Spotlight on Powerhouse Jennifer McKee

We are extremely excited to introduce you to our “oldest” Powerhouse freelancer, Jennifer McKee. It wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say we’ve been waiting ALL YEAR for this feature! Jen has been with Powerhouse for over six years and is still our number one fan, as well as one of our indispensable, go-to talents. She works as one of our quality assurance geniuses, but she has been known to take on the occasional writing assignment if we beg enough. Jen ensures that the products we turn out are error free and fantastic. Currently, you’ll see her hand in products for clients such as Nomadés and Cape Henry Associates, but given how long she’s been with us, her invisible touch is almost everywhere.

Jen has two favorite things about Powerhouse. Well, we limited her to two or, given her status as a super fan, we’d be here all day. She loves the flexibility that comes with our virtual workplace, but she truly loves “how encouraging, supportive, and just KIND the team is to one another.” We couldn’t agree more. It’s a work environment that founder Jessica Bertsch has purposefully fostered since day one—and Jen should know because she’s been here nearly as long. These are also traits Jen’s taken to heart as she is almost always one of the first to offer an encouraging word or congratulations.

Jen describes herself as “a hot mess,” to borrow a phrase from our founder. A typical day finds her juggling her life, working at figuring herself out, and just trying to be happy. It’s a quest she’s aided in by her husband of seven years, Alan (a sixth-grade science teacher which, we think, automatically makes him a hero), and her daughters, Alex and Maya. Alex is 21 and has just started veterinary technology school while she works full time at a veterinary hospital. Maya, almost 18, is in her senior year of high school and a proud fourth-year color guard member of the Hickory Marching Hawks. Jen isn’t a proud band mom or anything (wink). Her domestic bliss is rounded out by her 3-year-old pit bull, 8-year-old boxer, and her 18-year-old, 4-and-a-half-foot long ball python. Hey, we all have different ideas of what makes a good pet, but we think she might win the most cool pet owner points in our “office”!

When asked about her hobbies and interests, Jen said she enjoys kickboxing, hanging with friends, and SLEEPING. We can get behind those, too! She loves to travel, though she doesn’t think she does enough of it. She also doesn’t think she relaxes enough, which we’re willing to bet is a failing a lot of us have.

Because we’re entering that time of year when we all start to look toward next year, we asked Jen a little bit about what planning looks like in her life. Once she stopped laughing at the very idea of planning, she told us that the best planning advice she can give is this: Plan to have things interrupt your plans. She’s an olympic-level list maker, but life always seems to get in the way. She’s spent a lifetime learning not to be flummoxed by the hiccups that come, but to be flexible and that while the best-laid plans may not go to plan, a general outline is helpful.

We’re pretty sure her ability to change as needed is part of what has made her so successful at Powerhouse. We know she has faith that Powerhouse will only continue to grow and blow clients away with our quality products. We’re just relieved that as far as she’s concerned she’ll be a member of the team for as long as Jess will have her. Which means we’ll see you again in about 20 years when we’re celebrating her quarter-century here!

As always, we asked Jen for some fun, little-known facts about herself. She offered three, though she said none were very exciting. The first is that she has been enamored with military jets since she was 12 years old and her Air Force dad took her to her first air show. She actually loves jet noise! The second is that one summer during college she waited on Stephen King. The third is that, having grown up on Cape Cod and coastal Maine, she can get every bit of meat out of a lobster even though she won’t eat any of it (she’s NOT a seafood lover).

Well, Jen might not find herself overly exciting, but we’re excited to have her talented self as part of the Powerhouse family. Here’s to six-plus years together and many more to come!

2019-10-07T19:34:57+00:00October 7th, 2019|

Why Planning Early Is Crucial to Success

Most of us have probably heard that old saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” There’s a lot of truth in that, even if we don’t always want to admit it. Planning—whether you’re planning for a new business, planning for an existing one, or just trying to manage life goals on the horizon—is crucial to success, as exciting as it is. Let’s face it: We all love the dream stage. Thinking about how things will be once the initial work is over is fun. The nitty gritty details of planning how to get from the dream stage to the realities of success? Not so much. Yet there are very real, very important reasons why planning can make or break any dream.

1. Planning provides specific goals/objectives.
Brian Tracy invented the six P formula for personal and business success: “Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.” Not surprisingly, his very first suggestion for ensuring success is to organize your thinking. J.D. Meier, bestselling author of Getting Results the Agile Way, states, “…planning helps organize your thinking, shape your future actions, and prepare for the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.” It’s true. Planning results in specific goals or objectives that everyone in your company can look to as guiding principles for both the big and the little decisions that must be made daily.

