WRITTEN BY: Anna Lynn Dizon
Published April 23, 2019
Anna’s experience in business and finance led her to work for a US risk mitigation company in Singapore. She has contributed to POS and payments topics in the Retail section across Fit Small Business.
This article is part of a larger series on Starting a Business.
Starting a new business can be exciting, especially if you have a one-of-a-kind business concept that will help you stand out from the crowd. Some strange business ideas can also be brilliant if they solve to day-to-day consumer problems. To help inspire you, our experts shared some crazy business ideas to get your customers’ attention.
Here are 25 inspired, crazy business ideas from the pros:
1. Design Pizza Box Ads
Lori Ramas, Business Efficiency Expert, Relezant
If your demographic overlaps with any of your local pizzerias, then consider this idea that has proven successful for me. Go in and let them know you have a community outreach program at your company and that you would like to pay for an ad for them. Let them know you’ll be creating a double-sided ad with your deal or ad on one side and whatever deal they want on the other side. You’ll pay to print them and ask that they staple it to every pizza box for a month (which could be thousands, by the way). You can distribute them to your community or via email, on Facebook, and so on as a co-branded community deal. Your shared demo will appreciate the community-based vibe and the deal, and you’ve now built trust and a relationship with local businesses.
2. Clean Parking Lots
Brian Winch, Owner, Cleanlots
Entrepreneur magazine says parking lot litter cleanup is “a simple, inexpensive, and potentially lucrative business to get into, and the market is growing.” My business lays out a roadmap to help others start their own parking lot cleaning business. Startup costs are minimal (as low as $100 to start for basic litter collection tools), and the business can be based from your home. The major operating expense is gas and maintenance of your vehicle. It’s possible to make up to $50,000 per year part-time, $100,000 per year full time as a one-person operation, and much more if you employ an army of cleaners. Since work is performed after hours, when businesses are closed, people following our model can keep their full-time day job without conflict.
3. Start a Register of Health & Wellness Influencers
Fab Giovanetti, CEO, Health Bloggers Community
The idea for a register of influencers came about for two reasons. First, the idea came by looking at headlines and reading constantly about the problem of an unregulated industry. Second, we listened to influencers and bloggers sharing the same issues and asked them what the ideal solution would be. As a business mentor, they teach you that you should have at least 250 positive responses to your product to make it viable. Creating something completely new and unique stems exactly from what they need.
4. Make Video Tombstones
Robert Barrows, President, R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations
Video tombstones will create a tremendous amount of controversy. They will also create some fascinating free speech issues because who knows what somebody might say from beyond their grave through their video tombstone—and will it be truth or lies? At the same time, that kind of controversy will generate a tremendous amount of awareness about video tombstones. Television and film projects that could be based on stories could be told through video tombstones. While there may be several thousands of dollars profit to be made from the sale of a video tombstone, even a bad horror movie based on stories told through video tombstones could make millions.
Marc Prosser, Co-founder, Fit Small Business
This idea might not be as far-fetched as people might think. There are coffee shops and spas for them popping up everywhere, so it’s not surprising to house all these amenities in a hotel-like facility for pets. Like regular hotels, you will need a website that looks and feels professional, beginning with a domain name that matches your brand. We recommended Bluehost, which offers domain registration, website hosting, and even a business email address for just $2.95 per month. Click for Bluehost hosting plans.
6. Sell Dog Leggings
Lisa Baronoff, Founder, Walkee Paws
It’s no secret that pet owners today are spoiling their canine companions more than ever. In addition to splurging on higher-quality foods, products, and services, the popularity of pet fashion is continuously growing each year as well. Because let’s face it: Anything a human can wear, a dog can wear, too. You can design dog clothing, such as what my business offers, that’s not only fun, trendy, and cute, but also provides pups with maximum comfort and paw protection while keeping dirt and germs outside where they belong.
