About Vee Smith

Who am I?

Vee SmithIn brief:

  • I am a wiz at tech
  • I am open, honest and hands on
  • I am born and bred in London and live on the outskirts of London in Egham, Surrey with my two just-about-adult daughters and my partner, Andy.
  • I love simplifying the seemingly complicated
  • I’m half Danish and half Goan, which means I have an all-year tan, speak a bit of Danish and love eating pork and Anton Berg marzipan.
  • I believe streamlined processes and procedures are the key to a successful business
  • Occasionally I tread the boards for my local Amdram society
  • I love tech and figuring out how best it can help me and my clients
  • I’m an Authorised Local Expert for Constant Contact
  • I’m also trained in Facebook Ads

My Journey (the long version)

If there is such a thing as an entrepreneurial gene, then I’ve probably got it. My great grandfather set up a business mining and supplying manganese ore to steel manufacturers after he retired from serving as a military doctor in the British Indian Army. My grandfather (on my mum’s side) came from long line of laundry men and set up his commercial laundry soon after he got married. Today, my uncle owns/runs it and it’s the only independent commercial laundry in mainland Denmark.

My father is a prolific inventor/design engineer (the skid undercarriage of the Westland Lynx helicopter is his invention, among many others) and he found by accident he could make more money running an emergency plumbing business. So that funded his inventing pursuits. I was doing his book-keeping from the age of 14, so was exposed to business and entrepreneurship quite early on in my life.

My first job

I was quite creative and used to make my own clothes out of dyed sheets and upcycling old clothes and after finishing high school I wanted to go to art school. Places were very competitive and I didn’t get a place. So I learned to type and started working for my dad’s business, learning about everything a business does.

My first business

My parents were really into ballroom and latin dancing and used to compete. The glitzy dresses were really expensive as they were custom hand-made to order, so mum used to buy them from the professionals who would only wear them for one competition, then get a new one. Mum asked me if I could make her one, so I did. It turned out ok and next I was making glitzy ballroom dance dresses for lots of other dancers as well as my mum and hence my first business was born that satisfied my creative cravings. I expanded my offering to include wedding dresses and I designed and made quite a few.

At the same time, dad’s business was taking off, he was finally making some progress selling engine technology to Pratt & Witney. I was persuaded to quit my dress design business and work full-time for him.

First computers

Computers were starting to come into the office place as standard and the first word processor programme we had was Microsoft Word. There was no such thing as computer training back then, so I was left to my own devices how to figure out how best to use it. And boy did I use it! I loved how you could go back and amend a document – up to then, on a type writer if you made a mistake you had to retype the whole page! I transferred all our invoicing and accounts to computer and became really fast and proficient.

The First Recession

The recession in the 90’s hit my dad’s business badly. The cold war with Russia ended and the american Army no longer needed faster aircraft. A reshuffle at the company my dad was dealing with meant his contact was given a golden handshake and the deal for developing his engine fell through. In the meantime, my dad had let the emergency plumbing business fall away, so he could focus on his dream – developing engines for the americans.

By this time I had a mortgage (that had doubled from the time I took it out), a husband who was also feeling the effects of the recession and a young baby. So I found myself temping as a secretary. That’s when I realised I was pretty fast and organised. A lot of the temp jobs I got sent to I managed to steam through the work load really quickly because that’s what I had got used to working for my dad. So rather than sit twiddling my thumbs with nothing to do, I busied myself with the tutorials and got up to speed with all the features in Word and Excel.

The Boss from Hell

My last temp job was for an engineering holding company, that owned 30 manufacturing subsidiaries all over the world. There I worked for the Boss from Hell. He was always stressed, rushing about, curt and cutting with his remarks. Everyone was afraid of him. Whenever he entered a room you could cut the atmosphere with a knife.

He was in charge of everything legal and had a huge workload. I set about getting through work in the only way I knew how – quickly and methodically, using all the systems and shortcuts I had worked out while working for my dad.

Within a few weeks of me working for him I was offered a permanent position. The Boss from Hell turned into the nicest Cake-Buying Boss who always wished you good morning. The finance director cornered me one day and asked me what I had done to him. I was really scared in case I had done something wrong. But he said whatever I was doing to keep it up as he was now a much pleasanter person to work with and be around!

This was when I realised that his personality change from grumpy to pleasant was down to my putting into place practical systems and processes that supported his busy workload.

