From Ski Lift Operator to Small Business Owner

By: Heatherlynn Akins

When Julie Kiddoo decided to take a year off after graduating from college in 1994 and moved to the Vail Valley in Colorado, she never thought she’d one day be a small business owner. Her parents had moved from their home state of Minnesota to Vail, and Julie thought it’d be a great idea to stay with them for the ski season. Little did she know that that decision would turn into a 25-year-long adventure in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, after meeting her husband when they both worked as ski lift operators in 1995.

Initially, Julie stayed in the ski industry. She held several jobs from the aforementioned ski lift operator to Vail Ski Patrol to guest services. Eventually, she started her own seasonal gardening business, which she operated for 12 summers before she took the plunge into full-time small business ownership. She’d been teaching yoga classes at a local club and felt limited in her capacity to lead and develop programs on a bigger scale. “I had fallen in love with Baptiste Yoga, which is the style of yoga we offer, and knew that I wanted to be able to share the practice and methodology without any constraints,” she says.

Julie knew how personal the journey to self-growth and self-recovery could be. She also knew how rich and meaningful yoga could be to that journey. Still, she held back, wondering if opening her own studio was really the right thing to do. Fearing the unknown and potential failure, and now a mom to two children, Julie just couldn’t pull the trigger on her dream. When one of her favorite yoga teachers and mentors was getting ready to open her second studio, Julie decided to ask her about what it was like to step into the shoes of a small business owner. She recalls her mentor telling her, “Fear will be present, but the risk of not doing it at all is far greater than the risk of doing it and failing.” It was at that moment that Julie knew it was time, regardless of the risk involved.

In 2012, Julie opened Revolution Power Yoga in Avon, Colorado, a small town located near Vail. “The biggest challenge,” she says, “was opening a yoga studio in a brand-new market, not knowing if it would succeed.” The second biggest challenge, and one nearly as great, was finding a location that would meet her needs. It is a challenge to be a full-time resident in a mountain resort town. Space is at a premium and, as everyone knows, location is everything. Luckily, everything fell into place and Julie and her family never looked back. (more…)

2020-03-25T19:24:59+00:00March 25th, 2020|

Did You Know?

Freelance survival is all about working smarter, not harder. That, and knowing when to make time for yourself, whether that be focusing on your personal health and wellness or spending a little extra TLC on your professional concerns. Powerhouse has tons of resources to help you find the perfect balance between your hard-charging career needs and life. Check out our career resources and life resources for tons of information to make your “survival” just a little easier.

2020-03-25T19:24:31+00:00March 25th, 2020|


3 Freelancer Survival Tips

By: Julie Kirchner

Monitor your time. Knowing how much time you spend on typical client deliverables is key to marketing your business successfully, managing your time, and giving you the confidence to say yes (or no) to additional projects at a given time.

Even for projects that bill by completed deliverable (versus hours), you’ll want to track the amount of time it takes you from start to finish, for your own knowledge. Are you charging the right rate, given the time it takes? Do you need to schedule some time to learn a new digital tool that can help you scale projects faster and cut down on wasted time?

To start tracking your time on work projects, try using a time tracker tool such as Toggl, a free app that allows you to track your work hours for different projects and clients conveniently from your phone. You can add depth to the information you track (such as clients and project titles) and even run simple, visually appealing reports online at the end of the month that really showcase how you’re dividing your time. Over time, you’ll develop a keener sense of the time involved in each type of deliverable. This can also help you set more accurate rates when you’re asked for quotes in the future.


2020-03-25T19:24:10+00:00March 25th, 2020|


20 Quick Tips for Freelance Survival

By: Karen Pinkston

In our smart-phone, text-message culture, it’s sometimes easy to forget that business is about people. If you want to thrive as a freelancer, you must get to know the people behind the organizations you serve. Having proper etiquette will help you foster client relationships and grow your business. Here are some tips to help guide your freelance journey.

1. First impressions matter.
When you first meet clients, introduce yourself with your first and last name. This shows confidence and makes you more memorable.

