Bringing Forth Growth
The leadership virtues of cooperation, collaboration, competition and character are being challenged by the transportation sector of the Central Florida region.
We live in one of the only quintamodal transportation communities of the world: train, air, land, sea and space. From All Aboard Florida, to the I-4 repairs, to the introduction of Uber, to the launch of SunRail, to Port Canaveral, to Orlando International Airport, to Kennedy Space Center, to the Orlando Expressway, to the most boat permits in the state, the transportation sector of Central Florida is challenging government, civic, business and community leadership as it creates plans of prosperity for the future.
Added to that mix, Central Florida is one of the fastest growing relocation areas for retirees and families. It also welcomes 59 million-plus visitors, is home to the second largest university in the country, has a new public university with private universities expanding their reach across the I-4 corridor, houses the world’s epicenter for simulation, has a medical research area to match anything in the country, and now boasts a Major League Soccer team.
With the environmentalists, institutions, governments, business and civic leadership, academic institutions and the general public all chiming in with differences of opinion, how do we make sense out of all of this change?
Change is a Fact of Life
The truth is, growth is mandatory and growth means change. If you are not growing, then you are dying, because anything alive is in constant motion or change. In order to be alive, change must happen – yet most people are frozen by it.
We are entering a time of dynamic change in Central Florida. My prediction is that in five years, we won’t recognize the current Central Florida, and in 10, it will be a distant memory. At the center of all this change is the entrepreneurial revolution of which the UCF Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is leading the charge.
So what happens when entrepreneurs develop a better mousetrap? They cause change. You hear endless opinions about Uber, but at the heart of the conflict are two entrepreneurs that identified a problem – San Francisco taxis were inefficient at best, with extended wait times, dirty vehicles, unprofessional drivers, and high prices.
Don’t be disgruntled with the creators of Uber; had the taxi business kept up with the times and changed, this would not be an issue. Mears Transportation did it; they responded to the market with their own app allowing people to book professional transportation services. We can’t stop change, but we can control our response when it comes.
I could never see myself using Uber; as a business traveler, I would consider the Mears app with no hesitation because I know exactly what I would receive for service, car and quality. However, my children, who are 21, 23 and 27, and their friends, used Uber while home for the holidays. Each time, they were picked up by a clean car within minutes of the request, had a friendly driver and were delivered to their destinations safely, efficiently and timely. This is a testament to how, as business people, we must adapt to and service the ever-changing preferences of the consumer.
Adapting to Change
We should be thankful that the consumer drives the free market system. When institutions drive it, we end up with a mess. Examine something that affects every single person – healthcare. It is institutionally-driven instead of free market consumer-driven. Here’s another prediction: if we took the institutions out of healthcare, entrepreneurs could fix it in five years or less.
The entrepreneurial spirit is about resolving a problem with a better way. Uber, for example, is seen as a better alternative to the traditional taxi business that many agree has been in dire need of a tune-up for years. Instead of complaining and crying unfair and foul, the taxi business, along with its supporters, like it or not, will have to adapt to the change that’s being driven by the Millennial generation of consumers. Institutions fight change because egos, personal agendas, the comfort zone and fear of the unknown all come into play. As my Millennial children would say, “Snooze, you lose.”
The Central Florida transportation issues are going to keep challenging us over the next five years. We have to embrace change and let our entrepreneurial spirit resolve the issues with creative and enthusiastic solutions, because only in moving forward and changing are we sure that we’re still growing . . . and growing beats dying any day.
Jeff Piersall is co-founder and CEO of SCB Marketing, which publishes i4 Business and SpaceCoast Business magazines. Contact him at (321) 537-4941 or firstname.lastname@example.org