We all like to read about the successful entrepreneurs who risked all their money to pursue a dream that others considered foolish. Their stories are exciting and inspirational, but they are also misleading. These entrepreneurs are few and far between.

Most entrepreneurs succeed by taking a far more practical approach. These entrepreneurs methodically build their businesses while keeping their day jobs until it was no longer practical or necessary. It is not necessary to risk everything to be a successful entrepreneur.

How Bill Gates Did It

Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum

Bill Gates didn’t drop out of Harvard. He took a leave of absence—and relied on his parents’ financial support—while he developed his programming skills and generated the contacts that enabled him to start Microsoft. If it hadn’t worked out, he could have returned to Harvard.

Google was a side project of two Stanford grad students. Dell Computer was started in a University of Texas dorm room for just $1,000. Apple’s first computers were hand-built in a garage and sold to local computer geeks. Wayne Huizenga started Waste Management with just one garbage truck. And he drove it himself.

So the truth is that the most successful entrepreneurs started small and took modest, calculated risks. They were not bold and reckless, as business magazines would have you believe.

It is true that starting your own business is the fastest and surest way to generate wealth. However, you don’t have to—in fact, you shouldn’t—risk everything you have to claim your slice of the entrepreneurial pie. You don’t have to “bet the farm” to be a successful, practical entrepreneur.

Keep Your Day Job

Practical entrepreneurs are wise people who keep their day jobs while they get their own business going in the evenings and on weekends.

They are entrepreneurs, because they are taking the initiative to start their own business. They are practical entrepreneurs, because they are not willing to quit their job and lose the income.

It takes discipline, tenacity, faith and a very understanding family to manage your start-up business while keeping your day job. It’s not easy to work all day at the office and then go home at night to work on your own project. The competition for your time can become intense, but if you use a well thought out approach and follow it in an orderly fashion, you have a very good chance of eventually succeeding.

In exchange for taking less risk, you must work harder and smarter. You must be dedicated− willing to come home after a full workday and keep going on your side business.

At some point in the future, you may realize that you are making more money from your new business than you are from your day job. That’s when you may choose to drop your job and go full-time into your own business. Until then, there’s no reason to either risk everything or become discouraged because you don’t have the start-up money you need.

So why wait? Become a practical entrepreneur and introduce us to the “next best thing.”