2019—Our Best Year Yet

Yes, that is indeed what Powerhouse Planning President and Founder Jessica Bertsch dubbed our 2019 year: the best one yet! We continued to show strong growth with a dynamic team and clients we truly enjoy. We paid about 31% more to our freelance team members in 2019, meaning we created even more jobs. Even though growth doesn’t always come easy, we took the opportunity to learn how to manage that small business growth as well as celebrate it. After all, there’s no point in having an experience if you don’t take time to reflect on and learn from it, which is exactly why we’re thrilled to be where we are. As Jessica says, “’Coming’ to work truly feels good!”

While we are grateful for our new and continuing clients and our amazing freelance team members, we’re most proud of how we’ve grown our Share the Goodness campaign. As many fans of Powerhouse know, Jessica is committed to enriching the world with 10% of Powerhouse’s annual revenue. 2019 allowed us to reach even more deserving people and organizations. So, thank you to all who have helped us “Share the Goodness.” We know 2020 will be even better.

Speaking of 2020, we are thrilled to be embarking on a new year of challenges and opportunities. We’re continuing to grow our grant-writing services and retainer-based contract clients. Stay tuned as we have some exciting announcements in the works, like really neat strategic partners and new FREE resources. Our year will be jam-packed with resources that will help you grow both individually and professional. Because it is 2020, expect to see a whole lot of monthly tips (let’s say, oh, 20 per month) on everything from how to take care of yourself and your small business to resources you never knew you needed.

As one of our valuable team members said, “With strong leadership and steadfast commitment to continually grow, improve, and provide for our clients,” 2020 is shaping up to take the Best Year Ever crown. So if you haven’t checked out our website lately, take a few moments to do so now. We’re constantly adding new resources and expanding our offerings. We’d love to show you what we’ve been up to and help you with your business needs.

2020-01-29T05:06:14+00:00January 29th, 2020|

Taking Care of Business – Jessica Bertsch, President of Powerhouse Planning

By: Julie H. Kirchner

Jessica Bertsch married her “Coastie” (that’s U.S. Coast Guard) husband, Fritz, 14 years ago, and as a family, they have moved six times. Only now, each time Jessica moves with her husband’s career, she takes hers with her—a blessing that she worked hard to create for herself just over seven years ago when she started Powerhouse Planning. Jessica’s Powerhouse has since grown to become an unwaveringly talented freelance team at the forefront of providing virtual workforce solutions for client businesses.

Jessica and Fritz have three children, including Quint (8), Gracie (4), and Auvie (3). When Fritz is underway with the Coast Guard, Jessica handles the household and the kids, along with keeping her business running successfully. She definitely doesn’t want to make this sound like it’s all a piece of cake, though—and that if you’re not doing it all and still feeling “balanced,” then you’re doing it wrong. No way. Jessica remains firmly rooted in the reality of the hard work and the personal resolve involved. “My husband has been at sea over a quarter of our marriage, so I’ve done a lot of parenting, and a lot of building a business, solo,” she says.

“I want people to be excited about where they are in their journey and to always be improving.” – Jessica Bertsch

Founder and President, Powerhouse Planning, LLC

This month, Powerhouse is focusing on the topic of self-care for freelancers and business owners. So, how does a CEO, military wife, and mother of three take care of herself?

Jessica says, “I feel like I’m the healthiest that I have been since I started Powerhouse, but it is ongoing. I have done everything you read about. I’ve set office hours—I used to be the lady who took the laptop to the couch when we were watching TV and relaxing. I set more realistic expectations for myself—the other side of this is that I value other peoples’ time and space. It’s okay to slow down, because of the way our culture is. Because of the way our virtual workforce is.”

Jessica also works to practice self-care by staying true to her boundaries, and she starts off every morning by reading a devotional to “get started on the right focus every day.” When asked if she uses reminders or time organizers to help her keep the most important things in focus, she laughs, “Yes! All the things. People would be overwhelmed if they saw my life, ‘for real.’ I am crazy organized, and I have to be, because of how our life is.” She also gives credit to her mom, who flies in and helps out when Fritz is at sea.

