The world of business can be a cruel, hard place and sometimes, if you are looking to be the next big thing you need to look to the big –yet fictional- guys in order to get inspiration. Business moguls have long been at the pinnacle of the cinematic industry and over the years, some truly incredible careers and projects have been documented. The life of an entrepreneur seems to be tailor made to the movies and, with the highs and dramatic lows of forming a new startup, they have shown us the insight into some of the most successful businesses in the world.
Of course, as with everything, everyone has their favourites and someone who might be a hero for one person could turn out to be a villain for another. One thing that cannot be questioned, however, is success, and these business magnates have it by the bucketload. The startup road might be rocky but for these movie characters, perseverance paid off. There’s a reason we all remember their names.
1. The Social Network
The ultimate nerd flick, The Social Network is a startup story for the modern generation, chronicling how changes in technology completely toppled the face of international business. Once a fat cat’s game, the startup is now something dominated by those who have a way with coding and computers and, if this film is anything to go by, it looks like you must be a technological whizz kid in order to have a shot.
Set in early ‘00s Harvard, the film takes a probing look into the brief college career of Mark Zuckerberg and the rise of the now dominant social media platform, Facebook. It’s not just about business, however; the film tracks the messy trial that came about as a result of Zuckerberg’s alleged theft of the Facebook idea from two Harvard classmates. Flashing backwards and forwards in time, the movie chronicles the changing face of the Facebook startup, from its early coding days right up until its world domination. While Zuckerberg isn’t the most likeable character in the film, his spiky personality shows the inner strength that an entrepreneur must possess in order to really make it big in business. When stakes are as high as they are in this movie, it’s all personal.
Sometimes, however, things don’t always run as smoothly as you would have hoped and what you had envisaged for your startup might become derailed. The road to entrepreneurial success is marked with pitfalls and obstacles and Startup.Com is the perfect film to highlight just what might go wrong along the way. A documentary film, Startup.Com follows the progress of small business govWorks.com from the very beginning right up until its very ugly demise at the end. Depicting events chronologically, the film is a clear insight into the developments of a startup, and the steps that must be taken along the way.
Founded on $60million worth of funding from various business sources, govWorks.com promised to be one of the most successful websites from the dotcom boom, benefitting from the capitol raised by the rise of the internet. When the bubble burst, however, the website went under, and while it spelt business disaster for the entrepreneurs behind the idea, govWorks.com has since been thought of as a lesson to be learned. Sometimes, despite your best intentions, things don’t pan out and if that happens, you need to learn how to deal with it.
3. Citizen Kane
While the world of the startup is changing everyday, there are lessons to be learned by looking back at business success stories. While Citizen Kane might not document the rise of the startup as we know it, it shines a light on the creation of a small business which soon grows into something much more successful. There’s much more to the story than business, too; by taking a look into the entire life of protagonist Charles Foster Kane, the film shows how the startup world can affect your personal life and familial relationships.
Taken from his parents at a young age, Charles is flung into a life of luxury and privilege, in which forging your own business path is the norm. Entering the newspaper business at a young age, he soon takes over the media company he works for, enjoying huge profit and national success. While Charles’ professional life is largely plain sailing, his personal life becomes increasingly rocky. Focusing all of his time on the job in hand, he begins to neglect those around him and as a result, attains a reputation for being curmudgeonly, cold and a mystery to all. Although lessons can be learned from his success story, they also come with a price. Failing to attain a healthy balance between his work and his family, Charles remains an enigma to all and, when he finally dies, no-one seems to know who he really was.
4. Pirates Of Silicon Valley
Sometimes, however, you’re not the only person getting in your own way and, as a startup, you must battle other similar businesses to achieve industry notoriety. Such was the case for computing megaliths Apple and Microsoft. Founded at roughly the same point in history, both companies promised to revolutionise the computing industry and, although going about it in very different ways, they certainly achieved it.
Spanning the years from 1971 to 1997, the film chronicles what was perhaps the most significant battle in the world of technology. Over the course of the film, both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates race against one another to produce the world’s best personal computer and while both manage their tasks, they end up producing something entirely different. In the case of Pirates of Silicon Valley, close competition pushes the minds behind the startups to really think outside of the box; working in the knowledge that someone else could be close to taking away their dream, both parties come up with increasingly innovative ideas. They might be rivals in business, but Jobs and Gates find a way of working alongside one another to profit from their startups in the most lucrative way possible. Sometimes, all it takes is a little pressure to reach the world of success.
5. Jerry Maguire
Starting a new business can teach you as much about your professional life as it can about your personal life and often, you come out of the other side as a completely changed person. While everyone remembers fictional business mogul Jerry Maguire’s “show me the money” rant, there is a great deal more going on in the film about the world of business. After being unceremoniously fired from his job, sports agent Jerry Maguire decides to go it alone and take on his own clients. Although his business eventually begins to pick up, it is in his personal life that he really begins to undergo significant changes and soon, his emotional “softening” enables him to approach his job in an entirely different way.
While separating our personal and professional lives is something that we are all told to do, in the world of startups, the two overlap. When you are living your business at every moment of every day, the people with whom you surround yourself become increasingly significant, having the power to manipulate how you think and feel. In the case of Jerry Maguire, the protagonist is able to take chances in his startup thanks to the presence of people in his personal life. When they disappear, his work begins to suffer. Sometimes, you just need the right person to give you courage in business.
The world of a startup is thrilling, terrifying and changeable. While each new story comes with its own set of successes, it also comes equipped with a number of lessons to take along for next time. Taking influence from the businesses of other people is a sure fire way of planning your own venture but in the startup industry, anything can happen. If you want to start your own business you must look to others who came before, manage your risks and finally, take the plunge; you will never know unless you try.