Therapy for Hedgehogs or Business Opportunity?


I saw this snippet in the New York Times Today.

“One time a client asked me to write an emotional-support-animal letter for her pet hedgehog. This is outside my wheelhouse, and I declined to do it. She was so upset that she stopped coming to therapy.” — Han Ren, Ph.D.

How often do your customers ask you to do something stupid and way out of scope?

How often do your customers ask you to do something and you realise you have a real business opportunity?

I can’t answer for Han Ren, but I probably agree that such an unusual (can we say ridiculous) request is out of most peoples’ wheelhouse.

Maybe Han could have made a cottage industry out of being a therapist specializing in emotionally damaged Hedgehog owners.

But how big would that market have been? How lucrative?

How much time would have been wasted writing such a letter? Time that would have been better spent helping other patients.

Or at least dog owners…

Like the head of a Veterinary Clinic I met today.

He has a successful business and his story as to how he got into pet relocation (in addition to his typical vet services) told me why.

Dubai can be a transient city with people moving in and out all the time.

Pet owners would move here get to know this clinic and appreciate the excellent service they provided.

Then they would move back home or overseas and have to put their trust in a stranger to move their pet and not kill it in the process or send it inadvertently to some exotic location where they would more likely eat it then send it on.

So they asked him for help. And because he has a customer focused philosophy instead of a product focused one, he saw the opportunity and jumped in.

Now it’s a thriving segment of his business. It complements what he does and does not distract from his core veterinary services.

And is an attractive feather in the cap to what is already a very valuable business if he chooses to sell it one day.

Oh and he doesn’t do hedgehogs.. nor cheetahs anymore (as having a cheetah wake up after surgery made him realise there are areas of the business best not to expand).

How about you? Can you sense what your customers and audience want so you can provide new, successful services when it makes sense?

Or do you ever find yourself reactive saying yes to whatever comes out of a customer’s mouth and then spending some time trying to make it happen.

Anyone looking for an emotional support animal letter for a cheetah?

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