Bed and Breakfast

  • Can provide extra income for landowners
  • Requires a license and owners must be aware of all regulations that apply
  • Guest interaction is often rewarding to owners

Bed and Breakfast

Bed and breakfast businesses complement natural resource enterprises by providing unique lodging opportunities on private lands. With plenty of dedication, enthusiasm and proper planning, a farm, family homestead, historic building, or an antebellum home can be turned into a tourist destination. Bed and breakfasts provide lodging, good food and hospitality to tourists. Running a bed and breakfast business has many benefits and some rural families are finding they can earn extra income by providing tourists a quiet get-away on private land.

Getting started on opening a bed and breakfast requires applying for a variety of state and federal licenses. It is important to first research zoning laws, codes, and business regulations. Developing a business plan including goals, pricing, management policies and advertising strategies is imperative.

Guests require a lot of personal service and attention and those who are active, personable and hospitable are best suited for operating a bed and breakfast. Customers will expect the house and land to be well maintained, visually appealing and charming, so owners must pay close attention to detail and keep up with regular maintenance. Bed and breakfasts thrive on repeat customers and word-of-mouth endorsements. Giving customers special attention and a unique experience will ensure their return.

Other Publications

Developing a Bed and Breakfast Business Plan (PDF)
North Central Regional Extension Publication

This resource covers 13 steps towards developing a bed and breakfast business plan. This includes researching the market, examination of your b and b business readiness, choosing a location, forecasting sales, and developing a marketing, insurance, and financial plan. Many additional resources are listed and checklists, worksheets, and examples are provided


Developing a Bed and Breakfast Business Plan: Part 1
Michigan State University Extension

In order to begin a bed and breakfast operation, you will need to develop a strategy for your business. Writing a business plan will help you set goals, strategize how to reach them, and also help you decide if this is the right business for you. This publication goes through the steps of developing your business plan.


Bed and Breakfast Market Analysis (PDF)
University of Wisconsin Extension Center for Community Economic Development and Wisconsin Small Business Development Center

Developing a business plan for an existing business or conducting a feasibility study for a new venture requires a thorough analysis of market conditions. Market conditions have a significant impact on the profitability of your bed and breakfast (B&B). The local lodging market influences how many rooms you can sell and the rates you can charge. This guidebook will help you analyze your market so you can measure the sales potential of your operation and make more informed operating and investment decisions.


Starting A Bed & Breakfast/Farm Vacation Business (PDF)
Michigan State University Extension

Although this publication is a little older, it covers the implications of opening a bed and breakfast for families, encourages a close examination of your home for a bed and breakfast, recommends that you investigate the zoning laws, regulations, and licenses you will need to open and run a bed and breakfast, discusses developing a business plan, promoting your bed and breakfast, and provides some references.


Bed and Breakfast: Hosting Travelers for Extra Income (PDF)
Arizona Cooperative Extension

This guide is designed for people considering opening their home to guests as a bed and breakfast. It discusses the needs of guests and the needed personality of the owner, getting a license for your business, and preparing a business plan.


At Home with the Claytons’: An On-Farm Bed & Breakfast Experience: A North Central Initiative Small Farm Profitability Case Study (PDF)
UNL Center for Applied Rural Innovation

A case study of a bed and breakfast in Iowa. This study includes a description of the bed and breakfast, the history of the farm, and the history of the bed and breakfast. It provides a detailed description of expenses and income generated. The profitability of the business and the marketing they undertake is also described.


Beginning a Bed and Breakfast in South Carolina - Guidelines for Development (PDF)
Clemson University

This 38-page publication goes into detail about planning and developing a bed and breakfast, developing policies and procedures for your bed and breakfast, as well as operating and marketing your b and b. An appendix of books and other references is provided.


Starting a North Dakota Bed and Breakfast (PDF)
NDSU Extension Service

A bed and breakfast, as defined in this publication, is a private home, residence of the owner, used to provide accommodations to the public at a fee. The facility has no more than 7 rooms and provides no more than 2 meals a day to guests. The laws governing bed and breakfasts differ in each state. This publication covers the licensing regulations, water and sewage rules, food service regulations, fire safety, zoning, and taxes, and business name registration.


Starting a Bed and Breakfast in Iowa? Know the Laws that Apply (PDF)
Iowa State University

The laws and regulations that apply to bed and breakfasts in Iowa are covered.

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