What are the six most important characteristics of an entrepreneur? That’s what I will try to answer in this article. But first, let us define an entrepreneur. Generally speaking, an entrepreneur starts a business venture with little more than an idea and a great deal of determination. Entrepreneurs are everywhere around us – both large corporations that have started as small businesses run by entrepreneurs include Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Nike, and McDonald’s.

An interesting crossroads exists today between entrepreneurship and another word that seems to be popping up now and then – the free agent. What is a free agent, you ask? A free agent can best be described as “someone who works for himself or herself rather than reporting to a boss.” Free agents include, but are not limited to: consultants, independent contractors, and freelancers. It’s an exciting concept that is gaining a lot of momentum as information technology enables more people than ever before to work from virtually anywhere in the world.

William D King says, given these definitions, it seems relatively clear that entrepreneurs and free agents share many commonalities. After all, if you start your own business or become a free agent, you become your boss by default! Even so, there are subtle differences between what drives both types of people and how they go about achieving success. Let us now take a look at six traits that seem to show up on most lists of what makes an entrepreneur successful:

A need for achievement – Entrepreneurs often has a keen appetite for achievement. They are driven to achieve, and this need often propels them to start their business ventures.

A desire to take risks – Entrepreneurs are generally willing to take risks – sometimes significant financial risks that include borrowing money or making investments. Of course, successful entrepreneurs also know how to minimize their exposure by mitigating these risks as much as possible. This trait is not exclusive only to entrepreneurs! A willingness to manage risk is a vital skill indeed – whether you are an entrepreneur or not.

An inclination toward innovation – Entrepreneurs are all about identifying new opportunities where others do not see any. If there were ever a classic definition of “thinking outside the box,” it would have to do with seeing opportunity where nobody else does – and then creating that opportunity.

An understanding of how to work with others – Entrepreneurs must be able to develop working relationships both internally and externally. Often, an entrepreneur will find themself in situations where they need other people to help them achieve their goals. True entrepreneurs are usually masters at building rapport quickly with strangers…and they are also very good at leveraging the knowledge, skills, and expertise towards achieving their goals.

A high level of self-confidence – One trait that I consistently see on most lists is the need for an individual who starts a business venture or becomes a free agent to have a great deal of self-confidence. This makes sense, too, because you cannot start your own company without being at least a little bit confident. An entrepreneurial venture is often an extension of the person who creates it – after all, you are betting your own money that your company will see success!

A high level of emotional intelligence – If there is one thing that I have learned over the years, very successful people always seem to be focused on getting better. They learn from their mistakes, and they are constantly looking for ways to improve themselves while also improving their businesses. Again, this is not something exclusive only to entrepreneurs or free agents says William D King.