If the passion is in doubt get out!
B&B industry guru Tina Boden provides some core tips on leading your hospitality business to success and avoiding the risk of ending up in a dead end
For many running a luxury B & B seems an idyllic way of earning a living; cooking a handful of breakfasts, making a few beds and smiling sweetly at guests as you open the door to them – how hard can that be?
Those that have worked, trained or been brought up in the hospitality industry, as I have, know how far from reality this often is. Working, living and having customers sleep in your home, if you live on the premises, is also very different from being able to shut the door at the end of the day and walk away from the business you own. Having guests, whether you run a B & B or self-catering, can often feel like you are looking after someone else’s children – the responsibility can be just too much especially if they are the demanding type.
There should be a handful of B&Bs dotted across the globe where potential guest house and small hotel owners can go along for a couple of months to run the place single-handedly before they commit to their own business, especially if they have no industry experience at all. Buying or setting up a luxury B&B is a huge investment, not only financially but physically and mentally as well.
Never fully dressed without a smile
Starting out in business is very much like going into a new relationship; it’s all about looking good, making the effort and ensuring you do things just right. Unfortunately, however, in business, unlike your personal life, as the newness wears off and familiarity creeps in, you cannot start to slob around in your PJs, make-upless and with your hair all over the place. You are never fully dressed without a smile in a customer-facing business, even with the guests you want to scream at.
It is even harder when your business is your home: there is nowhere to hide, and it’s a 24/7 thing. The chore of being nice and smiling not only makes your cheeks ache, but can become a real pain in the backside as well. Eventually this can start to have an impact on you and your feelings towards the business you run.
What Is Your Vision?
In my December piece I wrote about the importance of planning for the year ahead and the positive impact this can have on both your business and you. There is a lot of discussion about the importance of business plans in the business support and mentoring world. Predicting cashflow, understanding target customers, knowing who your competitors are, making sure you have done your market research; the list is long, but the plan you create is pure fiction until you start to trade.
A business plan is useful but a vision for where you want to go in life, that includes your business, is far more important. My advice to clients starting out in business is to create a five-year vision of where they want to take the business and their life. Look at the goals they want to achieve along the way and ensure the business can help them do this – if not, why would you consider taking it on? You need to have passion for what you are doing or going to do. If the passion is in doubt you need to get out whether that is before you start or part way through. No one else will feel the same about your business as you do, if you are not passionate about what you are doing why should anybody else be, whether that is staff or customers.
As The Tiny Troubleshooter, I often work with micro and small business owners who have found themselves on a treadmill, running a business for which they no longer have a passion but cannot see a way out. Creating an exit strategy is very important, even if it is not imminent. Time flies when you are having fun and even if the joy that your business used to bring is dwindling, the months pass by so quickly.
My advice to you in March is to grab a very large piece of paper and some coloured felt tips and draw your life and business vision for a period of between two and five years from now, if you have not done so already. In the words of Lewis Carroll: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Ensure you keep going on the path that takes you where you want to go not leads you to a dead end. It is so much better for your mind, body and business.