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|


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.”


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|

Celebrating 2,550 Days as an Entrepreneur

Experts say years five to eight have the highest risk rate in marriage (a.k.a. highest divorce period). Some of that risk is associated to getting the seven-year itch. It made me almost chuckle looking at Powerhouse as we approach our seven-year anniversary. Being an entrepreneur is tough. I’ve seen many of my milspouse CEO peers close up shop because it got too tough to hang with their dreams. And trust me—I, too, have battled with the thought of what an 8-5 job would look like to have again.

Here are some pieces of the tough:
• I have been cussed out by a client who was having a bad day. (No worries, the individual later apologized profusely.)
• I have had to buy myself out of contracts because I no longer felt the partnership was healthy.
• I have chosen not to recontract freelancers because they weren’t an ideal fit to the morale of our team.
• I’m the CEO, CFO, and COO.
• At one point, I went over a year without a paycheck.
• I extreme couponed for two years when I started my company to help the overall finances for our family.
• I started a dog boarding business to fund the startup costs of my company.
• I have to deal routinely with thousands of dollars of payments still outstanding. (Note: My team always gets paid and rarely knows that clients haven’t paid.)
• I have to keep my team motivated 24/7.
• I’ve had to clean up messes on my team that I played no part in other than hiring the wrong person.
• I have dealt with jealousy from other milspouses who couldn’t find joy in my company successes.
• I’ve solo-parented for half of my time while building Powerhouse over the past seven years (due to my husband’s sea time)
• On average, I give clients 15-25% more of my time than their contracts pay me.
• I’ve had a company take the basics of our business model (after I disclosed in a meeting how we’re structured) and make their company larger in numbers and revenue than we have.

Those are some of the key, tough moments. Those were battles that made me question entrepreneurship.

BUT…on the flip side, here are the “whys” that my entrepreneur roots are planted and that I’m committed to many years ahead:
• Powerhouse has remained true to giving back 10% each month to people and organizations in need.
• We’ve grown 100% by word of mouth and doubled our revenue most years.
• Powerhouse has not wavered from what I believe are the moral and ethical standards a company should have.
• We’ve provided over 100 people with careers that have supplied stable paychecks.
• Powerhouse has provided over half a million dollars’ worth of jobs over the past five years.
• Our team members have been able to be present with their children, and I’ve remained committed to my children personally as well.
• We have a corporate environment that supports (and encourages) work/life balance.
• Powerhouse aims to foster a team that has the opportunity to be a legit team, just virtually.
• We truly do only create dynamic deliverables…like dreamy goodness that’s hard to find these days.

Moments have been hard, but the victories make the tough parts fade and the good experiences shine.
I am an entrepreneur, and I’m proud of the Powerhouse we’ve become!

2019-09-06T14:38:37+00:00September 6th, 2019|

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s Ariana Detrez

Here at Powerhouse Planning we are surrounded by amazing talent. We really should spell that with a capital “T” because the talent is just that good. So is it any wonder that sometimes we just feel a need to throw a spotlight on some of that talent? Yeah, we don’t think so either.

This month we are pleased to celebrate the Powerhouse talent that is Ariana Detrez. Coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, Ariana is celebrating her first Powerhouse anniversary, and we could not be happier that she’s a part of our team. Ariana is one of our graphic designers, though she hasn’t always followed that career path. Ariana began her professional career as an art educator, but when life threw her a few curveballs, as it is wont to do, Ariana didn’t hesitate to turn her incredible talents to the equally artistic field of graphic design. You can currently see her artistic endeavors with Powerhouse clients like Jacey Eckhart, PayNet, and Gromelski & Associates, but we’re certain this is only the beginning.

As many of you know, Powerhouse is almost exclusively a military spouse and veteran organization. From our founder and president, Jessica Bertsch, to the array of freelancers we have on contract, Powerhouse is proud of our military ties. Ariana is no exception, though her military experience has turned out to be much shorter than she or her former Air Force husband ever anticipated. Though his military career didn’t turn out the way they planned through no fault of their own, Ariana credits their time with the Air Force with helping to shape who she is today. If nothing else, the adaptability required by the military has helped her deal with all the changes in her life this last year.

