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Advice from the Micro-Business Award Finalists: RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

The Micro-Business Award proves that small businesses can still have great impact and contribute to innovation in Canada. This award category honours small businesses generating annual revenues under $1 million (with a steady growth rate) in any industry and at any stage of business.


We’ve asked their best advice for other entrepreneurs:



Andrea Heilemann, Owner, International Business Services Ltd.

Coming from a background in finance and economics, Andrea credits her company’s success to the goals she set in the beginning: credit rating, liquidity, and internal financing. Focusing on the distribution of high-end industrial tools in Canada and the US, the company has proudly earned the trust of three major innovative manufacturers in Germany—allowing them to be a leader in the North American marketplace.

Q: What did you learn in your first year of business? 

A: To pay close attention to customer’s needs, to not lose faith in the plan and goals when the going is slow at first, and to not undervalue and undersell to achieve higher would-be revenues.






Sharon Vinderine, CEO, Parent Tested Parent Approved

Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA) isn’t Sharon’s first entrepreneurial venture. As an inventor of a baby product, Sharon realized the importance of having a credible product that has been reviewed (and approved) by other parents and peers, thus creating a trustworthy rating system. With no credibility at the outset, PTPA is now one of the top three most recognized seals of approval in the US, and has an impressive community of over 70,000 families and over 42,000 authentic product reviews. Sharon was even approached by Disney (who acquired her biggest competitor) to purchase remaining assets after Sharon drastically impacted their market share after three years.

Q: What is the one piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs? 

A: Never stop innovating. If you get too comfortable with the status quo, you provide your competition the opportunity to catch up to you or even exceed you. 




Connie Parsons, Director, School of Dance Ltd.

At 21 years old, Connie purchased her previous dance instructor’s company and began Connie Parsons School of Dance. The company began with 85 students, and in only three years, she tripled enrolment and moved into a bigger space. On top of that, Connie opened a second company, The Dance Spectrum Inc., purchased a second dance studio, and diversified class offerings and genres. Not only are the students and parents happy—the company’s financials are in check, too.

Q: What did you learn in your first year of business? 

A: You need to be willing to put in an enormous amount of personal time and effort. In the beginning, I was the owner, the teacher, the manager, the director, the bookkeeper, and the advertiser. I had to learn to delegate, seek good people, and build a strong team. Success takes patience, perseverance, and a real passion for what you do!







The collective impact of our country’s female entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. Now in its 23rd year, over 120 women have been recognized for demonstrating excellence—from economic growth to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We’re honoured to shine a spotlight on them.