Single and wondering if you can own a bed and breakfast?

There are a lot of single people (especially women) who ask me:  Can I own a bed and breakfast by myself?
My answer is yes – and I am living proof!

The primary thing you will need if you are on your own are back-up plans.

In this video, I pose 10 questions that you need to think about.  I provide some potential solutions for you to this post


Owning a bed and breakfast requires a lot of physical labor – even if you hire help.

Are you up to it?

When I opened my B&B, I could easily lift and carry 50 pounds (23 kilos).  12 years later…no.

What happens if there is something that is beyond your ability to lift or carry it?  Here are some solutions I came up with:

  • Using a heavy duty grocery buggy, a moving dolly or handcart and a garden cart.  (this only works if there are no, or only a few stairs
  • Check at the local high school or gym for the names and numbers of young people who might be able to help
  • Hire some help for this and other jobs around the B&B (If you get into this situation, it is essential to understand the difference between employees and contractors) 

Can you do basic home repairs?

My father was a technical skills teach and my grandfather was a carpenter, so I grew up with a hammer in one had and a screwdriver in the other.  Not everyone is as fortunate, so why not check out

  • Learn where the shut-off valves are for your property for water and gas, and how your electrical panel works
  • A night course at your local high school or college or local building supply centre
  • On-line videos can walk you step-by-step through the problem
  • Find a good handyman and keep his number on your speed dial!

How are you at dealing with a crisis situation?

Why do guests wait until you are in the middle of serving breakfast to tell you that they toilet is plugged and overflowing, or that the handle came off a tap and they can’t turn the water off?  There is nothing like the silence of the middle of the night to alert you that a guest is making a LOT of trips to the bathroom…or pacing…

  • Those maintenance tips might come in handy as a short term solution until you can get the handyman or a specialist repair man on site to fix it
  • I believe every B&B owner should have basic first aid and CPR certifications – if nothing else, these courses will help you learn how to assess a situation
  • Make sure all your guest rooms have safety information prominently displayed so they are clear how they can contact emergency services and/or yourself at any time.

Once you get a handle on the amount of work, you will need to have a plan for personal support

I don’t have the luxury of depending on family – they are miles away, with jobs and families of their own, so I certainly can’t expect to count on them!  In addition, I didn’t have a lot of support for my idea of running a bed and breakfast, so I always felt (in the first few years anyways) that they were just looking for a reason to say “I told you so!”.

Do you have someone to call for emotional support when times are tough?

  • Use your best friends as sounding boards, or share a glass (or bottle!) of wine with a neighbour so you get away from the B&B and take the emotion out of the situation
  • There are several closed groups just for B&B owners on social media where you can find support, potential solutions and sometimes just a place to vent!
  • Some associations offer membership groups where you can seek support

How will you handle really late check-ins?

You can’t be up at the crack of dawn making breakfast and sitting around until the wee hours of the morning to let someone in!

  • Policies and your bed and breakfast’s Terms and Conditions should spell out when guests can check-in and check-out – and you need to stick to them!
  • Invest in numerical keypads to allow guests to check themselves into your property
  • You can create a hidden webpage with all the generic information a guest needs to know about staying at your property and then send the link via text message and/or e-mail so they have all the info they need to know

What happens if you are too sick one day to run the B&B?

I have been very fortunate to not be SO sick that I couldn’t get out of bed….The good news is that most people who choose to stay at a bed and breakfast are people persons, and will be very understanding once you explain the situation

  • Give yourself permission to do the bare minimum to get back for the day
  • Have a back-up menu that is really easy to prepare and serve
  • Create a back-up plan with a local restaurant that serves a good breakfast and send your guests there (I would suggest you pick up their tabs and/or give them a discount on their room rate) or have gift certificates on hand to give out to your guests.

What is your back-up financial plan? 

If you only have the B&B income to depend on and can’t run it due to illness, how will you keep the B&B running and generate income?

  • Make sure before you even open your doors you check into what types of private insurance are available to cover various scenarios. Generally B&B Owners are self-employed and cannot access government benefits, unless they find themselves totally disabled
  • You can hire an inn-sitter – normally an experienced former bed and breakfast owner who can keep your property running while you are unable to
  • Sell the property if you are facing a long-term illness.  (Note, it often takes much longer to sell a B&B, so you may need a short term solution.)

Do you feel nervous around or alone with strangers?

This isn’t a problem that just single people face when inviting strangers into their homes.  You need to really think about why you are nervous.  A lot of times, it comes down to concerns about personal safety.

  • Having your own space and locks on doors to your private quarters can help
  • Learn to “trust your gut”.  If you are talking to a potential guest and don’t feel comfortable, then you can say no to that business.
  • Taking a personal defense course canl provide you with the confidence and the skills to overcome your fears.

If you are single, you can still own and run a bed and breakfast. Having back-up plans will help – especially in dealing with the physical aspects.  What worry is stopping you from moving forward? Leave a comment below, and I will try to provide some solutions.




  1. Tammy Dalziel


    im a soon to be single woman in her 40s.. This is definitely a dream of mine.. However, in my situation i am trying to get out of a domestic violence marriage and havent the income to purchase your step 2 class.. If there is any information you might be able to relay to me, it would be greatly appreciated.. Ive put in alot of thought and am willing to do the work needed but not familiar enough with the business aspect of the industry..

    thank you so much for your time.. I look forward to hearing from you

    1. Susan Poole Post author

      Tammy – I am glad that you are safe. Your first step is to download my free e-book called “3 Questions Everyone Who Wants to Own a Bed and Breakfast Asks – or Should” It is available on the home page. Often as a single woman, the biggest challenge is financing the property – you might want to check out the posts in the How to Get Financing section. Good luck!

  2. Lisa Herling

    Susan, is someone legally required to be on premise all the time that you have guests? As a single person that could be problematic. Thanks!

    1. Susan Poole Post author

      Hi Lisa!

      Unless it is required by your insurance company (and I have never heard of any company that has made that a criteria), you can leave guests alone on the premises


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