3 Things You Can Learn From Tesla's Rollercoaster Year

Elon Musk's car company has lessons for entrepreneurs about how to approach business during difficult times.

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By Nina Zipkin

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In 2017, Tesla installed the world’s largest battery in Australia and Elon Musk laid the plans that would successfully send his personal red Roadster to space. The company also dealt with questions about factory safety and discrimination lawsuits. So how did Tesla fare on the financial front during the last quarter of the year?

According to the company’s Q4 earnings report, the company brought in $3.29 billion in revenue and delivered a combined 28,425 Model S and Model X vehicles and 1,542 Model 3’s. The company reported that automotive revenue in Q4 went up by 36 percent over Q4 2016, due to a 35 percent increase in car deliveries.

Related: 24 Weird Things We've Learned About Elon Musk

Additionally, revenue for the energy generation and storage part of the company decreased by 6 percent in Q4 compared to Q3. Revenue for service also decreased by 5 percent compared to Q3 but increased by 81 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.

Working to improve steadily on the bottleneck incidences that stalled Model 3 production in 2017, the company is planning to to manufacture 2,500 of the vehicles a week by the end of Q1 and 5,000 a week by the end of Q2.

So what can you learn from Tesla’s rollercoaster year?

Be your own best customer.

The company shared that Tesla will actually be the first company to take its new electric semi truck for a spin, by using it to take Model 3 parts from Gigafactory 1 in Nevada to Fremont, Calif. “Additionally, our initial fleet customers who placed reservations for the Tesla Semi have been helping us develop the best possible truck,” the company shared in a statement.

Address the pitfalls in your strategy head on.

Predictions can be tough, and in the earnings report, the company admits as much. “It is important to note that while these are the levels we are focused on hitting and we have plans in place to achieve them, our prior experience on the Model 3 ramp has demonstrated the difficulty of accurately forecasting specific production rates at specific points in time,” it said. But the company highlights where the bottlenecks in the production cycle occurred -- such as the battery module line -- and explains how it will address them.

Meet your users where they are.

“We strive to create the best car ownership experience on the planet, and a big part of that is through not requiring customers to come in to service their vehicle,” the company writes in the report about its Mobile Service feature. It noted that it is now responsible for 30 percent of service jobs for its vehicles and says it has a customer service satisfaction rating of 98 percent.

Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

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