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These 18 women were selected from over 5,000 nominees to become finalists for the 2015 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. From construction to retail, communications to not-for-profit, they manage more than 900 employees and over $130 million in gross profit.

We asked each of them to share what advice they would give to a room full of aspiring entrepreneurs.

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Marcia Nozick, Embers

“Whether you call it your purpose, your “why” or your passion, don’t lose sight of what drives you and your business. When the going gets tough, your passion and purpose will be a source of strength that reminds you it is all worth it.”

Sharon Wood, Kids Help Phone

“Don’t be afraid of failure. Failure isn’t the end. It’s the starting point for the next idea, the next improvement, the next chance to think, plan and implement differently by incorporating your lived experience.”

Millie Colbourne, Breton Ability Centre

“You need to have a strong vision, follow your dreams and do what you have a passion for. Always believe in what you are doing and remember—networking is critical—connect with everyone. Continue to seek opportunities to influence change and support the journey of those who need support to realize their goals.”



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Andrea Heilemann, International Business Services Ltd.

“Write it down! Develop detailed business, marketing, and finance plans, use them as tools to work with, monitor and revise if necessary; pay special attention to cash flow.”

Sharon Vinderine, PTPA Media Inc. (Parent Tested Parent Approved)

“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, Connie Parsons School of Dance

“Don’t focus on the money; focus on doing your absolute best. Success follows hard work.”


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Dr. Wendy McClelland, Vets To Go Inc.

“Get help before you think you need or can afford it.  This goes for both business help (such as hiring a receptionist) and personal help (like hiring a housekeeper.)  Starting a business is not a one women show – you have to guard your time and focus it on the highest leverage and value activities if you are going to grow successfully.”

Lisa Jacuniak, Paris Crane Inc.

“Build your plan, and WORK your plan every day. Success will follow!”

Noemie Dupuy, Budge Studios

“My advice to entrepreneurs is to make sure you get out of the office—physically and figuratively. Go out in the real world, for example, go to a trade show to see what competitors are doing or meet a mentor for coffee, in order to get a new perspective on your business.”




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Ashley Rice, Techni-Craft Equipment Services Limited

“My advice would be to ‘just do’. Don’t over complicate things and don’t sweat the details, just continue to move forward and you will find that many of those things will fall into place as you go.”

Ann Kaplan, iFinance Canada Inc.

“Think big…if you are going for it – there is no limit.”

Dolores Richardson, At Pac Auto Parts Inc. 

“One piece of advice that I would give to aspiring entrepreneurs is that learning is an ongoing process. As we age, change becomes more difficult and the only way to endure is to continue acquiring knowledge and keeping an open mind, particularly in today’s modern world that revolves around technology.”



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Allison Grafton, Rockwood Custom Homes

“Follow your instinct. As an entrepreneur, I’ve always trusted my gut when making important decisions. It’s the times I haven’t that I erred.

Expect to work tirelessly. It is the reality of entrepreneurship. For the first few years, you will be working around the clock to make your business succeed. Love it. Embrace it. Know that you are doing this to ensure your future success.

Maintain integrity always, in all of your dealings. Ensure your entire company is set up with this firmly grounded in its processes and operations. You must look after all aspects of the business; not just what you love.”

Shastri Ramnath, Orix Geoscience

“My advice for young entrepreneurs is to only do business with people you trust and like. Life’s short, being an entrepreneur is incredibly demanding, and it’s a lot easier to invest your heart, soul, and financial future when you’re doing so in the company of people you respect and enjoy.”

Mene Conley, Mom’s Group of Companies

“Believe emphatically in yourself and your ability to make your vision a successful reality! Do it with passion, determination, and perseverance…while showing gratitude and respect to others along the way because the world is waiting for you to make a difference!”



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Janice Larocque, Spirit Staffing

“First, it is important to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. Second, fill those gaps with positive people who believe in your vision and will help excel your business.”

Aneela Zaib, emergeITEL

“Sell your strength and buy your weaknesses. While focusing and playing it to your own strengths as an entrepreneur, in addition hire the help to compliment you in the areas that you are not comfortable with.”

Judith Bobbitt, Oceans Ltd.

“I would tell the entrepreneur to look for support in their community with respect to a supportive bank, government assistance programs, and networking organization to discuss challenges and solutions.”


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