Wednesday, November 29, 2023

FAQ on New SBT Community Membership Level

Launching Friday – December 1st – The first major change to the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community in five years! We’re adding a new membership level at $799 per year.

The new tier was created based on feedback we’ve heard from our members, and the broader ITSP community. Some people just don’t have enough time to take advantage of all of the courses associated with the “big” program. More on this below.

For others, the Community membership was outside of their budget – they’re just starting out, or only have a limited training budget.

And, to be honest, some people want to have some regular access to me and to like-minded people in the broader “managed services” community. So a membership level that gives them some access is appealing, even without classes.

Of course you can join now and we know you'll be happy. But to join at the new level, you need to wait until Friday:

Here’s an overview of the program levels and an FAQ to answer some questions we’ve had so far. Please send me any additional questions you have.

Members: Don't worry: Your price will never go up.

The Membership Levels

The “classic” membership is now the Community PLUS Membership. It includes all of the existing benefits PLUS: Each paid member now receives three free certification exams per year over at IT Service Provider University. That means for, Teams, that each member of your team receives up to three free certifications per year.

Note: These exam coupons are effective immediately. So, if you register for exams in December, they’re free. AND then you’ll get three more free exams in January 2024.

Current members will be elevated automatically to the PLUS membership AND continue to have their original membership price locked in for life. Your cost is locked in for life, no matter which benefits we add.

The new Community Membership: Includes one free course and one free certification exam.

The key differences between the Community Plus and the lower-priced Community Membership are:

Price. The new program is only $799 for the year.

  • Includes ONE course and one certification exam. Value: $598.
  • Includes 50% discount on all classes and certification exams at ITSPU. Potential value: $7,500. (25 courses at half price, plus 25 certification exams at half price).
  • Plus all of my books, checklists, trainings, audio programs, workbooks, weekly community Zoom meetings, and special members-only classes. Value: Over $10,000 if you take advantage of the programs.


Actions Needed

Members: Do nothing. You are automatically upgraded to the new Community Plus membership. Your price will stay the same . . . forever.

Non-Members: Check out the SBT Technology Community. If you join now, it will be at the Community Plus level. 

. . . or – beginning Friday – you can choose to join at either level. 

Note: You will have until December 31st to register for a free class. Then, in January, you will have a fresh coupon for a free class in 2024.

Who is “just right” for the $799 Community Membership level?

The new membership level is perfect for members who need the content in the community but are too busy to take advantage of dozens of hours of training and certification.

  • Investment is $799/year 
  • Includes One 5-week course at IT Service Provider University
  • Includes one free certification exam at IT Service Provider University

Who is “just right” for the Community Plus Membership level?

This level is perfect for members who want unlimited access to any classes or certifications any time. And, really, if you plan to take three or more classes per year and get or stay certified, then the Plus membership makes the most sense.

  • Investment is $1,299/year or $129/month
  • Includes unlimited 5-week courses for one person at IT Service Provider University (Total = 25 courses)
  • Includes up to three free certification exams per year

All tiers also include 

  • All of Karl's books, audio programs, checklists, and members-only events
  • Unlimited courses for your staff at half-price (potential $5,000 value per person)
  • Unlimited certification exams at half-price (potential $2,500 value per person)
  • Weekly calls, community forums, and special group Breakouts

The Official Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community Membership FAQ:

Q. Why the New Membership Level?

A. Since day one, we have worked hard keep adding new products, new programs, and new content. Members always get new books free of charge (see below). And all members have traditionally attended all of our 5-week courses for free.

But we noticed that some members take very few - or no - classes. So we're creating a new membership level that includes just one class and one certification exam over at IT Service Provider University. Everyone can use one free class, right?

We also heard from the broader IT consulting community that a lower-priced alternative would be easier to take advantage of. So, it’s also great for very small shops and those who are just getting started as a MSP or ITSP.

Q. If I purchased a class for $399 in the last 90 days, can I get some kind of credit?

A. We are happy to apply a recent class credit to your first year. However, this will use the class credit included in your membership. You can register for additional classes for 50% off.

If this sounds good, send a note to [email protected] and include the email you’re registered with at


Q. Who is the $799 membership level good for?

A. The Community Membership is great for anyone looking for budget-friendly access to the same resources and training used by tens of thousands of MSPs. If anyone knows standard operating procedures, it’s Karl, and there’s no need to reinvent the wheel when Karl has them all posted in a searchable library for you.

It’s also good for established MSPs looking for Community. Regardless of success or even the number of employees, management and business ownership can be a lonely place. Our weekly Thursday calls offer ongoing support and camaraderie to help you feel more connected and confident in your day-to-day decisions.


Q. Who should get the Community Plus membership?

A. If you want easy access to all classes at ITSPU, including on-demand classes right when you need them, it’s best to go for the Community Plus Membership.

If you’re interested in becoming a Certified Specialist, the Community Membership is the most cost-effective way. If you have a team you want certified, consider the Teams Plus.


