As anyone who has ever bought even one stock knows, getting rich fast in the market isn't easy. But over the long term -- a decade or longer -- if you invest in a well-diversified bundle of stocks, throw in a smattering of well-priced bonds and save regularly, you will almost certainly see your money grow. By contrast, the high-risk approach we describe below -- buying a small number of aggressive stocks in hopes that some or all of them will become runaway winners -- carries with it a real possibility of large losses as well as outsize gains. With this aggressive approach, you invest in a small number of stocks that you hope can double, triple or even quadruple in relatively short order. Risky? Absolutely. You might even call this a shoot-the-lights-out strategy.

Nobody knows for certain which stocks will surge and which will sink. But if you are hoping to achieve big gains, you'll need to look beyond large, steady-Eddie types of companies. Small companies that are poised for rapid expansion and firms that serve emerging markets, which are growing more rapidly than developed nations, make for fertile hunting ground for potential winners.

For example, you could invest 10 percent of your portfolio in each of the following companies, all of which have strong growth prospects:

-- Exelixis (symbol EXEL; recent price, $5), a small biotechnology firm developing drugs to treat thyroid and prostate cancers.

-- Myriad Genetics (MYGN, $27), which develops gene-based tests to determine whether patients are at increased risk for certain cancers.

-- C&J Energy Services (CJES, $20), a provider of services for the hydraulic fracturing industry.

-- Ormat Technologies (ORA, $21), which harvests geothermal energy.

-- Entegris (ENTG, $10), a provider of services and products to protect against contamination in the semiconductor-making business.

-- Millennial Media (MM, $6), which partners with mobile-application makers to deliver advertisements on phones and tablets.

-- Nationstar Mortgage Holdings (NSM, $34), a mortgage servicer that has benefited from turmoil in the banking sector.

-- Encore Capital Group (ECPG, $28), a fast-growing debt-collection company.

-- Baidu (BIDU, $89), the top Internet search engine in China.

-- New Oriental Education & Technology Group (EDU, $17), the largest private education provider in China.

If you follow this route, you'll need to monitor these companies carefully to determine whether to hold them or replace them with better opportunities.

(Elizabeth Ody is a contributing editor to Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to And for more on this and similar money topics, visit