Why you should start your own agency

For most freelancers who have been at it for a while, there is a sense of comfort in being small. It's easy to control your own projects, and work with the same types of clients you're used to. But wearing all the hats can weigh you down, and limit your potential for growth. It doesn't have to be this way.

You've probably had daydreams about starting your own creative agency. If you have a large workload, and you've seen even one season of Mad Men, the prospect is alluring. In many ways, it's the obvious next step in the evolution of a freelancer. If your current project scope is limited to what you, yourself can dream up and execute, it might be time to think a little bigger than just yourself. In this article we'll look at some reasons why it might be time to start your own agency, then we'll move on to how to get started (hop straight to page 2 for this).

While not for the faint of heart, starting a creative business can be wildly fulfilling. An agency model offers many advantages over life as a freelance creative. Here are just a few of them.

01. You can focus on your strengths

The life of a creative freelancer is built upon the concept of 'DIY'. As a one-person operation working from home, you have no choice but to do it all yourself, sometimes to the detriment of your business. You are responsible for design, development, client wrangling, and all the admin that goes with in. 

As part of a bigger team, you can concentrate on what you love to do – and what you do well. Love to design homepages, but hate the tedium of designing every internal page? Hire (or contract) another designer to do it. Are you terrible at selling? Enlist a dedicated salesperson. No matter where your strength lies, you can focus on that, and fill in the gaps around you.

02. You can think longer-term

As a studio, the potential for growth is much stronger. Operating on design island, you are likely too bogged down with the day-to-day requirement of your current workload to even think about branching out – or plan too far in advance. But hiring other people will free up some hands and minds to come up with a growth strategy.

03. Billable hours will increase

As a freelancer, you are limited to how many hours you can personally bill per week. When you start hiring other designers, developers, and administrative assistants, you can bill for all the hours they work as well. The resulting increase in productivity allows room for more projects, which leads to even more billable time.

04. You can learn new skills

Even if you choose to focus purely on what you are already good at, being in close proximity to other professionals contributing with their skillsets will open your eyes to all elements of a project. Over time, you will probably start to pick up some of these skills yourself.

05. You can take on broader projects

By recruiting specialists in different fields, production on a larger scale becomes possible. Got a coder, a graphic designer and an animation specialist? You can hit many more points of a project than you'd be able to tackle on your own. And that means you can work with bigger brands, because your offering will be broader.

Next page: How to get started launching your own agency

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Wes works as creative director/lead web designer for The Deep End Design in Chicago.