Monday, September 18, 2023

New Book: The IT Consultant's Year of Intention - A workbook dedicated to your success!

The IT Consultant's Year of Intention - A workbook dedicated to your success!

Pre-Sales have begin. Launch date is October 10th. Full price is a great deal at only $29.95. Order before October 10th and you'll save an additional $5. No coupon. Just order at to get the price.

100% focused on your success.

This workbook is designed specifically to help IT Consultants to plan - and evaluate - the year ahead. Unlike a basic business book, this workbook focuses on the activities of a successful IT Service Provider.

Yes, you’ll document your goals and financial picture for the year ahead. But there’s much, much more. Running a managed service business is not the same as other businesses. You need to plan how you’ll work with vendors and new technology. You need constant training to keep up on constant changes.

You’ll examine:

  • Your plans 
  • Your finances 
  • Your vendors 
  • Events you might (and might not) attend 
  • Webinars and online training 
  • and more

Plus essays, forms, and exercises designed to focus on success. In other words: There’s a lot of work that goes into a successful year

As Karl likes to say: Nothing Happens by Itself

Plus - Lots of forms and checklists to help you build a successful year ahead - with intention!

Table of Contents:

Forms Galore!

As a workbook, of course, you will get a lot of forms to help you plan, execute, and evaluate your activities in the year ahead:

  • Budget Sample 20xx.xlsx
  • Company Goals for Next Year.docx
  • Conference Notes.docx
  • Event Evaluation Notes.docx
  • Event Follow-Up Checklist.docx
  • Monthly Performance Notes.docx
  • Monthly Tune-Up Notes.docx
  • Monthly Tune-Ups.docx
  • Prime Questions.docx
  • Report on Goals from the Current Year.docx
  • Webinar Notes.docx

Learn more and order today:

NOTE: Members of the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community should NOT order this book as you will receive a free copy. Stay tuned for the Community newsletter.




Sunday, September 17, 2023

NSITSP Voting Ends Friday - Do IT Now

The National Society of IT Service Providers elections are on now! Vote by Friday, September 22nd.

Members: ALL positions are open - both Board of Directors and all committees.

Check out

Voting is super fast and easy.

It literally takes sixty seconds.

All position openings are for a full two-year term. Nominations were last month. Voting goes through September 22nd and results will be posted as soon as possible after voting closes.

I am proud to say that we have five candidates for three open board seats. That’s a great indicator that folks know we’re growing (almost 1,000 members) and that being on the board means being influential in our industry as we strive to improve our professionalism and reputation to clients, vendors, regulators, and the media.

You can view all of the candidate profiles at Then vote!

If you are not yet a paid member, now is a great time to join - and then vote. It's too late to run for office, but you can certainly vote . . . but you need to hurry.

Thank you to everyone who helped us get this far - and to making the NSITSP a strong and growing organization!

Now go vote!


Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Service Agreements - Revised Class starts September 19th

Revised Class Starts Soon!

All About Service Agreements for I.T. Consultants

  • Five Tuesdays: September 19 - October 17
  • All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific
  • Taught by Karl W. Palachuk, author, Managed Services in a Month 

Service agreements are not about the services you provide – they’re about your relationship with your clients

We’ll also look at various options, including a 2-page “terms of service” as well as managed services, programming agreements, and more.

Based on the best-selling book Service Agreements for SMB Consultants, this course covers everything you need to know about developing your service agreements. And the book subtitle is important, too: A Quick Start Guide to Managed Services.

Most IT Professionals sign – or don’t sign – contracts for the wrong reasons. Most think contracts are intended to draw battle lines for when you have a disagreement with your clients. In fact, that piece of the relationship is almost always outside the contract! We’ll explore why you really need contracts or service agreements.

Service agreements are not about the services you provide – they’re about your relationship with your clients. We’ll also look at various options, including a 2-page “terms of service” as well as managed services, programming agreements, and more.

Tuition for this course includes the ebook version of the newly revised and expanded Service Agreements for SMB Consutants! That includes all the downloads from the book as well.

