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Everyone loves an inspiring journey, especially filmmakers. The idea of being a part of an underdog’s success story can be highly motivating, especially when the odds are stacked against the protagonist. If you’re an entrepreneur, watching TV is probably the last thing on your mind. However, it pays to indulge in guilty pleasures once in a while, as focusing too much can sometimes lead to inattentional blindness and cause burnout.

On that note, we’ve made a list of the most popular TV shows, movies, and documentaries that encapsulate the entrepreneurial spirit. While some are extremely inspirational, others offer a cautionary tale, and the rest are for pure entertainment. So, irrespective of which stage your business is currently in, take a break and grab some popcorn as you slowly work your way through our carefully curated list.

Top 20 TV Shows and Documentaries About Business

1. Ballers

Starring Dwayne Johnson in the lead, Ballers portrays the several downfalls an entrepreneur experiences during their career. While primarily focused on the sports world, the TV show is highly entertaining and delivers one simple message – no matter what line of work you’re in, at the end of the day, it pays to persevere.

If you’re used to the generally macho image that “The Rock” is famous for, you’re in for a shock. He’s almost unrecognisable as Spencer Strasmore, an emotionally vulnerable financial manager who helps his younger friends at the NFL. Despite countless upsets and failures, he’s motivated to keep things going, just as any boss should be.

The show had some phenomenal effects on the audiences with its exceptional motivational scenes.

2. Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened

Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened is perhaps the biggest entrepreneurial disaster of the century. This feature chronicle from Netflix narrates the story of a supermodel-touted luxury music festival that promised to be a once in a lifetime event. However, things quickly went sideways, and the event turned into a disaster.

Focusing on influencer marketing, the documentary servers as a cautionary tale. Four hundred influencers played an instrumental role in selling out 5,000 tickets worth up to $100,000. However, the guests were flown out to a scene of muddy beaches, collapsed tents, and no facilities. The “shit-show” ended with the organisers running into trouble with several powerful clients and the man in change landing in prison for the infamous wire fraud.

3. Mad Men

An immensely popular drama series currently available on Amazon Prime Video, Mad Men gave the world one of its most iconic characters, Donald Draper. The plot revolves around the fictional Sterling Cooper ad agency in New York during the early 60s and the life of the employees.

Draper, the creative director at Sterling Cooper, tries to maintain harmony between his professional and personal life as his ambitions begin to skyrocket. Mad Men was critically acclaimed due to its impeccable plot, acting, direction, visual effects, and authenticity. Additionally, it left a special mark on its fans’ minds with unique scenes like “What is Happiness?”.

Overall, the show won 5 Golden Globes, 16 Emmys and is widely considered one of the greatest television series of all time.

4. Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley highlights the entrepreneurial spirit and its impact on prospective businesses. Richard Hendricks, an employee at a tech firm, creates an app called Pied Piper that uses revolutionary data compression technology. The story revolves around Hendricks’ journey to establish his company.

The plot takes viewers through the virtues and vices on the part of greatness while asking a very important question – can ambition and greed peacefully coexist in the business world? Silicon Valley teaches crucial lessons about morality and business ethos while shedding light on the shot-callers. The show ran between 2014 and 2019 and is currently available on HBO.

5. The Profit

What if there is someone to back you up, both financially and through experience? Sounds ecstatic, right! That’s the premise of The Profit. Marcus Lemonis, the host of the show, finds businesses in need of assistance and helps out the owners in exchange for a piece of the profit.

Marcus mentors budding entrepreneurs on the show and invest from his $2 million funds. It’s an excellent show for learning how to grow a thick skin and overcome tough financial situations. The show highlights the importance of swallowing your ego and accepting help in difficult situations. The Profit released in 2013 and airs on CNBC.

6. Dirty Money

An investigative documentary series on Netflix that exposes the big fishes in the pond, Dirty Money is a staunch reminder of the harrowing side-effect of capitalist society as it unearths the fiscal corruption of billionaire business tycoons. The show reminds entrepreneurs to draw the line between opportunity and exploitation. It narrates distressing stories of firms that have gone to extreme lengths for profiting at the expense of the less fortunate.

