21 Unique Business Ideas for 2024

  • Brandon Boushy by Brandon Boushy
  • 3 weeks ago
  • Blog
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Private chef, photographer, and pet sitter holding a dog with text that reads "Totally unique businesses you can start now" hovering overhead

Unique business ideas across sectors and industries are waiting to be discovered. These businesses might cater to niche markets, invent and sell new products, or offer a traditional service in a new way.

Finding the right unique business idea can be a balancing act. You want to be different enough to stand out from the crowd, but not so different that there’s no market for your product or service. We’ll discuss the unique small business ideas that hit that sweet spot.

Top 21 Unique Business Ideas 2024

  1. Dog walking business
  2. Fingerprinting business
  3. Personal chef
  4. Remote cleaning business
  5. Ewaste collection and recycling
  6. Window cleaning business
  7. Flower shop
  8. Mobile veterinary services
  9. Specialty food store
  10. Virtual interior designer
  11. Online bakery
  12. Voiceover business
  13. Transcription business
  14. Pet sitting services
  15. AI book business
  16. Axe throwing business
  17. Sensory deprivation tank business
  18. Cat cafe
  19. Drone photography
  20. Furniture restoration business
  21. Custom treehouse business

You’ll find more information on each of these small business ideas, along with more unusual business ideas, in the article below.

Unique Service Business Ideas

Smartly dressed young woman using a tablet to search for unique service business ideas

1. Dog Walking

Average Annual Revenue: $34K+
Average Profit Margins: 16%
• Startup Costs: $500-$5K
• Time to Revenue: 3+ months
• Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.7%
• Best For:
Animal lovers and experts, pet owners, people who like working outdoors

High demand puts a dog walking business among the best small business ideas for animal lovers to start in 2024. As of 2023, 65.1 million households in the U.S. own at least one dog, and many of those need help taking care of them. That’s a lot of potential customers for your new business venture.

Another plus of dog walking is the potentially low startup costs compared to other businesses. You can set up a profile on a site like Rover and start providing services locally right away with a very small budget.

2. Fingerprinting

Average Annual Revenue: $132K+
Average Profit Margins: 9.1%
Startup Costs: $500-$250K
Time to Revenue: 6-18 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: -0.6%
Best For: People with high professionalism, a commitment to security, and strong organization skills and attention to detail

Fingerprinting is another unique business idea with a potentially low initial investment.

These services have a broader customer base than many people realize, from criminal investigations to employment background checks and security clearances. If you’re able to attract customers and are skilled at providing customer service, fingerprinting can be a very lucrative business.

Dan Jurkowitsch is an expert in this unique niche market. He teaches people how to use this business model to start successful businesses. Hear his advice in this podcast interview:

3. Personal Chef Services

Average Annual Revenue: $129K
Average Profit Margins: 51.7%
Startup Costs: $500-$5K
Time to Revenue: 1-6 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 0.9%
Best For: Culinary experts like chefs, cooks, and bakers with strong customer service skills

Being a personal chef is a great business idea for chefs who want to avoid the stress and high startup costs of food trucks and restaurants.

Since you work one-on-one with customers, it’s much less hectic and demanding, and you won’t need a brick-and-mortar space.

Connecting with your target audience is often the trickiest part of starting a personal chef business. Having an online presence for your business, including a website and a strong social media following, can be the best way to grow small businesses in this niche.

You can even expand this online presence into another revenue stream by offering online courses in cooking techniques or connecting your chef services to an online store selling ingredients or cooking supplies.

Unique Cleaning Business Ideas

Cleaning business owner in a plaid button down holding a sponge up in one hand and a bucket of cleaning supplies in the other

4. Remote Cleaning

Average Annual Revenue: $74K+
Average Profit Margins: 6.7%
Startup Costs: $500-$30K
Time to Revenue: 1-6 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.2%
Best For:
System-driven and organized entrepreneurs who are tech-savvy with strong digital marketing skills

Offering cleaning services may not be a unique business idea on its own, but it is when you run that company completely remotely. You can set up an online booking system, hire remote team members, and run a cleaning business without ever setting foot in a customer’s home.

Neel Parekh launched his cleaning company, MaidThis, in 2013. Today, it brings in an average revenue of $166,000 per month using a 100% remote business model. Learn how Neel started and grew this unique business idea in the interview below:

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5. E-Waste Collection and Recycling

Average Annual Revenue: $5.7M+
Average Profit Margins: 2.9%
Startup Costs: $100K-$3.5M
Time to Revenue: 6-18 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.9%
Best For:
People who like physical work, entrepreneurs passionate about sustainability and the environment

Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, has been a growing problem over the past decade. Roughly 6.9 million tons are generated in the United States alone each year, of which only about 17% is properly recycled. Part of the problem is that many people don’t know how to properly dispose of electronics or lack services in their area to do so.

