Business

Build confidence and you build a future

Imagine how Northern Ireland might flourish with a confident Stormont administration

A DEFINITION of confidence is 'the quality of being certain of your abilities or of having trust in people, plans or the future'.

Had David Cameron had the confidence to run his election without promising a referendum on the EU, where might we be today?

Was the Northern Ireland electorate confident as they went to the polls? As they say, you get what you vote for - and we got a divided society.

As sterling fell again, are the markets confident? No. Is Theresa May confident? Unfortunately it's becoming clearer the Prime Minister lacks the confidence to lead following the shock Brexit vote.

Brexit split the party and people down the middle. So what is the right thing to do when you find yourself conflicted like this? Well, a confident person will hold fast to their position and do what they believe is right.

Theresa May was in the pro EU camp and then we got 'Brexit means Brexit'. Then she said was not going to hold an election. She did - and now we are moving from a hard to a soft Brexit.

Theresa May called herself 'a difficult woman'. Confidence is about self- assurance not self-criticism - so why not call yourself a strong woman, a challenging woman? A confident Prime Minister wants a TV debate, wants to show the electorate their vision, their truth. A confident Prime Minister gets votes. She did not!

Unfortunately the general election result has accomplished the unlikely feat of piling even more uncertainty on the business community. The business community monitors confidence very carefully with economic indicators such as the Business Confidence Monitor and the Business Confidence Index which measures the amount of optimism or pessimism that business managers feel about the prospects of their companies/organisations.

The key word here for me is 'feel'.We can talk about the markets, sales and exports, but it all comes down to people and how they feel. Are they confident? Is there consumer confidence? As we know, most societies use their leaders as indicators. Are they confident? We are led by example, so are we in deep trouble?

We all want confidence for ourselves, our children, our leaders, our economy and our society. Where are the electorate in terms of confidence? Where are our politicians/leaders in terms of confidence? Will the General Election result in more uncertainty or an opportunity?

With confidence we would answer 'opportunity' to this question. With confidence you can compromise, without losing your integrity; with confidence you can respect other cultures; with confidence you can see the bigger picture. Confidence does not require quick wins or capitulation.

We are at a crossroads with our economy, one with so many opportunities (from tourism to technology( and with so many challenges (from Brexit to budgets). So let's choose to be confident.

A confident Northern Ireland has a restored Assembly prepared to compromise and work for the greater good. It has a programme for government, it has a budget, it decides corporation tax rates, and it has a progressive education system. It has a strong Assembly that supports the opportunity for Northern Ireland presented by the hung parliament. It has sparkly new infrastructure, hospitals, a city deal etc.

Now is the time for real confidence - one that is strong, honest, positive and brave, the one that allows us to make the hard decisions, to make the right decisions.

:: Roseann Kelly (roseann@ womeninbusinessni.com) is chief executive of Women in Business (www.womeninbusinessni.com), the largest and fastest growing business network for female entrepreneurs and senior women in management in Northern Ireland, with 2,500 members spread throughout all industry sectors. Follow Women in Business NI on Facebook at www.facebook.com/women-inbusinessni or on Twitter @wibni.

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