Small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy, representing over 97% of all businesses and providing employment for millions of people. Yet, starting and running a successful small business is no easy feat. It takes hard work, dedication, and a bit of luck to turn a business idea into a thriving enterprise. In this article, we’ll highlight some Canadian entrepreneurs who have done just that – turned their small business dreams into big successes.
David Ciccarelli – Voices.com
David Ciccarelli is the founder and CEO of Voices.com, an online marketplace for voice-over talent. Ciccarelli started the company in 2005 with his wife, Stephanie, and has since grown it into a multi-million dollar business with clients all over the world. Voices.com has been named one of Canada’s fastest-growing companies and was ranked on the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 list in both 2017 and 2018.
Brian Scudamore – 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
Brian Scudamore is the founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, a junk removal service that he started with a single truck in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1989. Today, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? has over 200 locations in three countries and generates over $250 million in revenue annually. Scudamore is also the founder of three other successful businesses: WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, You Move Me, and Shack Shine.
Michelle Romanow – Clearbanc
Michelle Romanow is a serial entrepreneur and investor who has started several successful businesses, including SnapSaves (which was acquired by Groupon), Buytopia.ca, and Clearbanc. Clearbanc is a financial technology company that provides funding to startups and small businesses without the need for equity or personal guarantees. Romanow was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network in 2015.
Joseph Mimran – Joe Fresh
Joseph Mimran is a fashion designer and entrepreneur who is best known for creating the Joe Fresh clothing brand. Mimran started his career in fashion with the Alfred Sung label, which he co-founded in the 1970s. In 2006, he launched Joe Fresh, a line of affordable, stylish clothing that is sold at Loblaw’s grocery stores across Canada. Today, Joe Fresh has expanded into the United States and other countries, and is one of Canada’s most successful fashion brands.
Tobi Lütke – Shopify
Tobi Lütke is the founder and CEO of Shopify, an e-commerce platform that enables small businesses to create and manage their own online stores. Lütke started the company in 2006 after he and his co-founders struggled to find a suitable platform to sell their snowboard equipment online. Today, Shopify is a publicly-traded company with a market capitalization of over $100 billion and more than 1.7 million merchants using its platform.
Frank O’Dea – Second Cup
Frank O’Dea is a serial entrepreneur and philanthropist who co-founded the Second Cup coffee chain in 1975. O’Dea started the company with his business partner, Tom Culligan, with the goal of creating a European-style café experience in Canada. Second Cup grew quickly and became one of Canada’s most successful coffee chains. O’Dea has since started several other successful businesses, including Proshred Security and The Art Of.
Arlene Dickinson – Venture Communications
Arlene Dickinson is a successful entrepreneur, author, and television personality who is best known for her role as a judge on the television show Dragons’ Den. She is also the CEO of Venture Communications, a marketing and communications agency that she bought in 1998 and grew into one of Canada’s largest independent agencies. Dickinson has been named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network several times and is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her contributions to Canadian business.
John DeHart and Brian Scudamore – O2E Brands
John DeHart and Brian Scudamore are the co-founders of O2E Brands, a company that owns several home service franchise brands, including 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, You Move Me, and Shack Shine. O2E stands for “ordinary to exceptional,” and the company’s mission is to “create happy customers.” DeHart and Scudamore have grown O2E Brands into a multi-million dollar company with franchises in several countries.
Andrew and Peggy Cherng – Panda Express
Andrew and Peggy Cherng are the founders of Panda Express, a fast-food chain that specializes in Chinese-American cuisine. The first Panda Express restaurant opened in 1983 in Glendale, California, and the chain has since grown to over 2,000 locations worldwide. The Cherngs are originally from Burma (now Myanmar) and came to the United States in the 1960s to attend college. Today, they are billionaires and are actively involved in philanthropy and supporting education initiatives.
Jim Treliving – Boston Pizza
Jim Treliving is a Canadian entrepreneur and investor who is best known for his role as a judge on the television show Dragons’ Den. Treliving started his career in the food industry with a small restaurant in British Columbia in the 1960s. In 1983, he and his business partner, George Melville, bought a small chain of pizza restaurants called Boston Pizza. Today, Boston Pizza has over 400 locations in Canada and several other countries and generates over $1 billion in annual revenue.
These Canadian entrepreneurs have proven that with hard work, dedication, and a great idea, anyone can achieve success in the world of small business. Their stories are inspiring and demonstrate the importance of innovation, perseverance, and a willingness to take risks. If you are thinking about starting your own business, take heart in these success stories and know that with the right mindset and support, you too can achieve your dreams.