Meet Canada's Top Female Entrepreneurs: The 2016 W100

You can learn a lot from the smart, savvy and wildly-successful women on this year's list of country-leading businesswomen

Written by Deborah Aarts
(From left) Lulu Cohen-Farnell of Real Food for Real Kids; Laura Williams of Williams HR Law Professional Corp; Diana De Melo of The Delivery Group; Leigh Himel of Gravity Partners; and Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski of Rock-It Promotions. Photos: Nikki Ormerod

There are so many reasons why the women on the 2016 W100 ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs matter.

They’re an economic force to be reckoned with. Collectively, they pumped nearly $1.9 billion into the Canadian economy last year. Over the past three years, their companies have grown sales by an average of 164%. Together, they employ nearly 14,000 people. More than half—56%—sell their products and services outside of Canada.

But beyond numbers, the winners on the W100 have some incredible stories to share. There’s this year’s No. 1, Tonia Jahshan of Steeped Tea, whose story of grit, risk and vision is an essential read for anyone who wants to know what it really takes to turn a great idea into a wildly successful—and incredibly fast-growing—business. There are examples of bold, fearless risk-taking: entrepreneurs who quit steady jobs to start their ventures, or who are expanding their companies rapidly, or who chose to chose to go into business with their spouses. There are lesson-packed case studies in the intricacies  of successful business-building: hiring and engagement, U.S. expansion, and selling super-complicated things. And there are tales of innovation that will inspire you to think differently about your how you come up with your own products.

As if their examples weren’t enough, the women of the 2016 W100 also have amazing advice to share. Rachel Mielke (No. 6), CEO of Hillberg & Berk Accessories, who encourages her fellow businesswomen to lean in: “So often, female run businesses remain small, because, at a certain point, we as women feel like we should stop pushing for more.” Shannon Rogers (No. 2), president and general counsel at Global Relay, urges others to be proactive: “Always be ready to move on an opportunity when it presents itself, even if it isn’t the ideal timing, or you don’t feel 100% ready.” And Margaret Spady (No. 56), president of Spady Transport, who has some valuable advice to anyone who thinks entrepreneurship is easy: “Starting a business is not for the feeble.”

She’s right. And the incredible achievements of the women on the 2016 W100 prove it.

Methodology: Now in its 18th year, the W100 ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs ranks women business leaders, each of whom who applied for the ranking, according to a proprietary formula that combines the sales, three-year revenue growth rate and profitability of their businesses. All data is verified by reviewing financial statements provided by the candidates. To qualify, candidates must be owners or significant stakeholders who at least share chief decision-making capabilities. For more on the ranking methodology and eligibility criteria, click here.

Did we miss you? Think you should be on the 2017 W100 ranking? Fill in a ballot now and we’ll contact you in early 2017.

Originally appeared on