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You can’t always afford focus groups when you’re starting out – all you have is a great idea and the drive to go for it. So, in this scenario, where would you most likely get your advice from about getting started, or thoughts on how your idea might work?

Most people would ask their family and friends – which is what you should avoid!

Many successful entrepreneurs put down the success to launching an idea to not consulting those closest to them – and there’s even a famous book all on the subject.

“The Mom Test” by Rob Fitzpatrick looks at how you should ask the right questions to reveal authentic insights into ideas and pitches, rather than looking for compliments.

Looking at the concept of “The Mom Test” itself, it’s meant to be a demonstration why you shouldn’t bring your new idea to your mum, as all she’ll do is compliment you and tell you it’s a great idea…even if it’s not.

You need to remember that when you speak with friends and family, they may say compliments over harsh truths to avoid offending you. They may also not be a part of your target audience, so wouldn’t have the right insight into how much your idea might be needed.

If you do only have that group to consult with, here are our tips for getting the most out of the conversation:


  • Look for truths instead of aiming for compliments

This can be done by framing questions differently. Rather than asking “what do you think about my idea of…”, think about “what do you feel the need for…is in society?”. This shifts the view of the idea away from you and more about the general populous.

By aiming away from compliments, the people you’re asking will be able to deviate their opinion away from their personal relationship with you, and so if they need to deliver some hard truths, it will feel less personal and more informative.


  • Aim for a wide range of ages, genders and mindsets

If you are going to speak with friends and family about your idea, it’s a good idea to aim for a wide range of differing characteristics. Much like any successful focus groups, you want to make sure you’re speaking with a wide range of ages, genders, mindsets and backgrounds.

Without diverse thoughts and opinions, you’re once again aiming for compliments rather than the hard truths. It can also be a great idea to see if your idea if suitable for all audiences, or very specific ones.


  • Take everything with a pinch of salt

Unless all your friends and family are entrepreneurs and creative geniuses, it’s not likely that they will have any expertise on running a business and what makes a successful idea. They can relate to what the product or service is that you want to run, but everything outside of that is not within their wheelhouse.

So, it’s very important that any opinion they give, or any advice, is taken with a pinch of salt. It’s good to gauge the need of your idea with your close group but leave the advice to the experts.


Experts can be hard to come by, but at STEAMhouse, we’re not short of experts in a wide range of entrepreneurial and practical subjects. For our Incubator and Associate members, they have access to free business support when they need it, and our Maker members can rely on specialist technicians for informal, one-to-one support.