I loved owning a bed and breakfast! For me, the pros outweighed the cons and it was only ill health that forced me to quit
Here’s how I see it:
The major pros for me were:
- I got to live in a beautiful home, and hear compliments about it all the time
- I got to meet people from all over the world, and make new friends in some cases
- People paid me to cook, clean and do laundry – for the first time in my life!
- I got to help people have a wonderful time enjoying an area of my country that I love
- I had control of how I made my living; doing something that suited my personality, intellect and interests
- In order to make a proper business out of owning a B&B, you need to have a larger establishment – which in turn means more investment and running costs – and often the need to depend on others to help with the workload (staff or contractors – who may not share your level of enthusiasm for the job.)
- My bed and breakfast business was impacted by several things out of my control – the weather, the global economy, the price of gas, and local attractions. In addition, most people think of B&Bs like hotels, and didn’t understand this was how I made my living. Therefore, their cancellations had a big impact – both monetarily and on the work load.
- I was a one-man show; so if I wasn’t there, I wasn’t making money. That limited my social life, my level of community participation and meant that I didn’t get to see my family during peak season (they are not located in town). It meant if I got sick, I still had to get up and prepare breakfast, clean rooms, do laundry and everything else that was on the to-do list for that day. I had to be cheerful and express an interest in my guests and their activities, even if I didn’t feel like it.
- While I could make a living because I could write off a large portion of my living expenses; since it was my sole source of income, I didn’t have a lot of spare cash, money to travel, have expensive hobbies or put much money away for a “rainy” day.
- As a small business owner, getting a mortgage, health insurance and credit was very difficult – and expensive. Most banks don’t understand the bed and breakfast industry and see you as a high risk; and having to access your own health insurance becomes harder as you get older.
If I had to do it all over again, would I?
The answer is a definite YES! I think the biggest part of being a successful bed and breakfast owner is having realistic expectations of what the lifestyle is like; how much money you need to make vs how much money you would like to make; and how to go with the flow – being prepared to deal with those items that are in your control, and how to overcome those that are not.
Setting those expectations is one of the key things I kept in mind when creating the Pros and Cons portion of the Design Your Dream B&B System. There are a lot of aspiring innkeeper courses available that give generic advice on those topics. However, I think it is crucial for success for you to understand how starting a bed and breakfast will impact on you and your family, and create a bed and breakfast business that is suitable for your particular situation.
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To begin your journey of discovery to see if owning a bed and breakfast is right for you, download “3 Questions Everyone Who Wants to Own a Bed and Breakfast Asks – or Should!”
And check out more on-line video training on Susan Poole, The B&B Coach’s YouTube Channel – and don’t forget to subscribe!