What other self-care habits help Jessica feel balanced, healthy, and put together? “A girlfriend once told me, ‘Jess, you’re kind of a “yes” person.’ And I am. Because someone told me that and called me out on that, I’m kind of aware that I don’t have to volunteer for everything,” she says. And now, Jess says, “I take a moment, whenever I do say ‘No,’ to feel proud of myself, because I’m being balanced on my priorities.” (more…)

2020-01-14T18:47:00+00:00January 14th, 2020|

Did You Know?

January is typically a month full of resolutions, goals, and aspirations for the coming year. It makes sense given we’re leaving the old behind and beginning anew. What better time is there to take a moment for some self-care? Let’s face it, freelancers and small business owners might be some of the worst offenders when it comes time to “pamper,” but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things we can do that are good for business and might just make our lives a little easier, too.

Check out some of our checklist resources. New to grant writing? Attending any conferences this year? Have a resolution to work on team building? Let Powerhouse save you some time and utilize the checklists we’ve already built for you. Or take a moment to review the services we offer. Maybe the best way you can help yourself this year is to let us handle some things that free you up to be the best you can be professionally. Whatever you decide, take some time to focus on you, your business, and how 2020 can be your best year yet.

2020-01-14T18:43:33+00:00January 14th, 2020|

Five Tips to Host an “Influencer” Party

By: Karen Pinkston

Part of self-care as an entrepreneur is celebrating your success and having fun by engaging with your customers and fans. This new year, why not host a different sort of party, where your team can have a blast while also promoting your brand at the same time.

Influencer events, where you invite social media influencers to sample and preview your products, are becoming one of the biggest trends to grow your brand with like audiences. With more than one billion active users each month, your company has an opportunity to target niche audiences and build brand loyalty with Instagram influencers.

But to make your party successful, you’ll want to follow these top five tips.

#1 Pick the right influencers.

The first step is to find the micro-influencers, people with fewer than 20,000 followers, who really connect with your brand. They must have a genuine interest in your type of products and a history of showcasing similar content. One successful example is when a Canadian ski resort wanted to attract new visitors, they used a top adventure photographer to showcase their resort on Instagram and with short Facebook videos. His stunning photos showed an authentic “insider secret” to escape the crowds, reaching the resort’s target audience of travelers.

#2 Create an Instagrammable invite.

When you send your invitation, make it creative to get the influencer excited about coming. If it’s really good, then they might even post in advance about the event to get their followers amped. For example, when a new outside entertainment venue opened in Tampa, Florida, the developers sent influencers “invite packages” that included Polaroid cameras. Influencers used the old-fashioned cameras to take preview shots of the park, Sparkman Wharf, and post them.

[More tips on upping your “influencer” game here!]

#3 Location is everything.

When meeting with your team, think of the most visually interesting location to host your event. Is there a hip rooftop bar, a new, trendy hotel lounge, or even a cruise ship where you could host your party? Keep in mind that you’re trying to create the best photo shoot opportunities. Think about places with great lighting, and make sure there’s reliable Wi-Fi and outlets to keep your influencers connected and charged up. An example is Instagram’s own annual top influencer event, Instabeach on Malibu’s beautiful strip.

#4 Little details matter.

When you invite your influencers, make sure you clearly explain to them what they should do. Do you want them to make one post about the event and by what timeline? Choose a single, simple hashtag for your party and print it on as many outreach and promotional materials as possible. This will encourage others to use the hashtag and create an easy way for you to track your success.

#5 Have fun!

Think of creative games and contests to keep influencers engaged during your event. Plan to have great food and snacks as well. The key is to make sure that everyone has a good time so that your team feels good about the event and your influencers leave with a positive impression of you and your brand to share with the masses.

2020-01-14T18:40:36+00:00January 14th, 2020|

Fine-Tuning Your Communication Skills

By: Meredith Flory

For entrepreneurs, our increasingly technology-driven society can be a blessing as unique ideas, products, and services can reach clientele and specific market niches easily. However, when considering self-care and needed time away from one’s desk, constant communication through email, texts, and social media can also be a source of stress. Each business needs to make a plan for approaching communication among staff, clients, and the public to protect not only your business interests but also your mental and emotional health.