2. Planning allows for more control.
The more control you have over a situation, the easier it is to handle. By carefully planning the actions you will take, you remove a lot of the guess work from a situation. You can identify potential flaws in your plan or your execution and correct before they become impossible to manage. Kamran Akbarzadeh, founder of Dream Achievers Academy, notes, “Without proper planning we would not be ready to respond to challenges.” He goes on to say, “Planning ahead helps you and your organization become assertive in taking risks and saying no to either conservative or aggressive approaches.” If we are in control of our path, we have a greater chance to succeed.

3. Planning streamlines/makes us more efficient.
This seems like a no-brainer. Having a plan eliminates waste. Of time, of money, of resources, you name it—planning is the efficiency tool of choice. A little time spent planning how teams will be built, what resources you should focus on building this year, or even how you will spend your time can lead to massive payoff in the end. Take the time now to plan how best to utilize what you have so you’re not scrambling in the future.

4. Planning helps identify potential challenges.
There’s nothing like planning for every eventuality. The best asset of planning is time. Proper planning means having the time to think about every possible outcome and to identify what steps can be taken to combat and overcome each challenge. The absolute best factor to take into account when planning is that your plans will change. By taking some time now to identify how your plans might change and what strategies you can implement when life throws you that curve ball, you can save yourself some serious headaches later.

5. Planning strengthens teamwork.
Truly, the bedrock of any organization is the people who work there. Planning fosters an innate ability to build the best teams and to provide them with the framework in which to succeed. If every member of a team is fully aware of the plan and its implementation, they can more efficiently and effectively carry out their duties. In addition, when everyone knows the plan, it’s much easier to figure out how to make individual contributions fit the planned whole. In 2013, Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM) implemented its first ever five-year strategic plan. Reflecting on its success in 2018, Dean/CEO Paul Rothman said, “A strategic plan is only as good as the people who execute the strategies, and faculty and members across JHM embraced the plan and did their part to make the vision a reality.” The team members at JHM knew the plan and were able to keep it in mind when working their individual parts. The plan was such a success that JHM launched a second five-year plan called Innovation 2023.

Planning can make or break a business. It’s important to plan, to plan early, and to reassess the effectiveness of the plan often. Remember, no plan is perfect and there will be eventualities you just can’t imagine. However, knowing your objectives, having confidence you have the right team and the right time, and feeling in control of every situation are exactly how early planning allows us to overcome and succeed.

For more information on planning early and why it’s a good thing, check out the following articles:
Dream Achievers Academy | “Six Reasons Why Planning Ahead Matters”
Johns Hopkins Medicine | “The Benefits of Good Planning”
Sources of Insight | “7 Advantages of Proper Prior Planning”
Cliffs Notes on Planning
Management Study Guide

2019-09-23T22:19:22+00:00October 3rd, 2019|

CEO SPOTLIGHT

How Vacation Planning—and Family Memories—Made a Successful Business

 By: Meredith Flory

When Regina Edry moved back home to Augusta, Georgia from Ohio in 2016, she did not plan on opening her own interior design business and becoming a “Superhost” for Airbnb, yet now her business is focused on helping people plan their travel, sell their home through staging, and make other property decisions.

Working as a caretaker, she owned a home, but she wasn’t spending a lot of time in it due to often working nights. Inspired by Gammy, a spunky elderly woman she cared for who taught Edry how “attitude is everything,” and encouraged by her mother Kathy, a business owner herself, Edry decided to rent out her “cute little house on the hill.” As Edry began to have more and more people interested in staying in the rental home, she gradually moved in with her mother and purchased another property to renovate and rent out.

Edry’s father passed away unexpectedly a few years ago, but it was his influence of making memories for her family that motivated her to be a hostess who connects with her guests. She now owns three rental properties and puts flourishing touches on each to make every stay feel special. She recalls that when she was in high school, her dad decided the family would take a trip for Father’s Day, and the family decided to rent a home on Jekyll Island. It became a twenty-year tradition for her family, and Edry remembers the joy and expectation she and her siblings had of staying at a property each year and looking through the art, bookshelves, and decorations, clues to unraveling the mystery of who the families were that owned these homes. Continuing these stays has been a way for her family to “see our dad everywhere” as they visit his favorite places on the island. Now, Edry wants to “take care of guests in a personal way” that helps their own families make precious memories.

In fact, she does have people rent from her multiple times, and she says that renting a guest house through a company like Airbnb, or other forms of staying with a host, allows you to experience a community in a more close-up way than a traditional hotel stay, whether it’s for business, a family vacation, a getaway with friends, or another travel need. For example, Edry has gotten to know a family that has stayed in one of her properties seven times as they’ve needed to be in the area for their son’s medical care, and she is praying for their son’s health with her own community.

(more…)

2019-09-30T19:03:01+00:00September 30th, 2019|

Did You Know?

