The Wondrous World of the Weird: Crazy Business that Works

The world, it seems, is getting crazier and crazier each week, and some are not even sure if it’s round any more. But even though there may be an oddity or two in the news out there, for some truly bizarre ideas and notions look no further than the world of business. Whether you seek inspiration for a start-up of your own or a possible investment avenue, there are some really out-of-the-box (or out-of-this-world) enterprises out there. You never know which strange idea may become a billion-dollar franchise

Weird business ideas
Yeah, 20 years ago a site that allows you to just send short updates on what you are currently doing in 140 characters or less would seem an epitome of a nonsensical business. But lo and behold, Twitter is still alive and kicking, but you wouldn’t believe it back in the day. Some ideas, it seems, required the world itself to go mad before they could work. Folks over at Business News Daily have concocted a truly wonderful list of odd businesses that manage to stay afloat (even if just barely) by capitalizing on that madness. Case in pointUgly Furnitures.

Built expertly ugly by three guys from Hungary, the business’s motto is succinct and to the point – „We are making intentionally ugly furniture”. The gallery shows them cutting, hammering and polishing really bad-looking pieces of wood, creating a plethora of monstrous furnishings. From wonky shelves to rickety stools which compound the inevitable reality of getting splinters with a slight chance of catching tetanus, they offer it all, at quite unreasonable prices. Is this a joke or a real business? Try ordering something and find out. A word of warning: beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so is ugliness. So don’t bother suing them if your new couch doesn’t work out – they have protected themselves against that in the fine print!

Weird fine print
Of course, the best worst ideas in business aren’t just based around flimsy. Really ingenious business owners nowadays protect themselves from possible ramifications of offering something subpar to the customer by creating a long and complex Terms of Service agreement. Most online businesses require you to sign off on such document before you make any purchase, use their services or apps. In reality, any lawyer worth their salt will tell you that it’s intentionally hard to read (much like the intentionally ugly furniture in the example above).

As we no longer have limitations like fine print, the salient points are buried in the sea or innocuous clauses. Often we just click „yes, I agree” without reading. This may be to our detriment as a customer, but ultimately also harmful to a business. If your business has some real, actual rules that need to be followed, acknowledging them should be made easy and opting out made obvious, otherwise you may end up in court, which is always a costly process.

Daily conversions offers a solution in the form of making your terms of service wackier and more fun to digest. By bucking the trend, they follow in the footsteps of other quirky businesses out there, and make their terms of service actually easy to read – and fun! „Don’t steal our stuff” they say, and then explain in simple words what they mean. „Don’t be a jerkface„, they say, and then proceed to telling what they mean. It’s all very simple and takes up a total of one, maybe two screens of a smartphone.

Crazy legalese
But the crazy, crazy world we live in now is perhaps already immune to even such simplicity vis-à-vis legal clauses and agreements. The law, it turns out, has been staunchly in favour of the ridiculous for donkey’s years.

Rocket Lawyer goes so far as to list some of the more outlandish wills out there, which stipulate the weirdest of conditions for receiving the deceased’s fortune. The world has seen its fair share of Last Will and Testament shenanigans. There’s the famous case of Portuguese aristocrat Luis Da Camara, who left his riches to five random people he picked out of the phone book, having no actual progeny of his own. Or the case of inventor Fredric Baur, who had requested to be buried in one of his inventions, the Pringles chips’ famous vertical can (past cremation).

Other types of legally binding documents are no exception, of course. Ruth Carter of Carter Law Firm, lists several examples of other utterly confounding contract clauses. The rock group Van Halen, for instance, used the legalese and complexity of contracts to their advantage. Before each gig they demanded that if the organizer fails to provide them with a bowl of M&M candy that has all but BROWN pieces, they don’t get charged for the venue.

Amazingly, there is an actual explanation here. This was done to make sure their contract is read fully and with understanding. They would come and check for the M&M’s, and if they found the brown pieces in the bowl, the band knew some other terms may have been overlooked as well. Other famous examples of such deliciously wacky contracts among the celebrities include Michael Jordan, who could allegedly play basketball at any time, anywhere (which normally is a no-no for a professional athlete), and baseballer Roy Oswalt getting a bulldozer for winning a game in 2005.

In this last case, at least the player got a real vehicle out of it. All the American Navy got for providing military assets in the production of a Hollywood blockbuster Battleship was 10 DVDs of a movie and „positive depiction of the service”, which was, again, stipulated clearly by their contract!

Business as usual
As you can see, if you wish to stand out in business these days, having all of your marbles is not a necessity. But there’s one last example where this was taken a step further, and not recently. Let’s leave you with that story so that you know not to round the bend too much.

I, W. H. Jackson… do convey unto the … oak tree entire possession of itself and of all land within eight feet„, said last will of one William Henry Jackson from Athens, Georgia, enforced presumably in the second half of 19th century. He had the right to the land and a certain oak tree before passing, and was supposedly so fond of that tree that he decided to emancipate it by giving it full legal deed – to itself!

