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How to Start a Drone Business – 5 Tips and Tricks

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drone photography

Image Credit: Halfpoint, Shutterstocck

Drones started as a tool for photographers to play around with. Soon, they transformed into a highly demanded accessory for several industries.

Considering the increasing demand, many entrepreneurs are now looking to establish a drone business. If you’re fond of drones, running your own drone company can help you make significant profits. However, how do you start a drone business the right way?

First, you must enroll in an aeronautical training course approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)¹ and get a Remote Pilot Certificate. Then, you’d need to choose the right type of drone business, research the market, and write a comprehensive business plan.

Let’s dig deeper into establishing a drone business and learn some tips and tricks to do it properly.

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Step-by-Step Guide for Drone Business

Starting a drone business may seem daunting, but you can do it flawlessly with the steps below¹.

phantom drone with camera

Image Credit: Allef Vinicius, Unsplash

Get the FAA-Approved Certificate

The first step in being an entrepreneur is enrolling in an aeronautical training course approved by the FAA. After the course completion, you’ll get a Remote Pilot Certificate. This certificate is mandatory for all commercial drone businesses.

To obtain the certificate, you’d have to pass a “Part 107 examination.” You can sit in this test at any of the 700 FAA-approved test venues¹ across the USA.

The best part is that you can enroll in the aeronautical course online and offline. The best online course is the Drone Pilot Ground School¹, which allows you to prepare for your exam in the comfort of your home. If you don’t want to spend money on an online course, you can check out this study guide on Amazon¹

These courses primarily cover the following topics:

  • Drone laws
  • Drone flight operations
  • National Airspace System
  • FAA regulations
  • Micrometeorology
white drone with camera

Image Credit: Thomas Griesbeck, Unsplash

Choose the Right Type of Drone Business

The second step is to determine the type of drone business you want to step into. There is a wide range of drone business ideas belonging to different niches. Thus, choosing the right one depends on your interests.

Some other factors include:

  • The capital you have
  • Your targeted profit
  • The time you can invest in your business
  • The tools and equipment you need
  • Your target market
  • Your competitors

Once you evaluate all the above things, you’ll have a clear way to go ahead. Here are seven popular drone business ideas that you can take inspiration from:

Drone Photography

If you have a knack for photography and drones, you may already know the scope of drone photography. It is the most common drone business right now.

Before drones, capturing a wide-angle shot required a camera installed on a plane or helicopter. Not everyone can afford this, right? With drones, you can easily run an aerial photography business without requiring huge capital. However, you must buy a high-resolution camera, which is usually quite expensive.

Moreover, you’d need a good editing team and equipment. Not only that, but you may also need an excellent portfolio to convince your potential clients to choose you.

Besides, drone videography is also a popular and well-paying business. If you combine it with your photography business, you’re likely to earn more clients.

man flying a drone in the field

Image Credit: DisobeyArt, Shutterstock

Agriculture Inspection

You may be surprised that drones are a widely used inspection tool in the agriculture sector. You might not exactly think of crops and fields when planning to start a drone business, but think about it this way:

Farmers who use advanced technology for data acquisition can complete the process more efficiently, accurately, and quickly. The agriculture industry is massive. Starting a business that provides agriculture inspection drones to farmers can be highly profitable.

These unique drones have specialist sensors that enable farmers to gather valuable data on pest and fungal infestations, soil hydration levels, and soil composition variations.

Land Mapping

Like the agriculture inspection businesses, the land mapping industry uses drones to collect accurate and instant digital survey data. With drones, surveyors can acquire information from the air instead of using ground vehicles.

If your head is already into the land mapping business, you must have drones that can easily use base station reference data and GPS. Of course, you can also have the ones with built-in GPS.

These drones then gather accurate and precise 3D cartographic land data.

aerial drone shot of a sea shore

Image Credit: Alejandro Cabrera, Unsplash

Delivery Service

With the prevalence of no-contact deliveries, drones revolutionized the delivery services industry. You can try making the most out of this situation by starting a drone business explicitly for delivery services.

As a starter, you can contact the small businesses in your town and make your pitch. But first, you might need to assemble a group of drones. It’s better to start low before investing a lot of money in buying loads of drones.

Real Estate

Clear, crisp, and detailed photos of properties play a major role in their sale. That’s when drones can help the real estate businesses out.

With a drone, you can easily capture high-quality photos and video tours of the apartments. Then, leave the rest of the job to your editing team.

Word of mouth is the best way to make your drone business popular in the real estate sector. So, make attractive offers to the agents and convince them to try your drone services.

Aerial Security Surveillance

Drones are a significant part of the security surveillance sector. Whether commercial property or residential property, your drones can easily record robberies, intruders, and home invasions. They notify homeowners about this suspicious activity on their smartphones.

The aerial security surveillance drones also identify potential floods or fires by assessing the leaks and cracks in the properties. Security is a necessity, and people are definitely going to pay for it.

Police drone patrolling the area

Image Credit: ADragan, Shutterstock

Drone Repair

As impressive as drones are, they are prone to wear and tear. In addition, they perform a majority of their job in the air, so they can get damaged due to bad landings or erratic flying. Thus, starting a drone repair business can be an excellent idea.

However, you’d need to be an expert in mechanics, particularly drones. But if you’re not interested in that, you can hire some professionals with relative experience.

