Any seasoned entrepreneur knows that there is no shame in stumbling—only in not learning from the experience. The women on the 2014 W100 ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs have absorbed some excellent business lessons on their paths to building successful companies. Here are some of the most valuable things they’ve learned. (Consider this a sort of fast-tracked MBA.)
“It really takes time to get ignition; there is not one event that can do it. It’s a series of many, many small things executed well each day, week and month. This was hard for me to realize when I was starting my own business from scratch, having come from a big company with massive resources.”
—Nancy Peterson (No. 63), HomeStars Inc.
“I wish I would have known how long it can take to build up a business. Overnight success took eight years to build.”
—Corrin Harper (No. 86), Insightrix Research Inc.
“I wish I had known from the start to manage the business by the numbers and to stay positive. When you are working so many hours a day and are trying to get so much done, you lose focus of what is important. You concentrate on getting a project done at all costs and fixate on fixing the negative parts of it. I have learned that managing the numbers to get the project done will in turn ensure that everything gets done on budget, which then makes everyone to more positive and excited to come to work.
—Ariane Jensen (No. 83), Jensen Contract Flooring Ltd.
“I wish I would have pressed on job margins sooner. Controlling the pennies really does control the dollars.”
—Jodi Scarlett (No. 50), ProStar Cleaning and Restoration Inc.
“Ideas always come faster than the money. I’ve learned to discipline myself to stay well inside my financial limitations at all times.”
—Lourdes Gant (No. 5), Manatee Holdings Ltd.
Read: Success Stories, Great Advice and Proven Tips from the 2014 W100
“I have learned not to spread myself too thin. I should have given more power to very efficient staff earlier and learned to trust that they could do the job.”
—Janet Stimpson (No. 2), White House Design Company Inc.
“I wish I had known how to hire the right people. It’s important to screen applicants for skills and abilities, yes, but you should ultimately hire for a positive attitude and values in sync with your company’s.”
—Karen Richardson (No. 31), Freeze-Dry Foods
“I’ve learned to fire people who are not aligned with me and cannot conduct themselves with integrity. I had to fire a founder and a major shareholder for those reasons. It was very difficult, but I should have done it years earlier.”
—Marla Schwartz (No. 20), Benecaid Health Benefits Solutions Inc.
“I am very entrepreneurial and have a strong instinct on where a business can grow and make money, but what I have learned over the years is how to run a professionally managed company. After opening my second location, I realized I had to develop systems to ensure consistency in business operations, guest experiences and employee leadership. This growing pain taught me how to operate many locations, and allowed us to expand.”
—Eveline Charles (No. 84), EvelineCharles Salons, Spas and Academies
“I am never satisfied with what I’ve accomplished; I always want to do more and do better. I’ve learned that this can sometimes be very demotivating for my team. I’m still not fantastic at celebrating our successes, but I’m getting better.”
—Melanie Lang (No. 44), Nakai Group
“I am a very trusting; for me, my word and a handshake are the truth. I’ve learned the hard way that is not true for everyone.”
—Louise Vonk (No. 12), Messenger Freight Systems