You will learn
  • Defining Yourself and Your Relationships
  • Define Yourself
  • Define Client Relationships
  • The Language of Service Agreements
  • The Service Agreement Construction Kit
  • A Sample Credit Agreement
  • Boilerplate: A Sample Service Agreement
  • Flat Fee or Managed Services Part
  • The Managed Service Agreement
  • Getting Help and Managing Agreements
  • Getting Help – Lawyers, Accountants, etc.
  • Managing Your Service Agreements
  • PLUS lots more.
  • This class is filled with great advice and tips on running your I.T. company and moving into the world of recurring revenue with managed services.
  • Define great offerings
  • Attract your perfect client
  • Guarantee a profitable relationship
  • Address the challenges of Security, Insurance, and managing employees
  • Managing client

Weekly Topics
Unit 1 Introduction and Defining Relationships
Unit 2 Money, Money, Money
Unit 3 The Parts – Part 1
Unit 4 The Parts – Part 2
Unit 5 Managing Contracts ... and Relationships

Karl W. Palachuk

Series Organizer & Principal Instructor

Karl W. Palachuk has built and sold two managed service businesses in Sacramento, CA. He is the founder and president of the Sacramento SMB IT Professionals Group, and author of many books, including The Network Documentation Workbook and Managed Services in a Month.


Friday, September 08, 2023

What does it take to be get a Service Manager Specialist Certification?

We get mail . . .

Steve sent me a not about certifications over at IT Service Provider University . . .

Subject: Service Manager Specialist Certification Completion Timeframe


I’d like our Service Manager to complete the Service Manager Specialist Certification as one of his goals for next year. What is a realistic timeframe to complete this certification?


Steve ...

-- -- --

Thanks for a great question, Steve!

The short answer is that it depends on how much time the service manager has to commit to taking classes.

The details are:

A specialist certification requires that a student complete the one-hour informational Foundations class (free) and five 5-hour courses. See Then, the student must pass the associated five certification exams.

The five courses can be live or on demand. If on demand, they can be “consumed” pretty quickly. Of course, the more time taken to absorb the information, the better. 

Each unit has a Quiz with 10-15 questions. The associated certification exam consists of fifty of these questions. In other words, if someone goes through all of the five units and takes all of the five quizzes, they will have seen every question that is on the certification exam. SO: passing is not difficult. It’s just a process.

We have one eager member who manages to complete 1-2 units per week and has achieve several certifications, including multiple specialist certs. His employer bought a team membership to the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community, so there’s no additional charge for taking the classes. And certification exams are half price.

If you do this, it’s absolutely worthwhile to join the SBT Technology Community (

Regular pricing at ITSPU:

Foundation Class = Free

Two core classes at $399 = $798

Three elective classes at $399 = $1,197

Five certification exams at $199 = $995

Total = $2,990

With Small Biz Thoughts Membership:

Membership for one person = $1,299

Five courses = No additional charge.

Five certification exams at $99 = $495

Total = $1,794

. . . and, of course, Community Membership includes one year’s access to all of our books, audio programs, checklists, forms, exercises, recordings, and live events.

I know that’s a LOT of information. I am happy to answer further questions, or schedule a Zoom call to discuss.

Thank you for the inquiry!

-- -- -- 

Check out the web sites:

IT Service Provider University

Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community

More questions? Ask below or send me an email.


Thursday, September 07, 2023

Recorded: Manuel Palachuk talks about The Culture Imperative - on the SBT Roundtable

Over in the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community . . .

Every month, on the first Thursday, we have a special "Roundtable" meeting where we take a special guest off their script and chat about something important. In September, we talked to author and coach Manuel Palachuk about The Culture Imperative.

See the longer description and details here:

and members can go straight to the recording here:

Manuel is a lifelong student of culture, having studied it up close in both the public and private sectors, in hundreds of organizations across four continents. He has run several successful companies and mentored many more around the world.

Manuel is the Founder & CEO of the International Culture Initiative, a foundation focused on helping organizations and teams get their culture right. His passion for helping teams and organizations build a healthy, cohesive culture is driven by his desire to see the world turn in the right direction, on balance.

He is an award-winning martial arts student and certified instructor, and as a COPE instructor and Sea Scout Skipper, he has taken teams and crews to top-level honors in their competitions.

Manuel is the author of Getting To The Next Level, where he shares his unique culture-centric framework that redefines how every business should approach the development of their business strategy. In his upcoming book, The Culture Imperative, Manuel put’s culture squarely at the heart of the subject. Manuel is positioned at the intersection of culture, strategy, leadership, and transformation is his work.