Whether the story is true or not is hard to tell, as this was reported by a newspaper in 1890. However, after the tree fell in 1945, one of the acorns was used to replant the tree in the same spot, and now the tree is called „The Son of the Tree that Owns Itself”. The oddest part of the story is that according to the US law, the acorn and tree that would grow out of it would, indeed, „inherit” the ownership bequeathed upon it by the „father” tree, who had been granted the deed by W. H. Jackson! He had to be little out of his tree

So the next time you want to make your business or venture less ordinary, remember that sometimes what seems to be just slightly abnormal ends up in a tree owning itself… And possibly reaping the dividends from the 8 feet of prime real estate surrounding it!


oddity – dziwactwo
bizarre – dziwaczny
look no further than… – nie trzeba daleko szukać…
investment avenue – tu: możliwość inwestycji
out-of-the-box – nieszablonowy, nietuzinkowy (tylko przed rzeczownikiem, pot.)
enterprise – przedsięwzięcie, przedsiębiorstwo
franchise – franszyza
character – znak (np. drukowany)
epitome – ucieleśnienie, uosobienie
lo and behold – i oto, lecz oto
to be alive and kicking – (nadal) dobrze się miewać
back in the day – w tamtych czasach
to concoct sth – utworzyć coś, upichcić
to stay afloat – utrzymać się na powierzchni, nie splajtować
barely – ledwo
to capitalize on sth – zbić na czymś majątek, obrócić cos w zysk
case in point – najlepszy (na to) przykład
expertly – wprawnie
succinct – zwięzły
to the point – na temat, konkretnie
intentionally – celowo
to polish – polerować
a plethora of sth – mnóstwo czegoś
monstrous – monstrualny
furnishings – elementy wyposażenia wnętrz, tu: meble
wonky – chwiejny
rickety – rozklekotany
to compound sth – pogorszyć coś
inevitable – nieunikniony
splinter – zadra, drzazga
tetanus – tężec
unreasonable – niedorzeczny, wygórowany
a word of warning – ostrzeżenie, przestroga
beauty is in the eye of the beholder – piękno jest rzeczą względną
don’t bother doing sth… – nie ma sensu robienie czegoś…, nie męcz się robiąc coś…
to sue sb – pozwać kogoś do sądu
to work out – sprawdzić się
fine print – drobny mak/druk
flimsy – tu: fanaberia
ingenious – pomysłowy
ramifications – (negatywne) konsekwencje
subpar – pośledniej jakości (pot., US)
Terms of Service agreement – Umowa o warunkach użytkowania/dot. usług
to sign off on sth – podpisać się pod czymś, zaakceptować coś
to make a purchase – nabyć coś
any X worth their salt – każdy X który jest czegoś wart(y)
limitation – ograniczenie
salient – istotny
to bury sth – pochować coś, pogrzebać
innocuous – niewinny
clause – ustęp, paragraf (w umowie)
detriment – szkoda (czyjaś)
ultimately – ostatecznie
harmful – szkodliwy
to acknowledge sth – potwierdzić coś
to opt out – zrezygnować (z czegoś)
to end up – skończyć (gdzieś/jako ktoś)
costly – kosztowny
wacky – cudaczny
to digest – przetrawić
to buck the trend – zadziałać inaczej, niż zazwyczaj, oprzeć się trendowi
to follow in sb’s footsteps – pójśc w czyejś ślady
quirky – cudaczny, dziwny
stuff – rzeczy (np. czyjeś) (pot.)
jerkface – tu: palant, buc (pot., slang.)
to proceed to doing sth – następnie coś zrobić, przejść do zrobienia czegoś (po czymś)
to take up X – zająć X (np. stronę)
legalese – żargon prawniczy
immune to sth – odporny na coś
simplicity – prostota
vis-à-vis – w zakresie, w ramach (czegoś)
to turn out – okazać się
staunchly – stanowczo, zdecydowanie
in favour of sth – za czymś (wyrażając poparcie)
for donkey’s years – od wieków, od lat (pot.)
to go so far as to do sth – pójść o krok dalej i zrobić coś, posunąć się do zrobienia czegoś
outlandish – cudaczny, dziwaczny
will – testament
to stipulate sth – wyznaczać coś, określać
condition – warunek
deceased – zmarły
to see its fair share of sth – doświadczyć sporo czegoś na własnej skórze, znać coś z autopsji
shenanigans – tu: błazenada
random – przypadkowy
to pick sb out – wybrać kogoś
progeny – potomstwo
to request – poprosić
can – puszka
legally binding – wiążący prawnie
exception – wyjątek
utterly – zupełnie, całkiem
confounding – zaskakujący
to use sth to one’s advantage – obrócić coś na swoją korzyść (o kimś)
gig – występ, fucha (pot.)
to demand – zażądać
to provide sb with sth – dać coś komuś, zapewnić
bowl – miska
to charge sb for sth – policzyć komuś za coś, zażądać opłaty za coś
venue – miejsce (koncertu)
amazingly – co ciekawsze…
to overlook sth – przeoczyć coś, nie dopilnować
deliciously – rozkosznie, wspaniale
celebrity – sława, gwiazda
allegedly – rzekomo
no-no – coś wykluczonego, coś nie do pomyślenia
bulldozer – spychacz
vehicle – pojazd
assets – majątek, zasoby
blockbuster – hit
battleship – liniowiec; tu: gra w okręty
depiction – ukazanie, pokazanie
to stand out – wyróżniać się
to have all the marbles – mieć po kolei w głowie
round the bend – doprowadzony do szału, mający kręćka
to convey – przekazać, oddać w (czyjeś) ręce
possession – posiadanie
to enforce sth – wprowadzić coś w życie
presumably – przypuszczalnie
passing – śmierć, odejście
fond of sth – lubiący coś
to emancipate sth – uwolnić coś, emancypować
deed – akt własności
to replant sth – ponownie coś zasadzić
according to sth – zgodnie z czymś
to inherit sth – odziedziczyć coś
to bequeath sth – przekazać coś, pozostawić (w spadku)
out of one’s tree – mający nie po kolei w głowie
venture – przedsięwzięcie
ordinary – typowy
abnormal – anormalny
to reap dividends – zebrać zyski, zyskać (na czymś)
prime real estate – nieruchomość najwyższej próby, wysokiej klasy nieruchomość

by Prochor Aniszczuk

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