Balancing Act: How Hobbies Shape Entrepreneurial Success

Contributed by SBOC Member:

Picture of Pat Miller

Pat Miller

Founder of the Small Business Owners Community

As entrepreneurs, we often blur the lines between work and personal life.

Our businesses can consume all our time if we let them, which is why it’s crucial to deliberately step back and indulge in activities that rejuvenate our spirits and refresh our minds.

This week, inspired by National Small Business Week, I posed a question to my LinkedIn network about hobbies outside of work.

The overwhelming response highlighted not just the diversity of interests but also how these personal pursuits influence professional lives.

Community Insights: The Role of Hobbies in Professional Lives
Kelly Allen

Lol! While I do love bourbon and tacos, I actually enjoy them sparingly, and that is because of my higher priority passion: the gym. There’s just something about zoning out of everything else for a couple hours, cutting the noise, and deliberately focusing on my body and strength. Most days, I’m in the gym by 5:00 a.m., and I’m finished with my workout before the work day begins. Once I sit down at my computer, I’ve been up for several hours, have challenged my body, and my mind is clear and focused. It’s a powerful feeling.

When you ask if I share this passion with my professional contacts, do you mean is it something we have in common, or is it something I communicate to them about?

If the former, I do see that many other professionals prioritize their health. Of course, I also have many contacts who don’t openly discuss their health, their opinion on the gym, etc., so I’m not sure if they work out or not. If the latter, I don’t typically lead with conversation about my time in the gym, but I’m happy to talk about it, answer questions, etc., if it comes up organically.

Jay Rodimel

I collect notebooks and art supplies because I am fascinated by the creative process, and having these items around imbues me with a sense of calm and potential. I do not share my passion for these things with professional clients because having a lot of pens and notebooks around is kind of fetishy.

Digitally, I collect and study fonts along with designs and images that I find visually interesting. This greatly aids in analysis and creative synthesis which are integral to the design process. Designers do this so, it may not be a hobby. LinkedIn is my hobby that I am very passionate about. And happy to share with my professional contacts.

There are so many inspiring and wonderful people on LinkedIn freely and respectfully sharing their experiences, knowledge, feelings and views.

Every day I am grateful for, humbled by, and proud to be associated with, the people on LinkedIn.

Wendi Fredregill

I love kayaking! I just love being in nature, especially on the water. In the past, since we have multiple kayaks, I invited my friends and professional contacts to meet me at the reservoir where I kayak- so much more fun than sitting in a loud coffee shop! We coined it “Netyaking” 😂

Joe Huber

Sure. I love being creative and doing things that let me express that. I do voiceover work and sometimes even make my own voice projects. I’ve done this on the side, as well, having been the voice of some international campaigns, national commercials, and regional spots, as well. Anything like writing, making music, or storytelling has my heart.

I found the Table Top Role-Playing Game scene about 4 years ago and play with friends and family. It’s silly, but it’s also a great outlet to create stories with people I love. Sharing these comes in waves, but I never shy away from talking about it! I love to be creative with others.

Julie Keyes

I don’t have hobbies, but I have plenty of activities I enjoy doing. None would be considered a hobby, but I love the outdoors and do as much outside as I can. Biking, hiking, boating, snowshoeing, etc.

Bryan Weisweaver

Pickleball and international travel. Yes on both fronts. Traveling outside the US helps me see people through a different lens. It gets me outside of my natural comfort zones. Learning a foreign language on the fly to do basic things like order food, ask where the bathroom is, and beyond stretches me to make mistakes and be willing to laugh while making those mistakes. It’s humbling and empowering at the same time. I share these life lessons with clients. Engage in experiences that force you to grow.

Pickleball is the most communal sport I’ve ever played. An 80 year old, 60 year old, 40 year old and 10 year old can play together and compete at a similar level. It invites you into conversation after each match. You get to encourage and be encouraged during your time on and off the courts. It’s more than a sport. It’s community in action.

Bruce Graham

I am passionate about creating themed comic books with kids, though I haven’t done any for over 25 years. That was with 5th Graders at the Lincoln School in Evanston.

My favorite book was with my son’s 3rd Grade class in Vernon Hills. The theme was, “Everyone Wins Through Good Communication.”

Dawn McCormick

This question caused me stress. Sad isn’t it, that a question about hobbies and passions caused me stress. My doctor asked me the same question two weeks ago. I’m getting the message. The “downside” (and it’s not really) to “doing what you love” is that now what you love is your job. What do I do for fun now? I find I work for fun because I do what I love. Again, I’m getting the message.

Angell Howard

I am very passionate about creatin my own products. I create my own herbal medicines, body butters, face serum’s and, body soaps. I am trying to master growing my own food next. It is just something about using things that are natural and all yours.

Iris (Lefkoff) Salmins

I definitely share my art passion with my professional contacts. In fact, when possible, my meetings with them are at my studio/gallery. I have abstract painting as a hobby for several reasons:

1. **Creative Outlet**: Abstract painting offers a unique way to express creativity that can be distinctly different from the structured thinking required in marketing. This provides a mental break, fostering rejuvenation and inspiration that is beneficial for my marketing clients.

