10 Top Shows and Documentaries for Entrepreneurs on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube

Couple watching TV

Launching a new business isn’t easy. There’s a lot of uncertainty involved as you invest countless hours and money developing your innovative idea. It’s exhausting.

That’s why budding entrepreneurs should take occasional breaks to recharge their batteries. Popular distractions include:

  • Getting coffee with a friend
  • Taking a long walk
  • Diving into an engaging novel

Another great strategy? Watch movies, documentaries, and TV shows that are geared toward entrepreneurs and startups. With this approach, you’re technically off the clock. However, you can still glean a lot of useful insights to help make your business journey easier and more successful.

Consuming entrepreneurial entertainment allows you to:

  • Watch the challenges of others
  • Empathize with their struggles
  • Observe how they overcome hardships

Streaming services, like Netflix or Amazon Prime, offer a huge catalog of on-demand TV shows and documentaries that is seemingly tailor-made for new businesses.

Below are some of our top picks in no particular order.

If you are an entrepreneur looking to launch a small business, take a look at our free resource:

How to Start a Business in 9 Simple Steps

1. Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates (2019)

This three-part docuseries takes you into the life of one of the wealthiest people in the world and Microsoft co-founder – Bill Gates. From his childhood and education to his Microsoft stewardship and his charitable foundation, you’ll learn about what formed him, what kept him going while juggling multiple complex projects, and what motivated him to succeed.

Interviews, biographical material, and candid footage showcase Gates’ intelligence, optimism, and determination. This is currently available on Netflix.

Learn more here.

2. Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things (2016)

Released in 2016, “Minimalism” is mostly geared toward consumers. The whole point of the film is that you can live a happy and fulfilling life with very few material items.

This same lesson applies to the business world as well.

Remember that profit isn’t simply about increasing sales — it’s also about reducing expenses. As an entrepreneur, resist the temptation to buy glossy business cards or spacious offices.

Instead, you could:

  • Design your operations to be as lean as possible
  • Avoid “owning” physical things whenever you can
  • Rely more heavily on the new sharing economy

This is currently available on Netflix.

Learn more here.

3. Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru (2016)

Tony Robbins is a renowned life coach and business strategist. He leaves everything he has on the field.

This powerful documentary takes a deep dive into all of the behind-the-scenes preparation that goes into his extremely well-attended workshops. It also serves as the perfect counterbalance to another Netflix favorite — “FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” (2019).

If you feel stressed about your workload — especially when it comes to conference planning — this documentary will inspire you. This is currently available on Netflix.

Learn more here.

4. The Big Short (2015)

Conventional wisdom has always been that boom times translate to higher profits and downturns inevitably lead to fewer sales. For most businesses, this trend holds true.

Yet, the logic starts to fall apart — at least for the real-life characters profiled in this biographical comedy drama.

With its all-star cast, “The Big Short” clearly demonstrates that profits are always available if you know where to look. While most of the world was losing billions during the 2008 economic recession, the main characters in this film managed to build fortunes that would put most monarchs to shame. This is currently available on Netflix.

Learn more here.

5. Capital C (2015)

Not all of Netflix’s titles are cautionary tales — 2015’s “Capital C” is an inspiring documentary about how entrepreneurs are increasingly decoupling themselves from traditional sources of financing. Banks and angel investors are no longer the sole gatekeepers, thanks to emerging alternatives like crowdfunding.

The secret to raising large sums of capital lies in creating a message that resonates with others. If you do this, people will naturally want to help and support your growth. This is currently available on Amazon Prime.

Learn more here.

6. TED Talks: Life Hacks (2015)

If you’ve never watched a TED Talk, you should. Short for technology, education and design, each TED video features experts from around the world who cover topics about which they are most passionate.

The platform’s main website makes all of these videos free to the public — complete with powerful search features that allow you to filter topics based on their subject matter. Whether you’re interested in productivity, entrepreneurship, or design — you can quickly find it.

With so many videos already published, it’s easy to fall into the rabbit hole and never return. As an entrepreneur, time is one of your most valuable assets.

Fortunately, you’re in luck. YouTube has hand-picked some of the best content from these TED Talks and compiled them into a 9-part “Life Hack” series. If you’re looking for a crash course in business education that you can fit into a weekend of binge watching — definitely check out these TED Talks on YouTube.

Learn more here.

7. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2012)

This 2012 documentary follows the approaching retirement of famed sushi chef, Jiro Ono, as he prepares his son to take over the business.

There is a lot to unpack in this film, but one key takeaway is that charging higher prices doesn’t necessarily require adding more bells and whistles. Ono’s strategy involves an unwavering commitment to quality and perfection.

This approach is much harder to scale. Yet, when you’re charging $300 a plate, you can afford to maintain a relatively small operation — and still be a huge success. This is currently available on Netflix.

Learn more here.

8. Something Ventured (2011)

Nearly every entrepreneur dreams of attracting investors to help get their ventures off the ground. The thinking goes that with enough outside financing, everything falls magically into place — at least in theory.

While your chances of success definitely improve with venture capital, this exposé into the early days of Silicon Valley clearly demonstrates that the road to success is neither easy nor automatic. Many of the hard lessons learned in this insightful documentary can help you avoid some of the common pitfalls entrepreneurs face when courting investors.

For a more entertaining look into the machinations of IT and venture capital, you might also be interested in the comedy series “Silicon Valley.” It’s a fun ride full of absurd twists and turns. This is currently available on Amazon Prime.

Learn more here.

9. Freakonomics (2010)

This movie stitches together a series of vignettes that walk you through the fields of human behavior and psychology. Because business is essentially the art of “negotiation” — this isn’t a documentary any entrepreneur can afford to miss. Whether your goal is to charge higher prices, compete more aggressively, or incentivize lackluster employees, “Freakonomics” is full of actionable insights you can put to work right away. This is currently available on Netflix.

Learn more here.

10. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

The key players in this 2005 documentary fudged numbers, doctored reports, and lied to investors and regulators.

The charade worked for a while — until everything came crashing down in spectacular fashion.

This cautionary tale further drives home the importance of honesty and integrity. Every business has bad days — sometimes even bad years. Yet, remaining open and transparent increases the chances of coming out of the fire unscathed. This is currently available on Netflix.

Learn more here.

Get Ready to Watch and Learn

The above titles are merely scratching the surface. You could spend hours (literally) watching tons of fantastic entrepreneurial programming on Netflix and other on-demand services. Just remember that streaming services continuously update their catalog of TV shows, documentaries, and movies.

Also, don’t forget to talk to your tax advisor about reporting your monthly streaming subscription as a “business” expense. It never hurts to ask.

Happy streaming.

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