A Successful Startup Starts Here

Requirements Documentation: The Boring (but Necessary) First Step for Building a Great Product

Joe Procopio
6 min readAug 1, 2022


One of the toughest concepts in product building is deciding and documenting exactly what you’re setting out to build. It only takes one cycle using a “wing it” approach to product development before most folks swear to never do that again.

I mean, if you’re going to successfully reach a destination you’ve never been to before, you’re going to want a map.

But the pendulum can swing too far the other way as well, resulting in thick, unwieldy requirements documents that describe almost everything about the product except what it’s actually supposed to do, and what the product accomplishes for the business.

Do you document requirements for your product and upgrades? If so, how? And have you already stopped reading this post in anticipation of being lulled to sleep by a requirements discussion?

I’m going to accept that challenge. I’m going to put forth an actionable post on product requirements without boring you to death.

I understand the reflexive hesitancy. When I’m advising startup and product leaders, requirements documentation is one of those areas where it’s like pulling teeth to get folks to stay with me and understand why the concept is so important.

It’s boring. It’s busywork. Let’s just wing that shit.

Why Documenting Requirements is Something No One Wants To Do

In almost every case where a dedicated requirements discovery and documentation process sucks, it’s because that process is being done wrong.

We tend to put a lot of formality and pomp and circumstance into a requirements document. And usually, when we embrace formality to such a large degree, it’s because we’re hiding a lack of utility.

A great, stupid example that I learned in my first job out of college: Business attire is super formal and serves almost zero purpose. In fact, it usually hampers productivity. Jeans and t-shirts are utilitarian and can be worn in almost any situation that doesn’t require… formal business attire.



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com