2. Find common ground.
Break the ice. Ask your clients about where they’re from or what they’re really passionate about. Do they have kids? Pets? When you get to know people first, you’re creating a comfortable environment from the start. You see them as people and not just as a paycheck.

3. Don’t schmooze too much.
Relationships take time. Find the right balance of getting to know your clients yet focusing on the work as well. Even though you can use a more relaxed tone, you should maintain a certain level of professionalism.


2020-03-25T18:53:14+00:00March 25th, 2020|


Client Profile: Coastal Addiction

Powerhouse Service Provided: External Communication

“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Jessica and the Powerhouse Planning team. Building a business is difficult, but building a business from halfway around the world is even more challenging. The Powerhouse team has been an instrumental part of every step of the process, from the initial planning and design phase, to website layouts, and more. Jessica has made me feel like a top priority and has worked diligently to answer every question and concern that has arisen. If you want a top-tier team to help you build a successful venture, then Jessica and the Powerhouse Planning team is your one-stop shop. I truly appreciate all of their care, time, and attention to something that has been taken from a dream to a reality.”

– Tommy Bowling, President, Coastal Addiction

2020-03-25T19:22:41+00:00March 25th, 2020|

Freelancer Resources

The challenges and opportunities afforded by freelance work are monumental and potentially life changing. However, a little planning, dedication, and willingness to make adjustments can mean the difference between being a successful freelancer and one who will continue to struggle.

For the newbie: offers tips on how to survive your first year as a freelancer—everything from ways to shift your mindset to tips on how to organize your days.

For the freelancer with a full-time job: Sometimes, especially when making the transition, that full-time job is a must-have. For tips on how to survive as a freelancer while juggling that day-to-day grind, find tips here.

For an overall freelance survival 101: Check out Creative Bloq’s whole host of tips for freelancers. With plenty of links to additional sources, it’s kind of like a one-stop shop.

For a creative, easy-to-read-in-one-sitting resource: Find Powerhouse’s “20 Tips for Freelance Survival” on our resources page.

2020-03-25T18:30:50+00:00March 25th, 2020|


Butterfly Circle of Friends: From Great Grief to Infinite Beauty

By: Randi Cairns

Giving back to one’s community is ingrained in so much of what Powerhouse Planning does. We give at least 10% of all profits to those in need through our Share the Goodness program. We support the causes and efforts our team is passionate about. And we highlight the great people and places making a difference in our communities. This commitment to giving back is one of many reasons I love being part of the Powerhouse team. And when I was given the opportunity to write about a superhero doing work for causes I care about—well, that was just icing on the cake.

I met Ida Gonzalez years ago. We were both involved in military family support efforts and open to collaborating to better meet the needs of those we served. I fell in love with Ida from the start. She was so down to earth and genuine (and the giver of hugs that make you feel warm and safe). And she had a fire in her belly to make the world better.

While we worked together on several projects, what Ida likely doesn’t know is she kind of saved my life. I was a mama of four trying to hold down the fort while my soldier was Afghanistan-bound when police knocked at my door to tell me my baby sister was dead. She had been my person for my whole life and she was gone, and I really didn’t think I was going to survive that.

But Ida told me I could and I would. And she knew this because three years earlier, her son SPC Michael L. Gonzalez was KIA in Baghdad. And from grief and loss and pain, she not only survived, but she also created a remarkable legacy in memory of her son: the Butterfly Circle of Friends. (more…)

2020-03-25T19:47:59+00:00March 25th, 2020|

Powerhouse Planning Goodness and Resources: For the Freelancer and the Business Owner

By: Jessica Bertsch, Powerhouse Planning President

I received an email from one of our freelance team members this week wanting to brainstorm how Powerhouse can help during the madness of what is known as COVID-19. I think many of us are uneasy, and if you’ve heard me speak before I always say in times of suck, the easiest way for me to cope is to serve.

