There are good business ideas and then there are great business ideas. You know, the ones that make you say, "Why didn't I think of that?" These are the businesses that break away from conventional thinking — the ones that solve problems you never even realized you had.
From a new and improved approach to online dating to a business that fixes the worst of fashion faux pas, here are seven great business ideas you'll wish you had come up with yourself.
Fashion first aid
There's no denying it: Band-Aids and Louboutin heels don't mix. But if your favorite shoes give you blisters, there's a business that can help. Solutions That Stick Inc. is a "fashion first aid" company offering more than 40 products designed to solve even the most troublesome of wardrobe dilemmas.
Founder Kim Castellano started the company in 1999 with one product, Garment Guard, disposable underarm shields that save white shirts from the danger of sweat stains. Since then, Castellano has developed a solution to nearly every fashion malfunction—from "Subtle Butt," gas neutralizing pads, to "Pocksie," a temporary sticky pocket for those times when carrying a purse isn't practical.
For Castellano, business success isn't just measured in sales or media coverage — though her products are regularly featured on NBC's "The Today Show" — but in satisfied customers. In an email to Business News Daily, Castellano said she frequently gets letters from clients thanking her for providing a cure for their most embarrassing problems, like foot odor and visible panty lines.
Weight loss in the wild
Most business owners wouldn't tell prospective customers to take a hike. But that unconventional marketing strategy works well for Steve Silberberg, owner and head guide at Fat Packing, a company that helps people lose weight by taking them on extended backpacking trips.
Silberberg and his crew of experienced wilderness guides take moderately overweight people deep into state and national parks in the U.S. and South America, where they hike, explore and camp their way to fitness.
To shed a few pounds, fat packers haul their fair share of camping equipment, food and other gear through some of the Western Hemisphere's toughest terrains from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to Patagonia in Chile.
Old-school online dating?
If the idea of meeting the love of your life online makes you roll your eyes, this next business is for you. Cheek'd is a "reverse-engineered" dating site that pairs potential love interests using an interesting mix of old-school methods (i.e. real world interactions) and new-fangled technology.
Founded by Lori Cheek, a former store architect for Christian Dior, Cheek'd helps singles connect in-person via old-fashioned calling cards. That's right, calling cards. Here's how it works: A person looking for love orders a stack of cards from Cheek'd and slips them to sexy strangers at the bar, gym or dog park.
Recipients of Cheek'd cards visit cheekd.com and enter a unique code printed on each card. They are then directed to the card-giver's online profile and can— if they like what they see— connect with admirers via the Cheek'd mobile app. Combining physical introductions with virtual flirting, Cheek'd might just revolutionize the way online dating is done.
A better wedding gift registry
If you've ever given or received a wedding gift, then you're likely familiar with the wedding registry — that (sometimes) voluminous list of a couple's every material want and need.
While registries are certainly convenient, cluing guests in on a couple's personal style and eliminating redundant gift-giving, they also make the whole gift-giving process a bit impersonal. But one business is seeking to change that by creating an online, interactive registry that gets wedding guests more involved in the gift- selection process and even lets them see how their gifts will be put to use by the happy couple.
Blueprint Registry has couples choose what gifts they want to receive based on a "blueprint" of their home. Gift givers then take a tour of the virtual love nest and decide exactly where they want their gifts to appear— from the dining room table to the linen closet. The registry even lets couples specify who picked out each gift, so guests of the groom, for example, can be sure to spoil him specifically. [Looking for a new business idea? Visit our Business Idea page]
Crowdfund your next vacation
Startups aren't the only ones taking advantage of crowdfunding. MyTab, a crowdfunding site for jetsetters, lets world travelers use this popular financing option to fund their next adventure.
The site, which uses PayPal, is a platform where travelers can plan a trip anywhere in the world and then solicit the funds to pay for it from friends, family and followers on social media. Donated dollars are earmarked for flights and hotel rooms only, which makes MyTab donations a great alternative to cash gifts for recent grads, honeymooners and other globetrotters.
And because the site acts as a middleman, negotiating deals between travelers and airline and hotel companies, every dollar raised through the site lowers the cost of the overall trip. MyTab's connectivity with social media sites such as Facebook also facilitates politeness, letting travelers send automatic "thank you" notes on the walls of all those who donate to their journey.
Swap to shop
No money? No problem. This next business is for those who want to ditch dollars in favor of a more ancient method of commerce — bartering. One of several businesses born of the emerging "sharing economy," Swapdom is a website where people exchange goods without exchanging cash.
Unlike most bartering sites, which operate on a one-to-one basis (i.e. I give you something and you give me something in return), Swapdom has perfected the art of the "circle swap." In other words, you can still get an item you want even if the person it belongs to isn't interested in any of the stuff you're trying to trade.
Anyone can sign up for Swapdom, and exchanging goods is free. Users do, however, have to pay to ship their goods to others, which includes a service fee capped at $2.
Technology meets nature
If you don't have a green thumb, don't worry: there's an app for that. Making gardening easier for tech-savvy veggie lovers, Sprout It is a website and mobile app for iPhone that helps novice gardeners plant smarter, healthier vegetable patches.
The app provides useful information about what plants grow best in your location, as well as guides for how to plant, care for and harvest your own veggies and herbs. Allowing you to keep track of all your plants in a "virtual garden," the app shows you what each of your veggies should look like from seed to harvest time. You can even set the app to remind you when to water your plants.
And if you're having a hard time choosing which veggies to grow, the site has an array of garden layouts to help you decide. From the "Soup's On Garden" (potato and corn stew, anyone?) to the "Cocktail Garden" (because vodka tastes better with cucumbers), Sprout It has the right answers for every appetite.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Swapdom users ship items to the company for swapping. This information has been updated to reflect the fact that Swapdom users ship items to one another.