10 Best Business Ideas of the Last 100 Years

December 3, 2015 Career

The 20th century saw many inventions that changed the way humans live and work.

These inventions also contributed to some innovative business ideas. Although the list of business ideas is almost endless, the following are 10 of the best business ideas of the last 100 years.

1. LL Bean CatalogLL Bean

In 1912, Leon Leonwood Bean began marketing his waterproof hunting boots to hunters who were not residents of Maine but held Maine hunting licenses. He sent them all a catalog of his products and this began the first mail order business.

LL Bean’s catalog paved the way for other businesses to use mail order, and his inventive marketing strategy has proven to be a lasting and successful tool in the business world.

2. WalmartWalmart

In 1962, Sam Walton opened a store in Rogers, Arkansas, and that store led to a billion dollar business being born.

Walton’s theory was to put his stores in smaller towns, and that way, he could keep prices low because of low overhead. The low prices brought in shoppers from other areas.

The concept worked, and Wal-Mart is now the largest retail store in the world and the largest non-governmental employer in the U.S.

3. DisneylandDisneyland

In 1955, Walt Disney’s dream, became a reality and he opened a theme park in Anaheim, California.

This business idea sparked the opening of Disney Workd in Florida in the 1960s. The Disney parks bring in 5 billion dollars a year and are major contributors to local tourism.

4. McDonaldsMcDonalds

In 1961, a food mixer seller, Ray Kroc, bought out the McDonald brothers who owned a California hamburger restaurant. This led to one of the best small business ideas of all time.

Kroc expanded the business by franchising and created a billion dollar empire that inspired other franchise businesses. Although he wasn’t the first franchiser, he is certainly the most successful and popularized the practice of the franchise.

5. FacebookFacebook

The billion dollar social media site was launched February 4th, 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg and his roommates and has become one of the most important business concepts of thee last 100 years.

What began a small college platform for rating the attractiveness of other students eventually expanded to anyone over the age of 13. This move, and a change in name, caused the website to explode and it became the place to connect and reconnect with new and old friends.

6. AppleApple

In 1976, Apple was founded to sell the Apple I computer. Eventually, the company developed the Macintosh line, and then in the early 2000s, paired their Mac operating system with Mac computers.

The innovations in technology kept coming. Apple’s iPod was an enormous succes, the iPhone is the best selling mobile phone of all time, and the iPad revolutionized computers when it was introduced in 2010.

7. Federal Express Opens for BusinessFederal Express

In 1973, Federal Express began operating. The concept of a private company delivering packages and documents overnight revolutionized the business world.

Before Fed Ex opened, there were few options for overnight deliveries and most were inconvenient and impractical. Federal Express changed all of that, and it has remained a successful business for over 40 years.

8. Japanese Cars in the U.S.Japanese Cars

In 1957, the first Japanese car was sold in the U.S. Over the next 20 years, the cars gained fame in the country because they were smaller and more fuel efficient.

The popularity of eco-friendly cars caused a change in American auto makers and they began producing smaller, less expensive vehicles to compete with Japanese autos. The influence and popularity of Japanese cars has continued well over 50 years after the first sale.

9. Bank of America Credit CardBank of America Credit Card

In 1958, Bank of America revolutionized the way American’s spent money with the introduction of the first credit card that could be used at different vendors. The limit at that time was 300-500.

Although there were other credit cards prior to 1958, they could only be used at specific businesses. Bank of America’s new card changed the way people shopped and borrowed money.

10. eBayeBay

The online auction site eBay was founded in 1995 by Pierre Omidyar as a place where sellers could auction their various items to interested buyers.

The website grew, and by 1998, the company went public and made billionaires of the founder and the company’s president.

Since then, eBay has amassed other companies and expanded its services. The company is now a prominent global entity that has changed the way consumers buy and sell products, collectables, and other miscellaneous items.

Over the last 100 years, there have been countless business ideas, but the best ideas are some of the easiest to start up. With the right attitude, you too could take one of these ideas and make it your own successful venture.