Thinking of starting a drone business but don’t where to start? Well, you have come to the right place. The commercial drone industry is booming and still in its infancy,now is a good a time as any to get into the business of drones. In this article, I will share with you the 10 best ideas to start a drone business.
I fly drones for fun as do millions of other people, the consumer drone market is a multi-billion-dollar industry.
However, the commercial drone industry is even bigger, according to Statista by 2020 the commercial drone market will be worth over $6 billion. More and more people who start out just flying for fun,realise that they can make some money by flying drones.
There are so many areas you can start a drone business,from simple aerial photography to inspecting construction sites,creating mapping software or even a drone repair service.
The options are numerous and since the drone industry is growing and advanced technology is being heavily utilised, I believe there will be increasing ways to start a drone business.
However,running a business is not easy,I run an online business and that is hard. Running an offline business will be a lot harder. That is why you should thoroughly research and plan what kind of drone business you want to start and proceed from there.
Here are a few things you should be aware of before starting a drone business.
Get Your Commercial Drone License
Here in the UK ,if you are going to be using drones for commercial reasons,you will need permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). To get this permission you will have to show that you understand aviation law,airmanship,good flying practice and you are a competent pilot.
Now,the CAA itself does not run any kind of assessment to test your understanding of these matters,however they do have many commercial organisations that have been accredited to carry out these assessments of their behalf.
The CAA has a list of all the organisations that have been approved to carry out these assessments. You can access the list here.
The rules are similar over in the USA,the FAA introduced new guidelines on what it takes to fly drones for commercial reasons. These are laid out in Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations (Part 107),the summary of which can be found here.
To comply with Part 107,you will need to do the following;
- Pass an initial test at one of the 700 FAA-approved testing centres
- Get a Remote Pilot Certificate
- Get tested every 24 months
- Be over 16 years of age
For more information on what Part 107 entails and how to get certified in the USA,read this fantastic article from uavcoach.
Register Your Business
You want your new drone business to be legitimate not only to comply with laws and regulations but to also show potential clients that you are serious about this business and that you can be trusted.
Decide what type of business you will be operating, if you are in the UK, that will be either as a sole trader,limited company or a partnership.
For more information on starting a business in the UK, read this guide
Have a business plan – A lot of small businesses fail because they are not well thought out and have no plan, don’t be one these failures. Have a plan in hand so that you have a clear vision of where you would like your business to be within a certain time period. Also having a plan means you will have procedures to follow for if/when things go wrong.
For information on how to write an effective business plan see this guide.
10 Great Drone Business Ideas
There is a lot of money to be made from whichever sector you enter, but the huge payouts are in the industrial sector. Agriculture,Transportation and Infrastructure will be seeing massive investment in utilising drone technology and working in any one of these areas can be very lucrative.
One area where drones are being used extensively is in real estate photography/videography if you have good video and photo editing skills,the earning potential is pretty good. Of course, what you have to remember is jobs like these are seasonal and so you will have periods of time when there will be little work.
Of course, to start a drone business,you do not necessarily have to fly a drone.
If you enjoy coding,you can start creating apps and software applications that can be used with drones.
So,without further delay,here are my top 10 ideas to start a drone business.
The most popular choice for many who want to start their own drone business.
As drones become easier to fly and many coming equipped with high-resolution cameras,taking breath-taking aerial photography has never been easier.
There are so many areas you can get started in, below is a list of jobs that have a high demand for aerial photography.
- Real Estate
- Sports Events
2.Drone Review Videos
If you are confident in front of a camera or are not afraid to let your voice be heard in a video,you can review drones and get paid.
YouTube is the second most visited website and can generate a tremendous amount of traffic to your videos if they are of high quality.
There are a few of ways to make money through YouTube,if you have enough subscribers and video views you can monetise your channel through ads.
If you get enough of a large following,many drone companies or online retailers will just give you the drone to review. This isn’t really making money but getting high-value stuff for free is always fun!!
Another method of making money through reviews is through affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is basically an online salesman/woman.
Many large retailers run affiliate programs in which they pay you a small commission every time someone buys a product you promote via a special link the company provides. This can be a profitable business if you build a large enough audience.
Before the advent of small sophisticated drones,business’s that needed aerial mapping of an area for data analysis had to use helicopters or other large aircrafts which were very expensive.
With the evolution of drones, many which come with high-resolution cameras, aerial mapping has become much more affordable.
With the use of apps like DroneDeploy, Pix4D and Data Mapper you can collect mapping data and then export it to a web-based tool to process the data for easier analysis.
Areas that make use of aerial mapping are several including the following;
By honing your flying skills and learning how to analyse any kind of data you can offer your drone services to companies who need it for any kind of aerial mapping analysis.