Planning is incredibly important, especially when it comes to managing all the moving parts of a small business. Whether you’re trying to get your ducks in a row to start your dream business or are looking for ways to help keep that beautiful business going, Powerhouse has you covered. From starting your initial business planning, to preparing for conferences or team building, to refreshing and “spring cleaning,” we’ve got it.

Check out our Resources Page for lots of helpful tips and strategies to make planning one of your favorite things.

2019-09-30T19:34:03+00:00September 30th, 2019|

MARKETING BUZZ

Three Ways to Keep You and Your Business Organized When You Work from Home

By: Rheanna Bernard

Trying to keep yourself organized, especially when you work from home, can be tricky. Distractions come easier with family, kids, or just the house in general being right there. It’s easy to say, “Oh hey, let me just do this cleaning,” or, “Maybe I’ll just take a second to organize this.” On top of distractions, you have the organization factor that is a little different when you operate your business outside of the traditional workspace. Working from home can give you so much freedom, but sometimes you have to work a little harder. Here are three ways you can look at to keep yourself organized and less stressed.

  1. Use a scheduling system.

Finding ways simply your life can help keep you organized. Using a scheduling system like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule out social media posts can allow you to plan out a week or two ahead, saving you time in the long run. Buffer and Hootsuite both offer free options so that you can test out which set up works best for you. Both enable you to post to Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook all in one place. Setting aside a specific day of your month for scheduling can free up your other days to focus on interacting with your followers without worrying about what you’re going to post that day.

(more…)

2019-09-30T19:03:12+00:00September 30th, 2019|

BUSINESS ETIQUETTE

Seeing 2020—A New Protocol for Strategic Planning

By: Julie Kirchner

As the last quarter of 2019 approaches, business teams the world over will turn to planning for the next full year.

We will dig out or print multiple copies of our calendar, annual strategic business plan, marketing plan, and budget. We will sit around big conference tables (physically, or virtually and metaphorically) with on-demand coffee and individually wrapped chocolates, surrounded by giant post-it papers on the wall and rainbows of colored markers.

Sorry to interrupt all that inspiration you were feeling just now. Umm…call me crazy, but I’m fairly certain this is not the magic fluff that wildly successful companies are made of. (Unless you’re in the business of giant post-its or colored markers, of course.)

It’s time we cleared things up with a 2020 prescription for our “Vision.”

We’ve always done it this way. We thrive on flexibility and new ideas.

(more…)

2019-09-30T19:03:27+00:00September 30th, 2019|

POWERHOUSE SERVICE & SUCCESS

Client Profile

“Jessica and her team are willing to listen to our ideas and help us go in the direction that best serves our veterans! They are willing to help in areas that are beyond contractual need as well. The team’s communication is succinct, timely, and focus-driven. Thank you!”

– Adena Vaughn, Director of Human Resources, Operation: Job Ready Veterans

2019-09-30T19:03:44+00:00September 30th, 2019|

BUSINESS RESOURCES

Planning Tips

Business plans aren’t just for creating a business, securing business loans, and launching a business. Business plans remain one of the fundamental ways both to create and maintain a business. After all, according to a study published in the Journal of Management, “…companies that plan grow 30% faster than companies that do not.”

It’s a good idea to carve out some time toward the end of each year to evaluate what went right and wrong in the past calendar year as well as to determine which goals and growth aspirations you have for the coming year.

Constellation has a great blog with lots of tips and strategies for year-end planning. With several tips and easy-to-digest information, it’s worth checking out.

Small Business Trends has several articles with business planning tips and basic overviews of what a business plan is and how it can be utilized.

Whether we like it or not, it’s already time to start thinking about tax season. Check out this article on how to plan for tax season so that it’s as easy on you as possible.

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

2019-09-30T19:03:54+00:00September 30th, 2019|

GIVING BACK & GETTING INVOLVED

Operation: Job Ready Veterans—Helping Veterans Navigate the Civilian World

By: Heatherlynn Akins

Back in 2007 in southwest Indiana, a dream was born. Specifically, a dream to help disabled veterans find employment at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division. It didn’t take long before that dream expanded to focus on helping all veterans and their families transition from a life of military service to one of civilian success. In 2013, Operation: Job Ready Veterans (OJRV) opened its doors at its headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana, where the nonprofit currently assists veterans with navigating the sometimes overwhelming transition to civilian life.

Recently, Adena Vaughn, OJRV’s director of human resources, took a little bit of time out of her busy schedule to speak with us about the incredible dream that has become OJRV’s core mission as well as some exciting news about expansion. OJRV’s heart and soul is ensuring that those who have “dedicated their lives to our safety have that dedication reciprocated—even if not on the same scale,” according to Vaughn. To that end, OJRV offers services and workshops designed to help veterans and their families navigate the critical time between transitioning out of the military and into civilian life. “We’re broaching a topic that is still mostly taboo in our society,” says Vaughn, “but it’s one that needs to be addressed in order to help our veterans succeed.”

