Tips for drone services start-ups

Drone expert Callum Holland has shared the below nuggets for entrepreneurs hoping to crack the code in offering drone services to clients. Callum himself has run a drone services business before, so he should know. In his latest newsletter, he addresses some of the pitfalls that might lurk in the shadows for drone services start-ups, and also just how stern the stuff needed to succeed in the business should be.

The phrase ‘The Right Stuff’ was coined by American journalist Tom Wolfe, who wrote extensively about the NASA test pilots operating experimental, rocket-powered aircraft during the Cold War.

Tom identified common traits that all pilots had, which appeared to be unique to that group. These personal and professional traits helped the USA become the prominent space superpower of the time.

To be clear, I’m absolutely not suggesting you need to have the skillset of Neil Armstrong to make it in the drone industry. All I have done is outline some helping character traits and professional skills that are relevant to positions I have personal experience of.

You might be asking why I have gone to the effort of writing an article that may dissuade some from entering our industry. It’s because I realise the significance of what it is that our industry represents. We need people who are going to drive technological and regulatory development of this industry in order that billions of people can benefit from it.

Because – and make no mistake – the future of drones will positively impact almost everyone on this planet. Of that I have no doubt. So I do not want you, dear reader to take that responsibility lightly.

So, are you made of the ‘right stuff’? That is something only you can answer. What I want to ensure is that you are under no illusion as to the magnitude of the challenge you are undertaking. Our industry is in need of talented, level-headed, competent individuals ready to make a real difference.

In equal measure, I do not want this article to dissuade you in any way. All of the required skills and traits can be learnt. All you need is to be constructively self-critical in order to identify areas for improvement. I believe everything can be learnt and there is no shortage of people in our industry who are willing to help.

The drone industry can be an exceptionally challenging industry to work in. It requires interpersonal ‘soft’ skills on a level I have not experienced in other walks of life.

Whichever career route you decide to progress down, you will be constantly challenged by the naysayers, by those who staunchly disagree with you, by those who will push certain solutions for the betterment of their Angel Investor, and those who simply don’t want drones to succeed at all.

If you are going to make an impact within our industry, and I hope you do, then you better have a thick skin. To provide some supporting evidence to my above statement, I was previously a slightly overweight, ginger, balding Police Officer for six years in London. If I’m telling you that you better have a thick skin, you better believe it.

Having the right stuff does not mean you should be an arrogant narcissist who has no qualms talking over people in meetings and belittling others. I’m sure you have met these individuals in other areas of life; the drone industry is full of them in equal measure. In my experience they are usually supplementing a lack of knowledge with over-confidence.

I have found the best way to deal with those individuals is to avoid conflict and ignore them where possible. In our industry you need to believe in yourself, and your views, without fear or favour. If you truly believe you are doing the right thing, and are in possession of all the required information, stick to your guns.

This industry has many challenges to resolve, all with dozens of potential solutions, none of them perfect.

There are two mistakes I see time and time again within our industry by those who have real value to provide. They are either being too quick to change their opinion as a result of external pressure, or those who never change their opinion regardless of additional information becoming available.

What I hope everyone in our industry to do is find a happy medium between the two.

Don’t allow yourself to be influenced by the loudest voice in the room, or by what you think your employer wants to hear.

Equally, don’t be so ignorant to believe you are correct without reservation. I want you to have conviction in your ideas and opinion, but be open to new information gleaned from others to help evolve your views.

Most importantly, remember the only decision worse than a bad one, is no decision at all. We have enough fence-sitting already.


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