Choosing to Stay Boutique to Retain Control Over Your Agency

By Jason Swenk on April 12, 2023

Are you at the crossroads of deciding how big to grow your agency? Bigger isn’t always better; in some cases, it makes more sense to create a lifestyle business. It’s important to have a clear vision for your agency. For some, that means growing to 7- or 8-figures. However, for others, it means keeping a small, nimble team with lots of control over processes. This is why some agency owners decide to either wait until they feel ready to take on that challenge or continue to thrive as a boutique agency. Today’s guest made the decision to run a small operation where she still feels in control of the agency operations.

Rebekah Edwards is the owner of Clara, a digital marketing agency in the SEO and content space. Her agency niche is in the health and wellness space. Clara creates the clearest, highest-value, and most trustworthy SEO on the market. Since 2019, their team has been propelling clients to become expert voices in their fields. About a year after starting the agency, she realized she could start growing the operation, hire more staff, and take on more clients. However, it would’ve been a huge undertaking that didn’t fit with her busy personal life. She is sharing why she decided to remain in control of her agency operations by keeping it small. In the years since the agency has actually dropped clients and is doing better than ever.

In this interview, we’ll discuss:

  • Deciding to stay small and retain control of your agency.
  • Dropping clients and saying no to the wrong clients.
  • Common mistakes when trying to grow.


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Sponsors and Resources

E2M Solutions: Today’s episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by E2M Solutions, a web design, and development agency that has provided white-label services for the past 10 years to agencies all over the world. Check out and get 10% off for the first three months of service.

Podcast Takeover!!

Get to know your Smart Agency Guest Host: Darby Copenhaver is the Agency Scale Specialist at the Agency Mastery 360, which provides agency owners with the coaching, community, and tools needed to scale and find their freedom. He helps agency owners scale through a proven framework for growing their agencies faster and connecting with other amazing agency owners. Today, he’s helping Jason bring something new to the Smart Agency podcast audience by interviewing a special guest and bringing a new perspective to the show.


Rebekah had never worked in the agency space before. However, she had worked as a freelancer in different areas for many years and was the managing editor for a website that saw tremendous growth. She decided to build an agency as she needed help and didn’t have the time to fully invest in each of her clients. Together with her husband, they developed a system for hiring writers and editing things on the backend. They did this by doing white-glove work for people who would benefit from content-led SEO without Rebekah having to do all the work.

Using SEO as a Lead Generation Platform

Rebekah’s agency uses SEO as a lead generation platform by creating long-form educational content in the health and wellness niche. This strategy enables them to create the type of results that appear when people Google questions like “why do I get headaches in the morning?” Companies can then convert those people to leads, sales, etc.

Staying Small to Retain Control Over Agency Operations

Despite many agency owners aiming to grow into one of the best agencies in the US, Rebekah doesn’t necessarily want her team to be passionate about their jobs. Instead, she values them being good at their jobs, so they can finish and get home to their families. After creating the agency, Rebekah had to decide whether to continue scaling or carry on as a boutique agency. Being a boutique agency suited her role as an adoptive mother to two teenagers. She and her husband decided a lifestyle business was better suited for their needs. Rebekah can still act as a project manager and ensure that every client gets the promised results. She is open to scaling in the future, but the point of having an agency was to be with her family and have a more flexible schedule


Dropping Clients and Saying No to the Wrong Ones

To prevent the agency from taking over her life and decisions, Rebekah plans to drop some clients this year. This way, the agency will be operating with fewer clients than they’ve had in a long time. Building a social media presence has helped her find her audience, and this way, she can scale without having to say yes to every single client.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Trying to Grow

In the past, Rebekah made some common mistakes by trying to expand her service offering and train in-house staff to take on some of her tasks. However, this didn’t resonate with what she ultimately wanted for the agency, and the team performed poorly in those cases. Rebekah feels more freedom to say no to the wrong clients now that she’s back in her role as a project manager. There’s a clear direction for the agency, and she’s in control.

Do You Want to Transform Your Agency from a Liability to an Asset?

If you want to be around amazing agency owners that can see what you may not be able to see and help you grow your agency, go to Agency Mastery 360.  Our agency growth program helps you take a 360-degree view of your agency and gain mastery of the 3 pillar systems (attract, convert, scale) so you can create predictability, wealth, and freedom.

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