Economists are supposed to be informing us about business issues, but most of them are sheltered from the vicissitudes of the business world and macro-economy.
I do believe that data are important. So is theory. But one uses data to confirm or disconfirm a hunch. And theories are conceived in the imagination before they are smithied into mathematics. Hunches and theories are made from the stuff of everyday experience — be that professional or casual.
The ideas, the questions, and the framework for asking and answering, all bloom from the seeds of conferences, papers, colloquia, journals, books, and academic colleagues. Not from business experience.
If prompted I will give concrete examples.