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24 Movies For Entrepreneurs Who Need To Be Inspired

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  • Top 24 Movies For Entrepreneurs To Watch To Become More Motivated
  • Hollywood Is Known For Over Doing It But These Movies Are An Essential Watch For All Entrepreneurs


Hollywood At Its Best Can Be Inspirational

We all love Hollywood but there is a clear tendency for the film industry to exaggerate true stories to make them more entertaining.

In "The Wolf of Wall Street", Jordan Belfort (superbly played by Leonardo DiCaprio) made the now famous speech where he tells his employees and coworkers that he wouldn't be leaving the company he built from scratch.

In reality he did leave.

In the Social Network, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg was depicted as having lots of friends.

We all know that's not true.

Irrespective of this glossing over the truth, Hollywood continues to get it right when it comes to inspiring movies for entrepreneurs.

Lets take a look at them.

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1Chris Gardner's Inspirational Rise To The Top In The Pursuit Of Happyness

Will Smith plays the role of Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman of medical equipment based in San Francisco.

Gardner is hungry for success but all the financial 'gambles' that he has taken in life haven't worked out.

Feeling the pressure of paying the rent and feeding his son, after a chance meeting with a stockbroker he becomes inspired to pursue a job in wealth management.

The film shows Chris Gardner going through personal and professional struggles in his bid to become successful.

Throughout the film we see a number of attributes in Gardner that successful entrepreneurs must have including tenacity, hunger, the ability to learn, hope and courage.

It is for these reasons why this is one of the best movies for entrepreneurs.

Best scene: When Chris Gardner finally gets the job he has worked so hard for.

It's hard not to get emotional.

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2Leonardo DiCaprio Stars As Jordan Belfort In The Wolf Of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street is another Martin Scorsese classic.

It documents the life of Jordan Belfort, who starts out as a young, hungry stock-broker working on Wall Street looking to make millions in the stock market.

But when the market crashed in 1987 and Belfort was fired from his position, he eventually decided to start his own company, Stratton Oakmont, and he never looked back.

Amid the glamorisation of drugs, alcohol and parties (which comes back to haunt him) there is one important skill Belfort demonstrates throughout.

His ability to sell.

Jordan Belfort had mastered the art of selling which allowed him to grow his company to levels he never would have dreamed of and he did most of it with this one skill alone.

It doesn't end well for the businessman as he finds himself in deep water with the FBI.

Best Scene: When Belfort starts selling penny stocks at his new job and all his colleagues are in awe of his skills.

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3The Big Short - Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling And Steve Carrell Explain The Housing Crash

When house prices collapsed in the crash of 2008 it caused a financial crisis the likes of which had never been seen in recent times.

Government and prominent financial institutions were blind to the impending doom that awaited them that would result in bankruptcies and job losses that would cripple many western economies for years to come.

However, there were a few individuals who saw it all coming and that is what the movie is about.

How they managed to foresee these disastrous events and what they did to make money from it.

The ability to think differently and have courage in your conviction is one of the most powerful things you can do in life.

Michael Burry, played by Christian Bale, is one of the genius' to call the fall in the housing market first and even when those around him are crumbling he stays true to his beliefs and doesn't waver...much to the annoyance of his boss.

Best Scene: Ryan Gosling played Jared Vennett, a Wall Street trader who is also being mocked for his belief in the fragility in the housing market.

He approaches Steve Carrell's character and pitches his idea for the trade of the century.

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4Gordon Gekko In Wall Street Is One Of The Essential Movies For Entrepreneurs

Gordon Gekko is the fictional character played by Michael Douglas that has gone down in Wall Street folklore.

Set in the 1980s, the iconic character embodied the highly driven, ambitious and hard working Wall Street speculator that was ever present at the time.

The film stars Charlie Sheen as Bud Fox, another young broker hungry for an opportunity to 'play' with the big Wall Street traders.

Gekko, takes him under his wing to teach him the ropes of how he made his fortune.

Gekko is an unscrupulous mentor who appears to have no moral conscience when investing his hard earned money.