First Website

While I was there, I had built up a reputation for being the go to person for anything tech related, so the IT manager asked if I would work out how to build a website for them. This was at a time when the internet was in its infancy (to give you context, broadband hadn’t been invented – we were on dial up). There were no web building courses, so I researched, taught myself what made a good website, learnt coding and built their flagship website. It was well received and used as a benchmark for the other 30 subsidiaries.

End of an Era

During the 10 years I worked there, the company delisted, had a management buyout and then carried out a planned divestment strategy, sold off all the companies it owned and effectively making our head office redundant. At this time I now had 2 small children and I was spending 2 hours each way in traffic getting them to nursery and childminder then on to my place of work. With redundancy money behind me, I could now consider carefully my next step. I didn’t want to spend 4 hours a day commuting or miss out on seeing my girls grow. Working locally meant a huge drop in salary and I couldn’t afford to take a drop in salary and I also felt quite indignant that I should be worth less money when I had more experience than ever.

Virtual Admin Business

I read about being a virtual assistant in a PA magazine and that seemed to tick all the boxes. In my research, I found a business coach who specialised in helping PAs become VAs. When the company finished its Exit Plan I launched my virtual assistant business in January 2006. My Cake-Buying Boss was my first client, as he was still there to finish off the legal stuff and I could see he needed my help, so why not!

My officeWithin my first year I achieved my 5 year financial target. My first major client was a networking organisation who were in the process of franchising. I streamlined all the processes and created a procedures manual for the franchisees. I got to look after the admin of running the groups and develop their website.

Team

As franchisees came on board they were allowed to engage my services. Whilst they were brilliant at networking, they were rubbish at admin and tech, so rather than train another VA in a system they weren’t familiar with, why not get the VA who had created the manual to do it for them! Quite quickly I had a new problem. There wasn’t enough of me to go around with all the new clients I was taking on!

That’s when I started recruiting associates and growing a team. I trained them up to do what I did.

All Good Things…

All was good until the two founders decided to go separate ways. I was left in the awkward position that each wanted me to work with them but not for the other.

In the end I went with the exiting director and helped her set up her website, email marketing systems and membership programme for her new business consultancy business. Through networking and referrals, I gained new clients (some of whom are still with me today), setting up their websites and online marketing systems.

WordPress came along which was much simpler to use and update and although there was no training at that time, I got up to speed and transferred all the websites I’d created to this new platform. Email marketing was also starting to become more widely used and tools like Constant Contact, Aweber and Mailchimp came on the market, so I quickly learnt how to use them. Whenever a new web tool is launched, I’m on it, figuring out how to work it and apply it for my clients so they can look good and work smarter.

The Biz Tech Wiz

I noticed that I seemed to attract coaches and consultants who hated tech, which I couldn’t understand, because I love figuring out how to use web tech tools and seeing what else they can do to help streamline and make things quicker, easier and beautiful.

People starting picking my brains not just about how to use the tech, but also about their marketing strategies as well as what tools to use (and which are a waste of time) and how best to use them which is how I got the name The Biz Tech Wiz.

Vee is a Constant Contact Authorised Local Expert

At the beginning of 2015, I was invited to join Constant Contact’s Authorised Local Expert team where I’ve benefitted from their advanced training in online marketing techniques. I’ve been sent by them to deliver talks at various events about online marketing as well as the benefits of using Constant Contact’s tool for digital marketing.

In My Element

I’ve set up hundreds of websites, membership sites, online shopping sites, email marketing and nurturing systems. I’ve also created trainings (online and offline) showing people how best to do their online marketing and websites.

I seem to have found my thing that neatly marries the creative part of me with my techie know-how and ability to translate that into something beautiful and easy to understand.

And I’d love to do the same for you.

What customers have said: 

“Vee has been helping on a range of tasks and I highly recommend her to anyone who needs technical and admin support.” – Angus – Customeyes

“I am much more efficient, my profile has raised considerably, and I actually have more free time to do the things I want to do. As to value for money, I genuinely couldn’t put a price on how this service has freed me up to do the really important things.” – Adam – Group Dynamics

“I am not very techy, and it is so reassuring to feel that Vee knows what she is doing to help me with my websites and information marketing products. You feel confident that you are in good hands.” – Rachel – Energise

What next?

Well, firstly thank you for visiting my website and congratulations for reading through to the bottom of this page!

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