Examples of Creative Businesses

By - February 2, 2013

In the course of researching various ways to make money I sometimes come across some entrepreneurial ventures that immediately make me smile. Below I have details on a few of these more creative businesses. Some of them are just fun or are the kind where you think to yourself, "Why didn't someone do that sooner?" But a few of these are also very successful, and so might offer not just entertainment, but inspiration and motivation to get out there and start something new.

Cafe With Free Coffee

I heard about this concept when National Public radio did a story on it in early 2013. The cafe is in Moscow, Russia, and instead of charging for the food or coffee, customers pay for their time spent there. The prices were in Rubles, of course, but they were the equivalent of about $4 for the first hour, and then $2 for each hour after that, with a maximum of about $10 no matter how long a customer stayed.

They note the time when customers arrive and place a clock on their table so they have an idea of how long they have been there. Coffee and donuts or cookies are free. I assume that the menu is relatively limited, although the new story did not get into those details. The place is apparently packed most days. The timing is right now that so many of us go to a coffee shop to sit for hours using the internet.

A New Kind of Motivational T-Shirt

Drew and Caroline Yacu, who are brother and sister, started a business that creates and delivers t-shirts with various motivational messages on them. However, these shirts are not printed in the usual manner. Their creative twist is to have the inspirational message written on each shirt backwards, so that you can clearly read it whenever you are standing in front of a mirror.

People may scratch their heads when they see your shirt, but these messages are meant for the wearer. Presumably that backwards message will remind you of something useful or motivational every time you look in a mirror. It might say something like, "I'm making this a good day," or "What am I grateful for right now?"

Flat Rate Taxi

Swiss taxi company called Taximobil, is planning to offer fixed rate taxi service in some cities in Southern Germany in 2013. Customers get unlimited use of their service for 48 Euro's per month, which is about $64 at current exchange rates. They can buy a monthly card online or at various places. Then they call for a car to pick them up and deliver them anywhere in the city.

There is one minor "catch" to this service. If there are other customers headed the same way as you the taxi will stop to pick them up as well. This allows them to operate more efficiently. In other words, it might be a bit slower to get where you're going, though not much. And you get to meet new people.

Where this company gets really creative is in how they are obtaining taxis. Instead of buying a fleet of cars for the service, they plan to pay for the use of idle taxis that are already out on the streets. This naturally benefits the existing taxi companies when they are running at less than full capacity.

Foreclosure Cleaning Service

Foreclosure cleaning services can no longer be considered a new or creative business idea. In fact, it seems that there will come a time (hopefully soon) when the service is less needed. But a new twist on this is to have a system that you franchise. I just recently read about such a company. An entrepreneur can buy into their system and have all the guidance necessary to start cleaning up and preparing foreclosed homes for sale.

There is probably more than enough business for the moment, and a good cleaning and yard makeover probably means the lenders can sell homes for a couple thousand dollars more than they would have received.

How much can you make cleaning and preparing foreclosed homes? Here's an excerpt from my book, 101 Weird Ways to Make Money:

Pricing is difficult in this business, because jobs vary so much. An occupied 1,300-square-foot home is typically cleaned for $100 to $300, depending on local prices and what’s included. The same home, as an empty foreclosure, might be easier or much more difficult to clean depending on what the previous owners did before leaving. I just saw a bid of over more than $6,000 on a 4,000-square-foot home, although $3,000 of that was for painting—something not often handled by cleaners. One recently- interviewed foreclosure cleaner said he does 10 and to 20 jobs weekly at between $250 and $2,500 each.

When better times do come for home owners you might transition out of the foreclosure market without losing too much revenue by getting into a related market like preparing vacant apartments for rent. Depending on where you are in the country and what you include in your service, managers and landlords will pay $70 to $150 per unit for cleaning up apartments in preparation for re-renting them (ideally you want to do several at a time).

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