In The Trenches

What makes a guerrilla entrepreneur? One part grit and two parts gumption.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the June 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

What is a guerrilla entrepreneur? Guerrilla entrepreneurs know the journey is the goal. They also realize they are in control of their enterprises, not the other way around, and that if they are dissatisfied with their journeys, they are missing the point of the journey itself.

Guerrilla entrepreneurs achieve balance. They build free time into their work schedules so that balance is part of their enterprises. They respect their leisure time as much as their work time, never allowing too much of one to interfere with the other.

Guerrilla entrepreneurs are not in a hurry. They are fully aware that patience is their ally, and they've planned intelligently to eliminate most emergencies that call for moving fast.

Guerrilla entrepreneurs look forward to work. They have love affairs with their work and consider themselves lucky to be paid for doing what they do.

Guerrilla entrepreneurs do not kid themselves. They know that if they overestimate their abilities, they run the risk of skimping on the quality they offer their customers, employees, investors, suppliers and partners. They force themselves to face reality on a daily basis and realize that all their business practices must be evaluated in the glaring light of what is really happening instead of what should be happening.

Guerrilla entrepreneurs live in the present. They are well-aware of the past and are very enticed by the future, but the here and now is where they reside, embracing the technologies of the present, leaving future technologies on the horizon right where they belong. They are alert to the new, wary of the avant-garde, and wooed from the old by improvement, not merely change.

Guerrilla entrepreneurs understand the precious nature of time. They don't buy into the old lie that time is money-they know in their hearts that time is far more valuable than money. They are aware that their customers and prospects feel the same way about time, so guerrilla entrepreneurs respect customers' time and wouldn't dare waste it.

Guerrilla entrepreneurs always operate according to a plan. They know who they are, where they are going and how they will get there. They know that anything can happen and deal with the barriers to success because their long-term plan has foreseen them and offers ways to surmount them. Guerrillas reevaluate their plans regularly and don't hesitate to make changes in them.

Guerrilla entrepreneurs depend on many people. They know that the age of the lone-wolf entrepreneur, independent and proud of it, has passed. Guerrillas are dependent on their business partners, employees, customers, suppliers and mentors. They got where they are with their own wings, determination, smarts and with a little help from a lot of friends.

Guerrilla entrepreneurs are well-organized at work and at home. They don't have time to look for items that have been misplaced, so they organize as they work and as new work comes to them.

Guerrilla entrepreneurs have an upbeat attitude. Because they know life is unfair, problems arise, to err is human, and the cool shall inherit the earth, they take obstacles in stride, keeping their perspective and sense of humor. Their ever-present optimism is grounded in an ability to perceive the positive side of things, recognizing the negative but never dwelling there. Their positivity is contagious.

Jay Conrad Levinson is author of the internationally acclaimed Guerrilla Marketing series of books and co-founder of Guerrilla Marketing International. For information on the Guerrilla Marketing Newsletter and other products and services, write to P.O. Box 1336, Mill Valley, CA 94942; call (800) 748-6444; or visit the Web site at

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