From Army Officer to Entrepreneur

By: Meghan Traynor

Kirby Atwell always knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur, but he also felt called to serve in the military just as his father, grandparents, and great-grandparents had done. While Kirby knew he didn’t want to make the military a career, he knew for certain he wanted to serve. After attending West Point for four years and serving six years as an officer in the U.S. Army, Kirby got out of the military and immediately started his real estate business.

Ready to start something of his own, Kirby launched Green Vet Homes, a “real estate business that buys, rehabs, and rents properties with a mission of supporting veterans.” Green Vet Homes supports veterans by either renting their rehab properties to homeless veterans or by donating 10% of profits to a veteran-related cause. After successfully running Green Vet Homes for four years, Kirby decided to launch his second business, Living Off Rentals, to teach others how they can generate enough income to comfortably live off their rental properties. Since launching his second business in January, Kirby has seen great success in such a short amount of time that we just had to know his secrets!

Most importantly, Kirby’s advice for other small business owners, or those who are thinking of starting a small business, is to “keep things as simple as possible.” How, you ask? Avoid scaling. Kirby learned firsthand from a previous business he had that scaling is not the key to success. His previous business scaled too quickly, and he wished he had paid more attention to turning a profit instead of just getting bigger. In his current businesses Kirby intentionally keeps things smaller, all his staff is contracted, and things are running a lot more smoothly! But wait. How can you grow your business and keep things small? (more…)

2020-12-31T16:50:03-05:00December 31st, 2020|

Did You Know?

2021 is finally here (was 2020 just the longest year ever, or what?), and here at Powerhouse Planning we are all set to make the most of it. To get the year started off on the right foot, we’re focusing on business development. You know, that vague phrase tossed around the office so ubiquitously. What is business development, exactly? According to Forbes, “Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships,” a definition the author further clarifies as “. . . figuring out how the interactions of those forces combine together to create opportunities for growth.” We can definitely get on board with that.

Did you know that one of the pillars of Powerhouse is our business development service? Whether you need help with writing an award nomination package that will get your business the recognition it deserves, or you are on a nonprofit team that wants professional grant-writing work, or you need some help with your strategic planning, our business development services can help you make your small business grow. In addition, all business development services come with coaching, mentoring, and cheerleading because here at Powerhouse, we’re your biggest fans.

2020-12-31T16:50:20-05:00December 31st, 2020|

Tips for Business Development for Small Businesses

By: Randi Cairns

Interested in new ways to approach business development as a small business? Some of the best advice has stood the test of time (for example, content is and always will remain king). Here are a few other thoughts and ideas to consider if you’re interested in shaking things up for your business.

Go live! We’re all living glued to our computers these days for everything from our kids’ classes to our work meetings. You’re probably an internet pro by now if you weren’t already. And with too many Zoom calls to count, you’re probably also a lot more comfortable looking at your own face on video, right?

Use that to your advantage and create and share videos that showcase your business, your products, and/or your team. People may shop at businesses or use services, but they connect with people. So put the people behind your business front and center. Have fun with this. It doesn’t need to be perfectly curated or filtered, and you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously (unless you run a funeral home, and then perhaps more decorum is in order).

When you’re excited and passionate about what you do, it shows, and it makes others excited about what you’re doing too. (And you can grab one of those kids to do the videotaping!)

Recycle creatively. You don’t need to start from scratch with every piece of content, marketing collateral, or social media post you use. Especially if you’ve got great stuff already that people have responded well to. And even the stuff that got less than a stellar response can be useful as a starting point for new materials (if you’ve paid attention to what might have been executed differently).

Recycling isn’t just good for the environment, it’s also great for a small business budget. Look at what you’ve already created and think about how you might repurpose or reuse it again. Some content will be evergreen and that’s perfect already. Other things you can transform into something new altogether—like changing a blog post into video content or a report into an infographic. In these times, you have an almost endless list of creative opportunities to showcase your work and, more importantly, the story of your business. So be creative! (more…)

2020-12-31T16:51:33-05:00December 31st, 2020|


How to Merge Business Development with Business Etiquette

By: Meredith Flory

As you grow and develop your small business, it’s important to not lose the special touches in customer service that encourage customers to support local and aspiring companies. There are ways to build into your business while being conscious of how your company interacts with the public. As you grow your company, be mindful of the ways you establish company etiquette, with an eye to the values and ethics that are important to you. Here are ways to think about interacting with customers, social media, and business partners while maintaining the values you established when your business was just a dream.

1. Interacting with Customers

Make customer service a part of your business plan. Thanks to online shopping and increasing interconnectedness, small business doesn’t have to be local, and customers can purchase goods and services from around the world. This means you need to stand out in the quality of goods and ease of customer service. Make sure to include in company planning what customer service looks like for your business. Growth plans shouldn’t only include product and sales but should also outline how you treat people and what kind of business culture you are developing.

Make sure employees are trained and committed to customer service. Do not assume when you make a hire that your employees will interact with customers the same way you would, even if you hired them in part due to their people skills. Establish company guidelines for behaviors such as time limits on returning contacts, away messages, language, and expectations for handling problems. Making this a part of job training, rather than fixing a problem when it appears, will help you, the employee, and the client. Win, win, win. (more…)

2020-12-31T16:51:40-05:00December 31st, 2020|


Client Profile: HelloHealth

Powerhouse Services Provided: External Communications

“The best part of working with Powerhouse Planning was responsiveness and trust. Trust is the most important aspect of any business relationship. I would definitely choose to work with Powerhouse again!”

–  Meagan Davies, HelloHealth

2020-12-31T16:53:23-05:00December 31st, 2020|


Looking at creating or refining your business development plan can be daunting. There are a lot of things to keep in mind when determining which ways to grow or improve your company. For a good overview on what business development is and what goes in to creating a successful business development plan, check out The Ultimate Guide to Business Development.

If you want another perspective that offers some tips on how to get started, check out Investopedia’s blog.

For those who are trying to envision what a business development plan looks like in a post-COVID-19 world (and aren’t we all?), check out this article by Kevin Sneader and Bob Sternfels.

Wherever you are in your business development cycle, Powerhouse can help.

2020-12-31T16:51:59-05:00December 31st, 2020|


Q & A with Terri Lynn Crutchfield of TLC Therapy Hooves

By: Julie Kirchner

As a part of our Powerhouse mission to Share the Goodness, we love to shine a light on nonprofits out in our communities who are contributing to the greater good. This month, we are highlighting the work of Terri Lynn and Scott Crutchfield and their amazing team of volunteers who help spread joy through their nonprofit organization, TLC Therapy Hooves, in rural Highlands County, Florida. We were grateful to sit down with Terri for a lighthearted virtual Q&A.

What is the inspiration behind TLC, and how did your adventure begin?

“It all started with a little orphan piglet,” Terri says with a playful smile in her voice. That little piglet, a surprise gift for her husband Scott, was later named Precious Piglet. Today, Terri and Scott Crutchfield’s pictorial old-Florida property is home to over 100 animals. TLC Therapy Hooves is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that Terri and Scott created in 2011, with a mission to spread joy by bringing extraordinary (and very well-dressed) therapy animals like pigs and miniature horses to the 17 nursing homes and rehabilitation centers throughout their local area. In addition to carrying out the mission of TLC Therapy Hooves with the help of dozens of dedicated volunteers, Scott and Terri live on and maintain their working farm called La La Land, which is named after their camel—La La, of course!

Can you tell us about a proud moment for TLC this past year?

While any business owner may answer this question by describing a new project launch or an exciting award or achievement, Terri is anything but typical. Instead, she began by describing a breakthrough moment for a woman in a nursing home who had lost her husband and, through trauma and shock, had not communicated verbally in a very long time. While petting the braids of one of Terri’s therapy animals, a miniature horse, the woman spoke for the first time and said, “I remember my granddaughter loved horses.” And the woman sitting next to her said, “Oh! I grew up with horses, too. Did you grow up with horses?” The nurse caring for the two women was just in awe because one of these women had been unable to speak for all the time the nurse had been caring for her. This experience opened up an opportunity for the two women to connect and relate. These are the breakthroughs that define Terri’s definition of business success.

How did you come up with the idea to use pigs and mini horses as therapy animals?

“I would take Precious (Piglet) to the school when I would go and pick up my daughter, Taylor, and all the other kids would just be so excited to see Precious Piglet. And I had a friend who had a parent in a nursing home, and she asked if I would swing by and take Precious to walk around outside for her mother to see. She’s potty trained, so I took her inside. Everyone freaked out, ‘Oh my goodness, a piggy!’ Every time she would oink, people would laugh. And I thought, you know what, this is pretty awesome.”

At that time, Terri and her husband were living in a suburban country club neighborhood, but they decided that with their joint family background in nature conservation, wildlife, and land, they would change their lifestyle and buy a farm. The couple decided to adopt mini horses and then brought trainers onto the property to see if the miniatures could be potty trained and brought into the house, just to test out Terri’s idea. She had conversations with her attorney about liability and insurance. “So, that’s how it went from one little orphan piglet (that lived inside our house, remember) to . . . close to a hundred animals now,” Terri says.

The majority of the domestic animals used in the therapy program today are adopted animals. All of the exotic animals on the property have permits and licenses, and Terri and Scott have received the training from zoos to be able to raise and maintain these animals.


2020-12-31T16:52:12-05:00December 31st, 2020|

Reflecting on 2020

The year 2020 brought some unique, unprecedented, unexpected, “un-everything” challenges with it for our communities, our nation, and our world. You just can’t escape that 2020 will go down in the history books with one main descriptor: it was the year of COVID-19. It’s true that we all had to attempt some adjustments to how we do business, even to how we interact with one another. The biggest lesson we all learned has to be that, even with all the technology we are fortunate to employ, there’s just no substitute for the human touch.

The skillful application of technology, specifically virtual work, to that human touch is exactly what Powerhouse Planning excels at accomplishing. In fact, 2020 was our best year ever! It does seem strange, considering the circumstances, but not only did Powerhouse have its best year ever, but our clients were incredibly successful too. The way Powerhouse is structured happens to be the way many companies had to pivot to, and we were well-placed to help them make that shift successfully. We grew our client base this year, and several of our retainer clients renewed their contracts. We enjoyed returning clients and an increase in project-based opportunities as well. We continued to work with clients such as Cape Henry Associates, Operation: Job Ready Veterans, Nomadés, and PayNet. We also added new clients, including Green Vet Homes and HelloHealth. We are blessed to work with some phenomenal companies and help them spread goodness in this world.

Our growth remained steady, largely due to the strategic vision of Powerhouse President and founder Jessica Bertsch. “We’re committed to keeping our team small but highly effective. We only grow team members when we need to,” she says. That strategic vision was cemented with the lessons we all learned from the pandemic this year. “People have realized that you can work smarter and harder at home because time management becomes so crucial. We’ve been blessed and thankful for our remote careers,” she goes on to say. The experience we have with working remotely is what made the pandemic so easy to navigate; we were already used to the challenges of remote work, and we’ve only solidified our commitment to remaining a strong, vibrant virtual work community.

One of our favorite things about Powerhouse is our “Share the Goodness” campaign. Jessica made a conscious decision when she started Powerhouse that she would give back 10% to our communities across the world. This year, we sponsored multiple children through The Children’s Hunger Project of Brevard County, Florida as well as continued our support of our sponsor child, Ambiya, through World Vision. Ambiya was the first recipient of what became our “Share the Goodness” endeavor, and she remains a Powerhouse employee favorite. We helped provide 10 families with Thanksgiving meal baskets with the Space Coast Basket Brigade, and Powerhouse Operations Manager Jennifer Kirkpatrick led the charge to raise funds for 25 more. Powerhouse’s Indiana State University (our founder’s alma mater) scholarship supported a professional aviation flight technology major who used the funds to pursue his dream of becoming a professional pilot by working to earn his commercial aviation licenses. We also founded a Salute to Sisterhood Scholarship with the AOII Foundation, which will serve to help young women interested in leadership opportunities.

We asked Jessica and Jennifer if there was anything they’d add that summed up 2020, lessons learned, inspirational quotes, really anything. Jessica offered, “I keep coming back to that phrase, ‘My plate is full.’ You know, the idea that you have all you can handle. For me, God gave me a full platter. That’s a blessing, but what I’ve learned this year is that I need to ask for help. In the end, by asking for help I appreciate others more and we can still do so much and make a big difference. In other words, self-care is huge.” Jennifer added that when you ask for help you should consider how that makes others feel. “If we communicate and ask for help when we need it, we come together and are stronger as a team.” Those who are asked to help feel important and appreciated, and those who receive support are doubly blessed.

Communication really is key, and it’s something Powerhouse has worked on this year in particular. “We’ve worked hard to create an open, inviting environment. Our brainstorming meetings with the team are some of my favorite work memories from this year,” Jennifer said. Jessica added that it’s been a year dedicated to focusing on our team members. “We started with a few of what we call Power Hours. Small, volunteer, virtual meetings with our team members that don’t necessarily have anything to do with work. We also added a quarterly State of Powerhouse address where we let our team know what’s going on. We didn’t realize how crucial these two things were at first, but what we’ve learned is that our team craves that transparency and ability to get to know one another. Creating that bond is one of the reasons we’re such a unique and effective virtual workforce.”

Moving into 2021, we’ll continue to focus on improved communication and transparency with our team. We’ll be the same in all the right ways, just better able to help our clients make a difference. And that’s really what drives us at the end of the day—taking the talents we have and applying them to our clients’ needs in order to be a force for good. Our clients are all working hard to better our world, and we love being able to help them achieve or surpass their goals. Still, Jessica hopes that 2021 brings back some of the normalcy 2020 took away. “I miss our people,” she says. “I can’t wait to be able to travel to our clients again. I’m grateful that we had our best year ever, but I look forward to getting back to building our relationships in person.” We couldn’t agree more.

2020-12-24T03:13:39-05:00December 29th, 2020|

20 Tips for Time Management

Let’s face it—we all think we need more time to get things done. Whether it’s finding a perfect-for-us balance between work and life commitments, working through that massive to-do list the boss handed down Monday morning, or just finding that all-important “me time” we need to refocus and rejuvenate, we all like to blame time as the main culprit for why we can’t get everything done. It’s true, there are only 24 hours in each day, and the average human spends quite a few of those sleeping. While we can’t magically add hours to your day, we have compiled some tips from experts in the time management field to help you maximize the hours you do have.

1. Perform a time audit. Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like. Just as you’d perform an audit on your company’s books, perform an audit on how you spend your time. You just might be surprised by how much time you spend on tasks like reading email or catching up on social media. A time audit helps you understand where your waking time goes each day. And, of course, there’s an app for that! Several, in fact. Try RescueTime, Toggl, or Calendar to help you get a clear idea of where your time goes.

2. “Single task.” Did you know only 2% of us efficiently multitask? That mean that 98% of us actually lose time when we try to multitask! So when you go to tackle your to-do list, pick one task, focus solely on it, and when it’s done, you’ll know you gave it your best.

3. Organize, organize, organize. One thing the experts agree on is that organization is key to effectively managing your time. So, we’re sorry to have to tell you, but your mother was right: It really is best if everything has a place and everything is in its place. An organized workspace (and thus a more organized mind) saves more time than we think.

4. Plan ahead. There’s no substitute for good planning. Take a few minutes at the end of your day to prepare for the next day’s tasks. Create your to-do list and get your workstation reset, restocked, and ready to go. In the morning before you begin, take time to review your list and prioritize the three or four tasks you need to complete that day. Additionally, take some time on Saturday or Sunday to reflect on what you’ve got coming up the next week and set a week-at-a-glance priority calendar. Then you’ll have an attack plan for the week. Make sure to leave some flexibility for those last-minute tasks that always seem to appear just when your plan is working well.

5. Set goals correctly. Experts suggest using the SMART system for setting goals. In other words, your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely (SMART). Use this system with every goal you set, small or big. If it doesn’t meet the SMART criteria, consider whether or not it truly is a goal (or even necessary). Eliminate any “goals” that aren’t really goals and hone any that need a little more direction.

6. Set a time limit for each task. We’re not multitasking anymore, so this should be easier. Set a time limit to achieve each goal. Say you have a report to write for your boss and it should take about two hours to complete. Make that your time limit. It helps you stay on track and complete the task. You can even turn it into a game. Think of it as “work solitaire.” If you give yourself a time limit, chances are you will stay more focused and use your time more efficiently.

7. Take a break between tasks. The human brain can only focus for about 90 minutes at a time, so build mini breaks into your workday. They don’t have to last long. Take five minutes to grab another cup of coffee or tea or fill your water bottle. Spend five or ten minutes checking in on social media or to listen to a segment of a podcast. Anything that works for you to reset your brain and prepare to double down on your to-do list once again.

8. Spend mornings on your MITs. “Most Important Tasks” (MITs) are the items on your to-do list that have the highest priority. Experts suggest you spend your morning hours focused on these tasks because early in the day is when we tend to be most focused and have the most energy. Leave less important tasks for later in the day, especially when those mid-afternoon blues set in.

9. Instill “keystone habits.” These are what John Rampton, writing for Forbes, calls the habits that transform your life in a positive way. Things like adding exercise to your daily routine, or eating healthier, or meditating. These are the habits that replace our bad habits and help us become healthier, more focused individuals. So even if you think you don’t have time, make time. In the long run, it’ll actually give you more of that precious commodity.

10. Use a calendar. Actually, the experts say, “Use a digital calendar.” A digital calendar can be accessed from multiple devices and carry across several applications. However, if you’re like some of us at Powerhouse, you swear by your old-school paper calendar. Whichever you prefer (or go hybrid!), using a calendar helps you stay on top of your schedule and means you won’t overschedule yourself. Using a calendar also gives you a broader perspective on when you are busiest and when you can schedule activities like that yoga class or school volunteer opportunity you’ve been trying to work in.

11. Use a to-do list. It seems like one of those givens, right? Everyone has a to-do list. Yes, but do you write yours down? Writing out your to-do list helps you stay on task. Or, you can simply organize the tasks you need to do by order of priority. While you’re at it, add a “done” section to your to-do list. While it’s satisfying to cross off items, it’s just as satisfying to see that “done” list grow the more tasks you complete. Plus, it helps you organize (and remember) what you’ve done when it comes time to send in lists of your deliverables, create invoices, etc.

12. Just say “no.” Nobody likes to say “no” when asked to do something. While we secretly might want to say it, often times we don’t want to be that person. Still, learning how to say “no” is one of the best things you can do to manage your time. Only you know when you’re reaching that critical point between being able to manage the tasks you have and being overbooked. If you just don’t have time to contribute to this month’s bake sale or to organize the costumes for the school play, just say “no.” We promise it gets easier the more you practice. And you’ll find that when you are able to say “yes,” you appreciate it more.

13. Don’t waste time. There is plenty of waiting time built into our daily schedules. Whether it’s waiting to pick up kids from school, waiting to see the doctor, waiting for your oil change to be done…You get the picture. Wait time doesn’t have to be wasted time. Bring a book you’ve been meaning to read with you or listen to an episode of your favorite podcast. Or, work on small work tasks that don’t necessarily require you to block out your surroundings. It might surprise you how much you can get to just by utilizing all that wait time.

14. Block out distractions. In the times we’re living in, this may seem like an impossible task. With parents and students working more from home these days, distractions seem to be the norm. Still, to be the most productive you can be, try your best to block out distractions. Close a door if you can, lower your blinds and turn on a light, silence your phone. Remember, just because a phone is ringing doesn’t mean you have to answer it. If diffusing some essential oils or putting music on low helps you focus, then do that. The idea is to create a zone where you can forget about your surroundings and focus on what you need to accomplish.

15. Don’t chase perfection. Believe me, as a not-so-in-the-closet perfectionist myself, this is probably the hardest tip to follow. However, perfection really doesn’t exist and trying to attain it can waste a lot of time. Do your best and move on. Your best is almost always better than sufficient (and better than you think) to get the task done. Do your best, add it to your “done” list, and start on the next task—after a small break, of course.

16. Don’t wait for inspiration. This is a perfect partner to #15. We can sometimes get bogged down in waiting for inspiration to strike, but the fact is it might never strike. The best thing to do is just to dig in and get started. Inspiration might strike while you’re working. Or it might not. Still, chances are great that you’ll still complete your tasks in a way that will satisfy your boss or clients.

17. Before meetings, determine your desired results. When preparing for a meeting, make sure you and your team have decided what you hope to accomplish. Build an agenda and stick to it. We’ve all been in those meetings that drone on and in which nothing seems to get accomplished. We all think those meetings are huge “time sucks,” so change the way you meet. Determine what you want to happen and stick to it; if it becomes apparent that you won’t see your desired results from that meeting, then cut it short and schedule a follow-up meeting. This flexing gives everyone a chance to go back and reassess or complete some more work in order to meet effectively next time.

18. Delegate. Most of us are not great at delegating tasks. We get it. Either we feel embarrassed that we can’t do it all, or we’re control freaks, or maybe we just never learned how. Still, learning how to delegate—and then doing it—is one of the quickest and easiest ways to “gain time.” Of course, we at Powerhouse excel in this area. It’s why we exist, after all. So if you can’t delegate tasks to those within your organization, check out all the ways we can help give you back some time so you can focus on the MITs on your own to-do list.

19. Train the other side of your brain. This is a tip from the time management experts at Toggl. Engage in activities that use the part of your brain you don’t use at work. You’ll find that it’s easier to solve problems and you’ll work more efficiently the more you develop both sides of your brain.

20. Sleep well. Strive for seven to eight hours of sleep per night. We really can’t stress enough how getting good sleep will help you with your time management skills. There are key reasons humans need to sleep: It refreshes our brains, our bodies, and our emotional well-being. So cut out caffeine after lunch time, put down those screens and TV remotes at least an hour before going to sleep, and enjoy the ways a good night’s sleep will help you feel as if you’ve gained time in your day.

In the end, each of us has the same 24 hours in a day. What you do with those hours—and how well you manage them—matters. As Gandalf famously says in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” So how are you spending yours?


2020-10-06T16:55:12-04:00December 1st, 2020|
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