• John Galligan

Lucid Celebrates Five Years

Lucid Services Group turns five years old and looks back over our journey

Whew! Five years. We made it. Five years may not seem significant to some, but if you own a business you know the deal. The blood sweat and tears spilled over those years counts for a lot. It’s not all calling the shots and team building. It’s the 11th hour digging in and hustling to deliver. Like Christmas morning, the first year is perspiring with anxiety and excitement. After year two, you find out Santa isn’t real, but you enjoy the festivities and eggnog. In year three, you hit you get your sea legs, and start to see predictive growth. Year four is all about balancing growth and delivery. Now, going into Lucid’s fifth year, we’ve hit our highest revenue goals and are seeing some pretty amazing impact on the world stage.

So, what does it mean to start a family-owned business going into the fifth year? We asked founders Bethany Robinson and John Galligan to share the biggest lessons learned and advice on how to weather the storm and enjoy the ride.

“While I’ve owned several businesses in the past, I’ve never had to meet such an aggressive growth rate in starting up a services-based business. That’s why John and I are a good team. We rely on each other’s strengths—his in sales and staffing, mine in operations. We’ve seen the birth and transformation of Lucid Services Group as lesson in how we show up to weather storms and a self-actualization process as business owners,” shared Robinson.

Here are their top lessons from starting up a business in the first five years:

Importance of owning it

Being a business owner means owning absolutely everything. Whether we like it or not, we’ve learned to make all the difficult decisions when it’s not a right fit. Honestly, it’s all the ego stuff we put aside. The “why can’t you do it like I would” stuff. It’s a lesson in staying humble, staying positive, and being solutions-focused. It’s taken years, but we’ve learned (as we have as parents) that dredging up the “what went wrong?” only creates more tension. We own the wrong decisions we have made, and the ones our team has made. However, we see it as extremely important to own our wins too. Whether it’s a mariachi band on a birthday or a company trip to the casino to celebrate a great year—we acknowledge and respect the power of being accountable as owners.

It’s a lesson in staying humble, staying positive, and being solutions-focused.

Let’s talk money

It’s hard out there for a small business. It can be difficult to get financing and as owners we started by really selling the vision and our experience. We have gained a lot of respect for small businesses and the challenges they go through with financing. Through this journey, Lucid has developed a clear mission to support other small businesses and our community. Today, we are proud to be 100% debt-free.

Long view to get us through long days

Being resolute about managing the long view. This matters most during those late nights in the office and days where things don’t go as planned. We dig in, unite as a team, and talk about solutions—it’s just part of our culture. We’re constantly asking, “How does what we do today slingshot clients and Lucid forward?” As we roll into our fifth year, we’ve seen the long view mindset come to fruition, especially in client strategy (including building an ideal client portfolio) and team alignment. It’s like that feeling of looking back on an intimidating climb, but now we’re back at basecamp five years later looking at the larger mountains ahead of us. Having confidence through the work we have put in, and results we’ve seen, makes all the difference.

Passion for your purpose to drive you forward

Small but mighty. Lucid’s passion for improving businesses and seeing change has been the clear determinate for clients and employees. Our teams have transformed pharma and hospital programs, improving patient outcomes—particularly this year in the throes of vaccine development amid COVID-19. Our team has also helped to transition a Fortune 500 to work from home in a matter of 2.5 weeks. Additionally, Lucid is now are profitable enough to give back to our communities in a larger way. Whether it’s supporting Riley Children’s Hospital or Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana, corporate social responsibility and social justice is a priority for our business.

We’re only as good as our team and talent

Autonomy is key in a startup. Out of the gate, Lucid was intentional about the quality of life for employees and not only being a “numbers based” company. We built a company we would want to work for where authenticity is one of our most valued principles. This means giving employees the space to both fail and succeed. Again, focusing on the long view has given us the insight to see what really matters—the people.

We built a company we would want to work for where authenticity is one of our most valued principles. This means giving employees the space to both fail and succeed.

