It’s no secret that IT pros are generally more astute with the technical than the business matters. After all, it’s not everyone who can be an expert in Java and have a clear understanding of small business issues. But once you’ve decided to take the risk and start your own venture, you’ll certainly have business-related questions that take as much skill and savvy as learning a new language.

During the past year, freelance writer Lisa Gill has put together nearly two dozen articles that address issues commonly faced by small or independent consultancies. Here are five that are most popular with TechRepublic readers. If there is an issue we haven’t covered that you would like to see on TechRepublic, let us know. We’ll try to address it in future articles.

The top five

  1. “Answer these five questions before choosing a business partner”
    As in any marriage, consultants would be wise to see how compatible they are with a potential business partner before taking the plunge. Although it’s impossible to say how your business relationship will fare once you’re both working together, these questions can help you get a better idea of whether the match will work.
  2. “Collect on unpaid invoices and keep the client”
    There’s nothing that sours a relationship between you and your client like an unpaid invoice. You’ve done the work. The client is reaping the rewards. You haven’t seen a check. What can you do before, during, and after the engagement to ensure that you’re compensated?
  3. “Five often-overlooked details to include in your project proposal”
    In this article, we asked consultants and managers who field consultant bids about the items that are most often omitted from a consultant’s project proposal. What can unexpectedly cost consultants time and money, and what will most try the client’s patience?
  4. “Easing clients into your payment structure”
    If you want a payment structure that best suits your needs, whether it’s a monthly retainer, a percentage up front, or a project fee vs. an hourly rate, there are right and wrong ways to go about asking for it. Here are some of your choices.
  5. “Drum up business during a downtime with partnerships and professional activities”
    When you’re in the middle of an engagement, it’s hard to see past your project to concentrate on what you need to do to increase your skills or strengthen your business. The time between contracts is often the best time to examine your strengths, expand your network, and form alliances with other consultants.