Book Club January 14, 2021

Top lessons and thoughts from The Mom Test book😮

Vladyslav @vladyslav

Yesterday I finished The Mom Test book and here I'll write the most interesting and useful parts of it. Keep in mind these are mostly quotes from the book, so there is no personal opinion that can potentially distort what is said in the book.

The advice "you should talk to customers" is unhelpful. It's like the popular kid advising his nerdy friend to "just be cooler". You still have to know how to actually do it.

I see a lot of this from indie hackers:

You shouldn't ask people whether your business is a good idea. It's not anyone else's responsibility to show you the truth. It's your responsibility to find it.

Instead of talking about your idea talk about people and their lives. If you just avoid mentioning your idea, you automatically start asking better questions.

Talk less and listen more

Example of bad questions:
- Do you think it's a good idea?
- Would you buy a product that did X?
- How much would you pay for X?
- Would you pay X for a product that did Y?
Example of good questions:
- Why do you bother?
- What are the implications of that?
- What else have you tried?
- How are you dealing with it now?

You aren’t allowed to tell people what their problem is, and in return, they aren’t allowed to tell you what to build.

You want facts and commitments, not compliments. The best way to escape the misinformation of compliments is to avoid them completely by not mentioning your idea.

Compliments are the fool’s gold of customer learning: shiny, distracting, and worthless.

When someone starts talking about what they “always” or “usually” or “never” or “would” do, they are giving you generic and hypothetical fluff.

The world’s most deadly fluff is: “I would definitely buy that.”

Entrepreneurs are always drowning in ideas. We have too many ideas, not too few. Write them down, but don’t rush to add them to your to-do list. Startups are about focusing and executing on a single, scalable idea rather than jumping on every good one which crosses your desk.

The main source of compliment-creation is seeking approval, either intentionally or inadvertently. Doing it intentionally is fishing for compliments. In other words, you aren’t really looking for contradictory information. You’ve already made up your mind, but need someone’s blessing to take the leap. Remember that compliments are worthless and people’s approval doesn’t make your business better.

Once you start talking about your idea, they stop talking about their problems.

Anyone will say your idea is great if you’re annoying enough about it.

One of the reasons we avoid the important question is because asking them is scary. It can bring us to the unsettling realization that our beloved idea is fundamentally flawed.

Never consider rejection to be a real failure. But not asking certainly is. This can happen because you’re avoiding the scary question or because you haven’t figured out what the next steps should be.

This what I see on ProductHunt every day! Remember this and think twice next time, when you see WOW comments 🙄

There’s more reliable information in a “meh” than a “Wow!” You can’t build a business on a lukewarm response.

Bad comments
- Looks great. Let me know when it launches.
- That's so cool. I love it!
- I would definitely buy that.
Good comments
- What are the next steps?
- When can we start the trial?
- Can I buy the prototype?

In early-stage sales, the real goal is learning. Revenue is a side-effect.

  1. 4

    Useful summary, thanks. Like you said knowing the theory is one thing, putting it into practice is not as easy. Too much abstraction when asking questions can alo lead to mistakes. Someone can like ice cream but will not like your ice cream recipe. Not finding customers does not mean that there's no market either. There's always water in a desert, not finding it does not mean it's not there, somewhere... And finding water does not mean there's a lake underground.

  2. 2

    Great summary! Thank you for this. Def made me think about better ways of conducting user-testing and interviews. It's so easy sometimes to ask closed questions where you already know the answer you want.

  3. 2

    Nice summary! This is probably the most useful, but I recently fell into this trap too:

    The world’s most deadly fluff is: “I would definitely buy that.”

    1. 2

      I can't tell you how many times I saw this type of comment on PH or other platforms. People are throwing this bullshit everywhere, I swear😂. Every indie hacker should understand this and don't fall into the erroneous expectations

  4. 1

    Nice stuff, I took some notes from when Rob was on the IH podcast, sharing here

  5. 1

    A fun extension of this book is Rob Fitzpatrick's Youtube series on remote interviewing! I've found that really helpful

  6. 1

    Good man! Thank you for the summary! So did you find the book useful/insightful?

    1. 1

      Definitely yes! I recommend to read this book because my post is only 20% of what you can find there. Good luck!

  7. 1

    Just finished the book this morning, and loved it too. I thought I had already internalized the importance of idea validation, but The Mom Test showed me I had no idea how hard it is. I thought it was as simple as asking people what problems they face in their businesses, but there are so many ways it can go wrong if you let it.

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