Q. If I start off at the Community Membership, can I upgrade to Community Plus (or even Team Plus)?

A. Yes – you’ll be able to upgrade to Community Plus as long as you maintain the annual option. This is due to how payment processers handle pro-ration. We want you to keep the portion you paid for, and sticking with the annual option allows it!

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Join us for a Special Webinar and “Open House Q&A” on the New Membership Levels!

December 13th
10:00 AM Pacific Time 

Topic: New SBT Community Level - and Open Q&A

Register now for free so you'll get a reminder:

If you have more questions in the meantime, Ask us!!! Please email us if you have any questions: [email protected] or [email protected].


Tuesday, November 21, 2023

New class for 2023: Customer Service for IT Service Providers

Customer Service for IT Service Providers

Learn how to create a great customer service system for your IT consulting 

business – and how to hire and train the people you need to make it work.

I introduced this class year and updated it for 2023. Now, it's LIVE - Starting November 28th.

Course 5W26

Customer Service for IT Professionals

Five Tuesdays

Nov. 28th - Dec. 26th

9:00 AM Pacific

All classes are recorded

Register Now at

Register now for the Zoom webinar!

As we were designing the IT Service Provider University certifications, it was clear that one major course was missing: Customer Service. My particular approach focuses on what I call the Three P's - People, Processes, and Programs.

I take a holistic approach. In other words, I believe that customer service touches every part of your company. It's not just when technicians or CS reps are talking to clients. Remember: Customers just call it service. And service begins with your marketing, sales, and client onboarding. It includes the way you invoice and do collections. And, of course, it affects your technicians, front office, and CS staff.

Check out the super-quick intro video.


Great customer service doesn’t just happen. It’s built from the bottom up with great processes, people, and programs. In this course, you’ll learn how to build a system that provides excellent customer service while keeping your company profitable. Most companies don’t design a customer-focused service delivery with intention. We’ll show you how to attract new clients based on your service delivery.

We use a framework that focuses on people, processes, and programs. “People” includes your employees, your clients, and your vendors. And that makes clear why you need to build a customer service system that’s totally consistent with your brand.

It’s critically important that you don’t simply “bolt on” customer service to whatever you’re already doing. Instead, we’ll show you how to create a never-ending loop of brand-building, employee management, and customer management. And we’ll do all this with in a way that maximizes profitability.

And of course, all of this is presented in the context of an IT consulting business.

Course Outline

Unit 1 - What is Customer Service and Who Delivers It?

Unit 2 - People: Clients and Employees

Unit 3 - Processes for Success

Unit 4 - CS programs and automation

Unit 5 - Consistent, Scalable, Reproducible, Amazing Customer Service

As always, this course includes instructor office hours, lots of handouts, and homework intended to help you actually make change in your business.

Specialist Certification Pathways

This course meets one of the core requirements for all of the ITSPU certification pathways:

* Management

* Front Office

* Technician

* Service Manager

* Sales & Marketing

This class will be recorded. Each unit is generally posted within 24 hours of the live class. These recorded units will become the On-Demand class and you’ll have lifetime access to it.

Five hours of live education, lifetime access, lots of handouts. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Only $399 per student.*

Get all the juicy details and register today at

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* Tuition waived for members of the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community. See site for details.


Sunday, November 12, 2023

ChannelPro 2024 Dates Announced

ChannelPro 2024 Dates Announced

ChannelPro Network is now promoting their 2024 SMB Summit event. These have been added to my big calendar in my weekly newsletter - sign up here:

If you've never attended a ChannelPro event, they're GREAT. Well produced, fun, educational, and a good opportunity to meet vendors and partners, and find new products and services you might want to consider selling and supporting.

This great show will hit eight cities in 2024. Find the one closest to you. Make sure it's on your calendar for next year.

More info at

ChannelPro Event 2024: Chicago - Mar 7th, 2024

ChannelPro Event 2024: Tampa - Apr 11th, 2024 

ChannelPro Event 2024: Arlington - May 9th, 2024 

ChannelPro Event 2024: Columbus - Jun 6th, 2024

ChannelPro Event 2024: Parsippany - Aug 8th, 2024

ChannelPro Event 2024: Charlotte - Sep 12th, 2024

ChannelPro Event 2024: Dallas - Oct 10th, 2024

ChannelPro Event 2024: Los Angeles - Nov 13th, 2024

More info at


Friday, November 10, 2023

ASCII Announces 2024 Event Schedule

ASCII Edge 2024 Dates Announced

In case you missed the email . . . ASCII sent out a note this morning about their 2024 Edge event dates. Of course I'll be adding these to the big calendar in my weekly newsletter - sign up here:

Check out the city near you. Make sure it's on your calendar for next year.

ASCII Edge 2024 

  • Costa Mesa, CA February 21 & 22           
  • Houston, TX March 20 & 21 
  • Newark, NJ April 17 & 18   
  • Denver, CO May 22 & 23
  • Chicago, IL June 26 & 27
  • Boston, MA July 24 & 25
  • Toronto, ONT August 21 & 22    
  • St. Louis, MO September 25 & 26
  • St. Petersburg, FL October 23 & 24  

More Info:

And don't forget Hawaii !!!

