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Our Founding Story - The Ditto Effect

Published 22 April, 2021
Written by Marquis Murray

I rarely lose things.

Keys? Nope. Phone? Nope. Wedding ring? Nope. I can say this with confidence because for as long as I can remember I’ve always had a safe place for everything. Come into the house, keys in the bowl, take off my wedding ring, put it on the shelf at the front door.

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 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, 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 was lacking 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 in 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 companies 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.

That’s the Ditto effect: Putting an end to team burnout so that owners can live the life of freedom they started their businesses to achieve. I had a new purpose, a new reason for going to work every day, and decided to build a business around it.

If any of this sounds eerily familiar, let’s chat.

-Marquis

Topics: Systems and Processes