Co-Founder Incorporates Social Responsibility into Business Practices

By: Meredith Flory

When thinking of ways to fight poverty, our minds may initially drift to charitable giving, political work, or volunteering, but we should also consider what impact our spending habits have on workers around the world. Business leader Andy Lower is doing just that by demonstrating how entrepreneurship can be used to empower workers in developing countries.

Lower’s career has always been focused on market-based approaches to eradicating extreme poverty, but a catastrophic event on the news led him to refocus and make changes in his personal and professional life.

“In 2013, I was leading a foundation, transitioning them from traditional grant making to investing in early-stage social businesses that were having an impact on extreme poverty. Rather than just giving money away, we wanted to invest both time and money that would lead to long-term, sustainable impact on extreme poverty,” he explained.

Later that year, a building collapse in Bangladesh resulted in the deaths of 1,134 people “who were making cheap clothes for Western consumers,” Lower says. That event changed him.

“I was personally confronted about the glaring disparity between words and action, specifically regarding our clothing. How can it be culturally acceptable to buy clothes that we know are made in sweatshops when we claim to care about issues of extreme poverty? I had various excuses/reasons that I used to justify not buying in line with my values, so I decided to go all in, and gave away all my clothes and built a new wardrobe from scratch only of clothes where we knew that everyone had been treated fairly,” he said.


2019-02-23T19:16:49-05:00February 23rd, 2019|


In a day and age when hashtags can reach anywhere in the world with an internet connection, it is vital to craft a social media policy for your team.

Unlike the traditional public relations mantra, there is such a thing as bad press when it comes to social media—and it can affect your bottom line. For business owners, this means a negative image on Twitter or a bad customer service interaction on Facebook can land your company on the evening news pretty quickly. Set yourself up for success by establishing a clear and precise policy for anyone who can represent (or destroy) your brand online.

Not sure where to start? The team at Powerhouse can assist you in creating guidance that empowers your employees to share your messaging while keeping your business out of legal trouble. Check out Powerhouse services to learn more about our COMPANY DEVELOPMENT offerings.

2019-02-23T19:17:09-05:00February 23rd, 2019|

Five Things Your Company Needs to Do on Social Media in 2019

By: Jan Wesner Childs

Whether you are just getting started online or already have a robust social media following in place, a new year is the ultimate time to evaluate your strategy. Users want more engagement from brands with a focus on personalization. After all, whom are you more likely to follow or purchase from? Someone you feel a connection to.

Check out these five tricks for getting more personal with your audience.

Connect. Making connections is the whole reason social media exists. Yet many social media managers make the mistake of posting something and then promptly moving on to the next message. Savvy marketers know that personalizing your brand and starting conversations with your followers are the keys to increased engagement. Share user-generated content. Respond to every comment, retweet, and mention. Ideally, you should put as much thought into the message in those replies as you do to each individual post, but even a simple “Thank you!” is better than nothing. Followers want to know you are listening to them and appreciate them.

Create. Post selfies, photos of your employees at work, or behind-the-scenes shots of your company. Better yet, do those things with video, preferably in 30- to 60-second clips. More than 500 million people view videos on Facebook EVERY DAY, according to an article in Forbes magazine, and posting more video should be a top priority for every company. IGTV, YouTube, Twitter, and your company website are all great platforms for video. Remember to keep it engaging and interesting. Try apps like Adobe Spark, Boomerang, and InShot.


2019-02-23T19:17:18-05:00February 23rd, 2019|

Four Best Practices for Contracting Freelancers

By: Rebecca Alwine

Freelancers are increasing in popularity as the gig economy continues to grow. For many, freelancing is the perfect way to blend their professional passions and their personal goals. But they are still professionals. They work hard, and those efforts should be rewarded appropriately.

Here are a few ways to make sure you are treating freelancers well so that they will want to work with you in the future:

  1. Use the right terminology.

Freelancers are not employees. You don’t hire them. They don’t work for you. Starting a professional relationship with a freelancer is the best time to lay the foundation of the agreement. Make sure you are using the correct terminology when referencing the contract, terms, and compensation. If you have questions on what these terms should be, check with your legal department.

