By Stephanie Silber, Special AFS Contributor

Starting your own business often feels like you are fighting the good fight. C.S. Lewis referred to this as a difficult “transition from the dreaming aspiration to laborious doing.”  We are enchanted with the idea of owning our own businesses, but then must buckle down to really learn business and produce a viable result. Staying in a job felt easy. Creating a new concept in fitness was arduous, to say the least.

We open shop after the daunting stages of development and construction. Now, whether it is a studio or online, we are thrown “into the fire” on a regular basis. Every day feels we are stepping into a new zone of highs and lows. We are leaping out of our comfort zone. This is truly venturing down a path we have never gone down. There are days where I feel like life is passing me by while I am plugged into FitSwop. What gives? My business coach says this is where most people give up, throw in the towel and call it a day. And that my friends, is where we must differ from the one who gives up.

No matter how hard this fight gets, throwing in the towel just does not seem like a viable option to me, and I bet it does not to you either. I have not even considered it. Why? We have put countless hours into our businesses. While there may be a time when sunk costs may be a part of our realities, let’s always favor reassessment over ceasing. I am at a point where I cannot look back and see where the journey began. How could one throw that away? Shift gears, sure. Re-evaluate, always. But throw in the towel? Never.


So, as my dear friend Suzelle Snowden of Fit Bodies, Inc. once said, “patience and perseverance are key factors” in growing a successful business from scratch. I have witnessed her over the years take an idea and turn it into a viable business model. I picture her in those early days, trying to create something that didn’t exist and the push back she got throughout the process.  I have listened to her tell stories of strife, losing sleep, losing deals, but never losing faith.

The most successful people in this business learned early how to lick their wounds and gather valid information from their mistakes. Many of us are relatively new to being the owner and CEO of our businesses, and the pain points are real. I would love to share my lessons learned so far and hear yours. I would love to know if our struggles are similar no matter whether our business is brick and mortar or online. This is the ride of the entrepreneur forging the path to building a business. The purpose of organizations like AFS is for us to connect and support each other in this process. Reach out! In the meantime, some common themes I have heard from the best minds in the business.

Know it is not personal

Business is not personal, although many of us make it personal. We care, and we dwell.  What I failed to realize in the early days was that rejection is not rejection of me. It is not even necessarily rejection of FitSwop (or whatever your business is). Rejection is simply your potential client favoring something else. It is them saying they have something else in line that is a better fit for them at this time. It’s more than likely not a knock on what you are doing. They are focused on what they are doing, not what you are doing. Don’t let someone else saying “thanks but no thanks” be a personal attack on you, because it isn’t.

You must unplug

Self-care usually goes by the wayside when we are starting, launching, and/or running a business. It is so easy to never take that break, never unwind, never get that business (your baby) off your mind. I find that business development is as addictive as social media posting. We look at it a million times a day left unchecked, right? Yet, I read something recently that said, “being overly busy does not equate to being overly productive.” Setting boundaries and keeping them is something I am still working on, but I can already tell it will be necessary for my mental health, my family life, and my overall quality of life.

Patient perseverance

My dear friend Suzelle has recently begun a sponsorship with AFS. She has so much to offer this world of fitness, on top of vacations. She has 30 years of experience in this business, when I am just starting out. There is no cheating time, and her lessons will be lessons I will have to learn as I go and can only assume wisdom of in 30 years. Yet, she offers me nuggets of advice all the time. One of her best tips: Patience and perseverance are key factors in a successful business.

Try not to lose sleep over something, because it never helps. Learn who to network with, hold them dear. Make colleagues with people you want to emulate. And by all means, persist.

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Stephanie Silber is the founder and CEO of FitSwop, a digital marketplace for fitness and health professionals to buy and sell fitness content, books, resources, products and programming to each other. Stephanie is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, and has a Master's Degree from Miami University and Bachelor of Health Sciences from the University of Kentucky. You can find her at

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