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Open a Bed and Breakfast, an Excellent Home Business in a Down Economy

(EMAILWIRE.COM, October 29, 2008 ) Spencer, IA -- If you on the look out for a means of making an extra income right from home, during these uncertain times, but still desire a real career, it is possible that you are suited for a career as a professional innkeeper. In a down economy, a home-based bed and breakfast inn made bring in just enough additional income to make that mortgage payment or pay to upgrade the homestead.

Owning a bed and breakfast can be personally and financially rewarding, but requires hard, skillful work. Innkeeping, like any other career, demands individuals who are sufficiently qualified for the job. “It takes an outgoing, friendly, but organized type of person to run an inn,” said Mary Nichols, owner of The Hannah Marie Country Inn ( Nichols said she became interested in the bed and breakfast industry over 22 years ago after she and her husband retired and wanted a “people-oriented” second career.

The bed and breakfast of the 21st Century Basically, is a transplant of European Hospitality, adapted and refined to the American way of doing things. To foreign visitors, it's the comfort and hospitality of home - staying overnight "with people of the land" and enjoying a hearty breakfast - without the traditional gaudiness and plastic feelings visitors get from most big city hotels in the United States. To Americans, it is a welcome alternative to the same old hotel/motel circuit. Now, all it takes to qualify is "an innkeeper's personality," a spare bedroom, good cooking skills, and the willingness to become a professional in the industry.

A property can pay for itself if the bed and breakfast is successful. Generally, people who are skilled in the business of serving others—individuals specializing in the hospitality industry, or even education or medicine—seem to make the best innkeepers. Many retirees are also attracted to innkeeping as a means of staying active without having to take on a full-time job, Nichols said.

“For a bed and breakfast to be feasible, it must have enough gross income to pay all the operating expenses and mortgage, yet still leave enough income to live on,” said Amelia Painter, author of the book "Opening and Operating a Bed & Breakfast in the 21st Century." According to Painter, "the income generated by renting out guest rooms provides a way for a nice property to pay for itself."

There are a number of good books on the market to help anyone on the B&B learning curve. One of the best is "Opening and Operating a Bed & Breakfast in the 21st Century" by Amelia Painter. This book covers innkeeping basics, but the real value of this book is in the chapters that address the Internet topics in detail and helps the reader understand the steps necessary to successfully market a B&B on the Internet.

"So - You Want to Be an Innkeeper" by Jo Ann M. Bell (Author), Susan Brown (Author), Mary Davies (Author), Pat Hardy (Author), Mary E. Davies (Author) is another good resource of reference material for anyone wanting to open a B&B. This book is recommended by the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) -- two of the authors of this book, Jo Ann M. Bell and Pat Hardy, are the founders of this national organization. This book will give you a good idea of what it takes (personality-wise) to become a successful innkeeper and it includes charts and worksheets for financial planning, property evaluation, and cash flow projections that will keep potential innkeepers' feet planted firmly on the ground. (PAII also offers a membership plan for aspiring innkeepers.)

In many ways, starting a bed and breakfast in your home during difficult economic times can be very rewarding. It can offer a low start-up investment, and it is possible to parlay it into a very interesting and comfortable income producing business - all from the comfort of your own home!

Amelia Painter, author
Amelia Painter

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