Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – If you were able to write a recipe for the successful creation of an entrepreneur, what would you consider the most important ingredient?

Courage gets the vote here.

That quality was on parade at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s “Companies to Watch” honors program last week. And in November, the N.C. Technology Association will recognize the best of the best firms and individual leaders at its “21 Awards.”

Every executive, every founder, every employee who took the chance of working for a startup or companies that live at the bleeding edge of technology deserve medals for courage.

By fostering courage, we can create more jobs and get America back to work. Unemployment and underemployment are plagues sapping the lifeblood of this country.

No miracle cure is required.

Leaders can encourage entrepreneurship by creating an environment that gives entrepreneurs the courage and confidence they need to either expand or start new businesses.

“The simple fact is that every business in America was started by an entrepreneur, whether it is Ford Motor Co., Google or your local dry cleaner,” Wall Street success story Charles Schwab wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. “Every single job that entrepreneur creates requires an investment. And at its core, investing requires confidence that despite the risks, despite the hard work that will certainly ensue, the basic rules of the game are clear and stable.”

Courage goes hand-in-hand with confidence. One boosts the other. How many cowards have become successful business people? No risk, no gain. It takes courage to risk career, savings and reputation on launching a new venture.

These days, courage is needed more than ever, given the economic misery plus the regulatory climate that business people keep saying is putting a straight jacket on job creation. The tax debate only adds to the uncertainty.

An example is the North Carolina Chamber’s third annual “Environmental Management Summit” on Thursday.

“As state leaders made important steps toward environmental reforms this session, businesses continue to face regulatory challenges, especially those standards coming from the EPA which impose strict and costly requirements,” the Chamber notes in a media advisory. (Read about the conference here.)

The daunting challenge facing entrepreneurs today is certainly worse than the “dot com” bust of 2000 when most of the economy chugged on through a slight recession (compared to the current one, certainly.) Out of that so-called nuclear winter sprouted numerous successful companies in the Triangle – or recreated dot com darlings such as SciQuest that remodeled itself from the ground up to become a successful public company.

Challenges “stemming from a barrage of new complex regulations and legislation” form “a roadblock to investment,” Schwab wrote in the WSJ. “We have to clear that uncertainty away.”

But even if someone did click fingers and a environment that respected the importance of the environment while also accommodating the needs of business leaders appeared (do you believe in miracles?), entrepreneurs and executives would still need courage to move forward.

Fortunately, the Triangle has many entrepreneurs and leaders with courage.

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