Whitney Smith is the president of The Smith Investigation Agency, the largest female-owned Private Investigation company in Canada. Her business is currently operating in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. The Smith Investigation agency provides services such as surveillance, investigative research, GPS Tracking Devices, Technical Surveillance Countermeasure Services (TSCM). Whitney has been in the private investigative industry for nearly fifteen years and previously worked in the bailiff industry. Whitney has a passion for justice, and quality results, dedicated to serving clients with professionalism, integrity, quality, and consistency. She built her agency to be different from any of the others, placing results at the forefront. Whitney has received an award for the International AI- Influential Business Woman Award for the Best Woman-Owned Private Investigative Agency in eastern Canada and the Most Innovative Woman in Executive Protection.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Whitney to discuss her journey as an entrepreneur and here’s what went down:
When did your entrepreneurial flair first reveal itself?
From birth! I come from a family that owns businesses. Our model growing up was not what type of job you want to do when you grow up but what kind of business you want to own when you grow up.
How did your life look like before being an entrepreneur?
I have always been hardworking. I worked various jobs and industries until I found my passion (Investigating). Once I discovered that, I worked as much as possible and learned as much as possible about the industry and how to succeed before opening up my own business. I certainly had fewer days off and fewer fun toys and gadgets back then.
As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?
With the investigative industry, we get to bring resolve to people’s situations. No matter if it is an insurance company being scammed from a fraudulent claim, a lawyer who needs to prove something for a case, a missing family member located, etc. We get to help people find justice for their situation or peace in their situation.
In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur and explain why.
Successful! I work hard; I have an excellent staff who work hard and have a like-minded heart of professionalism, integrity, and excitement about what they do. We have expanded since day one and continue to bring our services across Canada and North America.
What were your top three motivations for starting your business?
To bring quality change to my industry, to be independent and have the ability to make great money and excellent employee staff.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
Be passionate about it. Many businesses fail, and of course, there are many factors as to why that can happen, but if you are passionate about it, people will notice that. It is also a struggle at times and initially, and you can face many ups and downs. But if you love what you do, you don’t mind persevering through it.
What are the three biggest challenges you have faced growing the business, and how did you overcome them?
There were many older men in the industry that just did not like a 20 something-year-old stepping into their industry and excelling quickly. That resulted in stalking, harassing, fake reviews being left, etc. It was very annoying, and I am glad it is over, but it backfired so bad for them. Every time they came against me, I dug my heels in and focused on my business, and while they were so focused on me, I expanded across Canada. I run the largest female-owned investigative firm in Canada and one of the largest PI firms in Canada.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
Online presence is so important nowadays and, of course, word of mouth. Our agency has always stood on the model of we think differently. We provide better results with higher quality customer service, and clients hear about that and come back repeatedly and bring their colleagues.
As you grew the business, what have been some of the most important leadership lessons you have learned?
Patience with myself and staff as we grew was interesting in the beginning. I started the business on my own, and as I hired staff and began to delegate, it felt challenging to let someone else take care of my baby with me. Thankfully I was so blessed to hire great staff off the hop that has been with me for years, and we have learned many things together.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Make God your business partner. I not only come from a family of business owners but Christians and pastors. One of my good family friends and a very successful business leader in her community said to partner with God and have weekly and monthly staff meetings with Him. I have continued that and would recommend that to anyone who starts a business.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Do your research, watch vlogs, read blogs, read or listen to books and take advantage of a mentorship program if you can.