Must-Watch Documentaries for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners
Entrepreneurship is a winding road filled with trials and tribulations. Aspiring entrepreneurs and seasoned business owners alike can gain invaluable insights from the journeys of those who have walked this path before them.
Documentaries provide an intimate glimpse into the lives of successful founders, portraying their drive and perseverance in vivid detail.
This article will explore 21 must-watch documentaries for entrepreneurs covering inspirational tales of groundbreaking startups, Fortune 500 companies led by iconic CEOs, and everything in between.
Read on to uncover the key lessons these films impart about passion, innovation, leadership, and overcoming adversity on the road to entrepreneurial success.
- Documentaries offer an intimate look into the lives of legendary entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Howard Schultz, and Oprah Winfrey. Their captivating stories reveal the mindsets and strategies that enable success.
- Films spotlighting startups showcase the passion and perseverance required to turn ideas into reality. Cautionary tales like Fyre provide lessons on disastrous decisions.
- Beyond inspiration, documentaries impart crucial business insights across areas like leadership, innovation, company culture, branding, ethics, and more.
- Immersing yourself in these motivational stories can spark creativity, strengthen strategic thinking, and provide empathy for the ups and downs faced by founders.
- Let the hard-won wisdom of iconic CEOs, tenacious startup founders, and innovative companies fuel your own entrepreneurial journey. Use these films to cultivate vision, integrity, and unwavering dedication in pursuit of your dreams.
The best documentaries are not just entertaining – they can profoundly educate business leaders. Keep these inspirational stories close as you work to build something extraordinary.
Entrepreneurial Insights: The Top Documentaries to Inspire Success
Top 10 Business Documentaries for Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurship is a journey filled with highs and lows. These riveting documentaries spotlight inspirational stories of passion, perseverance, and insight that can motivate any entrepreneur or founder.
1. The Social Dilemma (2020)
This chilling documentary explores the dark side of social media, examining how platforms prey on human psychology to spread misinformation and affect mental health. It offers a sobering view into ethics and accountability in the digital age.
Key takeaways for entrepreneurs include:
- Using technology responsibly by prioritizing user well-being
- Envisioning unintended consequences before launching innovations
- Balancing rapid growth with social impacts
Link: The Social Dilemma
2. Print The Legend (2014)
A multifaceted look into the early days of 3D printing, contrasting startup MakerBot against competitor Formlabs. It highlights how hype doesn’t guarantee success in fast-moving industries.
Lessons for entrepreneurs:
- Remain flexible and pivot when necessary
- Don’t believe your own PR and hype
- Focus on sustainable growth over rapid expansion
Link: Print The Legend
3. The Inventor (2019)
This unflinching profile of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes depicts how charisma and grandiose visions cannot compensate for unethical practices and lack of transparency.
- Integrity matters – don’t cut corners ethically
- Admit mistakes early and remain honest
- Don’t unjustly attack critics and doubters
Link: The Inventor
4. Tony Robbins: I’m Not Your Guru (2016)
This documentary gives unprecedented access into motivational speaker Tony Robbins’ seminars. It showcases authentic inspiration and transparent leadership.
Lessons for entrepreneurs:
- Connect with people honestly and empathetically
- Share your own vulnerabilities and struggles
- Focus on adding value over making money
5. Seeing Allred (2018)
A moving portrait of pioneering women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred. It highlights her crusades against gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
Takeaways for founders:
- Tackle injustice fearlessly
- Use your platform to empower the voiceless
- Persevere in the face of adversity
6. Freakonomics (2010)
This engaging film explores the counterintuitive economics principles made famous by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. It demonstrates innovative thinking.
- Challenge assumptions with data-driven insights
- Think unconventionally to reveal hidden connections
- Creativity and curiosity fuel innovation
7. Becoming Zlatan (2015)
This inspirational saga reveals how Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimović overcame poverty and adversity through hard work and belief in his abilities.
- Dare to dream big and don’t let your origins limit you
- Maintain a laser focus on your vision
- Let confidence, not arrogance, drive you
8. Becoming Warren Buffett (2017)
An intimate look at the life and leadership principles of investing legend Warren Buffett. It offers wisdom on building company culture and living frugally despite wealth.
- Foster an ethical, people-first work environment
- Live modestly and avoid excess
- Make rational decisions based on logic over emotions
9. Betting on Zero (2016)
An in-depth view into allegations that hedge fund manager Bill Ackman waged a smear campaign against Herbalife to profit from its downfall. A cautionary tale.
