Chances are, you’re not going to make your millions from a couch, but you have to have some down time.
So why not further your entrepreneurial education by choosing shows that serve up business lessons alongside entertainment? Here’s a list of our favorite entrepreneurial shows on television.
1. Mad Men
Mad Men centers around a fictional New York ad agency in the early 1960’s. The show portrays life in a start-up the way few other television shows have. Over the course of six seasons, viewers have watched in anticipation as the firm’s partners battle for business, come to blows, grow big, get acquired, fall apart, re-launch, lose vital clients and, even merge with a previous rival.
While your business life will probably come with a few less cocktails, you will likely find some surprising parallels between the real world and Mad Men.
2. Shark Tank
Shark Tank is a reality competition television series where aspiring entrepreneur-contestants make business presentations to a panel of “Shark” investors. The “Sharks” are five titans of industry, who made their dreams a reality and turned their ideas into money-making empires. The entrepreneurs who present, are often humiliated, but also receive great advice and better yet, walk away with a check if one or more of the “Sharks” decide to invest in their business.
Besides entertainment, the negotiations shown on Shark Tank offer a guide, for start-ups, on some of questions they might be asked when requesting a loan or investment.
From Cornelius Vanderbilt and John D. Rockefeller to Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, and Henry Ford, this History Channel series examines the lives of the men who lived the American dream and became some of the wealthiest businessmen in history. The series shows you step-by-step how Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, and Carnegie went from rags to riches, the events and connections that led to their success, the rivalries they had among themselves, and some of their greatest failures.
Any entrepreneur looking to take advantage of the technical advancements of their time, and impact the future of our world, will find a tremendous amount of value in this series.
This series centers around companies that are giant now but were startups at one point. The show typically interviews three major companies per episode, exploring how they started, how they grew and where they are now. Each episode offers a great outline of how each company turned their idea into a profitable business.
5. The Profit
Every entrepreneur could benefit from watching “The Profit.” It’s a reality show starring Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis. The show follows Mr. Lemonis as he invests millions into struggling companies in exchange for a percentage of the businesses’ profits. The catch is that Lemonis gets control over the company, which leads to some great entertainment.
This is an excellent resource for entrepreneurs who are struggling to get an idea of some of the actions and strategies that will help get their business back in the black.
The Apprentice is a ‘Survivor‘ type show, but for business. In the show, contestants compete for a job as an apprentice to American billionaire Donald Trump. Trump splits the contestants into two teams that endure rigorous tasks each week while living together in a Manhattan loft. Each of the tasks the teams are challenged with, test their intelligence, bravado and street-smarts. At the conclusion of a mission, the winning team is given a grand reward, while Trump fires a member of the losing team.
The Apprentice emphasizes the reality of the an entrepreneur in the “sink-or-swim” environment that is the real world. It is a great example that without grit, you can’t make it to the top.
Hosted by renowned chef and restaurateur, Gordon Ramsey, Kitchen Nightmares is a reality show in which Ramsay attempts to save failing restaurants across the country. In a given episode, Ramsay will visit a failing restaurant, evaluate the operations, identify key problems, and finally, help the owners make needed changes to prepare them for success.
This series is not just for fellow restaurateurs. Any small business owner can learn from the missteps of a failing restaurant, as well as the tested strategies offered by Ramsay.
8. Tech Stars
Tech Stars is a reality show that follows six entrepreneurs through a three-month accelerator program. Combining mentoring with limited seed funding and access to wealthy investors, this rigorous start-up program offers an interesting behind-the-scenes peek of what venture capitalists really think about entrepreneurs and their startups.
9. Gold Rush
Gold Rush is a reality television series that focuses on the mining of gold in the Yukon and Alaska, by various teams of miners. The sacrifices that are made, the bonds that are fused, the impossible odds, and the persistence of the men is inspiring. The show is not just about gold mining, it’s about following a dream to the limit.
Entrepreneurs will find that Gold Rush has all the elements of an appealing startup story, but in a totally different context than the business world.
10. How It’s Made
How It’s Made is an illuminating look behind the scenes at how everyday things are manufactured. Each episode includes as many as four different products, including the common and the less predictable.
Fantastic for young entrepreneurs, it teaches them about the operations side of a very complex business while providing an introduction to the ideas of product design and supply chain.
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