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The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick

How to Talk to Customers & Learn If Your Business Is a Good Idea When Everyone Is Lying to You

You shouldn’t ask anyone whether your business is a good idea.

It’s our responsibility to find out the truth. We do that by asking good questions.

The measure of the usefulness of an early customer conversation is whether it gives us concrete facts about our customers’ lives and world views.

Don’t talk about your idea. Talk about them and their lives.

The Mom Test:

  1. Talk about their life instead of your idea.
  2. Ask about specifics in the past instead of generics or opinions about the future.
  3. Talk less and listen more.

Opinions are useless.

Anything involving the future is an over-optimistic lie.

People will lie to you if they think it’s what you want to hear.

People know what their problems are, but they don’t know how to solve those problems.

You’re shooting blind until you understand their goals.

Some problems don’t actually matter.

If they haven’t looked for ways of solving it already, they’re not going to look for (or buy) yours.

Ask about what they currently do, not what they believe they might do in the future.

People want to help you but will rarely do so unless you give them an excuse to do so.

Deciding what to build is your job.

The questions to ask are about your customers’ lives: their problems, cares, constraints, and goals.

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.

Three types of bad data: compliments, fluff, and ideas.

Why does the person like the idea? How much money would it save them? How would it fit into their life? What else have they tried which failed to solve their problem?

Compliments are the fool’s gold of customer learning: shiny, distracting, and entirely worthless.

Dig around feature requests with questions to find the root cause.

“The Pathos Problem”: Accidental approval-seeking. You expose your ego, leading people to feel they ought to protect you by saying nice things.

If you’ve mentioned your idea, people will try to protect your feelings.

You can’t learn anything useful unless you’re willing to spend a few minutes shutting up.

The more you’re talking, the worse you’re doing.

Every time you talk to someone, you should be asking a question that has the potential to completely destroy your currently imagined business.

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.

Learning about a customer and their problems works better as a quick and casual chat than a long, formal meeting.

If it feels like they’re doing you a favor by talking to you, it’s probably too formal.

Think of it as a conversation rather than an interview.

The only thing people love talking about more than themselves is their problems.

By taking an interest in the problems and minutia of their day, you’re already being more interesting than 99% of the people they’ve ever met.

If it’s not a formal meeting, you don’t need to make excuses about why you’re there or even mention that you’re starting a business. Just have a good conversation.

Get your product out there, see who seems to like it most, and then reach out to those users.

Teaching is under-valued as both a learning and selling tool.

Framing format:

  1. You’re an entrepreneur trying to solve horrible problem X, user in wonderful vision Y, or fix stagnant industry Z. Don’t metion your idea.
  2. Frame expectations by mentioning what you’re after and, if it’s true, that you don’t have anything to sell.
  3. Show weakness and give them a chance to help by mentioning your specific problem that you’re looking for answers on. This will also clarify that you’re not a time waster.
  4. Put them on a pedestal by showing how much they, in particular, can help.
  5. Ask for help.

If you don’t know what you’re trying to learn, you shouldn’t bother having the conversation.

Useful questions:

When do you use it?

Why do you use it?

How do you use it?

What do you click?

How did you find it?

Did you try any tools or processes previously?

Why do you bother?

What else have you tried?

How much does it cost and what do you love and hate about it?

Who else should I talk to?

Is there anything else I should have asked?

#SharedFromTwos ✌️




Twos is an app and website that helps you simply remember *things*. Visit and download Twos for free on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store to simply remember things today.

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Parker Klein ✌️

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Ex-Googler, Programmer, Reader, Writer, and Creator of Twos ✌️ ( the best place to write *things* down

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