It's true -- most companies reap profits in obvious ways. Google earns a lot of money through advertising, Apple from selling iPhones and iPads and retail stores like Gap through selling clothing and other items.
But every so often, a company comes along that figures out how to make money in a surprising or unconventional way. A lot of the time, as Michael Porter points out in the famed text "How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy," this is a result of stiff competition forcing organizations to think creatively about profits in order to survive. Here are just a few examples:
2. Lucasfilm made more money off Star Wars toys than the movies themselves.
3. The most profitable restaurant in America made 75 percent of its income from alcohol sales, not food sales, in 2011.
4. Car dealerships often make more money through financing and servicing cars than via sales.
5. Gas stations make more money off food and car accessories than from gas.
6. Companies that manufacture printers often make way more money off ink sales.
7. LeBron James, Tiger Woods and many other star athletes make more money off endorsements than from actually playing sports.