To turn your city into an important place, you have to focus on developing, evolving, preserving, and protecting your economy while producing resources efficiently. It's important to remember that you start off using Stone Age technology, so if you want to evolve, you'll eventually have to research new tools or ways to carry out certain tasks. The more you research, the more you evolve and the faster you can produce.
When it comes to managing your army, make sure you hire the toughest warriors and investigate the surrounding areas before you go to war, as your enemies will be tougher than any defender you might find in an abandoned territory. Learn to negotiate and rule an entire province to become Forge of Empires' strongest leader.