  1. Honor the contract.

Just as you would not conduct business with a new client without a contract, a freelancer won’t either. And you shouldn’t expect them to. A freelance contract or agreement can be as simple or complicated as needed. But it should include a few important things like payment terms, length of period for work, and any specifics for the project they are being contracted for. Once both parties sign the contract, do not assume that “because they are freelancers” you can choose to change or ignore it.


2019-02-23T19:17:26-05:00February 23rd, 2019|

Client Profile: Beyond 214, LLC

“We were excited to work with Powerhouse Planning from the beginning after seeing the quality of their work with other companies, and we could not be more pleased with the end result. As a new retail business with a unique concept, we weren’t sure the best way to capture our audience with a printed advertisement.  Jessica and her team took our information and came up with a design that perfectly encompasses who we are, what we offer, and why consumers should shop with us. Throughout the entire process I found Jessica and her team to be incredibly professional, organized, and responsive—which is not easy to come by. Plus, we are proud to work with a company that shares in the mission of supporting our military, our veterans, and families. Thank you, Powerhouse Planning! We’ll be back!”

– Mindy Whalen, Co-founder and Manager, Beyond 214, LLC

2019-02-23T19:17:33-05:00February 23rd, 2019|


Want to run more effective social media campaigns in 2019? Lean on the power of the hashtag. Proper usage of hashtags online can attract new customers to your business and expand your digital presence. Luckily, there are tools in place to tell you exactly what’s trending while also helping you track analytics. Here are a few of our favorites: is useful if you want to zero in on your niche. The tool allows users to search for general topics, track hashtag success, and learn from featured resources. Membership is free, and there are four paid plan options with more offerings.

Trendsmap is a Twitter tool lets you see exactly what’s trending by location, so whether you are a small business in North Carolina or you run an online marketplace with global aspirations, Trendsmap is a great fit for you. It also tells you top Twitter users and offers an alert for emerging content.

Hashtagify is useful for Twitter and Instagram users. Focused on hashtag marketing, the site has a toolbar search function to look up keywords. If you’re not yet sold on the idea of how hashtag tracking can help you, the company offers a seven-day free trial.

2019-02-23T19:17:40-05:00February 23rd, 2019|

NONPROFIT PROFILE: American Red Cross Military and Veteran Caregiver Network

By: Bianca Strzalkowski

There are roughly 5.5 million military caregivers in the United States, with nearly 20% caring for post-9/11 veterans, according to findings by the RAND Corporation. The men and women who find themselves in this new role often provide their loved ones with round-the-clock care, including emotional, physical, and medical support. Research found this level of responsibility can oftentimes lead to social isolation, which led to the creation of a peer-based network to help caregivers feel less alone.

The American Red Cross Military and Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN) was launched to serve caregivers of all eras, of all relationships, and across all locations. It uses peer-based programs and services to meet caregivers in a way that works best for them, whether that be one-on-one, in a support group, or through an online community.

Director Melissa Comeau explains the top challenges facing caregivers today include employment, mental health, finances, lack of respite, and difficulty accessing VA caregiver programs. MVCN leans on volunteers to create a strong peer support network to address these trends. (more…)

2019-02-23T19:18:02-05:00February 23rd, 2019|

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s Randi Cairns

Randi Cairns is one of Powerhouse’s writers extraordinaire. She pretty much handles it all, from content creation, to technical writing, to grant writing. If one of our clients needs a writer of any kind, Randi is one we go to first! Currently, she turns her talents to clients like Operation: Job Ready Veterans (grant writing), MILLIE/Agent Intel (blog and e-newsletter writing), and Powerhouse (content/resource creation, and blogs/newsletter article writing). So, as you can see, we’re not exaggerating when we say she can write anything.

Randi has been with Powerhouse for three years. She loves that we’re all about our team and that our team is family. She is inspired by the incredibly talented people she gets to call co-workers, and she considers Jessica Bertsch to be “one of the most genuine and caring business owner you could ever hope to know and work for/with.” Yep, we concur 100%. Is it any wonder that in five years Randi sees “total world domination in the best possible way for Powerhouse”? Randi hopes she gets to be along for the ride, and we sincerely hope she is because she’ll be one of the reasons for that domination.

