Doing Less In Business

If your business could only do one thing, what would it be?

In planning for my second pregnancy, I thought about how to design a business in Startup Pregnant that would serve my life as an expectant mother. Given the constraints on my time and energy, what was mission critical and what could be eliminated from my to-do list?

I got strategic about doing less.

Today on the podcast, Cary Fortin and I continue the Friendship Series, discussing the three-step process I leveraged to design a resilient business that could weather my pregnancy and subsequent maternity leave. We explain how to reframe parental leave as an opportunity to systematize and document a business’ processes and the specific challenges faced by solopreneurs taking a leave of absence. Listen in for insight around getting honest about the number of hours you can REALLY devote to work and making decisions on which projects are integral to your business—and which can be relegated to the Don’t Do list.

The Startup Pregnant Podcast Episode #082

Some quotes from the episode

  • “Knowing what I know [about pregnancy], can I design the work that I want to do in a way that doesn’t seem like such a conflict, such a hustle, such an exhausting thing?”
  • “This is a life design question. How do I design the next five years of my life so that … I’m able to make the kinds of moves I want in my career and my work and my connections and my network without taking as much of a hit as is documented.”
  • “When you become a parent, you see how much [the workplace is] broken and how many things need radical reinvention.”
  • “How can leaving for three months be beneficial for businesses? What does it force you to do? As a forcing function, it means you need to get systematic. It means you need to document. It asks you to analyze what of your work is mission critical and timely and what can be put on pause. And it also just asks whether you have a resilient business.”
  • “This is one of my foundational questions for startups: If you are in the business of doing things in a new way, and you purport to be at the cutting-edge of innovation, but you cannot figure out how to weather a three-month leave which is predictable, and you cannot figure out how to design a workplace that is flexible … I don’t know if you’re that good at the rest of the stuff you say you’re good at.”
  • “You have far less time than you think you have.”
  • “If your business can only do one thing, what would it be?”
  • “Think in terms of chess moves. Which thing will make the next thing easier?”
  • “Which thing would I do if I could only pick one?”
  • “There’s just such an interesting challenge inside of motherhood to figure out how it can actually make more interesting businesses—in our business design, in our efforts, in our energies.”


Cary Fortin is a writer, editor and web designer based in Boise, Idaho. She is also the co-founder of New Minimalism, a simple living platform and declutter + design service, and the co-author of New Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living. New Minimalism brings together the fields of psychology and sustainable design to create holistic, long-term solutions for clients looking to simplify and renew their homes and workspaces. The firm’s work has been featured in Design Sponge, Apartment Therapy, and Yoga Journal, among many other publications.



One of the biggest challenges we face in business is developing focus, figuring out how to do less and gaining clarity around what’s really important. I have developed a three-step process that helps me simplify and make decisions about when to say no. Get the free guide at

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