Thursday, 30 July 2015

Aug 2015 Manifesting Bookings and Happiness a la The Secret

Aug 2015

All my life I’ve lived my life and spoken with a protection disclaimer in case I am wrong that for example, “I want to be rich” “but I’ll probably end up living in a box down by the river”.  It’s always tongue in cheek and with humour but a part of me doesn’t want to tempt fate.  Recently, a few people have pointed it out to me and I’m starting to get it.  I had a two week stint in July where luck was not really with me with bookings so I was getting discouraged and a little nervous.  Then it happened.  I woke up, after reading that darned book, The Secret, and said, OK I’m ready now for guests.  I laid out exactly how I wanted them to start booking and added that with the workshops, I wanted the universe to send to me people wanting to use my home for their workshops and to make them weekend/overnight affairs.  With the Powers That Be appropriately admonished, I turned on my phone to a booking.  Throughout the day, the phone continued to bring good news and then I got two women asking if they could have overnight retreats at my place.  Wow!  I love this positive thinking and manifesting what I want.  I also often think about the abundance of money and how I deserve to be financially stable and by golly, it’s working.  I’m fully on board and I now know that even though I’ve read all this in the past, until I’m sure and trust fully, it may not happen.  Now I am sure it will! And that's enough woo for one day.

June 2015- The Success Stories from a Mad Woman

June 2015
Well, I've been unofficially barely open for a year now and I cannot believe how far I've come. What I initially started with was rooms to rent and then I branched out to workshops when the travelers stopped in the slow season and they were fun. I even got to meet some of my neighbours finally.

Next, I started renting out my place to others having their own workshops, having cast parties and even a backyard music jam. 
I still advertise as a bed and breakfast with Airbnb, my biggest payers of my bills, but the other online booking companies are starting to help out some.

My Trip Advisor rating went from near 60 down to 15 and getting better with each review. I even had my first inquiry from a Trip Advisor seeker. I find myself today hosting a family for a week from war torn Tunisia and helping them find everything from furniture, to cars and maybe jobs.

I wear many hats from counselor, and chauffeur, to cook, cleaner, gardener, party planner, and bucket list inspirer. I have had so many 20 somethings see my wall of achievements and places I've been and they are so excited to try all the same things I was so fortunate to have my friend Melissa do all the hard work on.
I knew all my hard work had paid off when I received a phone call from a woman across the country who had read the Ottawa Tone magazine and seen my workshops, highlighting another person who had rented my space. She too wanted to rent when she was back in Ottawa. I have already been referred to a few people and just waiting for the follow up. I can almost feel the return client coming soon.
It's been a roller coaster ride but the melting pot of people I have met has made it all worthwhile. People from Belgium, France, Tunisia, Denmark, Canada, of course, the states... and all for so many reasons; Race weekend, FIFA women's soccer, business trips, and the Tulip festival. My favourite reason was two families from Hamilton area had their son and daughter in Orleans just deliver a baby so they came for the delivery...and you know what that means? Along with the siblings, the grandparents will be here every year after, competing for their grandchild's attention until I can afford to travel again myself.

Just got a call from France asking if I could accommodate a small group attending a bridal party in the area.  Yea, my name is getting out there.  I would soon find July would be slow and give me a summer break, but August is looking to be a madhouse and wonderful.  

April 2015 What I've Learned in One Year about What NOT to do.

April 2015 

As you have heard many times, the government paid me money this last year to take their entrepreneurial course and fulfill my lifelong dream to own my own bed and breakfast.  I just received my last payment yesterday.  OMG! It's do or die now.  I humbly bow down to the many who have had their own dreams and succeeded on their own dime.

This has been an eventful year for me; actually more of a roller coaster.  I was one of the keeners who jumped in blindly, sure I knew what I was doing and rented out my space before I should have, long before I was ever ready.  I cringe when I think about all the mistakes I made and the state of the house and rooms I rented out.  Those poor first guinea pigs.

 Once the course started, I had to jump thru their hoops and stop booking my rooms.   I make it sound like there were hundreds of bookings- there weren't; just one or two.  Then I started in earnest to renovate and redecorate.  This alone would make family and friends cringe as my past interior design skills have always been frightening.  I'm not saying they have advanced but I've had so much fun.