The last ASCII event for 2023 is December 7th in Waikiki! 

Join me there.

Check out the details and register today: 

December 7 

Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa

More Info:

Use the code VIPGUEST when you register! 



Thursday, November 09, 2023

Someday You Won't Be an MSP - What Will You Do Then, and How Do You Prepare For It?

I purposely avoided the term "Exit Strategy" in the title above. 

Over at the National Society of IT Service Providers, Amy Babinchak and I are putting on a webinar about some of the important things you need to look at before you leave you current position as the owner of an IT consulting business. Whether it's "retirement" or sale, or something else, there will come a day when you will be leading a different life.

As we say: "Retirement is So Twentieth Century."

Open to all IT consultants.

Join us:


November 1th

9AM Pacific / Noon Eastern

Register Now: Click Here

For the self-employed, retirement looks different than for the rest of the workforce. For traditional workers, the road to retirement consists of working, working, working until they stop working. At the same time ,these folks go from pumping money into saving to drawing money out.

For those of us who are self-employed, the transition is quite different. We work, save, and spend all the time. Transitioning to retirement involves shifting this balance that we’ve grown so used to.

But it also involves more than that. In the 2020's, you might not "retire" all, but transition to a different mix of working, consulting, and spending more time on hobbies and family adventures. You might gig a bit, work six months on/six months off, or do whatever makes you happy.

None of that will fall into place by itself. Do you even have a hobby? Do you know where you might travel for a month? Today's post-work, non-retirement can be anything you want. But you still need to prepare. You have to make sure your personal finances are set up properly. You have to know where you want to live out your dream. And you need to craft a new life for yourself - made possible by the work you've done of the last twenty or thirty years.

This is NOT just another "Exit Strategy" seminar. Long-time community leader Amy Babinchak and I will cover the practical side of planning for your traditional post-work life as a self-employed consultant. 

Join us - and bring your questions.


Tuesday, November 07, 2023

If You're a Commodity, It's Your Fault - and It's Okay

 The other day, I heard someone say that IT support (managed services specifically) had become a commodity. I know what they meant, but basically everything about that statement is wrong.

First, the actual definition of a commodity is a basic, useful thing that can be bought or sold. By basic, we mean that it's not made of something else, but it can be used to create something else. Copper is a commodity; a copper kettle is not.

Your IT services (especially managed services) are made up of a lot of complex elements and services. So the concept of a commodity is not a good fit.

Second, people use this term colloquially to mean that something is plentiful and cheap in the market. The intention is to say that IT Services is a crowded market and therefore you have to compete on price. To that, I simply remind you that eggs and oil are commodities. Commodities can be cheap or expensive.

There are two key elements to the question of price. First, what's built into the service you sell? Is it really plentiful and cheap? I'm guessing NO. I'm guessing that your service is a sophisticated collection of services selected with care, and designed by you to work well together to provide maximum value while maintaining security.

Second, price is rarely the first consideration of the buyer. Time and time again, research shows that price is the third or fourth most important element in making a buying decision. Price is important. Price matters. But price is not the deciding factor!

Price appears more important than it is because prospects think they understand it. They know they don't understand technology and they know they don't understand the services you provide. So they ask about price because they can compare two things they don't understand based on price.

If the client is deciding based on price, it simply means that you have failed to help them understand the value of your services. You have not differentiated yourself from the competition.

I always remind people to scan the prospect's parking lot before they go into an appointment. And look for a key fob on their desk. If they're driving a Nissan Versa (the cheapest new car you can buy today at $17,000), then they might be price sensitive. If they drive an average car, they probably paid about $50,000 for it. If they drive a higher-end truck, they paid at least $75,000.

What does one year of your service cost them? For small businesses, it's rarely less than the cost of that average, mid-size car.

My point is simply this: If clients find value in what you sell, they will buy it. If they can't see the value, they'll focus on the price. Whether they see the value or not is totally up to you. Here's a few things to consider:

  • How do you define the value of your service offerings? How consistent are you about this?
  • How often do you practice explaining the value of your offering? You don't get better at things you don't put attention on.

No service is a commodity unless and until you make the conscious decision to compete on price. Never compete on price. Unless you are a multi-billion-dollar corporation with the ability to lose money for a decade and still stay in business, you should never compete on price.

Today is a great environment in which to be a very expensive and very busy IT Service Provider. If you're not getting your share, I assure you that the reason is not price. It's more likely to be your sales process, or lack thereof.

If you want to define yourself as a commodity, consider yourself oil when people are paying $5 per gallon at the pump. Be an expensive commodity. That's okay.

But in the bigger picture, consider your service as something built from a lot of very important parts. Charge top price for that and let someone else compete for the bottom of the market.

Feedback welcome.