How to Start Drone Business in Australia
BY Alan Perlman26 October 2016
Recent changes to air safety regulations provide new opportunities to those who want to turn their passion for drones into a business.
As of 29th September 2016, anyone in Australia can fly a drone under 2kgs for profit, thanks to the easing of regulations by CASA, the Australian air safety authority.
The change comes as the authority acknowledges drones’ growing popularity and continued evolution. Allowing the commercial use of newer, smaller drones.
With Australia a hotbed for entrepreneurial start-ups, this presents great opportunities for drone businesses to establish themselves.
The rise of drone entrepreneurs
Now we look to the people with a passion for drones, and the desire to build a business around their passion. Is that you?
There is no shortage of applications for drone technology. Agriculture, law enforcement, the media and mining can all benefit.
Entrepreneurs are out there creating all sorts of innovative uses for drones. Photography & filmmaking for advertising, geo-mapping & 3D modeling, conservation, travel guide creation and workplace safety inspections. Only the imagination limits the possibilities!
Need some inspiration?
Here are 3 innovative areas that drones are making their mark in Australia:
1) Drones in small business
Mr Drains, a plumber in Sydney, use their drone to find the source of roof leaks and roof drainage problems -- without having to climb onto the roof. The General Manager, Luke Coulter, says:
I am excited that we can now use drone technology to provide quotes to our customers, quickly and safely, without having to climb onto the roof. The customer can see exactly what the problem is and we can discuss ways to fix it. Plus, it is really fun to fly.
2) Drones in education
Or perhaps you have the skills to bring drones to the classroom? Educational authorities are fast recognizing the benefits of integrating drones to their activities, with coding & software development in high demand.
3) Drones in public safety
Surf lifesavers are trialling drones to assist in search & rescue operations. The drones are equipped with rescue packs containing life-rafts, positioning beacons, defibrillators and other lifesaving equipment, ready to help people in potentially life-threatening situations.
Recent shark attacks in New South Wales have seen the drones further equipped with electromagnetic shark deterrents that can be used to protect surfers and other ocean users.
How to set up your drone business in Australia
As with any starting up any business, you will need to do lots of reading. To make that a little easier, we’ve gathered together some starter points & resources you may find useful.
Getting a Visa
Unless you are already a citizen, Australia has strict laws governing entry to the country. Fortunately, there are a wide range of visas available to allow non-citizens to live and grow their business here.
When you first arrive, you’ll immediately notice our unique culture. You may even find our own guide to business etiquette in Australia comes in handy!
Choosing your business structure
In Australia, there are four different business types to choose from -- Sole Trader, Partnership, Trust and Company. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and you’ll need to choose the one that best suits your needs, now and in the future.
Registering your business
You will need to apply for an ABN (Australian Business Number), TFN (Tax File Number) and also register your business name. This information can also be used to setup your business banking accounts.
Australia has its own GST (Goods & Services Tax). If your business’ revenue is over $75,000 per annum, you’ll need to register for this too.
Other taxes you may be required to lodge and pay include income tax, PAYG for employees, fringe benefits tax and fuel tax credits. Again, these vary depending on the business structure you have set up.
There may also be state, territory or local taxes which you may be required to pay. An accountant with knowledge of Australian business will be able to help advise you here.
There are many legal requirements businesses must comply with. These may be federal, state, territory or local government, and may include laws, licences, registrations and leases. More business legal advice can be found here.
Your business may need certain types of insurance to protect itself, the public, your customers and you. These may include worker’s compensation, public liability, professional indemnity and/or contents liability insurance.
If you are planning to employ staff, you have certain obligations to them. This includes providing minimum standards of pay, conditions and entitlements. The Fair Work Ombudsman provides a wealth of information in this area.
Grants and other funding programs may be available from federal, state and territory governments, and in some cases, also from local councils.
Generally, there are no grants for starting a business. However, grants and other assistance is available for a range of business activities, such as expanding your business, research & development, and innovation & exporting.
Intellectual Property (IP) covers a range of laws that give individuals and businesses exclusive rights over their creative and inventive projects.
When you start a business, create or invent a new product, you should consider the IP protection options that are appropriate to your business needs.
Promoting your business
With the drone industry taking off (sorry!) in Australia, there are even businesses springing up to support yours. The web directory dronesforhire.com.au is just one starting point to get yourself known and finding work.
Of course, websites & social media will also be in the mix. Google has a market share of over 90% as far as search engines go, with Facebook & Instagram ruling the social media roost.
Much of the information you’ll need when setting up your business in Australia can be found on the business.gov.au website, a comprehensive resource with a wide range of information.
Get expert help
If you prefer to discuss setting up your business with a real person, speak to us here at Penguin Management in Sydney. Our team specializes in assisting SMEs, start-ups & not for profits to establish, expand and manage their operations in Australia. And we’re ready for your questions!
Stefanie Lowe is a CPA and Managing Director of Penguin Management Services. She brings over 20 years’ business advisory & management experience to businesses from around the world wanting to set up in Australia.