The Mom Test - how to talk to customers and learn if your business is a good idea when everybody is lying to you

How much do I want to read more? 7/10

A simple book that emphasize asking the right questions not to be too pushy on one's business idea, and still get relevant informations to be guided into the product customers actually need.


Trying to learn from customer conversations is like excavating a delicate archaeological site. The truth is down there somewhere, but it’s fragile. While each blow with your shovel gets you closer to the truth, you’re liable to smash it into a million little pieces if you use too blunt an instrument.

I see a lot of teams using a bulldozer and crate of dynamite for their excavation. They are, in one way or another, forcing people to say something nice about their business. They use heavy-handed questions like “do you think it’s a good idea”

At the other end of the spectrum, some founders are using a toothbrush to unearth a city, flinching away from digging deep and finding out whether anything of value is actually buried down there.

The truth is our goal and questions are our tools. But we must learn to wield them. It’s delicate work. And well worth learning. There’s treasure below.

Talking to customers is hard

Bad customer conversations aren’t just useless. Worse, they convince you that you’re on the right path.

Why another book on talking and selling?

Firstly, I’m a techie, not a sales guy. I’m introverted and naturally bad in meetings.

CHAPTER ONE - The Mom Test

People say you shouldn’t ask your mom whether your business is a good idea.
You shouldn’t ask anyone whether your business is a good idea.
Your mom will lie to you the most (just ‘cuz she loves you), but it’s a bad question and invites everyone to lie to you at least a little.
It’s our responsibility to find it. We do that by asking good questions.
The Mom Test is a set of simple rules for crafting good questions that even your mom can't lie to you about.

Failing the mom test

convinced he’s right, quits his job, and sinks his savings into the app. Then he wonders why nobody (even his mom) buys the app,
Doing it wrong is worse than doing nothing at all

Passing the mom test

A useful conversation

Mom was unable to lie to us because we never talked about our idea.
Eventually you do need to mention what you’re building and take people’s money for it. However, the big mistake is almost always to mention your idea too soon rather than too late.
If you just avoid mentioning your idea, you automatically start asking better questions.

The Mom Test:

It’s called The Mom Test because it leads to questions that even your mom can’t lie to you about. When you do it right, they won’t even know you have an idea.

Good question / bad question