David Cameron: Now is time to start business

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Media captionWATCH David Cameron: 'Now is the time to strike out on your own'

David Cameron has told would-be entrepreneurs "now is the time" to launch their business.

The prime minister was backing a private-sector led initiative aimed at helping people set up businesses.

Start Up Britain is offering support worth about about £1,500 in areas like IT training and internet advertising.

Last week's Budget saw economic growth forecasts revised down and ministers are looking to the private sector to drive forward growth.

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast 1.7% growth in 2011, compared with its previous estimate of the 2.1%.

At the launch of Start Up Britain, which is backed by entrepreneurs and big business, Mr Cameron said Britain's economic recovery had to be private-sector led "with made in Britain stamped all over it".

The PM said government had a role to play in easing the burden on business - but it could only do so much on its own and it needed business to help drive the recovery: "I believe we can make this decade one of the most entrepreneurial decades in our history."

"This government is backing small firms, it's getting behind the start-ups, it's getting behind the doers and the grafters who are going to get our economy moving and create the jobs and the wealth and the opportunity that we need."

But he said none of the initiatives would matter unless people took up the opportunities: "I want to make a direct appeal to everyone who's sitting at home or at their desk and thinking about starting their own business. Now is the time to do it.

"If you've been turning over a good idea for years - now is the time to make something of it. If you're working for a big firm but you know you could do a better job on your own - now is the time to make that leap. If you've been dreaming about starting up the next great British brand - now is the time to make it happen.

"There are thousands of people out there who are entrepreneurs but they just don't know it yet or they are thinking about. There are millions of success stories that haven't been written yet. So seize this moment. Take these opportunities. Make it happen - and together we can drive our economy forward."

He also suggested his wife Samantha - who was creative director at upmarket stationery firm Smythson before he became PM, might start up her own business, when his political career is over.

"Politicians are always troubled with the question, 'what on earth do you do after politics?'," he said.

"I have no doubt Samantha's answer will be pretty clear, which will be for her to start a new business. She's always said 'if you are going to do politics, then one of us better have a proper job'."

Start Up Britain is being supported by firms including AXA, Barclays, Intel, Blackberry, Experian, Google, Virgin Media Microsoft, McKinsey & Co and O2.

BBC business correspondent Joe Lynam says the initiative will form a major part in the coalition's efforts to tilt the economy away from the public sector and towards private enterprise.

Telegraph letter

The launch follows last week's Budget which raised entrepreneurial tax reliefs, created 21 enterprise zones offering tax breaks, and promised less red tape and high speed broadband in an effort to help new firms grow.

The announcement comes on the day that a group of leading venture capitalists said the UK was a "world-class place to launch new businesses", following George Osborne's Budget.

The 39 signatories of a letter to the Daily Telegraph welcomed new investment rules introduced by the chancellor as a "shot in the arm" for enterprise, allowing them to put more funds into start-up companies.

"British entrepreneurs, and those relocating to the UK, will find it easier to raise the funds they need to do what they do best: create and grow world beating businesses," they wrote.

Mr Cameron said last week's Budget had been "the most pro-enterprise Budget this country has seen for a generation" but Labour argues that the government's spending cuts are damaging the economic recovery, after growth forecasts were revised down.

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