We’ve curated the 13 best business shows on Netflix, ranging from wildly inspiring to provocative for your entrepreneurial sensibilities, straight from the comfort of your couch.
Everyone loves a good story – especially Hollywood. After all, who doesn’t love plugging into an underdog’s journey to success, especially when the odds are so highly stacked against them? With that in mind, we’ve collated some of our favourite movies, documentaries and tv shows that truly evoke the entrepreneurial spirit. Some are incredibly inspiring, others are cautionary tales, and several, both. So, regardless of whichever stage you are at in building your business, be sure to grab some popcorn and strap in as you make your way through this carefully curated list of the 13 best business shows on Netflix that all entrepreneurs should watch.
Business Shows on Netflix to Watch
1. Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
This Netflix-produced feature chronicles what has become known as the biggest entrepreneurial disaster in millennial history – a supermodel-touted luxury music festival that quickly descended into chaos or, as ticket holders described it, an absolute “shit show.” One of the most thrilling business shows on Netflix, the documentary calls attention to the power of influencer marketing, whilst also serving as a warning. The 400 influencers were instrumental in selling out 5000 tickets which cost up to USD 100,000, only to fly their guests to a scene of muddy beaches, collapsed disaster-relief tents, and no facilities. It documents the festival’s trail of debt to powerful clients and local residents at Great Exuma and ends up landing the man behind it all in jail for wire fraud. What was supposed to be the most luxurious music festival ever is now a cautionary tale on corporate irresponsibility and social media’s heavy influence in shaping our beliefs – and thus realities.
How accurate Netflix’s version is, however, is up for the viewer to decide, as the film’s executive producer list names companies contracted by Fyre Festival – Vice, Jerry Media, and Matte Projects.
Key Takeaway: Keep your entrepreneurial dreams realistic
2. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
When you combine an entrepreneur’s perseverance for their passion and creativity, any business will thrive. The humbling work ethic and tenacious strive for perfection are embodied in none other than 85-year-old Jiro Ono, known by his contemporaries as the greatest living sushi chef. His immaculate curation and innovative techniques earned him three Michelin stars for twelve years, but these were stripped away just recently – the celebrity-frequented, 10-seat restaurant had gotten too exclusive for the general public to experience. This documentary traces the maestro’s lifetime of innovating and perfecting his craft and delves into the borderline-obsessive execution behind his facilities, supply chain, and an all-star team that lives up to his definition of success.
Key Takeaway: Strive for perfection in your quest for success
3. Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad is a gritty, modern favourite of millions worldwide and incorporates a string of power moves businesses should take note of. With five seasons worth of action-packed content, anti-hero Walter White forms a powerful entrepreneurial presence as his alias Heisenberg and delivers a distinctive product in the market that disrupts the drug industry. Walter’s criminal empire rose with his increasingly ambitious drive and creativity in removing competition, forming alliances to stay ahead, and protecting his partners. However, entrepreneurs should also calculate their losses and know when to get out, which is what ultimately leads to Walter’s downfall. Disclaimer: Not everyone can go from high school teacher to ruthless kingpin making millions whilst fighting terminal cancer and Mexican drug lords.
Key Takeaway: Do your research and know when to cut your losses
4. Dirty Money
Dirty Money is a Netflix investigative documentary series exposing the biggest fish in the pond – the fiscal corruption of billionaire predators. One of the best business shows on Netflix, this harrowing series is a sharply incriminating portrayal of Capitalism and reminds entrepreneurs of when to draw the line between opportunity and exploitation. With a recent premiere of the second season on March 11th, the provocative documentary shows the wretched lengths firms go to profit at the expense of those less fortunate, by any means necessary. Viewers will see HSBC laundering money for drug cartels, Volkswagen’s unabashed billion-dollar deceit, the siphoning of Malaysian sovereign funds that lined the pockets of the rich and famous in Hollywood, and the endless line of victims used and discarded by veteran sociopath Donald Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner for their appetites for wealth. In this world, profit overrides ethics in judicial systems, and jail time and fines are just part of doing business.
Key Takeaway: Differentiate between opportunity and exploitation, else you could lose everything and it won’t be pretty
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5. Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates
This Netflix three-part-documentary, directed by Academy Award-winner Davis Guggenheim, documents the co-founder of tech giant Microsoft, Bill Gates, and his extraordinary journey to becoming one of the most successful entrepreneurs and second-wealthiest person alive. Guggenheim’s portrayal allows viewers to focus on some of the most important entrepreneurial lessons: viewers will learn the value of a never-ending drive to innovate and discover, the importance of social advocacy, and the power of unplugging – a surprising message from one of the world’s biggest tech leaders. However, outside of Bill’s accomplishments and idiosyncrasies, the series does not reveal much of his strained relationship with co-founder Paul Allen or the US government’s lawsuit against Microsoft.
