You've come to the right place if you're seeking insight into how to succeed in business. The entrepreneurs honoured here run firms whose combination of size, growth rate and profitability rank them among Canada's most thriving businesses. Oh, and all these entrepreneurs happen to be women.
Of course, the W100 ranking of Canada's Top Female Entrepreneurs exists in order to celebrate women's remarkable accomplishments in growing and running businesses. But that's not the W100's only purpose. It also offers entrepreneurs of either gender inspiration to dream big—and practical advice on how to achieve their dreams.
This, the 14th annual W100, debuts an exciting partnership with Chatelaine. By teaming up with one of Canada's most highly read magazines, we're bringing the ranking's mix of celebration, inspiration and education to millions more readers. (See Chatelaine's November issue for more success stories from the W100.)
Anyone who clings to the stereotype of female-run businesses as small local firms will be taken aback by the scale of the W100 companies. In 2011, they had combined revenue of $1.4 billion, and the 55 exporters on the list rang up $283 million in foreign sales.
Underlying these stats are the impressive stories of individual W100 entrepreneurs. Sally Daub (No. 8 on the ranking) of ViXS Systems Inc. has built the top W100 exporter by manufacturing advanced semiconductors for leading makers of consumer electronics. So far, Daub's company has sold more than 30 million chips.
Corin Mullins (No. 14) of HapiFoods Group Inc. is CEO of the fastest-growing company on the list. Sales of Holy Crap, HapiFoods' organic cereal, grew at an astounding rate after Mullins and her husband, Brian, the firm's co-owner, pitched it on Dragons' Den. In fact, it became the most successful business in the show's history.
Real Food for Real Kids Inc. has served more than a million healthful lunches to children at daycares and elementary schools. But the firm's president, Lulu Cohen-Farnell (No. 23), points to its most amazing feat: many of the kids go home and ask their parents to make them the same meals that Real Food serves, featuring— get this!—fish, salad and broccoli.
For more such stories, including how W100 entrepreneurs have fended off the kind of challenges that can face any business, see the Success Story profiles Different Dirt, Wowing Wal-Mart and Virtually Perfect.
And for a further dose of inspiration, consider this W100 leader's observation: "Business problems that at first seem insurmountable or the end of the world are, at their worst, bumps in the road that can be managed—and, at their best, blessings in disguise," says Janice Rubin (No. 51) at Rubin Thomlinson LLP. "Understanding this has made us very resilient as business owners."
How we ranked them
The W100 were ranked by a composite of the size, growth rate and profitability of their businesses. All growth rates were based on a base-year revenue of at least $200,000, and PROFIT verified figures through financial statements. To qualify, women must be owners or significant stakeholders who at least share chief decision-making responsibilities. This is a ranking of entrepreneurs, not companies, so some participants are ranked on the combined performance of more than one qualifying firm. PROFIT and Chatelaine solicited entries through entry forms in PROFIT, PROFITguide.com, Chatelaine and Chatelaine.com; and through the PROFIT Report e-newsletter, other magazines, direct mailings to past winners and other female entrepreneurs, and several organizations that support Canadian women in business.
The 14th annual PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 ranking of Canada's Top Female Entrepreneurs (for additional information about any entrepreneur's company, click on her name)