How To Start A Drone Business That Will Last And Succeed. 7 Tips From A Former UAV Operator

How To Start A Drone Business That Will Last And Succeed. 7 Tips From A Former UAV Operator

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How To Start a Drone Business That Will Last And Succeed

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What I’m about to tell you is based on my own experiences. The opportunities are huge and if you’re ready then you can look forward to a long and lucrative career in the world of unmanned aviation.

I’d be very interested to know more about you and your business, and if any of what I’m about to say is of use to you. So please, watch to the end and leave me some feedback in the comment section below.

The tips that follow apply to any drone business whether your speciality is aerial photography, videography, mapping, thermal imagery, or whatever.

1. Preparation and planning

Your first task is to consider your market. Who are your clients likely to be? How will you find them? Having found them how will you persuade them to use your services as opposed to any other UAV operator?

How far are you prepared to travel? Is all your business going to be locally based, in your home country, or abroad as well?

2. Create a business plan

If you’ve ever watched the TV show Dragons’ Den (and I recommend you do) you will probably know that it is essential to know the figures for your business. It doesn’t matter how good the product or service, if it doesn’t show a reasonable profit in a given timeframe then it’s never going to succeed.

So your first task is to create a business plan. This doesn’t have to be a complicated PowerPoint presentation with pretty pictures and multimedia (unless you intent to pitch for some investment) but you should at least compile one or more spreadsheets that remind you of what your capital costs and expenditure are likely to be in the first 12-24 months.

There are plenty of free Excel templates online. Just google for ‘business plan templates Excel’ or similar phrases.

3. Controlling your budget

The second point I want to emphasise to keep a tight rein on your budget. You might thing that you need every new gadget, tool, and software for your business. It’s very easy at the start when you’re flushed with enthusiasm (and you’ve still got money to spend!) to buy all the latest kit.

Just remember that for every pound or dollar you spend you will have to replace it with several pounds or dollars. Do you really need that gadget or software today?

Don’t get bitten by the software bug and suffer from upgradeitus. A lot of software tools are filled with features we don’t use. Stick to the essentials.

4. Set the right price

Imagine the scenario; you’ve quoted for a job but your client hesitates and tells you that they can only pay a proportion of your price. They may even hint that they will hire you again if they can secure a discount this time.

My advice is to stick to your original price and don’t be talked into a discount that results in you working at a loss. You should know from your business plan what your break even price is so you’ll know there will a point at which it’s just not worth taking the job.

5. Reinvestment and further training

Following on from the point about profit there is the need for reinvesting in your business. You didn’t think that £150 was going to go into your back pocket, did you?

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9 Essential Drone Business Ideas For Drone Pilots, Entrepreneurs, Startups

9 Essential Drone Business Ideas For Drone Pilots, Entrepreneurs, Startups

9 Essential Drone Business Ideas For Drone Pilots, Entrepreneurs, Startups

In this video I describe 9 drone business ideas that you should consider if you are thinking of starting a business in the expanding world of unmanned aviation systems.

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In an earlier video I listed 31 different ways drones can be used and it was clear from the feedback that there were some I’d missed. What is also obvious is that the ever changing world of drone technology means that there is unlikely to be a definitive list.

New functions are emerging all the time and that means you have more opportunities to explore. So whether you’re just starting out or you’re already established as a drone pilot it will pay to review the new openings to see if there’s another way you can earn money using your drone.

So let’s get straight into it and list the 9 main areas of development that could provide you with ways you could earn money as a drone pilot or as a drone entrepreneur.

9 Essential Drone Business Ideas For Drone Pilots, Drone Entrepreneurs, And Drone Startups

Sports Filming

Many sports enthusiasts capture the drama of their particular sport using bodycams and their own drones but it takes a professional UAV operator to film broadcast quality footage. TV companies need stable and clear views of the action on road bends, at ski jumps, at turning points in yacht or dinghy races, and at finish lines for almost every conceivable sport. The drama needs to be captured from every angle and in some locations manned aviation just can’t get close enough to it. Your flying skills will need to be on a par with those you film as you fly close to the action but what a buzz being a sports drone pilot must be!

Creating Maps

Maps are big business and despite the access we have to Google Earth and the like there is still plenty of work to do in accurately mapping the planet’s surface. Archaeologists, civil engineers, construction planners – all kinds of people need accurate localized maps that go into fine detail. You might be asked to film and photograph a location prior to development for a planning application. You might also be asked to capture data about every square foot to create accurate topographical maps in precise detail. Precision flying in grid patterns and the adept use of processing software will be your main skills in this field.

News and TV Footage

Everyone with a camera can film anything that might be newsworthy. Aerial photographers can obviously see so much more and give the all important bird’s eye perspective on events. Keeping a drone with you as your travel is an option. However, safety and legality are of paramount importance and this can mean that you are denied the spontaneity needed for some reporting of events. Talk to the civil aviation authority and local police in your country about this before using a drone in such circumstances.

Industrial Inspections

Imagine an oil rig or a chemical plant with complex pipework on the outside of buildings. A drone is ideal for inspection work of these and other industrial areas. In such environments there is no room for a helicopter and access by humans is not only dangerous but very costly. Industrial inspections with drones are as many and as varied as the types of factories and industrial plants on the planet. It also includes pipework and cabling running from site to site. There is huge scope here and is likely to be a main source of income for many drone businesses.

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