Three unusual business opportunities
Here are three types of unusual businesses opportunities that you might consider. Interestingly enough, they all involve animals. If these don’t peak your interest, they might at least get your imagination going for new ideas!
A cat café is a themed cafe where patrons can interact with cats. Yep, that’s a thing and can certainly be included under the heading of unusual business opportunities. The world’s first cat café, “Cat Flower Garden” started Taipei, Taiwan, in 1998. As a result, it became a craze in Japan where the first one was opened in Osaka. From 2005 to 2010, 79 cat cafes opened in Japan
Japan tends to be crowded and many people live in small apartments where pets aren’t allowed. For pet-loving Japanese who seek companionship and stress relief, the cat café is the answer.
Today, many countries boast cat cafés. These include Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Thailand and the United States.
There are two ways cat cafés make money. One is to have a cover charge for playing with the cats and provide complimentary refreshments. The other involves a lower cover charge with paid refreshments
Other than the monetary benefits, the purpose of a cat café is to raise awareness of animal issues and pet adoption. As a matter of fact, some cafés are set up for the purpose of adoption.
If you decide to operate a cat café business, here’s what you need:
- Obviously, a love and respect for cats
- Ability to operate a cat adoption business
- Cat interaction area
- Private area for cats
- Cat living expenses
- Veterinary care
- Ability to run a food service business
- Purchasing or leasing a space
- Food and drink service equipment
- People food and drink
- Business licensing
- Health inspection
Is there training for a cat café business?
As a matter of fact, there is. Here are some resources:
- IAP Career College has an online Coffee House Owner Certificate Course
- The Specialty Coffee Association has a Barista Pathway training program
- Texas Coffee School has a Coffee Shop Management Training Course
- University of the Pacific has an Animal Shelter Management Certificate
- The ASPCA has several training programs in a variety of formats
- Karen Pryor Academy has an online Shelter Training and Enrichment Course
How much can I charge customers?
This varies. For example, Crumbs and Whiskers in Washington, D.C. charges $18 to $22 for a 70-minute visit. Meanwhile, Cat Café Madison in Madison, Wisconsin charges $7 for a 60-minute visit. Of course, Washington, D.C. is a very expensive city so operating costs are higher than in Madison. Your charge will likely be based on your operating costs as well.
How can I promote my business?
One of the best ways to promote your new business is by hosting events. These might include lectures on cat-related topics, cat-oriented meet ups and yoga with cats.
You will also need a website.
If you are interested in finding out more contact the Cat Café Embassy at 416-844-0646.
Pooper Scooper Services
Here’s another in our list of unusual business opportunities. Yes, it’s a growing business because so many households have one or more pets. Furthermore, the people who own them have disposable income (get it?) for this kind of service. And, as much as people love their pets, they just don’t want to pick up their poop (I wonder why?). This business tends to focus on yard pet waste as opposed to public waste (In most places, at least in the US, people are required to pick up the waste of their own pet from public areas).
The pooper scooper business is one of the fastest growing in the pet industry sector. As a matter of fact, the pet waste business has become so large that it has its own professional organization called the Association of Pet Animal Waste Specialists (APAWS).
According to a report by Packaged Facts, sales for pet’s waste products reached 3.5 billion in 2015 and it continues to grow.
There are an estimated 83 million pet dogs and 90 million cats in the US. One pooper scooper business estimated the amount of waste they can produce would fill 5,000 football fields ten feet deep. Visualize that if you will!
What do I need to start a pooper scooper business?
So, you may be asking, “What do I need to start a pooper scooper business?” Fortunately, this business is not expensive to enter. Furthermore, you need minimal equipment. This will include rakes, shovels, bags and the possible rental or purchase of a dumpster. Your greatest expense will likely be your vehicle (unless you already have it). A practical vehicle choice is a pickup or van.
In addition to your equipment, you will need to establish your business as a legal entity like an LLC or sole proprietorship (as you would do for any business). You also need to purchase insurance such as liability as accidents could occur while you are working on someone’s property. Additionally, here is a list of other legal documents:
- Service contract documents
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License and Permit
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Federal Employer Identification Number
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Choose a name for your business as well. Here are some examples of actual pooper scooper businesses:
- Poopless in Seattle
- In the Line of Dooty
- Pain in the Grass
- The Grand Poobah
- The Penny Hoarder
- Super Duper Pooper Scoopers
- Poop, Scoop and Away
Furthermore, you need to advertise. Where and how you do this is up to you and there are many avenues to choose from including online, newspapers, radio and television. You may want a web page as well. Of course, these cost money. However, there are no cost methods such as leaving your business card at pets stores and veterinary offices.
What can I charge?
The average charge is $10-$15 per visit. This doesn’t seem like a lot but when you consider that one poopy yard doesn’t take that long to service, it’s not bad. If you have a tight geographic area you are servicing, you can get to a lot of yards in one day. As a matter of fact, Scoopers can generally cover 4 to 6 yards per hour.
If you are interested in finding out more about this business, contact Association of Pet Animal Waste Specialists (APAWS) at www.apaws.org.
This is my favorite among unusual business opportunities. I live in Seattle, Washington, USA. Seattle, like many other areas, is overrun with non-native plant species, particularly blackberries and Ivy. Many times I have happened upon a field or parcel full of happy goats munching on blackberry bushes and clearing the place in short order! You may know that blackberries are full of sharp thorns but this doesn’t seem to matter to these hungry ruminants!
People rent goats specifically for clearing an area of unwanted plants and they are great alternatives to pesticides and herbicides. Furthermore, they are less expensive than the rental or purchase of machinery and the manpower necessary to operate it. They can be used to clear new construction lots, yards and to prevent forest fires by removing brush. And, unlike machinery, they are able to work on steep terrain.
Tammy Dunakin, owner of Vashon Island, Washington’s Rent-A-Ruminant, says the demand for goats to help clear vegetation in the Seattle area has grown exponentially since she started her business in 2004.
How many goats do I need?
That all depends on the size of the jobs for which you contract. You will always need at least two because goats are social and it is absolutely essential that they have the company of others. However, to tackle most jobs you will likely need a lot more than two. Consider that goats typically eat 20% of their body weight a day. So, you will have to calculate how many you need based on the amount of vegetation.
Incidentally, the Boer goat can eat up to 8 pounds of foliage a day.
What do I need to start this business?
- First and foremost – goats. They range from $75 – $300 depending on sex, age and temperament
- A barn or stable to house your goats as well as enough property for them to roam
- Veterinary care
- Food (not for you, for the goats!)
- Business licensing
- Goat transportation
What can I charge?
One source cites $200 a day for a dozen goats.
If you decide to embark on this business you will also need to advertise. However, there is no better advertising than a herd of goats working the field. You can be sure the sheer cuteness of this spectacle will attract a crowd of onlookers so make sure to have your business cards handy!
Additionally, please remember that goats are sentient, intelligent animals and not commodities. You should always exercise the utmost care for these animals.
These are just a few unusual businesses. I bet if you scour the web, you will find more. Indeed, with a little thought, you may even be able to come up with unusual business opportunities of your own.
Click here to find another opportunity. It is not necessarily one of the unusual business opportunities, but it is a good one!
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