Hydrotherapy entrepreneur named Business Hero
A DOG-LOVING businesswoman who owns an animal hydrotherapy company has been named one of the UK’s top businesses in the 2009 Barclays Trading Places Awards - a national award honouring men and women who are turning their lives around by choosing to start up a business.
The Portsmouth entrepreneur is now in the running for national glory in the award finals to be held later this year.
The Government backed awards recognise business heroes who are no strangers to overcoming adversity - whether it’s dealing with illness or disability, facing challenging family responsibilities head-on, or turning their back on benefits.
Chum the chocolate Lab
The inspiration behind Karen Standen’s business is her chocolate Labrador, Chum. In 2007 Karen was made redundant and at the same time, Chum broke his leg. The vet recommended hydrotherapy but the nearest pool was 25 miles away and so, starting her own specialist centre seemed liked the perfect solution.
Karen carried out lots of market research and with financial support from the Federicks Foundation and Enham, she invested in a large heated pool, wetsuits and computer equipment.
She also attended several courses in water management training and first aid for animals. Karen opened Four Paws Aqua in November 2007, with Chum giving a first class demonstration of his swimming skills.
Karen is continuing to overcome challenges and is about to embark on an accountancy and marketing course to help drive her business forward.
Barclays Marketing Director for Local Business, John Davis, a judge on the panel, said: ‘Trading Places is a celebration of inspiring people who have struggled through adversity to get their businesses up and running - even during these turbulent times.
‘The calibre of this year's entries is outstanding and we hope that with this recognition, Four Paws Aqua will continue on the road to success.
‘We also hope Karen’s story will inspire other budding entrepreneurs in Portsmouth, who face similar difficulties in their private lives, to come forward and turn their own business dreams into reality.’
This year’s national finalists will be competing in three new categories - Triumph over Disability, Success after Unemployment and the Spirit of Inspiration Award - before hoping to be named the 2009 Barclays Trading Places Winner.
Each category winner will also walk away with £5,000 for their business, courtesy of Barclays, and all national finalists will receive £2,000 worth of computer software from awards supporter Microsoft.
Another new addition for 2009 will see the awards partners coming together to offer everyone who enters a range of business support and mentoring packages.
Other award partners are Jobcentre Plus, youth charity The Prince’s Trust, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), the NFEA and Leonard Cheshire Disability.