Decisions: Neil Norman, Human Recognition Systems, Founder and CEO of the biometric systems integrator

MY BEST ...

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

One of the best things that happened to me was being expelled from school at 17. It was for a silly prank call to a couple of teachers. It exposed me to the biggest risk at that age that I possibly could have experienced - and I found that it wasn't actually that bad. It made me realise that there are consequences to my actions, and it taught me the importance of having loving parents. They supported me and made me appreciate the value of being trusted.

I felt massively let down by the headmaster. Here I was on the cusp of adult life and somebody with this power had given up on me. That made me aware of the importance of self-belief.

My best decision with the business was investing in my COO. I took him with me from Accenture. I recognised that he was completely different to me. I love risk and he helps me assess it. I'm also very bullish, whereas he's very patient. He was expensive to bring in, but the point of getting someone in like that is that they not only pay for themselves, they provide a net uplift.

MY WORST ...

... was not focusing the business sooner. When you're a small concern you don't really know what you're good at. You've got this little trawler and these brand-new fishing grounds, but you don't know where the fish are. So you throw your nets everywhere, when there are only really two or three hotspots.

It's about finding out where those couple of areas of focus are and then having the stomach to risk focusing purely on them. We'd go after anything and everything in the first years, but then we started to focus on the construction industry and we quickly noticed the yields increase in that area.

I over-intellectualised things. Coming from Accenture, I had all the buzzwords when I should have kept everything simple. You want to know your audience, why they want to buy stuff, how they want to buy it and what price they want to pay. How could we do that effectively if we were servicing a hundred different markets? We burnt a lot of energy while we were learning about our market.

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