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Ryan Champion from Bristol says himself that he hasn’t always been good with money but it would seem he was born with an entrepreneurial streak. Before he even knew what an entrepreneur was he was flying to Morocco to source beanie hats, which he later sold for a profit at festivals in the UK. Then five years ago he found himself “accidentally” starting an airbnb business in Bath, which turned over £26,000 a year and eventually allowed him to work from a beach in Thailand.
It all began shortly after arriving back in the UK having been living in Asia for a few years. Ryan’s girlfriend asked him to rent a property in Bath because she was planning on setting up a business.
The business never got off the ground – so he was left with a four bedroom house that he didn’t know what to do with.
After checking with the landlord and agreeing to pay 25 percent more in rent, he listed the rooms on Airbnb and hasn’t looked back since.
He says although the first year was ‘a hard slog’ it wasn’t long until he was running it from a faraway beach.
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“Within 12 months of me ‘Airbnb-ing’ a room I’d moved to Barcelona for two months to see if I could run it without me being there,” he explained. “One of the things that appeals to me is being location independent.”
It may have allowed him to enjoy a laptop lifestyle, but Ryan’s journey wasn’t without its ups and downs.
“It was a bit of a love/hate relationship to be honest,” Ryan laughed. “Yes £26,000 is great but it was an accidental project and never something that I absolutely loved doing.”
Despite the fact that he had to invest a lot of time into it in the beginning, once it was up and running he also jetted off to Thailand and Egypt.
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Rent to rent is a business model that has become more popular over recent years as landlords become more open to letting their property out to one individual who sublets.
Often this is an entrepreneur who has the time, skills and patience to market and then sublet the individual rooms to students or Airbnb guests.
As with anything, it’s more time consuming than one might think and it’s advisable to not try and run this alongside a full time job or from a beach for at least the first six months to a year.
Ryan said: “I couldn’t commit to anything for the first year – I had a couple of part time jobs and still carried on with my freelance work but they had to be flexible to fit around the airbnb business.”
However, once the business is set up to run ‘like a well oiled machine’, there’s no reason why people couldn’t do this alongside a full-time job, or indeed from another country, according to Ryan.
“You don’t see Richard Branson stressing out and he’s got 25 businesses,” Ryan laughed.
“The message here is can you give up six months of your life in the beginning.”
Although Ryan’s landlord was reluctant at first, he was really happy with the arrangement once he’d inspected the property and got to know him.
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It was an experience Ryan will never forget and he says that lots more landlords are open to letting this way than they were five years ago. For other people thinking of going down this route, he recommends that they:
- Always check with the landlord first
- Set up online systems so that everything runs like clockwork
- Find a good cultural fit when hiring other people but give people flexibility.
Since the pandemic, Ryan is no longer running the Airbnb but says it allowed him to hone a lot of new skills. He now uses his experience to hire content writers, work as a business coach and run his own website ryanchampion.me
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