The guess the oddity( I'm sure that's an Americanism) makes for the diverse interest and gives us something to discuss Robert. Which is why I often take the opposite view sometimes just to keep debate alive. Much to my chagrin.I never learn I've always been a trouble maker.
Keep writing that great stuff. I'll go out of ny way to find something to pick on! Take good care. BC
Talking to small business owners is probably your best bet. They've all been through this before and have dealt with disputes, whether they be payment-related or otherwise. Make sure you get every little detail in the contract and make sure the client understands it and has the same expectations as you. And last, but certainly not least, make sure you get some upfront payment.
The business side of running a web design firm is definitely learned by making mistakes and educating yourself. If you don't know it, learn it or find someone smarter than you to handle it for you. IMO everyone should start out with a good lawyer and an accountant (trade services with them if money is an issue Those two people will help you a TON. From there here is my list of top places to learn the business side of things:
1. Business Coach. Having a well seasoned business coach has been the single best thing I have done. In the US, the Small Business Administration (SBA) funds what they call Small Business Development Centers. In my city it is run out of the community college. I get FREE business counseling from several counselors that have built and managed dozens of companies between them, and are wizards with financials, legal issues, human resources, and the other business aspects.
2. College Degree. I am finishing up my business management degree. This has helped me gain a good understanding of a wide range of business topics. Expensive, but worth it in my opinion.
3. Brandon Sinclair's Web Design Business Kit is a must for any professional design/development firm, especially when you are first starting out.
4. Join the local Small Business Association. I literally started my business networking with other small businesses, and grew from there. Now I don't get much business from that group, but the friendships with other small business owners are invaluable.
Sadly, I thought I was starting a web design business so I could have fun designing sites all day. In actuality I spend more time running the business than I do working on sites.