Like so many companies in the hospitality industry, The Inn at Horn Point in Annapolis Maryland has been hit hard by COVID-19. Cory and Carol Bonney, owners and resident operators of the Inn in Horn Point, and their daughter Josalyn who works in the family business, are struggling to adapt quickly. Nav is proud to present them with $ 2,000 – second place in Nav’s Quarterly Small Business Grant – to provide crucial funds as they pivot their business.
Earnings from their grants will be used in their efforts to make their guests feel welcome and safe, and to help them switch departments to generate an additional source of income. “We introduced a ‘Breakfast to Go’ service early in COVID, and now we’ve expanded it to an ‘INN’ breakfast business for customers who don’t stay overnight,” Cory explains. “With Nav’s cash prize, we will be purchasing additional ‘2-top’ dining tables to serve our breakfast only and our internal guests. These tables will replace the large communal dining table around which guests have gathered for the 18 years the hostel has been in operation.
The Bonneys will also use the prize money to announce any COVID compliance measures they are taking to keep guests and family safe. “We are going beyond standard COVID measures,” they say.
Safety has always been a priority for this family business. In fact, it was the health of their daughter Josalyn that motivated the launch of their business. Cory had dreamed of starting a Bed & Breakfast closer to retirement age. But in 2000, Josalyn (then a baby) successfully underwent open heart surgery. In February of that year, Cory’s managerial position at the hotel where he worked was cut. While he could have accepted another position with the company, the time seemed right to make a change. They decided to start the B&B so that a relative would always be available to provide the care Josalyn needed.
Facing Financial Challenges
Over the years, the Bonneys have used a variety of funding to maintain and grow their business. They started their business with a loan from a local bank and drawing on retirement funds. They also got a construction loan, a business loan to finance the initial mortgage, and a traditional mortgage to refinance the property. They praise their local credit union which they say has been “awesome” in helping them refinance their mortgage.
They also use credit cards in their business, and pay in full each month. This helps them separate their work and personal finances, and allows them to earn travel rewards.
The couple say they found the Nav blog helpful in understanding COVID-19 Relief Loan Programs. “We have enjoyed the articles and resources on PPP and EIDL and referred to them several times,” they say.
The power of the community
These entrepreneurs learned about the Nav Small Business Grant from their SCORE mentor, Bruce Sanders, a volunteer with the Southern Maryland chapter of SCORE. SCORE offers free mentoring to small business owners through chapters across the country and nationally offers a free online COVID-19 resource center. As a sponsor of the SCORE Foundation, Nav also supports entrepreneurs through its stand at SCORE Real-Time Mentoring Room.
Cory was also selected for the City of Annapolis Small Business Reopening Task Force. He highlights this as a positive outcome of this crisis, as he was able to develop deeper relationships with his peers. “The small business community has many talented and forward-thinking people who support each other,” he notes.
They recommend that other business owners take advantage of local resources:
“Quickly explore your available resources at the city, county and state levels. Meet / join a group of small businesses to network and share ideas within a peer group that you will manage.
The Bonneys say their main challenge is letting travelers know about the safety measures they take to make them feel safe staying overnight at the hostel. They say they’ve heard from neighbors with a Short Term Vacation Rental (STVR) license that they are booked throughout their summer, in large part because travelers consider STVRs to be safer than hotels. “We need to make it known that we are going beyond COVID cleanup and social distancing, we are responsible and we can still provide the same exceptional hospitality service that we have provided for 18 years,” they explain.
When asked what they like about running their business, the Bonneys responded:
“When our guests leave our hostel, they leave with an unparalleled experience and a stay filled with the great memories we have helped create. It is extremely rewarding for us as small business owners.
If you are in the Annapolis area, be sure to stop by the Inn at Horn Point for a stay or for breakfast. Josalyn recommends that you try the crème brûlée French toast!
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