Some of the most unnerving exposes include Dirty Money are HSBC laundering money for the cartel, Malaysian sovereign funds siphoned by the influential bunch in Hollywood, Volkswagen’s brazen financial deception, and the endless line of victims left behind by Donald Trump’s business policies. The show reminds entrepreneurs to quickly learn the difference between profiteering and pillaging, or else the outcome won’t be pretty.

7. Breaking Bad

Watched by millions of people worldwide, Breaking Bad reminds entrepreneurs that a series of right decisions can have a massive impact on boosting your business. Walter White, a.k.a. Heisenberg, establishes his empire while disrupting the organised drug industry through a series of powerful entrepreneurial moves.

Walter’s drug peddling business grew along with his ambitions as he got creative in eliminating the competition, forging alliances to stay ahead of the curve, and protecting his partners through the storm. The story teaches an important lesson of cutting your losses, which ultimately leads to his downfall. Breaking Bad is available on Netflix.

8. Empire

One of the best business TV shows on air today, Empire stars Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon, the CEO of Empire Entertainment, a multi-million-dollar entertainment company. The storyline revolves around the tycoon choosing a successor among his three sons as they battle for the control of his company while his ex-wife plots to reclaim her share.

Empire perfectly sums up how greed can influence the life of entrepreneurs. The series offers several prominent thoughts, scenes, and solutions about difficult choices and the aftermath. Released in 2015, Empire is available on Fox.

9. Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates

Available on Netflix, Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates picks into the brain of one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and philanthropists. The plot follows the story of the billionaire’s life as he pursues solutions to some of the most pertinent questions of entrepreneurship.

From his childhood, education, to his stint at Microsoft, and charitable ventures, the three-part docuseries explains the how, what and when of Bill Gates’ growth and what motivated him to keep going. The series includes lots of real footage from interviews, candid discussions, and biographical content and teaches entrepreneurs valuable lessons in surviving despite the odds.

10. Shark Tank

Available on ABC, this one-of-a-kind TV show throws the light on investors and venture capitalists and explains how entrepreneurs should pitch their ideas for better response. The plot exposes the details of what goes behind the scenes and how investors decide if an idea is worth getting their wallets out for.

Shark Tank highlights how entrepreneurs think outside the box to come up with interesting solutions to pin down success stories. However, not all tales are successful, and that’s what preserves the show’s authenticity. Shark Tank premiered in 2009 and is currently in its 12th season.

11Dragon’s Den

Dragon’s Den is the ideal TV show that teaches budding entrepreneurs how to pitch their ideas. The plot is simple, an entrepreneur pitches their idea to five successful businesspeople, or dragons, in the hopes of hearing the life-altering “yes” in response. The dragons ask questions at the end of every pitch, the answer to which determines a favourable response.

As the participants try and convince the dragons to part with thousands of pounds, viewers get a front-row seat to what works and what doesn’t. Dragon’s Den is an excellent TV show for amateur entrepreneurs and is available on BBC.

12. Planet of the Apps

Apple’s first TV show about the world of mobile apps and the people driving the innovation. Jessica Alba, Will.I.Am, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Gary Vaynerchuk host the show. In each episode, software developers have one minute to pitch their ideas to the hosts, and if they’re impressed, the lucky entrepreneur gets a chance to be mentored and pitch their ideas to venture capitalists.

Planet of the Apps is an interesting platform for budding entrepreneurs and highlights the dos and don’ts of pitching ideas to potential investors. The show offers interesting ideas and teaches a valuable lesson in marketing. After all, creating a valuable product or service is just a part of the game.

13. Billion Dollar Buyer

A popular reality TV show that’s conceptualised and hosted by billionaire Tilman Fertitta, the CEO of Landry’s Inc. Tilman travels through the United States per episode in search of innovative hospitality products. The participants must find innovative ways to impress Tilman in exchange for a life-altering deal, which is a chance to partner with Landry’s.

Billion Dollar Buyer is the perfect example of philanthropic reality shows. It showcases Fertitta’s incredibly effective business principles and out-of-the-box ideas that have been his forte throughout his career. On-air since 2016, Billion Dollar Buyer is a CNBC exclusive.

