There is one hard and fast rule of business today and that is the fact that you must be online to get anywhere. You know that you need to be online to be counted in your industry and the online space that you occupy needs to be all about you and what you do. Building your business and selling your products starts with being online; getting your name out there isn’t going to be too difficult, but if you aren’t online in the first place you won’t get anywhere.

The most difficult part of this for new businesses is knowing where to start. The online world is a very big, very deep place to be and you don’t want to be lost among all the other millions of websites that have been made. There’s no secret that your business will not be the only one of its kind. You will have competitors and this competition is going to dictate how well you do and how many customers make the effort for you. If you have managed to overtake their rankings and their space online, you’re going to be in better stead for business.

The thing is, you can really go wrong trying to do it all yourself. Nowadays, pretty much everyone is computer literate – and if you’re not, that’s a big problem in business. Going it alone in business isn’t a bad thing but neglecting to bring in the expertise of a great AdWords agency and a social media team could cost you big money in your business. It’s very easy to choose the wrong platform for your website beginnings but this mistake could cost you a lot of time and set you back a bit in your industry.

Mapping out a good plan and choosing the right platform for your website has to be the first thing that you do. Your online presence is going to be the one thing that your customers care about. They want to know what you are about and what you sell at the click of a button. This means making the user experience of your website the top priority for your company. The first big step that you need to take with your business is deciding how to grow your online presence, and which platform is right for doing this.

Social media

Some companies don’t need a website – especially sole traders and very small businesses. While a website is always a bonus with a business, a lot of companies are using social media sites as their platform for their voice and what they can do. Businesses like this one got their beginnings on Etsy and Facebook, but they didn’t initially have a website that’s just theirs.

While at first glance this could look like a mistake, it’s actually been very well received by customers. There is a huge market on Facebook for businesses and the engagement opportunities and building a rapport with people are huge. Customers are already familiar with social media platforms, and with 1.6billion active users out there, you aren’t going to be short of an audience to watch what you are doing.

The ability to easily communicate with customers is a big plus for people on social media, and cafes and restaurants have seen a particular rise in their business takings by simply being online enough to update photos and menus while discussing issues with customers in a public way.

The best thing about social media platforms is the range of plugins that are available to use as an add-on. Some restaurants like to use a plugin on Facebook to take reservations for their tables, and this has proven very popular with active Facebook customers. The only real downside of a social media platform is the lack of design choice. You can have your logo and your brand on your photos, but you can’t add and takeaway items and rearrange the design in the same way that you can on your own website.

WordPress

One of the best websites for your business can be WordPress.com. You can run your own site with as much flexibility as you want, and you get full control over it, as well. Almost a quarter of all websites out there have WordPress behind them, steering them in the right direction. It’s very easy to use, so it’s appealing to those with little to no knowledge of how to manage a website.

You also get the option of buying your web address domain and running it without the WordPress name in the search bar. You can build an online shop, create your own portfolio, add a blog – anything you want to do, WordPress has your back. There’s one catch, though: WordPress may be free, but the add-ons and architecture that comes with it is definitely not. This means that those more sophisticated designs that you love so much? Yep, they cost money. You have to be able to budget for these. There’s also a level of skill required to maintain a WordPress site, and yet you will be able to have as much as you want on it. Some big websites out there (The New Yorker, Mashable) are powered by WordPress. Impressive? Absolutely.

eCommerce

For those running eCommerce businesses, Shopify and Etsy rule the roost. Your online presence has to be sharp, easy to use and easy to find. If you haven’t got the right marketing team behind you, you could run down the search rankings and your presence on Google could be easily non-existent. Take your time with your website, because you need to be found. Link it to social media sites and tag your website in your business email signatures whenever you can.

The one thing that your business website will need in spades is quality, engaging and witty content. If you choose to blog on your site, you need to be able to write well and catch the eye of the reader. It’s all about the way that your customer experiences your site – so don’t let them down!