My preference run to the eclectic.  Years ago, I stayed in a B&B in Quebec called Le Foin Fou and everything there was bizarre and fun.  I vowed, over time, to mimic their atmosphere.  Very shortly, I hope to have a tree in my living room, I have the falling bookshelves, a clock wall, (nope, not a wall clock), mine covers the whole wall and the time pieces are books and finally an upside down beach room that is great for photo opportunities.  I'd say that's a little eccentric.  My guy truly cringes when I suggest my next idea but eventually he comes on board, knowing full well that it will happen with or without his support... he might as well gracefully cave.  While we’ve discussed some behavior modification, he has stopped rolling his eyes and nods his head a lot, his way of telling me I’m certifiable, and then a short time later, adds some further insanity to my crazy idea. We are such a team!

Recently, I saw a flat cage on the side of the road so I knew I had to take it, if not for me, then some other needy soul.  I decided it needed to be in my garden when it was erected and a large dog cage.  My guy was not too impressed but we planted zucchini all thru it and now they are climbing the dog cage.  He even suggested putting in a large tree branch beside it and it has become the Squash Tree; so cool to see yellow spaghetti squash hanging all over it.  I finally got my upside down room in the basement.  When it’s done, I can take a picture from a very specific angle with a person touching the ceiling or lying on the floor and once developed, it looks like they are hanging from the ceiling or standing on one hand upside down.  It’s a conversation piece, much like the backyard 5 in 1 apple tree.  That’s five kinds of apple grafted on one tree.  It’s weighed heavily down with different coloured apples yet again this year.  Now I have two apple corers and they work like a charm.  I will not have to buy apple sauce ever again.    
I set up The Oasis in the backyard too.  There are now three hammocks of various kinds to sit on, hang in or lay on.  One day, Christmas lights will surround the trunks, much like the tree limb will have “growing” in the living room.  So many projects to do and so little talent from my humble little hands.  J 

My man has been a great source of emotional support from the push to start the B&B to where I am today.  His mind and ideas never stop and as a result, my mind never stops with what I must accomplish.  It's exhausting and exhilarating.  It will either fulfill me completely and make me rich or kill me (or him) until I find the balance.  Come on, I can't be the only one struggling with this.  I think about business on vacation, at family meals, at the spa, EVERYWHERE and in everything I do; yes, even there.  The monster has been unleashed and I don't know how to put her back in the cage or if I even want to.

What I started out to do was have a typical B&B with people staying over and having great breakfasts and wonderful memories, rainbows and unicorns. I imagined all of us sitting around discussing life and me fulfilling their every B&B need.  Imagine my surprise when I realized my dream of 30 years was flawed.  Guest don't actually need the host.  They want down time and quiet and for me to bugger off.  Actually, that is not exactly true.  They alternate from sitting in the kitchen for breakfast, even though I have set a beautiful table in the dining room for them so they can talk to me for hours to speaking their own language and I gracefully exit. 

Also, I now have to keep my house pristine, every freaking day.  I have to make specialty breakfasts daily and they must rock your world.  I am a great cook but not so wild about the most important meal of the day 'cause it's boring or maybe it’s just too early in the day to be inspired.  Actually, I am great at it for a few days but then, I've run out of ideas because I'm not cooking for a huge houseful.  Cooking for two is difficult to wow them after a few days.  So I realized I liked shorter term guests.  There are so many innkeepers out there who love the long stays but I'm not one of them.  What if the people don't agree with you and you are now stuck with someone in your home indefinitely.    So, I still love company but not long stays, and I still love to cook, but I'm too worried about wowing the guest to relax completely and say, this is what we are having, like it or lump it.  Just not me.

So I investigated lending out my house to a Vendor Blender with a large number of female entrepreneurs hawking their wares.  I was taken in by the, "it's great exposure" lure.  It never is.  The next time, I rented out my space to another speaker who did her own workshop and it went well.  I did not have to be the sole performer.

I also learned that I DID love to have my own workshops.  The first ones were an ungodly mess of too much stimulation, too many attendees, speakers and I only earned a nominal profit.  A newborn baby would have just started screaming at the chaos, and probably that is what I should have done.  Instead, I was sequestered in the corner, doing my healing work, somewhat oblivious to the chaos around me.  Imagine my horror when I realized that I am taxed on the overall gross amount I brought in, not the paltry leftovers after expenses.  New lesson- less is more.  So much to take into consideration.    Things then seemed to crash and burn from 18 attendees down to      2-3.   At that number, do you judge your workshop as a failure?  Finally, there was a happy balance.  At 5 people, I decided to have it anyway, thinking that it was a bust.  What I found was that I was calmer, more in control, I only paid one speaker, the attendees were blissfully happy and spoiled, and I actually made money.  It still boggles my mind.