Since Powerhouse is also comprised of a virtual workforce, we asked Ariana what professional work relationships should look like in a virtual work space. She answered, “Effective communication is key here.” She went on to point out that it is especially important to have a connection to others when you work virtually. “Relationships are key when you’re living out your passion. You want to have a connection with the people you’re working with!” She adds that how you approach virtual work relationships is just as important. “Be authentic and, have I stressed this enough? Communicate effectively. It’s easy to misinterpret or not understand something through virtual chat—never hesitate to ask questions or for clarification,” she says.

She credits effective communication and the time spent building virtual relationships with helping her when her life was upended earlier this year and a cross-country move became necessary. Because she had built strong, clear relationships with Powerhouse’s Jessica Bertsch and Jennifer Kirkpatrick, Ariana says her move went much more smoothly than she expected it would. “Jess and Jen contacted me throughout to make sure I was okay and were open to providing any resources I needed,” she says. That kind of professional relationship, the kind that you know will survive whatever life throws your way, is why Ariana feels so blessed to be a part of Powerhouse and the virtual workforce. It’s why she’s so excited to continue to learn and improve her chosen profession and why she’s confident she’ll still be with Powerhouse in five years.

Ariana and her husband are dog parents to the adorable Professor, a nine-year-old Terrier mix, and Atlas, a one-year-old Australian Shepherd. While they currently call North Carolina home, they are eager to return to their home state of Florida next year, where they will be surrounded by family, friends, and all things Disney, which is a good thing because Ariana loves Disney!

We asked Ariana for a tidbit not many people know about her. Ariana shared that she was heavily into the art of paper crafting and has a YouTube channel with over 1,000 followers. While it may have started as a place to showcase her paper crafting expertise, it is now geared more toward design and art education. Is it any wonder that someone that involved with the arts has found a successful career as a graphic designer? We don’t know about you, but we’re pretty sure that on our lunch break here we’ll be heading over to YouTube and checking out a certain fabulous Powerhouse talent.

2019-08-01T21:49:00+00:00September 3rd, 2019|

Mentors for Grown-Ups

As a society, we know about the importance of mentors for children. We want to surround kids with adults who can

provide guidance, serve as role models, and support their growth. We care about their teachers, coaches, tutors, and other adults who spend time with them. We build great teams of knowledgeable, skillful, and caring adults to support our kids.

For some reason, once that transition from childhood to adulthood takes place, we’re expected to have it all figured out. And we’re supposed to successfully navigate that figuring-it-out part solo. What we don’t do, but should, is be just as committed to involving mentors in adult lives—both personally and professionally.

Why You Need a Mentor: A good mentor has experience doing what you want to do and all that comes with it—the hiccups, the roadblocks, the dumpster fires, the accolades, and the achievements. That experience brings with it true empathy rather than platitudes about how it’s all going to be just fine, even if it may not.

She can fill the gap between education and experience, like reminding you that it’s fantastic to promote yourself but even better to make sure you spend a few minutes proofreading before sending that letter out about all the awards you won at your pubic high school (true story). She can “educate” you on what you don’t yet know that you don’t know yet.

A good mentor can open doors for you that otherwise wouldn’t only be locked, but also may be hidden behind a faux set of bookshelves (figuratively speaking, of course, unless fake shelving is your thing and then maybe literally too).

Perhaps most important, a good mentor will tell it like it is. Unlike someone who loves you or is too personally invested in your story, that mentor will give you the professional equivalent of “Yes, Karen. Those pants DO in fact make your butt look big.” And it may hurt. But it will be the kindest thing she could do for you—be real and honest and direct—all with your success in mind.

How to Find a Mentor: So how do you find this mythical creature who will want to help you succeed and invest her time and connect you to others and give the gift of truth? Well, even the most magical of mentors cannot (and should not) be the chief advisor to all the things in your life that perhaps might benefit from mentorship. You don’t have your electrician help with your meal planning, do you? (If you FIND that electrician, please share that phone number this instant.) The person who’s “right” to mentor you as you start a new company probably isn’t going to be the same person you’d seek out to take your business global. Your first priority, then, in finding a mentor is to have clarity about what specifically you’re hoping to do and then start your search with that in mind.

