Over the course of researching their books ( Working from Home; The Best Home Businesses for the '90s; Making It on Your Own: Surviving and Thriving on the Ups and Downs of Being Self-employed; among others), Paul and Sara Edwards have come across an increasing number of self-employed individuals who differ from the classic entrepreneurial profile. Whereas the entrepreneurs they interviewed in the 1980s were typically young, brash, growth-hungry iconoclasts, there's a new class of "propreneurs," who are "not in love with business enterprise per se. They technically run a business but don't need employees or space or start-up capital." Typically, they're older and risk averse, and their decision to go into business for themselves is often motivated by lifestyle concerns. Based on the Edwardses' research, four-fifths of those joining the ranks of the self-employed today have "propreneurial" versus entrepreneurial characteristics.

-- Alessandra Bianchi