How to Start a Bed and Breakfast Inn

Starting a new business is very exciting and it can feel thrilling to be your own boss. Of course, no new business is without struggles and obstacles, but if you plan your venture properly, your business can excel and grow into something amazing.

It won’t happen overnight, but when you know how to start a bed and breakfast inn, you will be more likely to have a successful business. So how do you start a bed and breakfast? t sounds simple enough, right? Buy a big building with enough rooms and amenities, add furniture, and voila! Well, it’s not that simple.

Where will you prepare the food for guests? What kind of furniture do you need? What about zoning? How much will the initial costs be? There are many elements to consider, and this article will take a closer look at everything you need to know. From kitchen equipment to marketing and merchant services, everything you need to know about how to start a bed and breakfast inn will be covered. But first, let’s quickly discuss what exactly a bed and breakfast inn is.

What Is a Bed and Breakfast?

A bed and breakfast is a piece of residential real estate that’s usually owned and operated by a small team or a family and offers accommodation to travelers and anyone looking for a place to stay for a while.

As a general rule, these properties have less than 10 rooms available and offer breakfast as part of the service, but the guests have to take care of their own needs for the rest of the day. Bed and breakfast accommodation is typically very homely but offers simple luxury. Many homes that are opened to the public in this way also have a rich history and the food served is authentic and delicious. A bed and breakfast inn is the ideal place to stay if you’re on a romantic road trip or just want to get away for the weekend.

Is a Bed and Breakfast Inn Right for You?

Before you can start learning more about how to start a bed and breakfast inn, you need to be completely sure this is the right choice for you. Making a success of such a business requires commitment and dedication.

You will have to spend a lot of time focusing on nothing but your new business. It will be an everyday thing and you can’t shut it off or ‘go home’ and ‘leave the work behind’. Also, for any business to work, it’s important that the entrepreneur is good at dealing with pressure and is knowledgeable about the industry. You will have to be good with people and always treat them well when they visit your bed and breakfast.

There are many rules and regulations that a bed and breakfast business needs to always consider and these rules may never be broken or the business could be closed for good. For the business to thrive and grow, you have to put in a lot of effort and it will often feel like you’re not getting the thanks or appreciation you want or need.

If that, and all other stresses associated with running a business, doesn’t scare you off, you can continue reading about how to start a bed and breakfast inn of your own.

Are Bed and Breakfast Inns Profitable?

Any business has the potential to be profitable, and that’s what the owner of the business aims for. To make a business profitable, there needs to be a regular, healthy income that is generated by keeping customers or clients happy and making them want to come again. Will it be possible to make a lot of money with a bed and breakfast inn? If the inn is managed correctly, then yes, of course. Expenses need to be tracked well and marketing has to be top-notch, but it’s possible for a bed and breakfast to make good money.

Now it’s time to look at the expenses you have to be aware of, followed by tips for the best chance at success.

How to Start a Bed and Breakfast Inn: Costs to Expect

As is the case with any business, a bed and breakfast inn cannot run on hopes and dreams alone. There are many costs associated with this kind of business, and you need to factor in all of them when planning your bed and breakfast.

Personal Expenses

The most important expense you’ll have to cover is going to be insurance, whether this is business insurance, loans, life insurance, or health insurance. A large chunk of your budget will be dedicated to these personal expenses. You need to budget well to ensure you are able to pay all these costs and stick to your budget. If you have employees, you will need to pay for insurance for them as well, even if they’re family members.

Merchant Services

You’ll need to use an integrated payments solution for your bed and breakfast inn so you can receive payments from all your guests. It can be difficult to know exactly what the real rate you need to charge will be since there are so many different kinds of cards with their own additional fees.

It would be best to talk to a professional service provider and get accurate and reliable information about how to get paid and how you’ll pay for business services.


Waste, especially wasted food, is going to be a problem you’ll have to solve. You can’t serve leftover food to people at the risk of them getting ill. It’s a good idea to closely track the food that guests waste the most and avoid putting it on your menu. When the food does get wasted, you’ll have to dispose of it carefully and hygienically.


When it comes to discussing how to start a bed and breakfast inn and the costs associated with this kind of business, the damage is an important element. You’ll be letting strangers on your property and have to be prepared that something will break. You can expect to replace linen and similar items quite often.

Online Presence and Marketing

You can’t have any kind of business these days without clever marketing strategies, which include a strong online presence. You’ll need a professionally-designed website that has to be maintained and upgraded. This costs a lot of money, and marketing strategies aren’t free either. When your business has grown, you may have to think about a dedicated marketing team.


The furnishings you use will define your bed and breakfast inn, so you need to choose everything carefully. From custom signs and landscaping to a new bathroom design, you can’t be stingy or your business will look bad.

