Drone Businesses are Businesses first

So you’ve gone through all the learning and crashing, edited videos, built a website and might even have your drone license, all you need now is clients right?

This is very often the path taken by new entrants to the drone services market and it is, unfortunately, flawed.

If we rewind the clock back to 2010, I was a fairly well paid Junior Design/Mechanical Engineer working at a big UK company. Life was good, plenty of cool projects to design at work, plenty of spare time to “tinker” after work. So in my spare time I started playing with flying wings and gopros. The footage was quite nice for the tech available at the time and friends and family were always on hand to be very supportive and tell me how amazing it was.

So a given Christmas, frustrated about the lack of career progression as a design engineer, I decided to start my own business, a drone operator for hire! So I practiced as much as possible, made a showreel, invested on a website, got my license, insurance, etc etc you can see where this is going…

If you look at these activities, they are all outlays of time/cash but very few (if any) have had a direct impact in clients coming to me wanting to hire me.

Sure, you can’t do a job if you don’t have a drone license, but that doesn’t mean that if you have a license you can do a job.

Fast forward to 2 years later and my business had failed not because of lack of equipment, experience or licenses, but because I simply didn’t have enough clients and enough jobs and was forced to do something else.

It taught me a lot about being realistic and trying to look at our industry with an outsider perspective. When we are right in the thick of it, we know how amazing and full of potential drones are, but that doesn’t mean that the general public (and more important your potential clients) will see it in the same way.

Although drones seem (and are) like the sexy new technology at the moment don’t forget that if you’re starting a Drone businesses it has to be a business first, and the fact that it is about drones is secondary.

So do as much market research as you can, find your niche, and try to do as much validation of your market and pre-sales as possible. If you set up as an “amateur” and the work you’re producing and distributing is so good that reputable-and-money-paying-customers want to hire you right now then that is the sign you need to go “pro”.

If on the other hand only a hand full of people like and comment on your work, and you know them all, and they realistically won’t hire you because they are your friends, then keep working at it but don’t think that having a license/insurance/website/etc will get you more clients on their own.