The 11 Most Inspiring Business Documentaries of Our Time

In the age of information, there has been a substantial rise in demand for content that not only entertains but also educates. One genre that fulfills this demand perfectly is business documentaries. They provide a fascinating window into the complex world of business and entrepreneurship. By delving into the strategies, failures, and triumphs of business moguls and organizations, they offer an insightful and often inspiring perspective on the essence of enterprise. This article explores eleven of the most inspiring business documentaries that serve as an educational resource and a source of motivation for entrepreneurs, seasoned business professionals, and those with a keen interest in the corporate world.

Why Watch Business Documentaries?

A great business documentary does more than narrate a compelling story; it invites the viewer into the intricate labyrinth of business – unveiling its challenges, revealing its secrets, and highlighting the tenacity needed to succeed. Watching such documentaries can be beneficial for various reasons.

Firstly, they serve as a significant source of inspiration and motivation. The entrepreneurial journey is often laden with trials and tribulations. Seeing how successful entrepreneurs have navigated through these challenges can provide viewers with the motivation to persist in their own endeavors.

Secondly, these documentaries often offer valuable business insights and strategies. They present real-world examples of successful (and sometimes unsuccessful) business practices, from which viewers can learn and apply in their own business context.

Thirdly, they provide an excellent way to learn about the history and evolution of influential businesses and industries. Understanding these contexts can prove beneficial for those interested in these fields or looking to enter them.

Lastly, they highlight the ethical implications and societal impacts of business decisions. Through stories of businesses gone wrong, such as corporate frauds and unethical practices, viewers can gain a nuanced understanding of the far-reaching consequences of business actions.

11 most inspiring business documentaries

The 11 Most Inspiring Business Documentaries

1. “Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates”

This three-part documentary delves into the mind of Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and one of the world’s richest individuals. It reveals Gates’ unique approach to solving complex problems, his relentless pursuit of knowledge, and his philanthropic efforts through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. From his early days at Microsoft to his dedication to combating climate change and improving global health, viewers gain an intimate understanding of Gates’ thought process, determination, and innovative spirit. The documentary inspires by showing how one individual’s relentless pursuit of knowledge and solution-oriented mindset can significantly impact the world.

2. “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”

This documentary is a testament to the power of dedication, perfectionism, and mastery. It follows the life of Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old sushi master who runs Sukiyabashi Jiro, a Michelin three-star restaurant located in a Tokyo subway station. The film beautifully captures Ono’s unwavering commitment to his craft and his relentless pursuit of perfection. The lessons here extend beyond the realm of sushi-making, emphasizing the importance of dedication, continuous learning, and pursuit of excellence in any business or craft.

3. “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”

A gripping tale of corporate fraud, this documentary unravels the events leading to the downfall of Enron, once one of the world’s largest energy companies. Through interviews, media footage, and corporate videos, the film depicts how a culture of reckless ambition, corporate greed, and complete disregard for ethics can lead to catastrophic outcomes. The documentary serves as a stark reminder of the importance of ethical conduct in business.

4. “Steve Jobs: One Last Thing”

This film takes an unflinching look at the life and career of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc. Through interviews with colleagues and friends, the documentary explores Jobs’ revolutionary ideas, his uncompromising commitment to quality, and his vision that transformed the tech industry. It offers valuable lessons on innovation, leadership, and the power of believing in one’s vision.

5. “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley”

The rise and fall of Theranos, a tech company that claimed to revolutionize the healthcare industry, forms the crux of this documentary. It illustrates the dangers of overhyping a product, the importance of transparency, and the catastrophic results of deceiving investors and customers. It serves as a cautionary tale for entrepreneurs and startups.


6. “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened”

This documentary details the disastrous Fyre Festival, a luxury music festival that turned into a nightmare. It highlights the importance of logistical planning, truth in advertising, and the potential downfalls of influencer marketing.

7. “American Factory”

The documentary, produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, explores the culture clash when a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the post-industrial American Midwest. It offers a deep dive into issues like labor rights, globalization, and cultural differences in business operations.

8. “The Social Dilemma”

This documentary tackles the dark side of social media platforms, looking at their impacts on society, privacy, mental health, and democracy. It underscores the ethical responsibilities tech companies bear due to their significant influence.

9. “Becoming Warren Buffett”

This film provides a glimpse into the life of one of the world’s greatest investors, Warren Buffett. The documentary explores Buffett’s unique mindset, his investment strategies, and his modest lifestyle despite his immense wealth.

10. “The True Cost”

This documentary is a deep dive into the fashion industry, focusing on its social and environmental impacts. It stresses the need for ethical sourcing, sustainable manufacturing, and responsible consumption.

11. “The Great Hack”

This film delves into the scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, exploring how personal data was used to influence public opinion. It spotlights the pressing issue of data privacy in the digital age.


The Role of Business Documentaries in Entrepreneurial Education

Business documentaries often serve as an invaluable source of entrepreneurial education. They allow viewers to learn from real-life business scenarios, providing concrete examples of successes and failures in the business world. This context-rich learning goes beyond what traditional textbooks or lectures provide, making the lessons more relatable and easier to understand. Furthermore, they enable viewers to acquire knowledge in a more engaging and entertaining manner, making learning a more enjoyable process.


From the unyielding tenacity of individuals like Bill Gates and Jiro Ono to the shocking failures of companies like Enron and Theranos, the world of business is a complex yet fascinating spectacle. The documentaries highlighted in this article offer a glimpse into this world, providing both inspiration and cautionary tales. They serve as a rich source of learning and a testament to the indomitable spirit of entrepreneurship.

Recommendations for Further Watching

While the documentaries listed provide a wealth of information and insights, there are many more worth exploring. Other recommended business documentaries include “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price,” “Banking on Bitcoin,” and “Dirty Money.”