When it comes to working for an agency, small shops offer a lot of benefits, from more freedom and flexibility to working with a team who's like family. But there are downsides, too—starting with having no one else to blame when things go wrong.
At the 2017 Ad Age Small Agency Conference in Nashville, agency executives shared the good and the bad of running a small shop.
For Ryan Kutscher, founder of Circus Maximus, the best is creating your own workplace. "You kind of get to make [things] up," Kutscher said. "I feel like most people that have small agencies have worked at large agencies or elsewhere and that planted the seed of, 'If I had my own agency, I'd do this, this and this differently.' I think the idea is that you finally get to craft this place that you want to work at, whatever your mental image of that ideal workplace is."
Nick Paul, president of O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul agrees. "Ultimately, our partner team gets to make the final decisions on everything," he said. "Creative, first and foremost, but even how to deal with clients. … When it's just your own place, you get to make all those decisions and you really don't ever look back."
Plus, that feeling of family is a significant factor at small shops. "One of the best things is we all know each other," said Karen King, president and CEO of Spawn Ideas. "The collaboration is really great. The word 'family' does come up a lot—you feel like you're working with your friends and family."
Overall, said, Aaron Mason, co-founder, NA Collective, "The best is you've got the freedom to be the boss and it [all] stops with you." On the other hand, he added, "That's also the worst part."
For more insight into small agencies, turn to LookBook.