Real estate is a great business, not just because it can create enough income to allow people to quit their job or retire early, but because it can make you rich. Last week I wrote about why it is important to think big, and this article is all about thinking big!

How can you go from nothing to a multimillionaire with real estate?

The first step to building an empire is deciding the toute to take
When starting out in real estate, the first question many consider is whether to buy and hold or fix and flip.

I have 11 rentals and 10 fix and flips that are in various stages; thankfully two are under contract! I love to use the income from fix and flips to buy long-term holds. I think if you want to really make it big in real estate you have to use every aspect you can.

Why not fix and flip and buy and hold?

The benefits of flipping and holding
Many properties work great for flipping and others for holding.

If you can do both, it moves you along the wealth building road. It is great if you can learn to invest with little money down, but the truth is you will make more money if you have some skin in the game. If you can begin flipping homes to build up capital I think that is a great way to build up money to buy long-term rentals.

If you don't have money to hold properties or flip
Getting started in real estate is not east without money, I don't care what anyone says.

It seems like most real estate investors without money want to wholesale to start out. I am OK with wholesaling to build up cash, but it's not easy.

If you take the time to learn direct marketing and wholesale off market properties, you can make good money. With that money you can start holding and flipping. If you expect to make a killing off wholesaling by Realtors handing you deals off the MLS, think again. It will take hard work and dedication to be a great wholesaler.

Related: The Hidden Key To Success In Real Estate Investing

Once you have some money
If you have some money, you should be able to start flipping houses to make even more money. Once you have a decent amount of capital from flipping, you can start buying rentals, but that is not the end game.

The more money you can put back into the flipping business the more properties you can flip, and the more money you can make flipping. I would not take all the profits from flipping to buy rentals because you can make a great living flipping. It is a tricky balance of how how much flipping you want to do versus how many rentals you want. While flipping can produce a lot of income, it is not passive and you must keep working to generate that income.

The goal is to make enough money flipping to build up enough rentals.

Why long-term rentals?
If you can buy enough rental properties, you can build up passive income that will keep coming in every month. I have $60,000 a year coming in from my rentals, which is a great start.

I also have built $600,000 in net worth from my rentals, but that is a paper gain. The end goal may not be buying enough rentals to provide a solid income, but to provide a cushion for even bigger ventures. I have a goal to buy 100 rentals, but that could always change if I find something bigger and better to do with my money.

I have a solid rental income. Now what?
The great thing about having a solid rental income is it gives you freedom. Once you can cover your expenses with rental income, you can explore more options.

That cushion allows someone to take risks and not have to worry about losing everything. After all, you have a solid base to fall back on.

Ventures to undertake after building a solid income

Focus more on flips and building income
You can start pumping all your capital into the flipping business to see how big you can grow it. I know an investor who flips over 1,000 homes a year.

Focus on buying more rentals to make your life even better
I have a goal to buy 100 rentals, which will provide an awesome income, but that may not be big enough or fast enough for some people. Some of use have to pay for our fancy cars!

Focus on big projects with huge upside
You could move on to big commercial or multifamily projects that are riskier, but come with a higher profit potential.

Start a business
Many of us have always wanted to start a business that we thought of long ago. We never did because it was risky, we didn't have time and we were scared. Having a sold income takes care of most of those problems. The really rich get rich from starting their own business.

Related: How to Get Rich: 7 Awesome Ways to Build Big Wealth Today

Many people get very rich in real estate, but it takes more than a few flips or rental properties. The ones who get really rich use development, large projects or flip and hold for years. Don't be afraid to think big and start planning out how things are going to move forward.

A quick recap
1. Make enough money to start flipping through a job or wholesaling

2. Start using that money to buy rentals that will produce income

3. Keep building up the amount of rentals and flips you are doing

4. Use the comfort from the rental income to build big or go after your dreams

You don't have to follow this plan -- you could go straight to the make it big part, but it will be harder without money, experience or the comfort level.

Some think having a safety net is a bad thing because you know you have something to fall back on. Without any cushion, you have to succeed or starve. I think you can do it either way, but doing it with a level of comfort sure reduces the stress and chances of a massive stoke.

Are you approaching your real estate business with a safety net or do you err more toward the side of reckless abandon? What business would you start after raising enough capital?

Let us know in the comments!

This article originally appeared on Bigger Pockets and is Copyright 2014 BiggerPockets,

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.