A recent 16-page article written specifically for small business owners, attempted to explain the subtle difference between a mission statement and a vision statement. My Immediate reaction upon seeing the article was that the author didn’t have much experience dealing with small business owners. If he did, he’d know that his business-school theory may look good in print, but it’s chances of being read by the target audience were slim, and it’s chances of being implemented, even slimmer.

This doesn’t mean to say that it wasn’t a good article or that the theory wasn’t sound; it was a good article and the theory was sound. However, in practice, the average small business owner is a very busy person usually taking one day at a time and, under the circumstances, disinclined to take time out to read management theory articles.

But that doesn’t mean that small business owners shouldn’t be encouraged to consider missions and visions. However, they need to start wading at the shallow end. Expecting them to jump in boots and all at the deep end will only scare them off, and then an opportunity to implement a good business practice will have been lost. I consider it a success if I can persuade small business owners to take time out to just think about what they’re doing and where they want it all to go. Getting off the treadmill, standing back and calmly considering what they’re doing, what they want to accomplish, and what they’re going to do to get there, is a great start. That basic understanding and vision can then be built out gradually with the assistance of a consultant or accountant until it shapes up as a mission statement and even a vision statement to live by.

If this sounds like you and your business, you really need to take the first step on the way to developing mission and vision statements. Get off the treadmill for a couple of hours, go somewhere quiet and think about where the shop is at and where you want it to go. Then take that to an expert and get some help refining and formalizing it. It only makes good business sense.