The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated in 2006 that there were over 4 million Administrative Professionals in the American workplace with an expected increase of over 300,000 from 2006-2013*. There is no disputing that administrative professionals have been, are, and will continue to be a much needed asset to the foundation of all businesses.In the current economic climate, people are looking for different ways to work. Small business owners are turning to Virtual Assistants to implement systems that help their business run more efficiently and allow them the time to focus on the income producing activities involved in their business.Virtual Assistance is a growing Administrative Professional business model where the Administrative Professional (typically called a Virtual Assistant or VA) is self employed, works remotely from a home office and works with several small business owners referred to as clients. Virtual Assistants set their own hours, fees, and operating standards. Worked performed by Virtual Assistants is often general administrative assistance, but many VAs are marketing themselves with more specific skills such as managing Shopping Carts, Merchant Accounts, and creating marketing materials that require a stronger than average technological background.For Administrative Professionals that are interested in transitioning from the traditional workplace to self employment as a Virtual Assistant, here are some things you can easily do right now to start assessing your readiness to make a change:Start talking about your plans. It’s one step to dream and another to start talking about your plans. It’s amazing how much clarity you can gain about a plan when you start explaining it to others. It’s also a free and easy way to conduct market research – tell people what you are planning to do and people will gladly share what they know or don’t know about the topic.Get a professional email address. If you’re going to start talking about your Virtual Assistance plans, you never know when you may encounter a potential client. A professional email address like yourname at yourisp dot com will be far more appealing to a potential client than wildmama3 at aol dot com.Write down how you want to spend your work day. Get out a notebook, a napkin, a Word document, whatever, just get writing! As a soon to be business owner, you will need to iron out what work you plan to do for clients and what work you are not willing to do (usually because you don’t like the tasks or the activities are not your strong suit). Potential clients often have no idea how to work with a Virtual Assistant. It will be up to you to be prepared to let them know what they can expect if you work together.Consider your hours, office space, fees, and operating standards. You will be the boss, so you will have to decide when you will work, where you will work, how much you will charge, and what clients will need to know about how you run your business. Clients have expectations, and so do Virtual Assistants.Start networking. The simplest way to get started with networking is by getting active on a free social networking site like Facebook. There are plenty of other Virtual Assistants on Facebook that are always happy to meet a new colleague, and there are thousands of small business owners to meet and find common ground with.Set goals and deadlines for yourself. I will open my Virtual Assistance practice on: Month, Day, Year. I will secure my first client by: Month, Day, Year. I will retire from my current job and work full time in my VA practice on: Month, Day, Year. You are more likely to achieve your goals for if you write them down and assign concrete dates to strive toward.Research, research, research. Research the industry. Research the income potential. Research the training options. Writing a business plan with help incredibly with your research.If you plan wisely and have realistic goals and expectations, starting and operating your own business is one of the greatest accomplishments you will ever have professionally.*http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos151.htmThe views and opinions expressed in this article are based on the author’s personal experiences, but cannot be relied on to produce any specific results. The success of any business venture, including that of a virtual assistant, depends on many factors including the diligence and hard work of the owner. There are no representations or warranties, either expressed or implied, concerning the outcome of following any of the steps.