As payday approached, Robert Fierle, president of American Precision Industries Inc., had only $27 in the bank to meet his weekly payroll. So, as many presidents do when faced with a crisis, Fierle rolled the dice. Literally. He took the $27 to a local Jaycees craps game, and stayed until he had won enough cash to pay his employees.

That was when American Precision was young. At the time, the manufacturer of heat exchangers and electronic devices in Buffalo had yearly sales of $23,000 and a weekly payroll of $170. The company now has sales of more than $40 million Fierle acknowledges that a crapshoot wouldn't work today, but says his recklessness saved the company and bestowed an abiding lesson in running a business.

"When it comes down to the sheer survival of your company, you have to be willing to take measures that, ordinarily, seem crazy," he says. "Risk is what being an entrepreneur is all about."

Fierle's conception of risktaking, nonetheless, is not recommended for everyone.