How ‘Doing the Opposite’ could make millions

Jeff Dewing

In this article, Co-founder of Cloudfm, Jeff Dewing, discusses his journey from how doing the opposite could make you millions.

After realising something quite extraordinary through my life experiences, I wanted to share my insights and learnings which led me to write my book ‘Doing the Opposite’. I decided to reflect and analyse why and how my latest business ‘Cloudfm Group’ had been so successful and grown rapidly from £1m to £70m in just 4 years.

It’s important to look at the whole picture, the harsh lessons as well as the success. I started out as a fridge and air-conditioning engineer and built my fortune through maintenance firm, EAC. But during this time, I invested in a football club Clacton FC. I loved it, but the reality was the excitement of running a football club distracted me from the firm, eventually contributing to going bankrupt.

I ended up on benefits having just £7.60 in my bank and a family to feed. I started again from scratch. In 2012, I started Cloudfm from my garden shed and that’s when I really got things right making millions. Een despite hurdles like covid, we bounced back.

So, I made it, I lost it all, and then got it all back again. But how did I get here and why did it work out this time around?

Most entrepreneurs focus on the money, the profit, the EBITDA – they chase the cash. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but I wanted to do something different – the opposite in fact. Here are a few of the distinctive factors that contributed to my success:

Questioning the market and its environment

Rather than going for the usual route, finding a niche element of a market or creating a new one, I had this overwhelming desire to fix a £200billion industry that most people within it agreed was broken. The Facilities Management Industry is full of amazing people with great experience. However, the environment within which they work forces bad behaviour.

The Market has applied aggressive procurement strategies for the last 40 years, and the industry has reluctantly agreed to accept work they simply cannot deliver and make a profit to survive. This needed to change, and I wanted to be the one to tackle it.

Putting people over profits

Placing the power of purpose and decent human values at the fore, I now strive for a ‘win-win’ outcome on any deal we partake in. I don’t worry about the financial impacts, my number one driver is all about ‘how do we help resolve the problem the client is facing ?’

My success came from not caring about profit, and instead caring about the customer and their challenges more than myself or my business. During the journey with them, I would help them realise that it was important to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome and a sustainable future for both parties.

Before I knew it, by demonstrating that we cared more about the client than ourselves, the client began to worry about us. Next thing I knew, we were trusted. This is invaluable and a key driver to my success, especially in times where trust in big businesses is at an all-time low.

This goes beyond clients too. If you don’t invest in your staff, they won’t invest in your business. You get what you put in at the end of the day.

Building real relationships

Business doesn’t need to be selfish and calculated. People can see through insincerity and when you don’t have their best interest at heart. The moment you say ‘what about me’ creates concern with your client, even if it’s their subconscious that’s operating. You can’t expect to build trust when you show all you care about is your own situation.

But when they know you are genuine and authentic and that you put them first, they begin to also put you first. It’s a two-way relationship.

It seems natural and obvious, yet we are all too busy worrying basing our lives on the things that may go wrong instead of the things that go right. Looking at the basics of trust in life. For example, if you are a parent, why does your son or daughter trust you? It’s because they know you will do anything for them, even take a bullet. They know that you will put them before you. Therefore, as a result of being selfless, it’s only a natural reaction for them to want to look after you too. They won’t hear a bad word said about you. They become your protector.

So, I decided that I would treat my clients in the same way. After all, it’s human nature and you don’t need to behave differently in a work environment to a family environment.

Being human and vulnerable

This approach has completely transformed the way my colleagues and I approach business. Through leading with authenticity, the first thing our customers now ask is, ‘What can we do for you?’

However, the key to creating these relationships and the associated success is true vulnerability. When people relate to you and see that you are just as vulnerable as they are, the human spirit will always jump in to help someone in need.

So, in summary, be selfless – put your clients and your colleague’s welfare and happiness before your own, and they will be behind you. Show your true authentic vulnerability, they will protect you. You can create a sustainable and successful business without chasing money and prioritising profit.