10 movies all entrepreneurs should watch for inspiration | TopMBA.com

10 movies all entrepreneurs should watch for inspiration

By Niamh Ollerton

Updated Updated

To succeed as an entrepreneur, it will take a lot of hard work, determination, and an element of luck. More start-ups fail than succeed, so you’ll need inspiration from as many sources as possible to ensure you’re one of the success stories.

Of course, you can’t be working constantly, which is why it’s useful to still find inspiration when you’re sprawled on the sofa with a glass of wine and one hand on the TV remote.

Whether your business venture is just starting up, or you’ve been at it for years, we think these films will start a fire in your belly to take the business world by the horns.

The Pursuit of Happyness

Your entrepreneurial story is bound to have plenty of ups and downs along the way, and The Pursuit of Happyness offers a source of inspiration during the downs.

Based on the true story of entrepreneur Chris Gardner’s one-year hell of being homeless with his son while undergoing a tough six-month unpaid internship as a stockbroker, The Pursuit of Happyness is a classic Hollywood triumph against adversity tale, full of fist-pumping moments which will give you the drive to succeed.

Gardner never stops fighting, even when his family and friends put him down, and the odds are against him. His story teaches you to learn from failure, stay passionate and never give up, no matter how difficult or impossible things may seem.


Real-life entrepreneur Joy Mangano is most famously known for her first invention, the Miracle Mop – the origin of which is portrayed in this Jennifer Lawrence-starring biopic. Joy also invented Huggable Hangers, as well as more than 100 patented twists on household items.

The movie sheds light on the power of a supportive family, Mangano’s personal struggle as a woman in business, and the success you can achieve if you can develop a product which meets a popular need.  

The Big Short

Based on Michael Lewis’ book of the same name, The Big Short tells the tale of three individuals who predicted, and profited, from the global financial crisis of 2007-08. 

Although it serves as a cautionary tale for entrepreneurs, it also highlights the importance of conviction and taking risks.

It was almost unheard of for people to bet against the housing market at the time, but these people really did, even in the face of ridicule and mockery from the financial community. The rest of the world eventually suffered, but they were clever enough to make money by foreseeing the chaos.


This little-known 2001 documentary looks into the rise and fall of promising startup GovWorks, which failed monumentally from mismanagement and internal power struggles – despite raising $60 million from Hearst Interactive Media, KKR, the New York Investment Fund, and Sapient.

If you’re interested in learning more about the boom and bust of internet companies during the dotcom bubble, Startup.com will be right up your street.

But the movie also works as a cautionary tale on how easily friendships can turn into bitter rivalries because of internal politics and business partnerships.

The Founder

The Founder tells the story of Richard and Maurice McDonald – two lovable, folksy brothers who opened the original McDonald’s restaurant.

Enter Ray Kroc, a failing gadget salesman and hustler, who came across the original McDonald’s restaurant when the McDonalds were looking to franchise.

Soon after going into business with the brothers, Kroc grew unsatisfied with his contract, and eventually bought out (or rather sold out) the McDonald brothers and became a multi-millionaire in the process.

Granted, the movie won’t necessarily leave you rooting for the protagonist, but it will demonstrate how a simple idea for a fair-priced product can explode with popularity.  

Entrepreneurs will relate to Kroc’s story – failing in unsuccessful business and sales ventures, then finding a gap in the marketplace and pursuing it with all his efforts until the company was a success.

Wall Street

The movie that gave the world Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko and the mantra ‘Greed is good’ functions best as a cautionary tale for anyone stepping into the world of finance.

Naive Bud Fox idolizes Gekko and his glamorous lifestyle but is eventually caught up in a tangled web of insider trading.

Young entrepreneurs can be easily lured by greed, and sometimes make immoral decisions. Wall Street serves as a reminder of what can happen if you go down an unethical path. 

The Aviator

Over the years, Scorsese and DiCaprio have worked together on some magnificent films, and The Aviator is no exception.

The movie is a biopic of Howard Hughes, the eccentric billionaire who overcame major difficulties to become a famous businessman and successful film director, despite dealing with worsening OCD.

Hughes is a stellar example for newbie entrepreneurs who need to overcome many obstacles in life to achieve the impossible. He didn’t just compete with big companies with deep pockets, and movie moguls in the know, he also fought an internal battle with the debilitating mental illness OCD.

When you look at it like that, anything is possible.

Steve Jobs

The biopic of Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs – portrayed by Michael Fassbender – hopes to inspire in a different kind of way.

Rather than tell the story of his life, Steve Jobs focuses on three specific Apple keynote events for the Macintosh, NeXT, and the iMac, each one representing a pivotal point in Jobs’ life.

Jobs overcame many obstacles both personally and professionally to become an Apple icon. The movie teaches us to never give up on our dreams, and to keep your convictions. However, the less said about what Steve Jobs was apparently like to work for the better!

Erin Brockovich

Female entrepreneurs, it’s time to take center stage. This movie will inspire you to take action against all odds, gender discrimination, and education bias.

This legal drama is based on the true story of Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts), who, despite the odds against her, helped win the biggest direct-action lawsuit in history.

Erin Brockovich’s never-say-die attitude against relentless opposition is an inspiration for any entrepreneur. The movie will teach you to stick to your guns against impossible odds, while also learning the importance of being socially responsible and having sustainable business practices.

Glengarry Glen Ross

If the big name cast alone doesn’t entice you, we don’t know what will. Starring Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Jack Lemmon, and Alec Baldwin, Glengarry Glen Ross is an acting showcase for some of the most talented performers in a generation.

The movie is based on an award-winning play about the plight of four real-estate salesman during a difficult sales season. Their jobs are on the line, and within one week, corporate has announced all but the top two men will be fired.

Glengarry Glenn Ross will show you how best to operate in high=pressure sales environments, and how to use your wits to survive and thrive in the process.

This article was originally published in . It was last updated in

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