New online business adds up for former accountant



A Chartered Certified Accountant who set up an online marketplace to showcase small businesses is hoping to start a revolution in online shopping.

When new mum Sarah McLaren launched at the start of 2018, she had just 11 stores signed-up and 160 items listed, but by the summer this had risen to almost 300 stores and over 20,000 items.

The idea for came as Sarah was frustrated by the online dominance of global businesses. Searching for clothing and toys for her new-born, she found the same products from big named sellers kept appearing time and again.

At the same time, news stories of large businesses not paying taxes and treating staff poorly were in the media, whilst little businesses were struggling to complete. Wanting to do something about it, Sarah founded, a marketplace exclusively for small businesses that draws together thousands of items from all over the UK. 

And with support from Business Gateway Lanarkshire, Sarah from Cumbernauld, is now hoping to cement place in the UK marketplace and expand into Europe and beyond.

She said: “The response to has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re growing all the time. Those we are already working with have been really supportive and excited about what we’re doing, as many of them felt they didn’t get a fair deal when it comes to other marketplaces. We provide a solution for this as we are exclusive to small businesses and our customers love the idea that they are helping to support the thousands of small and micro enterprises that contribute so much to our society and the economy.

 “The team at Business Gateway have been a huge help. My adviser put together a structured programme of support that allowed me to expand my skills in marketing, SEO and business planning. Business Gateway also recognised growth potential instantly and helped us to apply for its SMART Accelerator program for high growth businesses. Since undertaking the course and attending workshops, we have successfully improved our SEO, Digital Marketing strategy and taken on an increasing number of businesses as more and more online shoppers are starting to find us each day.”

Sarah’s ‘be-good marketplace’ features a range of items including fashion, homeware, toys, games, technology, vehicle parts and baby accessories, with sellers paying no listing or store fees and a generally lower commission compared to other sites.

She added: “I worked as a small business accountant for the past 10 years so I know how challenging the market can be for all the micro enterprises. With I would love to create a real, ethical alternative online shopping experience where people can still get vast choice, convenience and great prices whilst supporting the little businesses run by our friends and neighbours.”

Bill Duncan of Business Gateway Lanarkshire said: “We have helped Sarah to really focus on the things that mattered most and to solidify her vision and approach. Sarah, being an accountant by trade understood most of the business areas she needed to concentrate on, but through our advisory sessions, fully funded workshops and SMART Accelerator programme, we helped her fill in the gaps in her knowledge and together we created a detailed and forward thinking strategy for the business.”

Find out how Business Gateway Lanarkshire can help your business by visiting their local page or calling 01236 884 825.

Outwith this area? Find your local Business Gateway office or call 0300 013 4753.

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