Randi’s professional heart belongs to helping businesses succeed, especially nonprofits or those that have a mission to help others. Personally, she describes herself as “the offspring of a fierce, protective mama bear and a tree-hugging do-gooder.” For her it’s all about advocacy for those in need and all-encompassing love. As she says, “Nobody gets to mess with my village, and my village grows daily.” (May we just interject that we love writing pieces about writers? They have the BEST one-liners!)

Referencing that mama bear side of her, Randi is mom to four of the most awesome military “brats” (we’d humbly like to offer that that term should be “mini-heroes”) of all time who are now 25, 23, 15, and 14 years old. They are the best part of her day, each and every day, even if just seeing those ages in writing causes a gray hair to appear. In addition to being an exceptional mother and a national advocate for military families for over two decades, Randi spends what little free time she has with her children, binging on Netflix/Hulu, reading, cooking, or writing for fun. She also likes “piña coladas and getting caught in the rain” (maybe this is a Powerhouse thing?), though she doesn’t have time for most of these activities right now. She’s too busy advocating for those who can’t speak for themselves and raising productive members of the next fierce generation.

We asked Randi for some tidbits nobody knows about her, and she provided us with two absolute gems that truly sum up who she is. First, while her husband was deployed, Randi spent two hours cutting a cast off her leg with a steak knife so she could drive her kids places and get to work. She succeeded, but admits that the surgery she had to have to repair the damage she caused may not have been as empowering as the act that made it necessary. Two, she delivered her third child by herself in the bathroom of an Olive Garden about 30 minutes after she saw her OB, who told Randi that she was crazy for thinking she was in labor. The only things she regrets? That her son doesn’t get free Olive Garden for life and that there’s no commemorative plaque in that bathroom stall. Yep, this is why we love her.

So, as Randi says, “If you want the world’s best team of highly skilled and amazingly competent professionals to create magic for your business or nonprofit, led by a business owner with a heart of gold and a commitment to providing the best possible service, and you’re not already putting Powerhouse Planning to work for you, you should ask yourself why not and change that immediately.” If you do, it’s entirely likely that Randi will put her immense talents to work for you, and we’re pretty sure her village will grow just that much bigger. After all, who doesn’t want a mama bear/tree-hugging do-gooder on their side?

2019-02-11T16:46:23-05:00February 18th, 2019|

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s Jennifer Kirkpatrick

At Powerhouse, we are incredibly proud of the amazingly talented people who work here. This year, we’re rolling out a new blog series where we will be sharing some of these powerhouses with you. You’ll get the chance to know a little bit about the fantastic team members who have helped “power” us through to some truly outstanding successes over the last few years. Before we get too carried away with the puns, let us introduce you to Jennifer Kirkpatrick.

Jennifer is Powerhouse’s multi-talented Executive Assistant. Besides keeping all of us in line and on time, Jen has the truly monumental task of keeping up with our president and founder, Jessica Bertsch. If anyone can do that, it’s Jen! Over the past three years that Jen has been with Powerhouse, Jess and Jen have developed one of the warmest and closest professional bonds. So much so that they can practically finish each other’s sentences, especially when brainstorming new, innovative ways for Powerhouse to help our clients. Having Jen as Executive Assistant is really like having a vice president, assistant, creative director, and mom rolled into one, and Powerhouse definitely wouldn’t be the same without her. It’s kind of amazing that this one talented person is a true embodiment of what Powerhouse offers: a team of incredible talent for the price of one employee. Although, if you ask Jen she’s just “blessed to be a member of this dynamic and incredibly talented and inspirational team.” Is there any doubt as to why we hope, along with her, that she never leaves or retires?

As with most of us, one of Jen’s favorite things about Powerhouse is the ability she has to grow into the full potential God has intended for her while still being able to balance family time. Her other favorite thing is getting to work with one of the most talented and inspirational leaders (Jessica) who “is guided by a moral compass unmatched by any other person.” Add in her enjoyment and pride in the work she does and the challenges she’s presented, and is it any wonder she hopes she’s part of the growth and evolution of Powerhouse for a long time to come? She’s already contributed to some of our most successful years yet, so we can’t wait to see how she’ll inspire our future success.

