?Starting a virtual assistant business is a great work-at-home business and the potential just keeps getting better and better. In fact, some are citing that having a virtual assistant is one of your most important keys to success. Getting started is easy. Fortunately, it's not expensive either. First of all you need a complete plan of action set out in advance. This ensures that you don't leave any vital steps unaddressed and will have a solid plan of action to succeed. You don't need anything technical, just how you plan to operate your business including advertising methods, pricing, business hours, equipment and supplies needed, goals, etc. You want to clearly define your business. There are so many different areas you can go into as a virtual assistant so you need to decide with your skills and your experience what is the best for you. Want some ideas of some services you can offer as a virtual assistant? Here are a few. It's important to find your own niche and really own it. Now, that you have your business plan you need to decide on the name of your business. One thing you need to make sure of is that you can legally have that name. Often I've seen virtual assistants start their business and just grab a name and call it their own. That doesn't work well when someone else has already chosen that name, registered it, perhaps trademarked it, and has been using it for years. First check and make sure that no one already has it, then test it out. Is it easy to pronounce when you answer the phone? Does it sell you well? Does it limit you? Five years from now will you still feel proud of that name? Try it out on friends and ask their honest feedback. Also, go to the various boards and mention it too. For such an important decision it's worth the effort. To operate a business you are required by law to have the appropriate licenses. This is your permit to do business locally. It's a simple procedure that doesn't require a considerable amount of time. Contact your city and county officials under occupational licenses for complete details or go online. Most VAs start out initially as a sole proprietorship and then might change later into either an LLC or S Corporation. Now it's time to set up your bookkeeping. You will want to keep track of all your income and expenses. Save all receipts and pay all your expenses out of your business checking account. A software program such as Quickbooks is ideal for our type of business. Not only does it allow you to keep accurate records, but it also enables you to track exactly where the most money is coming from. This enables you to target your marketing efforts more in that area. Now you must decide how much to charge. Don't undercharge your services. The Virtual Assisting Industry is a very proud bunch and we want our clients and others to know that when you partner with us, you are getting a professional and one capable of making your business better. Clients will pay well for making their business succeed. Determine what you are bringing to the table. What specialty services such as web design or publicity you offer, and then decide on a rate that is right for you. Today, I believe the going rate is between $25.00 to $90.00 and more. I'd love to see all virtual assistants start no lower than $45.00 an hour, but I know that's not always possible. It is also important to have an impressive marketing piece. Your brochures, letterhead, flyers, business cards, etc., should look sensational. I personally love VistaPrints at VistaPrints.com. I can afford to get matching business cards, mailing labels, magnets, and even Christmas cards cheap. This makes me look more professional as I have everything the same layout and because it's so reasonable, I even have different styles for different clients. Also, recently they added T-shirts to their line of products. They will often have free giveaways of these. I've gotten business T-Shirts and the results were exciting. Now you need to get those clients. The key to successful marketing is to tell clients what benefits they will receive by answering their main question, "What's in it for me?" Keep in mind, you're not selling your services, you're selling the benefits of your services. What can you offer them that would make their business run more successfully? An example of this would be accurate dependable service done on an "as needed" basis. As many of you know too, I have a free booklet and advertising letters I'd be happy to share on obtaining clients. One of the most important things is to get a professional website. This will enable you not only to get clients through your SEO efforts, but also to show your clients your services and everything about your business. You can't have the same ole', same ole' here. It needs to be unique and impressive. Don't just tell the client what a Virtual Assistant is? Tell them why you should be their Virtual Assistant. It's also important to get listed on directories and with the various VA forums. Now that you've got the clients, you need to keep them. The best way to do this is to always provide them with more than they ask for. Go the extra mile on all assignments. Let them know that you value their business and are eager to help them succeed. Diana Ennen and Kelly Poelker are the co-authors of numerous books including Virtual Assistant: the Series, Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA and accompanying Virtual Assistant the Series Workbook, and Virtual Assistant - The Series: Working Virtually, A Guide to Working Remotely as an Employee. For complete information on starting your own VA business, stop by . Article is free to be reprinted as long as the author's bio remains intact.