4.Stock Photography/Video Footage
If you are a skilled aerial photographer,you can start selling your images and video footage on one of the many stock photography sites. Payouts vary from site to site,expect anything between 15%-60% per download.
Or you can start your own eCommerce style site and start selling your photos and video footage and keep 100% of the earnings.
Many companies like to use aerial footage in their marketing campaigns,you can offer this service on freelance sites like Fiverr and Upwork.
This will be one of the biggest sectors to invest heavily in drone technology and with that comes a lot of business opportunities.
Farmers spend a lot of money on pilots to spray their crops and survey their farms from the air for data analysis.
With the introduction of highly sophisticated drones,these costs will be dramatically reduced because what could only be carried out by professional pilots can now be done by farmers or by certified drone pilots.
Some of the tasks that can be carried out by drones include the following;
- Field and soil analysis
- Crop health assessment
- Crop spraying
Some of these tasks can be done with normal consumer drones with cameras that can take hyperspectral images. However,for tasks like spraying and irrigation,a more specialised drone will be needed.
6.Drone Repair Service
Just like you can find multiple repair stores for things like PC’s tablets and mobile phones,drone repair service is another business idea that has huge potential.
Drones,like any other sophisticated electronic device, are prone to failure and damage.
If you have a background in mechanical/electronic engineering and like fixing things,then operating a drone repair service could be a great business idea for you.
If you live in the US,UK or Australia,there is a franchise opportunity with a company called fantastic services.
Among other things they provide a service for repairing drones so if you are ever interested in running a drone repair service,then a franchise opportunity with this company is worth a look.
7.Build an App
If you enjoy programming,then building drone related apps is an area that is still very much in its infancy.
There are apps that let you know where you can fly,if the weather is right to fly your drones and of course drones that can map an area of your choosing.
With so many uses for drones,it is only a matter of time before the app market explodes just like it did when the Apple iPhone was released.
If you have a creative mind and enjoy problem solving,then starting an app business could be perfect for you.
8.Build A Training Course
As more and more people look to fly drones as a profession,the need for legitimate training courses will increase.
If you are a qualified drone instructor and have experience in teaching others, you can turn this knowledge into a business. You can offer training courses to help people pass the necessary tests to become a qualified UAV pilot.
To give you a few example of what is possible with this business model,you can check out some of the drone courses available on the popular e-learning site Udemy.
Courses include the following
Take Stunning Aerial Photography Using Drones
Make An Open Source Drone
Become A Drone Master Pilot In 2 Weeks
The Ultimate Guide To Land Surveying With Drones.
There are many more and not just on Udemy,many UAV instructors have their own e-learning websites.
Alan Pearlman who runs the popular site uavcoach.com and also has a drone training course which he runs through the site dronepilotgroundschool.
Drone surveillance has long been one of the major uses for the military,however, consumers and commercial companies are now using it as part of their security system.
Sunflower labs, a Swiss start-up company, have designed a drone security system that connects sensors on the ground with a drone.
The sensors will activate a self-flying drone whenever unusual activity is monitored around a property.
The drone will then stream live footage to the owner’s smartphone/tablet to see what is going and if further action is required.
Drones are already being used for surveillance in the commercial sector,from monitoring large events and crowds to helping the fight against poaching in different parts of the world.
With an entrepreneurial mind, you can position your drone business in this sector and start offering drone surveillance as a service.
Another area where drones are making huge differences. Drone inspection can be applied to many areas of the workforce.
From small construction companies to large multinational oil and gas corporations, drones are making it easier to inspect areas that would have been otherwise dangerous and very expensive for humans to carry out.
A drone can easily take high-resolution images of rooftops,high rise flats even skyscrapers and assess them for any damages both external and internal through a hyperspectral imaging camera.
Large companies that maintain powerlines,pipelines,bridges etc need to routinely inspect for any faults or issues that may lead to faults.These inspections are carried out by humans on foot or a helicopter and can be very dangerous and expensive.
Drones can eliminate both the dangerous elements and overall expense of these jobs whilst maintaining the same high standards.
I have listed 10 ideas for starting a drone business,I am sure they are not the only ways you can start a drone business.
If you are serious about starting a drone business,you will have to do a lot of research.
Do your own market analysis and see if what other resources will be required to start your own drone business.
After you have estimated the costs and the work that will be required,you will be in a better position to make a decision whether this a good business opportunity for you.
Personally, I think if you are interested in drones and how to make money with them (you wouldn’t be reading this if you were not),there is an opportunity for everyone.
You will just have to pick which one best suits your needs and go forward with it.