01/14/2013 05:21 EST | Updated 03/16/2013 05:12 EDT

One Single Mother's Rocket to Business Fame


When you think of "intelligence gathering," what might come to mind is the CIA.

That is what Corrine Sandler, founder and CEO of Fresh Intelligence Research Corp., a Toronto-based innovative market research company, does for a living: she gathers intelligence -- but of a different kind.

It was while working in brand marketing for packaged goods companies that Sandler, a single mother of four young children, felt there was a lack of the kind of market intelligence she desired, so she opened her own company to provide "fresh intelligence." In a nutshell, she designs research methodology, takes the data and turns it into intelligence to show clients how they can use it to grow their businesses.

Founded in 2004, Fresh Intelligence Research went from "zero" to being ranked #20 of Profit Magazine's "Hot 50" in 2012 (the only female CEO in the list's top 20). The company enjoyed astronomical growth of 453 per cent in 2011 alone, and today has offices around the world including New York, London, Sydney and Moscow.

The former South African who fell in love with Canada while visiting and decided to make it her home, has been recognized by the Women's Post as "Top 20 Women to Watch in 2012," a finalist in RBC's 2012 Canadian Women Top Entrepreneur awards and recently ranked 20th in the annual W100 ranking of Canada's Top Female Entrepreneurs by Profit and Chatelaine magazines.

While Sandler, who admits to embracing risk and dreams of one day going into space, is quick to humble herself and point out that it is great to be recognized for doing something you love, but that it takes a phenomenal team. "Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, which is what I do," says Sandler.

What I think is particularly interesting about Sandler, who is also a speaker and writer (with a new book in the works), is that she created her business with her heart -- and did it as a single mother and sole provider of four young children.

So what is the secret to her amazing success?

"Do whatever you want in life, but do it with passion and enthusiasm because success will ultimately follow," says Sandler.

Lastly, the reason she loves her career of gathering intelligence so much? The answer might give you some insight into this highly accomplished entrepreneur: "It's kind of like the CIA."

To find out more, I invite you to watch my in-depth interview with Corrine Sandler on Extraordinary Women TV with Shannon Skinner, who discusses her journey to success as a single mother, how success impacts our relationships, why enthusiasm is key -- and the importance of market research and what every business needs to know about it.

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