Power in saying “no” matters

Beauty in choice. The beautiful side of entrepreneurship is the ability to be selective with who we work with. By forging positive client relationships, we can scale impact based on what is best for both parties and not have to worry about appeasing outside shareholders. Boundaries, in combination with exceptional customer service, makes for a happier culture and clients.

Partners that make you better

Make things easier by recruiting best-of-breed partners and technology. We learned being selective with the partners you choose ultimately comes out in the client delivery. While it isn’t always easy to find the time, the upfront investment pays multiple dividends. As a true family business, John’s mother did our accounting in year one. We quickly outgrew personal accounting and HR. By year three, we ended up doing a complete overhaul and our accounting/HR automation is making our lives 100% easier. Our recommendation is to find the best-of-breed finance and accounting platform, time reporting and expense reporting, client onboarding (HR platforms), legal, marketing, and office management partners for a seamless startup experience.

We learned being selective with the partners you choose ultimately comes out in the client delivery.

Here’s a shoutout to our partners that make it all happen on the Lucid ops side:

A look back at Lucid

In the spirit of celebrating wins, it’s always fun to look back at how we’ve gotten here.

2016: Lucid is born

In true spirit of startups, in the spring of 2016, we had the offices in corners of our house and John’s mom was doing our books. We had just had our daughter, Maggie, who was 3.5 months premature. Our experience as a family deepened our belief in the life sciences and healthcare sectors we work in, and the success of the business was especially important to us financially. Believe us, it was not without stress, but in hindsight we’re proud of how we managed this time in our lives.

In May we opened our first office in Bloomington. It didn’t have any windows, so that fun. We bought our first computers for at the Indiana University surplus store on a credit card. And we used to hold meetings at the food court in the Fashion Mall.

2017: Director of Recruiting Joins

A formative hire was Alyssa Dodds in June of 2017 as Director of Recruiting. Alyssa is startup beast that has come alongside Lucid to take it to the next level by leading the team and client delivery.

2017: Indy Offices

First office was a whopping 90sq/ft in northern Indianapolis city of Zionsville. Later in 2017 First Downtown Indy office in the Stutz building - 600 sq ft and three flights of stairs.

2017: Indianapolis & IN State Woman-Owned Business Certifications

Lucid Launches Rebrand

2018: Great Lakes Women Business Enterprise Certified

Our dog Jimmy joined the team and second Stutz building office – 1,200 sq. ft.

2019: KY & FL Offices Open

Lucid opens offices in Kentucky and Florida. Named SIA “Best Staffing Firms to Work For.” Third Stutz building office – 4,000 sq ft.

2020: Hit 6MM in Revenue

2021: Lucid Hits 5-Year Mark

What’s next?

As we roll into 2021 (whew!), what’s next for Lucid Services Group, and how do we plan for the next 5-10 years?

“We’ve really hit our stride going into our fifth year of business. Lucid is about to hit the 50-employee mark and we’re continuing to take the team up the ranks to strengthen our c-suite. The work we’re doing is starting to come full circle within our communities and especially the global healthcare stage in 2020,” commented Robinson.

Lucid is on the precipice of new market expansions including the launch of federal and defense programs. As a woman-owned business that makes it easy to do business, our work quickly puts “points on the board” for primes in the public sector.

“Rounding into year five, Lucid has become a well-oiled machine. Our sales team is humming with a strong brand to sell against, and we have key players moving up the ranks. It has become really clear who we like to work with and where we do our best work. Like a well-tested recipe, going into our 10-year planning brings on a special type of excitement for the future of our business and the industries we work in,” commented Galligan.

Putting a bow on it

What advice would Lucid owners give to other entrepreneurs hiring and starting a new business?

  • Be accountable: Keep your company to the same accountability that you do for clients.

  • Culture: See culture-driven hiring as one of your largest assets. Our startup hiring had 4 non-negotiables: autonomy, accountability, entrepreneurial, and being a good human being.

  • Outsource: Outsource your weakness or the things you don’t like to do. It’s humbling for us entrepreneurs to not think we are good at everything, but the faster you learn this the faster your company benefits.

  • Empathy: Meet clients, employees, and yourself where you are. If things aren’t a fit, be honest and upfront.

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