We owe the internet a little insight into why we became innkeepers.
Moving on from 9 to 5
Dissatisfaction with our prior professions and career trajectories was the starting point for both of us. After 25 years of educating young people, Mary Ann decided to end her career. The teaching profession has changed so much since she earned her degree. The children were a blessing year after year. However, school administration, technology and parent expectations became an increasing distraction from the joy that should have been derived from working with the students.
Bill realizes now that there’s a natural ending to everything. For his previous position that ending probably came about two years ago. The kindness and generosity of the people he worked with really kept him going. The extra year gave him the time to get in the right headspace to start a new small business.
Investing in ourselves
Sure, no one just has a bag of money lying around to just invest in a new business. But Mary Ann and I have been frugal with our salaries and we did save and invest for retirement. That’s why we call this opportunity our pre-retirement venture. We used a relatively new investment vehicle called a ROBS, short for Roll-Over for Business Start-up, to facilitate the inn purchase. I find the abbreviation kind of funny since it makes it sound like something illegal.
At the core, it’s a pretty simple process. Instead of your 401K or IRA investing in stocks or bonds, it invests in you. You create a corporation and sell stock to your retirement plan. Yes, this can be an incredibly risky venture so it’s imperative that we did our homework, both on the advisors that helped us form the corporation and on the underlying business that we purchased, The James Place Inn. We believed in ourselves enough to invest in our dream.
Innkeeping as a couple
Innkeeping is really a perfect couples project. We get to exercise some creativity in the process of cooking breakfast together. Plenty of things happen during the day that allows problem-solvers to engage their wits. Extroverts are in their glory welcoming the guests, dispensing sightseeing, shopping and meal recommendations and figuring out new marketing opportunities. Technical and detail-orientated character traits are handy to keep the major inn systems functioning efficiently and in keeping the accounting books straight. There’s something for everyone and enough to keep both busy during the day.
During the peak summer season, I have to say that it was strange heading off to bed at 9PM but you need to in order to get up refreshed and ready to face a new day at 5AM when the alarm goes off. We’ve had a chance to be “lazy” since the winter holidays when the reservation pace slows.
Our hope for the future
At the start, we decided we weren’t doing this venture to get rich. We are hoping to do the right things along the way where something like that might happen. Instead, we wanted to spend more time with each other and focus on the guests and allowing them to have the best experience possible. We’re making improvements and upgrades to the inn to demonstrate our commitment. Additionally, Mary Ann has really enjoyed sharing experiences with other teachers that are on vacation when passing through. We are actively looking for ways to reward teachers and other professionals that stay with us. If you have any suggestions…..