How to Start an Airbnb Business? (And How Much You Can Earn!)

January 7, 2022 by Agata Kaczmarek

Airbnb, part of the travel industry, has considerably remarkable statistics. With 5.6 million global listings, more than 900 million stays were booked through the application with an average host earning $9,600 annually

Airbnb finished one of their hardest years on record, 2020, with an IPO worth an impressive $100 billion. The global pandemic hit the travel industry especially hard with all of the stay-at-home orders around the world. A 2020 survey revealed that 70% of guests were afraid to stay at an Airbnb while 47% of hosts were hesitant about renting out to strangers.

However, a more recent report by Mashvisor shows the industry is on the mend. As we continue to fight the global pandemic and the stay-at-home orders lifted, more people are hoping to take a vacation. In fact, a survey revealed around 62% of people are planning on traveling. 

With the travel industry healing from the pandemic, this article will outline how to start an Airbnb business and get a piece of the pie with a particular focus on our Airbnb financial forecast. You can also check out our video on how to create financial projections for an Airbnb business or property.

The Steps to Start an Airbnb Business  

  1. The first and one of the most important steps is to start with a budget which will include property investment, furnishing, maintenance, repair, and outfitting such as kitchen and bathroom necessities. 
  2. Choose the best real estate market which will include research into the area where you plan on purchasing a property. Hunt down areas big on tourism through attractions and activities.
  3. Study local laws and regulations concerning hosting an Airbnb in the area in which you’re going to make the investment. 
  4. Name the business and start a legal entity such as an LLC to protect your personal assets. 
  5. Post a listing on Airbnb which will require some information about the property, but the host is able to choose their own price. 

How Much Does It Cost to Start an Airbnb Business?

Reviewing these three sources (SixFiguresUnder, PassiveAirbnb, BiggerPockets), the following startup costs can be expected.


Minimum startup cost for an Airbnb Business = $3,900

Maximum startup cost for an Airbnb Business = $30,000

Average startup costs for an Airbnb Business = $6,000


The cost to start an Airbnb business will likely vary in different areas, but there are some costs to keep in mind while preparing to start the business. Below, is a broader list of the categories of expenses to think about when beginning an Airbnb business.

  • Purchase Cost: $0 and up
  • Insurance: $500 and up
  • Furniture Cost: $2,000 - $3,000
  • Utilities and Various Subscriptions: $40 - $70
  • Home Outfitting: $200 and up
  • Replenishable Goods: $50 and up
  • Services (ex: photographer): $100 and up

How much can an Airbnb make? 

The potential for revenue with an Airbnb business is dependent upon a variety of factors. These are all key factors to think through and discuss before beginning the Airbnb journey. 


The Right Price

The most important part of determining how much your Airbnb can make you is setting the right price per night. In part, this will be based on whether you want to make this spare monthly income or make it your full-time job, but the general idea is the same. 

First, start with calculating the out-of-pocket monthly costs you’ll accrue as a result of listing your Airbnb. Some of the most common expenses will include:

  1. Rent
  2. Subscriptions such as cable and streaming services
  3. Electricity 
  4. Water
  5. Heat

As an example, let’s say your monthly expenses will be $1,000 in rent, $200 in utilities (water, electricity, and heat), and another $75 in streaming and cable. You’ll want to take these expenses and divide them by an average of 30 days in a month to get an estimate of daily costs. The equation will look something like this:


$1,000 + $200 + $75 = $1,275 / 30 = $42.50


Of course, charging $42.50 a night in this circumstance will only allow you to break even, therefore, further research might be needed to determine the best price. 

Armed with the minimum nightly price, take the time to review the Airbnb market in the area. This is what’s called market-based pricing. To stay competitive, you’ll want to ensure you are staying within the rough ballpark of what others are charging in the area for a similar space, while still staying above the minimum amount you’ve determined earlier. A quick Google search will help with this estimate.

