The Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, turned an initial bankroll of $10,000 into a multibillion-dollar conglomerate. Shelby Davis began with $50,000, and he amassed a $900 million fortune. These inspiring stories give us all hope that we'll be able to achieve our own financial dreams. But what if you don't have $50,000, or $10,000, or even $5,000 to get started?

Fear not, Fool -- you aren't doomed to penury and misery. You don't need a trust fund as big as Trouble's to start securing your financial future. Just follow these four simple steps:

  •  Start today!
  •  Invest regularly. Every month, put away $250, $100, even $50.
  •  Look to the stock market for your best hope of realizing your dreams.
  •  Seek undervalued small-cap stocks for your greatest returns.

Why small caps?
Small caps offer the greatest potential for market-beating returns. Institutions tend to ignore these tiny stocks, and analysts don't cover them. By the time anyone realizes they're there, they've already grown and appreciated in price. To find these future giants, we'll screen for stocks with:

  •  market values less than $2.5 billion, to qualify as small caps.
  •  share prices above $5, to weed out penny stocks.
  •  an earnings surprise of 20% or more last quarter.
  •  the prospect of growing earnings at least 20% annually for the next five years, according to analysts.

We'll filter our findings through the collective investing wisdom of the more than 100,000 professional and novice investors in our Motley Fool CAPS community. If the best and brightest CAPS players think these stocks hold potential, then we ought to take notice, too. Here are some of the stocks this simple screen found:

Company

Market Cap

Share Price

Earnings Surprise

5-Year Growth Estimate

CAPS Rating (5 Max)

Alvarion (Nasdaq: ALVR)

$560.5 million

$8.73

50%

25%

*****

Infinera (Nasdaq: INFN)

$1.2 billion

$13.05

300%

28%

*****

Under Armour (NYSE: UA)

$1.7 billion

$34.21

100%

24%

***

The9 (Nasdaq: NCTY)

$603.7 million

$21.84

60%

22%

*****

Rightnow Technologies (Nasdaq: RNOW)

$435.6 million

$12.87

40%

30%

**

Screen results courtesy of MSN MoneyCentral; data courtesy of Yahoo! and Reuters; CAPS ratings courtesy Motley Fool CAPS.

Of course, this is not a list of stocks to buy. This is a starting point for more research. We need to look more closely at these companies to see if analysts' faith in them is well-founded, but we've got the CAPS community helping us here, and starting with their favorites would be a good place to begin. Let's see about looking a bit further into one of these.

Broadband to the max
It's a nascent industry still, but WiMax broadband systems are generating strong demand -- at least for certain players. One of them is Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation Alvarion, which has smartly partnered with a number of telecom suppliers like Nokia (NYSE: NOK) Siemens Networks, as well as systems integrators like IBM (NYSE: IBM). That's given it broad access to markets that others like Clearwire seem to have trouble maxing out. As a result, even in bad times, revenue is surging for the upstart.

The potential for huge growth opportunities surrounding Alvarion is attracting top-rate All-Star investors like tuffsledding, who's found the discounted price an attractive opportunity to get in on an industry leader.

Bottom-fishing here, but the potential for growth is phenomenal, given the disruptive Wi-Max technology that can greatly extend the reach of wireless Internet. There are competitors out there, but these guys seem to be ahead of the pack.

Foolish final thoughts
Academics will tell you that individual investors have little chance of beating the stock market. They say the Warren Buffetts, Shelby Davises, and Peter Lynches are the exceptions to the rule. We at The Motley Fool don't agree. Stock investing is not brain surgery. Finding good, undervalued companies is not as difficult as the professionals want you to think.

It is possible to make a more comfortable retirement for yourself, even if you have little money to start with or are starting late in life. It is possible to turn $100 into $1 million. You just have to commit: Do it now, and do it regularly. No amount is too small. Let's get started. There's no time to lose!

Under Armour, Infinera, and Alvarion are all Motley Fool Rule Breakers selections. The Fool owns shares of Under Armour and Infinera. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.