Steps to finding fulfilment in business

Steve Hooker, the Australian former Olympic pole vault champion, talks about his entrepreneurial journey since retiring from athletics and offers his advice to other athletes looking to go into business.

  • Steve Hooker retired from the elite sport after London 2012 and has successfully transitioned into business.
  • Steve explored a number of jobs during his transition that helped him to find the right fit in his post-sport career.
  • Sign up to the Athlete365 Business Accelerator.


I retired from training mid-2013, a year after London 2012, which was my last major international competition. Since then, I’ve been on a journey of transitioning out of the sport, and a lot of that stems from having my first son, Max, where I really had to shift my focus to family.

From that point, I was on a four-year process of letting go of the ego that can come with being a sportsperson and adjusting to a new life. I took four different jobs that lasted on average 12 months.

In going through each of those, I spent time assessing what I enjoyed in each role and what I didn’t like, trying to find something that ultimately made me feel as fulfilled as my sport did.

Don’t shy away from life-changing discussions

I worked in high performance, property development and ran a start-up, and from this experience, I recognised that I wanted sport to continue to be a passion for me, but not a career. I realised that it was a combination of property and entrepreneurship that I enjoyed most, and I was lucky enough to find a business that matched my needs. Now I jump out of bed every morning to go to work. It’s been as exciting as anything I did in my sport.

But while this might sound glamorous, it was a really challenging transition at times. The hardest part can be letting go of a previous career, and having difficult discussions with yourself on saying this is not for me, this is not something I’m passionate about, or this is not something I can see myself doing in the long-term. This can be particularly tough for athletes who aren’t used to quitting.

But it’s important to be honest with yourself and understand that the rest of your life is a long time – so don’t shy away from these discussions.

Explore areas that interest you

If you’ve got an interest in an area, go and explore it, and see what living that actually feels like. It’s often very different to what you’d imagine. Just keep trying to find something that gets you as fired up as your sport did. There will be something out there that clicks with you.

It could be the team you’re working with, the product you’re working on, or the industry itself; you won’t yet know what element will resonate with you most unless you give different areas a go. It has to be something you love that’s going to get you out of bed each morning.

Find what really clicks for you and makes you feel passionate and motivated. Hopefully, you can find the elements that will eventually shape your future. Remember, the sporting period of your life will always be there, but it’s not going to be what defines you forever.

Are you thinking about setting up a business like Steve, and looking for a place to start? The Athlete365 Business Accelerator will help you develop your own entrepreneurial plan from idea to reality, starting with a step-by-step, free-to-use online course.