Are you one of the 171,744 drone hobbyists and professionals certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States? Like many, chances are you’ve just been flying as a hobby. Now, you’re looking to become a drone pilot that makes money with a hobby you’ve come to love.
You have two options. First, you could buy into a franchise and get started right away - for a fee. Or, you could start your own business from the ground up. What’s best for you will be based on your position, how much you can invest right away, and what you’re looking to get out of your new business opportunity.
What is a drone franchise?
Being a franchisee in a drone franchise is much like any other franchise. Generally, you’ll pay a base fee to join the organization as a franchisee. Then, each year, you’ll give the company a percentage of your sales to keep using their name, marketing, and other given benefits.
Each franchise is unique in terms of what you get from them, what they get from you, what you’ll do, and how you’ll work together. However, a baseline to expect is a percentage of sales for help with marketing, a professional website, networking, and business paperwork.
To learn more about franchise options, take a look at the top drone franchises.
What does it mean to start your own drone business?
On the other hand, a drone business that you start doesn’t come with pre-established rules, prices, marketing materials, or guidelines. You create your brand, website, marketing, pricing structure, niche, and model.
This makes each business vastly different. You’ll have to leverage your network, marketing knowledge, and website development skills - or hire someone to do it for you. Using both of these lists, we’ll look at how they are similar and different.
How drone franchises and startup businesses compare
There are a few obvious and not so obvious similarities and differences between starting your own drone business or joining a franchise.
Starting with the obvious, both are selling drone services to businesses and consumers in need of things like real estate drone photography and drone videography for events. In addition, all drone businesses, whether a franchise or a self-startup, require the drone operator to obtain a drone license - obtainable via taking the FAA’s Part 107 test.
This is where decision-making really comes into play. With a startup that you create yourself, often, you’ll be the one setting up the website, working on your branding, setting pricing, and marketing everything. When you have a franchise, that is all often done for you - for a fee.
The fee is is another difference - when you make money as an independent drone business, all the money you make is yours. However, when you have a franchise, you must give a certain percentage of your sales to the company you’ve chosen. This could be anywhere from 3% to as much as 8% of your gross profit per year.
The other monetary difference between franchise and startup is in the cost to start. Not only is there a fee to think about - there’s also a buy-in. Sometimes this can be as little as $2,000, but other times it can be $13,000 to join a franchise. Now, with this, you’ll often get the best gear and programs you could want; however, running a startup on your own means bootstrapping (using no money, then only what the business makes) is available if you need or want to go that route.
Finally, support is a massive difference between the two. With a startup, you handle yourself unless you know someone; chances are you don’t have a support system helping you get up and running or answering questions when things come up. However, a franchisee often has a vast network of other franchisees and members of their chosen company to rely on for questions or tips.
What’s is better: franchise or startup?
In the end, what’s best will be determined by what you need, want, and can afford. Here are a few summary questions to think about:
In short, if you’re looking to do everything yourself at a cheaper cost, then a startup might be for you. On the other hand, if you have the money and want to get up and going right away with an established brand and all the perks that come with it, a franchise is for you!
If you have other questions about starting a drone business or joining a franchise, don’t be afraid to take a look at our blog for more information and useful tips.