1. Money

12 Unique Business Ideas

Part 1: Wacky Ways to Make Money


Unique business ideas.

You too could become a reef some day.

Image (c) Steven Hunt / Getty Images

Some of these unique business ideas make me shake my head in disbelief while others make me mutter, "Hey! Why didn't I think of that?" You'll probably have the same reaction.

The unusual business ideas in this collection range from dealing with head lice through doing strange things with road kill, but they all have one thing in common; they're all real businesses that make money.

Because while they might appear to be wacky business ideas to you and me, they've all successfully connected with an unserved group of customers willing to buy their products or services - a.k.a. a niche market. Learn how you can find and master a niche market.

Unique Business Ideas

Trees of Steel.
You really have to see NatureMaker's Artificial tree sculptures to appreciate them. NatureMaker handcrafts steel art trees for hotels, casinos, retailers, museums, libraries, zoos, commercial buildings, theme parks and luxury homes and they are truly works of art. Prices range from $25,000 (US) for a 16 foot (5m) tall x 10 foot (3m) canopy diameter Oak or Maple tree to $500,000 (US) for a 50 foot (15m) tall x 50 foot (15m) canopy diameter Banyan or Olive tree.

Doll repair.
If you have a beloved doll that's seen better days, maybe a trip to a "doll hospital" is in order. At such an establishment, an expert will make the necessary repairs and restore your doll to good condition, whether it needs new parts sculpted and replaced or a costume refurbished. Did you know that doll hospitals have been around for ages? One of the oldest doll hospitals was established in Lisbon, Portugal in 1830. The Madame Alexander Doll Hospital (in New York), which has been operating for about 80 years is an example of one such business that's currently operating. You'll notice that this company also repairs china and figurines.

Head Lice & Nit Removal.
The head lice are out there… and some of them may end up on your child’s head! Fortunately, there are businesses that provide head lice and nit removal services. The most famous, perhaps, is The Texas Lice Squad (now The Lice Place), which has two locations as of this writing, but if you Google the topic, you’ll find that there are quite a few others, including Lice Squad Canada, which offers franchises.

Mannequins for Sale or Rent.
Mannequin Madness, based in California, has won an award from the Environmental Protection Agency for recycling mannequins. The company, started by Judi Henderson-Townsend, sells and rents mannequins previously used by companies such as Macy's, Sears and Nike. It also sells new mannequins and mannequin-themed products like Mannequin Leg Lamps.

Synthetic Wishbones.
Vegetarian? At the wrong end of the table? Or just plain impatient? Fear no more. You can still break a wishbone of your very own thanks to Lucky Break Wishbones of Seattle. Ken Ahroni, Lucky Break Wishbones founder, claims that the idea of plastic wishbones came to him at a Thanksgiving dinner on his 47th birthday, proving that unique business ideas are all around us; we just have to be able to recognize them. (Read more about how you can learn to recognize business opportunities.)

Something for $10.
And just to prove that people will buy anything, The Something Store sells... something. That's right. You send them $10 and they send you something randomly selected from their inventory. It could be, for example, "a cool gadget, rare book, table game, handmade necklace, reverse clock, box of gourmet chocolates, popular video game, big-box retailer gift card, the latest version of a software, a set of kitchen knives, a pair of handmade earrings..." etc. according to their website. Now that's an original business idea! Who doesn't like a mystery?

Reef Balls.
Eternal Reefs Inc., based in Decatur, Georgia, creates memorial reefs - by making a person's cremated remains part of a reef ball. The reef ball is then placed into the ocean to become part of a new or existing reef, creating what the company calls a true living legacy. Reef balls for pets are also available.

Continue on to the next page to read five more ideas for businesses that you may never have seen or heard of before...

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.