Lucy Nicholls | Thumbs Up Therapy

Lucy is the director and founder of Thumbs Up Therapy. We learn how she came to Singapore, started her company, what keeps her motivated, and the challenges of running a business.

1. What's your story?

Hi I’m Lucy, the director and founder of Thumbs Up Therapy. I am a qualified speech and language therapist working in paediatrics. I am originally from the UK. In 2014, I decided to take a leap of faith by moving to Singapore, a completely unknown place.

Having gained experience working in the clinic and school settings in Singapore, I took a second leap of faith in 2018, opening my own therapy practice, Thumbs Up Therapy.

Thumbs Up was born from identifying space for a quality therapy service operating in the home and school setting. Beyond this, I wanted to create a culture focusing on work / life balance, flexibility and creating a happy and healthy work environment for a team of speech and language and occupational therapists.

For the first year, I was the only therapist. Three years later, I am proud to say, we are a team of 11 therapists. It’s a real pinch me moment writing that!

2. What’s the most satisfying part about what you do?

Without a doubt, seeing children achieve their full potential! We work with children from as young as 18 months, working alongside the child, family, school and other professionals. First we assess the child’s strengths and areas for development. From those findings, we form functional, achievable goals for speech, language, communication or occupational targets.

We plan fun and motivating therapy sessions targeting skills and strive to educate and empower caregivers.

Hearing from the team that a child has achieved all their goals and can be discharged is always a celebration for us and of course for the family and child.

The Thumbs Up Therapy team.

3. What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you move forward?

Eughhhh dare I say it … COVID!!! We were heavily impacted by school closures and circuit breaker. It made delivering therapy extremely challenging. However, the positives were learning new skills in providing screen based therapy. Some children responded so well to it. Additionally we were able to work with clients from around South East Asia and beyond via screen!

4. What's the best piece of business advice you would like to share?

I think you should definitely play to your strengths. When I first set up Thumbs Up, I wanted to understand all aspects of the business and I thought it was imperative that I could do it all. I tried to fill many roles… yes, even accounting. It turns out I am no accountant.

After spending hours staring at balance sheets, attempting to reconcile payments, and creating a P&L  I thankfully found Harvest and Xero. This allowed me to spend my time focusing on speech therapy and growing the business. Further to this, a priority for me has always been listening, respecting and celebrating my team.

The Thumbs Up team are all wonderful. I want them to feel valued, supported and heard. I think this has been key to our success and growth.

5. How has working with Harvest Accounting and using Xero impacted your business / life?

As mentioned, there were quite a few hair pulling moments when I was battling my own accounts. From my first meeting with Matt and Bryan I knew I was in good hands with Harvest.

They answered my many, many questions and alleviated a lot of stress.

I find the Harvest team efficient, diligent and nice people to work with. I find Xero easy to navigate. I love being able to access details on the go from the app. Another added bonus is the legendary Harvest Christmas card created by Matt each year!

6. Shameless plug for your business:

At Thumbs Up Therapy we want to equip you with the knowledge, skills and confidence to support your child. Ask questions, take notes, do the homework, and work closely with your child’s therapist at Thumbs Up Therapy. Together we can make an amazing team, advocate for your child, and change their life, one word or one step at a time. Ultimately, we want your child to reach their goals and realise their potential while having fun!