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Three Key Business Investments to Make in 2012 It's time to think about where to invest in your business next year. Here are three trends to pinpoint in 2012 that could pay off big.

By Carol Tice Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What Will Your Business Invest in Next Year

As this year winds down, it's time to think about where your business is headed in the New Year. Specifically, where will you invest in your business?

Some intriguing business trends are emerging, where an investment in the right place might yield terrific dividends in the coming year. Here are three key areas to consider prioritizing in 2012:

  1. Ecommerce Apps. Amazon plans to eat small retailers' lunch this holiday season with its price-comparison app. With the app, iPhone users can wave their phone at your retail item's bar code and instantly find out what the same item costs on Amazon. Also, from last Friday night through Saturday, Amazon offered 5 percent off any item up to $5 off when shoppers ran a price-check on the app.

    What are you doing to counter this trend? It's never been easier to create your own app -- the do-it-yourself tool platform appsbar now has 50,000 users, for instance. Next year, a whole new crop of shoppers will have mobile devices they got for Christmas. Will you be ready to connect them with your merchandise?
  2. Paid search. Are you hitting the top of search results for your chosen keywords? More retailers are taking out ads to help them rank well on key search terms, data from research frim Performics found.

    This Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, paid search spending more than doubled from the same weekend in 2010, says Performics. And retailers aren't just spending on paid search -- they're getting results. Click-through rates and sales jumped, too.
  3. Brain power. Many companies have experienced serious brain-drain over the past few years, as staffers were laid off. Get a jump on your competition by hiring back some highly talented -- and trained -- workers.

    The National Federation of Independent Business's Small Business Confidence Index is rising again, and small business owners are reporting better sales growth. Get positioned for the upswing now by adding key staff, before your competitors figure out an upswing is here and snap up the top talent.

What investment will you make in your business next year? Leave a comment and let us know.

Carol Tice

Owner of Make a Living Writing

Longtime Seattle business writer Carol Tice has written for Entrepreneur, Forbes, Delta Sky and many more. She writes the award-winning Make a Living Writing blog. Her new ebook for Oberlo is Crowdfunding for Entrepreneurs.

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