The key quality that Gekko has that enables him to achieve remarkable success is his unwavering focus and the ability to not get distracted by 'noise' or inconsequential events.

He knows the company, its management team who they are and where they go for dinner. Information is his advantage as the movie shows.

Understanding your business and focussing on it is a key takeaway from this outstanding movie.

Best scene: Undoubtedly Gekko's speech to Teldar Paper board members which is mesmerising.

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5The Social Network - Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg's Rise To The Top

Who would ever imagined building a website could be so dramatic?

This epic movie makes it in as one of the top movies for entrepreneurs on the basis that it has everything you will ever encounter in business and in life.

It is an emotional rollercoaster of a movie which involves friendship, heartbreak, betrayal and jealousy - all while Mark Zuckerberg, superbly played by Jesse Eisenberg, is in the midst of building the biggest social network of all time.

The 2010 movie explores Facebook's rapid rise - from Zuckerberg's Harvard dorm room invention to becoming the number one social media platform in the world.

As well as "adding friends" Zuckerberg also makes a number of enemies who file law suits against the Harvard dropout - one of which is from his best friend, Eduardo Saverin played by Andrew Garfield.

Best scene: The movie has so many good scenes but possibly the one that stands out is where Eduardo realises he has been betrayed by Zuckerberg and his new best friend, Sean Parker, played by Justin Timberlake.

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6Rogue Trader - Ewan McGregor Plays Nick Leeson Who Bankrupted Barings Bank In The 90s

Nick Leeson is the infamous day trader whose reckless actions caused a 400-year-old UK merchant bank, Barings Bank, to declare bankruptcy during the 1990s.

Leeson was an ambitious young trader who had worked his way up through the ranks in the prestigious financial institution. After years of learning the ropes he was finally given the chance to take charge of Baring's new operations in Singapore.

The futures trader initially impressed the Barings Bank board of directors with his outstanding performance in the first few months and he even started to receive more funding.

But when his trading team incurred some losses, Leeson made the mistake of trying to keep up his outstanding record by gambling even more money in the markets.

He got away with it at the start but as Murphy's Law states, "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong".

Leeson bet the house (or the bank) on the market going up...and it went down.

He lost everything.

Rogue Trader is an excellent movie for entrepreneurs as it demonstrates that trying to hide your mistakes through lies and deceit is never a good long term strategy - be honest with everyone around you.

Everyone makes mistakes but by being open at the start means you can overcome them much easier.

Best Scene: Not really a standout scene, but you genuinely feel good for Leeson when he starts impressing in Singapore, which makes his demise even worse.

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7Margin Call - 2011 Movie Featuring Kevin Spacey Accurately Depicts The Chaos In The 2008 Financial Crash

The 2008 Financial Crisis sent shockwaves throughout the banking industry and has been a focus for Hollywood ever since.

Margin Call is another great instalment of this topic as the movie focus' on the board of directors of a fictional merchant bank, which many suspect to have been Merrill Lynch or Goldman Sachs during the crises and how they tried to keep their company alive.

As with many of the movies about the crises it involves a lot of technical jargon that bankers seem to love but the plot mainly explores how morally corrupt you can become when it comes to your own survival.

Margin Call is an important movie for entrepreneurs to recognise that in the world of business everyone has their own interest first.

Whether it's your own business or in your day job, when people's backs are up against the wall many will choose to lie in order to live another day.

Margin Call is an important reminder that when times are good people will get greedy and when times get bad...they will still be greedy.

Best scene: When the directors hold an emerging meeting to discuss the impending doom that the bank is about to face.

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8Show Me The Money - Tom Cruise Is The Unforgettable Sports Agent Jerry Maguire

In the highly competitive world of sports agents, Jerry Maguire, played by Tom Cruise, took the audacious step of criticising the industry and its increasing focus on making money from their high net worth clients rather than doing what's best for them.

A courageous thing to do that was not well received by his colleagues or his superiors.

After inevitably getting fired from his job, Maguire started his own company putting into practice what he preached by taking on just one client, Rod Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding Jr.

After experiencing a number of ups and downs in his professional and personal life, Maguire makes a success of his new venture with the help and support of his partner Dorothy (Renee Zellweger).

