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The Mom Test

How to Talk to Customers and Learn If Your Business is a Good Idea When Everyone is Lying to You

By Rob Fitzpatrick
  • Read in 9 minutes
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  • Contains 5 key ideas
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The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick

The two most important types of conversation you’ll have when founding a business are those with potential customers and those with potential investors. The Mom Test (2013) offers advice on nailing the information you really need from these meetings, and ensuring your business has the best possible foundation for success.

Key idea 1 of 5

Collect useful data about your idea and customer base by asking the right kind of questions.

An important part of being a skilled entrepreneur is asking the right questions. Good questions are the key to developing and advancing your idea.

So stop talking about your idea and start asking about it. Ask your potential customers about the problems they have and the kind of solutions they’re looking for. See if you’re on the right track to offering them something they need.

Imagine your target customer base has a problem with Excel, for example. If they can find a cheap, effective way around that problem, don’t waste time and money producing an alternative application for them. They won’t need it.

Asking good questions also helps you collect the right kind of data. “Good” data is data that tells you what your customers are looking for and what they’re willing to pay for it.

Let’s say your idea is for a paid app that offers daily recipes to stay-at-home moms. It wouldn’t be effective to merely ask some moms if they’d be interested in such an app. Instead, ask if they ever have trouble finding new recipes and how they go about looking for them.

If your target customers can easily find recipes online, they probably won’t pay for your app. That’s the kind of feedback you need.

“Bad” data, on the other hand, misleads you. When coworkers or friends give you insincere compliments or tell you white lies because they don’t want to be rude, that’s bad data. They might also make vague statements about possibly investing in you in the future – don’t take these empty promises at face value.

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