Now is a fascinating time to start your own business. While it is true that there has never been more competition around than there is now, there are also benefits of getting started in business today.

The good news about starting a business in 2016 is that there are more tools at your disposal now than there ever has been previously. The other good news is that many of those tools aren’t going to cost you very much, and sometimes they might even be free of charge.

Far and away the most important tool to develop in the last couple of decades is the world wide web. Nowadays, this has become so prevalent that we consider it a normal part of our everyday lives.

What this means for you as a business owner is that you can’t afford to ignore it. If you want your business to be a competitive force in the world today, then you need to put a considerable amount of effort into your web presence.

Building it, maintaining it – most of all, making it stand out. The world of business is competitive – and nowhere is this truer than online.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to get started in building your business’ online presence. Here is everything you will need to know.

Choose your domain & host

The first step in building your web presence is one of the most important parts of the whole process. Yet, many people overlook its paramount importance. Such people end up rushing this stage, and they soon come to regret it.

We are talking about choosing your domain name. If you don’t already know, the domain name is the actual URL which people will type into their browser to reach your website. The reason this is important is because it sends an immediate message about your business.

People take away a lot of unconscious information from a domain name. If you already have a business name registered, then ideally you want your domain name to be exactly that. However, this is not always possible – and sob stories of domain names already being taken are rife everywhere.

One way that people often use to get around this is to find a good domain name first, and then name the business after it. Of course, it’s all up to you. The main thing to bear in mind is that it needs to be relevant to your business, short and snappy. Memorability is key here.

Once you have a good, solid domain name, it’s time to choose your web host. In an ideal world, your web hosting service will provide you with the ability to have a large amount of data stored on their servers.

This means that you can save money, as you won’t need the server space yourself. Many such hosting companies are included in WHSR choice of top hosting companies. Choosing a decent web hosting company can make all the difference when you are just starting to build your online presence.

Design & build your website

Once you have your domain and hosting sorted, the next step is to start designing your website. There are certain common features which a website needs to have to be successful. One of the most important things for your website is that it has a bold and original design.

Your website will be the first port of call for many of your potential clients and customers. As such, you want it to make a good first impression. Many business owners make the mistake of thinking that it is not so important.

But in reality, it is like the face of your business. So take your time and design a visually powerful site. You could even consider hiring a team of web designers if you wanted, to give it that professional edge.

Remember that a good website must be easy to navigate and access. Nobody likes having to deal with a difficult website! You should also try and keep your contact information on prominent display.

Ideally, this would be as a box on every page. That way, the information is always there to hand. The majority of your visitors will be looking for contact information, so this is vital.

Set up an email newsletter

Far and away one of the most effective means of getting your message into people’s homes is through their inbox. That’s why any strong web presence must include the possibility for clients to sign up to an email newsletter.

This can be a weekly newsletter highlighting some of the changes which have occurred within the company. Don’t underestimate the power of such a technique.

This has been known to be a powerful way of drawing in potential customers. You should consider this the first step in your web marketing. As such, it’s a vital aspect of your web presence.

Get social..fast

While we’re on the subject of marketing, remember that social media is just about your best friend. These days, marketing has been made extremely simple – and very cheap. Social media allows you the opportunity to engage with your customers and the general public in an open and friendly manner.

The trick with social media is to ensure that you are active and, what’s more, interactive. Don’t just set up an account and leave it there. Get involved with other users. Respond to queries or complaints.

Twitter, in particular, can be an effective tool for communicating with your customers. Social media is like a one-size-fits-all tool for marketing your business. And what’s more, it doesn’t even have to cost you a penny.

Or if you prefer, you can spend money on it, and promote your business even more effectively through the use of promoted posts and the like. You should consider social media an essential part of building your web presence.

Remember mobile

Finally, just a point to say that you should remember the importance of being mobile-accessible. Wherever your business appears on the internet, ensure that it is mobile-friendly. This is not just a matter of courtesy.

93% of small business websites are not mobile compatible – and this results in lost sales. Give your business the edge by taking mobile access into account every step of the way.

Founding Editor @Alltopstartups, Contributor @Entrepreneur, Columnist @Inc. Magazine and Curator at Postanly (my free weekly digest of the best life and career improvement posts on the web. Subscribe for free.