Do your homework. Who is out there who has successfully done that thing you want to do—lose weight, launch a successful business venture, start a nonprofit, adopt a child from a foreign country, (fill in whatever your goal is here)?

Start with your current village; you may be pleasantly surprised to see the experience and expertise that’s already right within your reach. Then expand further out. See who’s on the news or LinkedIn or at whatever industry events are in your field. Be as specific as possible. (For instance, I’d love help getting a book published but have zero intention of writing the next vampire love story. I’d search for successful writers/publishers in the comedic self-help space, if such a genre even exists.)

Once you’ve identified a list of movers and shakers whom you’d love to emulate, dig deeper still. Who on that list volunteers their time? What causes do they care about? What are their interests? What can you glean of their personality and work style? Remember that it’s not just about what they’ve gotten done—it’s about how they’ve done it too. One person’s successful journey isn’t necessarily the secret to your own, and the path they took to their destination matters too. It needs to align with how you operate in this world.

Put yourself out there. Be willing to be vulnerable. Unless you’re looking for help becoming a psychic, chances are pretty good that those potential mentors on your list aren’t tracking your need for a mentor. Open your mouth (or LinkedIn/email) and make the ask. Come up with some version of “You’re successfully doing what I’d love to be able to do and I’d be so grateful for your mentorship” that is authentic for you. Make sure your ask makes it clear that you’ve done that homework referenced above. And that you can share some value a mentoring relationship might bring to them (especially if you’re a meal-planning electrician). Make it clear that you know it will be work and that you’ve got the commitment and drive to put in the effort—in other words, time spent working with you will be a good investment.

Repeat this process again and again. You should always be on the lookout for relationships with others that help you grow. As you gain skills in one area, there will always be other places where you’d benefit from someone else’s expertise. And as you acquire your own expertise, you then have another responsibility that is also a gift. You get to be the mentor. You’ll know the personal satisfaction that can come from contributing to someone else’s growth and achievement. At the end of the day, if we’re doing this “life” thing well, we’re always both mentor and student at the same time. Because there’s always something to learn. And there’s always something to contribute.

2019-07-16T23:46:58+00:00August 12th, 2019|

Get Creative!

We joke that there’s nothing new under the sun. The same younger folks who mock the old-timers among us wear clothing lines recycled from times past and sing lyrics to songs we knew when we ourselves were children. So too, unless you’re an inventor, it is unlikely that your business provides a product or service that someone else, somewhere else, is not also marketing. The key, then, is in how you package or deliver whatever the product, service, or content is that you’re selling. And the great differentiator is creativity.


Paint a picture. Okay, maybe not literally (although a mural would be AWESOME). But use imagery to promote your work. People are visual by nature, and your images will get their attention far more easily than the best-worded content. Be sure you’re adding well-worded content for them to see once you’ve piqued their interest. Capture video of your team (or your team of one—just keeping it real in small business land) at work behind the scenes. Create an infographic of what you do, the pain point you solve, or the progress you’ve made. (We’re super proud of that growth in charitable giving).


Provide value. Sure, all business inherently should be about providing value to customers. But if you want to stand out, go the extra mile. Not everything you offer has to be about making a profit. Share your expertise. Be a resource for the people who trust you with their dollars and business. Like these great (free!) MILLIE Toolkits that can help guide you through a PCS from start to finish. Incidentally, giving away something that you’ve invested time and love in is good for business.


Be generous with your gratitude. You could simply put whatever you sell in a box and send it out in the mail. But everybody’s doing that. Be creative about how you show your love for the people who keep your business lights on (literally and figuratively). Send a handwritten thank-you note. Toss in a free product or coupon code. Showcase their work if you’re providing services to them. Give them a shout-out for their business (unless you’re selling something that requires some discretion, and then maybe don’t advertise how glad you are they’ve bought your incontinence products, for example.)


Create your own league of super fans. Super fans are people who are delighted with the products or services you offer. They’re your purpose as a business owner. They’re also your best marketing tool. Get their quotes and endorsements. Ask for those positive reviews that you can promote on your website and social media. Capture photos of people wearing/using your products in the most interesting/far-away/unusual places via a photo or video contest. Hold a “best caption” challenge. Make it “cool” (or at least remotely entertaining) to be someone who purchases what you’re selling.


