You can do this sitting in your armchair!
This is an explanation of why the First Step in a Business Development Programme is so important.
If you do not have the time right now, you can skip the first section “Our impossible existence” and go straight to the heading “The opportunity”.
However, if you do have a few moments, get a cup of coffee and read the first section carefully, taking the time to ponder the significance of each paragraph.
Our Impossible Existence
Although alternative theories exist (eg an eternal expansion and contraction) it is generally understood that the Universe emerged from a singularity 13.8 billion years ago, known as the Big Bang. Time did not exist before that point.
Mind you, the Universe didn’t waste time getting on with the job. It expanded in volume by a factor of 1078 in a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second.
Atoms were created during this process, which ultimately led to the formation of stars and galaxies.
There are approximately 300 billion stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way.
There are approximately 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe.
Our Sun is situated in an otherwise unremarkable spiral arm of the Milky Way. It is thought to have been born 9 billion years after the Big Bang – so it is 4.8 billion years old now.
It wasn’t just the Sun that formed. A cloud of interstellar gas and dust collapsed into a spinning disc of material. The pressure at the core was so great that hydrogen atoms combined to form helium and the Sun was born. Matter surrounding the Sun formed into clumps, some of which were big enough for gravity to shape them into spheres.
Our Earth formed in the Goldilocks Zone (or Habitable Zone), being the narrow range around a star where the planetary surface can support liquid water with the right atmospheric pressure. An encounter with another body during its early formation resulted in the Earth having a Moon.
Over time the Moon became tidally-locked so that one side of the Moon is permanently facing towards Earth.
The existence of gravity at all is somewhat remarkable. The gravitational constant in SI units is approx. 6.674×10−11 m3⋅kg−1⋅s−2. If it was lower there would be insufficient pressure for thermonuclear fusion to start in stars. If higher stars would burn up too fast, with insufficient time for life to evolve on any planets.
Indeed, all the physical constants in our Universe appear to have the exact values that result in a Universe in which, although monumentally unlikely, life just might evolve. Stephen Hawking once said, “The laws of science, as we know them at present, contain many fundamental numbers, like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the masses of the proton and the electron. … The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life.”
We now have String Theory trying to reconcile general relativity with quantum physics. This postulates extra (invisible) dimensions to the Universe as well as the prediction that there must be an infinite number of other parallel Universes where each possibility that can exist does exist. With other Universes having different fundamental physical laws, it is possible that this Universe – the one in which we find ourselves – is the only one where the physical constants are those required for the chance of life developing.
It’s pretty fortunate that we are in this Universe, out of a possible infinite number or others. And yet, in a way it is inevitable that we are here – because the structure of this Universe means that life could exist, and here we are. We couldn’t exist anywhere else. Amongst the trillions of stars in this Universe, a fluke sequence of events led to the spark of life on our planet.
And we are alone in the Galaxy (and possibly the Universe).
While forms of basic life may well exist on other planets, the chance of another advanced civilisation existing in our Galaxy at the same time as ours is described in the Drake Equation. The Fermi Paradox – “where are they?” – suggests that the answer to the Drake Equation has to be 1. In other words, we really are alone.
It is apparent that no advanced civilisation has populated the Galaxy – because the signs would now be obvious to us. If we are to expand off this Earth into the Galaxy, we will be the first civilisation to do so. The fact that it has never been done before suggests, so some say, that civilisations have always destroyed themselves, or suffered some calamity, before they could really get going. If you think current times are a warning, just wait until the next massive solar flare (of the type that hit Earth 150 years ago) arrives. Goodbye electric grids, satellite communications and the internet, and goodbye civilisation as we know it. So, if you’re going to set some personal goals and achieve things in life (see below), don’t hang about. A Massive Solar Flare is expected within the next 100 years or so.
The exact mechanism for the origin of life on Earth remains a mystery. Scientists agree that abiogenesis, the process by which life has arisen from non-living matter, must have happened but how it happened is unknown. It is thought that fast tides caused by the Moon (whose existence and exact features are an unlikely chance event) enabled the formation of nucleic acids which were a precursor to life.
Once life was under way, Natural Selection took over.
Dinosaurs ruled the Earth between 245 and 66 million years ago. Their dominance was ended 66 million years ago when, it is believed, a massive meteor hit the Earth (another fluke event) and the debris changed the climate. Fossils show the rise of mammals after dinosaurs. Without that meteor, mammals would not have flourished and we would not be here.
Homo Habilis, the first members of the genus Homo, first appear in fossils 2 million years ago.
Homo Sapiens evolved 800,000 years or 300,000 years ago, depending on whether you include Neanderthals.
