Eugene Cho

my 5 personal advice for entrepreneurs

I’ve been reluctant to share this article with folks but it’s too honest and raw not to share. Couple months ago, I wrote an article – at the request of Leadership Journal – about the “price of getting personally involved in justice.”

The editors of Leadership Journal entitled the article, “One Pastor’s Quest.” Honestly, it could have been entitled, “One Pastor’s Many Mistakes in Trying to do a Good Thing.”

As One Day’s Wages approaches its 1 year anniversary, what people mostly see is the growth and the positive attention it has received through individuals and media. But behind the scenes, it has been one of the most arduous and difficult seasons of my life.

I’d like to strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to read the full article – so that you might learn from my mistakes. Please…learn from my mistakes.

After having started three fairly large undertakings with planting Quest Church, starting a non-profit community cafe & music venue, and most recently, One Day’s Wages, I can tell you that I’ve made some mistakes and blunders along the way. There’s many and each of these can be a chapter of a book but here’s a quick summation of  some of them. Here’s  five  important advice I can give to especially those who are starting something new including churchplants, non-profits, businesses, and anything else you can think of that involves working with other people…

Sacrifice & Cost

There’s a cost and sacrifice. Just remember that because the minute you forget that is the moment you’ll get your arse kicked.  Pursuing visions and dreams will always cost you something and more often than not, it’s not just one thing.

For the record, I won’t listen to anyone that’s not willing to sacrifice something for their visions and dreams.

The Entrepreneurial Exodus

With every endeavor, there’s always been a small exodus of people that disagree, misunderstand, and eventually depart. I call it the Entrepreneurial Exodus and yes, I just made that up. When we finally launched the church…people left. When I was stupid enough to do a building campaign in the first year of our church, renovated a building, and started the cafe…people left. When another church “merged” into Quest…people left. When ODW was getting started…people left. Starting new things open you up disagreements, criticism, and the entrepreneurial exodus.

It sucks.

It’s not ideal but it happens. There’s a reason why it’s been documented that in the process of a church engaging and finishing a building project, up to 30% of a congregation leaves. This is a combination of #1 and #2.

Energy & Tenacity

The energy required to launch any vision or dream is beyond what you can probably fathom. And for those that think they know is simply because they know in their knowledge but have yet to experience it through their heart and soul. Be prepared and know that it’s going to incredibly difficult and be prepared to feel it as you go through it.

But here’s the key thing: This is only for a season and not for ever.

For many, this is what separates dreamers and those that dream and implement. When I look at those that have pursued and lived out their dreams, one of the commonalities is tenacity. Be tenacious. I’m no longer as impressed with ideas. I’m more impressed with passionate and tenacious people with ideas.

Cast Vision and Over-Communicate

One of the biggest blunders I’ve made is to under-communicate.

Cast the vision. Distribute the vision. Share the vision. And share it again. In short, over-communicate until people tell you, “That’s enough. I get it…”  Don’t leave too much room for misunderstandings and mis-assumptions.

Because if you do…it will always happen. Always.

People  > Project

This is key. When you start something, you’re essentially working on a project. You’re giving life and birth to something. In the business language, you become a project manager but when you elevate the project over the value of people or more bluntly, when you use people to pursue your project, you’ve missed the point and you’ll hurt some people along the way.

That sucks. It’s singlehandedly the source of my greatest pain.

What’s important to note is that if you’re not careful, it happens when it’s not intended.

How do I know? Because I have done those very things.

The remedy?

Vision and projects may perish. People don’t. Learn how to value people.

And yes, I’m still working on that one and for that matter, all of the above.

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16 Responses

  1. mo says:

    Great point about overcommunication. It’s frustrating working underneath someone if their vision isn’t well understood. And as a leader, it’s frustrating to see people continually get your vision wrong because you haven’t communicated properly.

    Thanks for writing this, and the article!

  2. Great post and right on time for me.

  3. Gina says:

    Wow, Eugene. Fantastic article and thanks for sharing these tidbits. Very practical and helpful.

  4. Kevin says:

    Great points. I’ve definitely gone through growing pains with my team. Lots of wins, learns, and opportunities.

  5. Eugene,
    This is one of the best posts ever. In fact, I cannot think of anything more important that I received from you lately.
    Thanks (and greetings from Cape Town)!!

    P.S. Adam Phillips will be my roommate here. Should I say hello to him from you?

  6. Stephanie Kemp says:

    Loved the article – thanks for sharing

  7. bnhickory says:

    Eugene, thanks for writing this post. It gives me encouragement and more understanding in this season of our life. Some days, I wonder why it is worth the energy and pain. Your quote, “Pursuing visions and dreams will always cost you something and more often than not, it’s not just one thing.”, will be posted in our house here in Tanzania to always keep that in mind.

  8. […] my 5 personal advice for spiritual entrepreneurs from Eugene Cho Here’s five important advice I can give to especially those who are starting something new including churchplants, non-profits, businesses, and anything else you can think of that involves working with other people… […]

  9. Beth says:

    Thanks for this wonderful advice, which certainly resonates with my own experiences planting churches. With each sentence, I sighed as I remembered the cost and the joy. This is actually very timely for me because I am in the throws of making some decisions that will require me to remember these valuable and tough truths about starting something new.

    Thanks again 🙂

  10. Sejin says:

    Pastor Eugene knows what he is talking about because he has the Spirit!