Set limits and expectations for communication.

Smartphones are able to keep us connected to our teams and clients, but it’s important to understand both spoken and unspoken communication rules for the field you work in. Make firm decisions as a staff as to how long is acceptable to wait to respond to an email, text, or phone call during the workday and how you will handle away messages or direction to a coworker when out of the office. Make sure rules are clear for how those out of the office are allowed to set limits on responding.

Be present with those in front of you.

While setting rules for being in contact with your team is important, it’s also good etiquette to know when to put away the phones. Make sure staff understand that when you are at a work function, such as a dinner meeting or presentation to a new client, it is important to show the people you are in front of that they are a priority and put communication with others away.

Use “reply all” sparingly.

Another possibly dangerous area of constant communication to navigate is “reply all” emails and group texts. Group communication can function to let everyone working on the same project know important dates, deadlines, and other information, but it can also cause headaches. Almost everyone can share a story of being left to scroll through unnecessary comments and emails from people who should have learned to talk directly to one person. Or, on the other hand, missing an important detail because someone replied only to the sender. Be mindful of people’s time and overrun inboxes and learn to differentiate the information that should be for the whole group versus only for a select few.  (more…)

2020-01-14T18:36:35+00:00January 14th, 2020|

Client Profile: The Children’s Hunger Project

Powerhouse Service Provided: Day of Giving Campaign

“Jessica and her team have been absolutely wonderful to work with. Not only did they take the time to truly understand what we needed to get done, but they also worked very quickly to get some of our items done right away. The brand standards that they developed for us were useful immediately. Their assistance with some of our campaigns really helped us track our progress.”

– Keith Gee, Executive Director, The Children’s Hunger Project

2020-01-14T18:33:50+00:00January 14th, 2020|


Self-care and the small business owner don’t always go hand in hand, especially if you’re just starting on your entrepreneurial journey. Still, it’s fairly common knowledge that taking a little time to focus on yourself can have so many positive benefits.

Check out serial entrepreneur Deep Patel’s list of ways small business owners can incorporate self-care into their business plan.

Sure Payroll also gets behind the self-care movement and has some other ideas on how to incorporate self-care to help make you the best business owner you can be.

Self-care is important, no matter how you slice it. If you’re going to be the best business professional you can be, you have to put away the office concerns and focus on being the best, most well-rounded, healthiest you there is.

Consider making it an office challenge. Invite everyone at work to incorporate some element of self-care into their daily or weekly routine this year. Competition like this will help hold you accountable for your own self-care; plus, it’s always better to go on a journey like this with someone else. Your entire business might just be better off for it.

As always, check the Powerhouse website as well as we’re constantly updating and adding tips and tricks on a variety of subjects.

2020-01-14T18:32:11+00:00January 14th, 2020|

Island Pet Movers – Helping Our Four-Legged Friends Travel Safely

By: Lindsey Stone

With new pet travel regulations being implemented with no broad standard across airlines, Kari Mendoza—owner of Island Pet Movers—not only recognizes the need for education within the military and local communities of Hawaii where her business operates, but also has set a goal for 2020 to increase the public’s knowledge and perception of pet travel. This vision includes a promoting greater understanding of how pet travel works and why it is important for pets to travel safely and at reasonable cost as well as diminishing negative perceptions. Mendoza says, “I would say many of our clients are scared to fly their pets, thinking their beloved pets will die in the cargo of an airplane. This is a huge misconception of how pets are flown. Pet transportation is very safe. Unfortunately, with social media and ‘fake news,’ people spread fear, which has led airlines to change their policies.” (more…)

2020-01-14T18:29:04+00:00January 14th, 2020|

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s Shelley Skinner

This past month, we celebrated Shelley Skinner’s one-year anniversary with Powerhouse! We are incredibly fortunate to have this talented graphic designer on our Powerhouse team. You should see what this powerful design maven can do when she puts her talents to serving our amazing clients like Cape Henry Associates, for whom Shelley designs social media ads, desktop backgrounds, marketing slicks, and press releases. Shelley holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in design and visual communications from Belmont University and brings well over a decade of experience in visual design and communication.

