Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of Q&As with regional technology executives about how entrepreneurs and businesses can not just survive but thrive in tough times.

MORRISVILLE, N.C. – Born in the middle of the last 2001-2002 “nuclear winter” as dot coms failed and many telecoms struggled to survive or went under, InCentric Solutions grew into a successful information technology services providers.

From his company’s own success, lessons can be learned as a global recession grips business worldwide to begin 2009, says InCentric Chief Executive Officer Mark Milam.

In fact, Milam told Local Tech Wire, now is a good time to start a business.

Here’s LTW’s Q&A with Milam, a veteran of more than 20 years in the IT business.

A “nuclear winter” appears to have descended upon us as a New Year begins. But in the last such ‘winter” the Internet and Web 2.0 emerged as entrepreneurs seized upon tough times to deliver innovation and to grow their businesses or start new ones, not just survive.

What is your advice to fellow and would-be entrepreneurs entering the New Year – Conserve, cut or invest? None of these?

InCentric Solutions was founded during late 2001 (in the middle of the .com bust) and we found it a great time to start a business. It’s actually much easier to get started in a bad economy because it takes less operating capital to start operations and it’s easier to find good employees, office space, office furniture, etc.

Who will be not just the survivors but the winners still standing when the recession ends sometime in 2009?

For small companies it will be critical to keep the team atmosphere strong and company morale high. The entire company must be paddling in the same direction to emerge stronger.

What is your biggest fear/concern entering the New Year?

That the big companies over react to economic issues we all face.

Conversely, what are you most optimistic about?

The fact that InCentric Solutions is not tied too closely to any one industry. Having customers spread across many industries provides us a better chance to emerge a winner in this troubled economy.

In what areas do you see opportunities for growth in 2009 – Means to help companies become more efficient? Enabling technology to help people do more with mobile devices? Investments in clean technology? Further evolution of the Web? Tell us what you think.

Many customers have antiquated processes that offer potential savings related to operational efficiencies. One of our major customers recently acknowledged to us that "now is the time to invest in improving our operations". Investing now will allow customers to actually save money fixing a broken or outdated process and gain competitive advantage within their industry. InCentric Solutions is able to help our customers understand how proper technology investments can provide rapid return on investment and provided enduring value.

What do you believe will be executives’ biggest challenges this year – Financing? Growing sales? Balancing the cutting of costs with need for R&D as well as consumer support?

Financing has proven to be an issue for our customers. We have customers that would like to procure new technology, but getting financing is proving to be difficult.

Do you believe off-shoring of jobs will increase this year? Please explain.

Yes, competitive pressures continue to force more jobs off-shore. To date, InCentric Solutions has had a strong preference to have all of our services provided by US based resources. Most of which live in North Carolina. 2009 may be the first year we are forced to off-shore some of our jobs.

What advice would you offer to job seekers in such a tough environment?

In a good market some job seekers are adverse to working for smaller companies due to concerns about job security. In reality, no job offers true job security. Job seekers might be surprised to learn of the benefits and opportunities offered by smaller firms.