You no doubt know that cuddly animals are pretty irresistible. On a personal level that probably means you spend more time than you should looking at cat pictures online (though be comforted that studies show all that kitten ogling might actually help you be more productive--thanks science!) But could you put our near universal compulsion to get close to the cute and fuzzy to work for your business?

It might sound a little far fetched, but several startups lately have benefited by harnessing the siren song of adorable animals. You might recall, for instance, that Uber created a media stir a little while back by delivering kittens to raise money for animal charities. Then more recently Amazon also grabbed headlines by renting out goats (yes, real goats!) to mow your lawn. Finally, across the pond, Handy.com, which usually lets people book cleaners and the like, added a new service--the ability for customers in London to order adoptable cats for a period of time to clear their homes of mice (no word on whether these mousers might also be up for a sly cuddle).

"We wanted to devise an interesting off-shoot of the 'on-demand' functionality which underpins Handy: creating a temporary and newsworthy service, all the while supporting a meaningful cause. As a result of the extensive UK media interest in the initiative, the Wood Green charity has had a flood of enquiries regarding cat adoption, and, as a by-product of this happy outcome, a great many more Londoners understand the typical, non-feline services offered by Handy," Pete Dowds, UK Country Manager commented in an email to Inc.com "We've seen a real surge of app downloads and bookings for Handy's cleaning and DIY services as a result."

That's a win for homeless felines and for Handy.com then. But what's the lesson for the average business owner? Following the old (if probably untrue) journalistic truism that 'three anecdotes equal a trend,' taken together these stories could be construed as surging interest in the incredible effectiveness of cuddle power for entrepreneurs. But more importantly than indicating some global wave of kitten mania (I'm betting cat lust remains reliably high throughout time), these stories could provide business owners with useful ideas to boost both interest and sales.

If you have a delivery service, adding something furry and feel good to your offerings seems to be a surefire PR win, but even more traditional businesses could possibly take advantage of the irresistible pull of furry friends. Own a shop? Why not invite the local animal shelter to do an adoption day on your premises, for example.

Could your business follow the lead of these startups in leveraging animal power?

Published on: May 5, 2015