Shelley describes what she loves about Powerhouse: “I love that Powerhouse is a female-owned business that works with clients who are making a positive impact in this world…but that also empowers everyone to work in a way that flexibly fits into their lifestyle, while they get to work with people they love, on projects they love.”

Earlier this year, Shelley and her partner, Sean, purchased a new home in Virginia, where they enjoy hosting their friends for barbecues and sports on the weekends. They have a seven-year-old Labrador mix named Liam, who loves finally having a backyard to run around in and play fetch, which is apparently his favorite thing in the entire world (other than cheese).

When Shelley’s not working, she enjoys traveling, visiting museums, learning new things, cooking delicious food, spending time with friends, and playing with her dog. She really loves her location and says that living near Washington, D.C. is great. “There is so much to explore (much of it free!), great restaurants to try, and lots of nearby outdoor activities: from kayaking/SUP on the Potomac River, to hiking in the Shenandoah, to biking along the many trails, such as south along the Mount Vernon Trail or west along the old Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) railroad trail.” Listening to Shelley’s ideas makes us think she would be a pretty awesome travel guide in addition to her already being such a gifted designer!

We asked Shelley to reveal one fun fact about herself that possibly no one else knows (even her Powerhouse compatriots). She tells us, “I do not watch scary movies under any circumstances. I almost always listen to podcasts while I cook, but when I’m cooking, I’m particularly drawn toward listening to podcasts that are a bit on the spookier side. Maybe the act of being at home and cooking makes me feel safe and comforted, making me feel less anxious about listening to something spooky.” Shelley’s favorites include LORE with Aaron Mahnke, Serial (season one) from This American Life, Dirty John from the L.A. Times, and The Clearing from Pineapple Street Media/Gimlet.

This month at Powerhouse we are focused on the topic of self-care, so we asked Shelley what self-care means for her and how she makes it happen. She says, “In my professional life, self-care means getting all of the information that I need for a project up front so that neither myself nor the client are scrambling to gather/provide extra info closer to the due date. She continues, “I also say ‘no’ to projects when I know that I won’t have the time or energy to give it what it would need. When I schedule my work hours around the ‘life’ activities that I already have planned, have been looking forward to, and need in my life, it helps me maintain a feeling of ‘balance.’”

For Shelley, balance is essential. “I’m a big fan of the word ‘balance’—I guess you could say it’s the closest thing I have to a mantra. For me, it’s very important to have a balance of work and fun, whether that means a balance of work and fun at work (i.e., working on less exciting admin tasks and having fun designing something beautiful and impactful) or a balance of work and non-work activities.”

Shelley offers this advice for other freelancers: “When you start feeling things moving out of balance, try to think of something that would start moving things back to a balanced state. Maybe that means taking a day off to do something that brings you joy or setting aside a larger chunk of hours on a weekend to get caught up on a work project.” She also says, “Make sure that you’re working on projects that you love. Maybe it’s not every project, but strive to keep getting more and more projects that are bringing joy and fulfillment into your life. There are always dry spots and tough times, and when you hit those, carve out time to do something you love, even if it’s pro-bono or a personal project that may never see the light of day.”

Shelley tells us that she loved being profiled for Powerhouse’s month focused on self-care as it’s something that is important to her both in her professional and personal life. She even discloses these self-care practices that work for her: “Face masks. Yes, I look silly, and I know dermatologists say they don’t accomplish much, but they make me feel SO relaxed. There’s not much you can do while wearing a sheet mask, other than lay back and relax for a few minutes. Try talking or running around the house to do something and that mask is going to slide right off!” She reveals that she loves “drinking a nice Pinot Noir and chowing down on some cheese—I love the ‘Unexpected Cheddar’ from Trader Joe’s—or listening to an audiobook (Circe by Madeline Miller was a recent favorite) while I run around the house dusting and vacuuming (yes, those are self-care activities…because I actually enjoy cleaning and LOVE having a clean house!). I started following Melissa Maker’s blog and YouTube channel Clean My Space years ago, and she does a phenomenal job about getting you excited to clean, in part because you learn the right way and most efficient way to clean!”

