The impact of an economic downturn which began in 2007 is still being felt today. Consumers remain cautious with what money they still have, while many businesses are still finding trading conditions tough.

Against a still-bleak backdrop, a small but relatively sizeable number of enterprises have managed to experience rapid growth by doing things a little differently.

Selling a range of quirky, niche products and marketing themselves as anything but ordinary businesses, they have been able to get themselves noticed. Start-ups looking to hit the ground running could do very well to follow this unusual path, which may actually help to engineer a sustained recovery in the US economy.

1. A toast to success

Selling a range of male-oriented gifts including wine bottle holders, barbecue tools and even miniature cabinets for golf balls, HomeWetBar are now one of Oklahoma’s top companies after being in business for just a few years. They have a sister site that sells similar products and have an online customer base which spans several countries.

Doc Popcorn are another great example of a company selling something unusual and growing rapidly in such a short space of time. Run by a husband and wife from home, the business quickly grew in less than four years.

To date, they have well over 100 different outlets selling fresh popcorn made without using any artificial ingredients.

2. Brainpower

Tapping into the growing demand for brain training games, Lumosity have become one of the most popular developers in the genre. They make games primarily for smartphones and tablets, but they also dabble in research into cognitive development, something which is central to the games part of the business.

Goal Zero are another business with one eye on the future. Holding environmental issues close to their heart, they make solar-powered recharging units for a variety of appliances. They can work with small gadgets such as tablets as well as large appliances like refrigerators and washing machines.

Another company deviating from the norm are Superfly Kids, a company selling fancy dress costumes just for kids. While they have a wide range of outfits for different occasions such as birthday parties and Halloween, they also sell customized superhero capes which can make whoever’s wearing them the centre of attention!

These businesses have survived in tough times and are on course to increasing return on investments. Find a niche you can serve well and offer competitive products differently to attract and retain customers.