Ten reel heroes every real entrepreneur should take inspiration from   

  • This is the dumbest idea ever!
  • How will you pay your bills?
  • Why don’t you just get a job and settle down?
  • You’re bound to fail
  • No one has done this before, and neither should you

If entrepreneurs earned a penny each time someone uttered the above words to them, they probably could forgo worrying over capital. Entrepreneurs face their fair share of challenges – rewarding ones and harsh soul crushing ones, irrespective of how long they have been in the business. And challenges have a habit of showing up unannounced, worse, they invite their cousin – stress – along with them.

This post is neither about those challenges nor stress management, well, maybe a little about the latter. It is said that watching movies is a great stress buster; and as it turns out, there are quite a few films that has the potential to not only release stress, but teach a thing or two to entrepreneurs.

The Startup Observer has analysed several movies and shortlisted the ten below. Entrepreneurs can surely take a lot of real tips from these reel-life heroes in these movies.

  1. Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network (2010) 

What started out as a drunk post break up mistake evolves into a giant social network with multiples of millions in the kitty of its creator. Harvard undergrad and computer genius Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) creates Facebook, a social networking site that has connected people all over the world and even propelled uprisings. It’s ironic that the website dedicated to friendship cost Zuckerberg a few friends and additionally gained him a few rivals.

What we learn – All about rebranding and customising your product to meet customer requirement. Let’s face it – social networking sites were already in existence before Facebook boomed. What made it stand out, was its simple look, ease of use, and content that was appealing to its users.

2. Amy Adams in Sunshine Cleaning (2008) 

Despite being one of the most popular girls in high school, Rose’s (Amy Adams) life spirals downwards with the onset of adulthood. A single mother in her thirties, Rose works as a maid to support her son. When her married lover, a police officer, tells her about cleaning filthy crime scenes, Rose invests all her resources in an unconventional business – a bio hazard removal/crime scene clean-up service and hires her unreliable sister Norah (Emily Blunt) to help.

What we learn – That opportunities are all around and one just needs the right eye to see and exploit them. Sunshine Cleaning also has a handful of hacks in resource management and team management. Rose’s humility, and her ability to roll up her sleeves to get the job done goes to show that there is dignity to doing something diligently; and that no work is big or small.

3. Noah Wyle and Anthony Michael Hall in Pirates of the Silicon Valley (1999) 

Pirates of the Silicon Valley is a made-for-TV movie that follows Bill Gates and Steve Jobs during the early days of their career. Hard working and ambitious, the two turn from friends to foes while eventually rising to become stalwarts of Information Technology. The movie is an interesting take on the 1960s’ counterculture and the many Silicon Valley enterprises which incubated in small garages.

What we learn – Watching the personalities that reshaped the 20th century lock horns is a treat in itself. We also learn a thing or two about competition and all the speedbumps an entrepreneur has to overcome to stay ahead in the game. Pirates of the Silicon Valley also shows the importance of holding your cards close to your chest and playing them right.

 4. Anushka Sharma and Ranveer Singh in Band Baja Baaraat (2010) 

Shruri (Anushka Sharma) and Bitto (Ranveer Singh) are every Indian parent’s nightmare – rebellious, street smart, and with no desire to have a day job. The duo from New Delhi, start a wedding planning enterprise called Shaadi Mubarak, and it flourishes until feelings get in the way.

What we learn – Amid the flamboyant Bollywood-styled storytelling and foot-tapping music, Band Baja Baaraat nails the importance of priorities. The movie skilfully shows how focus on work upstages romantic relationships – an issue that many business owners face. The most interesting part is the first half of the movie where Shruti and Bittu used every scrap available at their disposal to attract customers.

5. Twelve Angry Men (1957) 

When 12 regular citizens are called in for jury duty to convict a man on murder trial, each of them comes up with their own theory and valid arguments. How do they then arrive at a conclusion? This movie exemplifies everything good about cinema – right from acting and directing to screenplay and lighting.

What we learn – Group dynamics. Brainstorming sessions and decision-making meeting are always filled with contributions pouring in from all directions and arriving at anything conclusive is often a challenge. Twelve Angry Men serves as a great lesson in debating, focussed discussion, negotiation techniques, and most importantly the importance of information and how to use it at the right time in the right way when it comes to winning an argument.

6. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in Moneyball (2011) 

Faced with a shoe-string budget while getting players, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), general manager of the Oakland A’s and Ivy League graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) discover an innovative to outsmart the rich ball clubs. They recruit bargain-bin players whom the scouts have labelled as flawed, but have game-winning potential, thus changing the game. The movie is easier to understand, if you know a little about player bidding.

What we learn – That we don’t always have to stick to the conventional. That innovation does not happen inside fancy labs. That the ability to think differently could not only leave you with fat wads of cash but make you pioneers.

7. Audrey Tataou in Coco Before Chanel (2009) 

Years before she emerged as an era defining designer, Coco Chanel worked as a seamstress and cabaret entertainer. As fate would have it, she strikes a relationship with a wealthy heir and becomes his fashion consultant. Her refusal to follow the whims of fashion, drove her to create a sophisticated line of women’s clothing that propels her to the top of Parisian haute couture. Coco before Chanel is an inspiring story of how a little girl abandoned by her father at an orphanage became one of the most revered names in fashion history.

What we learn – The dire need to challenge the conventional which is a mandatory trait in every entrepreneur. The movie also demonstrates how most successful businessmen/women take off from humble beginnings.

8. Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas in Wall Street (1987) 

Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is an ambitious stockbroker racing his way to the top. Admiring the power of the unsparing corporate raider Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), Fox entices Gekko into mentoring him by providing insider trading. Suddenly, everything comes to a head when Fox finds himself involved in something not only illegal, but morally reprehensible.

What we learn – To not sell ourselves out for the sake of money. Money matters, but not at the cost of our integrity.

9. Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuire (1996) 

Because every movie list dedicated to entrepreneurs must begin with Jerry McGuire. An ambitious sports agent has a moral epiphany and expresses his displeasure about perceived dishonesty in the sports management business. Needless to say, he is fired. He is left with no choice but goes solo with the only athlete who stays with him and his former secretary. The trials and tribulations that follow McGuire’s career change seem like a recipe for disaster, but McGuire’s determination and benevolence helps him stagger through the challenges.

What we learn: The movie serves as a lesson in how following your dream can be much more fulfilling than simply chasing wealth.

10. Jennifer Lawrence in Joy (2015)
The fiery Jennifer Lawrence portrays Joy Mangano, divorced mother of two, working as a booking clerk for an airlines company. Despite pressing family and financial issues, her little housekeeping innovations carry her through the storm. Joy makes a huge splash in the world of infomercials and becomes founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty, but has to deal with betrayal from the ones she trusted.

What we learn: The ups and downs of being a business owner when your financial roof is crumbling. It’s worse if you’re woman. It’s worse if you’re living in a period where people don’t think much of women. But the movie goes on to prove the cliché – where there is a will, there is a way.

(That was our list of movies to watch if you’re looking for a little entrepreneurial inspiration. Did we miss out any? Drop a line in the comment section and let us know.)