The Mom Test

I just finished reading The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick and highly recommend it. I haven't laughed out loud to a business book since The Lean Startup.

I found out about The Mom Test from Rob's blog, The Startup Toolkit. I stumbled upon this blog when I was Googling the basics of incorporating a startup (because, you know, I've been thinking about that lately). Rob's post "Equity basics: vesting, cliffs, acceleration, and exits" taught me more about this stuff than the dozens of articles I read on the internet. Straightforward. Nonsense. Knowledge. 

So when I saw that Rob had a book for sale about how to talk to customers, I forked over the $25 and gave it a go. (This was not a small show of faith - that's about 10 bean and rice Chipotle burritos, enough food for a week.) 

I was planning on going to a vegan meet up later that week, and I thought I could inhale it quickly before then. I didn't get a change to do it before, but I wish I had. It was a quick read - 2 hours or so for me, and I'm a slow reader. I recommend it to anyone building anything.

I knew that I needed to "get out there and talk to customers" (whenever I say this, I use the hand signals for quotation marks) but I didn't realize until I read The Mom Test that I didn't know how to do that. It sounds simple, but as Rob points out, it's harder than you think. The title comes from a simple test: if you can get your own mother to give you objective insight into a problem, then you're asking the right questions. 

And counterintuitively, compliments are bad. I'll explain. When you're trying to get someone to give you information about whether you're idea is good or not, don't ask them straight up, because 90% of the time they'll just compliment you. These are strangers, basically, who don't know you, and they want you to like them, so they're going to tell you whatever they think you want to hear. 

Don't tell people your idea when you're trying to find out if you're solving their problem. It's irrelevant that they know about your idea, because you're not pitching to them or trying to get them to buy something. You're interviewing them. So just don't talk about yourself. Easy. 

Rob goes on how to explain how to actually ask good questions, shut up and listen, and capture what's important about these conversations. 

Check it out here, and avoid my mistakes.