Looking for Entrepreneurial Tips in ‘The Social Network’

By Mikal E. Belicove|For Entrepreneur.com|September 30, 2010

The Social Network opens in theaters nationwide on Friday amidst a deafening buzz about Facebook’s co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg. If people aren’t questioning the veracity of the film’s storyline, they’re speculating about it. Is it fact, fiction or just a dramatic, narrative account pumped up with a little extra Hollywood juice?

Controversy erupted months in advance of the release of the Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher film. Zuckerberg has¬†publicly dismissed the film and the book it’s based on as works of fiction and has said he has no plans to see the movie. That’s certainly less extreme than William Randolph Hearst’s alleged attempt to halt the distribution of Orson Wells’ Citizen Kane – to curtail viewing of that “biographical” film — but it’s not much of an endorsement, either.

Of course, not all the folks at Facebook are happy with the depiction of their founder as a conflicted, ambiguous, untrustworthy visionary. The film portrays a character desperately trying to fit in with his Harvard surroundings, but lacking the social skills to do so. His coping mechanism is to develop a tool that enables him to interact with others at a distance and which now encompasses more than 500 million enthusiastic members.

Whether fact, fiction or a combination of the two, this film is a “must-see” for entrepreneurs — if for no other reason than the volatile emergence of Facebook is the story of every person with entrepreneurial ambition. This holds especially true for those of us who choose a level of personal, professional or financial risk in order to pursue an opportunity or a concept. That’s just what an entrepreneur does.

The film is based on the book, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich. Your personal feelings about the protagonist aside, the story of Facebook, like any business enterprise, begins with an idea. For you, it may have been the notion of effectively distributing discount dental products or starting up a new line of butterfly hunting equipment. You might relate to the Zuckerberg character in the film when he explains his concept to a friend:

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