Making the W100 ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs is no easy task. Winners must demonstrate high top-line sales, strong three-year revenue growth and robust profit margins in order to make the list.

This year, we at PROFIT received a tremendous number of applications from entrepreneurs with businesses that are über-successful and growing quickly, but still too new to qualify for this year’s list. Here, in no particular order, are five businesswomen we feel are worth particular attention. Watch for them to make waves in the years ahead.

Lena Koke

Axess Law | Toronto
What her company does: Provides legal services to consumers using a “price menu” (Read: no billable hours).
Sign of success: Sales increased 634% over the past two years.
Smart move: There’s no mystery at Axess storefronts, which Koke believes has been instrumental in winning clients who otherwise avoid law firms. “We set our prices at levels that most Canadians can afford and display them in high-traffic areas around our offices,” she says. “We ensure that we have staff available to greet any interested customers and explain the process, as well as what is required of them. Making clients feel comfortable and having them understand the process is essential, as many people are still intimidated at the prospect of retaining a lawyer.”

Namita Nijjar

President & Founder
Simcoe Place Health Clinic | Toronto
What her company does: Offers patients diverse health care services under one roof.
Sign of success: Sales increased 306% over the past two years.
Smart move: Nijjar does not have a medical background, and says her biggest challenge in starting Simcoe Place was building credibility among doctors and practitioners. “It has come down to showing them the value of business acumen that I bring to the table,” she says. “I hire people who want to run their own businesses at some time in the future or want to become partners with us. Two of our practitioners have started their own businesses and that, to me, is a big endorsement of what I bring to the table.”

Natasha Penzo-McIntosh

Founder & Principal
The Urban Blueprint | Toronto
What her company does: Designs, redevelops and manages urban residential properties.
Sign of success: Sales increased 251% over the past year.
Smart move: Penzo-McIntosh has learned that in entrepreneurship, there’s little value in being intractable. “You can have the best business plan out there, but if it is not working in reality, it’s just good ‘on paper,’” she explains. “When starting your own business, listen as much as possible. Listen to your customers, hear what they think, and let them help you define your business. Without them, you don’t have a business at all.”

Carrie Simpson

Managed Sales Pros | Winnipeg
What her company does: Provides outbound sales prospecting for business clients.
Sign of success: Sales increased 413% over the past year.
Smart move: Starting a company has made Simpson appreciate the value of acting now, and thinking later. “If you wait for the conditions to be perfect—for that magical combination of the right time, and enough money, and the moon in Jupiter, or whatever—it will never happen.”

Nicole Smith

CEO & Founder
Flytographer | Victoria
What her company does: Runs an online marketplace that connects travellers to local photographers around the world.
Sign of success: Sales increased 223% over the past two years.
Smart move: Flytographer recently signed a global partnership with Fairmont Hotels. “It helped us expand awareness of Flytographer to customers who are at the right stage of the sales cycle: booking travel,” says Smith. “It is also strong social proof of the legitimacy of our brand.”

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