11,600 years ago a period of global warming caused glaciers to retreat, being a consequence of Earth’s natural, inexorable cycle of global warming and cooling. In the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glaciers advancing and retreating. The last above-mentioned retreat heralded the start of our modern climate era.
The English philosopher, Thomas Hobbs, writing in the middle of the 17th century, famously characterised human life as “nasty, brutish and short.”. Life expectancy in those days was half what it is today.
Civilisation eventually flourished. Stone axes have been replaced by Smart Phones.
All the above was a precondition for your fragile, improbable existence, as you breath our planet’s sweet atmosphere, using your eyes to read these words and your mind to contemplate what use you are going to make of the remaining days between today and the date of your appointment with death.
How many days? Maybe you’ll live to 90. Subtract your age from 90 and multiply by 365. That’s how many days. Quite a lot, and yet not that many really. Not enough. Already one less day that there were to look forward to yesterday.
So, what use are you going to make of this extraordinary opportunity of being here, now on this wonderful planet?
No matter what your beliefs may be about how it came about, you’ve got to admit this existence, with its myriad opportunities, is beyond awesome.
The second step in a Business Development Programme is to define what your Business has to do for you to achieve your personal goals.
But the first, crucial step is to define your personal goals – ie to define “What do you want from your life?” (Michael Gerber, in his book The E-Myth Revisited, calls this Your Primary Aim). The chances are you will need time and/or money to achieve your personal goals. Therefore you need a business that will provide you with the necessary income and/or ultimate sale proceeds.
A sociologist addressed a gathering of people aged 95 and over and asked: “ If you were to live your life over again, what would you do differently next time?” The top answer was to have fewer regrets about things they didn’t do (as opposed to regrets about things they did do).
No-one is going to lie on their death bed wishing they had done more work. There is so much else to do in this world. Work on your business, building it up in a systematic way until an eventual sale, is a means to an end – a means of providing the resources needed to achieve your personal goals.
Why put yourself through the worry, strain, stress and risk of building a business unless it is going to give you the ability to life the life you want?
I was speaking to a gentleman the other day about the things he was up to having sold his successful business the year before for a handsome seven figure sum. He looked a bit guilty, and after a little conversation it transpired that the money he had received from the sale of his business was still sitting in the current account in his bank. “I can’t decide what to do with it, apart from paying the tax”, he said. He’s now sitting at home all day – and I’m not sure what else he’s doing. Nothing that requires any money, that’s for sure. Maybe the odd holiday. What was the point of the decades of sacrifice and worry he endured to build up his business?
So, what might your personal goals be? I don’t know. It’s up to you. Surely there must be a better way of passing your time on this planet than lying on the sofa in front of the flat screen TV.
A good way to start is to ask yourself questions. Here are a few. Try to answer them.
What do I wish my life to look like generally?
What do I wish my day to day life to look like?
What would I like to be able to say I truly know in my life, about my life?
How would I like to be with other people in my life:
How would I like people to think about me?
What would I like to be doing…
2 years from now
10 years from now
20 years from now
When I die
What exactly would I like to learn during my life…..
Where do I want to go… Mountains, Oceans…..Places?
Where do I want my house(s) to be located?
What size of house(s) do I want?
What cars do I want to drive?
What hobbies do I want to pursue, and to what ultimate level?
What new hobbies would I like to take up in the future if I had the time?
What community/political offices do I want to hold
What charitable work do I want to do?
What unlikely experience do I want, impossible now but remotely possible in future (eg Go into space)?
What do I want to create that will last beyond me (apart from my business), eg poetry, music, novel, play, painting, other creative pursuits?
What do I want to do together with family members? (Holidays, projects….)
Do I want to put my children / grandchildren through private education?
When do I want to retire (an exact date)?
Make a list of the cash, investments and assets I need on the date of retirement.
How long do I want to live?
What will I need to do to ensure good health to enable me to reach that age?
The answers to questions such as these will give you your personal goals, and you will have completed Step 1 of your Business Development Programme.
Step 2 will be to define Your Strategic Objective – ie, as mentioned above, to define what your Business has to do for you to enable you to achieve your personal goals. And in doing so, to describe in detail what your business is going to have to look like when it is finished.
The remainder of the Programme will consist of a step by step process to work out your strategies for Organisational Structure, Marketing, Management, People and Systems.
If I do write another Blog about Business Development, it will probably be on the subject of Step 2 of the process, defining your Strategic Objective.
Some years ago I wrote a 100+ page Business Development Manual, which I now use to run Business Development Workshops and one-to one training for any of our business clients who are motivated to grow their businesses. Please get in touch if you would like more details.