To ramp things up, you could also offer customization as your services. This may include new paint, vinyl stickers, or simply anything the customer wants. Since almost every photographer and social media influencer now owns a drone, the success chances of this business are high.

drone pilot

Image Credit: Kenny Eliason, Unsplash

Do Market Research and Evaluate the Competition

By now, you may have a clear vision for your new venture. After choosing the drone business, the next step is researching the market and evaluating your competition. To do that, find answers to the following questions:

  • How many companies are offering the same services as me?
  • What is the target market of my competitors?
  • What are their customers’ demographics (gender, income, age, etc.)?
  • Is there any gap in the market? Can I fill it?
  • What is the unique selling point of my products and services?
  • How will my products and services benefit customers?
  • What type of customers are best suited for my products and services?
  • What would my potential customers look like? (Personality, lifestyles, values, interests, etc.)
  • Will my target audiences like my products and services?
  • Can I use advanced tools to understand my target market?
  • Will my products and services be accessible to my target market?

shutter camera divider 2Write a Business Plan

If your answers are satisfactory, you can move further to writing a business plan. Typically, a business plan consists of seven components, including:

Executive Summary

This gives the reader a quick view of your business’ vision, objectives, and goals without reading the entire plan. The best executive summary highlights your business’ name, the nature of the service or product you offer, management team members, target audience, and long-term financial goals.

man holding drone

Image Credit: Golubovy, Shutterstock

Company Overview

This tells the reader what your company is actually about and who owns it. You can also include a short history in the company overview section, telling people how and why you started your journey.

Service and Product Information

This showcases the type of drone business you’re willing to start and what will be your products and services.

Marketing Plan

The marketing plan is the most important yet time-consuming part of the business plan. In this section, you need to include your research about your target market and competitors.

Drone in Hand

Image Credit: Dose Media, Shutterstock

Milestones

These are the short-term targets that your business has set for specific durations, like 3 or 6 months. Make sure to have one milestone at one interval.

Members and Investors

In this section, you need to specify the contribution and role of every member involved in your drone company.

Financial Plan

This part will discuss the amount of capital and investment you currently have. Plus, how you will generate profit in the upcoming years.

Drone Flying

Image Credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel, Unsplash

Acquire the Mandatory Licenses and Insurance

To start any business in the United States, you need specific licenses and insurance. When it comes to the drone business, you might have to acquire a range of certificates to avoid legal disputes in the future.

Insurance also plays a major role in protecting you from potential damage costs. So, find a good quality insurance company and register your drone business there.

After all, you can afford heavy drone repairs with limited resources, right?

Stay Up-to-Date About the Latest Drone Regulations

The FAA issued strict regulations for drone-related businesses in 2016. While you’re making sure to follow them, don’t forget to check your state’s legislation too.

The federal government requires all drone owners to register their drones weighing at least 0.55 pounds. You must follow the registration process every 3 years. Your state may have some specific rules, so keep an eye on them.

If you breach any of those laws, it may shut down your business and give a massive dent in your reputation in the market.

shutter camera divider 25 Tips and Tricks for Drone Businesses

Regardless of your drone business niche, you need to learn a few tips and tricks to turn your business into a profitable one. Here are five tips that can help you run your drone company more efficiently:

Droneshot

Image Credit: david henrichs, Unsplash

1. Determine Your Capital Outlays

If your drone business successfully attracts two or three clients, you’d need more drones, several accessories, and other supplies to fulfill the projects. In addition, you may also need more cameras, product insurance, and software licenses.

Therefore, determine your capital outlays in the beginning and move forward accordingly.

2. Lower Shipping Costs

Suppose you’re looking to partner with another business to offer your drones. In that case, you should provide lower shipping costs to your partner to convince them to do business with you.

If they find your product good, you’re more likely to win them long-term.

drone flying along the river

Image Credit: Karl Greif, Unsplash

3. Responsive Customer Service

A responsive and easily accessible customer service team adds value to your offerings. For example, you can ask customers about their pain points and offer them solutions in the shape of your drones.

4. Form a Corporation

While sole ownership has several advantages, it does come with a lot of downsides. First, you’re the sole bearer of the damages. Second, it becomes hard for you to distinguish between your business and personal assets over time.

You can form a corporation if you want to avoid all these bummers and need more funding for your business. It may take a significant amount of time, but in the end, you’ll see that your business financing has become much more refined.

DJI Mavic Pro drone camera

Image Credit: Josh Sorenson, Unsplash

5. Keep Your Documents Available On-the-Go

Since the United States has strict drone regulations, it would be a best practice to keep all your documents compiled in a binder. These include your certifications, licenses, insurance policies, and local permits that enable you to fly drones.

shutter camera divider 2Conclusion

In this modern world, drone businesses are an excellent business idea. The industry is vast, with various niches to choose from, including drone photography, delivery service, aerial surveillance security, agricultural inspection, and much more.

Choosing the right business niche depends on your interests, capital, and the time you can invest in your new venture. Ensure to get the necessary certificates and licenses to avoid getting into legal waters.


Featured Image Credit: Halfpoint, Shutterstocck

 

About the Author Jeff Weishaupt

Jeff is a tech professional by day, writer, and amateur photographer by night. He's had the privilege of leading software teams for startups to the Fortune 100 over the past two decades. He currently works in the data privacy space. Jeff's amateur photography interests started in 2008 when he got his first DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel. Since then, he's taken tens of thousands of photos. His favorite handheld camera these days is his Google Pixel 6 XL. He loves taking photos of nature and his kids. In 2016, he bought his first drone, the Mavic Pro. Taking photos from the air is an amazing perspective, and he loves to take his drone while traveling.

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