Not everyone has the best ideas for a new business. In fact, some business ideas are downright awful or poorly executed.
There has been an ongoing discussion about some of the worst business ideas people have ever seen and the responses should serve as reminders and lessons for small business owners or people considering opening their own business.
Worst business ideas of all time?
Reddit user u/Imaginary_Trainer654 asked this question a few months ago and the answers keep pouring in: what’s the worst business idea you’ve seen trying to execute?
Apparently, there are a lot of really bad business ideas out there. Here are some of our favorite answers:
“Vats of banana pudding…”
The first example teaches us that even if we want to specialize in one product or service, we really need to consider diversifying our options.
There were vats of banana pudding in the display cases and I thought, “Well, surely they must be selling other flavors as well”, so I asked if I could have a chocolate pudding and the guy politely informed me that they had no chocolate pudding. . So I asked if maybe they had butterscotch or something. “No ma’am, just banana pudding here.”
I mean, it wasn’t false advertising. But he sure couldn’t sell just one flavor in that whole store, could he? As expected, the next time we walked down this street a month or two later, the store was closed.
I feel bad for him. I’m sure the guy made a great banana pudding that all his friends and family would compliment him on and tell him he should probably open a banana pudding shop because it tasted so good. But I don’t think they literally meant that.
“…Potato lasagna, potato cheesecake…”
Here’s another story of going all out on a concept but maybe going a bit too far.
There was a Russian potato restaurant under my old apartment. I ate there several times, but their menu changed so often that I never had a favorite potato. Also had potato lasagna, potato cheesecake and potato drinks. It wasn’t successful.
“He always has his basement full of butter.”
In this example, we learn to anticipate changing market conditions.
In 2011 we had the “Norwegian butter crisis” in Norway. The shortage caused prices to spike and store stocks of butter ran out within minutes of deliveries. A packet of butter would sell for between $40 and $200 on the “black market”.
A friend had the idea to travel to the neighboring country, Sweden, to buy butter and sell it here in Norway. The problem was that you could “only” transport 100 packets of butter across the Norwegian border. So he made a deal with our local retirement home. He hired a bus and took 20 old people on a trip to Sweden in exchange for the butter quota.
The next day, the butter crisis suddenly resolved itself and he found himself with 2000 packets of butter which he could not sell.
He always has his basement full of butter.
“His brilliant idea was to make our company’s ink weaker.”
Apparently there is a right way and a wrong way to drive consumer demand…
In a place where I worked, we supplied the printers with ink. Since digital printing was well and truly established at the time, there was not much business for this type of ink anymore, so there was a lot of competition between suppliers.
One of the techs worked their way to the top despite having no business experience. When told to very simply make more money, rather than going after new customers, his brilliant idea was to make our business ink weaker, with the intention that our customers wouldn’t have than buying more products to complete their work.
Surprise, customers didn’t like it and went to competitors. The company was closed after a year.
“A hot dog in an old funeral home…also ghosts”
According to this example of a failed business, it is good to take into account the preferences … and the fears of the customers.
We had a guy who bought an old funeral home and wanted to turn it into a bar/”restaurant” that served hot dogs and booze called…Frank ‘n Stein.
First, the last place I would eat a hot dog is in a former funeral home.
Second, he bought the building before testing the idea with the aldermen who would have to approve his license. Since he swore loud and clear that his hot dog idea, at a funeral parlor, would take off, the aldermen gave him a beer and wine license until he could show that the food sales accounted for the majority of his catch…
Then it decided to be a karaoke bar and fired all its staff.
Very weird experience of drinking (bad) draft beer with no shots while eating nachos and hotdogs at the only weird karaoke at the only place it wasn’t banned. Also ghosts.
“He wasn’t even wearing a bikini.”
This business owner apparently never learned the value of keeping promises…or preparing for a snowy day.
There is an old gas station a few doors down from my house, I don’t know what year it was built but you can consider it vintage… The pumps were removed a long time ago and… it changed hands multiple times never reopening like anything else. The best/worst iteration was the “BIKINI CAR WASH”.
A sign in the shape of a surfboard is mounted above the office door, the swaggering new owner showing up a few times to tell the neighbors what a roller and dealer he was. The thing is, we live in the Midwest and have four distinct seasons, summer is hot but only lasts a few months.
The real nail in the coffin was that he never turned on the water on the property, so he just threw a garden hose over the fence and stole water from his neighbor. So a big dude with a gray crew cut wielding a garden hose with household-type water pressure. He wasn’t even wearing a bikini.
~ Banana Stains
“He tried to blame the owner…”
Oh oh ! Can a business owner be successful without personal liability for a bad idea?
There was a guy in my town who opened a business that was the equivalent of a physical version of Craigslist or newspaper classifieds. It was a unit in a mall with billboards. You paid to put an ad and other people came to watch the ads with a small photo.
This was AFTER Craigslist existed, not a pre-internet thing. There was no actual merchandise in the store, just shitty pictures of stuff with contact info. It wasn’t even a busy place, you had to maneuver through a busy intersection, park and go inside to look at a bulletin board.
It sank and he tried to blame the owner because he couldn’t get a sign permit for the end of the building even though he had two other signs.
“Free hugs for everyone”
This business example teaches us that even the best idea won’t take off without a cooperative team.
When I was in high school, a friend of mine wanted to open a little cafe/hot chocolate stand with a “cuddle corner” and “free hugs for those who want them”. She offered jobs to our other friends – the idea was that this small business would be operated and managed by high school students.
She didn’t see the problem of having 16 year old girls forced to give free hugs to customers or having to tend the cuddle corner.
“Use all the tools I don’t have…”
This potential business owner had a solid idea, but he didn’t learn the value of investing in his plan.
One of the youngest in my karate class was going to start a DIY business. 24 hours a day, whatever needs to be done, anywhere in our neighborhood.
It looks good. You gonna get a loan and buy a used truck and get some tools? And you never have talk time on your phone, so will you have a landline (2006, so not super weird)?
“No, I will go by bicycle. And I’ll just use whatever tools they have. And they can email me when they need service. »
Just because when I have water gushing out of my geyser through the ceiling at 3am I’m gonna email a guy on my bike to come and fix it using all the tools and the ladder that I don’t have…
“Dude bought 150k fidget spinners…”
Another example of inability to anticipate market conditions, this business owner had his own supply chain issues.
Dude bought 150k fidget spinners at the height of the craze…
It took months to ship from China and by the time all his (stuff) arrived the mania was over and the retail price was already close to its original wholesale price.
Guy still has fidget spinners today. I guess he could eventually get away with it. but (shit)…
“…their entrance was hidden.”
This proves that it’s really hard to establish your business if you don’t tell anyone where it is.
There was a bar that opened in my town whose entrance was hidden. They did a report and they refused to tell the newspaper where he really was. To everyone’s surprise, they only stayed open for a few weeks.
“…There was a guy who was selling wood…”
If you’re going to sell products to customers, do we need to mention that you actually need to have access to the products you’re selling?
In my country, there was a guy who sold wood. The problem was that he didn’t. So he would ask for payment and not give the product afterwards, hoping that procrastination and time will make the problem go away.
He did 4 years in prison.
Yeah, well, he thought he was very smart. And on top of that, he was doing web conferences on marketing and how to be a successful businessman. It quickly became a meme across the country.
These are pretty terrible business ideas. But that shouldn’t discourage you from trying to start your own business. Just learn the lessons now that others had to experience first-hand to avoid similar spectacular failures.