How to Become an Entrepreneur

Joey Edwards is an entrepreneur who lives in Eugene, Oregon. He owns a successful DJ and event planning business, Pro-J DJ and Event Services, which he built from the ground up. Joey specializes in DJ services and event planning for weddings, school events, and non-profit fundraising. His gregarious, friendly disposition makes him a crowd favorite. In the past two years, Joey’s business has grown from a hobby to an extremely successful small company that keeps him booked on most weekends.

In your words, what is an entrepreneur?

The textbook definition is someone who uses risks or initiative to build capital or profit. Essentially, someone who takes risks and manages those risks to build a positive outcome is a great definition of an entrepreneur.

How did you become an entrepreneur?

It sort of happened by accident. I had a dream to start a business when I was in high school. I wanted to do something that no one else was doing. I took a love for music and a love for entertaining people and tried to figure out how I could combine them to make money. Being pretty young at the time made it a little bit more difficult. With my hopes and vision of combining the things I loved the most, I began trying to meet people in the area that were doing what I wanted to do. The scariest part of doing this, and entrepreneurship in general, is that you don’t necessarily have a trajectory, more so just an end goal. The trick is to be a few steps ahead of what is coming at you and to know how to react to maximize potential growth and capital. Now, because of following this, I own a DJ company that is successful and generating decent profit after only two years.

Are there common misconceptions about being an entrepreneur?

Probably the most common misconception is that it happens overnight. I have seen other people try to do what I am doing and fail. Entrepreneurship is taking a risk and hoping for reward. The risks you take along the way are not flagrant or boisterous, but well thought out and highly calculated. You have to know what is expected of you and be realistic when realizing that a positive outcome may be weeks, months, or even years down the road. You have to be prepared to endure and persevere through whatever you need to in order to reach the end goal.

What is a typical day like for you?

Each day is different. I have a day job as part of the leasing team for an apartment complex, so that keeps me busy too. My day job takes my time from 8-5 Monday-Friday, and my DJ job takes almost all of my other time. Essentially, each day is very busy.

Every day, I have to be able to communicate with people of all types and all backgrounds. Whether this means email, text message, or face-to-face communication, I need to be always aware of what my customers expect of me and when they need it by. In order to obtain this information, I need to actively (and often proactively) communicate with them.

There is really no “typical” workweek for me. I am free when I am not booked to DJ, working in the background to support the needs of my business (buying supplies, doing equipment maintenance, etc.) or working at my day job.

What are your favorite aspects of being an entrepreneur?

Despite the hard work it takes each day, every day is also fun. Every day and every event is entertaining and fun in its own way. I love working with people and being able to serve them in creating their special memories. It is exciting to think that at some point, my company may be strong enough to grow to support and employ other people. Entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be just a DJ business — it can be literally anything, which makes the possibilities exciting.

What are your least favorite aspects of being an entrepreneur?

There is a lot of sacrifice in doing what I do. I don’t get to see my family or friends as often as I like. There is some stress associated with running your own business too. As what’s called a “sole proprietorship,” I am the only responsible person that runs the company. Much of my personal money is invested in what I do. Because of this, much of the gain is also mine, but when things are struggling, it is my personal money that is at stake.

Is there anything you would have done differently while first starting out?

I would have saved more money before getting started. I was in debt when just starting out (which is not abnormal for new companies big and small). I also wish I would have taken some business classes to help me.

What classes did you take in college or high school that are the most relevant to your job?

I took many leadership classes that helped me understand the importance of working with people. Leadership and student activities were also important because I was the main person working with prospective DJs and other entertainers.

What personality traits do you think would help someone to be successful as an entrepreneur?

Enjoy working with people. Starting any business is all about who you know. People that I met briefly three, four, even five years ago have been called in to help me with certain aspects of starting my business. The more people you know the better.

What personality traits do you think might hinder someone’s success as an entrepreneur?

Someone who is not adventurous, someone who doesn’t have much internal drive or perseverance, or someone who doesn’t enjoy positive outcomes from navigating stressful and risky circumstances — are all descriptions of people who may not enjoy entrepreneurship.

What advice, or words of caution, would you give to a student who is interested in becoming an entrepreneur?

The key to taking calculated risks in being an entrepreneur is to have as much information as possible. If you can take business classes or leadership classes or have the opportunity to gather any type of information from other people and sources — DO IT! This gives you an idea of what works well in your desired area of entrepreneurship. This also allows you to see what you would like to do differently in your own work. I would strongly advise that you take as much time as you think you need as an exploratory period and double it. Take time to learn and prepare. This is key in being successful and minimizing early losses that can damage a growing business permanently.