This makes an e-waste recycling service both a unique business idea with potentially high demand and a much-needed service to safeguard our natural resources.

This is another unique small business idea that could be done remotely. Kyle Landwehr started a junk removal business and has turned those systems into six-figure remote trash hauling businesses through the Junk Academy. Find out more in this podcast interview:

6. Window Cleaning

Average Annual Revenue: $64K
Average Profit Margins: 8.8%
Startup Costs: $200-$5K
Time to Revenue: 3+ months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 0.9%
Best For:
Detail-oriented and hands-on entrepreneurs who excel at customer service

One way to stand out with a cleaning services business is to focus on a niche. Window cleaning can be an extremely profitable option because it’s a relatively untapped niche with a potentially wide customer base.

Both residential and commercial customers have a need for window cleaning services. This is also something many people can’t do themselves, particularly for multi-story buildings.

On The Spot Window Cleaning has grown to a $45,000-a-month business since its founding in 1998. Learn how owner Jeremiah Hickey started and grew this small business idea in his podcast interview:

Unique Business Ideas for Small Towns

Flower shop owner holding a bouquet next to a sign that reads "Flower shop"

7. Flower Shop

Average Annual Revenue: $262K+
Average Profit Margins: 5.4%
Startup Costs: $100,000-$3.5M
Time to Revenue: 6-18 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 2.8%
Best For: Gardeners, florists, and other plant care professionals, creative entrepreneurs with a green thumb

A flower shop is among the best small-town business ideas. People everywhere love getting beautiful, sweet-smelling flower arrangements as a gift, but smaller towns often don’t have local businesses that provide the service.

Small business owners in the floral niche also have several options to add revenue streams. For example, you could sell herbs, potted plants, seeds, bulbs, and gardening supplies. You can also expand your customer base by selling edible flowers to local restaurants or partnering with other small businesses in the gift niche.

It doesn’t take much experience or business savvy to start a flower business. Dylan Capshaw started a flower business online when he was only 16. He’s since expanded it into a unique business, Stemistry, that combines a flower shop with a cafe. Hear his story in this podcast interview:

8. Mobile Veterinary Services

Average Annual Revenue: $72K
Average Profit Margins: 11.5%
Startup Costs: $1K-$100K
Time to Revenue: 6-18 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.1%
Best For: Veterinarians, dog breeders and trainers, and other animal care experts

Being a veterinarian isn’t necessarily a unique business in its own right, but it is once you put it on wheels!

This is an innovative business idea for a small town or rural area. Pet owners in lower-population areas often have to travel a long distance to access vet care. Mobile services go to them, making transactions more lucrative because you’re giving customers much-needed convenience.

Granted, this unique business idea isn’t for everyone. You’ll need extensive training in animal healthcare. For those who already have this training, though, a mobile business model can be a great way to start a successful business venture.

9. Specialty Food Store

Average Annual Revenue: $9.3M+
Average Profit Margins: 1.8%
Startup Costs: $100K-$3.5M
Time to Revenue: 6-18 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 0.8%
Best For:
Foodies, cooks, and food service professionals with strong organization and inventory management skills

People who live in small towns still enjoy unique food, but it can be hard to come by outside of large cities. This is why a specialty food store is an excellent small business idea for small-town entrepreneurs.

Successful business owners in the specialty food niche need to be responsive to customer demands. The key is to find out what items are missing from your local markets and fill that gap.

Communicating with locals, both in person and through social media, is a great way to predict which specialty foods will fly off the shelf in your town.

Unique Online Business Ideas

Woman using a smart phone while sitting at a desk with a laptop, boxes ready for shipping, stacks of cash, and a miniature shopping cart

10. Virtual Interior Design

Average Annual Revenue: $168K+
Average Profit Margins: 10.6%
Startup Costs: $1K-$100K
Time to Revenue: 1-3 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.2%
Best For: Designers, artists, and creative entrepreneurs, real estate industry and home staging professionals

The expansion of virtual tools has created lots of opportunities for unusual business ideas, one being virtual interior design. Designers in this niche use virtual design software to make furnishing and decoration recommendations completely remotely.

Having a website and a strong social media presence is crucial for success as a virtual designer. You can demonstrate your authority and aesthetic with an online portfolio, virtual design workshops, or online courses that teach interior design basics.

11. Online Bakery Business

Average Annual Revenue: $1.52M
Average Profit Margins: 5.4%
Startup Costs: $100-$3M
Time to Revenue: 1-6 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.1%
Best For: Cooks, bakers, and food experts who are system-driven, organized, and tech-literate

Similar to a cupcake food truck business or bakery catering service, an online bakery business can be a great way to profit from your baking skills without the expense of a brick-and-mortar space.

Instead of buying products at a bakery, customers order their baked goods through an online interface and then get products delivered, either through the mail or local delivery.

