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Advice for start-up companies

Overwhelmed? Advice for Start-Up Companies

February 22, 2018

You have a biomedical product in the works. You've started up a medical device company. You have funding, the big deadline, and a good idea of where you want to be ... and then it happens, you become overwhelmed.


It's that feeling of being pulled in too many directions.

This feeling can skew your perception of what's around you, making you feel like you have fewer resources than you actually do. It negatively impacts your work performance.

Studies show that your affect towards your work directly impacts your performance. Positive affects drive the focus positively -- while negative affects drive the focus negatively.

This means that if you feel positive towards your work, you'll perform better -- but that's easier said then done.

You want your start-up to succeed.

Much like a farmer preparing their land for planting, starting a company takes a lot of work. You have a deadline that must be met so that your "harvest" will come to fruition. Missing that deadline will be very costly. So, on you go, getting your "soil" ready for seeding with a mindset that is always reminding you of consequences.

You want to make progress and you don't want to fail.

plant seeds of success

Developing a new product comes with many challenges, patents to prototyping to manufacturing.

For a company just starting out, it is very easy to overlook some steps, especially when you're focused on that deadline and the costs involved: not enough "employees"; task items taking twice as long as anticipated; etc.

There is always something extra to do that isn't driving the project forward... Next thing you know, you're stuck and unable to move forward.


You may think "Why me?"

Overwhelmed and stressed out, you may feel like the odds are stacked against you. You may feel scared, angry or even embarrassed.

You are Overwhelmed

Now, all your energy is directed at getting your company unstuck instead of "planting your seeds".

Your product's progress has come to a halt.  So much more work needs to be done and the consequences are still there.  The deadline is still there.

First, realize that this is a normal part of a product developer's life; when you are taking risks, or doing something new. Whether this is your first time or your fifth time, you must understand that this happens.

You must also realize that time-frames are not as short as they seem. There is still time to work things out.

I myself have been overwhelmed many times, and that's why I wanted to reach out and help.

Take time to step away from the project. Look at how deeply your are buried, what tools you will need to dig yourself out, and determine if this is a good time to attempt to get out.

Leave the project for a while, if you can. Get some rest, clear your mind, and recharge your energy. When you come back, revisit your goals, and remember what you are trying to achieve.

This is a good time to remind yourself of the accomplishments you've already achieved.


You'll be surprised how much more clarity you have, and how much lighter you feel,  when you are able to clear your mind.

You will not be fully cleared until you get your company back on track, but remember that your positive focus towards your work will improve your performance.

You need to feel positive and confident, do the right thing at the right time, and get back on track sooner rather than later. This will be easier to do and you'll be more efficient when you are not stressed out.


Don't lose track of your goals, and know that you can get through this.

In our next article, we offer some insights to help you figure out how you became Overwhelmed in the fist place. Continue with "Painted into a Corner; Common Product Un-Developments"

Published by Ian Maclean, P. Eng.

I was inspired to put my Engineering skills to work in the Medical Devices arena after learning about my Great Grandfather's transformative medical practice in the city of Winnipeg.  I enjoy the collaborative nature of the Winnipeg Device space and the people that make up this community.

Ian Maclean, Professional Engineer