Is there any other industry like the Managed Service Provider (MSP) space for offering help via local MSP peer groups?
I’ve been a part of the Managed Service Provider (MSP) industry for almost 15+ years now.
I often share with people from other industries the fact that MSPs get together at conferences, and at user and peer groups, to help one another.
People think I’m crazy! “Why would competitors help one another like that?” they ask.
The answer is that the MSP industry is a uniquely supportive space. The old adage “A rising tide lifts all boats” comes to my mind.
However, over the past few years, and thanks, in part, to the pandemic, the once-thriving MSP peer groups have all but died out.
But… we have a plan to reboot them!
Local MSP Peer Groups – Then
When I ran my MSP business, one of the huge factors in accelerating my businesses growth was regular attendance at peer group meetings.
Being Birmingham-based, my local MSP group was called AMITPRO – The Association of Midlands IT Professionals.
The AMITPRO group used to meet monthly at The Arden Hotel in Solihull, where, typically, 20+ MSP owners would exchange best practices, ideas and challenges.
This wasn’t a networking group (although we did network!).
Instead, AMITPRO was closer to the concept of a mastermind group, with members helping one another to solve problems and exchange ideas.
As I wrote in my blog post 3 Good Reasons to attend your local User Group Meeting, why re-invent the wheel?
You can accelerate your growth by learning from others who have been there and done that.
There were groups similar to AMITPRO up and down the UK, and, indeed, in Australia, North America and other parts of the world.
Many of these groups were born out of user groups focused on Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) — or the Microsoft Small Business Specialist (SBSC) comminuty, as it was known.
Sadly, with the death of Microsoft Small Business Server, these groups also slowly died away.
Some UK groups did remain (notably, the London group, the North West England group, and the Thames Valley group) but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they pretty much died too.
Local MSP Peer Groups – Now
Fast forward to the present day, and while there are a variety of user groups (you can check out A List of User Groups for UK Managed Service Providers) they often meet irregularly or virtually.
Here in the UK, industry groups such as CompTIA organise the CompTIA UK Business Technology Community, The Benelux Technology Community and other communities. These communities used to meet, in-person, quarterly. We hope they will resume that practice, post-pandemic.
But the concept of local, regularly meeting, MSP-focused peer groups has all but died.
This has left a huge gap in the MSP community.
So, we now want to fill that gap.
Rebooting the UK Peer Group Communities
I’m not alone in this respect, as the illustrious leader of The Tech Tribe, Nigel Moore, built his Syndey-based MSP based off the support of the local MSP community.
When Nigel asked me to work with him within The Tech Tribe, one of the earliest conversations we had was around rebooting the local MSP Peer Group community.
Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and plans were put on hold.
However, in September 2021 we kicked off a pilot scheme to reboot the UK’s peer groups.
- North-East England (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
- North-West England (Manchester)
In November 2021, we will be adding groups in:-
- East Anglia (Cambridge)
We have also had expression of interest from groups in Thames Valley (Reading), South Wales (Cardiff), North Wales, Leeds, Birmingham, Southampton and even Italy!
We’ve put together a page where you can see all the details of the Tech Tribe Local Tribal Gatherings.
Clearly, there is a desire for groups of MSPs to get together in-person again!
So what will these new groups look like?
The Tech Tribe Local Tribal Gatherings
Firstly, while we’re putting the Tech Tribe branding behind these groups — this isn’t a Tech Tribe initative.
This is an MSP community initiative.
You can attend the meetings whether you are a Tech Triber or not. This initiative isn’t meant as a way of boosting Tech Tribe membership.
Attendance is free of charge.
The Local Tribal Gatherings will be only to all Managed Service Providers (MSPs), Value Added Resellers (VARs), IT Consultants, Cloud Solution Provider (CSPs) and anyone else who is involved in the business of IT Support and Consultancy.
Plus, the Tribal Gatherings will be open to vendors and industry experts.
Are Vendors Welcome?
When we mention vendors and community group meetings, many folks become a little squeamish!
It’s true that the old community groups become vendor pitch-fests, dominated by vendors trying to sell their wares.
However, the Tech Tribe is a vendor-neutral meeting place.
Vendors are welcome to come and add their voice to the conversation, both in the Tribal online forums, and at the Tribal Local Gatherings.
However, there is a strict “no pitch” policy for vendor involvement.
Both Nigel and I strongly believe that vendors are part of the MSP community ecosystem. Vendors need to be involved in the conversation.
Those vendors who “get it”, will realise that by adding value to the communities, they will attract new business.
One such vendor is Pax8, who have kindly agreed to sponsor the UK Tribal Local Gatherings, ensuring that room hire and refreshments are covered.
So, if you attend a Tribal Local Gathering, what will it look like?
What to expect at a Tech Tribe Local MSP Peer Group
While each group will have its own particular flavour, broadly speaking you can expect:-
- A monthly (or quarterly for some groups, depending on demand) local meeting, typically from 6-9pm GMT.
- Your group lead to give a 5-10 minute industry news update
- An hour round-table discussion on the topic of the month (as voted for by the members).
- A refreshment break (did someone say Pizza?)
- An hour round-table open round-table discussion where you can ask for help and give help
Many groups then continue the conversation at a local pub or restaurant. 🙂
Some of the topics we’ve already discussed at Tribal Local Gatherings include:-
- Mergers / Acquisitions
- People / Hiring / Staff
- Service Delivery
- Working with Virtual Assistants
… and many more.
The groups drive the discussion topics, so feel free to talk about what interests you.
- Some of the topics discussed at MSP Local Peer Groups include Pricing/Packaging your MSP Plans, Marketing, Sales, Cybersecurity, PSA Tools and much more!
Will there be a Local MSP Peer Group near to me?
While we’re rolling this pilot scheme out in the UK, we expect to move quickly with Tech Tribe Local Gatherings in the USA, Canada, Europe and Australia.
If you’d like to be involved in a group near to you, check out the list of Tech Tribal Local Tribal Gatherings, and reach out directly to the group leader.
However, if you don’t see a group local to you, but are interested in attending or leading a group, please contact me.
If you’re already a Tech Triber, then you can also find out more details and register your interest in the Tech Tribe Forums.
Remember, the Tribal Local Gatherings are open to anybody in the MSP industry, and you don’t need to be a Tech Triber to attend.
Conclusion – Local MSP Peer Groups Help You Grow Your Business!
Running an IT business can be a lonely task.
Thankfully, the Managed Service Provider industry is fairly unique in that it is very common for peers to help one another.
The benefits of attending a local peer group are that you can accelerate your businesses growth.
You can learn from others, exchange ideas, and build relationships that will pay dividends for years to come.
Prior to selling our MSP businesses, both Nigel Moore of The Tech Tribe and myself built our companies, in a large part, due to peer communities.
This is why we’re building a network of Tech Tribe Local Tribal Gatherings.
The Tribal Local Gatherings will be monthly meetups for MSPs to get to know, and learn from one another.
And finally, if you’re skeptical of competitors helping one another, then get yourself to a Tribal Local Gathering and sit quietly.
However, be prepared to have your eyes opened to a world of peer collaboration. 🙂
Have you attended an local MSP Peer group before? Would you be interested in getting involved? Leave a comment below or get in touch.