Steve Jobs, Jordan Belfort, and Chris Gardner – what do these three men have in common? Aside from the fact that they were highly successful men in their field, all three of them have films that revolve around their success stories.
As present and future small-time entrepreneurs, many of us like to dream big, to become successful CEOs of a successful company. It’s not wrong to want inspiration from those who have succeeded, so why not spend your weekend nights watching the best business movies to inspire those who dream of becoming entrepreneurs?
The Godfather (1972)
An iconic movie, we recommend watching this and its two sequels. The trilogy can teach entrepreneurs a thing or two about the responsibilities of running a business or large organization.
The trilogy surrounds the Corleone crime family, focusing on Vito Corleone and his sons. Because of their refusal to delve into drugs, the family must now face powerful enemies that seek to squash their power. Sure it’s a crime drama, but you’d be surprised to discover many business lessons from this movie.
Wall Street (1987)
For those who love movies from the ’80s, Wall Street is the perfect New York stockbroker movie in a sea of stockbroker movies. To succeed, sometimes you need to meet the right people to give you a leg up. But ultimately, it depends on how well you play your cards right.
Wall Street is about a junior stockbroker who learns the ropes from his hero, a legendary Wall Street player. Although he finds success, he later regrets it when a business deal threatens to affect his father’s own livelihood.
And if you liked that film, check out its 2010 sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)
The made for television biographical film focuses on the two rival tech geniuses, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, and how they developed the personal computer. The film focuses on their personal lives as well as how both tech companies exploded over the late 20th century.
The film shows that you don’t always have to work against your competitors. But it also shows how a good businessman knows how to be innovative and continue to develop the ideas they have.
Office Space (1999)
A black comedy film, Office Space is a satire of the ’90s software company boom. In the film, a frustrated programmer decides to turn his life around and help his laid-off friends get revenge on their horrible company.
The film is an over-the-top satire no one should ever take literally, but it’s a movie that shows all future leaders what NOT to do with your employees. Never treat them so badly that they’ll want to seek revenge and hurt your business in the worst way possible.
Boiler Room (2000)
Inspired by Wall Street, the film is about a college dropout who goes on to become a broker only to find out that his company is dealing in illegal stock fraud that’s harming the smaller people who rely on the company on investments.
It’s a precautionary tale against being greedy and hurting others in the name of profit. It’s not wrong to be ambitious and improve your life by having more income, but never do it in a way that it hurts others.
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Based on the life of security consultant, Frank Abagnale, the movie shows how a person can turn their life around and use their talents to succeed. Abagnale is an American who once lived a life as a forger, but is now a successful security consultant who helps banks apprehend counterfeit checks.
The film shows the fictionalized life of Abagnale and how he lived his life as a forger. Tracking him down is FBI agent Carl Hanratty (based on real-life FBI agent Joseph Shea), who Abagnale outsmarts several times.
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Even at your lowest point, the doors to success are not locked. This is the lesson we can get from The Pursuit of Happyness, a biographical film depicting the business risks and hardships Chris Gardner had to endure to get his foot in the door of success.
The film takes place in the ’80s. Chris Gardner makes a bad financial investment that leaves him, his wife, and their son financially unstable. He takes the opportunity of becoming an unpaid intern at Dean Witter for a chance at a paid position as a stockbroker. Despite losing their home and all his money, he works hard to support his son while excelling in his internship.
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, The Devil Wears Prada offers two lessons, depending on whether you’re looking at the perspective of the young fresh grad Andy or the esteemed fashion maven Miranda.
Andy’s arc shows how you will never truly succeed in a field unless you truly understand it and are willing to work hard for your success. But at the same time, you should know your limits, remember who you are, and remember that you always have a choice in career development.
Miranda, on the other hand, shows how getting to the top of your career isn’t easy, especially for modern-day working women shamed for not being able to find that balance as a businesswoman, friend, wife, and mother. She shows that, if you work hard, you’ll never have to introduce yourself every time you walk into a room.
The Social Network (2010)
As the film says, you can’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies. Although criticized for fluffing up the drama of the real events that led to Facebook, The Social Network was a successful film that was nominated for many major awards.
With Steve Jobs’ rags-to-riches story and how he built Apple from his parents’ garage, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of films and documentaries dedicated to his career. The biography covers his time in college up to 2001 when he first introduces the iPod.
Entrepreneurs and other business professionals can learn a lot from Steve Jobs’ life. From how he overcame adversity to how to handle his success and failures.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Based on the classic 1925 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby covers issues involving wealth and the importance of knowing the people who genuinely care about you – something Jay Gatsby, with all his wealth, was sorely lacking.
Told through the point-of-view of Nick Carraway, The Great Gatsby is about a wealthy business magnate who holds lavish parties in an attempt to see his former lover, Daisy. They finally reunite and she agrees to have an affair with him, but it’s clear that she is unwilling to leave her husband be with him unless it benefits her.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Based on the memoirs of former stockbroker Jordan Belfort, the film shows his descent into a life of indulgence and illegal stock fraud schemes, and the lengths he will go to make a sale.
One of Belfort’s defining traits is how he has perfected the art of “hard sells.” In your line of business, aggressive salesmanship may be difficult, but it is necessary if you want to convince others to give your business the time of day.
Becoming Warren Buffett (2017)
You can watch this on HBO or HBO Go. The documentary follows the life of Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest men in the world. It covers both his investing businesses and his personal relationships, told in an interesting way.
Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (2019)
Not a film, but a Netflix documentary on the infamous Fyre Festival in 2017. Fyre’s head organizer, Billy MacFarland, was touted as one of the best businessmen of his generation. And the fact that he had managed to bamboozle people up until the very last moment proves that as long as you have the charisma, you can get people to shell out millions of dollars with only a promise.
The documentary covers Billy MacFarland’s career, the conception of Fyre Festival, the planning stages and what went wrong, and the aftermath and how Billy actually went on to commit another fraudulent crime.
This movie isn’t on this list to tell women they need to use their bodies to get ahead in life (because that’s not what this movie is about). It’s a cautionary tale about greed and constantly wanting more to the point that you over-do a system that works in a need to want more. For entrepreneurs, it’s never a good idea to be greedy. Work hard and work smart, but don’t over-do it.
The film follows Destiny, a stripper who leads a wealthy lifestyle dancing for the successful businessmen of New York. During the 2007 financial crisis, however, their club undergoes financial hardship. This leads her and several other strippers to develop a new plan to take money from rich men. But their greed leads to their plan slowly unraveling.
These are some of our picks for the best business movies you should watch. Many of these business films are available on Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, and other streaming platforms.
For many entrepreneurs, the hustle never stops. But if we have to take a break once in a while, why not watch one of these business movies to help us be inspired on our road to success?