How to Start a Bed-and-Breakfast

Going into the bed-and-breakfast business isn't about making lots of money. While the business can be profitable, people are drawn to starting B&Bs for the pleasure of meeting people from all over the world or expressing creative hospitality. Launching a B&B requires lifestyle adjustments and due diligence. Because innkeepers often live on premises and keep irregular hours, you should assess how having a bed-and-breakfast will affect your family and your time commitments.

Training and Consultation

To ready yourself for the responsibilities of innkeeping, take workshops and shadow bed-and-breakfast owners. Offer to pay the latter for their time and guidance. You may also want to hire an inn broker who specializes in bed-and-breakfast real estate purchases -- he may be able to connect you to lenders or other B&B specialists. Additionally, consult with an attorney, accountant and bankers to discuss the best options for financing and protecting your business.

Market Assessment

Part of your planning due diligence requires that you conduct market research in your chosen area. Contact existing B&B owners, community business people, merchant associations, real estate developers, city planning and government officials for information on the economic climate of your area and your target market. Pinpoint the age, income and occupation of potential guests and the reasons they come to your area. Focus on these market segments when promoting your B&B, encouraging word-of-mouth through discounts and bonuses.



  • Operating a B&B is a lifestyle choice that comes with more expectations than a hotel: you are expected to socialize with your guests and provide personalized service at any given moment. Your schedule will be the reverse of most people's. If this doesn't sound appealing to you, you may be happier in a different field.

Site Location and Zoning

When looking at potential properties for your bed-and-breakfast, view each property in light of your competition in the area. Assess how the property sets itself apart from others nearby, and weigh the trade-offs presented by each site. As B&B coach Susan Poole notes, compare the revenue-generating potential of each property -- projected sales will be critical when seeking funding through lenders. Once you've chosen your site, apply for business licenses, food handling, liquor and building permits, and meet any health, safety and liability insurance requirements to operate, renovate or construct your B&B.. Parking rules and zoning ordinances vary widely across municipalities, and cities may impose further restrictions on the number of guests or use of kitchens.

Outfitting the B&B

Furnishings are a critical aspect of setting up your B&B, for they help set the tone and distinctive ambiance of your property. In choosing furniture and accessories, strike a balance between the emotional and functional attributes of each element. Colors, fabrics and lighting should be tasteful and durable, while also creating a sense of cozy warmth. Survey the equipment and supplies market by visiting wholesale hotel suppliers and hospitality industry trade shows, and gleaning trade journals.. Check out local flea markets, antique dealers and liquidation sales for additional bargains. Expect to pay between $20,000 to $50,000 per guest room to renovate and furnish a B&B.