Bed and Breakfast

A couple of entries ago I referred in a rather cloak and dagger way to some plans that are afoot in our household. Since then, Sabs has gotten better, we’ve had some more conversations and I now feel comfortable enough to mention out loud what it is that’s going on in the back of our weaselly little minds.

We’re both pretty tired of the corporate rat race and stints of being unemployed, and we both want to lead the kind of life where we’ll be able to be around for our child(ren). So we’ve been talking and talking and talking some more about how to achieve that. Some of the ideas we’ve tossed around have included running a restaurant, spending some time growing the freelance web design/hosting business that we’ve kept on the side for the last five years and trying to go back to school for various degrees so that either one of us can make a career switch. Things I’m interested in run the gamut from teaching and library science to history and continued study in French. Sabs is more interested in hands-on things like cooking having had his fill of “book-learning”.

In the end though, one of our ideas seems like a more feasible one than the others if only because it doesn’t require extensive schooling for either of us. If we can get established, it’s the kind of business that has enough flexibility that if we wanted to take turns going back to school, we probably could, especially once Vic is in school as well. What I’m referring to in a round about way, is in the title of the entry. We’re tossing around ideas and plans about opening up a B&B.

The idea came up in conversation while we were both feverish and sick during the Christmas holiday and at the end of that conversation there was a hearty “Well let’s just do it” uttered. I filed that away per my earlier entry as something to come back to later when fever was no longer a factor and we were both fairly level-headed and within our right minds. “Yeah, let’s do it,” was still the driving sentiment, despite many a dire warning of “it’s a lot of work.” So here we are making the first baby steps toward making this dream a reality.

First there is an education period for both of us. I’ve been doing a lot of research, collecting articles online, and getting an idea of how we should be getting started. The picture I’m getting so far, is that for us, the first decision has to do with location. We need to pick a place where we want to be, get to know the area and then buy a property that is suitable for converting into a B&B. This will involve a sizeable bank loan, that will cover both the costs of purchasing said property and renovating it. So we really need to be careful about choosing where we want to go.

We’ll also need to be established in that area before we really get started, so “Pick A Place”, will involve a lot more talking and investigating, and maybe some travel. Right now the big question is whether or not to try this out on the East Coast, or investigate options right here in the Bay Area. In order to have a good level of business, we need to be somewhere that is pleasant, but also has enough of a tourist draw that we’ll be able to count on having customers throughout the year. Right now we have two possible areas on the list, that list will probably expand in the coming months as we start looking into the options more closely.

Wherever we wind up going, we’ll need to get established first, so in this pre-planning phase of things, we’re starting to put some money aside, keeping close tabs on our spending, and taking advantage of the fact that Sabs has landed a small amount of contract work to bring in some extra cash. I’m keeping an eye on apartments for rent in the area, and trying to find us a cheaper place to live so that we can accelerate the pace of savings.

We’re serious about wanting to build this venture, but we do have to approach it with baby steps. If we’re lucky, in a year or two, I’ll be writing about our grand opening and telling stories about how the business is going. It’s both an exciting and nerve-wracking prospect. Overall though, it takes a weight off my mind. We have an idea, something to shoot for, something that doesn’t involve the tech industry (except for marketing, ‘cos you bet I’ll be building a cool site for that B&B to advertise) or the corporate world that has ground us both down over the past five or six years. That makes me feel good and re-energized about life.

On that note, because I love making lists, here are some of the things on my master plan list for this project:

Research B&B Business
Attend Business Seminars about B&Bs
Discuss Locations/Business Roles

Action Plan:
1. Pick a Place
2. Re-locate and Re-establish
3. Get to Know Area and Forge Relationships with Local Vendors
4. Pick a Property
5. Draft a Business Plan
6. Apply for Business Loan
7. Set up Business Bank Account
8. Purchase Property
9. Pick a Theme
10. Get Appropriate Business/Property/Food Licenses
11. Renovate/Decorate Property
12. Build Website
13. Advertise in Relevant Publications
14. Get Listed in B&B Directories
15. Network with Local Vendors for Specials for Customers
16. Open For Business (Time this carefully)
17. Market and Maintain

8 thoughts on “Bed and Breakfast

  1. Wow! All right! (echoing the East Coast call!!!) I wish all the best for you guys. Hang in there and go for it.

  2. I’ve been a lurker on this journal for a while but thought I’d chime in on this one…As an avid B&B person and after having just spent a weekend at a gorgeous one I thought you might want to look into the fact that you can buy an established B&B with all the furnishings. There is constant turnover in the business and they come up for sale pretty often. There are a few sites out there that list them but the local B&B’s always know as well. Good luck!!!!

  3. Gee Beth… great minds truly do work alike. I’m in the crawling stage of eventually setting up a catering business (back in mass., after returning there towards the end of this year.) Best of luck!

  4. Melissa — thanks for the tip! That’s something that hadn’t occurred to me, though I do have some theme ideas in mind that I’d like to implement that are unique to Sabs and I.

    Auntie Q — wow! cool! I’ve debated catering too as a matter of fact, ‘cos Sabs is more of a chef and I’m more of a baker and I learned to decorate cakes back in high school.

    And back in MA — ye olde stomping grounds, or more Bostonwards?

  5. Beth, great idea and I know you’ll do it well! Just wanted to say that B&Bs and the web are increasingly going hand in hand. B&Bs are big business in VA, especially the mountains. We’ve stayed at two in two years and I found both of them online through their websites – which are hooked up via a state-wide B&B site. Some of these places are even taking reservations online – you could probably find all kinds of cool ways to connect a traditional B&B to your tech skills, that could be your niche! (You could offer "wired" rooms and other perks for those geeks who don’t want to disconnect completely while on vacation.)

    Go for it!

  6. Exactly Liz — Sebastien really wants to offer high speed access as a perk, so that we can appeal to both the "want to get away from it all" clientele as well as business travelers or other who might want to stay on the grid.

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