Key Takeaway: Don’t ever stop learning
6. The Big Short
The 2015 Oscar-winning adaptation of Michael Lewis’ best-selling novel The Big Short, this movie zooms in on the lives of several American financial workers who exploited and saw the build-up to the infamous collapse of the credit and housing bubble in 2008, most notably marked by the abrupt bankruptcy of the Lehman Brothers. Albeit dotted with dizzying terminology, this witty picture is more than just financial jargon and receding hairlines; it pokes fun at the absurdity of the subprime mortgage crisis, has celebrities explain complex terms like MBS and CDOs, and shows how Michael Burry (Christian Bale) navigates careful judgements of risks, opportunities, and corruption, solidly leaving audiences with mixed emotions.
Key Takeaway: Seize opportunities when you can, but know you might have to face the consequences
7. Yes Man
This film is the ultimate reminder that even if your team has hired the best talents you’ve found, a workplace environment that stifles honest communication and creativity will not get you anywhere. The premise of Yes Man is simple: What happens when you say yes to everything? The decision catapults our spiralling protagonist into a life of danger and excitement as he lands in unexpected and uncomfortable situations, due to a series of shortsighted and uninformed decisions. With the comedic talents of Jim Carrey and The Hangover’s Bradley Cooper, this lighthearted movie is an honest portrayal of balancing opportunity and catastrophe and reminds viewers to not take life so seriously.
Key Takeaway: Risk-taking can be a boon as long as you’re thinking long-term too
8. American Factory
Produced by the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions, this Academy Award-winning, Netflix-backed documentary is a staggeringly honest and timely portrayal of a divisive clash in workplace culture and the consequences of global hypercapitalism. In 2007 Ohio, Chinese billionaire ‘Chairman Cao’ opened a large-scale glass-making factory that revived an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring over 2,000 blue-collar Americans in the process to join several hundred Chinese workers. American Factory is, in fact, only nominally about America. The film shows Chinese workers grappling with American radicalism and Americans struggling to understand the Chinese workers’ uniformity. Albeit not a light-hearted pick, this film is an important reminder of the costs and benefits an economic boon can create in an area, and the scramble to adapt to an era of automation.
Key Takeaway: If you’re scaling internationally, prepare yourself for a myriad of culture-clash problems
9. Something Ventured
A documentary that takes an in-depth look inside the world of venture capitalism, Something Ventured tells the story of how a few risk-taking individuals took the leap to invest in companies that no one else saw potential in – companies like Google, Apple, and Intel – a move that laid the groundwork for America’s startup economy as they provided the working capital to allow these small companies to reach their full potential. The movie gives an honest insight into how these investors, whether through a stroke of genius or simply pure luck, went on to become some of the most successful and prolific venture capitalists of our generation.
Key Takeaway: Extraordinary risks may result in unprecedented rewards
10. The Pursuit of Happyness
Based on the true ‘rags to riches’ story of American entrepreneur and multi-millionaire Chris Gardner, The Pursuit of Happyness reveals Gardner’s hardships as he deals with homelessness and singlehandedly raising his young son while taking on an unpaid internship as a stockbroker. As he works towards his dream of becoming financially free and providing for his son, Gardner struggles to fight the odds while staying to true to himself, even in the worst of times.
Key Takeaway: Believe in your dream and never stop working towards it
11. The Wolf of Wall Street
In yet another Scorsese-DiCaprio classic, The Wolf of Wall Street depicts the real-life story of Jordan Belfort, a shamed Wall Street stockbroker hooked on the extravagant life of rampant fraud and corruption. Following the height of Belfort’s now-infamous career where he was rumoured to be earning close to one million dollars a week, the film offers an uncompromising portrayal of Belfort’s insatiable corporate greed, capturing the predatory manipulations, drug-fuelled recklessness, and sheer lunacy behind his (short-lived) whirlwind of success. From his cunning intelligence, to trade secrets, business ethics, and of course, the iconic sales pitch, The Wolf of Wall Street is packed full of valuable lessons for everyone in the world of business and entrepreneurship.
Key Takeaway: Money and greed should never be the only drivers for success.
A money-centric Netflix original drama starring Jason Bateman, Ozark follows Marty Byrde, a Chicago-based financial advisor whose fate rests on his promise to launder and deliver a clean $8 million to an aggrieved Mexican drug lord. With stakes at an all-time high, Marty is forced to relocate with his family in the Ozarks – a remote Missouri region with little populous and almost no profitable enterprises. Throughout the series, you’ll be struck by Marty’s diverse set of entrepreneurial skills as he taps into his financial expertise and emotional intellect to find creative escapes under the watchful eye of the cartel, and the added scrutiny of the FBI. Recently renewed for its fourth and final season, it’s a show you won’t want to miss out on.
Key takeaway: Money alone does not bring emotional fulfilment, but it does illuminate others’ personal motivations.
This high-stakes American TV drama plays off the tricky dynamics between two elites – Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, a corrupt hedge fund manager, and Chuck Rhodes, a New York District Attorney. Loosely based on historical events, this series delves into the shady side of the law, from insider trading to bribery, and the constant power struggle between the filthy rich stretched over four captivating seasons. With plenty of moral depravity to go around, a surprising dose of self-awareness and some kickass women (special mention to financial genius Taylor Mason, the first major non-binary character to hit American television), Billions is “woke” in a way that will make you rethink the glamour of wealth.
Key Takeaway: Competition can be a good motivator, but don’t let it consume you.