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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One Day’s Wages

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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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