Small Business
Jun 7, 2024

Unusual Businesses: Creative Ideas That Help You Make Money

If a business is profitable, chances are, it’ll have a lot of copycats out there. Soon, the market gets crowded, and it becomes hard to compete or even stay afloat.

Coming up with a unique business doesn’t guarantee success, but it does increase your chances.

The tricky part is finding the right idea. You want it to be creative enough to stand out, but still practical enough to make money.

Our article covers some of the most successful yet unusual businesses to inspire your next venture!

What is the Most Unique Business in the World?

Cuddle party providers and testicle implants for neutered dogs are some of the most strange ideas out there. Some people even rely on artificial intelligence to make money.

There’s an endless number of unusual businesses. The common denominator is that they provide solutions that seem bizarre at first.

Weird Business Ideas That Made Millions

There’s a saying that it’s not stupid if it works. Even weird inventions can have a niche market and kick off recurring revenue.

Here are some out-of-the-box ideas that have helped business leaders make shocking amounts of money:

  • Doggles: Doggles protect your pet’s eyes from sand, debris, and water while playing at the beach. Some people made fun of it at first, but now it has a revenue of $5 million!
  • Pet Rock: It’s a simple rock, but it made millions of dollars. It all started when Gary Dahl came up with a hilarious solution to his friend’s complaint about messy pets. His innovation ended up being proof you can sell anything if you market it right.
  • Million Dollar Homepage: A student in the UK sold a million blank pixels for one dollar each in 2005. Companies loved the idea so much that the last 1,000 pixels were auctioned for $38,100!
  • Rent-a-Chicken Rent-a-Chicken provides insight into people’s need for low-risk companionship amidst the pandemic. Leasing chickens helped this business make $17.2 million.
  • Bread Slicing Machine: The bread slicer bewildered folks when it came out in 1928. Fast forward to 2023, and sliced bread is a household staple.

What Are the Riskiest Businesses to Start?

Some unusual businesses are riskier than regular ones. That’s because most creative ideas are untested and subject to market changes. That’s not always the case, though.

Expert analysis by IBISWorld found that sawmills and wood products are the riskiest businesses in 2023. This is closely followed by wood flooring and wood framing.

The crash of housing mortgages in the US caused the reduced demand for wood. Automation is also threatening sawmill-related work. Surprisingly, people still take the risk, and experts expect the global market size to double by 2028.

After all, we know that there’s no growth without risks. What’s important is to educate yourself and prepare accordingly.

What is the Riskiest Small Business?

Running a small business comes with its risks, regardless of the model or field. Here are three popular industries that have their fair share of pitfalls:

Restaurants

Food is a necessity, and the food industry is easy to get into. That could lull people into a false sense of security. Someone might even decide to open a restaurant without proper knowledge of small business administration.

Many people don’t realize that leaders in the restaurant business have to consider a lot of factors. Food hazards, financials, marketing, and even workplace accidents all come into play. Each of these elements carries risks.

The sheer amount of your competition and social media contributes to the risk as well! One food safety issue that gets posted online could mean the end of your business.

According to the National Restaurant Association, 30% of restaurants in the US close within a year!

Clothing Stores

Establishing your fashion brand could be tempting at first glance. Yet, small clothing stores could be riskier than you realize. That’s because fast fashion is finicky.

Yesterday’s trends may not be viable today. The cost of manufacturing clothing is also high for small businesses. That all means that you could get stuck with unsellable inventory.

To get over hurdles, some small brands make clothes with enhanced functionality. It helps them to stand out from the fashion giants. Others focus on unique designs or offer custom apparel.

Some examples include expandable down vests, core warmers, or adjustable bucket hats.

Travel Agencies

Tourism halved in 2020 because of the pandemic, which is the main risk to watch out for. Yet, sudden restrictions shouldn’t be your only concern as a travel agency owner.

Youtubers and adventure bloggers are opening the world up. Any person can follow these free guides instead of booking a tour with your agency. This creates uncertainty for those in the industry.

Business owners have to offer tour packages to unconventional spots to attract customers. The problem is that researching new destinations takes a lot of money and effort.

Targeted advertising is also necessary to convince your audience that your tour is better than what they can get from free guides.

What Are Some Unusual Businesses?

Despite the differences in ideas, unusual businesses tend to capitalize on the diversity of human desires.

Some even use shock value for their campaigns. This intrigues people and compels them to buy into the unique business idea.

Unique Businesses Around the World

One rule to keep in mind when you’re browsing the best businesses to buy is that less competition is always better.

If you’re interested in unique businesses, here are a few examples from around the world:

Edible Shoes

Does gifting your shoe-loving friend a pair of edible heels sound like a great idea? Many people seem to think so!

