Establishing a brand-new business is both scary and challenging all at once. No matter how prepared you think you may be going into it, there are always issues and obstacles that pop up that will force you to re-think your plans and even look for ways in which you can be flexible in how you approach things. For those who are creating an online business, the challenges are unique in that you exist in a virtual world only. What this means is those traditional routes that businesses take in order to grow and expand, don’t always work in an online setting. Then there is the challenge of standing out from the hundreds and thousands of other online businesses that are also looking to make their mark.

In order to make the process a bit smoother and help you to grow your online business, here’s a look at the most effective steps you can take.

Understand it Will be a Process

While it would be great to make a few small changes in the way you advertise and promote your business and then get instant results, the reality is that growing your business online is a process that takes time. Not only will it take time, but it requires constant effort and tracking so that you can see if the changes you are implementing are giving you the results you want. Stay focused and positive in your efforts.

Understand and Research Your Competition

Sure, your goal is to stand out from the competition and be the “better choice”, but that’s hard to do if you don’t fully understand your competition. It’s a good idea to first identify who your top competition is, then do research on that company. Take a look at what they offer, their pricing, what kind of customer reviews they are getting, what target audience they are appealing to, how their website is set up, and what the user-experience is.

By researching your competition, you’ll be able to learn what to avoid and what works and apply them in your own business model with your own take on them.

Set Up Strategic Partnerships

Often a business that exists online only just isn’t going to be enough to draw people in and grow the customer base. This is when it can be extremely beneficial to set up strategic partnerships. These are partnerships with a company whose existing customers would have an interest in your business too. A strategic partnership is one that benefits both parties with the goal of increasing each of their customer bases.

Be Sure to Accurately Measure Efforts

As mentioned above, measuring your efforts is a key step in growing your online business. If you aren’t keeping careful track of your sales, pay-per-click advertisements, blog articles, your referral programme, discount codes, etc., then how will you possibly be able to tell what’s working and what isn’t? It’s the results of your tracking that will help to shape your efforts going forward, which means tracking needs to be done in an accurate manner.

Social Networks are a Powerful Tool

Another step is to get involved on various social networks. Create an account for your business on such popular networks as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The fact is that people are checking their social networks all day, every day, so why not take advantage of this fact and get your company as much exposure as possible?

Social networks provide you with a way to link back to your site, promote sales and new products, share helpful information, and connect with existing and potential customers in an engaging way. Giving customers a way to connect with you helps to create a more personal experience, which again can help grow your business.

Don’t Mess Around – Hire a Professional

At the end of the day, you can follow all these steps and still not see the kind of results you are after. While it can be frustrating, it’s certainly not uncommon. This is when a professional can step in and really alter the course of your business.

When searching for a professional, it’s a good idea to pick someone local, as they will have a strong understanding of your target audience, market trends, and the industry as it exists in your community. Take for example The Evergreen Agency, a leading SEO agency in Oxfordshire, which specialises in helping businesses grow online. You can request to meet with a professional and discuss your goals and your issues, and then ask for input from the SEO company and see how they would approach your challenges.

Be Prepared to Go All In

When it comes to growing your online business, you really have to be prepared to go all in on your efforts and understand that it takes a while to start to see the results, and that you will need to be consistent in all you do.