Growing your own business can be an extremely fun and rewarding. You get to work for yourself, create your own hours, and have more control. Some of the wealthiest people in the world earned their wealth by starting their own businesses! Think of Jeff Bezos starting Amazon, Steve Jobs starting Apple, or Mark Zuckerberg starting Facebook, just to name a few.
However, growing a business is challenging. You’ll face tough decisions, road blocks, and other obstacles. You’ll also begin accruing different business expenses.
Commercial drone pilot jobs didn’t really exist a few years ago, but now many people are finding success creating their own companies and offering professional aerial drone services.
Still, being a commercial drone pilot is expensive. Getting your Part 107 license is $150, professional drones range from $1,729 for the Mavic 2 Pro, $3,499 for the Inspire 2, and well above $6,000+ for the Matrics 600 Pro and different camera configurations, and software tools such as DroneDeploy can cost hundreds of dollars per month.
With these high prices, here are 6 money saving tips for drone entrepreneurs that can save you over $1,000 per year and help make your business a success:
- Use cheap hosting services
- Attend free networking events
- Buy used drones
- Choose the Fly More combo kits
- Get a G Suite business plan
- Save on your cell phone plan
1. Use a Cheap Hosting Service
We recently published a comparison of the top five website builders and hosting platforms for drone pilots and photographers, including WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and even Google Sites. What makes many of these options compelling is their easy-to-use website building interface, and the fact that hosting is included with their plans.
However one tool, WordPress, doesn’t actually require you to use their hosting services to use their website building tool. WordPress is actually a stand alone CMS that can be installed for free on a server. You just need to find a cheap hosting service to host your server.
Thankfully, there are a bunch of great options to consider, such as the appropriately named hosting service provider Namecheap. Instead of paying $8/month for a premium plan or $25/month for a proper small business plan from WordPress.com, you can get hosting for just $2.88/month from Namecheap and install WordPress for free.
Buying a cheap hosting plan and installing WordPress yourself can save $60-$240 per year. And it’s always great to have recurring savings.
2. Attend Free Networking Events
Networking events are a great way to make valuable connections, grow your network, and cultivate meaningful partnerships that can dramatically transform your business. While it typically costs money to host a booth at a conference (and you’ll have to decide which conferences are worth getting a booth at), often times tickets to attend these conferences are free.
We recently attended the Architecture Boston Expo. As an exhibitor, we were actually allotted 50 free passes to give away to our clients, customers, or anyone else who expressed interest.
Keep your eyes out for opportunities like these, and don’t hesitate to reach out to companies you’re interested in connecting with, introducing yourself, and inquiring if they may have extra passes to the conference!
3. Buy Used Drones
If you’re just beginning your drone business or looking to acquire new gear, actually getting used gear is a great way to save some money. Technology products depreciate rapidly as new advancements are continuously made in industry, and drones are no exception.
Often people buy drones out of excitement. They are looking to try out the latest technology product, only to realize a few weeks later they have only flown their drone once and have no real use for it. By this point the drone is outside the return period.
So what do they do? They list it online. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay and UsedPhotoPro can have great options for buying gently used drones. You definitely need to take time to talk with the current owner. Some questions to consider asking:
- Why are you selling the drone?
- What kind of condition is the drone in?
- What kind of crashes, collisions, or rough landings has the drone been involved in?
- Can I try it out before purchasing?
- What is your return policy?
Refurbished drones are also a great option. Typically they are restored drones from crashes and are in good condition. These drones will often come with some sort of warranty.
Sometimes more established drone companies will be upgrading their fleet to the latest model, and they will be selling off some of their old inventory. This is another great opportunity to purchase a drone at much more reasonable price.
The reason buying drones makes more sense than other electronics is because the batteries are easily replaceable. Buying a used iPhone online may be more risky because there is no way to tell if the battery is degraded from the physical condition, and getting your battery replaced is an additional fee.
If the drone itself is in good working condition, you can easily acquire new batteries and get plenty of great use out of the drone. Finding a good deal on a gently used or refurbished drone can save you anywhere from 10%-30% off the full retail price, which can make it worth your time.
4. Buy the Fly More Combo Kit
If you are looking to buy a great new drone on the cheap, getting the Fly More Combo Kit from DJI is definitely the way to go.
These combo kits include extra batteries, spare propellers, multi-battery-chargers, car chargers, and carrying bags. Kits from other retailers like B&H Photo Video will even throw in SanDisk micro SD cards, landing pads, and ND filters.
What makes these kits great is they include gear you’re immediately going to use, such as extra batteries, and the bundle saves you a lot of money.
For the Mavic 2 Pro fly more combo kit, which includes two intelligent flight batteries, low-noise propellers, a charging station, a car charger, an adapter for charging your phone with your drone batteries, and a should bag, buying each item separately would cost $684. The kit bundles everything together for just $439, saving you over 35% or $245.
5. Get the G Suite Business Plan
Often we try not to make specific recommendations or endorse specific products. We feel it is often better to provide people with information on a variety of products and let them choose the best one to meet their needs.
With Google’s G Suite business plan, it’s different. This is simply the most affordable option for unlimited cloud storage for startup businesses. Period.
Drone pilots often take a lot of imagery and need to share a lot of imagery. It’s an essential component to business operations. But storage solutions can get expensive.
Drobox charges $20/user/month for their unlimited plan. Sharefile’s unlimited plan is a whopping $50/month. And Box offers unlimited plans starting at $14.25/user/month.
G Suite business? Just $12/user/month for unlimited online storage. You’ll also get your own business email (you can use your domain), and access to Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and other Google services.
Google Drive is a great platform for sharing imagery for clients. They can preview videos in HD quality right within their browser (similar to how YouTube works), set sharing preferences, and keep your imagery archived forever with unlimited storage.
Optimizing your file sharing system can save you a good amount of money. A G Suite business plan can save you around $96 per user per year.
6. Save on Cell Service
Similar to online storage, having good cell reception and being able to communicate with clients is essential. You need to be able to take calls, run your business, and sometimes use Google Maps to navigate to out-of-the way locations.
But here’s the thing: cell phone plans are expensive.
Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile’s most premium unlimited plans are $90, $95, $80, and $85 per month respectively. Those are astronomically high, especially when you can get plans with same features, coverage, and data amounts for dramatically less.
There are several great websites and resources that allow you to compare cell phone plans across the Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile networks. You can see included plan features, family discounts, and the prices between them.
Cell phone plans from smaller carriers, such as Mint Mobile, US Mobile, Visible, and Wing, still use the big four networks for coverage, but they have agreements in place that allow them offer plans at more affordable prices. You can also check with your current provider to see if business plan discounts are available.
Finding an affordable cell phone plan that meets your needs can save you anywhere from $20-40 per month, which ads up to $240-$480 per year. This is a considerable amount of money that you could invest elsewhere in growing your business!
If you’d like to learn more, or would like to learn more about our drone services or drone pilot jobs, simply follow dronegenuity on our social media channels:YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and subscribe to our mailing list for regular updates.