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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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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