11 Unique Business Ideas That Make Money

There are some wacky businesses out there—and, believe it or not, many of them are profitable. Some of these unique business ideas make you shake your head in disbelief, while others make you mutter, "Hey! Why didn't I think of that?"

The business ideas in this collection range from dealing with head lice to doing strange things with roadkill, but they all have one thing in common: They're all real businesses that make money. Some of them can do well even in a down economy.

Because, while they might appear to be wacky business ideas to you and me, they've all successfully connected with an underserved group of customers—aka a niche market. Let these unique ideas inspire you to find a niche market of your own.

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Broken Dolls Need TLC

Broken baby dolls
Unique business ideas: doll repair. Image (c) Pascal Preti / Getty Images

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.

As a matter of fact, doll hospitals have been around for ages. One of the oldest doll hospitals was established in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1830. The Berkley Doll Hospital in Berkley, Michigan is an example of one such business that's currently operating.

 If you love dolls and are skilled enough to fix them, doll repair may be a great business idea for you.

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Head Lice Removal

Doctor removing head lice from a child's hair
Unusual business ideas: head lice removal. Image (c) Westend 61/ Getty Images

Head lice are out there—and there's a good chance 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 several franchises in Texas, Tennessee, and Alabama. But, if you Google the topic, you’ll find that there are quite a few others, including Lice Squad, which offers franchises throughout Canada.

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Chickens feeding
Chickens Feeding. Hero Images / Getty Images

Urban chickens are becoming more and more popular—after all, who wouldn't want a pet that can also make you breakfast? Unfortunately, there are drawbacks to raising chickens, from feeding, to dealing with noise, to chicken manure.

For those who are not ready to go whole-hog and purchase their own chickens, businesses such as Belbeck's Family Farm offer chicken rentals. It supplies complete packages that include egg-laying hens, coops, feed, supplies, and customer support. 

The farm also has a program where homeowners and their families can raise hatchlings from egg to chick for educational purposes. Some chicken rental companies also have a rent-to-own option so that renters have the choice of adopting their hens at the end of a specified period. 

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Trees of Steel

African wildlife exhibit featuring artificial trees and animals
Unique business ideas: trees of steel. Image (c) Lonely Planet/ Getty Images

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. Work is completely customized and pricing starts at $10,000.

The trees in the photo are not made of steel but they are a great example of how artificial trees are used in wildlife exhibits.

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Mannequins for Sale or Rent

Mannequins in a clothing store, New Delhi, India
uniquely india / Getty Images

Ever give a thought to where all those mannequins filling up retail store windows come from?

Yep, you're right. Someone made them. Probably in a mannequin factory.

So that's one mannequin-themed business idea. But there's also a growing nation of used mannequins.

Mannequin Madness, based in California, won an award from the Environmental Protection Agency for recycling mannequins. The company 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. Now that's wacky!

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Synthetic Wishbones

Man and woman pulling on a wishbone
Unique business ideas: synthetic wish bones. Image (c) John Lund/Heather Hryciw / Getty Images

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 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 ideas for business are all around us; we just have to be able to recognize them.

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Reef Balls

Scuba diver examining urns at the bottom of the ocean
Unusual business ideas: reef balls. Image (c) Westend61 / Getty Images

What happens with our earthly remains is a matter of choice for many people, and now that choice is wider (and deeper) than ever.

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.

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Cat Cafés

Cat on a cafe patio table
Cat Cafés - one unique business idea. Image (c) Ken Glaser / Getty Images

We all know that spending time with animals is soothing. If you don't have any yourself, you can go to a business that does. Cat cafés, places where customers can sip tea and pet resident cats, have been popular in Taiwan and Japan for years—so much so that at some cat cafés, reservations are recommended. The Calico Cat Café in Tokyo showcases its feline residents on its website.

The first cat café to open in North America was the still-operating Le Café des Chats in Montreal in August, 2014. The first in the United States was the Cat Town Café, opened in October 2014 in Oakland, California. Now there are cat cafés across North America, including some in Mexico. Is this the purr-fect business idea for you?

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Mowing Goats

Goat grazing in grass
Unique business ideas: mowing goats. Image (c) Jeff Foott / Getty Images

Google is surely the most famous user of mowing goats; it hires a herd of about 200 goats to mow fields around its California headquarters. But it's certainly not the only company to hire one of these unusual businesses. Mowing goats are a lot more eco-friendly than the standard weed whacker and pesticide approach to weeds and long grasses.

Goats can't compete with residential mowing services, though. 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. Still, this may be a great service to offer larger businesses in your area.

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BrewDog: Road Kill Plus Beer

Beer bottles with squirrel skins as cozies
Unique business ideas: BrewDog's The End of History beer. BrewDog

Believe it or not, you read that right. On its website, BrewDog proclaims that its beers are in no way commercial or mainstream—and it really means it.

James Watt and partner Martin Dickie created an ale that was 55% 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. It sold for a pretty penny, too—its second release in 2017 went for $20,000 per bottle.

How to Come Up With Your Own Unique Business Ideas

It isn't as difficult as you think to come up with profitable business ideas that other people think are different, unusual, or just plain wacky. Opportunities abound, but many people have difficulty recognizing them. What separates the successful entrepreneur from others is their ability to see, seize, and even invent opportunities.