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.

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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.

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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!

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* 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.

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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.


Friday, August 11, 2023

Appeal for Community Member Uli Kirkegaard

 Sometimes we - as a community - need to support one of our own.

I have a habit of sending $100 to the Red Cross or another organization when there's a big natural disaster. But this time, with the insane fires on Maui, I contributed to a long-time community member who lost both his house and business to the fires in Lahaina.

Many of you know, or at least you've seen, Uli Kirkegaard from various SMB IT community events over the years. 

Uli did not ask me to post this. But I highly encourage you to contribute to his Go Fund Me account.

Uli and his wife Neide live in Lahaina, HI. They both survived the fires - but their house did not. As Uli posted, he can rebuild the business. But in losing the house, they literally lost everything. The pictures he posted on Facebook are heart breaking. Absolutely everything is gone.

This is a picture of his "house" in Lahaina.

Please note: ANY small amount will help.

You might not be in a place where you can give much. But $25 or $50 or $100 would help a lot. If everyone who reads this give a little, it will add up quickly.

Please contribute something at

As you know, I basically never write a post like this. And I would love to never feel like I need to do it again. But here's the deal:

We are a community. We - the SMB IT community - are made up of individuals. We are a family, and sometimes we need to help each other out. If you've shared a meal, or a drink, or a smile with Uli, please take a minute to drop him a note on the Go Fund Me page or Facebook. And contribute a little something if you can.

And if you have some spare prayers for the people of Maui, contribute those as well.

Be safe, my friends!


Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Surviving the Success of Your Growing Business - NEW Class Starts August 15th

Surviving the Success of Your Growing Business

Taught by Larry Mandelberg, Author and Coach

- Five Tuesdays - August 15th - September 12th

Register Now - Only $399

BONUS: I am buying a copy of Larry's book for everyone who attends this course!

Every business that has failed did so because of leadership’s inability to adapt to change. Learn how to prepare for the inevitable changes your successful business is racing toward now, and the changes continued success will impose on you in the future.  

In the business world, change lurks around every corner. And the more successful you are, the more change your business will face. But no business ever failed due to external forces or finances. External forces can be anticipated and deflected, and finances are always lagging indicators of prior bad choices. Businesses always fail because success always brings change and unfamiliar problems without instructions on how to handle them. Without knowledge, experience, or instructions, leadership is forced to guess.


  • Learn how to create a sense of ownership, engagement, and buy-in from your staff without manipulation or exploitation.

  • Recognize the three operational imperatives of leadership and why they are imperatives.

  • Expose the most urgent and impactful priorities for your business’ success by completing an mBMRI Index survey.

  • Realize why business failure is self-imposed.

  • Understand why a business that isn’t growing in some manner is dying.

Course Outline

Unit 1 Growth and Maturation

  • Recognize why business failure is self-imposed and why a business that isn’t growing in some manner is dying. 
  • Understand the basics of business lifecycle theory and the concept of organizational maturity.
  • Learn the three operational imperatives of leadership.
  • Prepare for the problems with success.

Unit 2 Youth and the First P: Clarity of Purpose

  • Be clear about your purpose and the power of communicating it.
  • Embrace the power of stories and learn how to leverage them.
  • Change the way you recruit staff and customers.

Unit 3 Adolescence and the Second P: Consistency of Performance

  • How to transform your team from a ‘more is better’ mindset to a ‘better is more’ mindset and why that is so important to your future success.
  • Understand the difference between roles and goals and how misusing them can cripple your business.
  • Recognize the difference between wants and needs and learn how to leverage both.
  • Discover the big business advantage small businesses can use.

Unit 4 Adulthood and the Third P: Engagement of People

  • How to create engagement, the holy grail of human resources, without manipulation or exploitation.
  • Create a sense of ownership and buy-in from your staff.
  • Ensure information passes smoothly and seamlessly through your business.

Unit 5 Putting it all together to become a sustainable, extraordinarily spectacular organization

  • Understand the primary challenge most businesses face and how to deal with it
  • Learn the three ultimate outcomes for every business
  • Expose the most urgent and impactful priorities for your business’ success by completing an mBMRI Index survey
  • Create a personalized evaluation of your business’s ability to create sustainable, profitable growth using the Mandelberg Business Mangers Reality Index survey(mBMRI)

Register Now - Only $399

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Instructor: Larry Mandelberg

Larry owns Mandelberg Consulting. As a 5th generation business owner with a total of 13 businesses under his belt, Larry mentors SMB leadership teams. His book, Businesses Don’t Fail, They Commit Suicide explains why businesses fail. With his partner, Nancy of 42 years, Larry has a Drexel MBA and serves as Board Chairman for Innovative Education Management.