I love the workshops because they are mostly topics I enjoy or want to explore.  The Men's Health Event was amazing in the works until the numbers went down.  I experimented with many ways of advertising but getting men to come to spend 7 hours with a fun doctor is next to impossible.   Ok, I exaggerate.  IT'S IMPOSSIBLE.   Women would have no problem with that but men are skittish animals- think deer in headlights.  The ones who attended enjoyed the event.  I think the next one will be an evening only labelled, "What Men Want, What Women Want" and I'll have two experts in the field.  I've even had to wrap my head around the idea that it's ok to break even if the numbers are low if I'm there to have fun.  I turn it into an intimate party and those are some of the best of times.  By booking the topic myself, at least I saved money on the speaker whereas if I attended an outside class, it would have cost more and I couldn't work at home in my jammies until the workshop started.    

Oh let me tell you my biggest mistake ever.  The first workshop, was a huge draw with the gifted speaker/psychic.  I had a coach tell me about how the pay structure could pan out.  From that point forward, I booked many workshops with that exact structure, sometimes thinking two speakers would be even better and paying them the same and then one day, a stranger looked at me in disbelief and said, "you provide the place, the food, and get the attendees and then pay the speakers to talk for 40 minutes each and they get to privately make their own money afterwards which you don't get a cut of????"  My heart stopped.  WTH was I doing?  Could she be right?  Could I back paddle with the booked ones or just cancel the event?  Probably not.  What if I didn't bring in enough guests?  Would I be paying out of pocket?  Man I have so much to learn.

Going forward, I will try a new format and book only one speaker, at a reduced rate, charge at the door a nominal fee, stop cooking feasts for the masses, go with potluck when possible and advertise the heck out of the event.  Invite unlimited attendees- what could possibly go wrong with that?  :)

June 2014 - My First Booking!

June 13, 2014
Just hosted my first clients, a wonderful family of five.  Mom, day and three under 13.  Oh my.  I’ve never seen children so calm and loving towards each other or well behaved.  The toddler goes to bed at 6:30 and is up around 7ish.  What the hell did I screw up with mine?  Satan and Beelzebub never slept thru the night and they fought.  This weekend, I was in the presence of Stepford kids and I both loved and shook my head in wonder at them.  Darned perfect parents. 
With that said, I learned a lot about myself this weekend.  I am looking to be of service and pamper couples who want to be pampered.  Travelers just want to be left alone mostly and I sit by like an annoying mother hen, waiting to serve, feed and pamper.  If they have youngsters to cater to, or they are too busy to be pampered, well I’m just annoying, waiting to pounce, vulture like.  No one wants that.   I’m like the BnB stalker lady.    Also, why didn’t anyone tell me that BnB owners without staff have to do all their own laundry and cleaning.  What the hell!  It didn’t help that the day prior, I had just received all my beds, and mattresses and duvet covers and mattress covers and sheets and pillowcases.  Some kind person suggested I wash everything as there were a few wrinkles.  What a wonderfully time consuming good idea that was.  The only think is, drying did not take out the wrinkles but introduced 3000 more.  Now my new beds looked like homeless people had borrowed the sheets for a month.  What a disaster.  I ended up “happily” like the the troll, no, the dwarf- probably Grumpy or Fed Up from Sleeping Beauty, ironed the one for the main bedroom but ran out of time for the other four beds.
I finished all the setup a half hour before they arrived so by the time they were at the door, I just wanted to scream, take to your rooms and don’t ever come out.  J  Of course I couldn’t take out my exhaustion from the last two months on them and rather served hot chocolate chip cookies and lemonade.             

May 2014 No One Prepared Me For Business and Going to School

May 7th, 2014
My contractor came back from being away and is already too swamped for me.  Bloody hell.  He’s the best.  I’ve put feelers out there and even asked the teacher of a vocational college if he has any names.  Now I wait for the lad to call me back and the waiting is killing me.  I attended a book club and when there was a lull, I asked for opinions on my romance package.  They loved it and said it was grossly undervalued and I should raise the price but not before they used it first.  Already, I’ve sold two, a possible snowbird house sitting and a few family overflow promises. 
I was supposed to go to Toronto to stay at an Air B&B to check it out and ask so many questions. While at the Civic, I scoped out a number of places to advertise with the social work department and communications.    
I did finally get on the course but once there I found out that few people on the course had done any impact on their jobs.  Me, I went home and started to prepare my home; you know, doing the kind of work that most people do before they sell their homes, and it has been brutal.  I’ve been cleaning, de-cluttering, painting, pulling weeds, shopping, decorating, and let’s be serious, not sleeping much.  I’ve developed a twitch, I blink constantly, and fall asleep standing up often.  My eyes are permanent slits, so much so that I look evil or of the living dead.  Keep your children away from me while I am planning this business if you don’t want them to run away screaming from the scary lady.
Three weeks of intensive business study and today we are doing bookkeeping and yesterday was taxes.  OMG someone kill me. 

