You’ve probably heard before that you should never turn to your mom for honest feedback on your new business idea. “The Mom Test” is a method for asking questions that prompt your potential customers – and even your mom – to share what they really think about your idea. The method originated in a book written by entrepreneur and author Rob Fitzpatrick and essentially revolves around asking open-ended questions about your customers’ lives without revealing anything about your solution.
Check out this thing, wouldn't it be nice to avoid doing it the old way and instead use this?
This is how it might sound when we want to test our idea in an early stage. As an entrepreneur, you know you should talk to your potential customers as early as possible – to check that you’re actually building something they will want to buy. This is important when the idea is really good – to confirm the upcoming success – but especially when it turns out that the idea doesn’t quite hold up. In that case, it’s better to find out as early as possible so that you have a better chance to adjust for success. But it’s not easy to figure out what potential customers really think. Why is that?
The first common reason is that most people try to be kind to you and therefore are not completely honest about what they think. They do this because they see that you’re putting effort, time, and money into something and simply don’t want to risk hurting you by giving feedback that might be uncomfortable.
The second common reason is that we ourselves feel good hearing positive feedback. Nothing strange about that. It’s natural that we want to hear that we are on the right track. Unfortunately, this has the consequence that we might fall into seeking compliments instead of finding valuable information where there is a risk that something uncomfortable might come up. The leading questions in the introduction are examples of this. But compliments and cheerful encouragement rarely improve our idea.
So how do you get people to say what they really think? It naturally varies depending on what idea you want to test and how far you’ve come, but in the example below, you get some tips that can help you along the way. In the example, we assume an idea for a digital service that we believe will replace a troublesome moment/problem for the customers. First, you need to confirm that there is a need among the customers.
The moment you start talking about the idea, the risk increases that they won’t really say what they think. Before that, you want to dig into how they currently handle things without influencing them in any direction.
The basic rule is to talk less and listen more! Pose open-ended questions and follow-up questions. For example: What problems do they encounter? When did it last happen? How do they currently solve the problem? Why do they do it that way? How much time do they spend solving the problem? What other methods have they tried? How challenging do they find the problem? Have they talked to others about how they handle/solve the problem? The key is to really delve into the questions so you get good information about the customer’s need for the solution.
So, what’s the ultimate way to check if someone is telling the truth when they say your idea is good? Ask them to sign up for the service or pre-order the product. Then, they will undoubtedly reveal what they really think – because everyone stops lying when you ask them for money.
If you want help figuring out what’s crucial for your idea to move forward, book a meeting with a business developer at Science Park, and we’ll assist you!