Here is a real world example from my home town.
An ordinary tea shop in an out-of-the-way position, also sells fairies.
Yes that's right FAIRIES. From huge ones to put on Christmas trees, to thimbles painted with miniature fairies, dolls, ornaments, painted cups, everything with a fairy on it. Guess which tea shop all the children in town want to go to? And while they are sitting down drinking tea and Cokes, they are looking at all the various fairies, and guess what they buy on the way out? It's a gold mine!
But if you saw the idea for a tea shop as small business idea number 12 here, and selling any theme product, as small business idea number 47, would you have put the two together?
Read on, and 'think' your way to a fortune, with my next 50 small business ideas.
1. Produce Christmas cards which are printed on the front with, for example, "Happy Christmas from the Smith Family". Or, instead of the name "Smith", pick one of the dozens of other popular surnames. Sell packs of these cards by direct mail to people listed in telephone directories.
2. Make money from renting out expensive children's toys. The toys you rent out will include remote control models and computerized games. Use a little van to deliver the toys to customers. The van should have a toy town color scheme, sirens and flashing lights. Call the van a toy-mobile.
3. Introduce to your region a service which mounts maps for small businesses. Keep a stock of local, national and international maps. Mount these maps in a professional manner to suit the wall space available at offices. Send out leaflets about your service to office managers.
4. Bring out a regular publication for ambitious, amateur musicians. This publication might include ads from:
i) employers seeking musicians;
ii) retailers selling equipment, accessories and supplies;
iii) people selling used equipment. Also print interesting editorial.
5. Design and manufacture kits for making models with cocktail sticks. For example, model churches, castles, windmills, houses, etc. Buy the cocktail sticks in unpacked form in bulk from a manufacturer. Sell your kits by mail order from ads in craft magazines or distribute to model shops.
6. Produce a directory of products no longer made. This directory might include sections on toys, novelties and household goods. Design the directory for small business people, entrepreneurs and inventors who want to know both what has been made before and what small business ideas might be revived or modified.
7. Make or sell cotton gloves specially designed for coin collectors. The gloves prevent the acidic grease and moisture on fingers from getting on to coins. Package the gloves and sell from ads in coin collecting magazines or distribute to shops which sell collectible coins.
8. Bring out a correspondence course about how to write cookery books. The course might include information about: how to devise recipes; how to present them in written form and what makes a successful cookery book. Produce a prospectus and advertise in women's magazine.
9. Begin a small business which rents out large and expensive astronomical telescopes to householders who want to develop their interest in astronomy. Publicize your service at the local astronomy society and use local advertising to attract clients. Link up with a telescope supplier and get a 10% finder's fee for those people who go on to buy their own telescope.
10. Set up a company which produces a compendium of strip games, for example: strip poker, strip snakes and ladders, strip lotto, strip snap and strip ludo. Sell the compendiums of games by mail order from ads in x-rated magazines.
11. Paint attractive art on rocks to make souvenir paperweights and doorstops. The art might take the form of abstract patterns, traditional pictures or tourist scenery. Call your rocks 'designer rocks'. Add a rubber base to paperweights and a rubber edge to doorstops.
12. Create a mail order business which specializes in selling products which help people sleep. The products you sell might include: sleep inducing cassettes, special bedtime clothing, herbal pillows and how to sleep well booklets. Company names might be something like 'Sleepwell', 'Sleeptight' etc.
13. Paint on wood, stylish house numbers and names. These painted numbers and names will be an attractive alternative to the traditional names burned into sliced logs. Get your work stocked at shops which sell garden products or household goods.
14. Start a venture which promotes the art and hobby of window painting. On colored acetate paper have outlines printed for painting pictures by numbers. These acetate sheets are stuck to one side of a window and anyone can paint a picture on the other side of the window.
15. Select one seashell which would be suitable for use as an ashtray, another for a pip tray and a third for a paper clip tray. Put these shells into a single packet and sell as a set of useful household seashell trays. Find shops to stock your packets of seashell trays.
16. Devise and produce a board game which simulates the experience of starting a mail order business. The usual problem of bringing out a board game is the difficulty of getting it stocked at shops. However, a game about mail order can be sold by mail order to small business opportunity seekers.
17. Make an income from selling lucky charms door-to-door. Sell, for example: rabbits' feet, horseshoes and four-leaf clovers. Start this small business idea by tracking down trade sources of these lucky charms.
18. Begin a small business which buys and sells oil paintings. Buy new paintings from artists and old paintings from collectors and householders. Sell the paintings from: home, a roadside site, a stall at craft fairs, or hire halls for exhibiting all the paintings you have for sale.
19. Start a manufacturing business which is devoted to making doorstops. The doorstops you make might range from humble wooden wedges to the exotic and unusual. Package the doorstops in polythene bags, staple on a printed card and get them stocked at hardware or gift shops.
20. Decorate everyday objects with pressed flowers. Add an inlaid design of pressed flowers to trays, coasters, jewelry boxes, paperweights, picture frames, wall hangings, desk sets and table tops.
21. Set up a home improvement business which modifies the exterior of houses to give them a Tudor appearance. Your service will include: fitting ornamental oak beams, giving exterior walls a white covering and adding a metal grid to windows.
22. Make wooden 'strip noughts and crosses' games (an item of clothing is taken off by the loser of a game). Drill 9 holes into a small square block and paint on a grid. Next, make 10 pegs and paint on each peg an '0' or 'X'. Put the grid and pegs into a clear bag and staple on a product name card. Sell to sex shops and mail order.
23. Bring together a range of brass-ware ornaments so you can have a stall at craft fairs, antique markets and Sunday markets.
24. Publish a newsletter which has a title like 'Ambitious Person's Way to Wealth' or 'Clever People Don't Work Hard'. The contents of your newsletter might be in a vein similar to Joe Karbo's 'The Lazy Man's Way to Riches'.
