Back in 2007, a producer on CBC’s Dragons’ Den hunting for new talent came across a promising name in a PROFIT magazine article—Arlene Dickinson. Then the CEO of Venture Communications, Dickinson was a regular fixture on the PROFIT/Chatelaine W100, our annual ranking of the country’s top women entrepreneurs. The producer thought Dickinson might make a good dragon; her eight seasons on the show suggest he was right. The W100 has proven a veritable dragons’ nest. Recently announced Dragons Manjit Minhas and Michelle Romanow are also former members of the ranking.
The women on the 2015 PROFIT/Chatelaine Ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs are all just as impressive. We don’t promise that every member of the W100 will become a reality TV star. But, in a small way, the story of Dickinson going from our magazine to becoming one of the higher-profile entrepreneurs in the country demonstrates why we’ve produced the W100 for the past 17 years.
It may seem an antiquated notion to shine the spotlight on women alone, rather than celebrating all entrepreneurs. But sadly, it’s still vitally important that we celebrate and champion the achievements of female entrepreneurs. Women still earn 24% less than men, while occupying just 16% of the seats on corporate boards. Moreover, when women found a company with a male partner, it’s the man who ends up as the head of the company in 85% of cases. If these inequities are ever to be corrected, then up-and-coming entrepreneurs need to hear the success stories. Having role models makes a tangible difference. A 2013 study found female students spoke for 49% longer in front of a class when a poster of Hilary Clinton hung in the class (Angela Merkel boosted speaking times by 24%).
But the members of the W100 aren’t just inspirational figures—they’re smart business people who have demonstrated the tenacity and creativity needed to thrive as entrepreneurs. Their strategies and business tactics are lessons to anyone, regardless of whether you’re male or female, work at a start-up or run a multi-million enterprise. Our annual ranking is here to convince others that entrepreneurial success is possible, and to offer good advice on how to make it happen.
A note on methodology: The PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs ranks female business leaders according to a proprietary formula that combines the sales, three- year revenue growth rate and profitability of their businesses. All data is verified through financial statements supplied by candidates. To qualify, candidates must be owners or significant stakeholders who at least share chief decision-making capabilities.