The past five years have not been particularly kind to Canadian business. On New Year’s Eve 2007, a loonie would have bought you US$1.01—close to a multi-decade high that had killed many export-intensive companies and hurt a great many more; five years later, the coin would be worth exactly the same. Adding insult to injury has been all the currency volatility in between, with changes of up to 20% in a single month. There was a recession, too—although you could be forgiven for thinking that we’re still in one, given the snail’s pace of the recovery.

Against this backdrop, “spectacular” is an appropriate word to describe the performance of the firms on PROFIT’s 25th annual ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies, now known as the PROFIT 500. In that same five-year period (2007-12), the average PROFIT 500 company grew its annual revenue by 710%. If you’ve done your math right, you know that’s a multiple of 8.1 since 2007. And if you’re really keen, you’ve already determined that the average PROFIT 500 company outperformed the Canadian economy by a factor of 44 in that time. The total 2012 sales for the firms on our list: $25.2 billion.

Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies have been hyper-prolific employers as well, adding 46,780 brand-new, full-time equivalent positions to their payrolls since 2007. That’s 94 full-time jobs for each business on the list—a stat thrown into sharper relief when you consider the average PROFIT 500 company had only 68 full-time staff at the start of this five-year span.

Clearly, the companies of the PROFIT 500 deserve to be celebrated widely, and studied by all those politicians who promise that their policies will stimulate growth. The PROFIT 500 are themselves an economic action plan grounded in innovation, entrepreneurship and stick-to-it-iveness.

But why do these overachievers matter directly to you and your business? If you’re lucky, a few of them could be future customers or business partners. If you’re not so lucky, they soon could be your competition—or they’re already taking a bite out of your lunch.

And if you’re the type of entrepreneur who looks beyond your own advisors and industry for practical insights into seizing the opportunities and overcoming the challenges of the day, then Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies can serve as exemplars of how to succeed in an ever-challenging and always changing economy.

We can say that with confidence because there’s a good chance you’ll find a PROFIT 500 enterprise in the same line of work as your business. Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies operate in a huge array of industries, from high-tech to no-tech. Consider the top five companies alone. Leading the pack, with five-year revenue growth of 49,908%, is Avigilon Corp., a producer of high-definition surveillance systems. Avigilon’s sales topped $100 million in 2012, up from barely $200,000 in 2007—growth that founder and CEO Alexander Fernandes attributes bluntly to offering “a better product at a lower price than anyone on the planet.” Learn more of the story behind that statement in the profile of Avigilon.

Next on the list is Mood Media Corp. (41,364% growth), a provider of in-store media that made the

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