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10 Business Ideas You've Probably Never Heard Of:

1. Cat Café.

Cat Cafés offer people a place to drink a cup of coffee and eat a light meal while watching, cuddling, and playing with cats. For those who are unable to keep pets, these establishments offer them the opportunity to interact with animals. These businesses have also proved very successful in improving cat adoption rates in the US and some have partnered with shelters and rescue organizations.

Although no-one can be certain, it is generally agreed that the world's first cat café opened in Taipei, Taiwan in 1998. It was called the "Cat Flower Garden." Six years later, the idea of cat cafés pounced over to Japan, where they became extremely popular. Over the next five years, 79 cafés purred into existence throughout the island. From there they spread across the globe.

The first cat café on the North American continent was Le Café des Chats in Montreal, Canada.

Funding Success

A crowdfunding campaign to open Café Chat L’Heureux in Montreal raised $45,000 in 40 days.

From Cat Town in Oakland, CA., to The Windy Kitty in Chicago, IL. cat cafés are proving very popular in the US. However, getting approved in the past has been difficult. Most health departments want to wedge a gulf between the area where food is prepared and served and where the cats are kept after hours. Fair; no-one wants a hairball on their meatball sub.

According to MeowAround, an international cat café directory, the United States has 127 cat cafes.

Success Story

Cat Town Café got 120 cats adopted in its first four months.

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2. Home Energy Auditor.

There were roughly 115 million households in the US a few years ago. The average household energy bill in the country for February and March this year came to between $1,034 and $1,050. Of the energy used every year, 48% goes to heating and cooling, and 52% to lighting. If you can save people up to 30% on their bills, you're in business.

That's what home energy auditors do. By applying their understanding of how energy is consumed in a building, they suggest ways to reduce this consumption, and in turn, save people money.

There are a number of rules and regulations around energy auditing, and professional auditors must be certified.

Get the Skills

The Association of Energy Engineers has a Certified Energy Auditor (CEA) program.

Home Energy Auditors provide services using a bunch of tools you've not heard of but that are quite cool and sound like they should be in an Avengers movie. They use infrared cameras, combustion analyzers, blower doors, manometers, watt meters, smoke machines, and even soap bubbles. Some may even go so far as to use pen and paper, too, just in case.

Success Story

The top energy auditing company, CMC Energy Services, decreased carbon emissions by 203 million pounds last year. The woman-owned company has also been selected for the 2020 Top Workplaces list in Philadelphia.

3. Boat Cleaning.

Boat-bottom barnacle busting is quite a lucrative industry with relatively little competition. The boating industry is thriving. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, annual U.S. sales of boats, marine products and services reached an estimated $42 billion in 2019. Taking powerboats alone last year, 280,000 units were sold. An Ibis World Report, playfully titled All Aboard, stated that in 2014 87.3 million people participated in recreational boating. And everyone needs a clean boat.

Boat-owners know that cleaning prevents rust and decay, and preserves their investments. So boat cleaning companies provide these services at marinas with their kits of mops, brushes, towels, polish, vinyl, and wax.

What an appealing thought: to careen a boat, rid it of barnacles, and mend and caulk its hull while singing sea shanties.

Sea Shanties to Learn and Sing

"It’s round Cape Horn we’ve got to go Chasing whales through ice and snow Oh, my old mother, she wrote to me My darling son come home from sea."

Ten shanties to learn.

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4. Anger Room.

Another import from Japan, anger rooms, also called rage rooms and smash rooms, are places that charge people per hour to break stuff. The idea is that people can vent their rage and frustration, and while many claim this to be an excellent form of therapy, there are many who refute this. Regardless, people pay between $25 and $500 for anything between 15 and 60-minute sessions.

Some of these businesses set up scenes and replicas of household rooms or offices, some offer custom setups, and others provide little more than a four-walled room in the warehouse district. People pay to demolish televisions, furniture, printers, clocks, wine bottles, etc. Some companies allow customers to bring their own breakables. One company noticed that during campaign time, mannequins of politicians were a favorite breakable option for customers.

This makes a smash room quite an affordable business to start. You need a room, some breakable stuff you can pick up at dumps or on the street, and things like crowbars, baseball bats, table legs, etc. You may consider providing protective gear.

Warning

Clearly demarcate the lobby from any smash rooms.

5. Small-scale Urban Farming.

With a little bit of land and some know-how, a green thumb can quickly reap some good money and do good for society. Small scale farming is becoming very popular, and there are many options. One could grow herbs for food and medicine, flowers for potpourris and soap, and vegetables for local restaurants, among other ideas.

According to a report by IndustryARC, globally, urban farming revenues will reach $236.4 billion by 2023. While community gardens contribute the most to these revenues, home gardens will generate roughly $29.61 billion.

Small-scale Urban Farming Business Ideas:

Gardens can be started at any scale, with some farmers starting window and kitchen gardens, others starting large container gardens, and small greenhouses. There are larger-scale options like vertical farming, but starting a business growing plants doesn't have to cost a lot of money. You do need to know what you're doing though.