Well, with COVID-19 we can’t exactly serve in the traditional ways we’d like. I think many of us would like to wrap ourselves around sad families and give them hugs, deliver tons of goodness to their doors, and assure them it will be all right, but we’ve been instructed social distancing must occur. (Which is so hard for a wraparound-hug-loving lady.) So, then you sit and question, “What can I do?”

The Powerhouse team took a moment and compiled some tips from past articles, blogs, and e-newsletters our team members have written. Hopefully these knowledge nuggets will help and resonate with freelancers and business owners who might be in need of some gentle reminders, humor, and overall goodness to help you POWER though the madness.

Freelancer Tips
Powerhouse Planning President Jessica Bertsch shares her personal self-care tips for freelancers and business owners
20 Self-Care Tips to Reduce Stress and Increase Productivity
Three Ways to Keep You and Your Business Organized When You Work from Home
Finding Work/Life Balance When You Work from Home
Self-care tips from one of our PH freelancers who balances both a full-time job and freelancing with grace and efficiency

Business-Owner Resources
Small Business Stressors and How to Combat Them
Staying Connected to Your Team (The Powerhouse team currently uses for team networking and we love it!)
Ways to Maintain Team Morale in a Virtual Working Environment
Fostering Creativity in the Workplace (including virtually)
Four Best Practices for Contracting Freelancers
Everything, including your Strategic Plan may suddenly need to be adjusted overnight. (We can all hear Ross say “PIVOT!”) Use these articles for support on how to reset your mind for planning purposes: Seeing 2020—A New Protocol for Strategic Planning and Why Early Planning Is Crucial to Success

Calm in the Storm
Our military families have spouses currently or continuing to work and deploy. Here is a calendar with “30 Ways to Pray” for a family that serves (this, now, includes our medical professionals, support services, grocery store teams, and anyone who must still go out and work). In fact, we could all use these prayers.
When you feel like something is missing or you are out of work right now, it may be a good time to lean on the strength of giving back.

The Powerhouse team is thinking of all affected by the challenges facing business owners and remote workers. We hope these resources from the Powerhouse archives will be useful during this time of uncertainty and adjustment. At Powerhouse, we’re well aware times aren’t easy, and for many business owners you might be feeling at a loss. Here’s what I will say: We’re here for you. I mean it. Our team is here for you. Is there something we can create to help you? Do you need to chat through the way ahead? We’re here. We’re ready to listen. We are hopeful that together we will look back and remember that COVID-19 was hard, but we came out on the other side stronger than ever. Together.

2020-03-25T15:58:12+00:00March 25th, 2020|

New Powerhouse Team Member

Heather Osborne is a teacher, social media/marketing manager, mother of three boys, and the wife of a retired Marine, and she is thrilled to join the Powerhouse team. As a young military spouse, Heather taught students with hearing impairments for eight years and also taught first grade overseas for three years. Over twelve years of military life and with three boys in the house, Heather changed careers and became a partner in a company with four other military spouses. Expanding her repertoire, she grew into the role of the social media/marketing manager for the company.

With a wide variety of experiences, Heather prides herself on being flexible and ready to enhance any client’s team. Heather’s skills include teaching, task analysis, organization, management, communication, and reliability.

2020-03-23T20:17:18+00:00March 23rd, 2020|

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s Julie Kirchner

By now you’re probably well aware that we love anniversaries here at Powerhouse. Any excuse to celebrate our incredibly talented coworkers makes us happy. So, of course, we are thrilled that our very own Julie Kirchner is celebrating her one-year Powerhouse work anniversary! Julie, or Jules to those who love her most (we definitely consider ourselves among that number), is one of our freelance writers whose current favorite Powerhouse role is grant writer. It may be a bit of a different approach, but our grant writers work as an amazing team to provide the most meaningful opportunities to our clients. Julie especially loves the research involved in grant writing, and it shows. In addition to her grant-writing skills, Julie writes monthly blog resources about topics relevant to homeownership and military life, a topic near and dear to her heart as she is a proud Coast Guard spouse.

