Boss Lady

Pretty Woman – 10 business lessons


Yes. You read that right, the blockbuster rom-com Pretty Woman can actually teach you something about business.

It may sound a little crazy at first, but if you watch the film “Pretty Woman” with business in mind, you’ll find plenty of situations that are applicable to the business world.

So here is my list of the 10 most valuable lessons Pretty Woman can teach you about business. Not all of them pretty, but useful to a woman.

1. It’s a man’s world

Throughout the film you see the power that men hold in business and how it allows them to become more powerful outside of it as well. This isn’t to say that men don’t deserve power if they work hard for it or that women shouldn’t keep aiming for the top; it’s just the simple truth that the balance of power still simply favours men.

2. Etiquette is important and will always be valued by Pretty Woman

This is shown in the scene where the lead character, Vivian, starts learning how to act on formal social occasions — such as which fork you use for each course of a meal. This shows how important it is to know enough of the social and cultural etiquette to make sure you are polished and professional in any situation. This is also crucial in learning about etiquette in other cultures you may be doing business with, because it shows that you respect others — and thus they will respect you.

3. Image is important

This is quite an obvious one. Before her makeover, Vivian was respected by no one, there is even a scene where she is refused service at a clothing store. Later on in the film, once Vivian receives a makeover she is treated with respect purely because of what she is wearing and how she carries herself. Your abilities are crucial, but first impressions count. If you present yourself poorly you are undermining your professional polish.

4. Pretty Woman – Treat everyone with respect 

This follows on from the above scene where Vivian is turned away at the clothing store. When she returns there with her new makeover and armfuls of shopping bags, she reminds the assistant that she wouldn’t wait on Vivian the day before. After confirming the assistant works on commission, Vivian trumpets ‘Big mistake. Big. Huge… I have to go shopping now.’ [tweet_quote hashtags=”#businesswoman ” ] You could miss out on opportunities by dismissing people you think are not worthy of your effort or attention. [/tweet_quote]

5. Call the bluff; work the situation

When the two characters first meet on the strip and Vivian realizes that Edward isn’t interested in her ‘services’ and simply wants directions, she charges him for them. She even states, ‘[tweet_quote hashtags=”#businesswoman #prettywoman” ]I can do anything I want to, baby. I ain’t lost’,[/tweet_quote] using her knowledge to her advantage. Turn every situation into an opportunity.

6. The importance of events

You see the characters attending events throughout the film in the name of business. Even though it is clear that they don’t like everyone they understand that it is important to be respectful in order to “do business” and let’s face it – a lot of networking and business is done at these events. Remember that these events are not your social life. They are an extension of the workplace. Even if you are reluctant, not personally interested in anybody there, or would rather be hanging out with mates and pizza, make the effort.

7. Negotiating – never undervalue yourself

Undervaluing themselves is something women do quite often.. This is seen in the film when the two characters are negotiating for Vivienne to stay on as Edward’s ‘employee’ for a week and upon settling for $3000, Vivian says she’d have settled for $2000 while Edward said he would’ve paid $4000. There has been much academic discussion about whether or not women have this tendency to undervalue themselves hardwired into their DNA. Either way, take a good clear look at your abilities and your value, and don’t let yourself be bargained down. [tweet_quote hashtags=”#negotiating” ]Stick to your guns, ladies[/tweet_quote].

8. Money is power

People will flatter you if they are spending your money, whether or not they care about what you are doing. You see an example in the scene between Mr. Hollister and Edward when the former states ‘I like him so much’ upon realizing he gets to spend his money. Don’t let flattery go to your head. Only use your money to enhance your brand and not because you enjoy the attention.

9. Pretty Woman – A genuine compliment can save a situation

When Vivian chastises Edward because he’s late, he simply replies how stunning she looks. The result? Vivian immediately responds ‘You’re forgiven’.  In the movie, it’s a cheeky bid to present women as falling for flattery. But it’s actually a great example of how a kind word can evaporate anger or defuse a tense situation. Try it.

10. If you think you deserve better, you do… stick to it

When Edward told Vivian he’s set her up in a condo (as his mistress) she knew she deserved better. And if he wasn’t going to give her that, she’d find someone who would. Be willing to aim high and go for it, never ever settle. 

These are just my Top 10. There are other lessons in the movie – and now you have an excuse to whip out the DVD and watch Pretty Woman just one more time!  

About Amanda Rose

Founder of The Business Woman Media. Amanda Rose is also the only 'strategic connector', a brand strategist, keynote speaker and host of Amanda Rose TV. Connect with Amanda Rose on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or visit

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