It’s easy to think up a business idea that’s already common in the marketplace, but coming up with a unique business idea takes courage and patience. To get started, ask yourself which innovations could positively impact your life. What is an issue affecting you or your loved ones? Once you’ve identified a problem and created a solution, your idea could prove valuable to a large audience, meet significant demand and lead to a successful business.
Uncommon business ideas tend to fill a void or address an overlooked niche. The following 12 examples demonstrate that game-changing companies can solve problems, generate innovation and be highly profitable. Use this list as a jumping-off point to brainstorm your unique business idea.
Amid climate change and natural and human-made disasters worldwide, starting a business that provides disaster and emergency preparedness kits is unusual yet sure to find an audience. For example, Ready To Go Survival was launched in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to provide personalized kits for anybody anticipating a disaster. Since then, the company has added additional resources, including survival consulting, survival gear, educational blog posts, skill-building tools and disaster research.
Have a green thumb? Help other plant owners keep their greens healthy and thriving. For example, Nick Cutsumpas, better known as Farmer Nick, has provided exactly this type of consulting to people in New York City, alongside other plant-friendly services such as in-person plant shopping assistance. Farmer Nick has built an email list of “plant parents” eager to receive tools and insights via his newsletter. He also has a blog that provides a wealth of information and resources, plant-coaching services, images of client installations, and more.
Many people can’t get to the grocery store or are too overwhelmed with work and family obligations to prepare the fresh, healthy meals they’d like to provide for their families. If you have kitchen prowess, consider turning your passion into a passive income source that also provides a service to the community.
Several meal kit brands, such as Blue Apron and HelloFresh, have long offered similar services via online subscription models, but your unique business idea can help you forge lasting bonds with people in your area.
The online business I Do Now I Don’t started from what might initially seem like a niche concern: Its founder experienced a failed engagement and tried selling the $10,000 ring back to their jeweler, who offered only $3,500. I Do Now I Don’t is now an e-commerce site that sells gently used jewelry and other accessories.
Typically, the company offers sellers more money and buyers lower prices than traditional jewelry stores by eliminating the middleman – and driving sellers’ earning potential alongside the business.
It’s no surprise that most people don’t want to clean their homes after a night of revelry. That’s where Hangover Helpers comes in. This company takes care of your post-party chaos and even provides breakfast (with your choice of “grease” or “green”) to ensure you’re feeling your best – without the added mess.
As innovative business ideas go, this seemingly niche service is in high demand among all regions and demographics, and it requires straightforward skills like cooking, cleaning and organization.
Consumers are increasingly concerned about wasted resources in the food packaging process. Cardboard, plastic, Styrofoam and twist ties are sometimes not recyclable, leading to environmental waste.
In response, Package Free Shop, a zero-waste pop-up shop in New York City, offers convenient and simple alternatives to single-use plastic products. The company also offers to ship its products with absolutely no plastic. Since opening, the company estimates that it has kept 48 million plastic straws, 132 million plastic bags, 674,000 plastic razors and 3.8 billion plastic water bottles out of landfills. This is an admirable achievement and plays to a growing market of consumers who want sustainable products and packaging.
If you love baking and have the creative flair for selling yourself, an online bakery business like Santa Barbara’s Big Red Baking Company could be a great way to stand out and make money. Conducting business online helps aspiring bakers connect with customers without having to rent commercial baking space.
With social media apps like Instagram and TikTok, you can really show off your baking chops and attract hungry customers, especially as mobile and social media shopping continue to grow.
When you bring your baking business idea to life, you’ll need to understand and adhere to your state’s food business laws and ensure your health standards are up to code.
Do you ever wish you could go back to school or teach a course in a subject in which you’re skilled? Skillshare, founded in 2011, makes both of these goals possible.
The company allows experts to teach online courses on a subject they choose via short videos, while students can watch classes at their own pace and use the community to get feedback. Students can also take classes offline via smartphones and tablets if they want to learn on the go.
Unlike the high tuition rates of college or graduate school, Skillshare costs $99 per year. Half of that fee goes to pay the company’s teachers, so if you’re an expert in something, it’s a great way to make some extra money. And if you’re looking to learn new skills or brush up on old talents you can use to earn a side income, Skillshare allows you to do so right from home.
Skillshare also gives back. According to the company’s website, Skillshare donates a membership to a student through the company’s scholarship program for every annual membership purchased.
While bigger might be better for some, Minimus takes a different approach. Operating for over a decade, the online company offers more than 2,500 individually packaged products, including travel-size toiletries and individual servings of various food items – everything from chips to Tabasco sauce.
The company was founded after the Shrater family noticed how much product they were wasting at the end of a trip to New Hampshire. Today, the company takes up two large warehouses in Los Angeles and employs dozens of workers. In addition to the individual items, Minimus sells premade kits specially designed for different uses, such as baby and family kits, outdoor kits, first-aid kits, and military care packages.
For some events, the typical green, cramped portable toilet just won’t do. To address this seemingly niche need, Ahead with Class by ElizaJ came up with one of the more innovative business ideas out there, to much success. The company rents high-quality, clean and attractive portable restrooms for any outdoor event – perfect for hosting something a little more formal.
Each of ElizaJ’s individual restrooms includes fresh flowers, designer soaps and lotions, name-brand paper products, wicker wastebaskets, air fresheners, and fresh water. One option, the Powder Room, can accommodate events of up to 350 people and is designed to rival restrooms in the finest restaurants and department stores. ElizaJ has also launched a franchising model, allowing entrepreneurs to run their own portable restroom operations.
Kids who grew up wanting to design their own version of Monopoly or Clue can easily do so now with the help of The Game Crafter. The world’s first web-to-print game publishing company gives gamers the chance to create their own board games, customized playing cards and card games.
While designing and publishing a game used to be extremely difficult, The Game Crafter (founded in 2009 by JT Smith, Tavis Parker and Jamie Vrbsky) has simplified the process by providing templates, instructions, videos and proofing tools to help would-be game designers create a quality product. Users then can buy as many copies of the game as they like.
Game creators may find that The Game Crafter provides them with ample earning potential and unique business ideas. Creators who feel especially confident in their work can fully develop and sell their games via crowdfunding apps to earn passive income while mining their passions. After audience demand surpasses a certain threshold, creators may be able to turn their Game Crafter-developed ideas into full-time businesses.
Creating a unique business that fills a specific niche might seem daunting, but the results can be extremely rewarding. No matter the industry, new businesses seem to find spaces and needs to fill. Your idea’s potential is limitless if it brings innovation to unmet needs.
Bassam Kaado, Sammi Caramela, Brittney Morgan and Carlyann Edwards contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.