You may have to cover expenses such as bathroom remodeling (in some cases a completely new bathroom design), and swimming pool remodeling if you have one. If necessary, you may even have to go as far as to think about how to replace countertops everywhere in the house without spending a fortune.

For your plumbing, you should consider hiring a remodeling plumbing service to ensure your property can handle serving many people simultaneously. You need to be sure the property’s electrical outlets are up to standard as well, so there’s no risk of fires. Adding fire alarms and smoke detectors to every room is also something you’re legally expected to do.


There is a range of miscellaneous supplies you’ll have to buy so you can run your bed and breakfast inn smoothly. While standard stationery is to be expected, you’ll likely also need a reliable computer and printer, as well as other items like tablets for management on the go.

Kitchen Equipment

Your kitchen is going to be an important part of your business and it should be run the way you would run a restaurant. You’ll need tables and chairs, cutlery, cooking equipment, decent stoves and dishwashers, to name just a few of the essentials.

You’ll have to have backups of the most important equipment in case something breaks, and your kitchen must be spotless and germ-free at all times.


Zoning is a crucial part of your business planning and every aspect of your business must meet the various standards. This can vary from how many rooms you’re allowed to have for guests to parking arrangements and noise concerns.

It would be a good idea to get the help of a real estate attorney, a real estate agent, or a similar professional to help you make sure you’re doing everything you’re legally expected to.

How to Start a Bed and Breakfast Inn: Useful Tips

Now that you know all about the kind of money you’ll have to spend on your business, let’s discuss some useful tips that will ensure that money isn’t wasted. This list is not exhaustive by any means, and you’ll learn about other ways of successfully running your bed and breakfast inn as you gain more experience.

Understand Your Market

To be successful, you must know the market you’re catering to. Are you aiming for local visitors only, or do you hope to welcome international guests to your bed and breakfast? The kind of guests you want will affect how you promote your business and how you run it.

Don’t Over-Deliver or Undersell

It can be tempting to go above and beyond for your guests, but be careful not to over-deliver if it’s not necessary. You can get good reviews that way, but it doesn’t do your business financial favors. Also, if you promise to deliver specific services, you had better do it. Underselling will cost you your business’ reputation.

You Can’t Do It All

When learning about how to start a bed and breakfast inn, it’s important to remember that you can’t do everything on your own. You may wish to be the sole owner, the cook, the manager, and the cleaner, but it’s just not feasible. Hire all the staff members you need so the quality of your business can be kept at a high standard.

Do Your Research

If you fail to do enough research, you can set your business up for failure. You need to know everything you can about good business management, what the area where you’re located is like, who your competition is, and have a comprehensive understanding of your target audience. Don’t stop doing research once you open your doors, you will never be too successful to learn something new.

Be Patient

Rushing to officially open your business is a mistake. People’s first impressions of your bed and breakfast inn are going to be lasting, so make sure it’s a good impression that you create. This may mean you’ll have to plan longer and change things until it’s perfect on the day you open your doors.

Have Clear Rules and Policies

You cannot afford to operate your business without policies and rules that are clearly stipulated. Guests can take advantage of you or misunderstandings can happen when you don’t provide policies that are visible and presented in a way that they can’t be ignored. This includes rules about pets, damage to property, check-out times, and so on.

Understand What You’re Getting Into

One of the most important elements of understanding how to start a bed and breakfast inn is not going in blindly. You need to know what to expect from the industry as well as your role as a business owner. Running a business is not easy, and you should be prepared for challenges and frustrations.

Be Different

You won’t be without competition, so you need to find a way for your bed and breakfast to stand out. Find a unique selling point that only you can offer to your guests. It can be a unique experience or something that guests won’t get from another establishment. Whatever it is, make sure everyone knows about it.

Adapt to the Times

Sometimes, the old way of doing things isn’t necessarily the best way of doing things. As a business owner, you need to be able to adapt to the times or risk falling behind. Running a bed and breakfast with pen-and-paper management is just not done anymore, for example, and following that kind of management structure will lead to frustration.

Cover All Your Bases

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not covering all your bases before you start to operate your bed and breakfast inn. Make sure everything meets legal and safety standards. Have all the certificates you need, ensure your staff is trained properly, and double-check that your kitchen will pass any inspection. Don’t leave anything to chance!

Now that you’ve read this entire guide on how to start a bed and breakfast inn, it’s time to start planning your venture. Consider everything covered here and come up with a business plan that is thorough and comprehensive. Don’t leave anything to chance—plan, plan, plan, and then plan some more. And have fun! After all, this will be your ‘baby’ for the rest of your life.

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