Resources for urban farming:

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An Eight-Step Process to Naming a Farm Business

6. Content Translator.

Today, modern businesses are able to reach global audiences with their content but the language barrier still keeps content in smaller language silos. Not everyone speaks English, and people want content in their home language. As a freelance content translator, you translate people's blogs, ebooks, social media content, email marketing material, etc, from one language into another.

There are dozens of translation apps available but some are expensive and few can offer perfect translations because the software misses small nuances in language that are pivotal for meaningful translations.

Of course, you have to know more than one language. In fact, you need to be fluent in two language to offer these services.

Pivotal Skills

  • Excellent communication and writing skills in the source language.

  • Computer Skills.

  • Professional training or a degree.

There are a lot of opportunities here when you consider internet usage per nation. The US is the only predominantly English-speaking country among the top ten. China has 854 million users, India has 560 million, Indonesia has 171 million, and Brazil has 149 million.

7. Expert Witness Services.

Ever wondered where these high-powered lawyers on these courtroom dramas find the wide range of bespectacled professors and doctors that provide testimony for their cases? Probably not. But this is a thing, and sourcing experts willing to testify seems to be a fairly lucrative business. The idea is quite arresting.

Expert witness services provide access to qualified specialists. To start a business like this you'll need to find these experts, and then represent them, like an agent. Or, if you are a specialist in a field, you could offer your expertise to law firms and insurance companies.

Industry Snapshot

According to IbisWorld reports the expert witness services industry has an annual revenue of $172 million and in 2019 there were 3,408 businesses.

8. Ghost Restaurant.

Also known as dark kitchens, cloud kitchens, virtual kitchens, or headless restaurants, ghost restaurants are delivery-only restaurants with no seating, dining areas, or waiters. Customers order food through third-party services, or directly from the restaurant. From February to April weekly sales via online ordering leaped by 840%, according to Upserve.

It seems people prefer to order in from a ghost restaurant rather than visit their favorite haunt.

Industry Forecast

According to a report by multinational investment bank and financial services company, Morgan Stanley, this approach could grow from $30 billion in 2017 to $220 billion in 2020. The firm also says delivery will account for up to 40% of the restaurant industry.

The current pandemic has forced some restaurants to embrace this new business model but those who have gone into it willingly are capitalizing on the low start-up costs, simple scalability, and very low overheads. These types of restaurants have been served cold dishes in the past.

A few years ago, with news agencies finding a percentage of them operating without permits, many of them unregulated, and some three or four oily layers deep in health code violations, these businesses were seen as questionable at best. There were also reports of kitchen staff being forced to work in cramped, dark spaces.

Ghost Kitchen Example

The kitchen staff at Frato’s Pizza cooks dishes for four virtual restaurants at the same time. People seated in the restaurant can order one of their popular pizzas, but, at the same time, people watching Netflix at home can order a spicy chicken gyro from Halal Kitchen, a grilled cheese sandwich from Cheesy Deliciousness, and a milkshake from Heavenly Shakes to be delivered.

Restaurant Business Names

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9. Online Course Creator.

The global e-learning market is expected to surpass 243 billion U.S. dollars by 2022, according to Statista. And online course creators have their chalky fingers all over it. Online course creators develop short courses that they sell via online learning platforms such as Udemy and Teachable. These courses are also a sort of long-form business card, acting as proof of expertise.

Online Course Creation Platforms

There are courses for just about anything these days. For example, Udemy has 13 categories starting with development and business, lurching through office productivity and personal development, and falling exhausted across music, health, and teaching. That's saying nothing about sub-categories. Ironically, there are online courses about creating online courses.

10. Pre-packed Bug-out Bags.

Come earthquake, hurricane, flood, wildfire, horde of trolls, vikings, or zombies, whatever the disaster, survivalists believe the first 72-hours are pivotal. Get through those, and you may have a chance. And to get through them you need a bug-out bag.

Bug-out bags contain basic tools and supplies that aid survival in an emergency. Where survival kits have everything you need to set yourself up nicely next to some idyllic river for three-and-a-half months, a bug-out bag gives you 72 hours. The focus is on evacuation.

Most of us don't believe disasters happen to good people, and even more of us couldn't be bothered to prepare for one. One bug-out bag checklist had the number of items at 50.

So, some companies, driven by love for humanity, pre-pack bug-out bags.

What's in a Bug-out Bag:

Air Filtration Mask

Mini shovel

Tent

Axe

Sleeping bag

Crowbar

Water filtration system

Folding saw

Emergency cash

Pepper spray

Rations

Matches

Fishing kit

Flashlights

Compass

Knife

GPS tracking system

Head gear

Maps of area

Waterproof jacket

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FAQs:

What are the next big business ideas?

  • Healthy Fast Food Delivery Business.
  • Tiny Houses Design and Construction.
  • Virtual Reality Industry Magazine.
  • Educational Technology.
  • Build apps for quantum computers.
  • Ghost Restaurant.

What are the most successful small businesses?

According to The SMB Guide, the most profitable small businesses are:

  • Real Estate.
  • Accounting and Tax Preparation.
  • Website Design.
  • Warehouse and Storage.
  • Legal Services.

What is a fun business to start?

What is the best business to start in 2020?

What are some million dollar ideas?

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