Along with lower expenses, this mode allows the business owner to work at their own pace. It’s also easier to control inventory when you’re preparing baked goods to order rather than trying to anticipate the demands of hungry customers.

12. Voiceover Business

Average Annual Revenue: $73K+
Average Profit Margins: 3.7%
Startup Costs: $100-$500
Time to Revenue: 1-3 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 9.12%
Best For: Actors, singers, and performers who are patient, detail-focused, and excel at time management

If you’ve ever been told that you have a great voice for radio, then a voiceover business should be on your list of top small business ideas.

Voiceover artists take on a range of assignments, from voicing characters in cartoons and video games to reading audiobooks or content for apps like GPS systems. The main skills you’ll need are a clear speaking voice and the ability to read from a script.

The easiest way to start an online business in voice acting is to sign up for a freelance platform focused on the craft. Snap Recordings, Filmless, and Voice123 are among the most popular sites for building a career in this industry.

Unique Business Ideas for Students

TranscribeMe! homepage on a laptop

13. Transcription Business

Average Annual Revenue: $25K+
Average Profit Margins: 9%
Startup Costs: $0-$5K
Time to Revenue: 1-3 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.9%
Best For: Good listeners with fast typing skills

Students need a business with low startup costs—and it doesn’t get any lower than 0. While some new transcription business owners pay for advertising to attract customers, you can start for free by taking jobs through sites like TranscribeMe or Rev.

If you can type at a speed of at least 60 words per minute, transcription can be a good business idea. You can also find free and low-cost software to make the job easier. Typically, transcriptionists work at their own pace, so this is also an easy business to schedule around your classes and other activities.

14. Pet Sitting Services

Average Annual Revenue: $34K+
Average Profit Margins: 16%
Startup Costs: $500-$5K
Time to Revenue: 3+ months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.7%
Best For: Animal lovers, pet owners, people who are patient, organized, and great communicators

Many students need to fit their small business ideas around studying and homework time. This is what can make pet sitting a perfect fit. While you’ll need to feed and care for the animals, a lot of your work is just keeping an eye on them—basically, you can get paid for hanging out with cats and dogs.

Building your client base can be the tricky part of getting started in this niche business. Many small business owners in the pet sitting niche build a client list through websites like Rover, Wag!, and PetSitter. You can also connect with clients through social media sites like Nextdoor.

15. AI Book Business

Average Annual Revenue: Unknown
Average Profit Margins: 23.3%
Startup Costs: $500-$5K
Time to Revenue: 1-3 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 7.80%
Best For: Strong editors with knowledge of generative AI and digital marketing skills

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) has opened up a host of new business ideas. Using AI to generate books is one way to leverage this new technology into a lucrative business opportunity.

The key to success with an AI book business is knowing how to identify your target audience and market to them effectively. That’s how Joe Popelas made over $1M in his first year selling AI-generated books. Hear his story and advice in this podcast interview:

Unique Brick-and-Mortar Shop Ideas

Mature cat cafe cat wearing a scarf and sitting on a bookshelf next to a sign that reads "Cat Cafe"

16. Axe Throwing Business

Average Annual Revenue: $454K
Average Profit Margins: 9.91%
Startup Costs: $100K-$3.5M
Time to Revenue: 6-18 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.9%
Best For:
Outgoing and fun-loving entrepreneurs with strong system-building and marketing skills

If you want to provide your area with a unique entertainment option, starting an axe-throwing establishment can be both a very fun and an extremely profitable business opportunity. Originating in Canada, this is a relatively new industry that’s skyrocketed in popularity over the past decade.

Along with charging customers for axe-throwing sessions, you can expand your revenue streams by hosting tournaments, selling memberships, or having an on-site shop that sells refreshments and merchandise.

17. Sensory Deprivation Tank Business

Average Annual Revenue: $1.1M+
Average Profit Margins: 12.07%
Startup Costs: $100K-$3.5M
Time to Revenue: 6-18 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.1%
Best For:
Wellness-oriented entrepreneurs with strong customer service and marketing skills

First developed in the 1950s, sensory deprivation tanks (also known as flotation tanks or isolation tanks) have seen substantial growth in popularity in recent years. They can help people unplug from the distractions of modern life, so it’s no surprise that so many of them have popped up across the United States since 2020.

Ryan Duey’s transformative experience in a float tank led him to open his own flotation therapy spa, Capitol Floats. He’s since built on that business by making and selling his own cold plunge tanks and sensory deprivation tanks. Hear how he built his business in this podcast interview:

18. Cat Cafe

Average Annual Revenue: $865K+
Average Profit Margins: 5.8%
Startup Cost: $1K-$100K
Time to Revenue: 3+ months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.2%
Best For: Animal lovers, baristas and food service professionals

Some of the top unique businesses are twists on old classics. Cat cafes are one example of this, putting a new spin on the classic coffee shop.