Being an entrepreneur takes courage and the ability to not be afraid of pursuing a dream if you truly believe in it.

Jerry Maguire embodies the potential risks and rewards that an entrepreneur can have.

Best scene: In a bid to keep at least one client in his new firm Maguire will do anything Rod Tidwell says including shouting..."Show me the money!!".

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9Moneyball - Brad Pitt Stars In A Movie About Applying Statistics To A Baseball Team Selection

Moneyball was released in 2011 and is based on a true story about the ever increasing trend of the use of mathematics in sport.

When baseball coach Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, loses his star players to the bigger spending teams he comes up with an innovative idea of getting the Oakland Athletics baseball team back to winning ways.

He meets up with Yale economics graduate and baseball enthusiast Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill) and Beane starts making team selections based on mathematical models created by Brand.

After a poor start the skeptics of the new approach start to leave the team but as the season goes on the results start to improve.

By the end of the season the team are breaking records and winning championships that no one ever thought they could.

This is an essential movie for entrepreneurs as it demonstrates that innovation takes courage and belief.

Many are capable of trying new ideas but few stick to them even when they are not going your way.

Best scene: Beane describes the problems at Oakland Athletics.

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10The Aviator: DiCaprio Plays Eccentric Billionaire Howard Hughes

The Aviator is the fantastic biopic of American businessman Howard Hughes, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

The 2004 multi-award winning film describes the life story of one of the most remarkable businessmen to have ever lived and the personal and professional struggles that he faced through his life.

Hughes was a fearless entrepreneur who pursued his many business interests aggressively. Whether it was managing his casino, his movie company or even his own airline the workaholic billionaire would not shy away from trying to expand his empire.

However, all his success came at a cost.

Much to his competitors delight, the billionaire's obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) continually worsened throughout his life to the point where he would quarantine himself in a 'germ-free' zone for months.

The movie is another great movie for entrepreneurs who need extra motivation. Hughes was relentless in his work and his level of commitment to innovation was unprecedented.

Best scene: It has to be the famous senate hearing that Hughes unexpectedly turned up for and gave a magnificent performance.

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11The Life Of Steve Jobs - The Apple Founder's Story Is Inspirational

Steve Jobs is one of the most fascinating figures to ever come out of Silicon Valley.

From founding technology giant, Apple, in his parents garage during the 1970s to getting fired from his own company in the 90s, Jobs' story in business is one of the most well known.

This has led to a number of movies being made about the billionaires life (including Ashton Kutcher's portrayal), but the movie "Steve Jobs", starring Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet has a different approach on the businessman's life.

Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin (who also wrote The Social Network), the movie focus' on Jobs' stubborn nature that eventually resulted in him leaving the company he founded and that also led to a number of personal problems.

But it was in his darkest moments that we saw the true nature of Jobs and the business genius that he was.

Within a few years the tenacious founder would setup another company that would later be bought out by Apple who then re-appointed him CEO.

The rest is history, as Jobs is credited with being the man responsible for Apple's dominance today.

Jobs was always an advocate of doing what you love to do. It is why, even after he was fired, he remained in the industry he had a passion for.

Best scene: Jobs confronts Sculley - the man you got him fired from Apple.

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12Boiler Room: Ben Affleck And Vin Diesel Star In A Cult Classic

Boiler Room is the classic financial schemer movie that was set in New York in late 90s.

J.T Marlin is the new brokerage firm on the street that has a culture of arrogance and boisterousness that appeals to the young salesmen that it is trying to attract.

The firm promises to make their prospective employees millionaires if they pass the signup process...by opening as many accounts as possible and by any means necessary.

Seth Davis, played by Giovanni Ribisi, is the young hotshot salesman that the company have head hunted to come on board.

Davis excels at his new company, in a job that he took to impress his overly ambitious parents, until he soon realises that the brokerage firm have been scamming investors.

Caught in a moral dilemma, the movie follows Davis as he battles with betraying his work colleagues to the FBI whilst also dealing with the thousands of investors that the company have ruined financially.

