The process of validation is a crucial component of determining whether there really is any market for your product. It comes first in a long list of priorities in the initial phase, ahead of the team, the features you want, everything. In the absence of validation, you may end up creating a product that no one is really going to pay for and find you had been taken for a ride by your imagination all the while. So here is a cost-effective step by step way to get certain about the future of your product.

1. Pen down the problem

Write down the problem you are trying to solve. Not the solution itself, just the problem. Work on your statement until you can articulate it precisely in a single sentence.

2. Ascertain the tier of the problem

The tier of the problem refers to the importance placed on it by those who are experiencing the problem. You want your problem to be one of the three most important faced by your potential customer. It is important to judge the severity of the problem, as otherwise your solution might not even be considered as the problem itself is low on the list of priorities, and you don't really want that.

Here, you want to draw up a basic profile of the people experiencing the problem, shortlist 20 to 50 people who fit that profile, and then connect with them. Before your first meeting with them, come up with ten or so questions that you want to ask them. Record the answers in the written word and keep the document with you. After speaking to five or six people, you will come to realize how severe the problem really is.

2. Determine what solutions are currently out there

After talking to about 20 people on your list, you will realize how the problem is being solved at the moment. Usually, you want to solve a problem which already has a market or one that already has a noted competitor doing well in the field. This reinforces the importance of the problem you are trying to solve. Raise warning flags if there are no competitors; this usually means there is no market or that it is not really important in the eyes of those who experience it.

4.Identify pain points of the current solution

Identify the pain points in the process of solving the problem that the prospects currently face. If they are using another product, ask questions, like: What do they not like about it? What could have been added to make life easier for the prospects? Remember, your product needs to be not only distinct, but also better than the solutions currently present in the market. This “better” aspect needs to be tangible and concrete and one that you can leverage during the launch of your solution.

5. Verify that people will pay money to solve the problem

Use your competitor's data to validate whether people spend money to solve the problem. Look at their growth, the number of customers, hirings made, money raised etc for clues. If these things are present, that is good news for you as it means that people will shell out money to have the particular problem solved whether by your competitors or better still for you, for the problem to be solved by you. Now have another chat with the list of people we chalked out earlier in this process. Ask them how much do they think is a fair deal to have the problem solved. Highlight to them how your solution is better than their current process. The query has three potential answers:

a) They will pay for it.

b) They will not pay for it.

c) They aren't sure yet.

Talk more with people who are non-committal or say that they don't really know. Ask them why won't they pay for the product. Is there a budget for the solution? You want at least five "yes" answers after having a conversation with 10 people. Of course the yeses will not necessarily mean that they would indeed pay up, but nevertheless, it is a good sign.

6. Use your prospects

The last help you want your anticipating prospects to render to you is to provide feedback on the solution as it is being built. Some of them could even become your first paying customers.