Thinking of starting a drone business? The flight path to success can be winding and full of unforeseen challenges. However, starting off on the right foot can help things far down the road be much smoother.
Here is a list of some ideas and helpful hints on starting a successful drone business.
How to Start a Drone Business
1. Decide What Type of Drone Business You Are Going to Start
What type of business are you planning on starting with your drone? Do you already own a business and you plan on expanding with drone capability? Or are you just starting out with brainstorming different scenarios and ideas?
There are so many possibilities. It might be hard to choose.
Although just a few years ago they were virtually unheard of, today’s drones are utilized in many different types of businesses.
You can advertise with your drone, teach courses in person or online, become a standalone reporter of news or other events, start a wedding or other special event recording service, create promotional videography for real estate agencies, or so many other options.
There are so many possibilities to create income with drones.
Think long and hard about which type of business you plan on entering into yourself, and which ones are simply not for you.
One helpful way to make some progress in this area is to think about industries you are already familiar with, or can easily familiarize yourself more with. This will give you a head start against the competition once your drone business is, well, off the ground.
2. Certification: FAA Part 107
In August of 2016, the FAA passed this new rule, called Part 107.
Part 107 says that any person flying a drone for any commercial purposes must be registered to the FAA as a commercial drone pilot.
This includes anyone being compensated in any way for flying their drone, or anyone using a drone to help their business in any way. Most likely, this will include you too, once you get started.
3. Select Your Preferred Legal Structure
One crucial step in learning how to start a drone business successfully is choosing a business structure.
This can mean a lot of different things, but in general, it means the way in which your business will be seen or treated in legal situations.
I won’t be going into too much detail here, as this stuff can get a little boring, but there are plenty of resources online for learning about business structures, such as the US Small Business Administration’s guide, which you can find here.
Here are a couple of quick examples, just as a brief overview.
A sole proprietorship implies that you act as your business and your business acts as you. This means easy to set up for your company, with the only requirements being general certifications and registration.
However, this can also lead down some dangerous roads, because as a sole proprietor, any trouble your company gets into can now be directly attributed to you personally. This means any money your company ends up owning, you personally owe. As well as any liability which falls on your business. Now that liability is yours too.
So, it is usually better to avoid sole proprietorships, especially when dealing with something as liable to cause damage as an unmanned flying drone.
For starting a successful drone business, it is most likely that sole proprietor isn’t the way to go.
That still leaves you with many options to choose from. Of these options, beginning your research with LLCs, or Limited Liability Companies, is a smart start.
Limited liability companies are made for just that, limited liability. This means that you and your business are separate entities and that just because you own the drone business and the business is liable for something doesn’t mean you are personally liable yourself.
This has saved many an entrepreneur from damages, lawsuits, and stress. Choose this, or one of many other options such as a corporation, when deciding how to start a drone business and structure it.
When starting a successful drone business, registering your company with local and federal governments is an absolute necessity.
Remember to start at the most local level necessary for your area, which may include city or county registration. Then move out into broader and broader areas, such as state and then federal.
Keep in mind that registration with your particular state or municipality may cost you some cash. So be prepared to pay what you need to in order to get your drone business from the concept stage to reality.
Failing to register your business can often mean any operation of that business is a crime, so make sure this step is high on your list of priorities.
5. Get Insured
Drones are unpredictable, sometimes very dangerous objects, and flying them for a living can lead to the occasional serious mishap. Stay prepared for such an event by getting insured at the start.
In order to know how to start a drone business, there are two types of insurance you need to be aware of.
- Liability Insurance
Liability insurance covers damage up to a certain dollar amount of a third party, usually including bodily harm or property damage.
Most companies, especially those with any moving parts, will have liability insurance of some type. But it is particularly important for any type of drone business.
Many venues or clients will require you to show proof of your liability insurance before they agree to work with your drone company, so secure this piece of insurance now and get a head start on clientele.
- Hull Insurance
Unlike liability insurance, hull insurance covers damage to the drone itself. This is specific to drone businesses or businesses which use other types of UAVs and vehicles in their daily operations.
Repairing or replacing a quadcopter is generally less expensive than maintaining payments on hull insurance, so this route may not be for you.
However, if you are operating a piece of expensive flying machinery, looking into different hull insurance options is probably not a bad idea. It may save you thousands in the long run, should something ever break on your drone.
Any other tips on how to start a drone business?
About The Author
Jake Carter is a drone enthusiast and writer at RC Hobby Review.