Name: Lisa Thomson.

Age: 37.

What is your business called?

Purpose HR.

Where is it based?

Pre-pandemic we had an office in central Edinburgh. Myself and my team now all work remotely from home across the Central Belt. I am lucky to live and work in North Berwick, East Lothian.

What services does it offer?

We provide outsourced HR services to startup and SME businesses..

To whom does it sell?

We have a niche focus on innovative and high-growth startup and scaleup businesses in the Technology, Life Sciences and Engineering sectors. The technology sector in Scotland has seen a boom during lockdown, bucking economic trends.

We are exceptionally proud of our client base which includes some of the most innovative, investor backed businesses in Scotland and beyond.

What is its turnover?

Approaching £450,000.

How many employees?

Seven (plus advisers).

When was it formed?


Why did you take the plunge?

I started my business following redundancy from a role that I loved, so trying to build a positive from a very tough situation.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I’d always worked in-house in HR within the technology sector and had been very lucky to work for inspiring, innovative companies including Wolfson Microelectronics, a spin out from Edinburgh University which designed audio chips for Apple’s first iPod products. I went on to work for other founder-led software companies, building and leading their HR functions from scratch. I realised there was a growing market for this as an outsourced service which I felt well placed to address.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

Initially I funded myself from my redundancy payout and as a services business I was able to self fund my costs through early client work and grow from there.

What was your biggest break?

I applied and was accepted onto a programme called the Saltire Fellowship and had the opportunity to study and live in the US for four months, with funding from Scottish Enterprise and Diageo, where I learned about entrepreneurship and the skills in building a successful business – marketing, sales, finance.

This was transformational for me, particularly from a confidence and ambition perspective.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

Strangely enough (as I would never have expected to say this five years ago), I most love business development.

What do you least enjoy?

Administration and finance.

Luckily I have built an amazing team including my Office Manager who is my rock, keeps me on track and is incredibly dedicated, organised and efficient.

What is your biggest bugbear?

When people make snap judgements or underestimate others and their potential.

I work in sectors which are often male dominated and when I started out I also faced age discrimination and assumptions based on my dual role as a business owner and mother of young children. However, I have strived not to let that hold me back. This has also driven my passion for equality and inclusion. I am privileged to have been an ambassador for several years for Women’s Enterprise Scotland and strongly believe in the power of positive role models and mentoring in business.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

To hit £1 million turnover and to continue to grow and develop an incredible team and support amazing innovation driven businesses.

What are your top priorities?

1.Delivering excellent service to our clients.

2.Supporting and developing my team.

3.Continuing to build our brand in the market.

4.Supporting diversity initiatives.

5.Helping grow Scotland’s innovation economy.

What single thing would most help?

Whilst we are lucky to have been able to continue our work remotely during the pandemic, I truly miss in-person connections and networking. I am hopeful that there will be progress and more possibilities for return to this where possible and safe next year.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

Focus on supporting small and SME businesses which are the backbone of the economy. In particular, focusing targeted actions on the specific needs of women to start up and grow businesses, which are currently only 20 per cent of the business base, could help massively grow the economy by developing this vital contribution.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

The importance of self-care.

As a business owner it is easy to become all consumed by your business and to burn out, and I have been there. This is especially prevalent as work and home lives have blurred during lock down. I now realise that I need to take better care of myself so I can continue to take care of my business, family and team.

How do you relax?

A good book and a long bath!