We recently had a copywriter leave our team to start a digital marketing agency of their own. While we wished them well, I couldn't help but reflect on the 10 years Savy has had in the international space, and the 45 years between our design and creative directors, alone. Serving clients from the small to the complex, it does take more than a Wordpress theme\u00a0and a Macbook to make it work. Lessons from a digital marketing agency When I started Savy Agency in\u00a02007, digital marketing and integrated marketing were just beginning to bud.\u00a0There wasn't much online about starting, running or growing a digital agency, especially when the digital world was changing so fast. The agencies\u00a0that did exist were the big ones, who were being hit by the economic slump and showing some failure to change to\u00a0a more digital world. It takes hustle, and talent and a lot of it. Hopefully through this post I can shine some light on\u00a0the things that work and those that didn't for Savy. Start from passion I've been hard at marketing since I was 14. Rather than join the cheer squad, I interned\u00a0at a then near-to-boom startup, Metacreations. Metacreations was located in my hometown of Santa Barbara. I was sort of a pet project of the CEO, who strongly believed that through the right people you can do anything. I loved being creative. And I had the work ethic to prove it. I still do. It's one of the main driving points for me. Of course, a viable digital marketing agency needs to be profitable, but if that's the starting point you'll be missing the key element.\u00a0Being purely profit driven means your decisions are made from profit focus versus what's right for your stakeholders. Gain experience first The digital industry can be tough. Just when you think you've mastered it, enter a new trend, requiring learning, training, testing and certifications. It moves fast, and the best stems from the best players. There will be valuable experience gained through working in the field, working with challenging projects and giving it everything\u00a0it takes to make the work you do best-in-class. Find your niche Do you want to provide exactly the same as everyone else in town? Not to mention with\u00a0the same work. If so, there's no reason to work with\u00a0your agency over the next. Or the next after that. If you provide\u00a0search engine marketing, Wordpress web design and pay per click, so does every other agency. If you outsource and lack quality control, many do that as\u00a0well. Given your strengths and structure, what\u00a0can you be the best at? What can you become known for? Bootstrapping is better As a new digital marketing agency, you'll likely find opportunities for funding. However, our experience shows the more funded and partner-heavy, the slower you are; and this is in an industry that's fast-moving. While the idea of fast growth through quick funding\u00a0sounds alluring, we've found through the lessons learned from\u00a0decades in the market, the sweat equity gained from pouring your heart into your clients and into the work you've\u00a0created over all those years, your own is better. Savy has been able to innovate and grow year-over-year without the risks of funding. Our lightness makes us nimble, responsive and hungry for the challenge. We're driven by success\u00a0and humbled by growth. Be service minded I can recall learning to code. I can also recall failing miserably at it\u2014 all those nights trying to find one\u00a0break. Amazing results takes time and experience, and through it all, you will receive a complaint from a client here and there. I think your most challenging clients teach you the most.\u00a0At\u00a0the end of the day, digital marketing agencies are professional service entities. So it's\u00a0important to remember that you're providing a service. It's not about you; it's about your clients.\u00a0They're not buying a product from you that defaults to their problem once they own it; they're buying a service from you. Fit matters You'll find early in the game that the time it takes to put into clients you don't fit well with takes time that you\u00a0could have\u00a0put into clients your agency fits better with. Since red flags, for either party, often\u00a0waive again, I find it's better to deal with those early on in the relationship. Remember, working with a digital agency\u00a0is a service, not a product. Be transparent I think the more transparent you\u00a0are, the more people trust you. Think about it: most clients you work with\u00a0may not often understand the in's and out's of what you'll be doing for them - whether it's designing a moveable brand or developing a social media plan with lots of metrics. One of the core values at Savy is to always be transparent. We ask for feedback, are open and honest with our clients when we have information that's in their best interest and are open to feedback between each of us as team members. Never stop learning There are many digital marketing agencies that drop off\u00a0the map. Many of those have fallen behind because they may have been slow to change. The digital industry is what it is because it's always changing. What worked a couple years ago no long works today and what will work tomorrow may not even be\u00a0released yet.\u00a0If you're 100% focused on the success of your clients, you will be changing. Because that's what it takes for them to stay ahead. Our team at Savy stays up-to-date on the new information and trends that are relevant to each\u00a0role \u2014 whether it's social media, SEO, PPC, content writing, email marketing, web design, web development or branding. We feel this keeps us in an innovation mindset\u00a0and always moving forward. Quality\u00a0above all None of us are perfect. This means there is always room to get better. Success is a process of doing, failing, learning and succeeding and there is always room for improvement. This is true in life and for creative work as well. I think the day I stop being hungry for quality and for\u00a0fantastic work is the day we'll be\u00a0just that. It takes the drive to do fantastic work, the ability to do so \u2014 this of course means fantastic people \u2014 and the desire to always improve and always do more. Every time we go back to the drawing board, even if it means more work on everyone's part, we always result in\u00a0improvement. This helps to make a more successful project and, ultimately, to attract better clients. And it goes on from there. Have fun Endeavoring to start\u00a0a digital marketing agency\u00a0is tough\u00a0work. It's not for the faint of heart, especially if you'll be good at it. It's a lot of work\u00a0and a lot of focus on every other brand but your own. At Savy, we like to take flex days, to stop and drink\u00a0a few beers when we need them and to get outside to enjoy the beauty of Bend Oregon where we're headquartered and hop down to Santa Barbara to see clients and soak up the sunshine. You want to stay your best, so ensure you find balance so you can have fun at it. Although\u00a0at Savy's 10th year, this is still tough for many of us, learn to shut it down when it's time to\u00a0enjoy your friends and family. Overall Savy is my baby. I've raised it from an idea. Soon my husband and agency director, Rob, came on, as did design director, Luisa. We all love what we do and have grown together to create something amazing. I look forward\u00a0to your questions, comments and thoughts in the comments section, below, and to learning from you.\u00a0\u2014 Christina Christina is the Founder and Creative Director of Savy, a digital marketing agency with locations in Bend Oregon and Santa Barbara CA. Christina grew up in Santa Barbara, has a supportive husband, Rob, shoots a Nikon D750 for select clients and loves her three children, chocolate lab, Badger,\u00a0and wild kitten, Nala.