360 PSG Founder Shares Entrepreneurial Spirit with WNY Students
Local businessman Joel Colombo started his first company when he was 19. The company - a retail computer store - was short lived, but it's failure helped lead to the formation of 360 Professional Services Group, one of the top-rated web design and development companies in Western New York, where he holds the title of President and Co-Founder.
A graduate of the University at Buffalo School of Management's Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, Colombo's background as an entrepreneur and successful business owner made him an ideal candidate to participate in a recent entrepreneurship seminar hosted by UB CEL for students at the Charter School for Applied Technologies in Tonawanda, New York.
UB CEL's Executive Director, Tom Ulbrich, facilitated the event where, as reported by the Buffalo News, "local small-business owners and members of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership met in a "round robin" format of small group discussions with about 25 students, sharing their experiences in business and their individual paths to business ownership."
The event was held as part of the school's observance of Global Entrepreneurship Week.
According to the school's director of development, Susan G. Toomey, "providing students with networking opportunities in the business community and exposing them to different career paths is part of the school's core mission." While the students in attendance had diverse career aspirations, ranging from culinary arts to engineering, discussion leaders used the opportunity to point out that entrepreneurship can take place in just about any form.
However, possibly the most valuable lesson of the evening was that there is no shame in failure. "If you are not open to learning from failure and taking calculated risks, business entrepreneurship may be a tough place to live," stated Colombo when asked about the subject. "It is incredibly important for our youngest generations to understand business and owning or running a company. They have to know that failure is very possible and most likely probable. I had three businesses before 360 PSG that taught me some very big (and often painful) lessons that let me shape this one and its successes."
Those lessons have clearly paid off. Colombo's current business, 360 Professional Services Group, has found success as a full-service web development and design company that provides high-quality, affordable web solutions to small and medium-size organizations. Having experienced over 5000% growth since 2005, his team has rapidly grown to consist of nearly two dozen programmers, graphic designers, web content and SEO professionals who work together to develop effective web sites and create custom applications for their clients.
Colombo's words of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs? "Be passionate about what you do. If you can tell yourself that you would be doing this whether you got paid or not... you have a shot at being a successful entrepreneur."