Takeaways for entrepreneurs:
- Do not spread misinformation about competitors
- Maintain high integrity in business dealings
- Do not try to profit from others’ destruction
10. Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (2015)
A complex portrayal of Apple’s Steve Jobs as both a brilliant innovator and a ruthless leader. It offers lessons about creative genius versus problematic behavior.
- Innovative thinking leads to revolutionary ideas
- Balance competitiveness with compassion
- Your products can outlive you, but your reputation may not
Which of these documentaries will you add to your must-watch list as an entrepreneur? Let these stories of passionate, persevering business leaders spark your own drive and hunger for success.
Just remember – your journey may be tumultuous, but by learning from those before you, your dreams can reach incredible heights.
Top Entrepreneurial Shows and Documentaries on Netflix
Netflix offers a treasure trove of inspirational and educational shows shining a spotlight on entrepreneurship.
Here are some must-see titles covering motivating stories of business leaders, innovative startups, and engaging behind-the-scenes looks at companies.
11. The Bear (2022)
This critically acclaimed show follows young chef Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto as he takes over his brother’s failing Chicago sandwich shop after a family tragedy. It’s a realistic portrayal of the hustle required to run a small business.
- Leading a reluctant team
- Making hard decisions under pressure
- Importance of work/life balance
12. Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates (2019)
This three-part documentary offers rare insights into Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ life, genius mind, and global philanthropy work. It reveals his forward-thinking business philosophy.
- Pursue big problems that affect humanity
- Build strong teams and company culture
- Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo
13. American Factory (2019)
This fascinating Oscar-winning documentary chronicles what happens when a Chinese billionaire reopens an abandoned GM plant in Ohio. It provides lessons on navigating cultural differences.
- Understanding different leadership styles
- Bridging communication gaps
- Adapting to succeed in global business
14. Succession (2018 – Current)
This drama series revolves around power struggles inside a fictional global media conglomerate. It showcases high-stakes business dealings and dysfunctional family dynamics among wealthy elites.
- Balancing business and family
- Overcoming founder’s syndrome
- Grooming successors smoothly
15. Planet of the Apps (2017 – Current)
This engaging reality show lets app developers pitch celebrity investors to secure funding and mentorship. It spotlights the process of securing backing for ideas.
- Crafting a persuasive pitch
- Pivoting ideas based on feedback
- Handling pressure and rejection
16. Becoming Warren Buffett (2017)
This insightful documentary on investing wizard Warren Buffett provides wisdom on leadership, ethics, and rational thinking. It offers motivation for entrepreneurs seeking sustainable success.
- Foster ethical integrity from day one
- Make decisions based on logic over emotions
- Live modestly despite the wealth
Netflix offers no shortage of thought-provoking and motivational shows spotlighting business leaders, startups, and companies.
Aspiring entrepreneurs can gain crucial insights by learning from these stories of innovation, cultural bridging, messaging, pitching, leadership, and operational excellence.
Must-Watch Documentaries for Entrepreneurs on YouTube
YouTube offers a treasure trove of free motivational documentaries spotlighting inspirational entrepreneurs and startups. Here are some of the most insightful titles offering key lessons for founders and business leaders.
17. Indie Game: The Movie (2012)
This fascinating documentary follows the journey of indie developers as they sacrifice finances, health, and emotions to launch innovative video games. It reveals the passion of startup founders.
- Pursuing vision relentlessly
- Dealing with extreme stress
- Maintaining work/life balance
18. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
A profile of sushi master Jiro Ono that provides insight into honing craftsmanship and striving for perfection. It showcases singular focus and lifelong learning.
- Stay hungry and obsessed with mastery
- Pay meticulous attention to every detail
- Keep evolving your skills and offerings
19. Startup.com (2001)
This prescient documentary chronicles the rapid rise and fall of 1990s startup govWorks.com. It serves as a timeless cautionary tale.
- Grow steadily rather than explosively
- Maintain focus on customers, not competitors
- Don’t lose sight of the bottom line and finances
20. The Entrepreneurs: The Story of Sam Walton (2018)
This biography of Walmart founder Sam Walton reveals his unwavering resilience in transforming retail. It offers wisdom on learning from failures.
- Persist relentlessly in the face of setbacks
- Listen to and learn from your customers
- Show appreciation for employees
21. Silicon Cowboys (2016)
This compelling docudrama recounts the rise of the pioneering 1980s computer company Compaq. It provides lessons on competing with larger rivals.
- Identify market gaps and unmet needs
- Leverage agility and innovation
- Challenge complacent industry leaders
22. The Startup Kids (2012)
This inspiring documentary highlights young college students launching successful startups. It shows how entrepreneurship can thrive at any age.
- Follow your passions
- Take smart risks while young
- Solve real problems creatively
YouTube provides free access to hours of motivational documentaries highlighting visionary founders, innovative companies, and cautionary startup tales.
