Some of Janna Dutton’s most cherished childhood memories took place when her family packed into their car and set off on road trips to visit relatives. But it wasn’t necessarily the destinations that left such an indelible mark on Janna. Instead, it was the family meals shared at rest-stop restaurants along the way – a rare luxury for a family who struggled to make ends meet.

And like her memories of those meals, Janna’s dream of someday owning a roadside restaurant never left her either.

Now, Janna owns multiple Tim Hortons restaurants in the Saskatoon area – including, yes, one that serves travellers along Saskatchewan’s busy Highway 16.

How did you get involved with Tim Hortons?

My story is somewhat unique. I grew up extremely poor. For all intents and purposes, we had no food.

But I did have nice memories of when we would stop as a family at restaurants on the highway. It was special, because we didn’t spend money in restaurants often. I always had this dream of owning a restaurant on the highway. I believe subconsciously, we work toward these things; I enjoyed the time so much in restaurants when I was young, I wanted to bring that feeling to the world.

So here I am now owning a restaurant on the highway. It’s a timeless, rags-to-riches Canadian success story.

As a female business owner, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced?

My challenges came from both being female, and also from not having a post-secondary education. I didn’t go to university to learn business. I don’t have that background. I had to prove that I could do it through hard work and real-life experience.

With that, I needed tenacity and resilience. I got to where I am because I believed in myself. My mindset was everything. Removing the limits of what I could achieve based on my background allowed me to move forward with success.

Looking back on your entrepreneurial journey, what are you proud of?

My values are integral to me and I always stayed close to them. Could I have had more restaurants? I probably could have, but I would have had to step outside my values to get them. I stayed true to myself.

I pushed myself to give generously to the limits of what I was financially able to give, and I’ve always believed giving hearts, grow... As I gave more, the community graciously gave back to me.

Do you have any advice for women looking to start their own businesses?

I tell any young individual who is looking for advice to release the fear of criticism. Don’t worry what people will think about you – just do what you feel is right.

How has life changed for women who own Tim Hortons franchises?

In the past, you had to be a couple to own a franchise. I wouldn’t have been allowed to own restaurants on my own. The brand has evolved to be more inclusive.

Seeing how things have changed, I am one of the world’s happiest franchise owners. I feel I can speak up – I would never hesitate to say something honestly and respectfully to our executive team because I know they’re looking for honest feedback. Many years ago, that might not always have been the case if it were coming from a woman.

Click or tap to read more about Patricia, Janet and Marie.