Start an eco-friendly b&b by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your eco-friendly b&b. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening an eco-friendly b&b?
Assuming you already have the building or house for your B&B, the costs of becoming eco-friendly can be fairly manageable. Some easy starts are:
- offering more recycling receptacles and options (glass, plastic, paper, food waste)
- placing signs in rooms encouraging less water usage in showers and bathrooms and re-using towels
- using sustainable and local-sourced, when possible. Part of your cross pollination for your community will be to highlight how you use local and sustainable resources. List these farmers or businesses in your brochures, website, menus, and in-room literature.
You can also make larger changes, such as:
- adding solar panels or other renewable energy source machines around your property.
- creating eco-friendly tours (kayaks, hiking, biking) of local forests and waterways.
- developing composting systems for food waste and upcycling products for the B&B.
Additionally, you will need money for all state and local licensing and insurance, state inspection services, salaries for staff, and a marketing and advertising budget to inform guests of your eco-friendly status.
What are the ongoing expenses for an eco-friendly b&b?
Eco-friendly B&Bs are actually actively looking to lower the operating costs. Less trash and waste means less disposal fees, although some will be unavoidable. New linens and towels are also necessary, but should be less frequent, along with laundering costs. Insurance and licensing will always be annual expenses, along with employee salaries.
Who is the target market?
Your target market will be younger, between 25-55 and fundamentally aware of progressive ideas regarding the climate, the health of the planet, and activism in regards to these issues.
How does an eco-friendly b&b make money?
B&Bs make revenue from the guest room rentals.
How much can you charge customers?
Eco-friendly B&Bs tend to attract guests with more discerning tastes. These guests often don’t mind paying a bit more for special features, either. Additionally, these B&Bs are in beautiful locales and the experience should match the views. Guests can expect costs anywhere from $350 per night and upwards into the thousands for certain locales.
How much profit can an eco-friendly b&b make?
Eco-friendly B&Bs in desirable locations can become very profitable venues. By lowering overall operational costs through ecologically sound practices, annual earnings can range from $70,000 and up.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Combine B&B stays with nature explorations as weekend package deals. Teaming up with other related businesses can help the whole community.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your eco-friendly b&b is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate an Eco-Friendly Bed and Breakfast Business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
In addition, certain local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply. For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
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How to promote & market an eco-friendly b&b
Eco-friendly tourism, as an industry, is growing in popularity. To garner the attention of your target audience, you’ll need to focus more advertising and marketing towards the systems they inhabit. Technology and online life will be important factors to consider in approaching marketing. Not just flashy signs and memes, but actual connectivity is important for advertising to younger audiences. Engagement in social media means regularly having a voice as a business. Blogs, posts, and tweets will all garner some attention.
You must also inhabit and fill out your brand. Eco-friendly is a statement and will align your businesses with a wide array of allies, but do not betray your brand. Failing to live up to the expectations of your talk will cause supporters and customers to walk. When you choose to present yourself as eco-friendly, prepare also to operate as such. Online will allow for this self-promotion quite exceptionally, as long as you’re savvy with your responses, connections, and alignments.
How to keep customers coming back
Customers in this situation want to believe your commitment and also feel somewhat special in your B&B. Remember to stroke these feelings a bit, and understand that some of your best advertising will be generated by positive word of mouth reviews from prior guests.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
Start An Eco-Friendly B&B In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
New and existing B&B owners who live in areas shown to value gGreen solutions and eco-friendly policies, as well as are surrounded by beautiful natural spaces will do best in their ecological conversions.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at an eco-friendly b&b?
Eco-friendly B&B owners spend much of their days like any other B&B owners by taking care of current guests and preparing rooms for arriving guests. The main differences will revolve around the various Green solutions your B&B incorporates. Some solutions include offering and monitoring numerous recycling stations, encouraging guests to dry and re-use towels, offering less packaged materials, setting lights on timers and motion detectors, and shopping locally for the products you offer in your B&B. These extra measures may take a bit more legwork, but will quickly become your SOP (standard operating procedure).
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful eco-friendly b&b?
Like all B&Bs, hospitality and customer service are at the forefront for successful management. Understanding how to handle customers and offering them amazing experiences through your business is critical. Either through teaching and training or years of experience, a successful B&B has a specific attention to detail.
Marketing your B&B as eco-friendly means also showing guests your commitment. Having knowledge of energy efficient practices and regularly choosing to upcycle will help your B&B to truly be eco-friendly.
What is the growth potential for an eco-friendly b&b?
Eco-friendly and Green solutions are constantly gaining more popularity and, in turn, greater traction amongst the general public. Not too long ago, recycling bins were few and far between, but as they became available, and the public became used to using them, more and more people chose to do their small parts. This kind of ecological awareness will continue to grow, along with the businesses and systems associated with this mindset. Especially in places of natural beauty, travelers feel strongly about doing their part to preserve these spaces. Soon, offering an eco-friendly B&B will become a tourist destination, instead of a novelty.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting an eco-friendly b&b?
B&Bs are popular tourist rentals because they offer a more personal touch to the guests’ experience. Eco-friendly B&Bs look to enhance that experience even further by tapping in to the altruistic intentions of the travelers staying with you.
- Many tourists are actively seeking out these typestype of B&Bs because of their desire to be more worldly conscious. Focus on this aspect of your B&B in much of your advertising.
- If your surroundings are the beauty of the natural world, your B&B should emulate the surroundings, as if it is a natural part of the landscape.
- Connect your business with other local businesses which offer similar experiences and amenities. Hiking and biking excursions or nature tours are great ways to sell the entire region as an eco-friendly destination.
- Advertise on websites and magazines which cater to outdoors and eco-friendly lifestyles.
- Seek out endorsements from eco-friendly organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy or The Sierra Club.
How and when to build a team
A B&B can operate with a relatively small staff, usually between three and five. Ideally, your staff should be able to work in various positions, including eco-friendly methods. As your guest book fills, bring on additional staff and assign more specific jobs.