Why some creative businesses want to stay small

For a lot of agencies and studios, growth is a top priority – but not all set up shop with this in mind. We talk to two founders about why they want to keep things small and how they’ve made it work

The pursuit of growth is almost a universal given in the commercial creative industries. Scaling up is taken to be the default aspiration: bigger billings, larger clients, more space and more staff.

However, some founders don’t see this as the best route. “I just don’t think it makes for the best creative, if I’m honest,” says Ollie Olanipekun, creative director and founder of creative agency and platform Superimpose, which was reborn last year as Futurimpose.

“Obviously having grown my previous agency to about 35 people, not being able to be as involved on each project is one of the main [things], and because of that you start losing your identity as an agency,” he says. It’s something he’s noticed over the years: the same handful of designers producing similar creative for a big range of clients. “Before you know it, every bit of work – whether it’s Tesco Mobile or adidas Originals – the creative started to all look with the same.”

Nowadays, Futurimpose has a core team of five people, with extra pairs of hands – such as an events producer or a content manager – brought in depending on the project. Olanipekun feels the ‘expand and contract’ model at Futurimpose helps to keep the pool of creatives fresh. “The best talent aren’t going to be working on their passion project for the agency, and then happily work on all of the other shit brands! That’s just a fact,” he says. “I think agency bosses are afraid to admit that.” Instead he finds it more effective to bring in people where they can bring their A game to a specific job.