2. **Stress Relief**: Running a marketing firm can be stressful, involving tight deadlines and high expectations. Engaging in abstract painting can serve as a form of relaxation and stress relief, helping to clear my mind and reduce anxiety.

3. **Problem Solving and Innovation**: Abstract painting encourages looking at things from different perspectives and making unconventional connections. These skills are highly valuable in marketing, where innovative and out-of-the-box thinking can lead to successful campaigns.

4. **Enhancing Aesthetic Sensibility**: Abstract art requires a deep understanding of colors, forms, and visual balance, which enhances my marketer’s eye for design and aesthetics in my professional work.

5. **Personal Development**: Pursuing a hobby like abstract painting can contribute to personal growth and development. It also enhances my sense of identity outside of my professional role, leading to greater overall satisfaction and well-being.

6. **Networking and Socializing**: The art community can provide opportunities for networking and socializing outside of the professional sphere. This leads to new business relationships or simply provide a refreshing social environment.

Overall, engaging in a hobby like abstract painting enrichs my personal and professional life by nurturing creativity, relieving stress, and developing skills that are beneficial in the marketing industry. Thanks please include my marketing website address. After doing my income tax, I realized that I need to un-retire from marketing. LOL I just put my domain name back on my website content. Next calling the 30+ marketing client that gave me a recommendation on LinkedIn. 🙂

Angela Obert

In my early 40s I became aware of my favorite experiences in life is when I was “playing”. Playing in my kitchen, playing in my yard, playing with my family and playing in my community. Remembering that play brings us into our present moment, opens our creativity and expands our confidence in being our unique self. There is no right or wrong in playing.

My business is membership based with small businesses. I use my natural skillset to play in life (not work) to build actionable interactions with my member meetings. My agendas are fun, interactive and open us up to play, this creates an open environment for all to welcome authenticity to shine. Creating real strength in our relationships in life is our greatest asset! I get to do what I love and share it!

Jenni Grover

When I’m not coaching, I’m probably quilting. it’s an odd hobby: taking large pieces of fabric, cutting them up into small pieces, and then sewing them back together again. and i love it so much!

The variety of colors, patterns and textures of the fabric thrill me. the full-body and -mind experience excites me. the repetition soothes me. the community I’ve found and built to support my quilting sustains me.

I love quilting so much that I’ve developed wellness coaching programs and methods just for quilters (although i work with makers of all kinds). and i love sharing my hobby with my professional contacts because it helps them see me as a well-rounded person, and gives us another potential avenue for connection.

Sushma Surikuchi

Thank you again for reaching out to me. I am passionate about inclusion and unlearning that there is something waiting for us at the end of the road. The journey is the fun.

As a small business owner, I am able to let these passions guide my decision making and I make intentional choices when selecting vendors/ associates to work with.

Desiree Petrich

My hobbies outside of business building are exercise and music.

I often share my love of exercise within my content and my connections, mostly because it’s a goal that so many people have in common, but also, because so many of the lessons I have learned in personal development have been either learned or amplified by exercising.

I love to sing, play guitar and piano, and I enjoy writing my own songs. I don’t typically share this piece with anyone, as it doesn’t seem to pertain to what I am doing as a leadership coach.

Steven (Steve) Ward

Regarding your question about my hobbies outside of business, I’ve given it considerable thought since you first brought it up. While I may have known the answer instinctively, articulating it has prompted some reflection.

The concept of “life-work balance” is one that’s often discussed, but I’ve always found it personally challenging. For me, prioritizing well-being over all else doesn’t align with how I perceive my role in life. Perhaps it’s ingrained in me—following in my father’s footsteps—that providing for others is paramount.

With a background in Fine Art, one might assume painting or photography would be natural hobbies for me. However, I struggle to view art as merely a hobby, given its significance in my life. Despite owning several guitars and having enjoyed playing over the years, a physical limitation now complicates that pursuit. Adapting to play slide guitar is an option I’ve considered.

Ultimately, my career isn’t solely about building a business; it’s about leveraging my knowledge to assist others. Therefore, my hobby, if I had to label it, would be the pursuit of knowledge itself. The subject matter is secondary; the act of acquiring information is akin to breathing for me. While I acknowledge that my eclectic tastes may hinder deep specialization, I find value in the breadth of my curiosity.

I’ve long held the belief that while I’ve amassed knowledge, there’s infinitely more to learn. Looking back, I’m astonished by how much I’ve absorbed over time, and I’m certain that my future understanding will surpass what I know today. This perpetual quest for learning is what truly drives me outside the realm of business.

Shlomo H

My hobbies overlap a lot with my business. I have always been passionate about art. Ideas and aesthetics are 2 main throughlines across all my interests. The 3rd is people. My business helps people with ideas surrounding style and self development.

