Expert Advice for Medium and Midsize Businesses

Top 10 Movies that Successful Entrepreneurs Recommend You Watch

Christiane Soto
Marketing Manager - SMB

With the Academy Awards over for another year, it just seems appropriate to talk about the movies. And no, not about the mix-up between which movie won Best Picture.

That subject has been trending for a while now, and we would be a little late to the party. What we thought would be fun to focus on are some key movies (some of them Academy Award winners) that successful entrepreneurs recommend you watch. You know the ones ― not only are they great entertainment, but they contain key takeaways that every SMB leader can use.

So after a wee bit of research (and, yes, that does mean vegging out on the couch watching Netflix, Hulu, etc.), we here at Oracle SMB have compiled this Top Ten list:

The Tide Can Turn Quickly

  1. Trading Places – Illegal insider trading aside, the movie is filled a variety of messages, the first being how quickly the tide can turn against you. Second, you never know who could make a great partner. Many SMBs are based on partnerships, and (quite frankly) nobody is as mismatched as Billy Ray Valentine and Louis Winthrope. Finally, it is important to realize that most people do not have your best interests at heart, and that you do need to navigate your journey with a little thought and intuition. Oh, and the karmic justice at the end as the Duke brothers get their just desserts (and one of them realizes that money might not be quite everything) is just icing on the cake.
  2. Jerry Maguire – With one of the most often-quoted lines ever (“Show me the money,” anyone?), this is the story about a man who was at the top of his game, but one action caused him to lose it all. From here you see Jerry examine what is really important to his business and life, and he works (with a lot of dedication and ingenuity) towards bringing it all back together again. Only this time, he puts an emphasis on relationships. The two morals? Relationships form the foundation of a great business, and failure and loss can be your greatest teacher.

Simplicity and Remembering Those Who Helped You

  1. Forrest Gump ― The beauty in this movie is its simplicity. Forrest Gump was a simple man who turned a simple idea into a great success. It shows that you do not need to be a super genius to make something work... you just have to try. Throughout it all, he remained extremely humble and grounded, despite all the wealth he accumulated. And (probably most importantly) he did not forgot those who helped him succeed… taking care of Bubba’s mother with the proceeds of the Bubba Gump company and the investment in a “little fruit company” (i.e. Apple Computers).

Getting the Right Talent

  1. Erin Brockovich ― If any movie highlights the fact that you never know who your star employee can be, it is Erin Brockovich. A determined, motivated employee can overcome the lack of formal training and become a superstar.
  2. Pursuit of HappynessThis movie is based on a true story of a man who believes so badly in an unsellable product that he ends up losing everything. Again, the theme of how quickly the tide can turn rears its ugly heads, but it’s the steps that he takes going forward that is really the central point of the movie. Against all odds, he takes an unpaid internship to become a stockbroker, fighting against 20 others for a single position. The lesson? Persistence is key… never stop trying and eventually success will happen (which might be longer than most people think in this time of “instant gratification”).

Looking for the right talent? GO chat with us.

Thinking Outside the Box

  1. Moneyball ― This is an awesome movie for small business owners and entrepreneurs because it shows the importance of thinking outside the box to gain a competitive advantage. In other words, when “business as usual” is not cutting it, you might need to throw everything out the window and try something radical and new. Then (and this is probably more important) when everyone ridicules you (and they will) have the courage and conviction to stand by your decisions.

Risk Taking

  1. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse ― A little hard to find, this documentary (the only one on the list) highlights Francis Ford Coppola’s disastrous Apocalypse Now shoot. It details how Coppola raised the funds to create his own production company, and how he almost bankrupted it. But, in the end it all paid off… Coppola became the owner of the negatives and sold the movie rights for millions of dollars. As Coppola said, “The reason I take such chances is because I do not have the money behind me. The only way I can win is by playing my talent for all it’s worth.” Recognizing your talents and your skill sets—and then playing them for all they’re worth—is something each and every business owner can understand.

The Miracle that is Motivation

  1. Office Space ― If there’s ever a film to make you want to get out of a desk job in the corporate world and start your own business, then this movie about horrible managers, dejected co-workers, and monotonous work days will do the trick. The two lessons that stand out in this movie? First, motivation is the biggest factor to a successful business. Your team cannot perform at their highest level unless they are extremely motivated. Second, fear and micro-management do not work. When you give your employees breathing space, you give them a chance to show you what they can do.

Provide a Need

  1. The Social Network We could talk endlessly about the lessons contained in this movie about one of the world’s youngest billionaires. Many were a little surprised at the ruthlessness displayed, but the true takeaway is not to build things just to make money, but build things that people want. If you do that, the money will (and does) come eventually.


  1. Remember the Titans ― This movie highlights the way that a newly hired football coach effectively managed the different beliefs, values, and expectations of his high school football team. The level of cultural and ethnic discrimination is something that many managers (we hope) will never face, but by holding onto your values and demanding excellence, you can build a cohesive team and accomplish great things. In the case of Remember the Titans, that means going to (and winning) the state championship.

There are so many other movies that could have been added to this list ― from The Godfather to Apollo 13 to Risky Business (believe it or not) to The Aviator and even 12 Angry Men.

However, these are the top 10 that many leading entrepreneurs felt would be the best fit for SMB leaders intent on growing their business.

Which one is your favorite, or is there one you felt we left off the list? Comment and let us know what you think. 

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