Drone photograph of downtown Staunton Virginia

The 8 best lessons I learned when I started a drone business

When I was setting up my drone business I learned a lot of things the hard way, and I want to pass on some of the things that I learned to people who are in the same situation as I was.

Here are some of the biggest lessons I learned as a newbie drone entrepreneur:

1. Create a killer business plan

The business plan is arguably the most important step that I took as a fledgling drone entrepreneur. The business plan forces you to think through the whole process of opening a business BEFORE you actually make any important decisions. You will learn how to make financial projections and in doing so, will make you formulate a two or three year plan. Also, you will need to use laser-focus to establish your niche. As well as research all your competitors and find how they compare with the services you are offering. When you finish your business plan you will be left with a list of actionable steps to open you business properly from the start.

2. Develop your brand

You should leave a good amount of time to come up with your business name. You should consider whether or not you want a clever name (skullandcrossdrones.com), a cute name (fluffy buns aerial photography?), a no-nonsense name (dronephotography4u.com), or you can even think about using your own name (Dino Bonner aerial photography). Whatever you decide, you must come up with a shortlist and show it to a focus group of some kind. You do not want to pick the wrong brand and have to change it when you become successful.

3. Nurture your entrepreneurial mindset

To be successful entrepreneur, you will have to think differently to 99% of the people you know. You will have to deal with a lot of nay-sayers. Some of your friends or relatives may tell you you can’t make money with drones, but they’re wrong. You will have to think outside the box to make a business work and explore avenues that you never thought of before that may change your mindset.

But, there are thousands of drone entrepreneurs getting paid to fly drones and they are no smarter or richer than you. They just have a different mindset.

4. Get a mentor

When I say mentor, I do not mean a so-called expert who can teach you how to be successful (for a tidy price tag). I mean find someone who you want to emulate and learn from. Build a relationship with them, ask them questions, take them out to dinner and work for them (for free if need be). Surrounding yourself with successful people will make you successful. Having a good role model to ask when you get stuck with a situation with your business will save you time, money, and effort and could potentially keep you out of legal issues before they arise.

5. Surround yourself with like-minded people

People have always needed family and friends around to communicate with to get the best out of life, and business is no different. When I started working for myself I was a lone wolf, and I found that I was responsible for everything and I wanted to do everything my way. But I also found that I stumbled into unforeseen issues because I didn’t have the experience. Having people around you to bounce ideas off and tell them what’s happening with your business can open up a lot of ideas.

Some people hold informal business dinners, some people go to networking events, some people just have lots of friends in the business and bounce ideas off of them, some people have a brain-trust, a close group of friends who just compare ideas and give suggestions etc. You will find what works for you, some people are more sociable than others but something WILL work for you.

6. Ask questions and take notes

When I was starting out I had a lot of great advice from people, and I did not used to take notes and for that reason I have forgotten thousands of tidbits of valuable information which I just didn’t write down. Since then I have found it invaluable when you ask somebody questions to have a notepad just so you can write down these things.

7. Learn what you need to learn

For me, knowledge is about learning what you don’t know. By that I mean, the more you learn, the more you learn what you don’t know. To be an effective drone entrepreneur you need to know about business, taxes, accounting, marketing, as well as FAA regulations and the knowledge required to give to get your UAV pilots certification.

8. Buy the right drone for your business

I have met several people who did not buy the right drone for their business. One in particular, was a young man who would spend $6000 plus on inspire drone in an area where he couldn’t make more than $150 per job. My first drone was a phantom 3 standard. My business was in a small town in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I could charge $150 per job and make back the $500 I spent on my drone in a matter of four jobs. If you spend $6000 on a drone you have to do 40 jobs to break even. In this day and age, the phantom 4 is still a great starting drone for most people, unless you need something more specialized.


Was this helpful? Have you got other tips for new entrepreneurs?

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