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“The HR Dept supplied me with a business coach who helped me visualise where I wanted the company to be in the future”

“The HR Dept supplied me with a business coach who helped me visualise where I wanted the company to be in the future”

Kim Hunter, owner of The HR Dept in the Highlands, on why she sees so much potential for her business in Scotland

The human resources industry as a whole has experienced something of a revolution during the pandemic – all of a sudden our services have been in high demand, and vital to the survival of many small businesses in particular.

So although the past two years might seem like a challenging time to set up a new company, I never had great concerns about its potential viability when I launched in February last year.

That’s been partly due to the market conditions, partly down to my confidence in my skills and experience, and partly due to the support of a larger organisation and a network of fellow franchisees at The HR Dept to talk to about HR and business development matters.

Also, I think it’s really important for all new business owners to have a positive mindset – based on sound foundations, of course, but an attitude which is proactive and enthusiastic.

And actually, the move to wider acceptance of remote working was a positive for me. I cover 10,000 square miles of the Scottish Highlands – it’s the largest of all The HR Dept’s territories, so careful planning and coordination are required to visit my most remote of clients in the north part of the Highlands.

My journey to becoming a business owner

Before starting with The HR Dept Highlands, I’d been working in corporate life for over 20 years, in sectors including energy, banking, emergency services and healthcare. I’d always wanted to run my own company though and I’d reached that point in my career where I wanted more work-life balance.

I like a challenge, and I’m really enjoying supporting businesses to make the right people decisions which will allow them to successfully impact their growth and development.

The Highlands is such an exciting business environment, with so many growth areas like energy and its associated supply chains, engineering, technology, food and drink and life sciences.

I’m acutely aware of all the investment going into Scotland, and with 90 per cent of businesses here falling into the SME bracket, there’s real potential to help them develop their human resources strategies to attract and retain the right people and deliver customer excellence.

Starting in a time of adversity

As I suggested earlier, I think I’ve learned that operating as an individual business owner requires a really positive, proactive mindset, especially regarding business development.

Coming out of a corporate environment, learning to understand how to launch a business in difficult market conditions, making a success of it and getting back to the same standard of living that you enjoyed in a corporate environment, that’s a really big step to aim for.

The HR Dept supplied me with a business coach who helped me visualise where I wanted the company to be in the future, as well as work out what needed to be done to achieve that. Having specific future targets and goals is really useful. And I’d certainly encourage businesspeople looking to become a franchisee to find a franchisor who supports them and provides them with the tools and resources needed to succeed.

A coach or mentor is also great for helping you open up about any fears you may have, share successes and bounce ideas off. You put so much physical and mental energy into those first six months, so it’s invaluable to have someone to talk to.

Overall, I’ve found running my own business is an amazing opportunity to enjoy autonomy, to have better control over working hours and who you work with, and to have the ideal work-life balance.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for any professional who feels like they have reached the top of their game at their organisation and who is looking for more fulfilment and flexibility in their career. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but having had a taste of this way of working over the past two years I’d find it very difficult to return to corporate life.

It’s amazing how deeply you care about what you have worked so hard to establish; I love working with my clients and I’m committed to supporting them in the long term with great solutions to help them achieve successful growth in their businesses.

At a glance

Established: 2002 (business) / 2005 (franchising)
Number of franchised outlets:  60 licensees, 112 territories
Location of units: UK and Ireland
Franchising fee: £14,995+VAT
Minimum required capital: Enough for 6 to 12 months
Contact: or 0345 208 1120