I this interesting post, UAV Coach member IMann provides some solid advice for anyone thinking about starting a drone business: Focus on the endgame.
Your customers are not interested in the drones, they’re interested in the PRECISION AGRICULTURE service, the SURVEY & MAPPING, ot the INFRASTRUCTURE INSPECTION service you’re offering. Make that excellent and cost effective and you’re on your way to success.
It is so easy to become preoccupied with the drone technology itself and lose sight of its purpose as it relates to individual business needs.
After all, what’s the point of an airline? Presumably to convey people and things that want and need to be moved from A to B quicker than other modes. Why do airlines operate the routes and aircraft on those routes that they do? Because they have calculated that those combinations move the things they need to move in the most efficient, economical and profitable way. This is of course a gross simplification of all the complex components at work, but it is, I think, a useful comparison to keep in mind when planning ones own aviation related business.
Back in the days when I was the business development analyst for a specialist wet leasing airline, I would generally source the aircraft that would match the intricately planned operations of our client carriers. But on one occasion it was the other way round – an owner came to us and wanted us to take two of their MD11 out of the desert and put them to work…somewhere. This scenario is analogous to ‘have drone, go find work‘, and trust me, it is not always easy and can be hard to make profitable.
So, what is the purpose of your business? What do you plan for your business to do, to excel at, what is the end game? Where does your interest and skill set lie? Does the inclusion of drones actually improve what you can do? Is your interest sufficiently strong that you would still develop that business even if drones were not involved?
I believe that this last point is the key: Would you still build your proposed business even if drones had no place in it?
If you are setting up a new business in this new space, then it is essential that what it delivers to the client, irrespective of how, is what drives you to build and develop that business (this should also inform what additional skills you yourself improve on or learn and which ones you leave to others). Only then will you have any chance of making it a profitable entity. Hand on heart, can you say that your business / proposed business does this?
For me, the usefulness of remotely sensed data to precision agriculture is exciting. I know about farming and I enjoyed three years as an undergraduate analysing satellite derived data. So, as I wind up the family farm and plan ahead it is this combination of expertise and interest that drives the proposed new business. Drones (and I really do hate that term but never mind) do feature but only so far as they can deliver cost effective and accurate data that can be translated into meaningful information to inform the decision makers on the ground. Consequently, I rank business management followed by improving my GIS knowledge and image processing skills ahead of my own UAV operator skills and certifications.
I think that ‘drone businesses’ and the drone industry as a whole will have become truly successful when the drone element has become invisible.
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