Brag on yourself. Well, not in an unbecoming way, but if you can’t speak well of whatever you’re selling, making, or providing, then how do you expect other people to be excited about it? Want to see a great example of this? Check out Cape Henry Associates. They don’t just tell you what they do—they show you with engaging video. Put yourself out there to the extent that you’re comfortable and then a little bit more (because growth comes in the uncomfortable places). Allow yourself to be interviewed about what you do or sell. Provide content to sources beyond your website and social media properties.


Pick and choose from any or all of the above. Better yet, figure out how to add your own special spin to your efforts. And across it all, be authentically you. The most creative thing you can do is be yourself.

2019-06-17T20:05:44+00:00July 1st, 2019|


The Creative CEO: Leslie Brians of Leslie Brians Designs

By: Rheanna Bernard

When Leslie Brians graduated from Texas A&M with a master’s in architecture, she married her spouse, who was in the military. She quickly realized that she would have to get creative with her career and that her degree would only get her so far in the crazy world of the Army. In her seven years as an Army spouse, she has worked in fashion, marketing, public affairs, and web design. The uniqueness of her life as a military spouse has created a perfect environment for creativeness and for Leslie to expand herself as an “artist” and as a professional in her fields. Creativeness is a key element to successful business. Even if you aren’t in a creative business, being creative can set you apart and keep you on the quest for growth. Leslie has done just that.

In 2016, Brians set out to create her own business, which she says was “the only natural next step in my professional career.” Leslie Brians Designs provides branding services to companies and nonprofits looking for an on-trend yet classic aesthetic for their online and print brands. Working from home, and for yourself, can be challenging, but Leslie fuels herself by feeding her creativity and challenging herself. “I love taking a simple idea and really turning it into something unique and beautiful,” she says. Brians acknowledges that it isn’t only her creativity she is fueling, but that of her clients as well. Her designs tell a story for each of the brands she works with. She says, “I make it my goal with each and every client to make sure their branding reflects the special story behind their business—the hard work and grit and dreams and finished product.”


2019-06-30T21:08:34+00:00June 30th, 2019|

Did You Know?

Creativity breeds innovation, and innovation drives businesses to greater and greater things. Some of the greatest inventions happen when people are allowed to foster their creativity and think big.

Sometimes we all need a little nudge to get out of our comfort zones and think outside the box. Powerhouse can help jump-start your office spark. Check out our Career Resources page to find helpful ways to brainstorm or encourage team building. When we feel comfortable dreaming big and we have someone to bounce ideas off of, the sky’s the limit!

2019-06-30T21:09:00+00:00June 30th, 2019|


Three Ways to Stay Creative on Social Media

By: Rheanna Bernard

With everyone posting all the time and social media changing almost daily, it’s hard to feel like you are keeping up with the Joneses. Staying creative when everyone is doing the same thing can make social media frustrating. When thinking of how to stay on top of things, it’s important to take into account your niche, your message, and your individual or company personality. Using those key elements, you can make your own social media unique and CREATIVE.

  1. Publish Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories are the easiest way to show your creativity. Getting out there and showing your face to your followers are the best ways to connect with them. Show who you (and/or your company) really is by talking about your goals, your mission, and your everyday life. Make your Stories eye-catching by utilizing GIFs and stickers. Include hashtags and geotags to draw in a new audience.
  2. Consider using Facebook or Instagram LIVE. Creating videos is a great way to include more creative content on your social media. If you provide a service or sell a product, create a LIVE experience for potential or current customers by showcasing how your product works or a providing a review of your product by an actual user. Another way to get creative with your video is to talk about a subject your clients might also be interested but that might be different than what you are offering. This is a great way to bring in new customers who might not already know about you. One of my favorite examples of this is the company Once a Month Meals. They offer a service of monthly freezer meal recipes and shopping lists to their customers. Several times a month, they put discussions of aspects related to cooking on a budget, cooking for families, and cooking freezer meals on Facebook LIVE. While these videos aren’t directly selling their product, they are offering helpful tips and advice to potential customers while also helping their existing clientele.


2019-06-30T21:09:25+00:00June 30th, 2019|