I’m a fan of the term “bootstrap”. By definition it means “with minimal outside help” or “by one’s own efforts,” which is just my style.

The only thing I don’t like about the term is that it somehow implies that *no outside input* is needed. This is incorrect. In fact, it could be said that no one can possibly make something by their own efforts without first having some idea of what they’re doing.

Here is where we come to the nettle of my meaning. You need a business plan, my dear friend. You really do.

You can’t just forge blindly ahead without some kind of idea of where you’re going and what you’re up to. If you don’t know what you’re trying to do, how will you know that your efforts have resulted in anything?

So how does one plan to be an artist? It’s not that difficult. Let’s look at the steps using an example. We’re gonna make you a bootstrap business plan, my friend.

First you need to declare what it is you want to do. We’ll call this your “vision statement”.

Let’s say that you want to be a professional photographer in which you get to take awesome pictures and people pay you to do that.

That’s good, but you can do better. Do you want to take pictures of babies? Horses? Products? Famous people? Right. So let’s be specific, shall we?

“I am a photographer and I want to make a living creating portraits, headshots and concert photos for independent musicians.”

Nice work, there fictional photographer. Now you have an actual vision statement.

Second, set up some goals. These can be simple or complex, but remember that the simpler they are, the easier it is to know when you’ve achieved them. Goals can be anything from “I want to book four clients in the next four months” to “I want to earn $100,000 this year”.

Third, create some strategies to achieve those goals. This could be having a blog, creating and using partnerships to gain access to different audiences, in-person networking, or social media.

Fourth, now you need to decide how you’re going to do each of those things. Obviously if you’re going to blog you need a website. With that blog content, you could set up a mailing list and email your posts out to subscribers. To network in person you can find Linked In groups that meet in person in your city and get together with people in your own industry, or join industries you want to work in (like music in this example).

Fifth, and finally, look at the tasks and steps specifically required to implement the strategies you’ve itemized above.

I hate to say it, but now you have a business plan. See? Not scary. Not counter to the artist’s process.

To make sure you’re keeping on track, put this document in a place you can see it in your workspace and refer to it often. Only by reviewing it from time to time will you be able to determine how you’re doing with those goals, or if they need to be re-evaluated.