Starting Out

Owning a B&B: Where to start

Turning a dream into reality is always a gratifying experience, and fulfilling your B&B business dream is no different. Running your own B&B is more than just a job – it’s a lifestyle, and a rewarding one at that. The list of benefits include:

  • Living in a beautiful home in a highly desirable location
  • Complete creative freedom to build a business you can be proud of
  • Meeting new and interesting people everyday
  • Working in the thriving tourism industry

Once you have decided to take the plunge, then it’s time to consider everything you need in order to make your business venture work. Our handy step-by-step guide is designed to answer all the questions you might have, so you can make the right decision for you, and lay the foundations for your venture.

1. Is it for me?

It’s normal to have a million and one questions racing through your mind when you are pondering the various aspects of your potential business. Choosing the right property, funding, handling difficult customers and long-term financial security are just a handful of things that will undoubtedly have crossed your mind at some point.

Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether you have the makings of a great B&B owner:

  • Are you naturally outgoing with a knack for getting the best out of everyone you meet?
  • You need to put your customers at ease and make them feel comfortable around you. By the same token, you need to know when to back off and give your customers space – after all, they are on holiday!
  • On the flipside, how do you feel about having strangers in your home on a regular basis?
  • Will this annoy you or put a strain on your family?
  • Are you resilient enough to handle difficult customers?
  • No matter how good you are, there will always be somebody that will complain for the sake of complaining and you need to maintain a firm, friendly and professional demeanor.
  • How do the rest of the people living in your home feel about this?
  • This is a complete change of lifestyle for everyone involved and so they need to be on board.
  • Do you consider yourself to be something of a workhorse? In this industry you have the potential to be called upon 24/7 and holidays can be few and far between.

2.  Finding the right property for your B&B

It’s all well and good having a beautiful home, but if you live out in the sticks with little in the way of attractions nearby, you may want to reconsider your plans. Do some research to ensure that your property is marketable and that there is enough demand in order for you to run a successful business and live the lifestyle you desire.

Think about the kind of clientele your property will attract and ask yourself if this is you. You may love life on the outskirts of Brighton, but how would you feel if over 50% of your customers were rowdy stag and hen parties?

You will need to take into consideration any adjustments or extensions that may be required in order for you to set up shop. Will your property be accessible for all and if so, will it be up to the required standard?

Check out our comprehensive property guide for more information: Finding the right property to start your b&b.

3. Writing a business plan for your B&B

When push comes to shove you need to put aside your blue sky vision of living the dream and put your business down in writing to ensure your are business is feasible. You might have a beautiful home in a great location, but if you price things too high or too low, then you could find yourself at a loss.

Make a note of all your outgoings, from home furnishings to food, daily essentials, marketing, tax and any interest to pay back on finance. When you have this all laid out in black and white alongside what you expect to earn, does it leave you in a position to live?

Getting the cost part right is also important as it will give you focus and a structure to ensure you meet your financial objectives.

Another thing to take into consideration is how you will market your property. The digital revolution has transformed the travel industry and opened B&B owners up to the global market – do you understand search engine optimisation (SEO) and online marketing or will you need some advice on this one?

Read our guide to building your own business plan: How to create a B&B business plan.

How to create a business plan

4. B&B legal requirements

Unless you come from a legal background, one of the last things you are likely to consider when setting up your business is the list of legalities you must abide by. If you need to make any major adjustments to your property, there’s a chance you might have to apply for planning permission from your local council. Health and safety is another legal issue to ponder – is your B&B safe in the event of a fire?

Did you know?

You need to carry out your own fire risk assessment, which you can action online.

If you plan to serve alcoholic drinks, you need to obtain an alcohol licence. This rule applies even if you don’t intend to have a full bar service, but wish to offer a bottle of champagne to guests on arrival.

If you are on a mortgage then you need to inform your bank about your plans to ensure they are happy with the arrangement. As your property is now a business, the risk to lenders increases considerably and so there will most likely be some amendments required to your paperwork.

For the complete list of legal regulations you must consider, read through our guide: 11 legal matters you need to take care of for your B&B.

5. Hiring staff

Even the most meticulous of planners can discover that running a successful B&B is more hard work than they anticipated. Once things begin to pick up, there may come a time when an extra pair of hands is needed to keep on top of everything. Recruiting good staff is one thing and retaining and managing them is another – there is a lot to consider.

Before you start hunting, you must sit down and work out when and where you need help the most. Is the continuous stream of housework preventing you from managing bookings and giving your customers the one-to-one attention they require? Or is breakfast time becoming so busy that you’re burning the toast and overcooking the eggs?

On top of all this, you need to consider the cost element to taking on staff as well as the legalities involved. Check out our recruitment guide here: Hiring the right staff for your B&B.

Hiring the right staff

6. Finance – Make your B&B profitable

It’s all well and good doing something you love, but when push comes to shove, the money has to stack up so you can put food on your table. If you are looking to obtain a loan from a family member or bank, then you will need to prove to them that you can afford to pay this back comfortably.

You will also need to hire an accountant to oversee your finances to ensure you are on track to pay your taxes. If you haven’t used all of your savings to fund your venture, then it would be wise to keep an emergency cash supply to one side to cover any unexpected costs. You can learn more from our handy guide, here: How to start your B&B without breaking the bank.

From your first booking onward as a B&B owner you’ll have the benefit of being your own boss, meet people from all over the world and overcome challenges you never thought you could. That’s because setting up your very own B&B is more than just a business venture, it’s a life adventure.

If you need any other assistance with running your B&B, eviivo is here to help. Take a look at our award-winning bed and breakfast booking system, eviivo suite, to see if it could suit your business needs.