How to Start an Airbnb

Airbnb has only been with us since 2008, but over the last few years, it’s turned over half a million people into entrepreneurs. The concept of renting out space through Airbnb is relatively straightforward, but setting yourself up for success requires a little more work.

We don’t think that creating an Airbnb business needs to be daunting, and we’re here to help. We’ve supported over 250,000 people to form a business and provided answers, guidance and support to transform them into entrepreneurs. We’ll guide you through what you need to know to start your Airbnb venture and get it off the ground.

From validating your business and doing the research to filing your paperwork and running your business, this guide will help you out.

How to Start an Airbnb

Read on for some insight into creating your own Airbnb business and becoming an entrepreneur. In this guide we will cover:

  • Statistics on why you should start an Airbnb business
  • How to find out if an Airbnb business is right for you
  • Ideas for the type of Airbnb business that you could form
  • Proving your Airbnb business can work
  • Business plans for Airbnb companies
  • Choose the right business structure for your Airbnb company
  • Setting up your Airbnb business including location, equipment, employees, taxes, finances, licenses and more
  • Where to find Airbnb business groups, forums and support
  • Useful online tools for Airbnb business owners

Why You Should Start a New Airbnb Business

Airbnb has made it easier than ever for people to become hosts—people that rent out property for others to stay at. Airbnb is a ready-made marketplace for guests, with millions of listings around the world. Here are some statistics on the power of the Airbnb industry:

150M

There are over 150 million users on Airbnb

$34B

The largest market for Airbnb is in the US, with an economic impact of $34 billion

500M

There have been more than 500 million stays through Airbnb

45% increase in Airbnb bookings year-to-year
  • Half of Airbnb users stay in an Airbnb instead of a hotel
  • More than two million people stay at an Airbnb on any given day
  • Almost nine in ten reservations are for two or more people
  • The compound growth rate since 2009 has been over 150 percent a year
  • There has been a 45 percent increase in U.S. bookings year-to-year
This is why Airbnb businesses are so exciting — how can you be a part of that success? We're here to help you figure that out.

Is Running an Airbnb Right for You?

Before deciding to start an Airbnb business, it’s important to understand the skills and approach you’re likely to need.

an airbnb host's responsibilities

A Day in the Life of an Airbnb Host

Here are some of the typical tasks you’ll be performing for your Airbnb business on a daily basis.

  • Answering questions from guests and providing useful information
  • Arranging for cleaning and other routine tasks at your properties
  • Taking care of repairs and maintenance
  • Ensuring that bookings are up-to-date
  • Getting information and photos to create compelling Airbnb listings
  • Uploading and managing listings on the Airbnb platform
  • Minimizing cancellations of planned visits
  • Setting prices for guests to stay in your property
  • Responding to reviews from guests

Skills Needed by an Airbnb Business Entrepreneur

The following skills will be very useful in your role as an Airbnb small business owner.

  • Organizational skills to stay on top of your enquiries and bookings
  • Interpersonal skills for managing the people that provide cleaning, maitenance and other services at your properties
  • Planning skills to offer the amenities, supplies and services that your guests want
  • Financial management skills so you understand the money you’re earning from rentals

What Your Airbnb Guests are Looking For

Airbnb customers, commonly known as guests, are looking for:

  • Properties that match the listings provided by the host
  • Properties that are safe, clean, and well-located for their needs
  • Properties that are priced appropriately for their location, demand and the time of year
  • Common amenities including clean sheets, toiletries, a first aid kit, etc.
  • Easy access to the property
  • Important information like contact details, good local restaurants, transit stops, emergency service numbers, etc.

Creating a Unique Airbnb Business

When it comes to starting an Airbnb business, you want to make sure that your property and listings are unique, so you can attract customers. You can do this by highlighting certain aspects in your listings:

  • Get a professional to photograph your property, so it’s portrayed in the best way
  • Invest in making your property look good, with a fresh coat of paint, new furniture and a deep clean
  • Highlight anything unique about the property, like original features or unusual facilities
  • Show how close you are to public transport, local points of interest and restaurants
  • Maintain a listing that gets good reviews from guests and builds trust

Validating Your Airbnb Business

Getting started in an Airbnb business is easy, but becoming a success is harder. Before committing too much time, energy and money into your new Airbnb business, it’s important to test the marketplace.

  • Identify your Airbnb business’s unique selling points (USPs): We’ve covered some key points on how to differentiate your listings above, but it’s important to reiterate: If you want your Airbnb business to be a success, you do need to stand out.
  • Look at who your competitors are in the space: Having competitors is a good thing as it shows there’s a market, but you want to avoid too much competition. Look at how many other hosts are providing accommodation close to your location, and see how they position their listings and prices.
  • Understand your market: You might want to target your listings to a particular type of guest, so if you know there’s a market, make sure your accommodation reflects what might be of value to them. For example, younger people might want vibrant nightlife and a very modern place to stay, while older people could want more peace and quiet, with natural outside space.
  • Get involved with business communities and discussion groups: One of the great things about Airbnb business is that there are plenty of great communities and discussion groups. Get involved in them and learn the ins and outs of your chosen market before committing.
social media responsibilities

Your Airbnb Business Needs a Business Plan

You might not think you need a business plan for your Airbnb business—after all, if you’re getting guests through Airbnb, and they’re paying, you don’t need a business plan, right? Wrong.

You need to define how you’re going to run your Airbnb business, market your property, get sales, make a profit and grow. This can only come about through creating a watertight business plan. It will help you get your thinking in order and show your commitment to your Airbnb business.

You will also need to look at financial projections for your Airbnb business. What are your expected booking revenues? How much is it costing you to buy and maintain the property? What is your profitability? How much money will you keep in the business to grow it? How much will you pay yourself and others?

Business plans do vary slightly, but they should all cover the following areas:

parts of a business plan
  • 1 An executive summary with the most important points from your business plan
  • 2 Your goals and what you hope to achieve with your bar or club business
  • 3 A description of your business, background information and context
  • 4 A market analysis and likely demand
  • 5 An overview of how your business is structured
  • 6 Your business model
  • 7 How you will market and sell your offerings
  • 8 Financial projections, revenue and profitability
  • 9 Appendices

Choose the Right Business Structure for Your Airbnb Business

Now that you have all the background information for your Airbnb business, it’s time to make it into a reality. That starts by choosing the right structure or “legal entity” for your business. In the US, there are five main business structures. They are:

Sole Proprietorship

Sole Proprietorship

This is the "default" business structure and is what your Airbnb business will be if you decide not to create a more formal structure. We don't recommend this type of business as it doesn't give you the legal protections you need

Partnership

Partnership

This is a type of business that is formed when two or more people work together without creating a more formal business entity. Like a sole proprietorship, it may not give you all the protections your Airbnb business may need.

Limited Liability Company or LLC

Limited Liability Company or LLC

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is ideal for most Airbnb businesses. An LLC is easy and inexpensive to setup, and has the least administrative requirements of any formal business entity.

S Corporation

S Corporation

This is a more complex type of business and isn't generally recommended for smaller organizations, like an Airbnb business

C Corporation

C Corporation

These are the largest and most complex types of businesses and are typically far more than the average entrepreneur or Airbnb business owner will need

For more information on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of businesses, please see our in-depth guide. If you’ve still got questions, we’ve answered them to help you choose the right business structure for your Airbnb business.

In most cases, our recommendation for your Airbnb business would be to create an LLC. We’ve got a complete guide to everything you need to do. LLC formation does vary from state to state, but we’ve got you covered, wherever you are.

Setting Up Your Airbnb Business Operations

Once you've legally created your bar or club business you’ll need to get some other things in place.

globe with pins in it
Location of your Airbnb Business

You can almost certainly administer your Airbnb business from home. This is great as it reduces your office costs considerably. Don't forget that if you work from home, you can write off part of your utility and housing costs against your taxes.

Equipment for Your Airbnb Business

It’s likely that the only equipment you will need to run your Airbnb business is a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Of course, you’ll also need to have supplies on hand for your properties.

laptop and smart phone
software and processes
Software and Processes

The right software and processes will make running your Airbnb business much easier. See our list of the best apps and software at the end of this guide.

Employees

You probably don’t need to hire any employees to help run your Airbnb business, but you’ll likely want to contract with cleaners, maintenance crews or a handyman.

employees
finances
Finances

You will need a separate business bank account for your Airbnb business. You might also want to consider a business credit card. Additionally, you will also need to keep careful bookkeeping records and file business and personal taxes. Here at Incfile we can even help you file your taxes

Are You Ready to Start an Airbnb?

If you have an extra room, or a whole property you want to rent out, Airbnb makes it easy. If you can create great listings, build positive reviews, understand your competitors and put together a solid business plan, you will have every chance for success