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5 great movies entrepreneurs should watch for ‘reel’ inspiration

We all know that Hollywood tends to dramatize things. It isn’t any different when it comes to portraying the plight of the entrepreneur. Though many of these characters listed below are based on the stories of real people, what better place to find inspiration than in the movies?

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Catch me if you can: Christopher Walken with “There were two mice”

Though not an entrepreneur, Walken’s character definitely stirred a little something in little Frank Abagnale Jr. Frank might have gone about achieving “success” the illegal way but he definitely gave out-of-the-box thinking, risk-taking and intuition new meanings.

Frank Abagnale, played by Christopher Walken, makes this fine speech:

“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse wouldn’t quit. He struggles so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out. Gentleman, as of this moment, I am that second mouse.”

Endurance is of course critical for any aspiring entrepreneur. Man up! Stand by what your startup wants to achieve and though you’re likely to take a few knocks, churning your way out of a problem and making something better out of a bad situation is what will make you stand out from the rest. You’ll go through tough times and forget about them during the good times.

Jobs: Steve Jobs with “Nobody is smarter than anybody else”

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you, and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.”

There are two reasons why this quote made the cut. Not only would any entrepreneurial list be unsatisfied without some Steve Jobs, it’s probably one of the greatest quotes supporting originality and thinking outside of the box.

Similar to Walken, Jobs encourages you to “build your own life” and not just to accept things how they are. Your business shouldn’t be completely moulded by the environment. Instead be creative and disrupt.

Ashton Kutcher shared this quote at the Teen Choice awards in August and though the movie is pretty bad, one can still draw some inspiration from it. Ashton for instance was so inspired that we’re seeing he recently became product engineer and brand ambassador for Lenovo.

American Gangster: Frank Lucas “your brand is king”

“The most important thing in business is honesty, integrity, hard work, family, never forgetting where we came from. See, you are what you are in this world, that’s either one of two things: Either you’re somebody… or you’re nobody”

Yes, here’s another criminal mastermind. Now, building a drug empire isn’t recommended for your average Joe (or anyone really) but some of Frank’s methods could be useful for any aspiring businessman. Only some.

While Frank didn’t literally say “Your brand is king”, he definitely lived by those words. Frank pays great attention to his product. In the movie, his heroin Blue Magic, soon establishes an incredible reputation for being higher quality as well as being cheaper than the competition’s. His empire soon gains monopoly over the drug industry through this dedication to the brand.

What can you take from this? Never forget that your business is basically defined by your end product. Take extra special care of your service — take that extra mile or two — and you’ll soon see karma knocking on your door.

People can pick up on the little things. Deep down we a are very uppity species.

The Pursuit of Happyness: Chris Gardner with “Protecting your dream”

“You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”

If you’re not familiar with the story (you should be), Will Smith plays a character who, against all odds, manages to not only survive and make a living for himself and his son but become a salesman and ends up being a successful stockbroker.

This goes to show that you should never lose focus of your goal and though you’ll get knocked down every now and then, you should always get back up and try again. While there might be critics out there to discourage your brand or business idea, they might be wrong.

Think of all the great tech companies of today — Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon and so forth. They were all started on a premise few people believed in but ended-up proving many people wrong.

The Office: Michael Scott with “People will never go out of business”

Lastly The Office. Yes, it’s not a movie but it’s nonetheless one of my personal favourites. While he’s probably one of the goofiest characters in the history of TV, Michael Scott, the branch manager of the company, surprisingly holds one or two golden nuggets you can take away with you.

Technology can revolutionize the ways in which we can express our creativity and thus help our ventures, communicate with customers and so forth. That’s great and all but you can’t rely on just technology. You need to remember that there is a human element behind the greater scheme of things and take advantage of that.

Throughout the series, Michael fights back against the bigger corporations as well their methods of technology. He sticks to the traditional. Michael not only survives but stands by his conviction that it was people who are the heart of any business, not fancy technology or financial degrees.

Where it might be more efficient to buy paper from your computer than having to deal with a salesperson for instance, having a human touch can help you establish trust. He literally goes out of his own way to strengthen his customer relations.

Another thing we can take from Michael Scott’s character is the fact that you shouldn’t forget to have fun when running a business. Though tough times followed by tougher work is almost inevitable, your efforts need to pay off at the end of the day otherwise its just not worth it.

As we all are, each of these inspirational characters is unique in his own way — and it works for them. What works for them doesn’t necessarily work for you but you can still mould their ideas into your own.

Image: Pamela Ortiz via Flickr

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