Aspiring entrepreneurs can gain key insights from these stories of relentless persistence, craftsmanship, agility, resilience, and creativity.
Benefits of Watching Business Documentaries as an Entrepreneur
Business documentaries offer aspiring founders and leaders an invaluable opportunity to learn from those who have walked the entrepreneurial path before.
Here are some of the key benefits watching these motivational films can provide:
1. Gain Insight into Successful Entrepreneurs’ Journeys
Documentaries offer an intimate glimpse into the lives of iconic founders like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett. They reveal the drive, vision, and perseverance that enabled these leaders to change the world.
Understanding their journeys can help entrepreneurs gain insight into the mindsets, values, and strategies necessary for success.
2. Acquire Invaluable Lessons in Business Strategy and Decision-Making
Beyond motivational stories, the best business documentaries also dissect pivotal strategic decisions that made companies sink or swim.
Fyre showcases disastrous planning; The Inventor reveals the importance of ethics; Deepwater Horizon examines safety negligence.
Absorb these lessons to become a smarter, more strategic leader.
3. Gain Inspiration and Motivation for Entrepreneurial Endeavors
The passion and unrelenting persistence displayed by figures like Howard Schultz (Starbucks), Reed Hastings (Netflix), and Oprah Winfrey can reignite excitement and drive on difficult entrepreneurial journeys.
Their stories inspire audiences to keep chasing dreams no matter the obstacles.
Understand Real-World Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Unlike fictitious dramas, documentaries portray the raw, real-world challenges founders face. American Factory shows the complexities of cross-cultural business.
The Social Network explores friendship breakups and intellectual property battles. Learning how icons overcame hardships equips leaders to do the same.
4. Spark Creativity and Innovation in Business Thinking
Watching unconventional leaders like Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos question assumptions fuels creative thinking. Their innovative approach to problem-solving in documentaries like Pirates of Silicon Valley inspires audiences to avoid conformity and think outside the box.
5. Gain Well-Rounded Perspectives on Business History and Evolution
Documentaries tracing the growth of industries like retail (Walmart), coffee (Starbucks), and personal computing (Steve Jobs) provide context and connections to the past. This holistic perspective allows leaders to understand evolving business eras.
For entrepreneurs hungry for wisdom, motivation, empathy, and creativity, business documentaries offer unparalleled learning opportunities.
Immersing yourself in the stories of triumphs, failures, and resilience of those before you will undoubtedly make you a more enlightened, strategic, and successful leader.
Conclusion – Best Documentaries for Entrepreneurs
- These riveting documentaries spotlighting iconic founders, inspirational entrepreneurs, and cautionary startup tales impart invaluable lessons for business leaders.
- Key takeaways include cultivating perseverance, creativity, and ethical responsibility while retaining a laser focus on your vision and customers.
- Let the stories of passion and resilience in films like The Founder, Steve Jobs, and Becoming Warren Buffett motivate you during the inevitable trials and tribulations of leading a company.
- Avoid the missteps of failed founders like Elizabeth Holmes and Billy McFarland (Fyre Festival) by maintaining integrity, planning rigorously, and communicating transparently.
- Use documentaries as a tool to spark innovative thinking and strengthen your business acumen across areas like marketing, product development, company culture, investment, and more.
- Keep these motivational stories top of mind as you continue on your own entrepreneurial journey. Let the timeless lessons from iconic innovators and business leaders guide you toward remarkable success.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why should entrepreneurs watch documentaries?
Documentaries provide an invaluable opportunity to learn directly from iconic founders like Steve Jobs and emerging startups. Their stories reveal the mindsets, values, and strategies that enable success. These films motivate and strengthen strategic thinking.
2. What are the best documentaries for entrepreneurs?
Some top picks are The Founder, The Social Network, Indie Game, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, American Factory, and Print the Legend. Look for documentaries profiling tenacious founders, rising startups, and cautionary tales.
3. Where can I find documentaries about business?
Platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, and iTunes offer a treasure trove of business documentaries. You can also find recordings of talks by famous CEOs and founders online.
4. What makes documentaries better than books for learning?
Unlike books, documentaries allow you to directly see and hear business leaders in their own words. The intimate access allows you to better understand their personalities, values, thinking, and leadership styles.
5. How much time should I devote to watching these films?
Aim for at least one business documentary or founder interview each month. The more examples you are exposed to, the more perspectives you gain. Re-watch favorites periodically to reinforce key lessons.
Inspiring business documentaries provide invaluable real-world education. Make time to regularly watch these motivating stories to strengthen your leadership abilities and entrepreneurial mindset.