When the small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were first released commercially, they attracted hobbyists and those who loved flying machines. Now that these hobby-sized drones are getting more accessible and practical, both because of lower prices and ease of flight control, it is easy to start a business using this technology. Drone cameras are getting better too – they don’t only get smaller and lighter, but they are also now available in much higher resolutions with better lenses. The top rated drones in the market surely have this feature.
Here are ten ideas on how to start a small business with your drone:
1. Events photography and videography
This is an exciting and really profitable application of drones, as it is used to capture special events like sports competitions, graduation events, parties, weddings and many more. Drones capture amazing outdoor photos and videos, like in landscape photography, but this is getting more popular in the wedding photography field. The aerial shots bring out the beauty of the wedding arrangements and the spectacular location and scenery in a way that on-the-ground coverage cannot achieve. Couples are willing to pay top dollar just to ensure that moments of their big day would be beautifully recorded and so it can be treasured forever.
Same as with sporting events – all those action and splendor cannot be captured by cameras on land only. Drones are perfect for capturing out-of-the-way bike races and some skiers jumping off cliffs.
Tapping the aerial photo and video coverage business with drones is a great idea, especially if this is your area of interest. You would need an expert who knows how to use drones in events where there are a lot of people, since they can be unsafe and irritating due to the loud sound it can produce. If that expert is you, and you already own a drone, you’re good to go.
2. Agricultural surveying
Drones are the future of agriculture. To reduce the time required walking in the fields and making use of expensive piloted aircrafts, farmers can use drones armed with specialized cameras and sensors. This enables farmers to collect useful data regarding soil and field condition, variations in soil composition, pest or fungal infestation, overall health of crops and others. Other specialized agricultural drones can also deliver crop treatment and irrigation.
Agricultural drone renting and selling shops could serve the needs of farmers for a quicker, more sustainable and effective crop care. This could also lessen their needs for more workers to save more income. It’s a new market that has great potential, and if the farmers don’t want to rent and fly the drone themselves, you can provide flight services for them.
3. Aerial surveying
One of the most notable advancements in the field of land surveying is the use of programmed drones. Before, aerial surveying is dominated by commercially piloted airplanes and helicopters to perform topography, cartography, feature recognition and GIS applications on sites that are difficult to see or measure from the ground. But using airplanes or helicopters are expensive and labor-extensive, considering the logistics you need to take care of to use them. Now, UAVs make it easier do aerial surveying.
Small drone operators are already finding a foothold in digital mapping and ortho-photography services because of the huge cost savings it can offer. Drones are also capable of going slower and lower, creating a better visual imagery than larger traditional aircraft.
4. Resort, hotel and real estate advertising
Advertising for real estate, resort and hotel businesses is a growing opportunity for entrepreneurial video makers with experience on drones and aerial imagery. Real estate agents are now observing that low altitude aerial video footages capture the attention of buyers, and that those properties and homes with drone coverage sell more quickly. They are getting more listings as well. For hotels and resorts, those with drone-captured advertisements stand out from the crowd on booking applications. They are more than willing to hire drone video professionals to provide the visuals that can effectively market their properties and services.
Besides a nice pay, some of these business owners give UAV video companies free lodging, free admission and other perks they offer in return for their service. What a nice trade for doing something fun such as flying your drone!
5. Freelance video production
If you love video editing and capturing videos with your drone so much, why not turn your hobby into a profitable venture? You can offer a variety of creative and personalized videos used by individuals to send special messages to loved ones, friends and family; or by professional clients to market and promote their products or services. Not all people know how to fly a drone, plus not all of them knows how to edit videos – so you definitely have an edge. All you need to do is establish yourself as a freelancer and pick the scope of your potential clients.
Other entrepreneurial filmmakers are also offering drone video services on “micro job” or crowdsourcing websites, so that they can be exposed to more clients.
6. Low-altitude banner advertising
Using drones for advertising is still not mainstream, so it has a great potential in attracting customers for small businesses that target local markets. For instance, a businessman with a newly-opened small coffee shop could put up a banner that they are “now open” outside – only capturing the attention of people who happened to go past their location. But if he would use a drone to make his banner “fly” around the locality’s public places, he would surely capture more attention without needing to spend a lot of money. Plus, the drone can be equipped with speakers to blast promotional messages and music. It would be entertaining and intriguing for prospective customers.
You only need to have a reliable drone for this one and offer this idea to startup business owners. Handle your drone really well and you’d probably be hired again by others!
7. Independent film making
Okay, you need a lot more creativity and passion for this one. If you wish to create your own films, having a drone and knowing how to capture great videos with it is a step closer to your goal. In traditional film sets and studios, they own cranes, dollies, jibs and helicopters to help get the perfect cinematography. Hollywood is already using drones for aerial cinematography for TV and movie production.
Indie filmmakers are making a new wave in the film industry, breaking those Hollywood stereotypes and bringing in more culture to the big screen. If you have an interest for filmmaking and an amazing idea for a film storyline (plus a set of supportive friends and colleagues), go for it – you never know what could happen unless you try!
8. Security surveillance
Homeowners and people properties with large area of terrain, for instance a commercial fishery or a vineyard, need security from unwanted trespassers and thieves. Hiring many security officers to properly man it would be difficult as well as expensive. Drones can help with this one, and would be more cost-effective to just hire one person with an unmanned aerial surveillance system that could easily cover a large area. Drones with sensors could be set up to get notified when a possible trespassing or burglary is taking place, and then to capture a live video footage of the intrusion and transmits it to a smartphone.
UAVs are creating new business opportunities in the field security surveillance for wannabe drone-flying entrepreneurs.
9. Infrastructure and construction inspection
The construction industry would benefit a lot with drones. Construction companies, architects and engineers working on big projects are hiring drone operators to capture videos so that they can measure progress, and check if there are problems. Drones could also be utilized by structural engineers and law enforcement officials to survey damages in structures like dams, roads and bridges so that they can easily develop a plan how to fix or reconstruct them.
Periodic inspection of structures, usually done in buildings, would also be more cost-effective and safe with the use of drones than inspection by a hired worker. Roof inspection on multi-story structures, for instance, can be hazardous for the inspector and costly for the owner. With drones, they can perform a close-up survey and deliver high-resolution videos that would enable the owner to detect damages or potential trouble spots. If you have knowledge about construction and/or structural inspections, starting a drone inspection service could be an ideal business venture – or maybe an additional service if you’re thinking of an inspection business as a whole.
10. Drone sales, repair, customization and training
If you’re really into drones and are willing to invest a capital for other people to enjoy it as well, then a drone shop would be perfect for you. By their nature, drones are fragile and prone to damage or failure especially if misused. Although prices have gone down, broken drones are still too expensive to dump in most cases. If you are a technical expert in drones and has a background in electronics, then drone sales, repair or customization could be a suitable business idea for you.
If you have the skills and certification to safely fly a drone and has some interest in teaching, then you could also offer services as a drone trainer. You know that not all drones are friendly for beginners, and even the beginner-level devices might be hard to handle for some. These people need an experienced drone user like you!
You can truly change the way you do business with drones. However, before starting any business, do some preliminary market research and look for any existing demand or potential clients in your area that might benefit from your drone services. Check if the target market is already saturated.
If it seems like there is a need for these types of services, create a plan. Know what drones to pick, if you’re thinking of buying a new one. Make sure that you read a lot of drone reviews and search for the best drone deals to lessen initial costs.