Drawing remains my hobby.

But it’s deeply connected to my business. I do have some artistic connections. And I definitely pursue deeper thinkers. So yes. My contacts do share qualities related to my hobby. If not my literal hobby.

Caitlin Cecil-Sykes

Outside of building my business, I am very passionate about community building and equality. I am on the Board of Directors for Colors PLUS Youth Center in Cleveland, Ohio. We are a non profit LGBTQ+ youth focused organization with youth led programming. Mental health professionals founded the organization as a safe and welcoming space for all youth to feel heard. I created my business as a way to spread education on community health and wellness to people, so being able to also do this in a non-profit capacity for kids has been an excellent way to use my skills.

Rob Rossi

Italian Food, Wine and Culture. As a family, we have a garden where we grow many types of vegetables. We enjoy preparing fresh pasta’s and breads, and cooking many types of Italian foods. Many in our wood fire pizza oven that was made in Italy. Then we enjoy a fine bottle of Italian wine along with the food we have prepared together. We do that as often as we can at our home in the Chicago suburbs but the ultimate is when we do it together in a villa in Italy!

From time to time I find myself talking about what we have done as a family with professional contacts and some have joined us for a nice evening on our patio.

Megan Holly

Something I am passionate about doing is home projects and DIY creations. I believe the space we live and work in creates the mood and energy that we feel on a daily basis. Because of this I find it so important for me to create beautiful items and spaces in my hone and office and inspire others to do the same.

I absolutely share my love of design, color, and projects with my professional community. In fact, it’s a large part of my voice and the way many people feel connected to me.

I find that sharing pieces of who we are into our professional lives is important and the thread that creates commonality and community!

Layne Lewis

Ha! Perfect question for this week. I raise endurance racing horses and am putting in a race this weekend! If you look through my profile you will also find some fun stories I have shared.

Chris Borja

I have a small reeftank in my office with various coral, Anenomes, Clownfish, a Sailfin Tang and some clean up crew.

I share pics on my FB and IG pages and many times people will send me pics of fish or coral that they see while visiting an aquarium, watching a show, or social media post.

Keeping top of mind is good for business, but we are most often remembered for things not business related. Once people know what we do, we just need to stay top of mind for the referral opportunities. I encourage business people to share their interests in addition to their businesses. It creates a stronger connection and in some cases, friends for life! 😀

Jesyca Hope

For me it’s volunteering – giving back to my community is my number one priority. I serve on several boards, help organize Pride events in my hometown, and am chair of the annual Festival of Trees.

I also do stand up comedy.

Erin Emrich-Erickson

Yes! I’ve been an artist all my life. My parents enrolled me in adult level painting classes starting at age 11. Over the years, I’ve tried many different forms of arts and crafts-sewing and embroidery, painting, drawing, mixed medium, paper crafting…and different styles abstract, traditional, folk styles…and I love it all! In recent years, I entered the realm of digital painting, illustration and graphic design. And then I discovered the one art form that allows me to use ALL of it-junk journal making. I design my own decorative papers, I get to curate fantastic vintage and thrifted materials, and use every single one of my artistic skills to make these beautiful journals. In 2020, I opened my Etsy store, Epapere and I started my YouTube channel in 2022. By turning my hobby into a hobby business I’ve been able to add so many skills to my toolbox I never would have had the opportunity to in my work as a project portfolio manager and strategic planner. I do love sharing my creations with my colleagues and discuss how having a creative outlet helps relieve stress, helps me focus while thinking through tough problems and keeps my brain sharp! And journaling as a practice is so beneficial-but not everyone is the write a page every day type. Junk journaling allows a more free flow and open format journaling. There are no rules except to have fun!

Balancing Act: How Hobbies Shape Entrepreneurial Success
Why Diverse Perspectives Matter

The array of hobbies and the ways in which they are woven into professional identities emphasize the richness that personal interests add to business dynamics. From fitness and creative pursuits to innovative networking and personal play, these activities provide entrepreneurs not just escape from daily stresses but also a means to enhance their business acumen, creativity, and professional relationships.

Encouraging a Well-Rounded Entrepreneurial Life

As we navigate the challenging waters of entrepreneurship, it’s vital to maintain hobbies that allow us to disconnect, recharge, and return to our businesses with renewed energy and perspectives. The stories shared by our community underscore the importance of balance and the positive impact of hobbies on both personal well-being and professional success.

Join the Small Business Owner Community to share your own experiences and learn from like-minded entrepreneurs about balancing work with personal passions. Let’s grow together not just as business owners but as well-rounded individuals who play as hard as we work.

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Pat Miller

Contributed by

Pat Miller

Founder of the Small Business Owners Community

Pat spent two decades in broadcasting management and hosting. After leaving the radio industry, he spent time consulting small businesses and realized the support system for entrepreneurs was broken. Where could you find help for improving small businesses and building real connections with other like-minded people. In June of 2020, the Idea Collective Small Business Community was born.