The Lessons Of Fandom: Business Sense

This is part of a new series where I'm going to examine specific "general skills" that people learn in fandom and their hobbies.  I talk specific skills quite a bit, but fandom also teaches you general or "metaskills" that can help your career quite a bit.

First up – your fannish and hobby activities teach you good business sense.

This may seem contradictory – running an anime viewing, an MMO guild, and suchlike is not a business.  You don't make money.  You may not make product.  You may barely keep the group going.

But consider what a business really is – it's something that accomplishes something for people.  A business is about organizations and positions and processes that get   certain results to happen.  Many of your activities are "business-like" even if you don' make money (and hey, some businesses are pretty lousy at that too).

But in reality, many of your fannish activities are pseudo-businesses, and in the case of conventions and the like, businesses in everything but name – and in the case of some convention, they are businesses too.  You've quite likely been running something akin to a business, or part of one for years or decades in your fandom.

Changes are you also picked up some good business sense:

  • You understand process and organization.
  • You have an intuitive feel of how to run things and get results.
  • You have the ability to work with people to get things done.
  • You understand the importance of results.
  • You have the ability to detect when a "business" is going wrong.
  • You may have even more extensive skills from your activities – like accounting, clerical work, etc.  Large-scale fannish activities can teach you some specifics of a business.

So, here's something for you to do:

  • List all your current fannish activities that are like a business, and what position you play in them.  After listing them, ask what is the "full" business of those things you do.  Running a convention's "full" business would be event planning, doing fanart's "full" business would be running an art studio.
  • List your past fannish activities that were businesslike.  Do you see any trends?
  • What of your fannish activities, right now could you make a business?

You may be surprised how much business sense you have.

– Steven Savage