    I’m an entrepreneur for my Spirit guided thoughts:

    Sageintime.blogspot.com

  11. Valaida says:

    You are OH SO RIGHT on all 5 points. While all of them resonate, at this moment “Energy & Tenacity” rings loudest for me. It’s a struggle to sustain both — which go hand in hand — and it never ceases to amaze me just how much of each is required.

  12. Donnia says:

    Thank you for sharing and I’m going to pass this on to my brother-in-law who is also starting a church.
    Question: What do you think about business mentor? Did you have one yourself or even a business partner? Or did you just learned mostly from working @ your parents cafe and the rest on your own.

  13. […] I ended up videotaping a Q/A session some time ago with a guy who was crazy enough to fly up to Seattle to work as our slave intern for couple weeks.  We always say no to these requests but he’s one of those folks that emailed and kept emailing. I’m sharing this video interview, articles, other videos, and pics as a resource to those who are interested in doing something similar – contextually – in their neck of the woods.If you have any additional questions AFTER watching the video interview, ask them here as comments and I or one of my cafe staff will do our best to answer them. From here on out, I’ll simply refer people who email me to this blog entry.  * FWIW, my staff or I do some private consulting for a fee (donations to Q Cafe) and also have a cafe manual (documents and forms) for $50 (email office@qcafe.org). I’d also strongly encourage you to read “My 5 Personal Advice for Entrepreneurs.” […]

  14. […] might also want to read my 5 Personal Advice of Entrepreneurs. Pin ItEmailMoreDiggShare on […]

  15. Mike W. says:

    Thanks! This is as good of a read as it was the first time.

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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Everyone loves the idea of  reconciliation...until it involves truthtelling, confessing, repenting, dismantling, forgiving, and peacemaking. Charlottesville. So heartbreaking and infuriating. We weep and mourn over the hatred in the hearts of these white nationalists. We weep and mourn but we can't be defeated.

As I stare at this photo that's making its round on the internet, I'm reminded of the utter importance of showing up. I'm grateful for the news media, law enforcement, clergy, and peaceful protesters that are currently there to report, protect, pray, and protest.

And this is an invitation to us. May we not be mere bystanders. May we keep pressing forward. Seek justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly. Commit to truth-telling, justice, reconciliation, peacemaking. Follow the ways of Christ. Every day. And it's important to note that we don't have to go to Charlottesville to do this. In fact, it's more important that we do this exactly where we're at. May we live out the call to reconciliation in our churches, workplaces, neighborhoods, schools, and around our dining tables. Lord, may it be so... We don't have to go to Charlottesville to do this. We have to do this wherever were called to be.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. /// Thanks to those who let me know that the photo wasn't actually from today but rather from last month in Charlottesville. - https://www.facebook.com/FrankSomervilleKTVU/posts/1551137301616258:0 Grateful for a spontaneous, last minute trip with Minhee to my old stomping grounds - San Francisco. 48 hours of visiting this special city that I called home for so many years.

Pic 1: Went to the Cliff House restaurant where we got engaged about 21 years ago to make out. Oops, sorry, I meant...to reflect on God's faithfulness over these many years.

Pic 2: Walked across the Golden Gate Bridge because it's such an iconic place - with some of the most incredible views.

Pic 3: Enjoyed a glass of some Cabernet Sauvignon and pretended to be wine connoisseurs at a vineyard.

Pic 4: Had lunch at my favorite Chinese restaurant, Sam Tung, which boasts some of the best chicken in the country. And of course, we ate at In-n-out.

Pic 5: And finally, celebrated with the good folks at @thefreedomstory where @onedayswages received their annual Freedom Award. What an honor.

Grateful. Thankful for this sabbatical. Breathe.

Show yourself some grace.

We can't do everything for everyone in every situation. Do what you can and do it with a joyful heart.

Amen A family that eats sushi together stays together.

Seriously, I don't ever remember eating so much as a teenager but these kids eat and eat and eat. Perhaps, the reason why this kid is pushing 6 feet tall. Grateful for a special treat with the family at @JaponessaSeattle. I'm sharing an obligatory, "I love and appreciate my wife, she's amazing" photo. Also...because I did something naughty...or brilliant. ;) Seattle is in the midst of a crazy heatwave. Near 100 degrees, hazy, and humid. An excessive heat advisory warning has also been issued.

So, Minhee and I needed to run some errands. It waa horrible but sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. It's also known as adulting.

So, I'm driving and the air conditioning seems to have minimal effect. Minhee is in the passenger's seat and umm, when she's not paying attention, I turn on her seat heater to 5 - the highest level. All along, she's complaining about how hot she is...for nearly an hour...until she finally realizes what I did.

Bam. Boom. Gotcha.

Minhee, I love you!

my tweets

  • RT @mrmedina: When Bryan Stevenson speaks, we do well to listen. https://t.co/o5GJD0KWR2 || 12 hours ago
  • "Mourn with those who mourn." Lifting up the people of Sierra Leone in prayers. Hundreds dead and many more missing… twitter.com/i/web/status/8… || 14 hours ago
  • Dear Barcelona: We are so sorry. We mourn the violence and tragedy in your beautiful city. We pray for healing and yearn for peace. Amen. || 1 day ago
  • Love wins in the end but meanwhile, it fights for things that matter. Love isn't sentimental. It's both gentle & fierce. Seek God's Kingdom. || 2 days ago
  • In response to racism, folks often say, "It's a sin issue." Yes...but don't be naive. Sin creates sinful systems: youtube.com/watch?v=LEbUa0… || 3 days ago
  • Everyone loves the idea of reconciliation...until it involves truthtelling, confessing, repenting, dismantling, forgiving, and peacemaking. || 5 days ago