Edible shoes have been around for a while, but Houston-based Cacao and Cardamom took it up a notch.

Its founder, Annie Rupani, came up with the unique business idea of creating glitter stilettos out of chocolate.

As of 2023, the company has made $5 million in revenue, and edible shoes are its best seller.

It even expanded its business to edible purses and hand-painted chocolate. In this case, creative ideas dragged even more unique products into the mix.

Why It Works

Edible shoe consumers buy chocolate heels because they’re so lifelike that it’s fun to see people bite into them.

Making hyper-realistic desserts is a trend that relies on the element of surprise to get people to make a purchase. It uses principles of shock marketing and social media to go viral and wow people.

Another possible reason why people buy edible shoes is because it’s a form of art. According to The Economist, buying art is an emotional process. Consumers do it because it reminds them of a principle or object they value.

We’re confident that many consumers around the world would value a pair of heels. This is why many bakeries offer hyper-realistic sweets!

Virtual Assistants for Dating

Virtual assistants take over your dating profile. They can write your bio, select who you match with, and send messages for you.

The assistant usually guarantees you a certain number of dates per month. Customers can spend anywhere from $700 to $1,300 on this service.

Getting a stranger to handle your dates sounds bizarre, but it’s safe to say that this business has a market. It’s become even more popular because of social distancing.

Why It Works

People hire virtual dating assistants because online courtship is a time-consuming nightmare.

We hear many stories about people getting ghosted, but your customers no longer need to experience this if they avail of your service.

They know that hiring a team of professionals gives them a higher chance of getting a match.

Waste Paper Recycling

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the wages from the recycling and reuse industry in the US add up to $36.6 billion each year. It’s a social enterprise that turns trash into profit.

Believe it or not, most US citizens believe in recycling. That’s why Research and Markets say that the paper recycling market will reach $61.09 by 2028.

There are many paper products to come up with. You can turn waste paper into greeting cards, wallpaper, disposable plates, cat litter, or gift wrappers.

It’s best to innovate when you’re selling recycled paper products to cater to a niche market.

Why It Works

The idea works because it uses the principles of advocacy marketing to attract loyal customers.

You can promote a positive image, save the planet, and save on production costs—all in one hit.

Having this advocacy helps you gain people’s trust as well. If you run relevant adverts, your audience is more likely to share them because they believe in the value behind your product.

Unusual Home-Based Businesses

If making money from home is your dream, check out these four unusual home-based businesses:

Subscription Boxes

Do businesses in your area sell products you can’t get anywhere else? If so, starting a subscription box business could be a great way to make money!

The Expert Market Research estimated the global value of the subscription box industry at $26.9 billion in 2022.

As a business owner, you can box anything from produce, snacks, perfume, books, or pet treats. The beauty of this business idea is that it can be fun to gather a lineup of goods.

Another great perk is you can get partnerships with local businesses near you. That way, you don’t have to put much effort into sourcing items each month.

Why It Works

There’s a reason why the subscription box industry is booming—it’s straightforward.

Anybody can package unique products, sell boxes from their home, and start a business.

People love buying them because they’re convenient. They get to sample small quantities of multiple products instead of getting them in bulk.

Merely opening a subscription box is exciting! Even if your customers know what’s inside the box, they’ll still anticipate its arrival every month.

Cleaning Service

The cleaning industry is gaining popularity. In 2023, professional cleaning services reached $90.1 billion. That’s in the US alone!

Vacuuming carpets, emptying trash cans, scrubbing toilets, and washing laundry are some of what you (or your employees) will do daily.

You can also offer a fixed schedule and packages for your clients to stand out from the crowd.

If you start a cleaning company, you should focus on building your reputation, gaining trust, and customer service. That way, you’ll get plenty of repeat orders.

Why It Works

According to Statista, 132.5 million people got employed full-time in 2022. That’s a decent bounce back from the recent mid-pandemic drop!

What this means is that there’s a great number of individuals who don’t have time to clean their houses anymore. Offer your neighbors cleaning services, and see how much they need this service in their lives.

The business idea makes sense because you don’t have to look that far for a potential client initially. You can start working in houses near yours. You don’t even need much capital to do it.

Start a Magazine

This business idea could be a viable option for people with talents in writing, photography, and research. If you think about it, becoming the founder of a publication business could be your calling!

The idea could feel unusual in today’s digital world but don’t lose hope.

Statistics show that magazines are doing better than newspapers. There were 220 million annual magazine readers between 2016 and 2020.

This estimate stands despite competition from online content. Magazine publication is currently a $40.2 billion industry in the US.

Why It Works

Millennials still prefer reading a magazine over reading an article on a device. That’s not surprising when you consider that the activity gives them the pause they need from the digital world.

It’s nostalgic, and that’s why people buy it.

