The Mom Test Summary
One Paragraph Summary If you have an idea for a product, it is essential to find out whether your solution is meeting the demand of your potential customers. But how do you validate a business idea? Well, you ask the people around you to get the necessary input. Wrong! People who are close to you cannot give you honest feedback because they love you. They would rather make up white lies than hurt you with the truth.
Rob Fitzpatrick will show us how we need to talk to customers and potential investors to find the truth we need to build a sustainable business.
The Mom Test—How to Talk to Customers and Learn If Your Business is a Good Idea When Everyone is Lying to You
A book by Rob Fitzpatrick
By writing this book summary, I learned the following three things:
- Target a small group of potential customers
- Look for commitments, not for compliments
- Talk to your customers before you build a solution.
It boils down to this: you aren't allowed to tell them what their problem is, and in return, they aren't allowed to tell you what to build. They own the problem, you own the solution.―Rob Fitzpatrick
There are good and bad data that you can collect for your business. For example, when family members compliment you on your excellent business idea, you should not trust this feedback. Usually, anybody in your family wants to support you. Compliments from family and friends are weak data, and you should not base any business decisions upon it.
Instead, look for the best information you can collect. Usually, this is done by getting into conversations with your customers. But don't tell them how great your business is or will be. Ask questions and listen carefully to what they have to say. Find out what they need. This information is the data you need to build a business your customers will love.
We all love to hear compliments about ourselves and our business ventures. But it would be best if you were careful to take compliments as validation for your business.
When a possible investor only gives you compliments but does not ask any questions, you should take this as a secure sign that he has no intention to invest in your idea.
As a business owner, you need to seek commitment from a possible investor. So when an investor commits any resources to your business, you are on the right track.
Therefore, in any meetings with potential business partners, do not seek compliments, focus on getting commitments.
If you want to get into a conversation with your customers, it is much easier to collect the data you need for your business when you target a small group first.
As soon as you have identified your target group of customers, it would be best to ask them as many questions as you can to find out all about their problem. It will be much easier to provide a great solution when you know your customer's challenges well.
Yes, the outcome of the conversation with your customers can also be that there is no solution you can provide to them. Then move on and try a different idea. In the startup world, there is no shortage of ideas.
Investors and customers alike will only talk about their feelings when they are relaxed. That is why it is essential to conduct your meetings casually. Go to places they will like and hold the meeting in a comfortable setting.
Everybody hates yet another meeting that is ineffective and unproductive. Value the time of your business partners and that of your customers like you would your own time.
Show that you are genuinely interested in what your interlocutor has to say. Nobody will open up and talk about personal matters when they feel their counterpart is not interested in what they say.
Some problems don't actually matter.―Rob Fitzpatrick
It is much easier to work with a small group of people than with a bigger crowd. It will be easier to find those people. It will be easier to prepare your meetings and casually talk to them.
Do not present your solution to your potential customers, but let them have the conversation. Encourage them to talk about their specific problems and hurdles. Find out what is ruining their day. If someone mentions the problem for which your business idea offers a solution, you may be on the right track.
We go through the futile process of asking for opinions and fish for compliments because we crave approval. We want to believe that the support and sign-off of someone we respect means our venture will succeed. But really, that person's opinion doesn't matter. They have no idea if the business is going to work. Only the market knows. You're searching for the truth, not trying to be right. And you want to do it as quickly and cheaply as possible. Learning that your beliefs are wrong is frustrating, but it's progress. It's bringing you ever closer to the truth of a real problem and a good market. The worst thing you can do is ignore the bad news while searching for some tiny grain of validation to celebrate. You want the truth, not a gold star.―Rob Fitzpatrick
I agree with Rob Fitzpatrick; if you want to get honest feedback talking to friends and family is a bad idea. The best way to get this feedback is by talking to your potential customers.
Another useful strategy to test your idea is to ask other entrepreneurs. They usually know what feedback is valuable, and they do not shy away to tear your plan to pieces. And if they don't, you might have an idea you should pursue.
"Do you think it's a good idea?" Awful question!—Rob Fitzpatrick
When you have read so far, you probably know the feeling you get when you have a new business idea. You get excited and want to start building the solution you have in mind. Don't do this.
As tempting as it is to start working immediately on the implementation, it is much wiser first to evaluate your business idea. Building a solution is always more costly than talking to a group of people.
Several years back, I had a "great" business idea. I developed a solution to a problem only to find out that my potential customers prefer to use Google Docs. If I had talked to my target group of customers before implementing the solution, I would have saved several months of development time and a lot of money.
Evaluating one's business ideas is not easy. Rob Fitzpatrick offers useful advice on how to find out whether your business idea is worth pursuing. By focusing on a small target group of customers, you can find the information you need by asking the right questions. Talk to your customers in a personal and casual way. Find out whether your business idea is solving a problem your customers have and whether they would pay for the solution. Talking to your mom and friends will not give you the insights you need.
- Don't tell customers how great your business is, ask them questions instead and listen carefully.
- Don't rely on feedback from friends and family to judge your business idea.
- Do not look for compliments; look for commitment when you seek funding.
- Focus on a small group of target customers
- Listen to your customers to find out whether your business idea is sound.
- Keep your meetings productive.
- Be casual in meetings with investors and customers.
- Ask customers about their problems and what they think will be a great solution.
- Avoid wasting other people's time by keeping your meeting personal and to the point.
- Meet with investors and customers in places they like
Read more about Rob Fitzpatrick on his website.
Rob Fitzpatrick has written one other book: The Workshop Survival Guide
If you liked reading the The Mom Test Summary, you should also read Side Hustle Summary.