When she’s not devoting her skills and time to Powerhouse, you can find Jen selflessly volunteering in her community or spending time with her retired Coast Guard husband, Mitch, and their two children Michelle, 13, and Joshua, 11. Courtesy of Michelle, who plays violin, they’re treated to some pretty great music while Joshua satisfies their sports-fan hearts by graciously allowing them to cheer him on at his swim meets. Both promise to be wonderfully well-rounded, conscientious people just like their mom.

Jen also loves reading, walking on the Florida beaches, geeking out over space launches, hiking, the art of cooking, and “piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.” Mostly though, she loves to make a positive difference to those around her, which is why she served as the Ombudsman for the USCGC Confidence for two and a half years before her husband’s retirement. She was the recipient of the 2017 Wanda Allen-Yearout Ombudsman of the Year Award, which should tell you exactly how dedicated she is to helping others. You’ll always find a ready ear and a desire to help from the minute you meet her. She lives her life by the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded,” and it shows.

We asked Jen to let us in on something that people might not know about her. After she finished laughing (she’s an open book, after all), she told us that her superpower is thinking in song. Seriously. Maybe it’s because she used to sing karaoke three nights a week and maybe it’s because that’s just the kind of creative, uber-talented powerhouse she is. Whatever the reason, should you happen to meet her, ask her what song she’s thinking in at that moment. And then share it with us. Who knows, maybe we’ll even be able to persuade her to sing it for us.

2019-02-05T22:48:00-05:00February 7th, 2019|

Powerhouse Looks Forward to Good Things in 2019

Can you believe that 2019 is just about one-twelfth over? It seems like yesterday we were celebrating an awesomely successful 2018. Here at PH, though, we don’t like to rest on our laurels, and we want to a take a little time to let you know what excites us about this year.

First, we love having clients we can consistently help and see grow. Really, it’s one of our favorite things! In 2019, we look forward to continued growth among our retainer clients. We offer such a wide variety of services and goodness that our clients can consider us a one-stop shop. We’re launching into 2019 thrilled at the prospect of continuing to grow the relationships we have and foster new ones. Specifically, we’re looking to increase content-driven partnerships. After all, we’re really, really good at creating content, and we’re only getting better. So, should you wish to talk content, let us know—we’d love to help!

Along the same lines, we love our nonprofit clients. They completely own our hearts because each and every one is helping in so many different ways. We’re able to provide them a bevy of services for the price of one full-time employee. From grant writing, to graphic design and IT support, to project management, we’re able to help our clients stretch their budgets so their money can go where it can do the most good. In 2019, we hope to partner with even more nonprofit clients; when we’re an ideal dream team for them, it’s a win-win all around.

As always, our founder and president, Jessica Bertsch, loves to give back. This year, we will continue to give charitable contributions through our Share the Goodness campaign. Check out what we were able to do in 2018 and some of the organizations we helped. As part of our Share the Goodness campaign in 2019, we will continue to grow and give to the scholarship program we established with Indiana State University. Why Indiana State? Well, Jessica is an alumna, and besides, Indiana State is home of the mighty Sycamores! (Yes, we chuckle about that, too.)

Before we go, we just want to give you a taste of some of the content you’ll see from Powerhouse this year. We’ll have spring cleaning checklists for your company and for you (because everyone loves spring cleaning…Well, we feel way better after we’ve done it, anyway!) as well as checklists for grant writers and ideas about what you should have in your grant-writing library; we’ll tell you what the top five stressors are when starting a business; we’ll highlight cybersecurity, an ever-growing concern; and we’ll talk about decluttering your website. We will also be highlighting some our team members who produce top-notch, out-of-this-world content and make Powerhouse the success it is. Maybe we’ll even be able to convince Jessica to make a special appearance. One thing we hope you’ve learned by now is that Powerhouse loves to surprise, and 2019 promises to be a year full of (great) surprises!

2019-02-05T22:04:53-05:00February 5th, 2019|
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