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Sunday, September 6, 2015

"Screw It, Let's Do It”

It just fascinates me to discover some of the weird things people are doing as businesses. In a networking event last week, one speaker mentioned an unusual business about clothing - costumes for pet birds. I never thought this type of business could really exist. More surprisingly, the speaker suggested that the annual market value of this business is a couple of million dollars globally.

It is well known that human beings prefer to live in an environment where everything is predictable or follows preconceived patterns. Sometimes, as a result of our need for security, we forget to see what’s on other side of the fence. The title of this post, which is Richard Branson’s famous statement, is a reminder of some of the unusual businesses that have been started by entrepreneurs who dare to experiment with far-out or unusual business ideas.

Prompted to ‘look over the fence’, I searched the internet and found some more outlandish businesses to add to the list. Here are the first ten:

1. Professional Mattress Jumper – they conduct endurance tests on mattresses
2. Professional Ethical Hacker – they hack organisation systems and find flaws
3. Professional Snuggler – they snuggle you for a good sleep
4. Professional Urine Farmer- hunters often use deer urine to attract their prey, so they collect urine to sell to hunters
5. Face Feeler – they analyse how soft and smooth a person's skin is after using a shaving or beauty product
6. Chicken Sexer - when chicks are born they all cuddle together in masses trying to stay warm, so they separate chicks according to their sex
7. Waterslide Tester – they test slipping down water slides in theme parks
8. Professional Presidential Poison Taster – they work as ‘food tasters' to see whether any poison is in the food of high profile leaders
9. Pet Food Tester - they eat everything from doggie treats and chewy bones to liver mixture
10. Professional Golf Ball Divers - when golfers mis-hit a ball into a water trap they collect them
Here are some of the additional discoveries I made:

1. Videogames Adventure Services - This company arranges fake kidnappings and other customised real-life adventures for thrill seekers
2. Anger Room – you can book a customized room that you can then destroy (apparently it's good for relieving stress)
3. Prank Candles – the candles burn for approximately 30 hours and smell wonderful for the first 12 hours. After that, the awkward smells start!
4. Triple Threat Socks – this company sells socks in three-packs because if you lose one you don’t need to worry
5. Customized Romance Novels - inserts any couple as the hero and heroine in their own personalized romance novel
6. Mobile Wedding Chapel - provides a full wedding ceremony out of the back of a van so that you can choose any location for your big event
7. An Ancestor Detective Service - helps to build your family tree
8. Snake Milking – milking snake venom by hand for medicinal purposes
9. Lucky Break Wishbones - This revolutionary company sells plastic wishbones (because turkeys and chickens only have only one wishbone)
10. Clothing for Pet Birds – you can buy anything and everything for your pet bird

It made me think that the unusual was the new usual. Businesses always start with an individual or group having a realisation about a need, no matter how unusual. It could start as a weird, uneasy, uncomfortable feeling before it develops into a full-blown vision and plan. After that, people keep pursuing their vision and make a mark by establishing a new market for their products or services – often leaving people to wonder why they didn’t think of it first.

‘The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary’, said Vidal Sassoon. So if you have an idea, just go for it. "Screw It, Let's Do It"