Dolly Parton is from Sevierville, just beneath the Smoky Mountains

Business Advice from Dolly Parton

Plus: The BEST & WORST Advice She’s Ever Received

Business advice from Dolly Parton? She might not be the first place you’d go to seek business advice. Considering she has built an empire, maybe she is a fountain of knowledge for the business world. Let’s look to her humorous one-liners for some guidance. 

We start with the worst piece of business advice she ever received. 

The worst business advice Dolly Parton ever got was to simplify her look.
Dolly Parton at “Dolly Parton’s Coat Of Many Colors” Premiere, Egyptian Theater, Hollywood 12-02-15

“The main advice that people wanted to give me was to change my look and to go simpler with my hair and the way I dressed,” Parton said during an interview.

She ignored the advice and stayed true to herself and her business plan. Dolly’s signature look is the face for her brand and in the seventh decade of her career, the bombshell businesswoman has an estimated worth of $500 million. Her ventures continue to grow. Refusing to quit, Dolly continues to entertain, inspire, and surprise us.

Dolly Parton’s dream of being a country music singer began on the front porch of her family’s cabin in Locust Ridge, a remote area nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. As she sang for her family, and then to locals in downtown Sevierville, TN, she dreamed of performing on a larger stage. From an early age, she knew she was a diamond in a rhinestone world. Little did she know that while becoming a successful singing star, she would become a multi-million-dollar businesswoman too.

As for her signature look, Dolly modeled her image after the town’s tramp. An interesting move, but $500 million dollars later, she is one of the most recognizable celebrities internationally.

Why we should take Business Advice from Dolly Parton

Since realizing her dream of making it as a singing star, the self-described “Backwoods Barbie” has morphed her career into an empire that includes a theme park, water park, lodging, dinner attractions, her very own record label and publishing company, and countless creative ventures. Dolly’s empire also includes The Imagination Library, a philanthropic program that has gifted two-hundred million books to children world-wide. She just recently revealed plans for a Dolly Parton Museum in Nashville too.

Dolly Parton is a great resource for business advice.
Dolly Parton out and about for Celebrity Candids at the NBC Today Show, , New York, NY May 13, 2014. Photo By: Derek Storm/Everett Collection

“Simplifying” is not in Dolly’s vocabulary. With her over-the-top appearance and her business decisions, she is always on point. Business advice from Dolly Parton can be applied to any company. So, how does she do it? Let’s take a look at some of her witty, humorous, and downright brilliant pieces of advice and how they can apply to your business.

Business Advice from Dolly Parton: Her Brilliant One-Liners

“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”

Dolly didn’t build her career by copying others; she did it her way. She could have easily gone down the path of other female country music stars, but Dolly had a vision for her own future. She didn’t just pave a new road; Dolly blazed a freeway.

The next time you’re feeling lost in your personal path to success, take a lesson from Dolly and start looking for a new way. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t try to walk someone else’s road; focus on your particular business journey. We all have different goals but the key here is to find a way to achieve yours, and not someone else’s. 

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”

In a nutshell: if something’s worth having, it’s worth working for. The work day goes far beyond 9 to 5. Enduring obstacles brought Dolly a rainbow of a career. She put in the time and ignored the negativity.

Here, Dolly reminds you to do the same. Create your business plan and be determined to follow through. Doing the work is important. Put up with enough rain and eventually your rainbow will appear. When in doubt, just think of Dolly’s inspiring rags-to-riches story.

“Find out who you are, and do it on purpose.”

There are thousands of other female vocalists but only one Dolly. Imagine the world without Dolly Parton!

Don’t be a carbon copy. With this piece of advice, she is encouraging us to be the very best authentic versions of ourselves. This quote goes hand in hand with the next one…

“Being a star means that you just find your own special place, and that you shine where you are.”

Step 1: Find out who you are, and do it on purpose.

Step 2: Shine where you are.

She’s brilliant! Dolly’s career began with her voice but exploded because of her vivacious persona. Once she found her place, Dolly took it from there and her career exploded. Our takeaway from this is to create a scalable business model by first finding your foundation, like Dolly did with her singing career. After that, keep on shining and scale your business as you wish. In Dolly’s case, she never stopped scaling her career. She found her place and hasn’t quit shining yet!

