The drone market has grown at a blinding pace in the last few years. According to BI Intelligence, the intelligence arm of Business Insider, drone sales will rise to more than $12 billion by 2021 from around $8.5 billion in 2016.
Goldman Sachs predicts that the market opportunity for drones will be $100 billion as demand grows especially in the commercial and government sectors.
Some of the biggest markets will be construction, agriculture, insurance and journalism.
And if you think that government regulations are in the way of such growth, well, think again. The Government is leading the research for new drone applications beyond what current FAA rules allow. These new application include nighttime flying, low-altitude operations and flying beyond line of sight.
There is no better time to start a drone business than now. If you already have one you need to start preparing your business for a future with more demand, increased applications and better drone technology.
Here are some helpful tips for aspiring or current drone entrepreneurs.
1. Cover the Basics
These are obvious points that I shouldn’t have to mention but will anyway just to cover them.
- Make sure you have Part 107 certification.
- Get additional training especially in the areas you are planning to get into.
- Get drone liability insurance. Most companies will not work with you without drone insurance. For your own protection you should also consider getting other types of insurance such as hull and payload insurance. (Read our full drone insurance guide here.)
- Make sure you have a good company name and logo plus a well-designed website.
2. Define Your Drone Business
There are over 60,000 drone pilots that have received the Part 107 certification according to the FAA.
This number will only grow as drone commercial sales go up.
To successfully withstand the growing competition it’s important that you define your business clearly. Specifically you have to define the who, what, where, and why of your services.
The two most important things to be clear about is who you are targeting and in what location.
There are many industries that can use drone services and new applications keep coming up. So there is no shortage of business opportunities to consider. But you need to make sure that you can offer the best services for a certain industry. Don’t get into an area where you have no skills or experience.
You’ll be flying around expensive machinery and equipment. Even with drone liability insurance companies will not take a risk with someone who’s not the best in that field.
If you have experience in mapping you can get into agriculture, real estate or urban planning. If you have done previous work in infrastructure inspection opportunities abound in areas like oil drilling, power generation and transport.
After choosing the industry (or industries) you want to target make sure there are enough business opportunities in your area. Drone work involves quite a bit of travelling so don’t be afraid to look even beyond your state for companies that might need your services.
3. Intensive Marketing
Find the best marketing strategies for your business and invest in them to grow your business.
The best strategies will depend on what kind of services you are offering. If you are targeting big companies in areas like infrastructure, insurance and farming, email, conferences and workshops are great marketing opportunities.
In fields like real estate, drone training or photography, cast a wider net through social media, digital ads and search engines.
To stand out from the crowd come up with several creative marketing strategies that will grab people’s attention. It can be a short interesting video, charity work or a particularly interesting project. If you have the budget you can even work with a marketing agency to create and execute creative marketing ideas.
4. Focus on Growth
Finally, think big.
Make sure your business is constantly growing and keeping up with the drone industry. One way to do this is to expand your range of clients by getting into new fields. This of course will require hiring additional people with experience in those areas.
You can even expand beyond the commercial sector and start working with local governments and federal government agencies.
Think far into the future. As new drone applications become possible make sure you are one of the first companies to offer them.