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Buying a business: Bed & Breakfast businesses

More of a lifestyle than a business, we look what it takes to buy and run a B&B

Who is it suited to? Research, rules and regulations
How much does it cost? How much will I earn?

If you like the idea of really being at home with your business, then running a B&B could be perfect for you. From a guest’s perspective, a well-run B&B can be more comfortable than a hotel, offering homely surroundings and a relaxed atmosphere. They can be a home-from-home and a welcome respite for weary travellers.

A B&B is different from a hotel in that it’s generally more basic. You will offer a bed for your guests to sleep in, and a full breakfast before they check out. No gyms, no health spas and no concierge service. It is also different in that your home is at the centre of it.

“It’s different from other small businesses in that it’s domestically based and you’re living with the business,” explains Janet Beale, who runs The Bed & Breakfast Business course in Kendal, Cumbria for people wanting to start their own B&B. “The majority of our students live in their home. We address the issue of having your domestic privacy invaded, as the business becomes interwoven with daily life.”

Who is it suited to?

Given that you are effectively opening your home to strangers, you are blurring the edges between your business and your home life so you need to be confident and happy with the arrangement. To a certain extent, it’s a creative profession: you have to enjoy cooking and making your accommodation as pleasant and welcoming as possible. It’s also something of a lifestyle business, a job that many people will undertake with their partners.

Beale, who has also run her own B&B since 1991, says that what stage your family’s life is at is important: “It’s difficult with small children, as their needs for breakfast and so on occur at the same time as your guests. Even if you have a separate flat that you live in, you still have to have a bell to be on call.”

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