Benefits to booming business – how eBay turned Laura Mathieson’s life around

AS a single parent, working from offered Laura Mathieson flexibility and an income. A decade after she started selling on eBay she she’s launched a consultancy, a website and hosts a radio show helping others grow businesses on a shoestring.

‘Trapped in a poverty-stricken corner’ is how Laura describes her situation 11 years ago when she was reliant on benefits but desperate to work. Her three older children were grown up but she was still the main carer for Emily, then 16, (both pictured above) who has learning difficulties and autism.

“With four children I’d always worked part-time but when I became a single parent it would have been difficult to go full-time because Emily couldn’t be left on her own and I needed to be close by.

“I had been trading on eBay, just as a hobby and it had been going well. I did not want to start signing on, so I decided to turn eBay into my job.

Laura Mathieson’s five top tips for starting a business on a budget:

  1. Check with Job Centre Plus and your local council to see if you are eligible for any grants or other support.
  2. Don’t be shy about asking friends and family to help promote your business – they can often be your first and best customers.
  3. Check out for a very cheap logo and graphic design.
  4. Just buy 100 business cards from eBay (of course!) as you will change your mind about what to put on them very quickly!
  5. Learn how to use Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc for free advertising – time consuming but costs nothing.

“Previously, I’d had a specialist cake making business but I ended up losing everything and went bankrupt. After that I swore I’d never have another business but, this time, I had no staff and no overheads – just in me in my spare room.

Laura from Newbiggin-by-the-Sea became a general antiques dealer on the internet auction site. Her start-up grew steadily and after a couple of years she was running workshops telling budding entrepreneurs how they could make a living from it too.

“It made me realise that I can survive and I can build up a business, within five years my income had increased to the point that I was not eligible for many benefits.”

About three years ago started to combine her eBay selling with working as a Partnership Manager for the Business Factory in North Tyneside. In October last year through she decided to concentrate on her eBay business consultancy while running her website

As an eBay expert she analyses and advise on how to maximise sales and can tell clients whether or not their products will sell.

Laura now also shares her enterprising tips on starting a business on a tight budget on her own radio show, broadcast on Blyth’s Beach Hut Radio, after seeing an advert for presenters in her local paper. And daughter Emily, 26, lives independently nearby.

“One thing about working for yourself is that you never know where your business is going to go and you have to grasp the opportunities as they arise,” she explained.

“I wanted to do something that was fun and that would inspire people as I know it can be done. I’ve spoken to about 1,000 different people about their plans and the same issues come up time and time again so that’s why it’s so good to have a radio show so I can give advice to more people.

“I know how it feels to feel trapped, like you’ve no options and you’re wedged into this poverty-stricken corner.”

“I am passionate about being an entrepreneur,” Laura added. “It annoys me that there is a huge army of self-employed people out there but we are not represented – there are 250,000 businesses on eBay! It is as if we do not exist but for people, like myself, who have caring responsibilities self employment is a fantastic option.”


website: Selling on eBay UK


Twitter: @SellingOnEBAYUK