“If you see someone without a smile today, give ‘em yours.”

Can you even think of Dolly without smiling? It’s practically impossible. Every customer, client, or guest of yours should have a positive experience while doing business with you. It’s basic advice but worth mentioning. Your business won’t thrive if you’re not providing customers with a positive experience.

Part of Dolly’s allure is talent; the other part is her bright and attractive personality. Every good business gives the end user a positive experience. Does yours?

“Smile, it increases your face value.”

At first, you might say that business is all about money. The monetary value of your company matters, but how does it add value to your life and the life of your employees and customers? With this one-liner, Dolly declares that happiness is what adds the most value to our lives, and the same is true for your business too.

Dolly’s career thrives because she sells a positive experience. In every aspect of her portfolio, she is offering happiness and positivity. Your business should be meaningful and fulfilling to you and everyone it reaches. After that, you’ll have no problem stacking up the profits.

“You’ll never do a whole lot unless you’re brave enough to try.”

The image of a young Dolly standing on her family’s rickety porch, singing to the butterflies and crickets, crushing berries for lipstick, and wearing her coat of many colors: it’s downright shocking to see now the life she’s made for herself.

It’s all because she took that chance. She moved to Nashville after graduating high school and sang her way to the top. At the top, she kept going. Paving new roads wherever she went, she has been inspiring us all along the way.

Everyone has a dream. Some take the leap and some don’t. According to Dolly, you’ll never reach your dream if you don’t try. You’ve heard the sayings, “do it scared,” or “just do it.” Whatever the motto, the fact remains: you miss a million of the chances that you never take.

“It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.”

Dolly admits to wearing wigs and going through great measures to alter her appearance. Appearance is very important in show business, but that’s the case for business in general. Dolly literally created an image for herself, and she’s the face of her brand.

Part of her allure is her over the top hair and makeup, sparkling outfits, and sky-high heels. Aren’t you glad that Dolly didn’t take her critic’s advice to simplify her appearance? That “cheap” image made her a millionaire.

Consider the face of your business. What image do your customers see? It takes a lot of work to create a brand. It takes even more to stay true to that brand. 

The Best Advice Dolly Ever Received

Dolly Parton is a multi-million dollar business woman.
LAS VEGAS – APR 3: Dolly Parton at the 51st Academy of Country Music Awards Arrivals at the Four Seasons Hotel on April 3, 2016 in Las Vegas, NV

“Always keep something back for you.”

This piece of advice actually came from her mother, and Dolly claims it to be the best advice she ever received. Dolly shared these words and explained that they have applied to many aspects of her life including her work-life balance. In her career, Dolly gives away pieces of herself, but with her mother’s wise words she remembers to take care of her own needs first.

For example, when he wanted to record her infamous song “I Will Always Love You,” she notably turned down an offer from Elvis Presley because it meant giving him a 50% stake to the song’s publishing royalties. She owns her entire catalog of music and the publishing company, and she has refused to compromise on this… even for Elvis!

Dolly shares so much of herself but she keeps a large part of her life private, including her 56-year marriage to husband, Carl. She states that keeping that part of her life private has strengthened her marriage. Dolly also admits to taking lots of quiet time for herself. Doing so recharges her batteries and inspires her even further.

Business Advice from Dolly Parton

The mogul has interests in the music entertainment industry as well as film, publishing, attractions, fashion, home goods, and even a deal with Duncan Hines. Her business savvy doesn’t apply to just one product, and her wise words are timeless, sage advice that will continue to inspire for generations.

If anyone is qualified to give us business advice, it’s Dolly Parton. In business and in life, take some business advice from Dolly Parton and pave your own road. Put up with the rain. Do it on purpose. Shine. Smile. Be brave, and always keep a little for yourself.

For help with your small business, reach out to Kellum Creek Business Solutions today! Learn more about us here. We have the right tools and resources to help small businesses reach their goals. From human resource management to marketing, our full service team is ready to help you achieve success!

Authored in Appalachia || Amy Morton