Sometimes the craziest business ideas do work! Other times, the most un-sexy business plans can rake in huge profits.

Below are 5 examples, each truly bizarre in their own right.

1.DEATH CARE SERVICES

Death care services are often overlooked, but they are an important part of the service industry. It is a highly profitable industry, with margins of 21% and sales being more than $20 billion annually in the US alone.

Funerary services, in addition to upholding burial traditions, are used to help the deceased’s loved ones cope with their loss. This is a sentimental value-add that the business owner provides, and rarely can that be priced.

More often than not, undertakers have to go the extra mile to ensure a good service. Undertakers may find themselves counseling grief-stricken families, or advising them on will writing. Such unofficial work is part of the communal service an undertaker provides. It is very much a duty rather than a business.

2. PACKAGED AIR

“Nothing comes for free in this world; you can breathe in the air only when you spend one breath out”. A famous quote from Charles Portis led to a very quirky invention.

Vitality Air, sells air taken from nature. Yes, they literally sell air. Amazingly, the phenomenon has not died down. With many competitors still popping up, this industry mainly assists athletes in recovery. However, that is not always the case.

In China, several entrepreneurs are selling fresh air like hotcakes. Due to air pollution, many Chinese citizens are turning to fresh air canisters for health. Some are even held in a cookie jar, costing at least €80 a piece.

As a form of protest, a Chinese philanthropist created soda cans of fresh air from pristine parts of China/Taiwan. He then distributed them among the populace, as a political protest.

Though this is a trend-oriented business, the market still exists for such products. Especially if you are able to prove validity and sell in polluted markets. However, serious applications for pro-athletes and divers would require proper certifications.

3. PET “STUFF”

Pet rock’s success was enough to finance the manufacture of more than 2 million units.

Gary Dahl had been a salesman in Southern California and was laid off from his job. His unemployment benefits were about to run out, and he needed something to do with his time. He came up with the idea of selling “pet rocks,” which were rocks inside a box with a note saying things like “Aren’t you lucky! Your very own pet rock!”

The idea was so simple that he could not believe it hadn’t been thought of before. Dahl’s friends and relatives all contributed their pet rocks to him so that he had around 400 different types to offer customers when he set up shop on California’s Pier 39.

Entrepreneurs need not overcomplicate themselves. Sometimes the things around us could inspire us to make something. With the creation of pet rocks, came Chia pets and Sock monkeys. As long as the product is marketed correctly, any businessman can create a novel business operation.

4. PRANK TOYS

Whoopee cushions are not only fun to play with, but they can be a profitable business.

One of the most popular brands that sells whoopee cushions is called Buzzy. They sell over 100,000 units per year which translates to a revenue of $250,000. This number doesn’t include the money they make from licensing their brand and selling individual whoopee cushions.

Buzzy has been around since the 1920s and there’s no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Though the whoopee cushion is still one of the most popular pranks, there are other ways to get a laugh that don’t involve sound. From fake spiders to fake blood, today’s pranksters have a wide variety of pranks to choose from.

Though there is no official category called “prank toys”, the overall toy market is growing at 4% per annum globally. Far from being a developed market, this figure may not include novelty gifts like the pet rock. Or toy cosmetics like fake blood.

5. VIRTUAL ASSISTANT AGENCY

The virtual assistant (VA) industry is growing at a rapid rate and it is estimated that by 2020, the industry will be worth over $6 billion.

A business like this can be really profitable, as it provides freelancers with a way to get more work and boost their income. Alternatively, affordable labor could be sourced from third-world regions

Ideally, VA agencies tend to focus on providing process improvements – while taking most of the brute work in day to day tasks. Eventually, a VA agency could specialise into sales or industry related functions.

Once specialized, it is normal for such agencies to increase their rates drastically.

Such a business would require great communication skills. Business owners will have to be cognizant in cross-cultural relationships and work integrity.

Over to you

Which businesses did you find interesting? We hope this article has inspired you to let your creativity run amok.

Maybe, the most mundane, un-sexy thing, could be your one-way ticket to a million dollars.

Nicholas Yap and his father are undertakers based in Singapore. He is passionate about marketing and intrapreneurship.

Funeral stock photo by New Africa/Shutterstock