That said, you can also dabble in online content as a writer. It’s possible to sell digital magazines, e-books, or online comics worldwide!

Create Novelty T-Shirts

There’s room for creativity if you decide to become a novelty shirt maker.

The US T-shirt industry amounted to $44.56 billion in 2023. Experts expect it to grow by 2.7% in 2024.

All you have to do is choose a niche, create designs, source suppliers, and open an online store. You don’t have to print them yourself. Instead, hire a manufacturer to make them for you.

For artists, making novelty shirts is a business you can start from your garage without a lot of capital.

Why It Works

People wear bland T-shirts every day, but novelty shirts have an edge.

Wearing one is a form of expression. You could create a design for popular TV shows, and fans will buy them.

Underrated Business Ideas

It seems that many people take profitable businesses for granted. This shouldn’t be the case. Today, there’s endless possibility when it comes to uncommon side hustles.

Here are a few underrated businesses that you can start:

Create a New Board Game

Making a board game is one way to get your creative juices flowing. The pay isn’t terrible, either. The average board game designer makes $81,982 per year!

Because anyone can make a board game, it’s a great opportunity for a teenager to start making money.

Once you have a design in mind, you could get funding from Kickstarter.

Take, for instance, the popular game, Exploding Kittens. The support campaign met its $10,000 goal within 8 minutes!

Why It Works

People are always looking for fun activities for gatherings. Board games bring people together, which is why you won’t run out of customers anytime soon.

The industry is accessible, and even social media can boost game sales.

The Washington Post says that the global board game market is worth $13.4 billion and will continue to grow.

Come Up With a Hangover Cure

Hangover cure products are on the rise. According to a market analysis report, hangover cure products garnered $1.56 billion in 2020. It’s expected to rise to $4.67 billion in 2028.

These products could work by providing nutrients and hydration to treat hangover symptoms.

Some businesses provide IV drip facilities that their customers can go to. Others make beverages and powdered drinks in sealed packages.

The main catch here is that there are regulations to follow.

Why It Works

Needs include functional consumer products. Wants are products that people desire, but they’re not necessary.

In our opinion, it’s easy to find the perfect balance between needs and wants with hangover products. This is why it works so well as a creative business idea.

Make it taste (and look) great, and people will still want to buy your product even if they don’t need it!

Start an Olive Oil Store

Your typical olive oil store does more than stock hard-to-find oils. It should also carry other gourmet products.

This makes it a good fit for people who love creating new flavors. You could formulate olive oil infusions and sell them in cute little bottles.

You could also import oil from other parts of the world and have a competitive edge over local stores.

Making olive oil from scratch is a challenge, but don’t let this discourage you. There’s a market for it!

The olive oil production industry is worth $85.6 million in the US.

Why It Works

According to the North American Olive Oil Association, the olive oil industry saw a 25% growth during the pandemic. This rise could be because people were open to trying new cuisines.

Another potential cause behind the sales boost is rising health awareness. More Americans are starting to realize the importance of eating healthy.

To succeed in this business, you’ll want to focus on educating your audience about cardiovascular diseases.

Open a Rage Room

A rage room or smash room is a private place where people can release their anger by destroying objects.

You could gather broken appliances or glassware for low prices from junk shops. You then let your customers break these items in a controlled environment.

Safety is a priority when it comes to rage rooms. That’s why it’s best if you invest in protective gear. Making your rage room sound-proof and indestructible also adds to the initial costs.

Once you get through these hurdles, you can earn profits for years to come. In an interview with Business Insider, a rage room owner reveals he makes $25,000 a month!

Why It Works

Rage rooms give customers a fun way to de-stress.

Many people are willing to dish out hefty sums to destroy objects. Yes, the same objects that you likely got for free or for minimal costs.

It’s a popular place to hold bachelorette parties as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Business Never Runs Out?

According to Investopedia, food is the number one industry that’ll never run out.

This includes the agriculture, processing, restaurant, and packaging sectors. The demand for food will stay as long as humans need to eat!

Other industries that never run out are pharmaceuticals, healthcare, education, and entertainment.

What is the Riskiest Small Business?

There are various answers, depending on who you ask, but there are common picks. Both Forbes and the Entrepreneur Handbook find apparel stores high-risk.

Regardless, it’s best to look at the big picture and do your research before you start a small business.

Wrapping Up

Many unusual businesses are profitable. Since some are criminally underrated, you won’t have much competition. Others are simple enough to start from home.

There are a few risky endeavors, though. Restaurants and clothing stores are crowded industries. You should think twice before starting these kinds of businesses.

To summarize, unusual businesses can make you money if you find the right niche and figure out a marketing strategy.

Did any of the businesses we mentioned inspire you? Let us know what you think, and feel free to leave a comment if you have a question!