7. Become a Wedding Officiant
Diane Huth, The Accidental Career Coach, Brand Your Guide
One of the best gigs ever is to become a lay minister and perform weddings, reconfirmations of vows, and even non-religious funerals and wakes. Officiants, as they are called, are generally paid between $500 and $800 to perform a wedding ceremony, according to The Knot. Not bad for an hour or two of work. There are a number of online “churches” which will “ordain” you as a minister for a fee. Check out UnMinistry.org, ChristianHarvestChurch.net, or WeddingOfficiants.com. You can become an ordained minister in perpetuity for less than $100, with turnaround within a week. You also have the option to buy a “kit” with wedding certificates, ID cards, parking placards, and even a church organization set up, often for under $200. You may want to invest in a robe or sash to look official, or just wear a nice business suit.
8. Use AI to Read Emotions
Bryan Mattimore, Co-founder & Chief Idea Guy, Growth Engine Innovation Agency
There are a variety of software programs like Affectiva that use biometric feedback mechanisms, artificial intelligence, computer vision, and speech analytics to identify human emotional states. The idea is to use these currently available advances in monitoring human emotions to create “meeting involvement and efficiency” tools. By non-invasively monitoring the emotional states of the meetings’ participants, a new service could be created that: 1) rates the interest and emotional involvement of all the meeting participants, 2) compares these results with other group meetings, and 3) encourages (and provides helpful suggestions) for the meeting organizer, leader, or meeting presenter to create better or more emotionally satisfying meetings for the participants.
9. Develop a Tool That Collects Search Data
Adam White, Founder, SEO Jet
This business idea solves a very specific problem for website owners who want to know what people are actually searching for when they visit their website from Google. Several years ago, Google stopped sharing the actual searches that people were making, so website owners now have no idea what key phrases are driving traffic through search. If someone could develop a tool that would look at a combination of search console and Google analytics to figure out what key phrases are actually driving traffic, thousands of businesses would pay a monthly fee for that. The best new business ideas solve a problem that many people have, and this idea definitely checks that box.
Maggie Aland, Marketing & Review Editor, Fit Small Business
Unusual cakes can be anything from “small money cakes” that are hollow and filled with paper bills in plastic pouches that celebrants can pull out after blowing out their candles, or large, three-tier cakes with a person inside waiting to pop out as a surprise. You can sell these products with your very own online store. Bigcommerce is an online selling platform that seamlessly integrates with popular sites like Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and WordPress, so your products reach more potential customers. They offer advanced selling features that are easy to use, so even first-time sellers can have a fully working website setup in a matter of hours. Try BigCommerce’s 15-day free trial.
11. Rent Out Your Space for Events
Sarah Parlos, CEO, Events at HOME
Rent out your private land, house, or barn for weddings, events, and corporate gatherings a few times per year. No sleepovers and rental rates are by the hour. A typical profit for a homeowner ranges from $600 to $900 for a 12-hour land rental (no home access) to $1,200 to $1,800 for a 12-hour rental that includes access to both the house and the land. If you own a waterfront estate with all the bells and whistles, the hourly rate ranges between $600 and $800, which can quickly add up to over $9,000 for a single-day event. Along with price, the opportunity to use a unique property (possibly never available for a party prior to) is alluring for many who are searching for something special and fresh to host their gathering.
12. Start an Adult Day Care Center
Matthew Ross, Co-owner & COO, The Slumber Yard
I think there is an opportunity in the market for a branded chain of adult day care centers. With the baby boomer generation getting older, demand is going to continue to rise over the next 10 to 20 years. Right now, most adult day care centers are owner operated. In other words, there’s no McDonald’s of adult day care centers yet. By stringing a few together, someone could achieve significant economies of scale in terms of cost savings and brand awareness. If you keep an eye on sites like BizBuySell, you can often find local businesses for sale at a discount. That would be a good place to start.
Want to offer a unique Airbnb experience? People will pay to have unusual experiences, and being in jail is certainly one of them. If you have enough space or are willing to renovate your property, you can create your own prison and give your visitors an experience of a lifetime. Book your rooms for hundreds of dollars in exchange for the full package, with role playing and maybe even a taste of prison food and labor.
One business owner of a professional cuddling company received thousands of emails requesting a booking a week after they opened. This just goes to show that there is a demand for this form of touch therapy, and that people are willing to pay $80 for 1.5 hours of cuddling.
