Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Scott Emmerson, owner of Sandbox Fitness & Therapy, located in Oakville, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

This is Sandbox Fitness and Therapy. Sandbox began as a fitness studio and has changed over time into a hybrid private training studio/physical therapy clinic in downtown Oakville. The clients we serve at Sandbox are often working professionals with high standards of health, retirees looking to roll back the clock, and athletes striving for success in a multitude of different levels of the sport. We pride ourselves on our methodical approach to finding solutions to all the things that prevent people from being the happiest, strongest, fittest version of themselves.

Tell us about yourself

The origin of my fitness journey was honestly just myself. I was a young man engaged in sports who was pretty overweight, and my journey began really just from a desire to be more confident. At that time, I had a meaningful encounter with a personal trainer named Rob Miller. He found a way to connect with me as both a person and a client, and I started to see results. As I became healthier and more confident, the world started interacting with me more. My own inner voice began positively interacting with me again as well. It was such a nourishing experience, and I began to lean into it. So here I am 20 years later, and I’ve made a living trying to create similar experiences for my own customers.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Not sure how I’ll answer this question in the future, but as of today, it’s surviving COVID. Not only were we able to survive the pandemic, but we were able to start a fitness retail business (that’s just getting off the ground) as well. In all honesty, though, those successes are really due to the supportive community we’ve been able to build here in the studio. Our people really rallied to help us get through some of the darker times in the last two years. Don’t get me wrong; it’s great being able to say that we’ve had 30 athletes go on to the NCAA, seen three athletes winning national championships in their sports, and helped hundreds of people hit their health goals, but seeing your community come together as they did is proof that we’ve really been able to create something so special here.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Taking responsibility for everything in your business. If you ever think something negative in your business is anyone’s fault other than your own, you have the wrong mindset. As a solopreneur, you are responsible for all of it--the good and the bad.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

So many things will pop up that it’s hard to narrow it down to three, but hopefully, these will help:

  1. Most importantly, surround yourself with people that can help you navigate the parts of the business that aren’t just related to operating. Create an advisory board and lean on them and their knowledge for the first few years, at least. Finding someone who has already done, it can be so helpful just, when you listen to them, don’t assume they are successful. Be skeptical and take things with a grain of salt. You will ultimately need to parcel out what bits of advice will work best for you and your business.
  2. Learn Google ads. It has had the most steady return on investment for digital advertising. It can let you focus on running your business. You will be able to tell unequivocally if your digital presence is turning leads. Get real data on market viability.
  3. You will get more customers from a Grand Opening than you will likely get at any other point in your business, so Grand Open like that’s your job. Advertise it, make it exciting, be all in. Bonus tip! If you can avoid having a hard timeline on opening, you can be more versatile when signing a lease.

Signing a proper lease is my unofficial tip #4.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Something else I found helpful: if you can, own real estate before entering any higher risk business venture because it allows you credit leverage that you wouldn’t have if you didn’t own it. Having sufficient start-up funding is critical for the health of the business as well as for your own mental health.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to be all in. When you jump, you have to really jump.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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