THOUGH Karl Smith is not a surfer, he has achieved work life balance riding the wave of trading on eBay to create a multi-million pound business.

The Peterlee-based entrepreneur spotted an opportunity selling surfing gear, and since leaving his call centre job 15 years ago, has never looked back.

After setting up his own website and buying product from wholesalers, the business slowly gravitated towards snow and surf gear and Urban Surfers was born. Still growing, the business now has a team of seven and turns over £2 million a year.

Businessiq: Staff at Urban SurferStaff at Urban Surfer

Mr Smith spoke of his success as eBay reveals that self-made business millionaires on the online auction site has soared by 18 per cent in the past 12 months, to its highest in almost a decade.

Mr Smith said: “It was a big decision to leave my reliable job at the call centre but I had got to the point where I was bringing in enough income and I just had to take the leap.”

Urban Surfers then saw a dramatic uplift in sales when they decided to launch on eBay in 2003, and the business blossomed from there.

Mr Smith said: “eBay’s audience was already established and hungry for new products, the listing process was easy to use for large quantities of stock and items started to sell within a few hours of listing.”

Speaking of the secrets of his eBay success, Mr Smith said: "You should focus on good stock control, using demand forecasts and flagging up products that aren’t selling by increasing their promotion or reducing the price.

Businessiq: Karl Smith is riding a wave of success with his business Urban SurfersKarl Smith is riding a wave of success with his business Urban Surfers

"If you really understand your audience and meet the demand of the online marketplace, you can fully seize the opportunity that eBay provides.”

He added: “One of the main reasons I wanted to run my own business was for the flexible working hours so I can spend as much time with my family as possible, but I never thought it would take off like this.

"I hate saying this, but it really can be so easy. Obviously a lot of pressure comes with working for yourself but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

The number of new, self-made business millionaires on eBay has soared by 18% in the past 12 months to their highest in almost a decade. These new figures mark the launch of 2019 eBay for Business Awards, eBay’s annual nationwide competition to find and celebrate the most successful and inspiring seller stars from its community of 200,000 British small businesses.

There were 1,300 new eBay millionaires in the UK in past 12 months – the most since 2009, with under 30s and over 60s are fastest growing age-groups

Home, furniture and DIY entrepreneurs the most successful.

The figures coincide with the launch of the 2019 eBay for Business Awards, eBay’s annual nationwide competition to find and celebrate the most successful and inspiring seller stars from its community of 200,000 British small businesses.

Rob Hattrell, vice-president of eBay in the UK, said: “The uplift in the number of eBay millionaires demonstrates how entrepreneurs up and down the country are keeping up with the ever-changing needs of consumers, despite some tough economic conditions.

“We are passionate about offering entrepreneurs a shop window to 180 million consumers worldwide. Whether they’re starting their first business as a hobby while juggling studies or launching a second career as empty nesters, our sellers are making the most of our opportunities and making millions thanks to their spirit and ambition.

"There are 200,000 UK small businesses at the heart of eBay and we want to celebrate seller stars through this year’s eBay for Business Awards. We can’t wait to shine the spotlight on and toast to their successes.”