The stock market crash of 2008 was a monumental event in the economy of the United States. It exposed severe systemic weaknesses and nearly caused the collapse of the U.S. banking system. Unfortunately, many people who were invested in the stock market faired poorly.

But like all stock market crashes, the 2008 meltdown created great opportunities for those who were astute and disciplined enough to take advantage. While most investors were running for the exits, those with a keen eye for value were scooping up the vastly underpriced assets for pennies on the dollar.

When the crowd is running left, right is a solid bet

Ask any longtime value investor what the key to financial success is and the best ones will give you a simple, one-word reply: price. Potential returns are determined by the price that was originally paid for the stock. And this continues to be true far into the future.

What this means, in practice, is that when the hordes of investors are selling en masse, you may be looking at a golden opportunity to buy assets on the cheap. And buying cheap assets is the number-one way to ensure high net returns.

Staying diversified is always a good bet

Although some of the world’s best investors will often advocate a focus investing strategy, essentially forgoing diversification, attempting to follow in their footsteps when one is not a full-time investment professional is a generally bad idea.

If you don’t have 16 hours per day to analyze balance sheets and macroeconomic trends, staying diversified can give you almost the same levels of returns while reducing risk to manageable levels. Even diversified investors who owned companies that blew up in the 2008 debacle, such as Lehman Brothers, GM or AIG, were protected through allocating only a small portion of their portfolios to those firms.

We’re all dead in the long run

As nice as it would be to wait for the madness of crowds to produce fire-sale prices every time we needed to make an investment, it turns out that waiting 20 years to invest is a far worse option than looking for great companies at reasonable prices today.

The most important thing to ensure decent returns is to never overpay and to always invest in great businesses. Follow those rules, and you won’t have to wait for the next crash to make a buck in stocks.