Recently I educated myself about new trends in self-employment. I took my son to the Barnes & Noble train set to play, and while there, I browsed Entrepreneur.com's spring 2008 Hot List: Best Businesses, Markets, Trends & Ideas. Among the top business areas they recommended were eco-friendly clothing, IT consulting, and handbag design. A lot of the categories made sense, given what you read online and in the media - certain themes keep coming up: "going green," the need for tech-savvy advice, and our consumer culture's obsession with all things celebrity: handbags, little dogs, and rehab.
Some of these businesses involve retail and the sale of products, as opposed to services - an area I am more familiar with based on my personal experience. To learn more about retail, I just finished reading an excellent book by Kim Lavine, Mommy Millionaire, where the rough and tumble world of selling gift items was described in all its glory; trade shows, mall kiosks (I always wondered how that worked), packaging, inventory, etc. Unlike many entrepreneur books that focus on the "rah rah, you can do it" theme and the magic formula for the right idea with a brief mix of business plan advice, Ms. Lavine gives a detailed account starting her million dollar business - and it was not easy. I've not seen such an interesting, and realistic (as far as I can tell) account of getting angel financing.
Because my startup experience has been with a service based business, this book was an eye opener about businesses that involve inventory, which is why I bought it. So before you join the ranks of handbag or specialty lingerie vendors, check out this book and books like it with a more realistic (although still optimistic) account of entrepreneurship. Reading this book was a perfect part of the "Know Your Options" step of decisionmaking we recommend.