In every economy, we have to adjust our strategies to what’s going on around us. The new year will probably bring a few surprises, but I see three trends from 2011 that will likely carry over to 2012. These could be good or bad depending on how you look at them and what industry you are in.

1. Technology will continue to impact business operations.

How will technology put you out of business or damage your market position? Low-skill, repetitive jobs that have low customer interaction will probably go away, replaced by efficient technology. But it isn’t always inevidable. Ask yourself if your customers were given the option to pay less and but sacrifice personal interaction, would they take it? Would enough of them still choose you to justify continuing your path? The shift to scanning and e-mailing and virtual meetings with video conferencing are just the beginning.

2. Unemployment will remain high.

High unemployment will most likely continue to take a toll on our economy. Yes, there are local pockets where the rate is lower, but the general U.S. population will have trouble absorbing its displaced workers because of increasing population, improvements in technology, and continued globalization. People will continue to watch how they spend their money. People will be forced to move where they can find jobs and a lower cost of living. This could end up being positive for companies look to hire, as there may be more qualified talent in the market to choose from.

3. Employees will get virtual.

The new business paradigm is less staff and less space—less overhead. Professional services firms have been moving in this direction for some time now, moving many employees to home or virtual offices instead of renting large office spaces. They have a place to get mail, a space to meet with clients, but their main workspaces are their homes. As the cost of space continues to rise in major cities, it can make more sense to allow your employees to be virtual. It can help you be much more competitive in the marketplace by lowering costs, and often employees are more productive because they do not waste a lot of time in traffic, and they can find better work/life balance.

4. Entrepreneurship is the new career path.

With technology and a virtual marketplace accessible by nearly anyone, many people are finding it easier and not too costly to go into business for themselves and generate a $1 million+ business from home with just a computer. They get a virtual assistant, virtual bookkeeper, several virtual employees, create a great website, hire a company that acts as their call center, and within a very short period with a good strategy they can become a formidable competitor with little investment.

How will these trends impact us as business leaders and how will you capitalize on them?

Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please visit his website at activategroupinc.com or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216 or email him.

Business Coaching, Business Planning, Executive Coaching

About Howard M. Shore

Howard M. Shore is a Certified Gazelles Coach, Certified Public Accountant Certified Executive Coach, Certified Behavioral Analyst, Certified Values Analyst, and Certified Attributes Index Analyst. He has earned Bachelor and MBA degrees from Florida International University, and completed advanced executive programs at Harvard Law School and the University of Chicago.