The Mom Test – Book Review

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The Mom Test – Book Review

How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you.

I get it. I remember with my second ever business Festibl (a social network for music fans) that when you're wrapped up in an exciting new idea you just want to tell everyone about it! And that's brilliant... feedback from potential customers is an extremely important aspect of shaping your business. However how you get this feedback is essential.

Chances are, if you're like I was, you're having utterly useless conversations with people who mean well, but are selling you down a shitty creek without a paddle.

Rob Fitzpatrick's 'The Mom Test' (2013) comes off the back of the Lean Start-Up movement which has highlighted the many shortcomings and wasted time that entrepreneurs spend when setting up their companies. Specifically 'The Mom Test' notes the extremely prevalent tendency for people to share their business ideas in a way which provides them with terrible, incorrect information from people who essentially don't want to hurt their feelings.

This video breaks it down much better than I could in just over 3 minutes...

What's it really all about?

Looking under the hood a little bit further, Rob Fitzpatrick's main objective is to save would-be entrepreneurs from creating crappy business ideas. The awesome power his concept is that it actually kills 2 birds with 1 stone - not only does it help save you a bunch of time from building an idea that no one will use, but it also makes talking to potential customers so much easier.

Customer conversations are something that people feel really nervous about... and understandably so - if you see them as "selling". However in a good "Mom Test" conversation the 'customer' shouldn't even know you have a business idea at all! You should be asking them genuine questions, which can shape your business, that are based on historic facts rather than future lies.

Customer Problem & Solution
Never mention your business idea and ask what they think. Instead explore the problem your business aims to solve, and establish whether it is a real problem for them...
e.g. "Would you use an App which helps you book emergency dental appointments?" should become: "When was the last time you needed an emergency dental appointment?", "How did you go about booking it?", "Was that booking method straight forward?" etc.

Time & Price
Always ask about historical, specific examples rather than getting future 'promises'...
e.g. "How much would you pay for an app which books emergency dental appointments" should become: "When you previously had to book an emergency appointment, how much did it cost?", "How did you feel about paying that much?" etc.

As someone who frequents a fair few networking events I physically cringe now when people lead a conversation with a terrible opener such as "I'm developing an app that's like Uber for household appliances, wouldn't you like this?". After reading The Mom Test you will start to notice this line of questioning more to, and what's worse, you will be as polite as everyone else and say; "Yeah, yeah I guess - sounds good..." - just heaven-forbid you see them again 6-months and £20k later when they've built their app and want you to download it!

Conclusion

Positives about "The Mom Test"
This book is clearly written by a real entrepreneur who understands what entrepreneurs need. By this I mean it is short, to the point, and practical - no unnecessary labouring of the key points, no wishy-washy vague ideas of how to take things forward, and no naff, inappropriate anecdotes that are not applicable in other business situations.
Rob Fitzpatrick genuinely wants to help stop would-be entrepreneurs from wasting their time, and honestly if you read and take on board the ideas from this book, it will save you 1000's of hours and shedloads of cash.

Negatives about "The Mom Test"
There is only really one issue I have with this book, and this may just apply to me... the title!
My mum is an awesome, brilliant woman, who definitely loves me very much, but she has picked holes in all of my business ideas more brutally than any VC (Venture Capitalist) ever has! In fact, if my mum was used to "Mom Test" other people's ideas then I think we'd save a whole load of entrepreneurial energy launching businesses that are a load of crap.

Love you mum, and love this book. Full 5 Stars and a must read for anyone taking things seriously.

Reading entrepreneurial and business books is an absolutely brilliant way to both build your skills and improve your mindset when it comes to business. There is an absolute wealth of knowledge and skills out there that you can purchase in these types of books for under £10, and they could honestly save you thousands in the long run.
But reading them is useless unless you actually apply what you read!

Reading raises 'potential energy', but these means absolutely nothing without doing... do please read The Mom Test,
however the real value comes in then putting the lessons in to practice.

Good luck and god speed!

sam
sam

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