Anthony Novotny Jr., PLS, may not have had a revolutionary idea when he combined selling real estate and land surveying (Solo Notes, POB, July 2016), but he found a way to scale his skills and his business into larger markets. Novotny used a phrase I am hearing more often – directly or by inference – “surveying without a license.” Selling undeveloped land, real estate brokers were defining property boundaries to the point Novotny suggests many may have been practicing land surveying without a license. To “beat them” he decided to join them. He wants to provide workshops for brokers to teach them the value of land surveying and to convince the real estate profession to adopt a best practice of stating it will not practice land surveying without a license.

Real estate also came up at the recent InterDrone conference. “If you fly a drone, why not offer your services to real estate brokers – they’re already doing it themselves.” The point is similar to Novotny’s. How do you get that work away from the real estate broker’s nephew or the wedding photographer? And what does it mean to scale your business?

There are some safety and regulatory issues that come into play with drone photography that a professional can use to demonstrate value (and risk avoidance). But a true differentiator for the land surveyor is that license that demonstrates you know much more about land boundaries and property rights and can add value – in addition to what I’m presuming is skilled use of the tools and higher quality tools. You can also use that opening to up-sell your land surveying services.

And, if wedding photographers are going to market their drones in your space, why not market your skills in theirs? Wedding venues are in constant flux in the sense that wedding planners want something different for each couple every time they return to a venue. What about a 3D LiDAR “as built” image of a venue overlayed with photogrammetry images to the exact measure, with all bumps, bruises and obstacles clearly recorded? And, with the CAD model, take a virtual walk through.

When I was in high school, I worked as a photographer for a weekly newspaper. I shot whatever they asked for. It was a real test of my skills and my ability to learn. My most dreaded assignments were the meetings of groups like the ladies’ garden club (no offense). But I quickly learned that out of the 20 women in the photo, five or six were likely to request a copy, and that paid better than the original assignment. There were opportunities right under my nose, all I had to do was recognize them and pursue the ones that interested me.

So, what have you done (or been asked to do) that has applied your skills and talents in a new direction?

Share your thoughts on this column at or To contact any POB editor or writer, please send an email to