From big dreams to owning a small business

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From Big Dreams to Owning a Small Business


Ten years ago, Diane and John MacPherson were at a crossroads in their careers. After careful thought and planning, they decided to start their own small business and open a bed and breakfast across the country. Here's how they made their dream a reality.

The MacPhersons were living in Laguna Beach, California, and working "typical corporate jobs" when they realized they were just living for the weekends. As passionate bike riders and foodies, they worked hard on a business plan to mesh everything they loved to do. Soon they were owners of Foster Harris House in Washington, Virginia.

The couple learned several lessons on their journey, specifically while considering the recession and their newborn baby. "One of the most important [lessons] was to start off with a rainy day fund, as opposed to planning on building a rainy day fund," John says.

In the first few years, the MacPhersons quickly saw a trend of seasonal dips in business, which left them in the red for a few months. It's typical for B&B owners to experience this, but the times were still scary for the budget-conscious couple. To balance their profit and expenditures, they astutely planned to make major business expenses during peak revenue times.

Growing Foster Harris House to pay for their retirement and child's education took a little more creativity. "We added a dinner service, we started doing the cycling tours and we published a cookbook," Diane explains. "And we're going to continue to find ways to make the business bigger and better so that we can eventually retire some day."

While owning your own business isn't easy, the couple advises hopefuls to hang on to their aspirations, especially when times are tough. Diane adds, "If you don't stick with your dream and put 100 percent into it, you'll never know if you can make it or not."

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From big dreams to owning a small business
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