14. The Newsroom

Set around the fictional Atlantis Cable News network, this 25-episode TV show is all about the evolving work ethics and schedules that come with a new team. The Newsroom constantly creates new scenarios where the characters need to make instant decisions to arrive at favourable outcomes.

Entrepreneurs can learn how to deal with stress, the importance of making the right choices even in the face of adversity, and living with the consequences. The Newsrooms premiered in 2012 and is available on HBO. The cast includes Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, and John Gallagher Jr., among other prominent faces.

Daniels, Emily Mortimer, and John Gallagher Jr. among other prominent faces.

15. The Grand Hustle

While there are several great TV shows about entrepreneurs and potential investors, some take a different route. The Grand Hustle is the perfect example. Hosted by rapper T.I., the show takes the viewers through adrenaline-pumping entrepreneurial journeys. The participants hustle through competitions held in the streets of Atlanta for a chance to land a high-paying job at one of T.I.’s companies.

The show is all about competing for the right job, highlighting the common problems that first-time entrepreneurs face every day and ways to overcome the hurdles. First aired in 2018, The Grand Hustle is available on BET.

16. The Office

Perhaps the most popular comedy series around the workplace ever to be aired, The Office brings pure joy to viewers. From the cast to the plot, the subplot, and more people love the series so much that scenes from the show have turned into memes online. The highlight of The Office is the environment, which the director has portrayed in a unique light.

The TV show is ideal for entrepreneurs that want to learn more about what it feels like to work with different personalities. The show offers some interesting ideas on how to get out of sticky situations with the boss and harmless tricks about workplace politics. The Office aired in 2005 and is currently available on NBC.

17. House of Lies

One of the most unpredictable business TV shows, even for the wittiest bunch, House of Lies focuses on how the corporate world operates. Starring Jeff Lewis, Zoila Chavez, Jenni Pulos, and more, the story revolves around Jeff and Jenni trying to grab hold of the situation when Andrew quits.

Meanwhile, Jeff is overworked and underpaid as he takes on the additional tasks while working for an uncooperative contractor. When Andrew calls asking for his job back, the employees are divided on whether he should be reinstated. The show offers valuable lessons about the entrepreneurial mindset while making the audience laugh.

18. Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul is one of those entrepreneurial TV shows with a clear message about how to scale a business despite humble beginnings. The directorial team deserves a special mention for flawlessly portraying the business side of things down to detail. The plot revolves around the trials and tribulations of Jimmy McGill, a criminal lawyer before he established himself in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Right from proper research and characterisation to focusing on the neglected niches, Better Call Saul has got the basic sorted. Whether or not you’re in for the plot, the TV show offers several valuable lessons to budding entrepreneurs.

19. Suits

As the name suggests, if you’re looking for a show with an intense corporate environment, it doesn’t get any better. The plot revolves around college dropout Mike Ross and Harvey Spencer, one of New York’s most revered lawyers. Ross is forced to work under Harvey, despite never attending law school.

Suits give an invaluable lesson in improvising and perseverance even in the face of adversity. While the plot is fictional, we don’t condone any of the activities portrayed. It’s just useful information.

20. Kitchen Nightmares

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you’ve heard of Gordon Ramsey. While millions worldwide detest the award-winning celebrity chef’s hard-hearted approach towards his profession, his TV show Kitchen Nightmares offers valuable lessons in how to do business with strangers.

No matter what the circumstances, the man has a unique habit of bringing deadbeat restaurants back to life. While his methods are unorthodox, the business policies seem to work, which offers valuable insights at the end of the day.

Conclusion

That pretty much sums up our list of the top 20 TV shows for entrepreneurs. While it can get difficult to find time from your busy schedule, it’s worth the effort. We know because we’ve tried it here at Revpanda. When we aren’t helping clients meet business targets and reach marketing objectives, we binge-watch our favourite series.

If we’ve missed your favourite show, let us know, and we’ll update this list with the help of your suggestions. For any other suggestions or queries about digital marketing, get in touch with our team. We’ll revert at the earliest and bring the big guns along in case you need help expanding your digital footprints.

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