(more…)

2019-09-30T19:04:15+00:00September 30th, 2019|

30 Days and Ways to Pray for a Family that Serves

By: Jessica Bertsch

As I approach 15 years of “dating” a Coastie and 13 years of being married to a Coastie, I tend to hear on a routine bases, “I’d love to pray for you.” Or, “How can I pray for you?” In true Jess fashion, I tend to brush over the sentiments and say, “Oh…I’ve got this. God gave me a platter instead of a plate…no worries at all.” Then I chuckle, move on, and end up in fetal position on the couch gnawing on a giant size Godiva chocolate bar realizing my husband is out to sea, I’m solo parenting three children (age seven and under), and I’ve got to keep myself together so I can successfully run a business.

So, considering all of that, I figured maybe it was time to focus on how I could ask for prayer based on the basic needs of those who serve.

I’ve created a calendar that breaks down a different focus for each week. It’s super easy to use, and some tips below might help you as you spend some quiet time covering families that serve in prayer.

Week One: Prayers for the Service Member

Day 1 – Pray for him/her to have strength as a leader.

Day 2 – Pray for the service member to find confidence and clarity in his/her job as he/she is given tasks to accomplish.

Day 3 – Pray for the service member to be safe as he/she fulfills his/her duties.

Day 4 – Pray for the service member to have peace of mind as he/she is away from his/her family.

Day 5 – Pray for the service member to have stability in his/her marriage and to find ways to connect with his/her partner when he/she is working missions that call him/her away from his/her spouse for extended periods of time.

Day 6 – Pray the service member finds encouraging words to use with his/her crew and that he/she steps into being a positive force at his/her job and that negativity is washed away.

Day 7 – Pray for professional growth. Pray that the service member finds peers who pour into him/her and challenge him/her to grow personally.

Week Two: Prayers for Children

Day 8 – Pray that our children easily adjust to their new school/norm.

Day 9 – Pray that our children find genuine friendships and children who are willing to befriend them easily.

Day 10 – Pray our children have peace of mind and that they spend little time worrying about mom/dad who are away. Pray they can be focused on the awesomeness of the here-and-now moments they can experience.

Day 11 – Pray our children find joy on a daily basis.

Day 12 – Pray our children find strength in their family.

Day 13 – Pray our children have peace and understanding as their parent serves. Pray that they attain a sense of appreciation of the sacrifices being made.

Day 14 – Pray our children grow stronger in character and empathy so they can be leaders in their spheres and models of kindness for others.

Week Three: Prayers for a Service Member Spouse

Day 15 – Pray we find strength as we solo parent.

Day 16 – Pray we find genuine friendships and a circle of friends who openly and quickly embrace us.

Day 17 – Pray we have peace of mind in general (e.g., regarding our spouse, finances, children).

Day 18 – Pray we have clarity and wisdom when big decisions need to be made as we’re flying solo.

Day 19 – Pray our professional worth is noticed and appreciated as we move.

Day 20 – Pray we find stability in our marriage.

Day 21 – Pray we find community where we live. Pray that we find people who genuinely want to do life with us even though our stay in that community may be short.

Week Four: Prayers for a Family that Serves

Day 22 – Pray we find creative ways to stay connected as a family.

Day 23 – Pray we find joy and laughter together daily.

Day 24 – Pray we find and make traditions that bond us.

Day 25 – Pray we have financial comfort.

Day 26 – Pray we have good health.

Day 27 – Pray we have safety.

Day 28 – Pray we give grace to one another (and to ourselves).

Week Five: Prayers for the Community that Serves

Day 29 – Pray for our men and women who serve and their safety.

Day 30 – Pray that our men and women who serve have peace of mind as they work tirelessly serving our country.

You’ve made it! Thank you for devoting 30 days to prayer!

While I’m at it…

Thank you for welcoming us into your communities from day one.

Thank you for talking to your kids about how to befriend new kids who show up in their classes.

Thank you for asking us in a genuine way, “How are you really doing?”

Thank you for sending us “out of the blue” thinking-of-you gifts.

Thank you for cheering us on and tearing up as watch welcome home videos.

Thank you for showing up when a hurricane is coming to help me put up my shutters (for the second time).

Thank you for bringing us a hot meal because you know we need a break.

Thank you for inviting our family to your holiday celebrations when you know we’re missing our loved ones.

Thank you for instilling a sense of American pride in your family.

Thank you for taking 30 days to give us focused prayer time. Often times, as a family that serves, we hear, “Thank you for serving.” Well, to that I say, Thank you for praying. Thank you for setting aside focused time to think of the families that serve. Your prayers and continual acts of kindness are greatly appreciated and felt, and for that, we thank you.

2019-09-15T20:14:59+00:00September 13th, 2019|