Business as a topic of conversation is a bit like taking a plate out of a microwave oven. It seems hot to you, but never to anyone else…
But changing this perception, and raising the debate about business in Wales and its impact on our society and environment, is what WalesBusiness.org was set up to do.
And it is a truly testing time for Welsh business. The private sector has already had to cope with the deepest recession we have seen in modern times, but at the same time most commentators agree that employment has held up extremely well under the circumstances and this has been a testament to the resilience of our businesses up and down the country.
But in many ways this is only the start of the journey. The private sector must now be the engine of growth as the public sector contracts.
At the same time, the pace of change is ever increasing and businesses have to respond to it. Global markets and global competitors mean that firms need to move even faster. Long term planning is becoming more and more difficult.
Finding the markets, coping with regulations, finding the staff, looking for finance, dealing with problems: the private sector now requires greater management expertise than ever before. Businesspeople need a high level of skills, both professional and vocational, if their firms are to flourish.
But the role of business increasingly needs to be one of helping to identify new approaches to government policy. Welsh business needs to consider the quality of the relationships between local authorities, the Assembly, the new coalition Government, and Europe, and the all-important three elements to the relationship, namely: communications – building the relationship; consultation – getting systems right; and capacity building – ensuring the business community is able to respond.
The result is the evermore important role for business commentators to provide a vital function for governments at all levels, to raise the bar in terms of the quality of debate, and to start making that plate look hot to everyone else…