So Crazy, These Small Biz Ideas Might Just Work!

571px-Big_and_little_dog_1Even smart venture capitalists swing and miss far more often than they hit home runs. It’s difficult to predict which business ideas will make money and which will tank.

A friend bought extra tickets to this year’s PGA Championship tournament figuring he’d be able to resell some to help defray his cost of going. When he listed them he found that there was a glut of tickets selling for under their face value.

However, it turned out that parking passes were fetching two to three times their original price.

Alas, he hadn’t invested in parking passes.

The lesson here is that you need to be willing to experiment and subject even the oddest ideas to marketplace testing. To offer you a little inspiration, here are some quirky business ideas that should help you think outside of the proverbial box.

Pet Rock

When listing the craziest ideas that made money, you have to start the list with the Pet Rock. Advertising executive Gary Dahl had this idea one night in a Bay Area bar while listening to friends complain about their pets.

TIP: Do a better job remembering all those wacky ideas that get tossed around in bars late at night.

Place-in-line-holder Guy

New York city resident Robert Samuel lost his job selling cellphones and needed to make a few bucks. There was a new iPhone release coming up, so he offered his services via Craig’s List to hold a place in line.

Samuel has branched out since then and it looks like much of his work has been waiting in line for cronuts – you know, doughnuts made from croissant dough. By the way, I also think cronuts rate as a crazy, yet very successful, idea.


Perhaps this is a new twist on the Pet Rock idea: petless people who love pets sign up to take care of pets for people who need to get away. Websites like BorrowMyDoggie and DogVacay connect the pet-plentiful with the petless for as little as a few hours to several days. The advantage is that the pets get to stay with folks who are enthusiastic about animals.

If you don’t want to turn your home over to strange pets, consider dog walking. It’s becoming a growth industry in bigger cities.


There seems to be an animal/pet theme here, doesn’t there? This one plays to the current desire to get closer to the source of our food – way closer. If you think you might want to raise your own chickens for eggs, in the spring Rent The Chicken will set residents of Western Pennsylvania up with a portable coop, two layers and all the supplies needed for the rental period. If you fall in love with the chicks, you have the option to adopt.

I think a lesson to be learned from these businesses is to be on the lookout for how you can help people cope with their modern busy lives. This is reflected in the boom in personal assistants, shoppers, trainers and chefs. A more traditional business that taps these needs and is growing significantly is housecleaning.

But don’t be afraid to experiment with the wild and wacky before you turn to a tried-and-true business idea.

Sponsored by AT&T

Image: Big and little dog 1, © 2006 Ellen Levy Finch, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license