Talk Less Smile More

Danielle Gillespie
3 min readFeb 21, 2023

You’re pumped about your next great product idea. But does the world really want what you’re planning to sell?

In my article about avoiding the build mentality, I encourage entrepreneurs to try .. really try .. to invalidate their business idea. This is scary work that nobody wants to do, but is work that could potentially save countless hours and dollars.

In order to do this, founders must engage in as many conversations with prospective customers as possible. So, it is imperative to spend considerable time formulating questions that do not lead the prospect to the easy answers. While leading questions may boost your ego they can also result in false positive results; answers that validate an idea but may not be completely reliable.

These answers may lead you to believe that your solution is commercially viable but do not necessarily get to the heart of whether the solution is important enough for someone to pay money for it.

I read a great book recently that I recommend to many new entrepreneurs called The Mom Test that is a straightforward handbook for formulating good questions and conducting high value conversations.

Below are some of my key takeaways from the book, if you want to learn more I would encourage you to read the book in its entirety (please note, I am not an affiliate partner and do not derive any income from mentioning the book, I just think it’s a damn good book).

Questions for Potential Prospects

There are different categories of questions you can ask, the questions below are generic starting concepts that will need to be tailored to specific business ideas.

Your main goal is to stay centered on the prospect, their life and their workflow as it exists today or how it existed in the past. It is very important that you do not mention your idea.

  • What is your biggest focus right now?
  • What is your biggest obstacle right now?
  • How often do you do a task [task is related to your idea]? If never, why not?
  • When was the last time you did this task [task is related to your idea]?
  • Have you looked for a way to solve a problem [related to your idea]? What other solutions did you try? Note that if people haven’t looked for solutions to this problem, they probably do not want to solve that problem (in other words, there is no market fit).
  • Why do you want a particular product or feature?
  • What would that product or feature allow you to do?
  • How are you working without a particular product or feature?
  • How would a product or feature it into your day?

Closing Notes

Try to refrain from talking about your idea because this will lead to false positives routed in bad questions that stroke your ego. Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth closed, if you’re doing most of the talking you are on a dangerous path. Remember that good questions are centered on your prospect and have the potential to blow up your idea.

Contact me for 3 great questions to ask an interviewee (it’s free).



Danielle Gillespie

Defining the intersection between technology and human connection (I also help entrepreneurs build rock solid tech products: