Business

Starting Your GIS Company

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The estimated number of delivery companies in America is nearly 229,000 as of the end of 2018, and it is powering the industry to $104 billion in revenue. The number of real estate development business has declined to just 14,401, but the sector still recorded an $8 billion in revenue as of April 2019.

These are significant numbers for these two industries. You’ve been a GIS consultant for more than a year, and you have previously worked for a surveying company providing, among others, 3D-scanning services, land surveying, and cartography. From your experience, you recognize the potential of the GIS consulting business, given the trends in these two industries at least.

The idea of starting your company is slowly building up in your head. How does one start a GIS company? Could it be done from home? Here are some ideas:

A Look at the Industry

IBISWorld reports that the number of businesses in the surveying and mapping industry has just plateaued at just below 17,700 as of July 2019. It still recorded, however, total revenue of $9 billion, while the average growth is on a steady rise at 4.6%

Some of the companies named by Geoawesomeness.com as part of the top 100 GIS companies include Orbital Insight, Planet Watchers, and Development Seed.

You probably would not be competing at the level of these companies, but knowing who your competitors make you more prepared.

Initial Steps

Although you’ve done consultancies and have worked with GIS companies, do not be complacent and think that you can wing it. Buckle down, do your research, and prepare a business plan. It should include sound financials that would take into account investment in equipment as well as the necessary space.

Factors to Consider

Once you’re done with the initial groundwork, here are some of the things you need to consider:

  1. Obtain a certification. If you have already, that’s great. If not, then get the necessary training and certification. Typical GIS certifications are for ESRI ArcGIS, AutoCAD GIS, or DeLorme XMap. Technologies will evolve so be on the lookout for the latest that would come out.
  2. Invest in equipment and software. You would need to invest in GPS units, digitizers, and plotters, among other things. Make sure that you have identified the hardware and software necessary for your operation.
  3. Plan for space. The plotter alone requires space. Plan for a proper area for your large-format printouts for multiple projects at a time.
  4. Access to databases. Access to databases (e.g., addresses, land ownership, etc.) is usually done via subscription.
  5. Know your market. Your main customers would likely be local, in the same county or neighboring cities. Establish contacts with local authorities as they are the ones giving permits to, for example, property developers. They would be one of your clients. As pointed at the beginning, there are now plenty of delivery services that rely on GIS service. Try to get a piece of this market in your areas.

It will be advantageous if you have prior experience. But getting certified would not be that difficult. These tips will guide you in the right direction.

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