25. Set up and run a school of window dressing. Organize one-day or two-day courses or seminars for established shopkeepers who want to learn more about this aspect of their business. Also provide courses for those who would like to take up a career as a window dresser. (Tip: You can run a profitable seminar on anything without knowing the first thing about the subject yourself. You merely pay a percentage of the seminar fee, say 15%, to an expert speaker.)
26. Write and publish a manual about how to make money from property. In the manual include chapters on: buying and selling land; buying properties for conversion and renovation; investing in property, etc. Use direct mail and mail order to sell copies of this manual to opportunity seekers.
27. Found and run a school of investment. Give tuition to solo students and groups about different types of investments such as shares, gilt-edged securities, unit trusts, USM, antiques, stamps, art, etc. For each area of investment prepare lesson plans and follow these closely.
28. Make a selection of children's prayer plaques: wooden wall plaques which feature popular prayers. The prayers might be painted on, or burned into, the wood.
29. Start a craft business which uses interesting foreign coins to make jewelry. Incorporate coins into pendants, bracelets, brooches, necklaces and earrings. Alternatively, make jewelry which features reproduction coins from the ancient world.
30. Use small seashells strung together to make necklaces. Find a trade source of small seashells and either set up your own production line, or employ home workers. Sell the finished necklaces from a market stall or get them stocked at suitable retail outlets.
31. Produce 'add-one' drama video cassettes for people in amateur dramatic groups. Professional actors and actresses (or even good amateurs) perform a play on video. However, there is one character missing from the video. This character is played by a viewer of the video. The viewer learns his or her part and becomes part of the play at home.
32. Create a folder of sample sales letters for all occasions. The letters might sell; advice, maintenance, products, a service which gives free quotes, etc. Sell these folders by direct mail to small businesses.
33. Bring out a correspondence course about how to write short stories for profit. Sell this course from newspaper and magazine ads and charge anything up to the average weekly wage (paid in installments) depending on the contents of the course. (Tip: You can write a course about anything without knowing the first thing about the subject. Simply get some books from the library which cover this subject, read them, then rewrite in your own words as a series of ten monthly lessons.)
34. Earn money from selling gold chain by the inch at public events such as fairs, markets and exhibitions. Gold chain is remarkably cheap to buy in bulk and the mark-ups are huge.
35. Put together your own mail order catalogue of jewelry making supplies. Locate the sources of products by doing the routine work of a mail order trader: write to potential suppliers. Throughout the country there are thousands of craft workers who would welcome a new catalogue.
36. Earn a living from buying gold and silver jewelry from people who need instant cash. Hence, their need for cash is greater than their desire to get a good price. Only buy the jewelry you can quickly sell at a profit. Remember, the precious metal and stone content of a piece is often far below the value you get from selling it as a whole piece, so don't even think about melting down gold, or stripping the gems out.
37. Use fabrics to make soft cases for pencils, spectacles, scissors, bibles, money, and other small items which are either potentially dangerous or need protection. At first make a diversity of products until you discover a product which is popular and profitable.
38. Buy old bibles and hymn books from churches and education authorities. Have the books shredded. Use the shredded pages as stuffing material for 'bible' or 'hymn' pillows, teddy bears and other soft products. Also do 'bible' confetti and stuff bottles to make bottled bibles.
39. Cut out prints and illustrations from old books. Frame the prints and illustrations and sell through a wide range of shops and from a stall at a market or fair. These framed prints and illustrations can also be sold door-to-door.
40. Make leather and wooden souvenir luggage tags. These tags might feature the name of a holiday town and a popular scene. Get your tags stocked at shops visited by tourists.
41. Prepare a mixture of dried herbs for adding to bath water. Invent a brand name for your product like, '(your surname)'s Original Bath Herbs'. Package each mixture of herbs and get them stocked at a variety of retailers.
42. Begin a service which arranges for people to have their original pop lyrics set to music. This service is to satisfy the vanity of lyricists. Offer potential clients a complete, low cost, package. Attract custom to your service by placing classified ads in the music press.
43. Devise quizzes which test a person's vocabulary. Sell these quizzes to a magazine or newspaper on a regular basis. Alternatively, you might do quizzes which test a person's knowledge of a regional dialect. Sell these quizzes to regional newspapers or magazines.
44. Call door-to-door and offer to buy unwanted furniture. Or use local media to advertise your interest in buying second hand furniture. Sell what you buy from free ads in local newspapers, or start up your own second hand furniture shop.
45. Set up a mail order business which sells motorcycle memorabilia. Put together a catalogue of motor cycle memorabilia which includes: videos, films, posters, photographs, books, instruction booklets, old magazines and newspapers, etc. Advertise your catalogue in motorcycle magazines.
46. Start an enterprise which reproduces classic poems on postcards and posters. Also do framed prints of classic poems. Sell these poetry products from a stall in an antiques or craft market. Or get your products stocked at gift or souvenir shops.
47. Produce a catalogue system for record collectors. This system might consist of a card index box with pre-printed index cards. Each card has a printed section for the name of the artist, record and record label. Sell this cataloguing system through record shops or by mail order.
48. Publish a monthly audio cassette for one trade such as newsagents, grocers, hair salons, book sellers, etc. Each cassette should give: trade news, management tips, suggestions for improving sales, etc. Organize a direct mail campaign to recruit subscribers to your audio newsletter.
49. Start a newspaper and magazine roadside stand. Ask established newspaper vendors how they got started.
50. Produce a correspondence course about how to write good poetry. If most poets received a small amount of tuition about how to compose poems their work would improve dramatically. Sell the course by advertising in women's magazines.
I hope that these small business ideas have inspired you to consider starting a small business of your own.