Another way to set the price is using target-based pricing. Rather than worrying about the market, you take into account the amount you want to make at the end of the month or year. For example, if you know you’d like to make $1,000 a month from your Airbnb listing and your expenses are $1,275, you’ll want to ensure you bring in $2,275 every month, or a charge of $75.83 a night. 


Demand

The demand for Airbnb’s continues to grow the longer the global pandemic has raged on and expects to catch up to pre-pandemic numbers quickly. Throughout the year or even month, demand will ebb and flow as normal, despite the pandemic. 

Vacation months tend to remain around the summer months as well as holidays, making those times of the year the most in-demand. You’ll find more bookings throughout those times, which are likely to fall away around back-to-school season.

Demand has to be taken into account when determining potential annual revenue and the setting of the price for the Airbnb listing.


Location


The location of the Airbnb listing will make all the difference when it comes to the potential revenue. If you’re located in the heart of a tourist area, you’ll find more bookings throughout the year at very competitive prices. You might even be able to raise prices around certain more heavily traveled times of the year. 

Of course, locations off the beaten path also get bookings, but they might be fewer with a less competitive edge. Depending on how much you’d like to make from your investment, this is something to pay particular attention to as you set a budget for the Airbnb you’d like to purchase before you settle on the ultimate location.

Airbnb business revenue potential

The revenue potential of an Airbnb business can be calculated by the expected number of customers throughout the year multiplied by the nighty charge.

A quick look through a search engine might provide some insight into current trends throughout the location of the Airbnb. However, as an example, we can look at a potential for 20 nights booked throughout the month, at 12 months leading to a rough estimate of 240 nights booked. If you use the price of $75 a night, that leads to revenue of $18,000 a year, or around $1,500 a month. 

Of course, there are also months where there are fewer bookings and those should be accounted for. If only 10 nights are booked throughout a month, that’ll lead to 120 nights booked. At $75 a night, that will yield around $9,000 in potential revenue. 

Airbnb Business Annual Revenue

According to these three sources (NerdWallet, AllTheRooms, Dummies), these are the expected revenue amounts for an Airbnb business. 


Minimum revenue for an Airbnb Business = $5,280

Maximum revenue for an Airbnb Business = $22,000

Average revenue for an Airbnb Business = $11,000


This is, of course, estimated on one unit, rather than as a larger group. 

What are common expenses for an Airbnb business?

Operating expenses are a part of any business, no matter how big or small. Expenses are split into two categories: variable expenses and fixed expenses. 

Fixed expenses are those a business can expect no matter the amount of work performed during the month. Variable expenses will be subject to change from month to month and are a little more difficult to predict.

Airbnb Variable Expenses:

  • Professional cleaning services
  • Soft products such as toiletries
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Utilities


Airbnb Fixed Expenses:

  • Insurance
  • Rent or mortgage
  • Accounting
  • Listing through Airbnb
  • Renter service fee of 3% when your listing is rented
  • Subscriptions and TV

The amount of revenue generated through an Airbnb can vary significantly. Some months might be better than others, such as those around summer vacation.   

Airbnb Business Profit Margin

Three different sources (GuruFocus, NextView, MacroTrends) give us the following expected profit margins for an Airbnb Business. 


  • The minimum profit margin for an Airbnb business = 74%
  • The maximum profit margin for an Airbnb business = 86%
  • The average profit margin for an Airbnb business = 80%


Combining factors such as high-profit margins, a potential for higher revenue, and fairly predictable expenses, makes an Airbnb business a good side hustle, or a permanent source of income. If you’re looking to project how your Airbnb property may perform or you need to secure some financing/investment, you can use our CPA developed Airbnb financial projection spreadsheet and our free Airbnb balance sheet template and Airbnb cash flow calculator.


Photo by Vecislavas Popa from Pexels

About the Author

A professional writer for the past couple of years, Agata holds a passion for writing from early childhood. Specializing in writing informative articles and blogs on various topics, Agata's focus is on personal finance.

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