Going digital provides endless opportunities for budding entrepreneurs but more importantly, it opens doors for those struggling to find the funds for a bricks-and-mortar site or service.
Proving that all you need is determination, a good laptop and a reliable broadband connection (such as super reliable Sky Broadband Superfast), we have talked to three people who have turned what they love into a living by embracing technology.
From a former accountant who now designs virtual escape rooms, an afternoon tea expert who has fans all over the globe and a cupcake decorator who is now an Instagram hit, they share their top tips for turning your passion into a business online – including the tools you need to get there.
‘I run my business from my living room’
For Eileen Donaghey, making a cup of tea isn’t just a British pastime, it’s an artform.
And thanks to the internet, the 32-year-old, who is based between London and Belfast, can now teach people across the globe about her passion: afternoon tea.
Eileen hosts virtual corporate events and private classes using her reliable broadband to connect with other passionate tea drinkers. Her successful Instagram account boasts fans from not only the UK but Japan, the US, Brazil and more.
“I started my Instagram account back in 2018. At first, it was a hobby but once my following grew above 10,000, people started asking me for recommendations and I knew I could turn my passion into a digital business,” she says.
“I currently run it from my living room, where I have the essentials: a computer, reliable broadband, and subscriptions to online tools and photo editing.
Eileen’s first experience with afternoon tea took place when she was just a child and it became the start of a life-long love.
“I went for my first-ever afternoon tea in my teens with my mum,” she says.
“It’s such a big part of UK culture. I love everything about the whole experience; from dressing up for the occasion to seeing the show-stopping creations that the chefs present.”
In addition to her events, Eileen also has an e-book, which launched in December 2020 and features tips, recipes and information about the history of afternoon tea.
She credits reliable broadband for being able to run her business smoothly.
“Without good broadband, it would be so difficult to do my job because I spend the majority of my time online,” she says.
“And it brings me so much peace of mind to know that I can trust my connection to run smoothly while I am presenting to customers.
“It means I can focus on the other important stuff – tea, that is.”
‘Swapping careers was scary’
A former accountant, Chris Stylianou has done what many people dread: swap careers.
The 32-year-old left his old job behind in 2019 to follow his passion of playing games, and now offers online adventures in the form of virtual escape rooms and immersive theatre productions.
“From Final Fantasy to Risk and of course, Dungeons and Dragons, I have always loved playing games,” says Chris, founder of The Adventure Is Real. “Swapping careers was scary but I wanted to do something more creative, where I could bring people together – and where better to do that, than on the internet?”
Having a reliable broadband connection has played a huge part in helping Chris build his business.
In April 2020, he launched Agent Venture; a virtual game where a group is led on a secret mission by an actor via Zoom – and the team needs to be online throughout the entire event.
“We are now transitioning to being online only,” Chris, who is originally from Manchester but now lives in London, says.
“There have been a lot of challenges to tackle – especially when the business first went digital.
“We use special effects to make the experience believable, along with roleplay – the voice actors are incredible at bringing the game to life.
“However, there are a lot of other things to take into account when you run a digital company – besides the customer-facing experience – such as having communication channels like Slack and email, planning tools and perhaps crucially for us, video conferencing software – which often uses a lot of bandwidth.
“We are entirely dependent on the internet. Having reliable broadband is key. Digital is in our DNA.”
Hosting virtual events has its benefits too, like giving players in North America, Europe and Asia access to take part.
“The reach is phenomenal,” says Chris. “It’s so much easier to create the environment you want on a computer. Plus, it’s often cheaper, too.”
‘I couldn’t run my business without the internet’
In 2014, Farley Berry was set for a career in art psychology, when a friend asked for help in baking cupcakes for a birthday party. She soon began making her own sweet treats at home and fell in love with decorating and fondant details.
Now, the 42-year-old from London has 269,000 followers on Instagram and spends her days making intricate pastel-coloured cupcakes, as well as hosting live classes for both adults and children, connecting with fellow passionate cake-makers via her reliable broadband home set-up.
This was the first step to building her digital business – which has since taken off.
“Being able to talk to people online is paramount to what I do,” says Farley, who is perhaps better known as Lady Berry Cupcakes.
“I wouldn’t be able to run my business without things like fast reliable broadband and social media.”
Sharing advice for budding digital business owners, Farley explains that the most important thing to do is to invest in what you need before you launch.
“I do everything myself and just have the basics; a massive glass window for natural lighting, a cradle for my iPhone and my laptop, as well as broadband – and all of this means that I can focus on what’s important; engaging with my followers and creating amazing cupcakes,” she says.
“I host live classes and am set to take part in The Bake Fest, a virtual festival that is streamed internationally. I don’t even want to think about what I’d do if my internet or computer didn’t work.
“Once, I was accidentally locked out of Instagram and it was terrifying because that’s how I communicate with my audience and promote and sell my classes.”
And it seems making beautiful baked goods runs in the family.
“My parents actually met in a bakery where they decorated wedding cakes, but I had never intended to go down that route,” Farley says.
“In fact, I remember baking when I was 20-something and my cupcakes were an absolute disaster.
“My skills have since improved but for me, making cupcakes isn’t actually about baking – it’s sugarcraft, designing and teaching.”
And you have to be passionate about what you’re selling.
“I am obsessed with creating miniature fondant detail and to see what I can fit on that tiny three-inch space,” she adds.
Itching to turn your own passion into a career? There’s no time like the present! Find out how super reliable Sky Broadband Superfast could help fuel your passion.