Now you know why it’s so easy for us to love Shelley and you can benefit from her awesome tips and recommendations! Thank you, Shelley, for your creative and positive approach to life and work. The Powerhouse team is amazing because of individuals like you. Keep on shining and rocking the balance game—and we hope to have many more wonderful years working with you on the Powerhouse team!

2020-01-09T20:49:19+00:00January 7th, 2020|

Client Spotlight – The Children’s Hunger Project

By: Julie H. Kirchner, Technical/Grants Writer, Powerhouse Planning

Have you ever had to think about whether or not you would have food to eat for the weekend? Ten years ago, three forward-thinking gentlemen—Bob Barnes, JY Clerc, and Sam Jordan—perceptively formed a nonprofit organization to help fight childhood hunger and malnutrition in Brevard County, Florida. Since then, The Children’s Hunger Project has served thousands of elementary school children who are at risk of hunger and malnutrition by providing meals to last them through the weekend until they return to school on Monday morning.

According to The Children’s Hunger Project website, the number of children in Brevard County in the free and reduced-price meal program exceeds 50%. Some elementary schools have 80% or more of their kids on the free and reduced-price meal program, with many at risk of childhood hunger and malnutrition. As a determinant of hunger risk and poverty in a geographic area, the availability of the free and reduced-price meal program in public schools has been recognized as a key indicator. For children at risk of childhood hunger and malnutrition, the risk doesn’t stop with the end of the school week. These kids are also hungry on the weekends.

Keith Gee, who has served as executive director of The Children’s Hunger Project since 2016, explains, “The kids we serve are elementary school children who are eligible for the National Free Lunch Program. Here in Brevard that means that they get breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday when they attend school. The problem is that lunch on Friday is oftentimes their last nutritious meal until they return to school on Monday morning. That is 68 hours without proper nutrition! We deliver a package of kid-friendly food to the schools and the teachers can put the package in the kids’ backpacks before they go home on Friday. This ensures that these kids return to school on Mondays ready to learn and be successful.”

On their website, The Children’s Hunger Project describes how everything is designed with the child in mind: “Each week on Friday, The Children’s Hunger Project, Inc. helps as many elementary school children as possible have food to carry home for the weekend in their backpack. This kid-friendly food is lightweight and easy for kids to handle—no cooking is required. Even if the power is out the kids can still pull the top off the can and eat Beanie Weenies. On Monday, the kids return to school but with a better and healthier foundation for learning. Our goal is to ensure elementary school children, at least on weekends, will have basic nutrition.” The Children’s Hunger Project measures success in positive results in children, including improved attendance, better test scores, improved reading skills, positive behavior, and improved health.

With such a powerful mission and purpose spurring the organization on, we can imagine that it feels good to go to work every day for The Children’s Hunger Project (TCHP). We asked Executive Director Keith Gee what he enjoys most about his work with TCHP. He says, “I love helping people. I have been involved with nonprofit management and fundraising for over 30 years (my entire career). I love the fact that I know each and every day my efforts are going to help people in need. I love the fact that TCHP is solely focused on Brevard County. I love the people I work with. All of the volunteers and staff are so passionate about our mission. It is truly inspiring being around them and watching them work. I also love the amount of support we receive from Brevard County residents. We have wonderful volunteers, consistent donors, and supporters who make our organization so successful.”

It’s easy to feel hugely drawn to their mission of feeding local hungry children, and that’s exactly how Powerhouse’s President Jessica Bertsch and Executive Assistant Jennifer Kirkpatrick felt about The Children’s Hunger Project after attending one of their events. Following the event, Jessica and Jennifer met with TCHP’s leadership team, identified their greatest and most immediate needs, and moved forward, as they would with any other contract, except this contract was pro bono, meaning it had an amount due of “$0.00” and Jess paid her freelance team members from Powerhouse’s “Share the Goodness” fund. (We have mentioned before that Jessica is kind of a non-traditional CEO, but if you have the opportunity to get to know her and Jennifer, their combined creativity and passion for giving back are positively inspiring.)