In general . . . it was a great discussion, followed by our regular meeting. Members should definitely check it out now. Start here.


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Save Big on Two Great Fall Classes! Plus a FREE Class Everyone Should Take

 Over at IT Service Provider University, we offer ten live classes each year (five weeks each). Over the last ten years, we've developed twenty-five courses designed to help IT service providers to be better at the business side of running an IT business.

This fall, we're having a special promotion on three class. One classic - on Service Agreements; one new - designed around implementing Profit First in your business; and one free to everyone who runs a managed service business. Here are the details.

Best of all - we have a special discount code that give you $50 off either of the five-week courses. In fact, you can use the code FallBlog23 to take $50 off any courses you wish - live or recorded.*

Head over to to view the courses.

Service Agreements for SMB Consultants

This five-week course is always popular. Whether you are just starting, need to tune up your business, or feel like it's time to revise you service agreement, you'll find this course very helpful. 

The course includes a free copy of the first book ever written on managed services: Service Agreements for SMB Consultants - A Quick Start Guide to Managed Services. Of course, it's much revised and updated from the first edition.

One of the biggest mistakes that many MSPs make is to grab a random "free" contract from the Internet and think it's good enough. That was a bad idea ten or twenty years ago. Today's it's perhaps the worst thing you can do for your business. A good, relevant contract based on your business is critically important to the long-term success of your business today.

See more information at IT Service Provider University.
Use code FallBlog23 to save $50 on this course.

-- -- --

Profit First for MSPs

This brand-new course is taught by one of our most popular instructors, Lori Hardtke. Lori is a Profit First coach and managed service provider who runs a multi-state company with no employees. As you may know, Profit First is title of a book by Mike Michalowicz. This course title is used with permission.

This course will guide you through a process for taking control of your finances and virtually guaranteeing that you take the age-old advice to "Pay yourself first." Lori has lead many MSPs through this process and developed this course based on years of Profit First coaching.

If you run your business paycheck to paycheck, or find yourself  stressed out every month worrying about how you’ll pay your bills, this class will be perfect for you! 

See more information at IT Service Provider University.
Use code FallBlog23 to save $50 on this course.

-- -- --

And that one Free class that everyone in your business should take . . .

Business Foundations of Modern IT Services

Learn what makes managed service different from other types of IT consulting (value added resellers, integrators, hourly labor, specialty tech, and so forth). We’ll cover the philosophy of service delivery that separates ongoing, maintenance-based support from so called “break fix” support.

This course is intended as a “level set” understanding of managed services for all employees in all departments (service delivery, management, sales, marketing, front office, and finance).

You will learn the core components of the managed service business model – and alternatives to managed services. Free to everyone!

See more information at IT Service Provider University.

Get started on your path to certification today!

-- -- -- 

* Note: Members of the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community should not use this code. Grab your special code inside the community to attend these classes free of charge. 

Start in your dashboard at


Friday, August 25, 2023

Let Technicians Focus on Service Delivery - Not Whether a Service is Covered or Extra

We get mail . . .

Reader Mr. B asks . . . 

How can I set up a way for my techs to just record their labor in our system, and the system recognize that it’s included labor or it’s extra?

Great question! Ideally, technicians should be focused on delivering service, not trying to figure out which tickets are covered (included) or extra (not covered).

Depending on your tools, much of this process can be automated.

Much of this is covered by the processes outlined in my book Service Agreements for SMB Consultants and the 5-week class on Managing  Your Service Board over at

First: What PSA are you using? In a perfect world, you will be able to create multiple contracts per client AND set one contract as the default contract in the PSA.

The basic plan is this:
  1. Create a standard (time and materials) contract inside your PSA for Client A
  2. Create a managed service agreement contract inside your PSA for Client A (*)
  3. When a new ticket is created, it is automatically assigned to the managed service contract. If it turns out to be not covered, then the service manager needs to move it to the time and materials contract.
  4. Depending on your ticketing system, you may also have specific time that is not covered, so that time would be applied to the T&M contract, not MSA.

