My first venture into business......
Having spent 30 years as a Police officer I have always been quite a confident person. I have to say though the last six months have really rocked my self-belief. When you've been involved in any line of work for a significant period of time I think you settle, you get used to how the job operates and how to get things done. In the organisation I worked for, and many will have the same, I had a personnel department, finance department, marketing and comms department all there to help and assist you. In times of crisis they were only a call away and its only once you venture away from that support network that you realise how much you relied on them.
Having spent some time out travelling following my retirement I realised that I wanted to challange myself with a new project. BUT, and it was an important BUT, I wanted and needed to do it on my own terms. Sure I could have looked for a job as a civilian in the Police or other related work as many retired cops do. But I wanted the freedom to be able to travel and choose when I work on my own terms. The ability to decide what I wanted to do, and more importantly when I wanted to do it.
So I started thinking, what skills do I have? Qualifications were limited, I had been in the Police since I left sixth Form college and as much as a kidnap training course was fun to be involved in, it was likely to be little use to me moving forward....
About 4 years ago I started my obsessive journey into landscape photography following a short trip to Iceland. I borrowed a Pentax camera off a good friend of mine and he gave me some tips for capturing Aurora shots. I loved it and was immediately hooked. Looking back now the pictures I captured were average at best but at the time I thought they were great.
Many people offered me advice about what to do when I retired but the one that stuck with me the most was to 'do something you love'.
I then saw something on Youtube that was to shape the future for me and was hugely inspirational. The video of Danny Macaskill riding the Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye still remains one of the best videos of its kind Ive seen. It inspired me to get a drone and my first purchase was the DJI Phantom 4. I loved playing with the drone and the aerial perspective did bring another angle to landscapes. The one limiting factor was the size, and it wasn't easy taking the drone and the camera equipment out on hikes up the fells.
As I approached retirement I decided to trade the Phantom for the Mavic Pro. The primary reason I did this was size. The mavic sits nicely in the top of the camera bag. I started to think of business opportunities with the drone. I made a tentative approach into drone work at weddings. I did two, mainly to see if I liked it. I quickly ascertained that I wasn't keen. I was doing ground based video as well and it was a really sharp learning curve. Leaning video editting with Final Cut pro was tough and I had to rely of the support of friends from my past life to help me out.
There was no master plan when I decided to set up the business. I thought promotional drone work would at least be commercially viable and if successful was likely to be financial more successful than simply selling landscape photos. I decided to focus at first on the hotel and hospitality sector as I live on the edge of the Lake District. Even basic business principles such as VAT and self assessment all seemed very daunting. Getting your CAA drone pilots licence sounded easy enough, let me tell you it is a tough test and not one you can simply wander into and expect to pass. Website or no website, how to market on social media are all things I've agonised over. How much money do I invest and what can I expect in return. Many of these things I don't know and I've had to go with my gut instinct. Its now that I realised how out of my depth I felt. The insecurities visit you....
In the end though it came back to few quotes from Only Fools and Horses that pushed me ahead......"This time next year we'll be millionaires Rodney....." and "Nothing ventured nothing gained"
In life there are few certainties and you sometimes have to take chances. So here's my roll of the dice, I'm nervous and excited in equal amount as I move foreward. For now I want to thank those of you that have helped me with advice over the last couple of years. The help and support I have received especially from my partner Maxine has at least pursuaded me to give this a go. Lets see how we get on.....
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