This is one of the most entertaining movies for entrepreneurs as the smooth talking Affleck and Vin Diesel deliver great performances.

The movie is about maintaining a moral compass even when those around you are losing theirs.

Best scene: Vin Deisel closing the sale of a nervous investor.

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13Becoming Warren Buffet - The Life Of The Sage Of Omaha

Warren Buffet is arguably the greatest investor of all time.

Dubbed, "The Sage of Omaha" for his wise investment mantras and his remarkable performance as the majority owner of Berkshire Hathaway, Buffet has become an icon for investors around the world.

Thousands of people make the pilgrimage to Omaha for the annual shareholders meeting in an attempt to grill Warren Buffet about his views on the current financial climate and any opportunities that may arise because of it.

One of the most interesting things about the self-made billionaire is the humble lifestyle that he lives.

For someone who was a millionaire before he was 30-years-old, Buffet has lived what some may call a 'frugal' lifestyle, whilst others would call it a normal one.

Whether it's his daily hamburger or the fact that he has lived in the same house since the 1970s, Buffet appears on the outside to the regular person next door.

But there is no doubt that he is a genius, which he owes to his daily routine of work, where he reads for hours everyday.

This is an essential movie for entrepreneurs as it shows the reality behind the success.

Only with grit and determination over a long period of time can you hope to be successful and Buffet is the epitome of this.

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14The Founder: Michael Keaton Plays Ray Kroc In A Story About The Birth Of McDonalds Fast Food

Michael Keaton plays famous entrepreneur Ray Kroc in The Founder, which tells the story of how the McDonalds fast food restaurant became one of the biggest brands in the world.

Kroc was a struggling milkshake mixer salesman who would travel all around the country to acquire new business.

It was during his travels in the 1950s he came across Richard and Maurice McDonald, the McDonald brothers, who ran a hugely popular fast food restaurant in California.

Amazed by the efficiency of their service, the minimal packaging and the taste of the product Kroc wanted to invest in the company from day one.

However, the brothers were skeptical of Kroc's recommendation of franchising the business as they felt very few people could run the slick operation they did.

After some tough negotiating, Kroc managed to start franchising the business out and built restaurants all around the country.

Kroc would eventually use legal loopholes to take over the company at the expense of the McDonald brothers who had become frustrated with Kroc and the deterioration of their product.

No matter what your opinion is on Ray Kroc this is a fascinating movie for entrepreneurs as it demonstrates all the challenges a business can face, from day to day issues to long term expansion.

Best scene: When Kroc visits the restaurant for the first time.

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15Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is a documentary about the American energy company that was founded by Kenneth Lay in 1985.

Based on the book by Bethany McLean it investigates all the scandals that took place in the company up until its famous bankruptcy in 2001.

When it comes to deception this documentary has it all from company traders gambling with company money in offshore accounts, board members using the 'pump and dump' method to boost their own stock options and executives using shareholder funds to visit strip clubs.

Thanks to their investing accounting techniques, Enron was able to swindle investors out of millions of dollars and whilst many did face criminal proceedings after its bankruptcy, as the documentary shows there was still a number of individuals who embezzled millions of dollars and got away with it.

The amount of corruption is so unbelievable that you would think it was based on a Hollywood film but it is in fact reality and shows the ugly, yet extremely lucrative side of the corporate world.

The movie teaches the lessons of digging a little deeper in order to get to the truth.

The executives in Enron did enough to cover their tracks in the short term but after a thorough investigation all was revealed...an important lesson when going into business with someone.

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16Eddie Murphy And Dan Aykroyd Star In Trading Places

Trading Places is the financial based comedy (yes there is such a thing) starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd.

The story is based around two wealthy brothers, "The Dukes", who own the commodity brokerage firm, Duke and Duke Commodity Brokers.

The pair make a one-dollar bet between each other to test the theory that anyone could become a top broker so long as they had the right environment.

Conversely they believe they could turn a wealthy, succesful stockbroker into a hardened criminal in just a few steps.

The brokerage owners find their two guinea pigs to test their theory in the form of street hustler Billy Ray Vallentine (Eddie Murphy) and posh boy Louis Winthorpe III (played by Dan Akroyd).

