Alton’s in the midst of a career change, transitioning from a management consultant to running a bed and breakfast guest house and as part of ‘Learning at Work Week’, he’s been contemplating what he’s learned.
Over the last year, a combination of Covid lockdowns and a stint in hospital gave me some time to mull over what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’ve often dreamed of running a food business, as I love cooking. I explored various options and decided running a guest house was what I wanted. After an extensive search, I fell in love with a guest house in Blackpool. My offer was quickly accepted and my house sold within 24 hours. The whole ‘upping sticks and moving’ to the North West coast happened so quickly I didn’t have time to contemplate everything that could go wrong and all the reasons not to do it. I just went with my gut instinct and dived in gung-ho!
I firmly believe I’m making a huge lifestyle change and not having a midlife crisis. I’m still on my journey; I’m just pausing for a pitstop to reflect on my learning.
I took an official training course (online due to the pandemic) and joined a Facebook group of like-minded people who currently run a guest-house; where you can ask every single question you can imagine and not feel too stupid in asking it. People are very supportive and it’s been absolutely the best community for sharing stuff.
I’m a belts and braces kind of guy and investigate the detail down to the nth degree. I researched, researched, and then researched some more; discovering all about relevant legislation, finances, and health and safety. I like lifting the veil on a new industry, delving into how it all works, and then becoming part of it.
I’ve discovered that when I want something, I just go for it, even though there are a million reasons not to do it. I feel the fear and do it anyway (I think that may be the title of a book!) Hopefully, I won’t regret it! My attitude is that if it does all go wrong, I’ll just move onto the next project in my life, otherwise I’ll never move forward and just stagnate.
The current owners are acting as mentors to me and this is invaluable. A couple of times in my life, I’ve taken different turns and tangents and I find it quite invigorating and thrilling. I love learning new stuff and then putting it into practice. It’s about having the right positive mindset.
Mindset is mega crucial. Hone it, as your mindset affects how you do stuff. If you expect it to be a disaster it will, if you expect it to go well, then that’s what will happen. My mindset focuses on learning as I go along. Like anything in life, it’ll never be perfect. I’m curious about how stuff works as it drives me to be better. Recently I’ve been watching YouTube videos on what can go wrong in a guest house. These videos may be light entertainment, but they do help me start a conversation of ‘What would I do if I was in that situation?’
To summarise my learning so far:
• chat to other people who already do what you want to do – don’t be scared to ask questions
• find a mentor
• plunge ahead and don’t overthink what could go wrong
• you don’t need every box ticked before you start something
• be prepared to keep learning and acknowledge that you’ll make lots of mistakes, but that’s ok as long as you learn from them
• learn from your successes as well
• reflect on your own life experiences and how you can use these to positively impact your future
• make a decision, draw a line in the sand, and move forward
Have you ever had guests in your own home? It’s not that different really. It’s just like keeping a big house and being nice to people.
Good luck Alton, we’ll be up for a visit to Blackpool soon!