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 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.
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 Doll Hospital and Toy Solider Shop (in Southeast Michigan, U.S.A.), which has been operating for about 60 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.
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?
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.
One business idea is to rent out a cow to produce milk and/or cheese for the person who rents it. But here's a new twist; in Switzerland, Albert and Mandy Breitenmoser have launched a business renting cows to urban types and tourists. A person can come by any time to visit and/or milk their rental animal - or watch it on a webcam if they prefer.
From Japan comes more evidence that spending time with animals is soothing. In cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, cat cafés, places where customers can sip tea and pet resident cats, are becoming increasingly popular - so much so that at some cat cafés, reservations are recommended on weekends.
Get the flavour of what visiting a cat café is like with Jane Aldridge's photos of her visit to a cat café in Tokyo. The Calico Cat Café in Tokyo website, as you see, showcases its feline residents (website in Japanese but photos are "international").
Google is surely the most famous user of mowing goats; they hire a herd of about 200 goats to mow fields around their California headquarters. (See the Official Google Blog.) But they're certainly not the only ones. Mowing goats are a lot more eco-friendly than the standard weed whacker and pesticide approach to weeds and long grasses.
Trying to use goats to compete with residential lawn mowing services though, is not a good idea. Apparently, goats don't actually do that great a job of mowing lawns but are great for weed and brush control, as Gary Pfalzbot of Goatworld.com explains.
Testicular Implants for Pets.
I have to say I just don’t get this one, but according to the Neuticles.com website, some pet owners are reluctant to neuter their pets because the usual neutering procedure completely removes the animal's testicles. Neuticles eliminates this concern because "a 'Neuticled' pet looks exactly the same after surgery!" (Hmm... who's looking anyhow?)
BrewDog – Road Kill plus Beer.
Believe it or not, you read that right. On their website, BrewDog proclaims that their beers are in no way commercial or mainstream - and they really mean it. James Watt and partner Martin Dickie have created an ale that is 55 percent alcohol by volume, (a higher alcohol content than whiskey and vodka), called The End of History, which comes in bottles wrapped in taxidermic road kill. Read more about BrewDog's End of History Ale.
Coming Up With Your Own Unusual Business Ideas
...isn't really as difficult as you might think. Opportunities abound, but many people have difficulty recognizing them. What separates the successful entrepreneur from others is his or her ability to see, seize, and even invent opportunities. 7 Sources Of Business Ideas will show you how to develop this ability and capitalize on the business ideas all around you.
Browsing the collections of business ideas on this website can also provide inspiration.