"Give me something to believe in
if there's a Lord above
Sometimes I wish to God I didn't know now
The things I didn't know then
And give me something to believe in"

- Poison, "Something to Believe In"

Entrepreneurs who succeed in 2009 and beyond are people who will, amidst the liars, cheaters, and thieves of the credit bust, give customers and investors something to believe in.  Think about it… it wasn't too long ago that lofty valuations of the stock market and real estate actually made sense to a lot of people.  Why?  The spreadsheets said so.  The very people who relied on those spreadsheets, moreso than the veracity of an opportunity or the integrity of a company's leadership, got KILLED in the bust.

Numbers can be invented.  Financial models can be designed to tell any story you want to believe.  And thousands upon thousands of MBAs and Finance majors in undergraduate programs are minted every year with the same ability to create whatever reality is necessary.

If there is one positive about the bust, it is that it sheds light on the fact that financial modeling and forecasting is largely BS.  Successful entrepreneurs and investors will focus even more on people and the real creation of value than financial gamesmanship, smoke and mirrors, and those who merely "play the part".  The relevant question now for investors isn't so much "does the financial model make sense?" as much as it is "can we believe the people behind this company?"  You can always change directions with your business model, pricing, target customers, etc., but you can't easily change the character of the people in the management team you've backed.

Though it may be temporary, we're for now moving back to the old-fashioned values of hard work, creativity, invention, integrity, patience, austerity, and honesty.  We'll all benefit from it.