When Laura Chapman left her banking job in 2009 to strike out on her own, her boss was astonished, because she had “survived the cull”. Preferring change to survival, Ms Chapman initially worked for her husband doing kitchens and bathrooms before setting up her own letting agency in response to a request for advice from an elderly neighbour who was moving into care.

“Give me a week,” Ms Chapman told her, before deciding to handle the letting herself.

Having been a buy-to-let landlord for more than 10 years and worked in property with her husband, she felt she had the necessary knowledge about property. Her seven-year banking career also prepared her for the business challenges of establishing a new venture.

“I understood business funding and strategic planning,” she says.

Today, Chapmans, as the letting agency is called, looks after about 150 properties in and around Edinburgh and handles £1.5 million of client funds a year. Turnover is in the £220,000 to £250,000 range, and the business employs three full-time and two part-time staff plus a consultant.

Ms Chapman achieved this growth from one initial property organically. Despite her banking background, she was never tempted to take a bank loan. Instead she lived off a small pot of money she had built up during her banking career. Initially, she continued to work for her husband to pay the bills and ploughed business proceeds back into the agency.

“It was all self-funded,” she says. “Every time I took on a property, it was a chance to do something else. Later, as the business grew and I started a family, I’d increase my son’s nursery hours every time I took on a new client.”

A robust approach to credit has also helped to keep the business in funds. Having worked in insolvency as well as banking, Ms Chapman knows what can go wrong.

“We don’t have a single penny of arrears across our portfolio,” she says. “Part of that is vigorous credit checking, but it’s also about being on it every day.”

Ms Chapman is not from Edinburgh, but Chapmans has grown by word of mouth, a feat that she ascribes in part to her values. She names integrity, honesty and trust as the business’s core values, and prides herself on working in partnership landlords and being approachable – with an empathy that comes from her own experience as a landlord.

“In order to make everything work we also have to appraise our landlords,” she says. “We have to make the tenants’ interests match up with the landlords’ interests, and so it’s about taking a holistic view of things.”

Ms Chapman also believes the business punches above its weight in terms of knowledge and expertise. In an industry that’s gone through a huge change, Chapmans provides training sessions to law firms and other professional firms and is a preferred supplier for several firms.

“It can be a highly profitable business being a landlord, but there is a huge number of pitfalls,” she says. “You need someone to carefully guide you through that.”

Ms Chapman is now on the RBS accelerator programme, which has opened her eyes to her business’s scalability. It has also provided a support network of fellow entrepreneurs – whom she says are “a different breed” from wage slaves – with whom to exchange ideas.

That network is helping her to take her business forward. It can both open doors and solve problems, such as that of finding and retaining the right staff in the technical but people-oriented lettings business.

“One of the other people has given me some ideas on recruitment,” says Ms Chapman.