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The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you Paperback – September 10, 2013
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The Mom Test is a quick, practical guide that will save you time, money, and heartbreak.
They say you shouldn't ask your mom whether your business is a good idea, because she loves you and will lie to you. This is technically true, but it misses the point. You shouldn't ask anyone if your business is a good idea. It's a bad question and everyone will lie to you at least a little . As a matter of fact, it's not their responsibility to tell you the truth. It's your responsibility to find it and it's worth doing right .
Talking to customers is one of the foundational skills of both Customer Development and Lean Startup. We all know we're supposed to do it, but nobody seems willing to admit that it's easy to screw up and hard to do right. This book is going to show you how customer conversations go wrong and how you can do better.
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From the Publisher
The Feedback Fallacy
When we go ask people for feedback about our idea...
People say you shouldn't ask your mom whether your business is a good idea. That's true, but it misses the point...
We feel like we're being scientific
You shouldn't ask anyone whether your business is a good idea. At least not in those words. Everyone will lie at least a little. Ultimately it's a bad question.
When we're really just fishing for compliments
We're putting our precious idea on the line...So people respond with compliments and opinions. It's not their responsibility to show us the truth. It's our responsibility to find it.
It convince us we're on the right track, even when we're not
You want to understand what they're already doing and why. This understanding lets you come to your own conclusion about the product they'll need.
Stop wasting your time
Entrepreneurs are universally busy, yet odds are high that you’re wasting huge amounts of time sitting in pointless meetings and building unnecessary features. Talking to customers takes time, so it's worth doing right.
Take two hours to read this book and you’ll see it repaid tenfold.
Rob Fitzpatrick, author and entrepreneur
Learn how to design and teach educational workshops that work every time.
Whether workshops are your whole world or just a small part, The Workshop Survival Guide will equip you with the tools to design and run a brilliant session, every time, with no stress or drama. Folks tend to think a successful workshop is all about the facilitation (which does matter, and we’ll cover that too), but the real magic is in the design you do ahead of time. It’s a simple process that anyone can learn, and which will get you to the real goal: a happy audience.
Understand your customers. Build desirable products. Write useful books
Alongside running a variety of little businesses over the past fourteen years, Rob is the author of three practical handbooks to what he's learned along the way.
His books are taught at universities like Harvard, MIT, and UCL, and are used as training manuals at companies like SkyScanner and Shopify. He has run training programs at companies like HP and Sony Mobile, and has helped coach countless startups and entrepreneurs. His advice is thoughtful, battle-tested, and pleasantly practical.
- The Mom Test: How to talk to customers and figure out if your business is a good idea when everybody is lying to you
- The Workshop Survival Guide: How to design and run education workshop that work every time
- Write Useful Books: A modern approach to designing and refining recommendable nonfiction
-- Simon Murdoch. Partner Episode1 Ventures
Recommended by world-class investors"[The Mom Test] book is awesome. We've been recommending it to all YC founders since last batch."
-- Eric Migicovsky, Partner, Y Combinator
"If you aren't sure about how to ask the "right" questions to ascertain whether there is real customer pain, the best book on the subject is The Mom Test. I highly recommend it."
-- Carlos Espinal, Partner, Seedcamp
"Early stage founders - Please read The Mom Test. Just got this feedback from one of our companies: 'Big thanks for recommending [the book]. It totally changed the way we structure customer conversations.'"
-- Connor Murphy, Venture Partner, TechStars
Taught at top universities
"Ounce for ounce, there's no better way to learn what customers want and will buy than this wonderful little book. If you want your new product or new business to succeed, start here."
-- John Mullins, London Business School. Author of The New Business Road. "[A] very useful book, which you will find incredibly helpful in structuring better conversations with potential customers."
-- Dave Chapman, University College London
Beloved by practitioners
"This is one of the few great practical books I've ever read. Whoever has an idea to build something, please read it before even wasting your resources."
-- Emre Güney, Global Senior Lifecycle Manager, Skyscanner
"Had a great hour-long customer discovery call. Can't recommend the Mom Test enough. The questions got him talking SO openly without me having to do much. So far, best business book I bought."
-- Philipp Heuberger, Founder
"The Mom Test is amazing. I recommend it constantly and refer to it weekly."
-- Bryan Harris, Founder
"People ask me why I've been sharing The Mom Test so much. It's because it represents a "big idea" that every business person should know: "You can't trust what customers say they'll do in the future. You can only trust how they currently do things."
