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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: Upwork.com 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|

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

By: Julie H. Kirchner

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

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

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

Founder and President, Powerhouse Planning, LLC

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

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

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

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

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

Did You Know?

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

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

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

Five Tips to Host an “Influencer” Party

By: Karen Pinkston

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

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

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

#1 Pick the right influencers.

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

#2 Create an Instagrammable invite.

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

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

#3 Location is everything.

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

#4 Little details matter.

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

#5 Have fun!

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

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