Today’s blog post is by our intern Stephanie Boyden.  It is fun to see how each of our interns is bringing lessons for small business owners from their individual passions.

I started playing tennis when I was thirteen, and haven’t stopped since. Although I am not as serious about it as I once was, I still enjoy playing recreationally when I get the chance.  When I started playing tennis I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Now that I do, I have found some valuable connections between business and tennis that can’t be taught in a classroom.

1. You must be able to function as an individual and as a member of a team.

There are two ways to play tennis: singles and doubles. When you play singles it’s all about you. If you win you get all the praise, if you lose you get all the blame. Doubles is different. You have to find the right balance- when to go for it and when to let your partner have his or her shot. Business is like this too. It’s absolutely crucial to be able to interact and work with others successfully, but at the same time, you have to be comfortable with the pressure that comes with working on your own as well.

2. Practice makes perfect.

This one applies to basically any sport, but I think it’s an important lesson that’s not taught at school. Even with the best education, when you start a new job, you have a lot to learn. You can’t become an expert at something from reading a book or listening to a lecture- you have to have real world experience. Tennis is the same way. Any tennis player will tell you the secret to a perfect forehand, backhand, volley or serve: repetition. Business skills are no different. The great thing about tennis, which I think applies to the professional world as well, is that once you get your swing down, your muscles will remember it.  Business and tennis are the same in the sense that if you put in the hard work to hone your skills, it will pay off for the rest of your career.

3. The sky is the limit.

It sounds cliché, but it’s true, and it’s something you don’t learn at school. When you play tennis, if you aim too low it will go into the net, but there’s no limit to how high the ball can go (unless you’re playing indoors of course). It is always better to aim too high than to aim too low, and this is also true when it comes to your professional career goals as well.

Passion supports learning. There is so much to learn about the business world that you can’t learn in a classroom. Nothing compares to real world experience, but if you think critically there are many lessons you can learn about business through doing what you love. What have your passions taught you about business?