-- Justin Jackson, Founder
"Most business books are half fluff; this is not. It's 100% practical guidance. I was so impressed that I've been referencing it constantly in conversations with co-workers. It's a short, entertaining, and very-easy-to-apply read. Big thumbs up".
-- S.K., Founder
From the Author
- Publisher : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition (September 10, 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 136 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1492180742
- ISBN-13 : 978-1492180746
- Item Weight : 5.9 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.31 x 8.5 inches
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on February 25, 2021
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Top reviews from the United States
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First about me: I've spent the last three years applying the tools of human-centric design to business projects. I'm also thoroughly trained in the scientific method.
This book is WILL save you billions. And if you have great ideas, you can make billions, too.
In science, we know that proving a hypothesis does not provide one with strong evidence. It's primarily a matter of picking the right kind of evidence.(Often how a case is made in court.) The strongest kind of evidence is falsifying a hypothesis. Everything points in one direction, making something highly probable. But you might be wrong. You need to look for that one piece of evidence that shows you're wrong, even if everything else seems to support it. It took me a while to truly understand the significance of that. You don't have to, if you read The Mom Test, but you will benefit from what it means in practical know-how when you talk to customers. (And they are the ones who will, or will not, open their wallets.)
Fitzpatrick shows you the questions we tend to ask - and we learn to identify which ones are extremely bad to ask. They are making our interviewees partners in crime of confirming something which simply isn't true. Every practical piece of advice in this book is highly valuable; one favorite of mine is to make sure you don't zoom in too early. You can get someone get highly emotional about a problem. Yet, if this is a lower-level problem, that the customer has never bothered to take action to change, it's still not a big problem for you to solve.
Obvious, yes. This whole book is obvious. And yet, it's funny how often the most obvious stuff is ignored when it really counts.
Don't mistake the laid-back-style of writing with its importance.
Usually it takes years of practical experience to learn from mistakes, that will make you correctly apply an important theory that you grasp, into successful practical application.This book gives you that in - what, an hour of enjoyable reading?
I've read many books on customer research.
This books is invaluable. Read this one and you will probably go crazy when observing even more seasoned customer researchers for the traps they're stepping into, unknowingly, potentially wasting lots and lots of resources towards the wrong pursuit.
I have always been interested in people and what they think and love ask people questions. I have built a company which was required for $150m and I did 99% of the customer development and problem discovery. I have taken a course in open questions as an interview format. BUT STILL - I find myself tricking myself by not asking people the right questions.
I loved The Mom Test and have recommended it to tons of people. Heck - I wish I would have written the book!
When you ask to get feedback thing:
1. Tell me about the last time you X
2. What went wrong - explain more?
3. What are the consequences?
4. What tools/processes/etc do you use today and why is that not working?
And - the book is worthwhile reading even if you are not building a product (even if it should be mandatory in every "entrepreneurship eduction"), but just want to learn how to listen and make conversations less about you and learn something every time you talk to someone.
Top reviews from other countries
As the book says "every question we ask carries the very real possibility of biasing the person we’re talking to and rendering the whole exercise pointless."
And then "Bad customer conversations aren’t just useless. Worse, they convince you that you’re on the right path. They give you a false positive that causes you to over-invest your cash, your time, and your team."
Why is this?
Well it seems that the people you ask want to be nice and encouraging (and you want them to be too). This can create an accidental conspiracy where you get to hear what you WANT to hear and not what you NEED to hear.
This is vital to understand and the early part of the book is very strong in the way it highlights the problem and the dangers involved with careless questioning. You need to get to facts and the truth of their problems, not their opinions about your solution.
This is not a long book but I feel what is here is padded. The more I read, the less involved I was. There is a lot to learn from the book but I feel there is also a lot that could be in here that is missing. You need more structure to your questions.
I'm a fan of Jobs To Be Done as a concept for understanding customers and what they want when fixing a problem by buying a solution. This will help frame your questioning and help you develop your first minimum viable product (MVP).
I'm giving the book a 4 star rating. It is part of the answer within the entire lean start-up and product innovation subject but I feel the average entrepreneur is going to need to read much more widely before he or she is in a position to make best use of what's in here.
Paul Simister helps business owners who are stuck and frustrated, to get unstuck.