Keith reflects on his experience of working with Powerhouse, “Jessica and her team have been absolutely wonderful to work with. Not only did they take the time to truly understand what we needed to get done, but they worked very quickly to get some of our items done right away. The brand standards that they developed for us were useful immediately. Their assistance with some of our campaigns really helped us track our progress.”

The services and deliverables that Powerhouse provided for The Children’s Hunger Project included
• Brand Standards Sheet
• Giving Tuesday Campaign Plan and Graphics
• Child Champion/Ambassador Toolkit
It was an incredibly positive experience for both organizations to work together and accomplish something meaningful and impactful, and it’s a dreamy scenario all around. Keith and his team at The Children’s Hunger Project are passionate to go to work every day with the ability to focus on the things they love to do and all the good that they can do in their community for children. Jessica and Jennifer go to work for Powerhouse every day feeling passionate about being in the position to provide vital support to many incredibly deserving nonprofit organizations, like TCHP, who may otherwise not have the time and resources required to manage every aspect in-house.

It can be nearly impossible for many nonprofit leaders to find the time and budget to onboard new staff in each of many key skillsets that help businesses thrive—such as strategic planning and marketing, social media campaign design and management, grant writing, internal and external communications, website design, and graphic design. That’s where Powerhouse comes in and becomes your support team solution, giving you the time and energy to focus on your strengths and achieve your most desired goals for your organization.

This month, Powerhouse is focusing on the topic of self-care for freelancers and business owners/CEOs. While we learned about all the hard work that the team at The Children’s Hunger Project is doing to help children in the community, we also asked Keith to share his advice as an executive director/CEO on the importance of self-care and how he practices this in his personal and professional life. (First, he laughed.) Then, he acknowledged, “Honestly, I struggle with this. Work/life balance is difficult, but also one of the things I love about my job. My work is my professional life and my social life. I attend events on the weekends and in the evening that support our cause. It is wonderful to meet new people who also support our organization.” As for his personal life, “Personal fitness is a big priority for me. Although I do have a ‘sweet tooth,’ I work out and try to stay active.” And professionally, he says, “I push myself hard. I do not mind working nights and weekends because I love my job. As the saying goes, ‘Get a career following your passion and you will never work a day in your life.’”

Keith shares with us that TCHP is going to continue to grow in 2020, and he is very proud of their accomplishments this past year as well as their focus on sustainability and careful planning going forward. “My proudest moment with TCHP is that we received a large estate gift from a gentleman who passed away. As a board of directors, we have carefully planned to make this money work for us as we continue to grow and feed more kids in the future.” They have big plans for 2020, and Keith says, “Our goal is to add three to five more schools and serve more children in the county. Currently, we are serving over 2,100 kids every week at 46 elementary schools. There are over 1,000 kids still on our waiting list. We need to do more.”

If there is one thing that Keith and the TCHP team wish people knew about The Children’s Hunger Project, it would be that anyone can help make a difference. “One of our biggest fundraisers is our Health First Fight Child Hunger 5K,” Keith says. “This is a joint fundraiser for TCHP and the Sharing Center of Central Brevard. The event is Saturday, January 11 at Viera High School. The race begins at 8:00 a.m. This is a very family/dog-friendly run. People come out and run, many walk, but it is all about raising money to feed local kids. We will have a live band there and a FREE pancake breakfast for everyone after the race.”

If you don’t have a child in elementary school, it can be hard to feel personally connected to this need. But for savvy business owners, retirees, local colleges, and large employers in the community, this issue matters deeply. Being hungry at school is part of a larger economic picture. When you have young kids who can’t focus on learning because they are hungry and uncomfortable, or not getting enough nutrition to keep them healthy, the wider community is impacted, both now and in the future. Children who grow up participating in and being successfully involved in their school education become the future economic support of their community. They are the future employers and employees, nurses and doctors caring for an aging population, and future educators. And, yes, as the building block for every step of education that follows, early childhood education matters. Bringing these children out of hunger is the key to giving them a strong start in life and in education—and that is the basic building block of a healthy community.

You can read more about The Children’s Hunger Project here:

2020-01-02T21:05:29+00:00January 6th, 2020|
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