My heart was racing faster than a gazelle being chased through the Serengeti by a pride of starving lions.

I paced frantically and managed to squeak out a few frantic words: “What do you mean the money is gone?”

I was 26 years old. I had spent the last five years learning and thriving under the wings of several of the world’s top strength and conditioning coaches.

Now I was ready to fly off on my own. Only three weeks previously, I had given up a solid six-figure training income. I said goodbye to working with some of the best athletes in the world.

It was time to focus on my online business. I’d already had some success, with over 100 published articles in major fitness sites and a steady flow of online sales.

… Now, it all seemed like a huge mistake.

There I was standing in the entryway to the gym on the phone with Mrs. Johnson, the secretary of my accountant. She broke the news. My accountant lined his pockets with $50,000 of my money to the IRS, then covered up his crime with a phony paper trail.

Now, law enforcement agencies were rummaging through their offices, but my accountant vanished, into thin air. He was nowhere to be found.

I was living a nightmare, trembling with fear, rage, and uncertainty.  

The money I had saved to fund my business was gone.

To cap it off, my wife worked for a company that created IRS software. Meaning that my IRS problems could end her career dead in its tracks… Even though she wasn’t at fault.

That didn’t happen. (although I had no idea what would happen at the time)

Luckily, my wife was relatively unscathed.

I wasn’t so lucky. Things were even worse than the first appeared. The IRS still wanted its money.  Interest and penalties would double my debt to nearly $100,000.

My world came crashing down. The thrill of launching a new business with infinite possibility was gone. Now I was in the depths of despair.

Would I have to take a “real” job on a salary, move to a crummy apartment, and spend years repaying the IRS?

Surprisingly… my fate was nowhere near that bad. Because a funny thing happened amidst the overwhelming stress and crippling debt.  My business took off.

And today, I couldn’t be more grateful for such a challenging period of time.

I wouldn’t be where I am now – running two businesses with the freedom to travel and support my wife and family in whatever we decide to do – without what appeared to be the greatest tragedy of my life.

The truth is, pain is often our greatest motivator.

It gets us out of our comfort zone and adds extra incentive to do what’s necessary to succeed, revealing a hidden world of opportunity in the process.  

Here’s what I learned about battling back from crippling business debt by leveraging my pain.

1. Life Isn’t Fair. Deal with it.

As a lead IRS agent told me: “Sometimes bad stuff happens to good people. I’m sorry.”

There was no-one coming to my rescue. Even when they tracked him down, they couldn’t find the money he stole. I had to pay the money back.

“Sorry” didn’t relieve my pain or make up for the stolen money. But it made the situation crystal clear: This happened. It wasn’t my fault, but it was my responsibility to pick up the pieces.

Too often,  we get bogged down by our circumstances and are unable to move forward.

We say we have no time to launch a business. Or no money, because we didn’t come from money.

So we blame genetics. Or some misfortune. Or some past hardship.

But there is another way: Keep moving forward. Unlike other victims, I didn’t sue my former accountant. What good would that do? He was now penniless and in prison.

Any court judgment would be worthless as I’d rack up more money in legal fees and make back pennies on the dollar. Instead, I settled with the IRS (it ended up waiving the penalties) and moved forward with building my business.

It’s not the obstacle that matters, it’s how you react to overcome it.
So ask yourself the tough questions.

Are you stepping up to the plate and taking action? Or are you allowing past struggles, regrets, and the fear of failure dictate your actions?

We’re all guilty of falling into the pitfall of fear and inaction some of the time.

That’s okay. But it’s better to recognize these destructive behavior patterns and deal with them.

2. You Won’t Have All The Answers. Ready. Fire. Aim.


You can’t wait for the perfect time. And no, you don’t need more information. Fortune favors bold action takers.

Before the fraud case, I was a pro at collecting information. I was making the mistake many of my fitness clients make… reading and consuming information, yet failing to take action.

Sadly, this didn’t do much to grow my business. I was waiting for the perfect time and the perfect solution. The fraud forced my hand. With my back up against the wall, I was forced to scale things up faster than planned.  

I realized results don’t miraculously happen. They’re created through blood, sweat, tears — and failures. It’s all part of the game. When you remove failure as an option,  you either win or you learn from your mistakes.

Either way, you move forward.

Start taking action and implement. And all the cliches are true. Fortune favors the bold. Speed to market wins. The only way out is through.

3. Fitness is Your Force Multiplier


If you are to perform at a high level, you must take care of yourself. As an ETR reader, you have no issue putting in long hours to build your dream, but are you sleeping, exercising, and making sure you can perform at the highest level?

As I tell the high-performers I coach in my fitness business, fitness is a force multiplier. Part of working smarter is optimizing your body.  You’ll have more energy, better health, and set a better example for your friends, family, and colleagues.

Leadership begins from the front. One of the best ways to get the most out of yourself, your employees, and those around you is to make your health a priority.

Find an activity,  whether it’s lifting weights, yoga, or some form of cardio. Schedule it in as you would a doctor’s appointment. Make it a non-negotiable part of your day. To perform your best mentally,  you must be in shape physically.

4. Fill the Holes in YOUR Boat Before You Jump to a New Ship 


You don’t need another magic unicorn to distract you from the a lucrative opportunities hiding in plain sight: the business you already have.

When you’re without cash you’re left with creativity and passion. You have no choice but to use them to your advantage.

At Bach Performance, we combined two services we already offered to create a premium service: hybrid fitness transformations.

I trained busy professionals, often oil executives, attorneys, and entrepreneurs in the gym.

I also trained clients from all over the world online.

The biggest opportunity was staring me in the face for years before I realized it: instead of “hourly” training I should combine online-training with my in-person business to teach my clients how to stay in great shape in the road and days they couldn’t make it into the gym for their appointment.

Instead of trading dollars for hours, I now had repeatable monthly payments, giving me solid financial footing from offering a VIP service to high performers.

Now, take a look at your business. What services are you offering?

Can you combine it with another product or service to offer a VIP level service?

Or, do you have a repeatable system for referrals and organic lead generation?

Don’t get bogged down chasing shiny objects when the greatest chance for success comes from filling the holes in your own boat first.

5. Total Failure Is Rarely an Option, It’s A Decision


Before the fraud case, I acted out of indecision and fear.

I had hired some business coaches, but I still dragged my feet and caught myself waiting for the perfect time.

Well, further delay was no longer an option. I had no money and needed some soon to repay the IRS.

Being indecisive robs you of control. Take action to control of your own destiny. Then, course correct as needed.

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Today I’m Debt Free.

I no longer operate out of fear.

I control my own actions and my future.
And most of all, I take ultimate responsibility for whatever comes my way, good or bad,  no matter what.

Our biggest victories often come after all the chips are down. Harnessed correctly, pain and uncertainty can become your greatest assets.

Use this millionaire-vetted Morning Routine to overcome your biggest obstacles and live your dream life today. !  

Sign up now to get our FREE Morning Routine guide—the #1 way to increase productivity, energy, and focus for profitable days. Used by thousands of fitness, business, and finance industry leaders to leapfrog the competition while making time for the people who really matter. Learn more here.

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Eric Bach

Eric Bach, owns and operates BachPerformance.com where we helps busy professionals look great naked without living in the gym. Eric also runs IMPACT FitPRO Coaching where he helps personal trainers build an impactful online fitness businesses. Join Eric @bachperformance on Instagram for daily motivation, fitness, and business stories.

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