Vic de Smidt's Digital Coaching for Small Businesses
Hi, I’m Vic de Smidt and I work with small businesses to help them discover and navigate their digital journey. I’m both an analytical and creative thinker, and I have years of practical experience developing and launching major products to end customers based on emerging technologies. Never satisfied with a half baked explanation, I have been lucky enough to work alongside some great engineers, from whom I have gained technical knowledge that has enabled me to get stuck into the detail when working on projects.
And that’s how I see technology. It’s just about understanding the detail, and when you do, you have a good chance of using it to your advantage. This is what I aim to share with my clients, helping them get to grips with the more challenging aspects of digital, and realise their full capabilities to ensure successful business growth.
My journey with Vodafone
I started my career at Vodafone with a degree in business studies. In the beginning, my job involved a mixture of account management and product management. This was where my coaching skills were first developed, as I spent a lot of time visiting service providers and mobile phone dealers delivering training on new products and services.
Delivering a new digital network
In the days before anyone had even dreamt of 4G, we were responsible for delivering the new digital network, GSM. The launch of this network required the development of a new voicemail service, and I worked with nearly every department in the company to ensure this service was successfully launched.
Taking responsibility for this launch gave me a huge amount of management experience. I gained technical knowledge in many areas - not just in user requirements and marketing elements, but also in-depth knowledge of how the mobile network operates.
The advent of the internet / Evolving within a fast-growing company
As Vodafone continued to grow, so too did my role. In my new position I led a large amount of the early development around mobile internet services, including the delivery of content to users. In the days when AltaVista and Yahoo! were dominant internet players, we were busy working with major broadcasters and newspapers developing new business models to support the digital distribution of news.
My team was successful in launching a major mobile internet service provider, and pioneering voice access to email and content services. I worked closely with several organisations analysing their overall mobile and digital strategy and was heavily involved in the first mobile banking services that were developed in the UK.
The early 2000s and Web 2.0
A huge reason why I worked at Vodafone for so long, was the ongoing opportunity to work with technology that was constantly evolving, creating endless possibilities for our customers. This continued to feed my passion for digital and after running a global workstream as part of a worldwide internet project within Vodafone, I went on to manage a cross-functional business unit focused on entertainment and information services.
Working alongside Vodafone Ventures I assessed the viability of new startups, such as Shazam, as investment opportunities. During this time I gained an in-depth knowledge of what makes seed / startups and early stage businesses commercially viable.
Following the birth of my first child, I returned to work at Vodafone in a part-time capacity, where I was responsible for business planning across the product organisation. Vodafone had grown from just one thousand people in the UK in 1990, to many tens of thousands of employees worldwide.
When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I struggled to find interesting and challenging part-time roles, and decided to take voluntary redundancy to focus on family. Still fascinated by how technology could enhance our lives, I used this time away from my corporate career to rebuild my skills in the digital space.
Transition to business owner
Web 2.0 meant that a much higher degree of collaboration between websites and apps were now possible, and some of the more advanced services that we had envisioned several years prior were now a reality. I started to create several projects, just to see how things worked and to get a better understanding of the processes that were involved. This led me on a journey through website development, digital photography, PPC and display, SEO, social media marketing and affiliate marketing, working with different start ups along the way.
At this point I knew that I had an exciting opportunity to transfer the many skills I had gained from working in telecoms at Vodafone, and set up my own digital coaching business. Since then, I have been dedicated to helping small businesses discover, understand and execute their own digital goals.
How can my digital services help your business?
As a Pay As You Go Digital Director, I am able to provide your business with as much or as little help as your budget allows. You can benefit from bringing digital expertise on board your management team without hiring a full-time, senior position. My holistic approach will take into consideration the goals that you have for your business, creating a strategy that will thrive in the increasingly technological landscape.
- Receive an in-depth review of your business
- Learn how to diversify your business with digital product offerings
- Boost your online visibility and increase your pool of customers
- Benefit from regular coaching calls tailored to your needs
- Pioneer the latest apps, services and digital marketing technologies
What are the benefits of hiring a digital director?
Avoid hiring In-house: As a small business or a startup in its early stages, you may not have the resources or capacity to take on a full-time employee. Hiring a permanent member of your management team can be a costly, long term commitment that you should not rush into. By outsourcing a digital director, you can benefit from the same skills without the ongoing overhead.
Focus on running your business: The life of a busy business owner typically involves long working hours with a million and one things to think about at any given time. Hiring a digital director gives you one less thing to worry about, allowing you to focus on the other areas of running your business.
Outsource top talent with expertise in digital: A digital director will have a plethora of experience implementing successful digital strategies for businesses of all sizes and industries. You can choose someone with years of experience, several qualifications and glowing client testimonials to show for it.
Save money and time: Instead of spending precious hours figuring out the ins and outs of digital, you can bring in a specialist to guide you. By taking on someone for the short term who can take your business in the right direction, you will prevent costly mistakes from being made, saving you more time and money in the long term.