What does going to bed without dinner have to do with running a business?
I did have dinner, but I was feeling hungry late last night, a little too late to have something to eat. It brought back memories of a few years ago when I really did have to go to bed hungry most nights. I’m not complaining and for most of my life having enough food has never been a problem or even a concern, but for a time I couldn’t afford as much food as I should have been eating. I’d lay down most nights and listen to my stomach crying softly for sustenance. I’d wonder if tomorrow I would be able to afford dinner. I watched myself lose 30 pounds in a few short months. Don’t worry I’ve put it all back on in the years since.
It wasn’t always pleasant as you can imagine, though it did keep me looking to make a better life for myself. It reminded me to seek a better job or work a couple of extra hours for the one more meal it might buy me that month. It also helped me become creative in acquiring food. Striking up a friendship with someone behind the counter at a sandwich shop, who would then charge me little or even nothing for a meal. I wouldn’t abuse the privilege and I’d leave a good tip in the jar. But I’d save a few dollars once a week on that sandwich.
Being hungry isn’t always literally about not having enough to eat. One of the reasons I’ve seen over and over for the Detroit Tigers recent upset of my New York Yankees last week is that they were the hungrier team. They wanted it more and so consequently accomplished more during the series. The did the little things it takes, like advancing runners and taking an extra base, that are required to win. The Yankees on the other hand played more like they were simply supposed to win and when games didn’t go their way they looked lifeless.
In business we should all stay hungry. We should never be satisfied with where we are or where we’ve been since the moment we do the Detroit Tigers could outrank our sites or be first to market with a new product that makes ours obsolete. You always need to strive to improve yourself, your business, and your website. It’s important to continue to look at your marketing and look for ways to make it work harder and to figure out how to get one more percent of your traffic to convert on your site.
One of my favorite quotes is from the lyrics of Bob Dylan in the song “It’s alright ma, I’m only bleeding”
He not busy being born is busy dying
It reminds me to continuously work harder to make myself a better person; to continue to learn and not be afraid to take a hard look at myself and make difficult changes if I need to. The moment you stop trying to improve you may as well hang it up.
Your website should never be seen as something static. It’s should be seen as something alive, something that grows, and something you work to make better. You should learn from it and use what you learn to make the changes that will make it more effective. Once your website stops being born it too is dying.
The days of putting up a static brochure style site are over unless you do the bulk of your marketing offline and the site is meant to serve only as a brochure. You certainly can get a small site to rank well, especially in less than competitive markets, but to truly succeed now you need to have a site that grows and interacts with your visitors. You want them coming back and the best way to do that is to consistently be adding something new. It can be all too easy to let it stop growing at some point when the site is bringing in the traffic you hoped to get and the money is good. But stop letting your site grow and it can wither and die. You may have several thousand pages, but once I’ve read them all I don’t need to read them again. Your site needs to grow. It’s always hungry for more pages and new ideas.
Staying hungry allows us all to look for new ideas and new ways to spread the word about old one. Staying hungry causes us to look for more things to sustain ourselves. Staying hungry keeps us from becoming complacent and lazy.
So I’m glad I went to bed hungry last night. I didn’t have to. There was food in the fridge and I could have easily fixed myself something to eat. But it reminded me again that I should never be satisfied in life and always be a little hungry for more. That I should work hard to learn what I can to improve my website and business and generally strive to become a better me.
Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.