Villa pulled off a great escape to avoid an immediate return to the Championship, eventually staying up by just a single point.
Smith believes they have now laid the foundations to kick on and firmly establish themselves back in the top flight having carried out a large-scale squad overhaul 12 months ago.
Villa spent £140millon on 13 signings during the last two transfer windows and Smith feels those players will now be stronger for their experiences this season.
“We won’t be (in this position) next season and we knew if we stayed up that would be the case.
“Last year we got promoted and we had 12 players out of contract and had to rebuild the squad.
“Now we don’t have that. We have lots of players under contract and only a handful not.
“What we have to make sure is we are smart in what we recruit.”
Smith pointed to the impressive late season form of Douglas Luiz and Ezri Konsa as proof his players are now getting to grips with the Premier League, adding: “Since we came back for Project Restart they have been outstanding. They have looked every bit Premier League players.
“But it takes time and you have to adapt, you have to get the feel of it. Those two certainly have now.”
Villa are looking to make four or five signings during the transfer window with Smith keen to add players with a proven Premier League pedigree, or who at the very least are experienced in English football.
The boss will sit down in the next fortnight with chief executive Christian Purslow and Johan Lange, the club’s new sporting director, to discuss targets.
Much of Villa’s business will be dictated by what happens to Jack Grealish. Villa have placed an £80m price tag on their skipper’s head.