The history of the Red Flag Law, a 19th-century legislation that regulated the circulation of the first motor vehicles in the United Kingdom and some US states, offers a powerful metaphor for the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and innovative ideas even today.

The Red Flag Law required that motor vehicles be preceded by a person walking at least 55 yards ahead, carrying and waving a red flag (or a lantern at night) to alert pedestrians and horse-drawn vehicles.

While this law may seem ridiculous and absurd from our current perspective, it reflected the fears and uncertainties surrounding the new technology of automobiles at the time.

The Red Flag Law illustrates how the market, society, and lawmakers tend to react with extreme caution—sometimes too much—towards unprecedented technologies or ideas, seeking to balance the need for safety with the desire to progress and innovate.

This tension between innovation, fear of adoption, and regulation has been a constant throughout history and significantly affects entrepreneurs and their new ideas as they try to break into the market.

These ideas are often perceived as threats to stability, comfort, and the status quo.

This fear typically manifests as resistance from consumers, regulators, and even competitors.

In the face of all this, an entrepreneur must confront misunderstanding, market scrutiny, criticism, ignorance, or disdain during these early stages with a healthy dose of optimism and patience.

They must also work hard on disseminating, evangelizing, and spreading their ideas using the same channels and methods where their market operates.

Because it has always been this way.

Additionally, negative feedback or resistance, caution, and prudence help the entrepreneur to improve their idea and reaffirm their commitment to it.

This is the role you must play if you are a dreamer, curious, and strive to avoid the common, socially accepted, and validated path:

  • Learn and explore
  • Experiment (even if you make mistakes)
  • Iterate
  • Generate new knowledge from your experience
  • Share what you know and are passionate about
  • Keep learning
  • Persevere
  • Avoid herd mentality

Find the person with the red flag now and ask them to walk ahead of you, warning others that you are moving forward and that you will surely succeed with your idea or innovation.

Soon you will no longer need them.


Ángel González

Ángel González

By Ángel González

Founder & CEO