SMALL businesses in Swindon are booming as 40 new start-ups have opened their doors over the past six months.

According to Outset Swindon, a free service funded by Swindon Council and the European Union to help new start-ups, more small businesses will appear on the streets of the town over the coming year.

Alison Cuss, 42, of Highworth, set up Four Paws in October last year, which provides reiki healing for sick animals.

“I was in a car accident in 2010, which meant I could not do my old job as a veterinary nurse,” she said. “I was thinking of doing reiki within the workplace, and this gives me the freedom to do it.

“I have to manage my pain, so I do have to work around that. Losing your job is quite a horrible situation if it has been your life.”

Alison said Outset had helped to speed the process along, and she was delighted to be doing the work she wanted to on her own terms.

“Officially I started in October, and business is taking its time,” she said.

“The hardest part is getting vets on board, and any treatment I do has to be with the permission of the animal’s vet.

“But I do not want things to get too mad either because I need to manage my pain. I think for me the courses were more of a confidence boost. I might have been able to do it on my own, but I probably would have muddled my way through it.”

Maxime Bell and her mother Cynthia set up a dance shop specialising in pointe shoe fitting in October, after working with Outset.

Maxime said: “I have been a dancer since I was three years old, and growing up there weren’t really any dance shops around.

“As I became older and things became more specialised I needed to go further outside Swindon. We saw that gap in the market.

“We tried to start a business before on our own, and we had no idea what we were doing. It got to the point when it became too difficult, but with Outset we had nothing to lose. They made everything really easy.”

Jane Pearce, marketing manager at Outset Swindon, said: “We have got a two-year contract in Swindon, which runs from the beginning of 2013 to December 2014.

“We started working here in March and courses got running in April and May. In the past six months we have helped create 40 businesses in the Swindon area.”

Jane said figures are expected to increase next year, with hundreds of clients now on their books.

“We have now engaged with over 600 people there are 450 people who are now clients,” she said.

“This means the pipeline for new businesses is going to escalate as they go through training. We would expect our numbers to rise considerably over the next six months.

“Sometimes people will be turned down by the banks for finance, but our company has just been appointed as a provider for start up loans. That widens our scope, because we will then be able to offer services on a national scale.

“For a lot of people, when you ask them if they want to be their own boss they haven’t got the money to do it, so finance is an essential part.”