Top ideas for Uncommon businesses - Bicycle cell phone service and more...

 This is yet another small collection of ideas for interesting businesses. Some of these have been tried, others perhaps not (i never really know with some ideas - people have tried more things than we know). Some are small enterprises, others have the potential to be very big.

To start, I saw an report on the news the other night about a young man who started a business to pay his expenses while living in Thailand. As in many poorer parts of the world, long-distance phone service in the home is not as common as in wealthier countries, so people typically go to phone stands where they pay to make their calls. The problem is that they may have to walk a mile or more just to make a call.


This man's idea was to put a couple phones in a bicycle-powered cart and take them to the people. He was making a living at it according to the report.It's a small business, but that doesn't mean that it has to stay small. A person might eventually hire riders to bring phone services to all parts of a city. Making just $10 per rider in daily profit would be a $100,000 per year if you had 30 routes.

The other thing to remember when you hear about a business like this, is that there are principles involved that may be even more profitable when applied in other ways. In this case, you might ask what other things can be brought to people by bicycle. Or you might ask what things and services we take for granted in wealthier countries that aren't so common in poorer ones, and then look at ways to provide those things and services.

Video Yearbooks

The idea here is to have an hour-long video that shows a bit of the events of the school year. It would be sold alongside the regular school yearbook. Those who have done it charge between $20 and $30 per copy I believe. A student might even do this one, and with a large enough class size could make a few thousand dollars. An outside entrepreneur would need to talk to school officials to film at events (and to sell to the students), but he or she could work on videos for five or six schools at a time.

Free Ebook Website

Giving things away to make money online is a proven strategy. With free ebooks the idea is that you give something of value to a person, and encourage them to buy something more. That might be a course you sell, a more comprehensive ebook on the same subject, or some other product. It can also be a product that someone else created, which you get a commission for selling. That leads us to the bigger idea here.

The business would go something like this: Line up products you can make a commission on - the more the better. For each one, you create a four or five page ebook on the subject, providing some limited information, but something of real value. Of course you have your affiliate links in each book, which promote the various products you make money on. You then set up a site and give away the ebooks. Everyone likes free things. Ideally you would want to have 100 or more ebooks eventually, and you could have others write them for you.

Just to throw some numbers out there, suppose you can give away 200 books per day. Now, if 3 of those readers buy something that made you an average $25 commission, this free-ebook website would generate over $2,200 per month.

Home Insurance Inventory Service

Many insurance companies recommend or require that their policy holders have photos or video of their possessions in order to file a claim. This service business basically involves walking through the client's home (or office) with a video camera and filming everything, possibly with the owners spoken notes about each item and the original cost. The client then keeps the tape in a safe deposit box or other safe location. It's a very simple business, and requires only a small initial investment.

Ideally you want an insurance agent or two to recommend your service to clients. For this you might pay them a referral fee of $50, out of the $200 to $250 that you charge the customer.

Mobile Oil Change Business

The idea here is simple; some people will pay extra to have their oil changed in their car at home or at the office or wherever they are. They don't want to wait in line at a regular oil change place. A busy business person might have to take more than an hour out of her day to drive to the facility and wait for the job to be completed.

There are some of these businesses around already. Assuming you already have a suitable vehicle (a truck or van are probably best), the startup costs could be as little as a few hundred dollars. A few tools and supplies are all that is needed. Whether this could be a decent business depends in part on the size of the town you live in and the income level of the people living there.

This isn't one of the more interesting businesses, but it could be grown larger. You might hire others to run out and do the oil changes while you man the phones. A small profit from each employee (or independent contractor, if you can structure it that way) could add up to a large profit for you.