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BUSINESS PLANS

Such a Character
 

30 memorable fictional entrepreneurs
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1. Hank Rearden John Galt is the über-capitalist in Atlas Shrugged, but steel magnate Rearden is easier to take.

2. Milo Minderbinder Other Catch-22 characters see war as hell. Minderbinder sees war as a hell of an opportunity.

3. Daniel Plainview The oil tycoon in There Will Be Blood. Is that milk-shake speech being taught in b-schools yet?

4. Jerry Maguire He's got one employee and one client. He had better make them love him.

5. Mildred Pierce The heroine of this namesake film builds a restaurant chain so she can give her daughter everything. The hospitality industry treats her well. The daughter doesn't.

6. Willy Wonka The entrepreneur as magician. Seriously, is there a company you would rather own?

7. Homer Simpson He has been a snowplow entrepreneur, sugar tycoon, Internet consultant, grease recycler, tabloid publisher, bar owner, bounty hunter, talent manager, and on and on. All without quitting his day job.

8. Charles Foster Kane He gains the world but loses his soul.

9. Tony Stark Bruce Wayne is also a self-made industrialist. But Iron Man's alter ego has stronger R&D cred.

10. Harold Hooper The genial Hooper establishes Sesame Street's general store as a pillar of diversity. Jewish himself, he leaves the business to his African-American assistant.

11. Maxine Lund When this character in Being John Malkovich discovers that the business at which she works is a portal into the movie star's brain, she starts calculating how much she can charge for tickets.

12. Stringer Bell The Wire's pusher-cum-real-estate-developer attends business school and instructs his corner boys in marketing theory.

13. Fred and George Weasley You can't fail when Harry Potter spots you seed capital.

14. Bree Van de Kamp Desperate Housewives's domestic goddess goes from catering start-up to emerging national brand.

15. Rick Blaine Is there a more elegant embodiment of international entrepreneurship than Casablanca's expatriate café owner? Or a finer reminder that some things are bigger than business?

16. Lorelai Gilmore and Sookie St. James Stars Hollow, the setting for Gilmore Girls, is the most small-business-friendly town in America. Its heart is the Dragonfly Inn, creatively managed by these voluble neophytes.

17. The Once-ler This Dr. Seuss villain is well named. Once, it was easy to despoil the environment in pursuit of riches. Now, corner offices abound with self-proclaimed Loraxes.

18. Seymour Levov The hero of Philip Roth's American Pastoral is the epitome of a virtuous second-generation business owner. Alas, the '60s were not kind to capitalists.

19. Bill Henrickson The paterfamilias of Big Love has two stores and three wives. Work-life balance is a challenge.

20. Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett Upstairs, he cuts hair and throats. Downstairs, she bakes the corpses into pies. They collect revenue at both ends.

21. George Jefferson He is forever movin' on up, leaving his non-self-employed former neighbor, Archie Bunker, in the dust.

22. Calvin Palmer The hero of Barbershop thinks the family business is a pain in the neck. Then he learns to love his clients and employees. Too late! He has already sold it.

23. Benjamin Horne Location, location, location. Twin Peaks's major business owner knows the downside of setting up shop in a creepy mystical vortex.

24. Yermolay Lopakhin The change agent in The Cherry Orchard. A shame about those trees, though.

25. Frenchy In Woody Allen's Small Time Crooks, she opens a cookie store to provide cover while her husband tunnels into the bank next door. Turns out there's more dough to be made in dough.

26. Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, and Egon Spengler The most implausible aspect of the Ghostbusters' business model? They never patent those proton packs.

27. Paul Dombey On issues of succession, Dickens's doomed shipping magnate could learn a lot from Hugh Hefner. The book should have been Dombey and Daughter!

28. Forrest Gump To succeed in business, you need smarts and luck. Or at least one of them.

29. Julia Sugarbaker In the '80s, Republicans had Dallas and Dynasty. Democrats had Designing Women.

30. Tony Soprano We know; you're offended by the comparison. But Tony is the master of getting to yes.

Last updated: Apr 1, 2009




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