I survived the finance classes and the taxes and learned that I have to know NOTHING but find a good accountant and I do not need to register my business or account for GST.  I’m not fooled by the promises of the latter.  If I’m wildly successful, I will have to start from day one keeping track so I’m keeping track now.

How the B&B came about- April 2014

Found some old blogs so I thought I'd centralize them.

April 29, 2014
If you would have said, a year ago today that I would have circumnavigated North America driving by myself in a Prius for four months, I would have snorted and told you to bugger off, but I did it.  Now I’m approaching another stage of my life that I can’t believe I’m even considering. 

For over 25 years, I have daydreamed about running a B&B- it always sounded so romantic;  happy couples joining your home for happy conversations and June Cleaver cooking up a storm and everyone so grateful.  What I never factored into this fairy tale was the part where I would have to be an entrepreneur.  No, never! I have always hated the idea and fought it tooth and nail.  I do NOT want the responsibility.  I’ve coasted thru life always working for others and quite happy to let them have the grief of failure and frustration.  It never even crossed my mind that they could be successful and happy.  I guess I’ve always equated running your own business with frustration and poverty.  I’ve seen all the network marketers out there who have tried and not succeeded and I knew it wasn’t for me, in no uncertain terms.  I would never make the lawn ornaments and sell them, as my crazy older sister always wanted. 

Before I can take you thru my trials and tribulations of starting a business, I have to tell you, after three years, the universe answered my prayers in a very methodical way and introduced me to the man of my dreams.  That’s a story for another time.  His name is Al.  He’s the mirror image of me.  On our first phone call, he told me his greatest dream was to run a B&B and I just about fainted.  What are the odds that a man would untypically be interested in that?  That one statement started the ball rolling and it hasn’t stopped.  I was unemployed and trying to decide my future.  It’s been almost a year since I have been employed but I really wasn’t worried.  I truly believed the right thing would come along when it was right and meant to be. 

I was going to attempt another dream as an event planner.   The more my boyfriend talked about how to make the B&B a viable option, I resisted until one day I started to see it as a possibility and I opened myself up to the idea.  Only when I did this, could I see it…a course to Start My own Business, sponsored by the government for the unemployed walked in front of me and kicked me.  OMG, I don’t have a job!  How perfect is this?  Those old familiar voices in my head took control and told me to embrace the idea, and stop fighting working for myself.  I checked in with my EI worker and told him I might be interested and he told me it was a perfect fit for me and the orientation class was the following week so I signed up instantly.  After the orientation info seminar, they gave us exactly one week over Easter, to research everything and with all the government offices closed, it was certainly a challenge but I did it and was astounded at how much I learned and how easy it was to set up a small B&B with my requirements. 

I did the final presentation yesterday, after having a great feeling the week before when I dropped it off, and they were floored by the amount of work I did on it.  While presenting, an unfamiliar voice came out of me, one full of passion and hope and I sold them all over the place.  My numbers were all flawed so he played with them, and pulled me out of the red and into the profit zone and when I asked whether they could tell me if they had a good feeling, he said I had to wait a month like the others but to go home and start building the bunk beds.  Woo hoo!

I believe you get introduced to the people you need to meet when you are open to it and they are needed in my life.  Luckily, a wonderful couple I met at a book club felt the same way a few days ago.  They own two large chain furniture stores and offed to not only be my first customers but to outfit my home with slight defect furniture that they don’t want to sell.  He’s going to put aside everything I need so I gave him a shopping list.  Then I described the unusual beds I wanted and provided pictures and he said he just had had lunch with a homemade furniture designer and was going to get a quote.  Also, he and his wife had just come back from Mexico and saw, for the very first time, the big bed I wanted and he fell in love with it too. Now, with the furniture coming together, the only thing that would make my day more perfect would be to have two people knock at the door and say they are doing community service hours for school and can one paint my house and the other do my Social Media.  I feel like a new bird learning to soar for the first time.  I must remember these feelings once I become established and pay it all forward; help out some other newbie.

My only regret is I said that after I traveled that I would open up my home to Couchsurfers the way so many had done to me.  Maybe I could do both; paid and unpaid.  I know I always reap the rewards of doing kindness to others and it comes back in karma.  Yes, I will do it once I get set up.