After succeeding in their experiment the Dukes let slip what they have done to Billy Ray who decides to seek revenge on the brothers in the place that will hurt them the most...their pocket.

He teams up with Winthorpe for one of the most legendary finales to a financial movie.

Although this is a comedy it is a great movie for entrepreneurs as it highlights the point that it doesn't matter what your background is, you can be successful provided that you put yourself in the right environment and learn from those whose success you want to emulate.

Best scene: The end trading scene where Billy Ray and Winthorpe put the Dukes into "the poor house".

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17Glengarry Glen Ross: Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin And Kevin Spacey Star In This Business Classic

Glengarry Glen Ross is based on the award winning play about the struggles of four real estate salesman who are all competing against each other to keep their jobs...and commissions!

After being told by corporate that by the end of the week only the top two salesman will be kept in a job, the shocked estate agents start to do everything they can to secure some sales.

Charm, threats, lies and even bribery are all strategies used by the men who are all in competition with each other to secure their future.

With a star studded cast that includes the likes of Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Jack Lemmon and Alex Baldwin the movie explores all the underhand tactics that these desperate salesman are willing to use in order to get ahead of their competition.

The film is worth watching for Alec Baldwin's speeches alone as a delivers a great performance when trying to motivate the struggling salesman.

Best scene: Alec Baldwin's motivational speech.

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18Erin Brockovich: Julie Roberts Stars As The Determined Legal Clerk Who Fights For What She Believes In

Erin Brockovich is based on the inspirational true story of a legal clerk and her refusal to give up.

Brockovich is a single mom who has just lost her traffic accident claim and instead goes to work as a clerk for the small time law firm that represented her.

When dealing with one of her many real estate cases she comes across the medical records of a number of tenants.

Thinking it was just a mistake she decides to investigate the reason why they were included just to be sure.

The single mom uncovers a huge scandal that has been caused by one of the water companies who supply Hinkley in California.

The company has poisoned the water supply in the area which has resulted in a number of tragic health issues for its residents.

Brockovich starts the legal process to sue the water company and demonstrates that when you are fighting for justice not even high priced lawyers are going to get in the way.

This is a movie about determination and not being afraid of standing up for what you believe in. Brockovich had to have tenacity to fight the legal battle she did without a background in law.

Best scene: When the legal clerk turns up with all the signatures required to take the water company to trial.

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19Jennifer Lawrence Stars As Joy Mangano In The 2015 Movie Joy

Joy is the 2015 movie based on the true story of entrepreneur Joy Mangano, the inventor of the Miracle Mop and the founder of Ingenious Designs.

The movie is based around Mangano's personal and professional struggles as she has to deal with family dilemmas whilst also trying to grow her business.

Mangano's family is both a source of support and stress throughout including her father, played by Robert De Niro, who constantly criticises his 'overly ambitious' daughter.

Undeterred by the personal setbacks, the inventor deals with all the problems that those in business face from securing financing to dealing with dodgy suppliers and manages to build a multi million dollar empire.

This is one of the top movies for entrepreneurs that has been made in recent years as it accurately portrays the struggles of starting a business and the realities of life.

Although it is based in the 90s, the problems that the entrepreneur goes through are still applicable today.

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20Startup.com - How This Internet Startup Went Bust During The Dotcom Bubble Burst

The dotcom bubble of the early 2000s saw thousands of internet startups emerge looking to take advantage of the ever increasing move from consumers making their purchases online.

However, as with any bubble, the startups that were poorly managed and couldn't keep up with a rapidly changing industry would be the first to fall victim to the stock market crash that occurred in 2001.

Startup.com follows the story of one of these companies called GovWorks.com that managed to secure over $60million in funding from New York Investment companies.

Like many others at the time the govworks.com website would fail spectacularly, taking along with it its multi-million dollar investment.

The documentary is a reminder to those entrepreneurs looking to start a new business that you must have business systems in place in order to see your idea become successful.

Execution of the process is just as (if not more) important as the original idea.

