A Teesside female entrepreneur has taken her business from strength to strength and has recently completed an expansion and refurbishment project following a successful 14 years in business.

Podology, a state-of-the-art chiropody and beauty clinic in Saltburn-by-the-Sea which was opened by Laura Dicken in 2005 when she was just 25, has recently created five new treatment rooms and a dual manicure bar.

A key to Podology’s success is the entrepreneur’s determination to keep the business at the cutting edge of the podiatry and beauty industry as well as staying up to date with the latest business technology, practices and regulations.

Teesside market-leading accounting and business advisory firm Baldwins, a CogitalGroup company, has worked with Laura for the last five years to future-proof the business. The company has prepared Podology’s business accounts for the implementation of the UK government initiative, Making Tax Digital, which comes into force in April.

Laura said: “About five years ago, Baldwins came to me to discuss moving my accounts to the cloud which would give me real-time information on my business’ finances. Having this visibility and confidence in the financials is what has enabled Podology to make several investments over the years and is how we were able to self-fund the latest clinic expansion.

“The added benefit of being an early adopter of cloud accounting is that we have future-proofed the business against the most recent HRMC regulations on Making Tax Digital, which are coming into force in April. Thanks to the proactive advice from Baldwins I don’t have to make any changes to how I manage the company’s finances as we are already compliant.”

Helping to source new and innovative products, treatments and procedures on behalf of suppliers, as well as taking part in demonstrations at conferences and shows, Laura has ensured her company is always one step ahead of the industry.

As a young woman in the business world, Laura has found it challenging at times but wants to use her experiences to help others.

She said: “Relationships that you develop with your suppliers and support network are key; you need to feel that you can trust your business associates and know that they are there to support you when you need it. Baldwins was with me at the start of this journey and knowing that I could always pick up the phone and the company would be there to provide advice and guidance was like having a security blanket for the business.

“Women face different issues to men but in business they are expected to be tough and not show any weakness. As I was so young when I started out I did feel that on occasion my age and gender meant I was taken advantage of, but these experiences have enabled me to develop confidence around my male peers and grow as a business owner.

“As a female business owner, I make a conscious effort to speak to as many people as possible about my journey, to show them that although starting and running a business is a lot of hard work, anyone can do it as long as they have the ambition and determination to make it succeed.

“It is very encouraging to see that there are a lot of young women setting up their own businesses or taking over their family businesses attending these events. It helps that Saltburn is now being recognised as a vibrant, up and coming town but also that there is better equality among men and women in business.”

Andrew Rowe, software solutions partner for Baldwins, has worked with Laura since the implementation of her cloud accounting platform.

He said: “Laura is an inspiration to young women starting out in business as she has turned her dream into a success through sheer determination and hard work. When we suggested moving her accounts to the cloud she was fully on board and could see the benefits of easier collaboration and how it would aid controlling her business and the decision-making process.

“The fact that her business is ready for Making Tax Digital when it comes into force in April means that she doesn’t have to make any changes to the way we manage her business accounts and the benefit of using cloud accounting is that as technology continues to develop so does her access to new software and apps that make running her business easier.”