How Drones Can Revolutionize Your Small Business ProspectsLinda Jenkins, December 05 2015
Drones, also called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), could be the tools you need to get your business ambition off the ground.
Most of us are familiar with the concept. Pilotless drones are flying vehicles that are remotely controlled, often from hundreds of miles away. Flying Drones have become famous for their use in military operations in the middle east, as well as for more peaceful uses such as filming major sporting events and search and rescue operations.
Recently, the online retailer Amazon announced that it would soon be switching many deliveries to UAVs to save money and enhance efficiency. But what other areas of everyday life and the economy will be affected by the drone revolution, and how can your business benefit?
Readying the drone economy for takeoff
Firstly, it's important to note that drone use is restricted in the United States (and in most countries of the world). However, this is changing fast. The Federal Government is readying new regulations to allow drone owners to register their vehicles, and measures are being put in place to ensure that drones won't compromise public safety systems such as air traffic control. The European Union is also currently pushing through new regulations to clear the runway for a new generation of pilotless aircraft.
At the same time, companies have started to offer affordable drones for ordinary customers. Customers can order UAVs like the AR drone that come equipped with an advanced drone video camera. This camera can feed footage straight to Android or iOS phones, while the vehicle's batteries that provide 20 minutes or more of uninterrupted flight.
The drone market is set to expand rapidly in the near future. In 2014, sales of UAVs hit $130 million, a 50 percent rise from 2013. Industry analysts CEA project that this figure will exceed $1 billion by 2020.
Integrating drones into working businesses
The drone revolution isn't about taking holiday snaps or footage taken from your yard. It's about finding real-world applications for this exciting technology that can make real money.
Some of the most impressive applications of drones so far have been pioneered by major corporations. For example, the oil and gas giant Shell has used drones to substitute for humans in hazardous environments, while the airline Easyjet uses drone video cameras to carry out safety checks on hard to reach parts of its planes.
For ordinary people, UAVs will become a common site, delivering everything from books and CDs to clothes, newspapers and pizzas (Domino's Pizza was one of the first firms to announce advanced drone testing for their deliveries).
But what about smaller businesses? How can your startup turn a small investment in a pilotless craft into an income stream?
Turning UAV video feeds into hard cash
If you take a little time to master the controls of a UAV, you could quickly start making money from the camera drone's video feed. High quality aerial footage is in demand across a huge range of applications. You could find yourself taking wedding footage, producing video ads for real estate agents, helping farmers document the progress of their crops, or following participants in sporting events.
The real estate sector is going to become one of the leading consumers of camera drone delivered footage. Aside from showing off properties to potential buyers, UAVs can be a vital part of property surveys or architectural planning operations. In areas where storm damage is common, they can help to assess any repair work that needs to be done. They could even be used by pest control firms to scout out any roof damage from squirrels or raccoons.
In a competitive market, realtors are going to look for unique angles and methods. So why not position yourself as a provider of UAV footage to meet their needs?
Tourism is another huge growth area. Savvy hotel proprietors know that visitors like to be wowed by the scenery, atmosphere and architecture at resorts. Having skilfully produced aerial footage could make all the difference. From a small business perspective, who wouldn't want to make a little money filming at beach resorts?
Position yourself as a UAV expert
Marketing your drone services is going to be all-important as the economic importance of UAVs increases. It is almost certain that larger firms will stockpile fleets of drones and operators to cut the costs of running their operations, but there will always be a role for uniquely skilled small businesses.
Freelance job websites are a great venue to advertise your services and create a reputation for reliability and quality, and there are plenty to choose from. For example, Upwork and Fiverr both allow individuals to post up their services and rates.
However, the most successful camera drone businesses will show off their technical wizardry on their own websites and Youtube channels. Create a few sample movies showing how you can film family occasions or capture the natural world. With a basic portfolio in place and some information about what you can do, UAV operators can expect a steady stream of clients as the market heats up. Learn more about getting a drone operator license.
Give your business wings by investing in a drone
Entrepreneurs should always be looking for the 'next big thing' whether it's a new social networking opportunity, 3D printing or driverless vehicles. UAVs are going to become a routine sight above cities around the world. Smart content creators, marketers and small businesses are positioning themselves to utilize UAV technology (and launch new services) before it becomes mainstream.
By adopting early and mastering the skills required to make and market UAV footage, you can be at the forefront of a new, disruptive technology -- reaping the financial benefits in the process.
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