15. Specialize in Wacky Website Design
Gavin Graham, Editor, Fit Small Business
One way to stand out from all other web designers is to niche down your service. Wacky website designs are perfect for bloggers who want to give their book promotions a weird twist, or a movie buff who blogs to feature and review new movies. For this, you’ll need a highly customizable blog platform like WordPress. WordPress is the professional blogger’s platform of choice, with easy-to-use features that let even beginners create their own blog in minutes. It also offers a wide variety of themes and plugins, making even the weirdest of website designs possible. Get started with WordPress.com today.
Believe it or not, there’s demand for renting out pets, like schools that want to put up a petting zoo for a day, or people who live in the city thinking about raising their own pets. So if you live on a farm wondering how to earn additional income, you can consider renting out the animals you’ve raised. For example, Rent the Chicken offers a rental package that includes a portable coop, packs of feed, food and water dishes, plus instructions on how to take care of them during their stay.
You must have heard about cuddle buddy boyfriend pillows by now. They’re body pillows shaped like a man’s chest with one arm to wrap around yourself while you sleep. This article shows you the basics of making your own, and if you think of something unique to add to it, there’s a high possibility of making a business out of it. For example, you can add those recorders in small toys and record short audio clips of a man’s voice talking or maybe even snoring. Or if you want a bigger concept, how about starting a build-a-bear shop for body pillows?
Work and family life can be hectic, and for people who have no time or the budget to go on a vacation, rage rooms are a unique way to relieve stress. With a fairly large empty space and random things to break, you can open your own rage room and charge good money for it. This is an alternative way to blow off steam instead of getting drunk or staying indoors for long periods of binge eating.
If you’ve ever wondered what happens to golf balls that end up at the bottom water hazards, then here’s your answer. People who make a business out of retrieving lost golf balls earn hundreds of dollars. They dive into the ponds and can collect as many as 3,000 golf balls daily. They then sell them from 60 cents to a dollar each. There is also equipment available, like Golf Fisherman, to help you collect golf balls without having to go into the water (it costs only around $50). You can sell them online through eBay after you get them cleaned and earn a fortune.
Sometimes, even a group’s designated driver can end up with a little too much to drink and find themselves at a loss on how to get home without having to take a cab and leaving their own car behind. This is how a designated driver service can be different from ride sharing services like Uber. You get called to drive your client’s vehicle back to their home. You might also want to provide add-on services like bringing a small cup of coffee or creating an app that will not only book your service, but also send a summary of the travel to your client’s phone for them to read the next day.
Nobody looks forward to the morning after a heavy night of partying, so imagine how much a hangover helper will be in demand. From preparing an effective morning-after tonic to making a hearty breakfast, your service will help prepare your client for the day’s tasks. You can also offer emergency clean up if your client happens to be the party host.
Ever thought about what happens to engagement rings when marriage proposals fail? Rarely do jewelers offer refunds, so engagement rings most likely get resold but for a significantly lower price. If you can set up a platform that allows you to connect direct buyers with sellers or buy them directly at a fair price, you’ll find your business getting a ton of attention.
A virtual dating assistant’s job is to help clients find their perfect match by keeping their dating site account active and constantly connecting with the client’s ideal partner. Similar to having a virtual assistant (VA) manage your social media platforms, the dating VA regularly chats and updates the client’s profile. This service is perfect for individuals who are looking for a serious relationship and want to make the most out of paying premium for dating app services.
Nowadays, anyone can create their own app with little to no coding knowledge thanks to tools available online. And for people who are having a hard time getting over a breakup, your app can be their virtual best friend. You can create stages that contain activities to help clients take steps in overcoming the breakup. Then differentiate your app from competitors by offering vouchers for spa or salon treatments as incentives for completing challenges and tasks.
There are many dating apps out there and quite a few have been successful in helping clients find their perfect match. It shouldn’t be a surprise that people would come up with a similar platform for pet adoption. This is a fun twist that can help give both pets and owners more opportunities through a large search platform. You can make money by offering discounted pet products and other premium services to your subscribers.
Creativity will help you go a long way as a small business owner, and might just be your secret to success. Keep in mind our list of strange business ideas from the pros when you start your next venture.
Do you have your own crazy business ideas worth sharing? Let us know in the comments.