Ever had one of those ideas for a genius business venture, but it sounds too crazy to do? Well, you might be inspired by learning about other crazy ideas that have lead businesses to make good money. Most of these people never said, “I want to create Twitter when I grow up,” but part of being a successful entrepreneur is the ability to see money where other people see nonsense. Here are some ways that small businesses have made money off of quirky ideas.
Take a Cultural Interest and Make it Commercial
With a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Duke University, Alex Andon probably never answered “jellyfish art” to those who ask, what are you going to do with your degree? “The idea of a personal jellyfish tank came to me after I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and realized how wildly popular the jellyfish exhibit was,” said Andon. He measured the excitement centered on a phenomenon and decided to use it in a commercial venture. Jellyfish art now sells jellyfish and jellyfish aquariums online for $39 per jellyfish. He spent $50,000 to start the company and now he doubles the profits quarterly.
Don’t Discount Simple Services
It doesn’t sound as crazy now that millions of people use it every day, but Twitter was a quirky idea that was generated by a struggling podcasting group in South Park, CA. Jack Dorsey came up with the idea of a texting service that would allow groups to communicate quickly. Twitter quickly began garnering attention and getting plenty of use.
Novelty is Valuable
Created out of a joke that people would have an easier time with a pet rock than with a real pet, the pet rock was created by Dahl in 1975. The product became a joke and then a novelty gift picked up by Neiman-Marcus. In the end more than a million customers bought a pet rock for $3.99 a piece. The idea got picked up a couple of decades later when the pet rock went digital in the form of the gigapet.
People Will Pay for Humor
Denver entrepreneur John Kaplar designed a site where you can buy tacky holiday sweaters and scarves. If you ever have to come up with a sweater for an ugly sweater party, you can skip the trip to the thrift store and order one online.
You Can Market A Quirky Ability
Carolyn Wilman, self-named the contest queen, sells her ability to help others win. Since she began her business, she’s helped her clients win more than $1 million in sweepstakes winnings. “I became unemployed and I began entering sweepstakes as a hobby, I became a mom, I went on a wild winning streak (3 trips in one week) and after about 100 people asked me my secret, I decided to combine my marketing background with my hobby,” said the Oshawa, Ontario-based entrepreneur.
Next time you’re sitting around a table joking about making a goofy talent or idea into a business venture, take it from the experts: your idea could make you a lot of money. It sometimes takes sticking your neck out a limb to see your original idea turn into your future.
About the Author: Susan Braud blogs for several online MBA programs and most offer free background checks when you enroll.