  1. Your managed service agreement must cover the maintenance of the operating system and software. Thus . . .
  2. All adds/moves/changes are not covered 
  3. Your technicians – and especially the service manager – must understand the difference between maintenance and A/M/C

Thus, a technician gets a ticket (service request) and works it. If the ticket is properly triaged before the technician sees it, then it is assigned to the correct contract already. All the tech needs to do is work the ticket. They don’t need to know whether it’s $150/hr or covered or $300/hr. The rate is not something they need to worry about. They might need to worry about maintenance vs. A/M/C, but a well-triaged ticket will eliminate even that.

 (*) Note: this is true even if the client only signed one contract. Your ticketing system needs two contracts. Every ticket that’s “covered” should go on the MSA. Every not-covered ticket should go on the T&M contract.

Note to former students at IT Service Provider University

If you’ve previously taken the courses on Service Agreements or Managing the Service Board, you can re-take those at no additional charge. Just log into and access them. If they’ve been revised since you took them, you’ll get the revised version.

Leave questions below.


Wednesday, August 23, 2023

All New Roadmap: The Basics of TCP/IP, DNS, and Networking

Over in the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community, we have an overwhelming amount of content. We know that. But I can't help myself, so I'm constantly adding new, fresh content.

One way we help you filter the content is through "Roadmaps" on specific topics. Basically, instead of sending you off to search of just browse til you find something, we give you some choice resources that get you started.

AND because of the unique nature of our content, this might include a book chapter, a video, a 90-minute class, and some documentation forms. And, usually, it includes all of these.

NEW - Basics of TCP/IP, DNS, and Networking

This Roadmap is all about the "Basics" of networking, starting with the most important protocol in the world. Experienced techs can use it as a reminder before jumping into the serious training needed for a career in security. Entry level techs can use it as a great introduction to TCP/IP, DNS, and Networking.

You know the old line: It's always DNS. Well, maybe 95% of the time. The rest of the time, it's some kind of TCP/IP misconfiguration. Either one is a typo.

This roadmap is your "starter kit" for learning the basics of TCP/IP, DNS, and networking. Contents include (see links to the left):

  • Documentation Forms for Networks
  • Using TCP/IP to Take Over the World - a strategy and marketing webinar
  • Glossary for TCP/IP Basics
  • Understanding TCP/IP - A Very Practical Introduction Class
  • DNS Training: What You Need to Know - A Primer for IT Service Providers Class
  • TCP/IP Troubleshooting - A Very Practical Workshop Class
  • Building the Basic Small Business Network - A Very Practical Workshop Class
  • Using TCP/IP to Take Over the World - a strategy and marketing webinar
  • AND a few book chapters with more documentation


The public "What's New" description is here:

Members can access immediately here:

And, of course, the new Roadmap is listed on the Roadmaps Menu at the top of the page.

-- -- --

Note: This whole project is by request from a member. He's new to the technology biz and wanted some basic training on networking. So I created three new 60-90 minute courses, and then collected up some of the most important related resources. Along the way, I updated a lot of the forms on network documentation so they're up to spec for 2023 and cloud services.

If there's a resource YOU need and can't find, contact us. If we don't have it, we might just create it. Cuz that's how we roll.

Feedback welcome.


Thursday, August 17, 2023

Coaching with a Twist: Is it Right for You?

Coaching Programs with a Twist

Coaching can be a great investment for many IT Service Providers and MSPs. But it's NOT a good investment for MOST of them. I go into some depth on this in my Monday newsletter, but the reason is simple: Most small businesses need a little coaching, not a long-term program.

Most small businesses can quickly identify their major problems. A coach can help them develop plans and processes to address their problems. At that point, it's up to them to work the work and implement the changes. But here's the key: Most small businesses cannot make massive changes all at once. So, they can only change one thing at a time. They can only focus on one thing at a time - because they're busy running their business.

Someone has to take action or there will be No Change!

Peer Groups and Mastermind Groups are often a better choice for small businesses. These groups provide ongoing support and accountability without overwhelming the business owner. 

Today our industry has more peer groups and mastermind groups than ever. Whether peer-led or coach-led, these groups also provide a nice social element - introducing business owners to others facing the same challenges. They work best with companies of similar sizes.

SO . . . I have a coaching program. And I want to be super clear from the beginning that it's not a good fit for most small IT companies. But if you're considering coaching, you might be interested.