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211999 Movie Office Space - Yeah If You Could Watch This Movie That Would Be Great

Office Space is the 90s comedy movie starring Ron Livingston as a disgruntled, demotivated employee for the software company Initech.

The movie accurately reflects the mind-numbing, bureaucratic corporate culture that was prevalent throughout the 90s, especially in the software industry.

From the isolated work cubicles with no windows to the layers of management that constantly harass their employees, the movie explores all the frustrations that many have encountered in their place of work and how office politics can take over your life.

The movie is full of laughs and many of its scenes have become internet memes in recent years but there is an important point that makes this essential viewing for entrepreneurs.

The culture at your company and business is essential for getting the best out of your employees.

Treat them like hamsters in the wheel and they will lose all their creativity and enthusiasm for work.

This is a lesson that has been learned by giants like Google who are renowned for creating hugely desirable working conditions.

Best scene: Internet meme famous Bill "that would be great" Lumbergh condescendingly talks to Gibbons.

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22Thank You For Smoking - A Lesson In Marketing And Sales

Whatever your opinion on marketers you can't deny that marketing is one of the most important aspects of your business...if not the most.

In Thank You For Smoking, Aaron Eckhart plays Nick Naylor, a smooth talking, arrogant and confident spokesman for Big Tobacco.

Naylor's job is to lobby state lawmakers and also to reassure the public that the tobacco industry is doing everything it can to make their products more safe.

It is a tough task but Naylor's charisma and self belief is mesmerising as he is able to flip arguments on their head and make it look like the tobacco companies are the good guys...a remarkable feat.

In fact the slick spokesman is so good he becomes a target for anti-tobacco campaigners as they try to minimise his influence on state legislatures.

The movie highlights the importance of marketing and that whilst it is an after thought for many, the power of having the right message can transform your business.

Best scene: The slick Naylor manages to come out on top on the talk show where everyone is against him.

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23Baby Boom - 80s Comedy Movie Is A Great Movie For Entrepreneurs

Baby Boom is the 1987 comedy movie starring Diane Keaton as the ambitious New York consultant, J. C. Wiatt.

Wiatt and her partner are both very career oriented and both are focussed on climbing the corporate ladder. Neither have plans on having any children together.

However, Wiatt's life is turned on its head when one day she receives the news that she has been requested to look after her distant relative's recently orphaned toddler, Elizabeth.

Unable to deal with the new circumstances and humiliated by her work colleagues, Wiatt eventually leaves her corporate job and moves out of the city to start a new life with Elizabeth.

After a difficult adjustment to rural life, Wiatt eventually starts a new company making a brand of baby food that becomes hugely popular.

The consultant turned entrepreneur drives her new business to success whilst still being there for Elizabeth.

The movie is great inspiration for those looking to leave the corporate rat race and start their own business which gives them more freedom for a work life balance that is so important to people.

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24Catch Me If You Can - DiCaprio Plays A Smooth Talking Con Artist

A movie about a con artist is probably not the right suggestion for an entrepreneur but there are many lessons to be taken from this epic movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.

DiCaprio plays Frank Abagnale who has managed to swindle millions from the banks, impersonate a doctor, lawyer and airline pilot - all before he was 30!

How did he manage to convince so many people that he was qualified to do such important things?

Many would say he was just naturally confident and whilst that was a massive factor in his story it wasn't the most important factor.

Abagnale ran-away from home as a teenager and missed a lot of school but he was very intelligent and studied the industries that he became 'involved' in.

Whether it was the way cashing checks were being routed over the country or that you could sit the bar exam numerous times, the teenage hustler looked for loopholes in the system and exploited them to his advantage.

This is why this is one of the best movies for entrepreneurs.

Looking for gaps in the system and areas to exploit can give you the advantage you need to become succesful.

Abagnale was able to harness his talent to spotting these opportunities and made the most of them.

Best scene: A young Abagnale pretends he is the new substitute teacher on his first day at his new school.

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What Do You Think Of These Movies For Entrepreneurs?

Wow - that was a long list!

How many on the list have you seen???

Have we missed any out??

Let us know in comments which movies for entrepreneurs are you favourite and whether you have any more recommendations.

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