Emma Paterson’s journey to self-employment began with a flight to Warsaw
Every week, we ask key questions of small businesses. Here we are talking to Emma Paterson, Managing Director of Worskpace Highland, a coworking center near Aviemore
Q. How and why did you start your business?
A. Born in Inverness, I lived in Boat of Garten until I was 17, then studied languages at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. After a brief stint with the Scottish executive, I traveled the world for a year before returning to the ‘boat’ for a short break. Fourteen years later, I’m still here.
I joined Frontier Science (Scotland) as a research assistant in 2007 and trained in statistical programming for global clinical trials. I still work part time as a data analyst. I also joined the Board of Directors of Boat of Garten Community Hall, becoming Director of Operations.
Just for fun, while on maternity leave, I attended a Strengthening Communities conference in Aviemore and discovered the concept of coworking spaces for people who want to move their business away from home. I had found what I wanted to do.
Q, How did you get to where you are today?
A. I needed a building and found Inverdruie House in Rothiemurchus (near Aviemore). I also needed a business plan so I spoke with Polly (Chapman) and Brian (Weaver) about turkey at Impact Hub Inverness.
While coworking worked well in urban areas, rural was an unknown quantity. An internet search revealed that the Coworking Europe 2019 conference is taking place in Warsaw and that it will focus on coworking in rural areas.
I booked a ticket, left my husband, John, with our nine month old son, Dougal, for a week, and got on a plane. I came back with a business plan and WorkSpace Highland opened January 6, 2020 – then Covid hit.
Q. Who helped you?
A. I am very fortunate to have such a great support network led by John. He’s been a fantastic help throughout.
My friends Claire, Fiona, Annie, Becks, John, Graham, Euan and James all helped get the site going, while Jo-Ann, an extremely talented graphic designer, created our fabulous branding.
“ My mother had a huge influence ”
The Federation of Small Businesses helped with various set up policies and procedures – their online resource bank is excellent – and my owner, James Grant of Rothiemurchus Estate, helped tremendously by going over the numbers with me.
My mother was a huge influence. She passed away in 2014 but knew I dreamed of becoming independent and always said, “Do what you are good at and what you love to do.” She has worked hard all her life and has definitely conveyed her “I can do” attitude.
Q. What was your biggest mistake?
A. I take mistakes as lessons and I try to learn from them.
Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. I used to say that taking my driving test was my most useful qualification, but now it’s definitely Dougal. He’s two years old now, full of gossip and mischief. He certainly keeps us on our toes.
Q. If you were in power in the government, what would you change?
A. I would seek to make parliaments more united and less confrontational. The differences between politicians are fair and correct, but constant bickering and rampaging comes to nothing.
I got everyone together, I made a list of what’s important, I prioritized the tasks civilly, and I got the job done. Working together to help us get through the recovery is what matters now.
Q. What do you still hope to accomplish?
A. I want to introduce Dougal as much as I can to the world and then encourage him to come out and experience the rest for himself.
Q. What do you do to relax?
A. I like to be busy, I like to travel and learn new things. I’m also a member of our local theater group, ShowBoaters. Getting together with family and friends for blethers and good times is essential – we have plenty to do.
Q. What do you currently read, listen to or paste on television?
A. Dolly Parton’s greatest hits. I’ve never really listened to her before but I have to sing some of her songs for ShowBoaters soon. She is awesome.
I am also a huge fan of Grey’s Anatomy. Reading? Tough with Dougal, but I love to sit on the couch with The Simple Things magazine and a cup of tea when he sleeps.
Q. What are you wasting your money on?
A. Gadgets – I’m addicted to Apple products – and I’m going for coffee.
Q. How would your friends describe you?
A. Happy and fun, hopefully.
Q. What would your enemies say about you?
A. Life is too short to worry about this stuff.
Q. What do you drive and dream of driving?
A. I drive a Seat Leon Estate FR – I hate station wagons but it’s better for Dougal. My favorite car was Bella, my Fiat 500, which even had eyelashes. I would love to test an Audi R8 or a Bugati Veyron.
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