While a bed and breakfast is by definition a lodging that serves breakfast as part of the room rate, there are several different types of B&B properties ranging from intimate family homes with less than a handful of guest rooms to full-fledged country inns with a dozen or more rooms. Part of the charm of B&Bs is that each is a bit different, but they all fall somewhere within five basic categories. A homestay, also called a host home, is a private home with one to four guest rooms that are used to bring in supplemental rather than primary income. Homestays don't typically post signs on their property or advertise, relying instead on reservations services. A bed a breakfast is a step up from the homestay, typically consisting of four to five (but as many as eight) guest rooms and a live-in owner or host family. Bed and breakfasts typically have a sign out front, advertise and conform to zoning, health and other government regulations. Bed and breakfast inns are full-fledged lodging establishments rather than a family home with rooms to rent. With six or more guest rooms and a live-in host, the B&B inn has a well-posted sign, does lots of advertising and adheres to all government regulations. Bed and breakfast hotels are really B&Bs but instead are hotels with 30 or more rooms in a historic building. Breakfast is offered as part of the room rate. Unhosted apartments or cottages are sort of a cross between a vacation rental and a B&B, a self-contained lodging that is completely separate from the host's home.
Do research in your area to see if your B&B should be targeting tourists, business travelers or couples. Is there a hospital or university nearby? Family and friends of students and patients could be a target audience. Your B&B could also be a destination for events like weddings and meetings.
First, you need your inn, whether you buy a new property or use your existing home, either possibly requiring interior and exterior renovating or refurbishing. You'll also need furnishings for the guest and common rooms, linens, kitchen equipment, cleaning supplies and appliances. Perhaps the most important office item on your startup list is a computer system for tracking reservations and deposits, performing accounting functions, maintaining guest databases, and creating marketing materials. For the office you also need phones, furnishings and general office supplies like stationary.