Successful businesses all have one thing in common: They solve a problem for their customers. Unfortunately, some problems are less pleasant than others, and some are downright disgusting.
Don't want to clean up after your dog? There's a business for that. Dealing with a lice infestation? There's a business for that, too. Hate the hassle of dirty diapers? Not to worry, there's a business out there ready to help you.
These seven businesses give new meaning to the phrase, "it's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it."
An in-home lice removal company
Parents of school-age children (and anyone whose job or day-to-day activities are likely to expose them to head lice) will appreciate LouseCalls, an in-home lice and nit removal service located in Florida. Founded in 2005 by Amy Graff, LouseCalls helps people get rid of head lice infestations. Graff, who has a master's degree in public health, was inspired to start the business after her daughter's elementary school class became infested with lice.
LouseCalls' technicians make it a point to educate customers about head lice along with treating them (including manual removal of lice and knits, as according to the company's website, many over-the-counter and prescription-removal methods are less effective and can even be harmful to those who use it). The company's unique house-call business model allows technicians to instruct customers facing lice infestations on how to properly remove lice from their homes, too. Technicians even stay in touch with customers for the week following treatment to make sure the infestation doesn't return. [13 Strange Businesses You Didn't Know Existed ]
A cloth diaper cleaning and delivery service
Disposable diapers may be convenient, but they're not exactly good for the environment. New parents who want to go green by switching to cloth diapers, but who don't want to deal with the mess and hassle of cleaning them, can turn to Blessed Bums, an organic cloth diaper service in Los Angeles. Owners Chris and Laura Gately started the company in 2010 when they realized Laura was pregnant. The pair wanted to use organic cotton diapers to minimize their impact on the environment and their baby's health.
So how does Blessed Bums' service work? The company delivers a set amount of diapers right to your door every week, in a diaper pail with a reusable pail liner and a deodorant disk. When your baby is done with a diaper, just drop it in the pail — at the end of the week, Blessed Bums will collect the dirty diapers for cleaning and deliver a new batch in a clean pail liner. And the cost? Just $24 per week, plus a $25 pail rental fee when you sign up.
A skeleton cleaning business
We've all got skeletons in our closets, but Skulls Unlimited International takes that saying to a whole new, literal level. As the world's leading supplier of osteological specimens (e.g., skulls, skeletons, teeth and fossils), Skulls Unlimited International, located in Oklahoma City, doesn't just buy and sell skeletons and replica specimens. They're also tasked with a very unique and disgusting task: cleaning them.
Cleaning these specimens doesn't just mean dusting off dirt and debris from bones and fossils. The company has to clean off any remains, degrease the specimens and then whiten them with chemicals. In an interview with Entrepreneur.com in 2007, owner Jay Villemarette admitted that it's not the most pleasant job to take on, noting that some specimens (like humans) are greasier than others or have distinct odors.
And don't worry, all of the specimens Skulls Unlimited International takes on are legally and ethically obtained, according to the company's website.
A high-tech hygiene company
The word bidet may conjure up images of commodes in upper-crust European society. But you might be surprised to know that not only have bidets gone high-tech, their demand is alive and well, even in America. Brondell, located in San Francisco, is one business prospering from the "bidet boom."
Brondell was co-founded in 2003 by David Samuel and Scott Pinizzotto, after Samuel accidentally got soaked by a bidet in a Japanese restaurant bathroom. After some research, the pair found that most American homes did not have bidets, and a company was born. Brondell’s product line includes a bidet called the "Swash 1000," which the company describes as a "highly functional toilet seat that provides users unparalleled comfort and personal hygiene."
Brondell's core market focus is North America, but they also distribute internationally and through various partnerships.
A dog poop clean-up service
Dog owners may love their pooches, but most people would rather not have to pick up their furry friend's poop. Unfortunately, it's a fact of life for pet owners. The good news is, there's a business that will do that for you: POOP 911. Started in 2005 by Geoffrey Bodle, a former consultant for Fortune 500 companies, POOP 911 is a dog poop clean-up service based in Orange County, California, that will keep you, your dog and your lawn happy.
With a startup investment of less than $5,000, Bodle initially operated POOP 911 as a weekend-only outfit until he could gauge the company's real money-making potential. Thanks to publicity, customer referrals, and simply driving his POOP 911 vehicle around town, the much-needed service and recognizable phone number got people’s attention. The company has even grown into a franchise, and services start as low as $7.95 per week.
A junk removal chain
They say one man's trash is another man's treasure, and this business is proof — sort of. Longtime friends Michael Andreacchi and Brian Reardon launched Junk King in 2005 to provide environmentally friendly junk-hauling services. What initially began as a service offered to family and friends quickly became much more when they realized the potential in the market — now, Junk King operates in 45 cities in the United States and Canada.
Headquartered in San Carlos, California, Junk King removes junk of all shapes and sizes, ranging from old furniture, appliances, tires, yard waste and practically anything in between. The company even does foreclosure cleanouts. And, according to Dennis Mulgannon, director of franchising for Junk King, their approach to junk hauling has saved nearly 2.3 tons of waste from local landfills by recycling up to 60 percent of what is collected from customers.
Andreacchi and Reardon began Junk King with their own personal investment, but potential franchisees can own and operate their own exclusive Junk King territory for an initial investment ranging from $83,500 to $150,000.
A bacteria-fighting baby business
Poor baby! For Joe and Linda Smaldore of Springfield, Virginia, necessity really did breed invention. Noticing that their new grandson had crusty, yellowish patches on his scalp (an ailment commonly known as "cradle cap" — or seborrheic dermatitis, to get technical), they sought a product that would help remove the dry skin. Cognizant of his tender scalp, they searched for a product that that did not contain harsh chemicals or toxins that might harm the child.
To their shock, no such product existed. As a result, they created their own solution in 2009: Bean-B-Clean, a scalp-massaging brush that helps combat cradle cap. According to the company's website, Been-B-Clean is a more hygienic alternative to the brushes hospitals use that have sponges on the back. Why? Because those sponges "can become a breeding ground for bacteria" and are only meant for one-time use. The Bean-B-Clean is a safer tool that is also soft and soothing for cradle cap-afflicted babies.
Originally published on Jan. 5, 2011. Updated on May 14, 2015. Additional reporting by Business News Daily contributor Stephanie Taylor Christensen.