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Marquis Murray

Ditto is a full-service systems integration consultancy company specializing in optimizing business workflows through software automation and process improvement. They empower teams so they can focus on the work without the issue of not knowing where or how the work is happening.

Tell us about yourself?

I’ve always had the mentality that there was a place for everything. Order.

The same is true for business. Everything in its place. Every member of the team plays a role. Every asset is accounted for and purchased for a reason. Nothing is by mistake, and we should treat our businesses that way.

Years ago, after leaving my corporate job, I decided to put my skills to the test and start my own digital marketing agency. Starting a business can be scary and exhilarating all at the same time. Before I knew it, more and more business started to come my way. As the business grew, so did my need for additional staff to handle the workload. I was growing quickly, and I liked it.

If we brought on a new client, I would onboard them, get their project set up, collect their account credentials, and when something went wrong, I had all the answers, and everyone could count on me to solve the problem. I was in total control, and I loved it. That was until, one day, I realized that I didn’t love it at all. I hated every second of it. Staying up late at night to work on client projects, working weekends, saying to my kids for the 12th time that day, “okay buddy, as soon as I’m done this.” My kids know all too well that “soon” never actually came.

Without realizing it, the company that I was building, the one that I was building to finally be able to set my own hours, take trips with my family and have more freedom had become a job (that I created) with no benefits or paid overtime.

Where did my freedom go? What happened to work/life balance? And where was mine? I had forgotten the one principle I had always lived by. Sure, my desk was neat, my shoes were filed away, and my wedding ring was in a bowl by the front door, but one thing was out of alignment. My business.

I was drowning, and I couldn’t ask for help.

I couldn’t ask for help because no one on my team knew how to do the things that I was always doing myself. I lacked the order that had become so familiar in the other areas of my life. I was lacking the systems and processes that my business needed. It wasn’t my team’s fault that they couldn’t help me. It was my “I’ll just do it” and “I can do faster/better” mentality that had created this job that I now hated. I needed to tame the chaos and create structure in my business.

My need for systems and processes became the only way that I was able to carry on doing business. From setting up project templates to creating step-by-step documents on how those templates are created to “how to send a receipt to a customer.” I started to document everything that I could think of that I “had to do myself” so that I could delegate it to a team member. Systems and processes were becoming a part of my day-to-day and were finally giving me a chance to work on my business instead of constantly working on it (and getting nowhere).

Project management and the processes around “how we do things here” became my lifelines.

Before long we started offering the creation of systems and processes to our clients. From building workflows and sequences to implementing project management systems like Asana, I quickly realized that I was starting to love my job again. I wasn’t just defining a new path for my business, but I was also running the day-to-day based on one of my life’s principles. A place for everything and everything in its place.

On the advice of my mentor and long-time friend, Kyle (who happens to also own an agency), I began what would be a 10-month soul-searching conquest to dig deep and ask myself three questions. “What change did I want to bring to the world?”, “Why would someone fly me across the world to do business with me?” and ultimately “What was my reason for getting out of bed and going to work every day?” Coming up with answers to these questions is, to date, some of the hardest internal work I’ve ever been asked to complete. With my pad of yellow legal paper and pen, I took a day away from the work and sat by the water with some of my thoughts.

This initial step to getting away and several others like it gave me the ability to dig deep down and answer those tough questions. What also came out of this time were the company’s core values; Freedom, Order, Meaningful Work, and Helping Others.

I believe in having the freedom in business and in life to run things on your terms and eventually realized that other business owners were searching for the same thing. I had always found the need for that sense of order both in life and in business. It became growingly important to do truly meaningful work. Work that made a difference and ultimately helps others to be better and to work better. Smarter. And Take back control of their business.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Stop saying yes to everyone. Your time is precious, and if you say yes to everyone and everything, you dilute your message, offering, and focus. For me, if it’s not aligned with my vision, I’m not interested. I no longer have time to entertain people or shiny objects that aren’t going to help me grow or promote the company.

What problem does your business solve?

We help our clients get the most out of their technology. We love what we do, and we’re good at it. As a full-service systems integration consultancy, Ditto specializes in optimizing your business workflows through software automation and process improvement. Our team of Developers and Business Analysts love building solutions that simplify how businesses function.

From pre-sales to post-sales service, you can continue focusing on growing your business while we work with your team side by side to connect the dots, save you money, and eliminate the stress of not knowing where or how the work is happening.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

Helping creative entrepreneurs live the life of freedom they started their businesses to achieve.

As business owners, we often take the leap into business ownership thinking that we’ll be able to make our own schedules, take vacations, and spend more time with our family. We quickly realize that without the proper systems in place, we find ourselves working jobs that we created for ourselves with terrible hours, no PTO, and no benefits. We believe in a lie and haven’t figured out how to get there. Creatives especially are not good at this. We thrive (or we think) in chaos and this becomes our norm until it is time to grow the business and start making changes.

What is your magic sauce?

In the consulting space, you often see firms that will prescribe and simply give the roadmap or strategy. We’ve heard from other consultancies and our customers that it’s refreshing that there is a firm that will also implement everything that they strategize. It’s easy to do strategy and hand over the playbook. Ditto is focused on education and implementation and firmly believes that the job is not finished until we have worked with that team and have successfully taught them “how to fish.”

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

In 5 years, we will be the number one systems and processes consultancy in North America when it comes to process improvement and all things Asana. We are focussed on education and bringing our knowledge and expertise to those that are seeking to add clarity to how their work is done within their organizations.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Leaving my FT job to start my own business with a wife at home (not working at the time) and twin 18-month-old baby boys.

Going through my first venture as a business owner was eye-opening for so many reasons. There were lots of lessons that I learned the hard way, but that equipped me with the knowledge to know how to approach those issues the next time. I learn new things about myself every day, and like everyone, March 2020 had its challenges, but one thing I learned is that I will do just about anything for my family and those that I love. If that means staying up all night working on the business or working a job cleaning hot tubs so we can make ends meet, there is no length I won’t go to in order to provide my kids with the kind of life that I know they deserve.

How can people get involved?

Visit our website, follow us online, check out our YouTube channel or book a call with me to discuss your business needs. I have conversations about systems and processes on my podcast. Subscribe and share so that I can reach more people just like you.