Certainly, they can downsize more easily than an agency employing only a couple of people. But start-ups seem more often to be formed by staff leaving larger agencies.
This could simply be because more people leave larger agencies, or it could signify that it is harder to leave smaller ones. Perhaps working in a larger agency gives access to better training. On the other hand, it is much more likely in smaller agencies for an individual to handle projects from outset to completion, giving a broader sweep of knowledge.
Whichever view prevails, there can be no doubt that individuals still yearn to control their own destiny - and clients still favour good personal rapport rather than agency size.
In part the number of new agencies must relate to the significant number of people 'let go' by major players over the past year. Recession also results in more merger and acquisition activity. Interestingly, the past year has seen very little of either and yet, as a recovery kicks in, it will become more difficult and costly to grow by acquisition.
So are we destined to see a growing number of small specialists rather than the larger, multidisciplinary agencies that everybody was saying a few years ago would inherit the earth? Perhaps the major players will end up splintering into smaller business units in order to go head to head with the growing number of competitive minnows.