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Do You Have the Right Skills To Be An Innkeeper?

Part of a worksheet series for aspiring bed and breakfast innkeepers

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It's almost impossible to describe the typical person who operates a bed and breakfast.

They come from all walks of life, from professionals to laborers. Artists, craftsman, farmers, insurance agents, teachers and anyone else you can think of have opened and run successful B&Bs. Singles, couples and families have all been involved.

Their reasons for opening a bed and breakfast? Just as varied.

Perhaps children have grown and moved away and there are empty rooms in a large home. Some people just have more rooms than they need. Widowed or divorced people have opened B&Bs.

While they are run for a source of income, most people do not depend on them solely for their livelihood. People retired from other professions -- such as professionals or farmers -- who have a separate primary source of income often operate bed and breakfasts.

All successful bed and breakfasts have one thing in common: owners who like people!

They also like to entertain people in their homes. Many of these owners also have skills they want to use, such as cooking, to please their guests. Others may have historically significant homes they want to share with others.

Anyone seriously thinking about opening a bed and breakfast must like people and be able to deal with all types of people. This is a people business! You must also be willing to sacrifice a big part of your personal life since guests will be living with you.

Many skills are needed to run a successful bed and breakfast. Do you have what it takes?

Before spending a lot of time and money, use this personal assessment survey to help determine if you and your partner (if you have one) have the skills needed.

Answer honestly by writing yes or no to each statement below. (Remember, this survey is for you -- if you're not completely honest with your answers, it won't do you any good!)

Complete the survey for both yourself and for your partner. Have your partner do the same. (So you both fill out the survey twice.)

Personal Assessment Survey

  • I enjoy getting up early and preparing meals.
  • I'm highly organized and manage my time well.
  • I'm self-motivated and a self-starter.
  • I can do several tasks at one time.
  • I enjoy entertaining.
  • I find it easy to get along with most people.
  • I'm tolerant and patient.
  • I can handle conflict without alienation.
  • I work well under pressure.
  • I can work long hours and face a variety of interruptions.
  • I learn from mistakes and make changes as needed.
  • I keep my home neat and clean at all times.
  • I enjoy performing home maintenance.
  • I'm cheerful.
  • I enjoy interior decorating and remodeling.
  • I enjoy gardening and landscaping.
  • I have a regular income.
  • I communicate well on the phone.
  • I write well and regularly.
  • I'm persistent.
  • I consider myself a risk-taker.
  • I have a high energy level.
  • I enjoy serving others.
  • I consider myself flexible.
  • I have a good business sense.
  • I can handle the business end of a B&B.
  • I handle emergencies well.
Compare your answers with your partner's. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Did any of your answers -- or your partner's answers -- surprise you?

Now identify, in writing, your strengths and weaknesses. If you plan to become an innkeeper, your strengths should outweigh your weaknesses and you need to determine ways to compensate for the weak areas.

This series of worksheets and information was originally written by Eleanor Ames, a Certified Family Consumer Sciences professional and a faculty member at Ohio State University for 28 years. With her husband, she ran the Bluemont Bed and Breakfast in Luray, Virginia, until they retired from innkeeping. Many thanks to Eleanor for her gracious permission to reprint them here. Some content has been edited, and links to related features on this site have been added to Eleanor's original text.

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