The 7 Components of Happy and Healthy Agency Culture

Metacake, founded in 2011, has been an ecommerce agency for quite some time now. But we’ve always been reluctant to use the agency title. We, instead, like to call ourselves an un-agency. We seek to do agency differently.

Traditional agencies have a lot of downfalls, with unhealthy client relationships and crazy working hours. But there are also a lot of great things about working for an agency, with exciting new projects coming in left and right and the opportunity to work with a ton of cool brands.

We’ve worked intentionally to create a company that takes the good of agency life and leaves the bad behind by fostering a happy and healthy culture.

1 Create a Ton of Value

If you aren’t amazing at what you do, it’s hard to keep clients happy. And if clients aren’t happy, they put the pressure on. As an agency then, you’re just trying to survive and get as much money out of the relationship as you can before the other shoe drops and you’re fired. This is the type of relationship we try to avoid.

Creating a ton of value for your clients fosters healthy relationships. Be an expert, and share that expertise with your clients.

2 Be Picky About Clients

At Metacake, we only work with brands that fit well with our culture (we even have a formula for this). We look for clients that recognize our expertise and value what we do as a team. We, in turn, value the brands that we work with and recognize their expertise. This is an important balance.

We’re intentional about not being simply transactional with clients trading time for money. We’d rather create value for our clients and share in a portion of that revenue than bill for hours.

3 Learn to Say No

We say no, a lot. We say no to the wrong clients. We say no to the wrong projects. We even say no to clients we are working with when they want to do something that is not in the best interest of their business growth. It is important to be able to say no.

4 Diversify

Traditional agencies rely on just a handful of core clients that make up 80%+ of their revenue. This creates a culture of fear. If you lose just one client, your company could be in serious jeopardy.

At Metacake, we diversify so that we are not overly dependent on any one client or revenue stream. This gives us the freedom to walk away if a relationship turns toxic.

5 Invest in Your Brand

Build a memorable brand around your agency. Know who you are and what makes your agency and your team unique. Invest in sharing this with the world to attract clients that are a good fit and foster a positive culture on your team.

We love what we do. We love ecommerce and working to grow great brands. That is why we are all here. We are so much more than the services we provide and it’s important to communicate that both internally and with potential clients.

6 Save

A lot of businesses don’t save. We do. We store up money for winter so that we can be a stable and healthy company. In line with diversifying, this allows us be picky about our clients and walk away from projects that aren’t right for us.

7 Stick to your Terms

We have very specific terms and on the vast majority of them we won’t budge. If a potential client won’t agree to our terms, we walk away. It is hard to do this when you are first starting out. But once you have experience and desirability in the marketplace, you can be strict on your terms. We have learned over the years how to protect ourselves, especially when it comes to payment terms. Accounts receivable is a huge risk because there will always be clients that in the end can’t or won’t pay. Our clients pay up front.

At the end of the day, building a happy and healthy agency is hard work. It might be easy to set up an agency and get some quick wins with a few clients, but to build a lasting business with a good culture, you need to build intentionally. Otherwise you’ll be swept into a toxic agency life.


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