Connecting with other businesses is a critical first step to opening a cat cafe. Primarily, you’ll need an animal partner that can provide well-socialized cats for guests to interact with (and adopt, if they fall in love with a floof during their visit).

Cat cafes can set up multiple revenue streams to increase their odds of success. This can include selling merchandise and pet-friendly snacks in addition to the typical cafe offerings. They can also charge an entrance fee for the cat space.

Unique Business Ideas From Home

Woodworker staining a stool in his workshop

19. Drone Photography and Videography

Average Annual Revenue: $50K
Average Profit Margins: 7.3%
Startup Costs: $1K-$10K
Time to Revenue: 1-6 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 0.3%
Best For: Photographers and visual artists, tech-literate and creative entrepreneurs

Drone photography is a relatively new industry, and that’s part of what makes it a good small business idea. While the market for photography services can be crowded, most photographers can’t take overhead shots. Offering that unique service can help a new small business owner stand out in their local market.

This niche business in the photography industry is often in high demand as a B2B business. For instance, real estate industry professionals use drone photography to sell their properties, while advertising professionals use it in commercials and other marketing materials.

Mile High Productions built a strong customer base of real estate agents, earning an average revenue of $35,000 a month. Learn how it grew in this YouTube interview:

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20. Furniture Restoration and Flipping

Average Annual Revenue: $111K+
Average Profit Margins: 1.9%
Startup Costs: $100K-$3.5M
Time to Revenue: 6-18 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: 6.55%
Best For: Woodworkers, interior designers, creative entrepreneurs who like working with their hands

Furniture restoration is among the best home business ideas for makers, tinkerers, and other hands-on entrepreneurs. It lets you make a living from breathing new life into old things, which makes it sustainable and eco-friendly, as well.

The best business plan for a furniture restoration business often includes multiple services. You can restore pieces for clients or buy, fix up, and flip old furniture you find at thrift stores, flea markets, and antique stores.

Jennifer Beck started in furniture retail sales, then built on her passion for restoration into her own business with Saved By Design. Learn how she got started in this podcast interview:

21. Custom Treehouse Business

Average Annual Revenue: $696K+
Average Profit Margins: 3.4%
Startup Costs: $1K-$100K
Time to Revenue: 1-6 months
Annual Market Growth Rate: -1.3%
Best For: Carpenters, designers, and construction professionals with strong customer service and communication skills

Treehouses aren’t just for kids anymore. From unique Airbnbs to fun home offices and entertainment spaces, there are a variety of reasons people add custom treehouses to their properties.

You don’t have to only build treehouses, either. Often, business owners in this niche market build other backyard spaces for customers, like decks and sheds.

Anthony and Jamie Taylor-Weber and started their innovative business, Outdoor Office, from their home garage. Now, it brings in a revenue of $1.2M a year. See how they did it in this YouTube interview:

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Unique Business Development Ideas

Having a unique business concept doesn’t need to mean you’re inventing a completely new thing from scratch. Here are some tips on ways to turn any concept into a unique business idea.

Take Your Business on the Road

Convenience is king in the modern world. Taking your product or service straight to customers can give you a definite leg up on your competition.

Mobile vet services are one example of this, and you can apply the concept to just about any niche. From food trucks to mobile clothing boutiques or hair salons, there’s a way to take just about any type of business on the road.

This approach has benefits for business owners as well as customers. It often costs less to start, for one thing, and has lower overhead expenses compared to brick-and-mortar shops. It also makes any type of business super-scalable—just buy another truck for the fleet, and you’ve effectively doubled your capacity.

Combine Compatible Ideas in New Ways

One of the businesses referenced above is Stemistry, a combination flower shop and coffee shop. By bringing these concepts together, Dylan Capshaw expanded his revenue streams and target audience.

A cat cafe is another example of this. People love cafes, and they love playing with pets—so why not put the two together into one place?

You can take the same approach with other business ideas. This can be a way to put a new spin on a familiar concept, or it can add profitability to a new idea that may take a while to gain traction otherwise.

Share Independent Research and Education Resources

You might think that teaching other people about your industry is counterproductive for growing business revenue. After all, if your customers know how to do things themselves, why would they pay you?

But think about it: most people know how to clean a home, but cleaning businesses are still very profitable.

Providing educational resources, like online courses, white papers, infographics, or how-to videos, establishes your authority in your industry. You can also use these as an additional revenue stream or as marketing materials to attract new customers.

Finding the Right Unique Small Business Idea

This list of unusual business ideas certainly isn’t comprehensive. There are unique business ideas not yet implemented in every industry. Now it’s time for you to go out and find the right one for you.

What is your favorite unique business idea? Let us know in the comments!

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