Julie’s favorite thing about Powerhouse is its very nature. The flexibility to work when she wants and be present with her family when she needs to be makes it feel like a dream job. The knowledge that every project she works will be fulfilling and rewarding doesn’t hurt, either, and the people are amazing. The idea that a virtual work force can feel like a team, with the “rare and beautiful leadership” provided by our president, is almost too good to be true. Julie has high standards of leadership, but with leadership like our president and executive assistant provide, Julie says you do everything you can to “stay on this ship!” We’re confident Julie will be aboard for a long time.

Julie is a self-described introvert, but one who will passionately enter into a conversation regarding a topic she’s excited about. Her desire to leave a place better than she found it shows in everything she does. She intentionally looks for the small, everyday ways she can make a place or person’s life better. From making her son’s toy area an inviting place to play to picking up other people’s trash in the park, Julie’s passion to bring joy to others is contagious. We’re truly better for knowing her. We love asking our writers to describe themselves because invariably we hear a version of what Julie told us: “I actually have a hard time describing myself in words.” And then they tend to give us an absolutely perfect description. For instance, Julie says of herself, “I feel like I’m constantly on a search or journey for something in this life. Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I’m definitely not the carefree type. I’m a list maker—insatiably organized and analytical by nature.” Yep, pretty much Julie in a nutshell!

As previously mentioned, Julie is a Coast Guard spouse whose husband has been serving for 19 years. Believe it or not, they were childhood sweethearts who grew up and went their separate ways, but they found each other again seven years ago and never looked back. They’re parents to the profoundly cute four-year-old Ewan who, no, was not named after a certain Star Wars actor, but who was born while they were stationed in England. Hence, the British name. Julie loves her family and their life together, but quickly points out that their life is far from perfect. So while she’s happy to extol all the amazing virtues of her husband and son, she definitely has hard days. “We all have issues and struggles,” she says. “You just have to resolve to keep going and looking for the things to be grateful for.” Well, we’re grateful for Julie and her honesty. That, and the photos she shows of her “favorite” family member, Labrador Charlie, even if he is convinced he’s 107% human. (We really, really want to know how Julie arrived at that particular percentage!)

Julie loves to spend her time running outdoors when the weather allows and doing yoga when the weather isn’t so fun. She also claims to love cleaning and making her house look nice and calm. While we totally believe she keeps a calm, wonderful home, we do admit to being skeptical that she considers this a favorite pastime. She loves to eat her foodie husband’s cooking and curling up with her family to watch shows about tiny homes or log cabins. Even Ewan will forsake his beloved Paw Patrol to get in on the tiny house fun.

When she is in work mode, Julie has to be careful of what she describes as the “creep” that can come from working from home. You know, you’re working but you feel the call of the laundry or meal preparation or a hundred other things. It’s important to establish boundaries and maintain them. That’s why Julie recommends having a dedicated workspace and work time. She also strongly advocates for the use of a calendar and lists to keep on topic. (Julie makes A LOT of lists!) One of her biggest suggestions, though, is to create a transition. Because there’s no work commute per se, the stay-at-home worker can forget to “turn off” the workday. Julie suggests building in a transition period, whether that includes a brisk walk around the block or some personal internet surfing. For Julie, she also makes sure that she has something just for work time. This means she puts on noise-canceling headphones and listens to nature sounds when she’s working. So if her work has a Zen feel to it, now you know why!

As we always do, we asked Julie to tell us something about herself that not many people know. Remember how we told you she and her Coastie reconnected after several years apart? When they reconnected and decided to spend their lives together, Julie left an established career and home to follow her husband wherever the Coast Guard took them. Knowing she’d need some sort of portable career, Julie decided to learn how to be a massage therapist. She even taught infant massage classes for a while. Before she found her dream job at Powerhouse, of course. As she says, “I have always done my best to make the most out of the twists and turns of life.” We say she’s definitely succeeding!

2020-02-12T17:14:53+00:00March 10th, 2020|
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