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How "The Mom Test" Can Help You Validate Your Business Idea in 5 Simple Steps

Genuine feedback is key for making great products and steering startups toward success


Chris Kernaghan

A picture of the front of The Mom Test book

As a UX Designer, one thing I want from users is honest feedback.

It's the lifeblood that pushes a product from the realms of the ordinary to the realms of the extraordinary. Equally as important, if not more so, is getting honest feedback as a founder. Starting a new business is exciting, but figuring out if your idea will really take off can be tricky.

Enter "The Mom Test," a game-changing book by Rob Fitzpatrick. It's a practical guide that teaches entrepreneurs how to get honest, useful feedback about their ideas—without the usual fluff.

And there is a lot of fluff out there.

Instead of asking leading questions that get polite but unhelpful answers (like those you'd get from your mom), "The Mom Test" shows you how to ask the right questions that uncover the truth.

Countless founders have benefited from this approach, gaining clear insights into what potential customers actually need and want. By following five simple steps, you can validate your business idea, avoid common pitfalls, and set yourself up for success.

Ready to learn how? Here are five steps to get you started. Let's go!

1. Ask About Their Life, Not Your Idea

Start by asking people about their experiences and daily routines related to the problem you're solving. For example, if you're creating a new app for managing tasks, ask how they currently keep track of their to-dos.

This way, you're getting real insights without tipping them off about your idea.

Example questions:

- "How do you currently manage your tasks and to-do lists in your daily life?"

- "Could you walk me through how you usually keep track of your tasks and stay organized?"

- "What tools or methods do you rely on to manage your tasks efficiently throughout the day?"

2. Avoid Hypotheticals

Stick to concrete questions about the past and present, not the future. Instead of asking, "Would you use an app that does X?" ask, "How did you handle X the last time it came up?"

This helps you get honest answers based on actual behaviour, not guesses or wishful thinking.

Example questions:

- "When was the last time you encountered [specific problem]? How did you handle it?"

- "Can you tell me about a recent experience where [specific problem] occurred? What did you do?"

- "Describe a situation in the past when [specific problem] arose. How did you deal with it?"

3. Listen More, Talk Less

Focus on listening rather than pitching. Encourage them to share their stories and challenges. If you're doing most of the talking, you won't learn anything new.

Let them lead the conversation, and you'll uncover valuable insights about their needs and pain points.

Example questions:

- "Could you share your experiences and challenges related to [topic]? I'm all ears."

- "Tell me about any struggles or issues you've faced regarding [topic]. Your insights are invaluable."

- "I'm here to listen. What stories or challenges can you share about [topic]? Your perspective matters most."

4. Dig for Specific Problems

When someone mentions a problem, dig deeper. Ask follow-up questions like, "Why was that an issue?" or "Can you tell me more about that?"

This helps you understand the root cause of their frustrations, which is key to developing a solution that truly helps them.

Example questions:

- "When you mention [specific problem], can you elaborate on why it was challenging?"

- "Could you expand on the difficulties you faced with [specific problem]? I'd like to understand better."

- "I'm curious—what led to [specific problem] being an issue? Can you provide more details?"

5. Get Commitment

If they show interest in your idea, gently push for a commitment. It could be anything from agreeing to a follow-up meeting, signing up for a waiting list, or even pre-ordering.

This helps you gauge their real interest and separates casual curiosity from genuine enthusiasm.

Example questions:

- "If you're interested, could we schedule a follow-up meeting to explore this further?"

- "Would you consider signing up for updates or joining a waiting list to stay in the loop?"

- "Could I interest you in pre-ordering or taking another step forward with this idea? Your commitment means a lot."

By following these steps, you'll gather honest feedback that can help you refine and validate your business idea, without getting the biased responses that can come from traditional feedback.

About The Author

A picture of the front of The Mom Test book
Chris Kernaghan

By day, Chris works as a UX Designer, crafting easy-to-use interfaces and ensuring companies focus on what users need. At night, he runs We Are Founders, a platform where founders share inspirational journeys.


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