a part of the birth of any company and watch the creativity and potential unfold.

What advice do you have for new founders?

Don't quit because of tough obstacles! You'll only become stronger and wiser by working through the failures. My mentor told me when I started that "if you quit, you'll never know the taste of success".

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