If You Want to Be An Entrepreneur, Watch These 3 Films

Entrepreneurs are constantly learning on the go: From their peers to their idols, and, most definitely, from their own mistakes—the course of starting (and running) your own business is full of lessons learned.

However, when you can learn some of these lessons before embarking on your own journey—it only makes the process that much easier. Aspiring entrepreneurs should try to learn as much as they can about the field they’re trying to break into before taking the leap. This means doing market research, talking to people with experience, and perhaps reading novels from those who have blazed the trails before them.

For me, though, I feel that there are a number of valuable lessons for the aspiring entrepreneur in films—which is an incredibly important medium for transferring information. And while, in many cases, some of the information expressed through film may be veiled or hidden under an extravagant plot—if you keep your eyes (and ears) open to them, you can take away a lot of valuable advice from good movies.

Below are a few pictures that I feel aspiring entrepreneurs should see—and learn from. And with the release of the Criterion Channel last month, they’re easier to watch than ever. 

Andrei Rublev


Andrei Tarkovsky’s arthouse masterpiece “Andrei Rublev” is more than just a brilliantly shot portrait of 15th century Russia—and one of its most iconic painters, Andrei Rublev. It is a film that bears countless virtues for viewers today, despite being filmed in 1965.

However, the scene I feel is most poignant for any aspiring entrepreneur is the final one: Focusing on Boriska, a young man determined to follow in his late father’s footsteps as a bellmaker. Boriska claims to know the secret of bellmaking and uses this as leverage to gain support from the Prince in recasting a bell for the village church tower. 

As the film progresses, we learn that Boriska never actually learned his father’s secret, and instead relies on his own instincts and a fair amount of trial and error to succeed in his endeavor. And this is similar, in nature, to the type of obstacle many young entrepreneurs will face in the early stages of whatever they’re trying to build. 

You may not have the all of the answers—or in Boriska’s case, the secret—that outline exactly how to succeed in the field you’re trying to break into, at least not early on. But the most important thing is self-belief. When push came to shove, Boriska had to trust in his training and the fire inside him to come up with his own answers, his own secret.

When trying to start a business, far more progress is halted from doubt than a lack of experience or expertise. If you’ve put the work in, have organized your plan and have the desire to succeed burning in your gut—what’s really stopping you? 

Bicycle Thieves


There seem to be countless lessons inside Vittorio di Sica’s 1948 neorealist film “Bicycle Thieves” that would resonate with the aspiring entrepreneur, but, for me, there’s one that stands out in particular.

And that is to focus on the things that truly matter.

In di Sica’s film, a man hocks his own family’s bedsheets in order to afford a bicycle—to take up a job gluing posters to walls and, ultimately, support his family. But on his first day on the job, the bike gets stolen, and he spends the rest of the film searching for it—with the help of his son. Crumbling under the pressure of not being able to provide for his wife and son, the man inadvertently puts his son in danger.

While, on the surface, the bike appeared to be the most important thing to the protagonist but it caused him to lose sight of his true goal. He only purchased the bicycle so that he would have a means of putting food on the table for his family. But, then, once the bicycle was stolen, his focus changed from family to solely the bicycle, and his tunnel vision began to impact his overall decision making. 

This is an important lesson for people looking to start their own business. When things get stressful, it’s easy to lose sight of your true goals and get caught up worrying about smaller obstacles along the way. Obstacles are inevitable, and much about what makes a person successful deals with how they handle the obstacles—not avoid them.

The American Friend

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The American Friend is a film by Wim Wenders, (somewhat loosely) adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel “Ripley’s Game.” 

The plot of the film—full of subplots, murder attempts, and mayhem—is seemingly set into motion when the film’s protagonist (the late, great Bruno Ganz) inadvertently insults Tom Ripley (played by the late, and equally great, Dennis Hopper) when meeting him for the first time. 

And this goes to show you the importance of first impressions, especially in business. In the film, Jonathan’s (Ganz) refusal to shake Ripley’s hand, makes him the subject to a long-winded revenge trip throughout the film. And while many aspiring entrepreneurs won’t endure those types of consequences for poor first impressions, it is important to maintain good business relations—and you can never take for granted how others in the industry will perceive you.

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