Staffing Management

Large Firm or Boutique Shop, Company Culture Is Vital to Success

By Greg Kihlstrom

Jul. 30, 2018

Among the variables that can differentiate a company’s culture is its size. Whether the organization is large or a boutique firm, it’s possible to have a great company culture in either; it just requires focusing on open communication and what makes both sizes unique.

Large companies are often thought of as inflexible and siloed. Creative, marketing and advertising agencies are certainly stereotyped in this fashion as well. While it is often true that a larger staff size is accompanied by more clearly defined roles and responsibilities, such structure doesn’t necessarily negatively affect the company culture.

One thing that a larger agency offers is more resources to provide employees with support. This includes everything from more human resources, better or more mature benefits and compensation packages, and additional professional development and education opportunities. These are a few things that the scale of a large company can offer that many smaller companies simply can’t. More opportunities like these create happy employees because these benefits increase their happiness and well-being.

At large agencies, employees can work with different groups of people to come up with new ideas. If done well, each day is different because employees are interacting with new people in different departments. Employees can thrive in this environment and take advantage of the opportunity to learn from a variety of sources.

Larger organizations also often have more clearly defined measures of success and what they value. This is a critical part of a successful company culture that agencies of all sizes can implement. While large agencies are challenged in upholding some of their values as a result of the scale at which they operate, maintaining values and achieving success is certainly not impossible as evidenced by many Fortune 50 companies that are able to accomplish this.

Going Boutique

Often thought of as less organized and more stressful due to having less hands-on staff to get the work done, boutique agencies have the benefit of being more nimble, allowing quicker and easier interactions between skill sets, and having more on-the-job learning opportunities.

While working at a boutique agency can be stressful at times, they can have strong company culture because everyone works together very closely, which improves relationships and productivity both internally and with clients. There are also more hands-on opportunities to make decisions, see work through to completion and feel ownership over the end product. Employees often value not simply being a “cog in the machine,” but instead being one of the few major players in the success of a project.

Because there are fewer hurdles to organizational change and generally fewer processes and procedures, boutique agencies often have more openness to new ideas and innovative thinking. They’re able to try new ideas quickly, which allows them to determine whether they are a good fit without major disruptions to a national or international workforce.

Because of the size, each person has a specialized role and is able to become an expert in their role. This allows for streamlined communication because there is one “go-to” person.

Generally, smaller agencies are flatter in their structure, giving more opportunity for junior employees to get hands-on experience that simply wouldn’t happen in a larger agency. They also get more one-on-one time with agency executives, which provides the opportunity for quicker learning. The benefits to the company culture are that employees feel empowered to share ideas, and feel more satisfaction in the end product because they often have a larger part in the work and its success.

Begin creating the culture today no matter what size organization you are a part of by encouraging open communication and dialogue. The result will be reflected in employee satisfaction and improved relationships within the company and also with clients.

Part of having a great culture is making sure that everyone on the team understands what is valued, what is expected and what is available to each individual. When leadership prioritizes these things, and the team consists of people who truly value the unique benefits of the organization, a great company culture exists.

Greg Kihlstrom is founder and CEO of Carousel30, a digital marketing agency in the Washington, D.C., area. Comment below or email


Schedule, engage, and pay your staff in one system with