Gofster

First steps in starting a drone videography business?

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Okay, so you've practiced flying your drone and have your skills up to an acceptable level. You have a DJI Phantom Pro 3 or something similar that has the minimal pro video quality.

What next? Business license? Website? UAV pilot license? (Depending on what they come up with in June) What things do you feel are necessary or you've found in your own experience that were helpful to you in getting your business up and running? Did you get a business loan? What did you have to go through for that process?

I would love to see this thread grow into a sticky thread that people can keep adding to, as more of us start drone videography businesses, and discover different things along the way.  Since I'm at the very beginning of this process myself, I don't have anything to add yet, but I would love to hear about your experiences! : )

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Hello @Gofster a lot of good questions, some of my thoughts on this,

Below is a portion of an article that I posted in the Build a drone Business section.

As in any business it takes a lot to be successful, some things that I have learned over the years in business is I need to be adventurous, thick skinned, patient, very meticulous, be creative, have passion, have tenacity and most certainly self belief as well as always learning new things.

With all the  competition one may encounter in their area learn what you can do to make you and your company stand apart from others and the courses and information on this site is a great place to get a lot of that. Ask questions and look around at what you are doing or not doing.  Focus on you and not the others, be aware of them and what they do but don't get wrapped up with it.  Look around at all the fast food chains that are next to one another, gas stations across form each other and on and on. They all look for that one thing that makes them better, quality and service.

Out of the thousands and thousands of people that are running out to start a UAV business most will not make it, the ones that continue to educate themselves, train and perfect what is need to get that great photo or video will have the best chances to succeed, and don't forget about the business side of it , the marketing, paperwork, taxes etc. and all the other legal issue that must be addressed and I am sure Alan will be adding that as well as the marketing part.

What next? Business license? Get all the proper licenses and permits for your given area. Website? Once you fell you are ready to go , you have your equipment and all regulations covered and have flown and shot many many photos and videos, then launch your site, Do get your domain name purchased as soon as you can though.UAV pilot license? (Depending on what they come up with in June) This of course can go in many directions, as of now you need a pilots license, once things change then get what the FAA requires. What things do you feel are necessary or you've found in your own experience that were helpful to you in getting your business up and running? Did you get a business loan? NO NO and NO, I would not recommend in getting in any situation in owing money if you can help it, grow your company as your financial resources grow if possible. What did you have to go through for that process?

Stay educated, file your company name with your state , do I incorporate or not, obtain a FEIN from the IRS, get a resale tax ID from your state if you will be selling a products, set up your business plan, get with your accountant on setting of the books, obtain proper insurance (very important), start making new contacts as well as letting current contacts know of your new business.

Practice , practice, practice, who will do the editing this is very important, lousy photos and videos will mean a lousy business with no business.

Look at various resources online for example on starting a business, and take that information and apply what is needed in your drone company, business is business it's the structure of your business weather it be selling shoes, selling houses, its still business.  Make yourself stand out from the others with your quality and service, marketing etc.

This is a few thoughts for now, however it does take a lot of research and paperwork to properly set up any company and more that the items I touched on here.

Stay Focused, Stay Educated, and Stay Open Minded. and by all means STAY ON THIS SITE

Good luck

  

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Hi Air One!  Thanks for the excellent response with a lot of great information and tips, I appreciate it. : )

I've been a professional illustrator and cartoonist for over 25 years now, but after going through neck cancer a couple years ago, and my freelance business collapsing because I didn't work for almost a year, I just haven't had the motivation to rebuild it again. I'm pretty much burned out on it and looking for something different.  And the thing that fascinates me about the drone videography is that It's still creative, but in a different way, and a lot of the skills that I used as an artist I can apply to this. 

Like you said, once the FAA regulations are defined in June, there's going to be thousands of people running out to start a drone videography business, me included, but I want to make sure I do it properly, and lay the groundwork to make it successful.

I plan to start it on the cheap and grow it like you say.  I was just curious if others had taken out business loans. 

As far as the video editing, for now, I'll be doing that too. Like I said, fortunately, there's a lot of things that my art skills will transfer well into this field. 

Thanks again! : )

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There is such a low overhead at the beginning of the process that i found it made more sense fiscally to bootstrap the process. have not looked into commercial financing yet though if you do i would suggest trying a local bank or credit union first prior to tapping into the larger banks. My other suggestions are getting out and flying as soon and as often as you can, saying what you can do is all well and good but it will never be able to replace a well done portfolio that shows perspective clients what you have done. 

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Great discussion topic so I'm looking forward to more comments too.  Air One gave a great response, I would echo everything he said.  And I'll add my experience, bootstrapping is much more advised. Force yourself to be lean, learn and do only what you need to do in order to identify, connect, and sell to customers ASAP.  The Lean Startup is a brilliant book and approach.  Seek out local startup groups or venues such as SCORE.  What city are you in?  I might have specific recommendations.

More agreement on the basic, formal business setups.  That includes a domain name and website. I can get you discounts with proven, reliable providers for several online tools if you tell me what kind of product or service you need, so please ask. One painful thing I learned is that free websites end up being very much NOT FREE. Time, debugging, security concerns, limited capabilities, learning curves, looking for compatible plugins, unprofessional appearances... you could start with a free platform like Wix or Wordpress if you do 100% bootstrapping. But I recommend skipping that if you can because you'll want to get a professional site ASAP.  A platform that you know will seamlessly integrate email subscriptions, social media accounts, blogging, embedded video, etc will save you tons of time, stress, and bring in revenue so much faster than trying to assemble and maintain all the free pieces and parts.

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Love the Lean Startup mentality, @BrettRocketSci.

We're working on a course that covers the business side of growing an aerial service company...you can sign up for updates here if you haven't already:

http://learn.uavcoach.com/courses/start-drone-business-plan

Love the responses by everyone in this thread. I'm in the process of building a website for one of our community members: http://westtexasaerials.com

Something simple like this shouldn't cost too much per @BrettRocketSci's comment about having a professionally-designed web presence.

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@RemotelyPossible, thanks Scott!  I wasn't really planning on trying to get any commercial financing, more so just curious if any others had.  Oh yeah, being an artist, I understand the importance of a portfolio.  Your portfolio speaks a lot louder than anything on your resume. 

I'm flying as much as I can, but one of the motors fried after a hard landing the other day, so I'm waiting for a replacement right now. It's a cheapo drone, so no biggie. But I agree, practice, practice, practice. That's how you get good at anything in life. : )

@BrettRocketSci, thanks Brett!  I agree with all of that. I'll have to check out that book . I'm in Tacoma, Washington, south of Seattle about 30 miles. We have a local SCORE group here that I connected with years back when I was exploring a different idea, I'll have to connect again. 

I've been using WIX for my portfolio website for a few years now and am pretty familiar with it, so I'll probably start with that. Now it supports video too, which will be good. Once things get going more, I'll look at having a custom site built. 

Thanks @Alan Perlman! The site looks good so far!  I think I've already signed up for updates, I'll check. : )

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