Because of the programs I run - the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community and the IT Service Provider University - I am able to offer a coaching program with a huge benefit that no one else can offer.

I only take one or two coaching clients at a time. Here's what my program looks like. Note: As you'll see right away, this is NOT a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all coaching program. It is customized to your team and you business as this moment in time.

1. SWOT Analysis - To start coaching, your team needs to participate in a SWOT analysis. This includes having your entire management team fill out thorough profiles. Each of them completes a DiSC profile and an interview with me. After that, I write up a length report and meet with the owners to deliver my analysis and begin the process of setting goals for the coaching program.

2. The Core Coaching consists of online meetings at a pace that makes sense for you. It might be once a month or more frequently, as needed. There is a four month minimum, which can be extended as needed. But I am not a big fan of intense coaching that never ends. 

Experience has shown that most people use a variety of coaching programs over time, gaining maximum  value from each. Then they take a break to execute all the work created by the coaching. After that, they find a good coaching program to address the next level of challenges they have.

3. Massive Resource Center - All coaching programs include a team-level membership to the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community. This service sells every day for $3,599 for your team. (And is a good alternative to coaching for most companies.) 

Here's why I include this: Very often, in coaching, I want to give folks a process that will move them forward. So I point them to written processes, standard operating procedures, forms, training, spreadsheets, etc. that will help them come up to speed more quickly and get headed in the right direction. The Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community contains ALL of my processes, procedures, etc. It's where I store that stuff. So if just makes sense to make all that material available to coaching clients.

Bonus: While your coaching might last six months, your access to the SBTTC lasts for a full twelve months. For information on the SBTTC, see

4. All the Training All The Time - All coaching programs include unlimited access to all of the five-week courses at  IT Service Provider University. ITSPU offers more than twenty-five 5-week courses, all 100% focused on the business side of running a successful managed service business. 

The key here is that we have five pathways of training. So each person can get the best training for their position - or a position they're moving up to. Pathways include Management/Owner, Technician, Technical Manager, Sales & Marketing, and Front Office. Everyone on your team will benefit from certification on their job!

More information at

The Bottom Line

IF coaching is right for your business, no one offers more content and resources to support the coaching you receive. I never have to nickel-and-dime you by sending you off to buy this, buy that, and buy some more. It's all included. PLUS we have a great community you can participate in if you wish.

As a rule, my coaching works best with companies that have tiers of management. That’s simply because work can be delegated and the company can tackle change from several angles. Companies that can only work on one thing at a time are better off working inside the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community.

My coaching is not intended for the masses. It's too personalized. But I can help a handful of business owners to make great progress in their personal and professional lives. If you think I might be able to help you, let’s schedule a call.

Make an appointment for a free 30 minute coaching session to determine what we can do for you. Email karlp at to arrange an appointment.


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

NEW: Basic Documentation for Small Business Networks

Talk about going back to your roots . . . 

Many of you know that I started my writing with a book called The Network Documentation Workbook, which included a series of documentation forms, best practices, and examples on how my first IT consulting business operated.

That book changed a great deal of our industry and standardized the way many people - especially in the SMB community - documented networks. It was published in 2005 and sold many thousands of copies all over the world. Harry Brelsford and SMB Nation were instrumental in helping this book reach a massive, world-wide audience.

Much of that book is now obsolete. But much of it is not!

Over in the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community, I've been teaching a series of courses on the fundamentals of DNS, networking, TCP/IP, and troubleshooting. Tomorrow - August 16th - I'm holding the last of these classes live. After that, all of these courses will be posted in the member content area along with a "roadmap" that pulls them altogether for each download.

This is a members-only class.


Link 1: Members check out the class here.

Updated Documentation Forms

As part of tomorrow's class, I created a special download with  a series of updated network documentation forms that everyone who serves small businesses will find useful.

This handy ten-page document covers what you need to know to document the basic TCP/IP-based network for small business. It includes the following contents:

- Network Specifications

- Network Diagram

- Network Summary Page

- IP Address Allocation

- Hard-Coded IP Addresses

- Router Configuration

- Firewall Configuration

All of these are accompanied by explanations. Most are also accompanied by examples of the forms when completed. This handout goes great with the mini course on Building the Basic Small Business Network.

Link 2: Members Download the Documentation handout here.