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Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, is one of the most respected business leaders in the world. He transformed and upscaled Microsoft. Many business leaders have applauded the Nadella transformation and how he has grown Microsoft when its competitors were ahead by far. At one point, Microsoft was just a gadget producer, failing to upgrade by swinging with the new technology trends. When Nadella took over the helm of affairs at Microsoft, the company’s share quadrupled and its revenues increased by over $35 billion per year. In its most recent financial quarter, the firm made a net income of over $10 billion. This is indeed a success story! If we look at the growth process of Microsoft under the control of Nadella, there are many lessons small businesses can learn. In this article, I discuss four powerful lessons we can learn from Satya Nadella.
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  • Never Be Satisfied

One of the biggest mistakes most business owners make is to be satisfied with little business breakthroughs. Having millions of ROI can make some business owners complacent and relaxed! However, this was not so for Nadella who was in charge of a multi-billion dollar company. Under Nadella, Microsoft became the most valuable company in the world last November, and in April 2022 it became just the third company in history to surpass a market cap of $1 trillion. Before Nadella took over, Microsoft was just a few inches ahead of 500 billion dollars. Yet today, he had quadrupled Microsoft’s market share. Rather than celebrate, he had this to say: “I would be disgusted if somebody ever celebrated our market cap.” – Satya Nadella, talking to Bloomberg Businessweek For Nadella, celebrating this feat was going to be detrimental to the health of Microsoft and was going to be the beginning of the end of the company.
  • It’s Not Too Late To Change

When Nadella took over at Microsoft, he changed the existing business model. Hitherto, Microsoft was known for being antagonistic towards rival companies like Apple. More so, within the company, employees were daggers drawn competitive against each other. This was the usual culture in Microsoft – internal and external unhealthy competition. However, when Nadella took over, he transformed the age-long competition. Rather than pitching employees against each other, Nadella creates a spirit of cooperation amongst them. At the same time, he also altered Microsoft’s long-standing policy of refusing to work with competitors, putting customers first instead of working too hard to further Microsoft’s corporate interests. Under Nadella, Microsoft has partnered with rival companies. From Red Hat to SAP to Sony, the software giant has formed plenty of alliances with competitors during the Satya Nadella era. And it’s hard to complain about the results. What can small business owners learn from Nadella? They need to look beyond their businesses and become flexible reaching out to contemporaries to build alliances and forge growth.
  • Look Beyond Your Products

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Another lesson small business owners can learn from Nadella is to not be engrossed in their products but to be very interested in making an impact on the lives of humans – customers, employees and stakeholders, and the world at large. In the contemporary business world, focusing on products only can be very detrimental to your business growth. Companies focused on empowering people will in the long run enjoy the dividends. Although these are some of Microsoft’s key products, the company was providing much more to its customers, they were creating a purpose. Speaking  to the McKinsey podcast, Nadella stated that: “We have to deliver to companies the ability to empower their employees so that modern work can happen, they can collaborate, they can communicate in new ways, and companies can get more out of their people.”  This is not to say you shouldn’t focus on building great products, but rather at the heart of your production should be how to better the lives of humans.
  • Move With The Times

One of the biggest introductions Nadella brought to Microsoft when he took over in 2014 was upscaling its technology. Despite being a foundational member of Microsoft software in the early years that produced the PCs and the entire Windows operating system, Nadella spoke about cloud and mobile devices when he took over and he didn’t talk about Windows. The truth is this: before Nadella, Microsoft was far behind in cloud and mobile device services. Nadella had realized that the world of tech was leaving Microsoft behind. Take mobile phones, for instance. The likes of Apple and Samsung were way ahead and optimising the swiftness of their devices with new mobile software. This lagging behind situation placed Microsoft with its Windows Mobile a distance third position and worst still, it only had 3% of the entire market share behind  Android and iOS. Nevertheless, there was money to be made in getting Windows-owned apps onto devices that drove those operating systems. Rather than playing catch-up to the firm’s rivals, Nadella brought about Microsoft into a proactive business that looked at what the future was likely to be and changed its offering to fit. Featured Image Source: StartUp Talky
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This article was first published on 30th April 2022


Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.

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