Joseph Molineaux, of Linwood, director of the Richard Stockton Small Business Development Center.

A few weeks ago, I was up late flipping through the multitude of cable television channels.

While I try to limit my TV viewing, tuning in late-night provides uninterrupted viewing and the remote possibility of learning something new. Recently, this activity allowed me to revisit some business lessons learned years ago from a movie.

As luck would have, the movie “Jerry Maguire” was on. Originally released in 1996, the film starring Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger and Cuba Gooding Jr. could be described as a romantic-comedy-meets-sports flick. There is something in it for everyone.

In my opinion, the film still holds up as a great movie. It contains just enough entrepreneurial examples to make it into my top five all-time movies about business.

Writer, director and producer Cameron Crowe has been creating movies that have followed me since my teens with films, through “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Say Anything” to “Singles” and “Elizabethtown.” All are solid films with life — and a few business — lessons mixed in with excellent soundtracks. Even “Almost Famous,” set before my time, was extremely well written, as well as perfectly scored.

Watching “Jerry Maguire” again reminded me of one of the most recognizable “make it happen” movie lines in the history of the movies. When Rod Tidwell had Jerry Maguire shouting at the top of his lungs to “show me the money,” a catch phrase was born, or better yet, burned into our memory cells.

While that line is key to the early part of the movie and clearly demonstrates that a large majority of people will choose a more established proven path for success, some, like Jerry and Rod, by either chance or choice take the less traveled and, at times more, difficult route of the entrepreneur.

Change, especially changing from something that is comfortable or financially secure, can be a very difficult thing. It has been said that true change only occurs when the idea of not changing is more uncomfortable than the change itself.

If you find yourself in a position where a change, such as loss of employment or financial burdens, makes it difficult for you to move forward, change may be what you are experiencing.

Back to Jerry Maguire: Beyond “show me the money,” perhaps the most defining phrase in the movie could be the scene in the locker room where Jerry, trying to get Rod to sign on to his plan, says “help me help you.”

Those are four simple words, yet it defines what many people need and are seeking but often don’t ask for: help starting or growing their business. Friends, family, structured business groups and programs, as well as educational institutions, offer assistance.

The tools, information and counseling assistance to help owners of existing or potential businesses collect research, put a business plan together and identify funding options are readily available today. Seek out the people, programs and partners that can help you reach your goals.

In addition to both of these motivating “Jerry Maguire” lines, here are a few more of Crowe’s Oscar-nominated Best Screenplay movie phrases to consider when building your business:

“You had me at hello.” It speaks to making sure you make that perfect first impression. At least, do your best to make as good of a first impression as possible.

“The key to business is personal relationships.” People and the relationships you form, the networks you are connected to and the business groups you are engaged with all provide opportunities to build personal relationships.

“You bet on me like I bet on you.” If we are working together on building a business, trust is a key component to making sure the work that needs to get done, gets done. Place your bets on people wisely, but be willing to take some chances and calculated risks.

“You are hanging on by a very thin thread, and I dig that about you.” Stress and mental strain, along with doubts and worries, can be a part of being an entrepreneur or business owner. The key is remembering you are not alone in feeling this way. Find ways to cope and deal with these feelings. Success has a way of keeping these emotions in check.

“I just want to be inspired.” We all find inspiration in different places and are inspired for different reasons. Find what inspires you, and focus on it to move forward.

“You complete me.” When choosing people to partner with in business or hire to work with you, choose people with skills you do not consider your strengths. Work with and hire people that demonstrate or possess traits and skills that complement your skill set.

So, next time you find yourself channel surfing, perhaps you will discover some late-night business lessons in a classic movie or television show.

Inspiration and phrases to move us forward can appear in many forms and in many places. Show me the motivation!

Joe Molineaux, director of the Small Business Development Center at Richard Stockton College, can be reached at

More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.

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