I often field questions from entrepreneurs about whether they will ever be able to have a business that provides them an income and lifestyle that matches the number of hours and amount of effort that they invest in growing their business. Along the way, people in their lives, and even experts they’ve sought out for advice, have told them that their vision for success was a fantasy.

Others are repeatedly telling these hardworking business owners that they should settle for having what you or I would consider a mediocre business. With that in mind as we begin 2017, I want to share with you what I share with entrepreneurs when this conversation comes up:

You can build your ideal business.

Now, you can’t just have your ideal business. It’s earned. It’s built.

So what is an ideal business?

Let’s start with what it’s not. It’s not a business that is completely automated or doesn’t require you to do any real work. Honestly, I don’t know much about building a business that doesn't require work. I’m not sure I know anyone that does. But if that’s not an ideal business, what is?

There are five core characteristics of an 'ideal business':

Independent - An ideal business is controlled by you. That's why you went into business... to be in control of your own destiny.

Distinctive - The dictionary says distinctive means having a special quality, style, attractiveness, etc.; notable. Do you know any business you'd consider extraordinary that doesn’t fit this description? Your ideal business must stand out... it must be distinctive.

Enjoyable - We're all going to spend thousands of hours in our business so our business must be enjoyable. The business that you construct must be one where you feel like you get to go to work... not one where you feel like you've got to go to work.

Authentic - Your ideal business must be reflective of you, your beliefs and your values. If you're going to love it, then it can't be cookie-cutter and look and feel like every other bland business out there.

Lucrative - Obviously, your ideal business needs to be lucrative. You need to be able to enjoy the type of income that provides for both your now and your future.

More specifically, an ideal business is one that allows you to work with the people with whom you want to work. You should be training the people you are the best at serving and who allow you to maximize your strengths, talents and experience. You should be employing people whom you feel are good ambassadors for your business and contracting the specialists you feel elevate your business. From the accountant you hire to the business coach you work with - they should be aligned with your vision.

When it comes to the service component of building your ideal business, your big decision is founded on what you want to be known for. There are successful businesses that focus on group training and others that deliver a one-on-one service. Some fitness business owners thrive in warehouses, others in retail spots and still others succeed delivering an in-home service

You can build a great business charging premium prices or value prices, focusing on fat loss or sports performance. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ path to success. Who you want to train, how you want to train them and even how you’re positioned in the market. You decide.

If you decide that you want to scale your business, you can do so through growing one location, adding other locations, going online or even through licensing or franchising. If you want to grow by having more clients, by having more employees or having more locations - that’s up to you.

Even the income you earn and the schedule you choose to work are largely up to you. There are many business owners in our industry who earn an outstanding personal income and still have enough flexibility in their schedule to spend time on things outside of work that are important to them. Income and schedule are primarily a result of the other choices you’re making and the quality of the actions you’re taking.

Much like what I suspect you would tell your clients, you are not a victim. You’re a product of the ideas you believe, the choices you make and the actions you take. So when someone tells you that you can’t have your ideal business, what they’re really telling you is that you’re not capable of making good choices and following through to make them a reality. They’re wrong.

Your business is a reflection of what you want. The impact you want to have. The life you want to lead.

Shaping it into your ideal business isn’t easy… but why would you settle for anything less?