Get Lost

Get in your car today and get lost. Go to an area of your city, state, province, etc. where you have never been before. Bring a camera and a notebook. Snap away, take notes, draw what you see. No, not the flora and the fauna. The signage. The specials listed in the windows. The colors, the lighting, the way a place invites you in (or doesn’t). The way the staff and other customers inside a business interact with you.

Bring a map, because I want you to come back (and comment).

Where can you go?

Far enough that what you’re seeing is out of the ordinary for you.

  • A far more upscale area than you usually go
  • A far more downscale area than you usually go
  • A far more remote (rural) area
  • A far more congested (suburban sprawl or urban) area
  • An area with far different industries (factory, farming, mining, tourist,…) than your neck of the woods

Each has something to offer you when you get lost. Businesses thrive and fail in each. You can find inspiration in ethnic, social, and economic differences.

What are you looking for?

  • Phrases that grab you
  • Typefaces you’d never thought of
  • Colors/ color combinations that inspire you (or depress you)
  • First impressions (write them down before you think too hard)
  • What turns you off (and how you can avoid doing it)
  • What compels you to stop (make a list) at a business
  • Your observations when you do try a new business in this unfamiliar area (friendlier or less so? speed? smells? atmosphere? clientèle?)

What if you can’t drive off and get lost?

(Get on a bus, a train, a bike, go with a friend. I want you to take a real, physical trip if possible. If those fail you…)

Get on the Internet. Pick a difference that inspired you above, and “get lost.” Restaurant owners: look at manufacturers’ websites . Blog writers: look at department stores’ sites. Designers: look at websites for apartment complexes. Attorneys: look at resorts’ websites. (Americans: look at sites in languages you can’t read.) Good and bad, there are lessons everywhere. Get the picture? Get lost.

This is a day trip to make your business more profitable. Get inspired to try something really new at your company, by seeing the best and worst of another world. And write it off. It’s a business expense, not a vacation!

How did your trip go? What inspired you? Inspire others by leaving a comment here!

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson