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So far Jessica Bertsch has created 247 blog entries.

20 Things That Truly Matter in Business

A great skill to sharpen is your ability to recognize what is important for your business in the long term. As you cultivate this ability, it becomes easier to actively prioritize the things that are truly significant over the things that simply feel urgent. In this Powerhouse resource, we will navigate you through 20 essential focus areas that prove worthy of your time and investment.

Relationships

1. Build a culture that values people. A secret of successful businesses is that they’ve mastered developing a great culture centered around their people. Large organizations the world over measure and work to improve their employee engagement because it directly affects their bottom line. And engagement comes down to a few simple things, such as feeling valued and supported, doing meaningful work, and having a leadership culture that fosters trust and empowerment.

2. Learn what matters most to your customers. Your ultimate success can usually be determined by the intersection of two key points: how well you harness your strengths to do what you’re good at doing, and how well this meets your customers’ needs. You can only get so far on that first one, so you’re surely going to need some input on the second.

3. Develop great partnerships. Building strong, healthy, reciprocal relationships with other businesses can really work to propel both of your operations forward. Increasing networking opportunities, pooling resources and client bases, streamlining processes, and finding positive new ways of doing business together are just a few of the potential benefits.

4. Find sources of support that strengthen you. Mentors can come in many forms and need not even be senior to you. Take notice when you are in the company of someone who inspires and motivates you, affirms you, and gives you the courage to reach higher in your goals. Spend more time with these everyday mentors, and you’ll feel the positive effects in other aspects of your life and business.

Perspective

5. Keep reflecting on the values and standards that guide you. If you have a personal dedication to keep all communications positive and uplifting, for example, this principle can help you navigate conversations, marketing plans, or even conflict resolution. Lean on your moral foundations to guide you through circumstances both large and small.

6. Take the long-term view. When you’re faced with either a great challenge or an awesome potential opportunity, hold it up against your big picture, your long-term plan. Seeking this perspective can help you avoid lots of twists and turns that might otherwise slow down your progress toward your big, long-term goals.

7. Give yourself permission to flex in the short term. Sometimes, despite our best efforts to stay the course, we are dealt an untimely pothole or a fork in the road. It’s okay to make swift calls to action to keep yourself afloat when things get tough. Sometimes making changes is safer than the alternative of being eventually rendered obsolete.

8. Do a few things really, really well. Success is more often a product of doing less than doing more. Just focus on doing what you’re good at, doing what is worthwhile, and doing these things exquisitely.

Communication

9. Share good news. Foster confidence and establish credibility by regularly sharing what’s going well, celebrating successful outcomes, and talking about goals and future plans you’re excited about.

10. Encourage trust by being transparent. Share openly about what you’ve learned and about your future plans—and involve people in them—and watch your relationships deepen. For more ways to establish credibility, check out our Powerhouse resource with 20 tips devoted entirely to this topic.

11. Be dependable; it’s a powerful form of respect. Be on time for appointments, start and end all phone calls or meetings on time, and by all means deliver what you said you would. The underlying messages of these simple actions say, “You matter to me,” “I value our relationship,” and “I respect your time.”

12. Accept feedback graciously. If someone is brave enough to tell you that something went wrong, welcome the feedback with open arms. Most customers won’t take the time to complain; they’ll simply take their business elsewhere and never return. That’s not a scenario that helps you learn and improve, so ask for feedback and thank customers who are willing to tell you the truth.

13. Be a familiar face. There’s a simple psychological phenomenon called the “mere-exposure effect,” which suggests the more we see someone, the more we come to like them. Have you ever loved going to a restaurant where the owner always came by your table to say hello and engage in small talk? It’s a simple gesture that leaves a great impression.

14. Make communications meaningful. We have all experienced “spam” and overcommunication. When you send out communications, make every effort to be clear, concise, and relevant to your recipients.

Growth

15. Remember that you’re growing. Much of running a business requires you to focus outwardly on others. It’s equally vital that you invest in your own growth and development. The more we learn and begin to become an expert in our field, the more our enjoyment of our work can grow.

16. Strive to stay relevant. You rocked this starting a business thing! Now comes the fun part—keeping your business strong through changes in the market, technology, and other unknowns that lie ahead. In addition to learning continuously from your customers, identify other opportunities to keep your business ahead of the curve.

17. Learn from mistakes, when you can. Not one of us is immune to making mistakes. Fortunately, it’s a proven way to learn—even more effective than being told the right way to do something from the start. Don’t worry about perfection. It’s okay to take risks and experience some failures, especially when you commit to learn from them.

18. Focus on your strengths. There is an old proverb that says, “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” A good strategy in business is to pay really close attention to what you love doing and what your personal strengths are. When you know the answers to those questions, you can intensely focus on the one thing you can do really well.

19. Give back. You should be tremendously proud of yourself if you’ve deemed “giving back” a measure of your business success. Benefitting others and creating a positive impact in your community make your work feel more meaningful and have a positive effect on your overall sense of well-being.

20. Grow and reward loyalty. Loyalty is quite possibly the strongest determinant of business success. Loyal customers support your bottom line with repeat business and grow your reach through positive word-of-mouth marketing. Building loyalty in the first place takes great customer service and relationship-building. Look for ways to reward loyalty once it’s there, such as simple gifts of thanks and recognition, milestone discounts, and membership perks.

2020-04-20T16:13:56+00:00May 25th, 2020|

20 Tips to Have Fun at Work

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 89% of working Americans spend an average of 8.5 hours every weekday and 5.6 hours per weekend day at work. That translates to roughly 90,000 hours or 1/3 of an average lifespan spent working. That’s a staggering number. In August of 2019, The Conference Board released its report on job satisfaction, with 54% of Americans reporting that they are satisfied, a three-point jump from the previous year. So, while Americans are basically satisfied with the work they do, they’re spending a lot of their lives doing it.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “If you’re going to do something, do it well,” and an entire generation has embraced the YOLO (You Only Live Once) philosophy. When we realized how much time we all are going to spend working, we decided there has to be a way to make the most of it. Below you’ll find 20 ways to have fun at work, presented in no particular order. These tips may not all be practical for your work situation, but we’re betting you can find plenty to help you live your best, most fun work life.

1. Decorate. Yes, we’re serious, decorate! Whether it’s your cubicle, your office, or a part of your desk, bring in those vacation photos, the children’s artwork, special mementos, or tchotchkes. Anything that brings a smile to your face and reminds you that you do, in fact, have a life outside the office.

2. Make friends. We know, you don’t necessarily go to work to make friends, but whether you like it or not, your coworkers are fixtures in your life. We’re not saying you have to become BFFs, but work friends can make coming to the office a much more pleasant experience. Remember, nobody knows what you go through at work better than those who go through it with you.

3. Create happy moments. Whether it’s leaving a note of encouragement on a coworker’s desk or offering a compliment to another coworker, bring a bit of joy to the office. We all like receiving compliments, knowing we’re appreciated, and feeling like we’re not alone. Bonus? Making these small gestures will not only improve office morale, but it’ll make you feel good too.

4. Create or join an office team or club. Thinking about joining the office softball team? Do it. Ever wonder if your colleagues like the same books you do? Consider starting an office book club. It’s all about connections. The more connected we are to those we work with, the more productive we’ll be. Seriously—you may not think of softball or book club as team-building exercises, but they are. You’ll more effectively work together on group projects; the more comfortable you feel with one another, the more likely you are to put your more creative ideas out there for discussion.

5. Get up and get out. Make time every day to get away from your desk. Go for a walk or get in a mid-day workout. Physical movement gets the juices flowing, can give you that afternoon pick-me-up (without the added calories), and can afford you the opportunity to take a colleague with you. Invite a colleague to walk with you to a nearby coffee shop and talk through a work issue that’s been bothering you. Or invite someone to be your gym buddy. Alternatively, take a few minutes to yourself to recharge your batteries. You’ll get more done and feel better, too.

6. Solve a riddle. Engage in a good, old-fashioned, non-work puzzle. Do a crossword or word search. Break out that Sudoku you’ve been meaning to get to. Better yet, institute an office-wide puzzle break. Consider emailing a daily riddle challenge to everyone in the office. Give a small prize or bragging rights to whoever solves it first. Just make sure you check with your boss first and get permission. Even if your boss doesn’t go for it, consider limiting it to just your division or team.

7. Celebrate. Yes, a festive atmosphere gets everyone in a happy mood. Celebrate birthdays or work anniversaries, or get into the holiday mood. Consider implementing a “Fun Committee” to keep track of celebrations, just make sure to rotate duties so everyone gets a chance to just show up.

8. Allow spontaneity. This may be a little difficult if you’re not the boss, but encourage spontaneity where you can. For instance, maybe the office is super quiet and there aren’t any clients currently in the building—declare it’s party time and crank up the tunes. Let everyone get a chance to get up, dance, chill for a song or two. Then go back to business as usual.

9. Send handwritten notes. We admit this suggestion is mostly for bosses and managers. Take a little time to send handwritten notes of appreciation to your employees. Then arrange for them to be delivered “anonymously” at random times. Your employees will appreciate knowing you see and admire the efforts they’re making, and you’ll get a little joy knowing you’ve made them smile.

10. Go on work outings. Take a small bit of time and get the office out of the office. Arrange for everyone to have a picnic lunch at a nearby park or organize an after-work activity, such as an Escape Room adventure. Everyone gets a chance to interact outside of the office environment and, depending on what you do, you could just sneak some team-building skills into the mix.

11. Do group exercises. Did you know that schools in Japan start each school day with group exercises? Many Japanese companies have adopted a similar strategy. Not only does everyone get a chance to get up and get moving, but group exercise has several positive benefits, including increased productivity. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, just a few minutes of shared activity.

12. Give yourself a reward. Give yourself permission to celebrate a job well done for every task completed. Whether it’s a pat on the back, a high five, or five minutes to revel in your success, find a ritual that is rewarding for you, something small that serves to remind you of your accomplishments and that you rock.

13. Meditate. The benefits of meditation are varied, but they can include increased productivity, creative breakthroughs, and stress relief. Take a few minutes every day to meditate. You can find countless tutorials on the internet or you can create your own meditation routine.

14. Play a harmless prank. Yes, we’re giving you permission to be a little immature. Just keep it harmless. Plaster a coworker’s space with Post-It notes, or pin a funny comic up. Maybe rearrange items on someone’s desk. Just make sure that whatever you do will be received in the playful way you mean it. And be ready to fall victim yourself.

15. Start a charity drive. What better way to promote feelings of well-being and happiness than by doing something meaningful for those less fortunate. Take a favorite charity and organize a drive or benefit. Or poll your coworkers. Just get the office involved. Not only will you all be working together for a common cause, but you’ll also feel good about helping others.

16. Track tasks with a productivity app. “There’s an app for that.” Take those nagging details you just hate to track and let an app do it for you. You’ll relieve some niggling stress and you’ll have an accurate accounting should you need it, too. Whether you setting reminders or tracking taskers, it’ll relieve you to know that the app has your back. No more worrying you’re forgetting something. Some even allow you to share reminders with your coworkers so everyone remains on the same page. It’s as easy as finding the right app for you and downloading it.

17. Have regular no-business meetings. Schedule regular meetings where you talk about anything but business. Whether you discuss the latest water-cooler Netflix show or how the local sports teams are faring that season, make time for small talk. Not only might you learn that you do have something in common with that difficult-to-know colleague, you’ll be giving your brain permission to turn itself off for a few minutes. These meetings don’t have to be long, but they do need to be regular.

18. Organize goofing-off time. Start a pick-up basketball game at lunch. Or hold a trash can basketball tournament toward the end of the day. Maybe a speed board game event is more up your alley (think speed dating only with board games). Organize times to set aside work and have some silly fun. Put a white board up in the break room where everyone can jot ideas down and then pick a few to implement.

19. Get some toys. We know, it sounds strange, but pick up some Pez dispensers or slinkies or hula hoops and bring them to the office. Perhaps a couple of pool noodles for mock sword fights or a few coloring books. Keep a “toy box” in the break room where employees can go and pick a toy for a little stress relief. Trust that “what happens in the break room will stay in the break room.”

20. Start a 30-day happiness challenge. Not sure what that is? Do a quick internet search and you’ll learn all about it. Challenge all your coworkers to complete the challenge. Not only will you all gain a little happiness, but work productivity will rise as well, and everyone will be better for it.

2020-03-23T20:09:34+00:00May 1st, 2020|

I’m Resilient, but I Can Be Broken

Our world was turned upside down and our country was sent into a tailspin in March from COVID-19. Our lives have all been impacted. Our minds are in overdrive.

I’ve read in article after article through the pandemic that military families are best prepared for these types of times because we are resilient. There is truth in that statement. Military families are very resilient. Military families are also comprised of humans not superheroes.

Yes, we can totally appear to be heroic in our own right.

  • Military men and women saving others in times of war.
  • Military men and women taking on overseas deployments time and time again.
  • Spouses dealing with the death of parents alone while their spouse is deployed.
  • Spouses evacuating from a hurricane solo with three kids.
  • Spouses giving birth solo.

Heroic, of course, but let me reiterate that we are human. Military spouses are human. CEOs are human.

In just a few weeks, my husband heads out to sea, and I’m having to have discussions I never dreamt of when I accepted this lifestyle. I’m in a spot now where I have to figure out how I will balance being a mother to three (8, 5, and 4 years old), running a company, assisting my son with virtual learning, and figuring out how to do life. I’m asking myself questions like these:

  • If I get sick, how will I make sure my children’s basic needs are met?
  • Will I self-quarantine and then if I need to be hospitalized call on a friend to take the children?
  • What if one of the children gets sick?
  • If my parents are sick, how will I deal with that weight solo?
  • How much do I share with my kids, yet allow them to have the innocence of childhood?

When big life things have happened in the past, my village was able to show up. A great example was during my last hurricane evacuation with three small children, I had one friend mail me a box of goodness for the kids to have to play with at the hotel. I had over dozen people in my neighborhood volunteer to help put up my hurricane shutters. I had two friends ship me groceries to the hotel. I had a friend connect me with someone they knew in the local community where I evacuated to help me find things to do with the kids.

Over the years, I’ve also had my mom show up time and again to be there to assist. The same goes for my in-laws.

Now it’s important that people don’t show up. Keeping our distance saves lives.

You all…I can be broken. The weight we’re asking our military (and health care, first responder, etc.) families to take on is not okay. We are not okay. Maybe some are, I suppose, but for those of you who feel like this is the biggest “ask” you’ve ever felt as part of this lifestyle, understand others are feeling the depth, uncertainty, and hurt you’re walking in. You are not alone.

I have no answers nor a magic wand to make our lives return to where they were. The only thing that’s getting me through is having truth in every conversation with my spouse. We’re creating our own family plan so we both have peace of mind when and if yuck happens. I’ve also told my spouse the depth of weight I’m being asked to carry. (And trust me—he’s being asked to shoulder a ton on his side, too.)

My encouragement is to live in your truth and strive to find happiness each day. When people ask, “How are you?” I’m actually answering with truth in how I feel in that moment. I’m also trying to find moments of happiness each day. In the suck there is sunshine, I’m certain. Every storm brings madness, but the sun always shows up. Always. I’m praying more—fiercely praying. I’m praying over my family like I always do, but I’m focusing on me, too.

Just know that some of us are breaking a little, and it’s okay to let others know. It’s important to note that being resilient doesn’t mean you don’t break. In fact, it is more about how quickly we can bounce back and recover in those times when we do. You are not alone. And in the end, we will be stronger and, who knows, maybe even a little more resilient.

P.S. There’s no shame if you need some help. Here are some great places to start: www.militaryonesource.mil/coronavirus and www.militaryfamily.org/what-military-families-need-to-know-about-covid-19.
If you’re a trying to lead people through this madness, you might want to check these out, too: 20 Tips for Leading Your Business Through Challenging Times and Powerhouse Planning Goodness and Resources: For the Freelancer and the Business Owner

2020-04-16T19:45:38+00:00April 15th, 2020|

Client Spotlight: Coastal Addiction

Sunshine and sea foam, surfing, diving, fishing. It’s not just a tagline on a vacation brochure—it’s a lifestyle, and Coastal Addiction is all about quality products that personify that lifestyle. Whether sun and sand are your part-time interest or your full-time obsession, here are three reasons (of many) why you’ll want to support this business.

1. Coastal Addiction is a disabled veteran owned business. Owner Tommy Bowling served 12 years in the Marine Corps, and as the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as a former Marine.” He runs Coastal Addiction with the same heart, drive, and discipline he learned in the Corps. Both personally and professionally, there is no “I can’t” for Tommy (or for anyone in his presence, for that matter). There is only “I’m currently unable to” and then a commitment to work on turning that into “I can.” This can-do attitude motivates Tommy and his team to continually provide exceptional service and products.

2. Products are “made in the USA” with a focus on quality. Almost every product line we wear today is made in China and known for a very short life, falling apart after only a few times worn. Coastal Addiction believes in supporting American manufacturers. Their products include a complete line of tees sized for children age two all the way up to adult. Just about all of their products are made in the USA, and they test every product for quality and durability. They use DTG (direct to garment) imprints, which mean you can count on improved picture quality, clarity, and life of the product. And made-in-the-USA hats are on their way, with images embroidered to last!

Tommy says, “We are most proud of the quality of our products. Consumers today vote with their dollars and so many brands take their customers for granted. We don’t—we feel honored every time someone buys a product from Coastal Addiction.”

3. The company is committed to charitable work. After leaving the military, Tommy began participating in endurance events. Wanting these races to serve a greater purpose, he chose to raise money for charities he cared about. With each race, he far surpassed his fundraising goals and raised much-needed funding for nonprofit organizations.

In 2017, Tommy and Kellie Bowling (Tommy’s wife and business partner) started Warriors 4 Kids with the goal of recruiting other endurance racers to fundraise to support children’s causes. To this day, Tommy continues to participate in ultra-endurance events, with every dollar raised either going directly to children or promoting awareness for kids in need. Everyone who works with Warriors 4 Kids is a volunteer who donates their time and money to make a difference in the lives of children. Coastal Addiction plans to continuously provide charitable support to coastal-related nonprofits like the Sea Turtle Rescue and children’s causes through Warriors 4 Kids.

(Make sure to follow Warriors 4 Kids on Twitter and Facebook! You can support their work here!)

If your interest in the coastal addiction lifestyle extends beyond great looking, high-quality, made-in-the-USA apparel, you’ll want to stay tuned! The company is creating Coastal Addiction TV on YouTube where they’ll feature weekly shows covering the coastal lifestyle. They have been in talks with local fishing guides, surf schools, and dive charters to film shows covering a range of topics of interest to fans of the coastal life.

And plans are in the works to offer trips to destination locations where you could be selected to join the adventure and be a part of the episode as well! For information about these upcoming travels and more, like and follow Coastal Addiction on Facebook!

So where can you gear up in the latest and greatest coastal-themed apparel? You won’t find Coastal Addiction in stores—they’re committed to monitoring quality by controlling their product line from manufacturing to sales. But you can shop high-quality, American-made products on their website.

A disabled veteran owned business focused on supporting American-made products and committed to giving back to those in need—Coastal Addiction is an apparel company that’s providing so much more than apparel.

2020-04-11T16:30:18+00:00April 7th, 2020|

20 Tips for Freelance Success

Freelance work has grown exponentially with the creation of the internet. The trend toward freelance work continues to grow, according to several studies, due to the flexibility for individuals to choose their place of work. Some freelancers choose to work from home; others opt for a favorite coffee shop or a coworking space with friends or colleagues. Many freelancers have adopted a travelers’ lifestyle that allows them to work online and travel the world at the same time. In this resource, we provide 20 tips to help freelancers succeed no matter their preferred location or field of work. We’ve divided our tips into four sections: goal setting, budgeting, time management, and adapting.

Goal Setting
Tip #1: Envision your ideal life. What is it you see? What are you doing and where are you working from? Once you have the vision, begin working on the details that will help you get there.

Tip #2: Create short- and long-term goals. With a vision in mind, which is your end goal, create short-term goals for the next three, six, and twelve months. Developing an additional long-term goal of three or five years can also be helpful. These goals will help you identify priorities and create a timeline. Keep these goals somewhere you can revisit regularly.

Tip #3: Write SMART goals. That is, goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. Instead of simply saying, “I want X more clients by a certain date,” be specific in the type of clients you want. Are they design focused or brand development clients?

Tip #4: Believe in yourself. You’ve set your goals based on the vision you see. Now it’s time to be confident in your abilities and the goals you’ve created. If you’re not confident in yourself and your goals, it will be much harder to achieve them.

Tip #5: Embrace your fear of success. According to several scientific studies, your fear of success might be stronger than your fear of failure [1]. Acknowledging your fear of success and facing these fears for what they are may give you a more mindful and productive relationship with your goals.

Budgeting
Tip #6: Track your expenses. If you aren’t already, there is never a better time to start than now. You need a budget, and the best way to create one effectively is by knowing how much you are already spending. Therefore, you should track your expenses for three months. You don’t need to track all of them, but specifically pay attention to the flexible expenses—items that can vary and/or those you can cut if needed.

Tip #7: Plan for discretionary spending. When you’re employed with a fixed income every month, you know your limits on spending for nonessential and luxury items, but as a freelancer, your income can vary from month to month. When you’re working for yourself, it can be easy to go online and find all sorts of things to buy. Curb the temptation and sock extra discretionary money away for the vacation you’ve always dreamed of instead.

Tip #8: Use the 50/30/20 proportion rule. This rule helps you build a budget by using three spending categories. Based on your expense tracking over a three-month period, you can place all of your expenses into the essential expense category (50% of your income), the flexible spending category (30% of your income), and the remaining 20% should be placed in a savings account, investments, or in debt-reduction [2].

Tip #9: Spend wisely. It’s common to face times when you have to cut your expenses, but freelancers may experience this more often than others. There are several ways to reduce spending and make sure that the money you do spend is used wisely. For example, go grocery shopping once a week based on meals you’ve preplanned; cut down on alcohol consumption; and/or purge assets you are not attached to (jewelry, antiques, etc.). This money can help you pay off personal debts or allow you to go for that splurge you’ve been dreaming of—and you won’t have to touch your savings!

Tip #10: Create short- and long-term savings. If you don’t have one yet, it’s time to start an emergency savings account for unexpected expenses. Financial planners suggest one month’s worth of income [2]. A long-term savings account should also have three to six months’ worth of income set aside to handle slumps in income that can befall even the best freelancers. Dividing things up helps you keep track of what you have and what you need to replenish your funds.

Time Management
Tip #11: Make a schedule. Freelancers often have a flexible schedule, which leads to one of the most common mistakes for freelancers: Flexibility is not an excuse to procrastinate. You don’t have to work 9 to 5—maybe your optimal work time is 10 to 6 or 8 to 4—but no matter what schedule you choose, it’s best to stick to it.

Tip #12: Take days off. While you plan your schedule, do not forget to take time off—not just weekends but also vacations. Remember that you don’t need to have traditional weekends, either. Maybe you schedule your days off on Tuesday and Friday each week. Do whatever works with your schedule, your clients, and your needs!

Tip #13: You’re in charge of your time. As a freelancer, your responsibility is to do what you say you’re going to do, to the best of your ability, to help your clients achieve their goals. The downside of being this super-productive and reliable freelancer in a world where most people don’t follow through is that your clients may come to overly rely on you. Don’t forget to take charge of your time, especially when clients are in different time zones and try to call when you are off hours.

Tip #14: It is okay to say no. The most importance time management skill you have at your disposal is your ability to say no. Boundaries are a safe and productive way for you to manage and negotiate time and responsibilities. One of the greatest benefits of freelance work is that you are your own boss in most situations, but don’t squander this perk by forgetting you can say no.

Tip #15: Write it down. If you’re spinning your wheels, feeling unproductive, and procrastinating, start a time diary. For a set period of time, perhaps start with a week, write down everything you do and when you do it. At the end of the allotted time, analyze where you’ve been wasting hours (on social media?) or simply failing to bill appropriately for time spent on a project. Adapt accordingly!

Adapting
Tip #16: Embrace networking. Few freelancers enter this arena with the intention to network, but when you need more work, attending industry conferences, panels, and mixers is something you need to consider in order to meet new people. While these networking events are clearly important, don’t forget to look to past clients as well; they are often the best salespeople you’ll ever need.

Tip #17: Seek self-improvement. Times of slump at any point in your freelancing career are the optimal time to seek additional work through self-improvement. This downtime is an opportunity to take stock of your evolution—what you enjoy doing most, what training you may need, and how you can go from where you are to the next level in your business.

Tip #18: Think with mobility in mind. If you’ve been a freelancer for a long period of time, you may rely on a desktop, which is useless when you need to travel. To stay mobile, you’ll need a laptop or a tablet, or potentially both, so you have a backup option in case one fails for some reason. Always keep a backup flash drive so you can seamlessly transfer data across platforms in case of emergency, and remember that backing up data to an external hard drive or specialized app is your best friend.

Tip #19: Be proactive. Advertise yourself on freelancing networks. Find the sites that post freelance jobs and subscribe to their email list to receive new updates to the job board. Reach out to companies you admire. You’re the only one who can find your next job, so start your search. You’ve got this!

Tip #20: Prepare to adapt and overcome. Above all else, be willing to adapt to change. The growth of the internet and social media has taught us to expect change at rapid rates. By budgeting your income, managing your time, and setting goals, you are setting yourself up for success. But remember that change can happen rapidly, and if you’re too focused on your timeline, you may miss out of the next best opportunity to grow as a freelancer. Follow the latest trends and set yourself up to adapt and overcome every challenge you face.

2020-02-12T17:55:43+00:00April 1st, 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 slack.com 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|

20 Ways to Establish Credibility

When we interact with others, either personally or professionally, one of the most important factors is credibility. We want to know and work with people and businesses we believe to be trustworthy. Establish your own credibility with these 20 tips.

1. Articulate your mission. What drives you to wake up and do what you do each day for work? Make sure you’re communicating this to your target audience(s). People believe in those who are passionate about the things they do. So, share your passion!

2. Be an expert. Part of the very definition of credibility is expertise. You trust someone because he or she is an expert in the field. Make it your business to truly know your business. Stay current in your field. Attend conferences, read journals—wherever there are conversations about the latest advances or practices—be sure you’re following.

3. Stick to your niche. We don’t mean you should make yourself small in this world. Rather, resist the urge to be and do all the things for all the people. You have a valuable and specific set of skills. Use them. Amaze people with them. But be careful when it comes to expanding into areas that aren’t necessarily your forte. It is better to do a few things exceedingly well than many things less competently. Credibility is about being able to deliver on what you promise. So, promise only that which you can deliver well.

4. Share your knowledge. Be generous with what you know. Look for opportunities to demonstrate your subject matter expertise. Contribute to conversations in your field. Post (or respond to posts) on LinkedIn relevant to the work you do. Be a guest blogger or podcast speaker or journal contributor. By sharing what you know, you establish yourself as an expert.

5. Know what you don’t know. Many a small business has opened with a wish and a prayer. It’s okay if you don’t yet know all the things, but it’s important to figure out what gaps in education or experience you have and then fill them.

6. Be a perpetual student. New technologies, different generations of potential customers—the world of business is always changing and what worked yesterday may not be what works tomorrow. You limit opportunities for growth when you stop learning. So, while you don’t have to stay in school forever, you should see the world as your classroom and avail yourself of every opportunity to continue to expand your knowledge base.

7. Let your work speak for itself. An exceptional product or service is the world’s best advertisement. Do your best work always.

8. Strive for excellence. Whether you’re working with your customer base, your team, or colleagues in your field, aim to make it a positive experience. Note that we said strive for excellence, not “be perfect.” No person or business can do everything perfectly all the time. But you can make it the bar you aim to clear.

9. Ask for feedback. Feedback is another tool for learning. Whether it’s a customer satisfaction survey or an open-door policy (or suggestion box) for your team members, ask for and be open to receiving feedback. What do people love about your product/service? Where have you missed the mark? How does your team feel valued or underappreciated? All feedback, except that of the troll variety, helps you and your business. It informs what you continue to do and what you need to do differently.

10. Be accountable. When you do miss the mark—and you’re human, so you will—own your mistakes. Address any missteps or issues with an intention of correcting them. When you know better, do better.

11. Provide outstanding customer service. Excellent customer service doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be flawless. (Remember what we said about the difference between striving for excellence versus being perfect?) It means that you are 100% committed to customers being satisfied that they’ve been heard and that their needs have been met. A mistake handled particularly well can entice customers to speak well of your business too!

12. Plan to fail. Rather than just retroactively remedying mistakes, be proactive about potential future issues. Whether it’s systems you have in place, your business plan (or lack thereof), your staffing (or lack thereof), where are you are particularly vulnerable to difficulties? Plan to strengthen those areas. Even if you don’t have the time, money, or resources now to fix the broken things, you can prioritize what will make the greatest impact on your bottom line and plan accordingly.

13. Hone your communication skills. Communication is key to building and maintaining credibility, and it’s an integral part of several of the tips we’ve shared here. Credibility-building communication articulates your mission, distinguishes your brand and marketing, and relates to how you speak to (and listen to) your team. Words matter—use them intentionally.

14. Walk the walk. Say what you mean and do what you say. Not just sometimes, when it’s easy or convenient, but when it’s hard too. Especially when it’s hard. When you are a person of your word, your word means more because people know they can rely upon it.

15. Get folks talking. It’s good if you say what you stand for and how your business operates. It’s great if you do what you say. It’s better still if you’ve built and operated your business in such a way that others are talking about what you stand for and how your business operates. When you run a business (and a life) with integrity, a wonderful side effect is that your efforts are conveyed to those with whom you interact. And happy customers are more inclined to speak well of you too. Be warned here that the converse is also true, which is why the “how” of your operations is so very critical.

16. Rally ambassadors. Don’t be shy about asking for testimonials or reviews when you know you have a pleased customer, vendor, or colleague. Word of mouth is an incredibly powerful marketing tool. (It is also the best form of validation for the effort you make and the work you do!)

17. Respond to the critics. Respectfully and with humility (unless they’re trolls, and then respond with silence.) Why are they displeased? What could you have done better? How can you make it better for them? Fix what you can. Convey that you’re sorry you didn’t get it right this time but that you’ll do better moving forward. And then do better.

18. Be transparent. Transparency leads to trust, and trust leads to credibility. Be open and honest about the business of your business—your sourcing, pricing, and revenue for example. Keep in mind that being transparent doesn’t mean revealing your secret sauce. But it does mean that you’re straightforward about how you captain your ship.

19. Be consistent. You know that restaurant that makes that one dish you love and go back for time and again? Ever go on an off night when it didn’t deliver on its usual promise and feel disappointed? Aim not to disappoint and to deliver consistently on what you promise. Be known for being the business that can be relied upon.

Most importantly…

20. Be authentic. Don’t be who you imagine others want you to be or promise what you believe others want you to deliver. You are not meant to fit yourself or your business into someone else’s mold. Be authentically you and deliver your unique value proposition to the world.

2020-03-04T18:16:25+00:00March 1st, 2020|

Share the Goodness

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

If there was one quote that best summarizes how Powerhouse Planning CEO Jessica Bertsch approaches both her personal and professional life, it would be this one by Winston S. Churchill.

When Jessica founded Powerhouse, she promised herself that she would always “Share the Goodness” by giving back. Not once she was established as a new business. Not when annual revenue reached a certain point. Not just during the holidays or on nationally recognized days of giving like Giving Tuesday. She committed to giving back 10% of all profits in a POWERful way.

In the early years of Powerhouse Planning, that promise was kept by helping people and organizations in need and by giving in special ways in the communities in which she has lived. As a military spouse who has relocated several times, Jessica left an impact in every community she called home.

As Powerhouse grew, so did the reach of the Share the Goodness program. Jessica carefully curated a highly skilled, predominantly military-connected team who shared her commitment to good works and deeds. And the program’s reach broadened to support the causes the Powerhouse team was passionate about.

The goal remains to dedicate no less than 10% of annual revenue to making a difference in our communities and around the world. Every year, the percentage of income dedicated to the Share the Goodness program has increased. And with these increases and the company’s growth, the impact we’ve been able to make has grown as well.

Together we are…

Ending childhood hunger.
In Brevard County, The Children’s Hunger Project (TCHP) partners with local elementary schools to fight childhood hunger and malnutrition. With more than half of the school children eligible for free or reduced-price meal programs, school lunches are available, but weekend meals are less of a certainty. TCHP helps elementary schools to provide food for the weekend to as many kids as possible each week.

Tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
Around the world, World Vision is transforming communities, providing emergency relief, and bringing hope to 3.5 million vulnerable children in nearly 100 countries. Children like Ambiya—a seven-year-old who has stolen our hearts (and shares her birth year with Powerhouse Planning). We’ve been thrilled to be a part of Ambiya’s life as a sponsor for over four years and love getting progress reports on how she’s growing and thriving.

Bringing hope and love to Uganda.
We learned that Danielle Jackson was planning to combine two passions—photography and a heart for service to take a mission trip to Uganda with Show Mercy International. Empowering professionals and being of service both really speak to the heart of our company, and we were happy to be able to help her meet her fundraising goal to make the trip possible. You can learn more about her adventure here.

We’re also helping cure Alzheimer’s, providing holiday baskets to families in need, giving scholarships to incoming college students, putting together goodies for communities impacted by disaster, sending some love in care packages to service members overseas, and more.

In addition to our Share the Goodness program,

● We regularly highlight nonprofits doing great work to increase visibility of their efforts. (Make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter to read all about them here.)

● We create and share free resources for individuals and small business owners because we want you to live your best personal and professional lives. (Find free career resources, life resources, and military kid resources here!)

● We provide flexible employment opportunities to military-connected professionals (100+ military spouses to date).

At Powerhouse Planning, we make a living providing high-quality services. And we make a life Sharing the Goodness and making a difference.

2020-02-23T21:20:13+00:00February 23rd, 2020|