1. Investing is not a hobby. To big merchant banks, it is a very competitive business. Therefore, you should also treat it as a business. That means understanding your own profit and loss as well as the companies in which investments are made.
Once this thought pattern is established, it makes the whole process so much easier. Simply ask, "Will this investment / trade / software / subscription make or lose me money?" Once an answer has been established, a clear course of action will present itself.
At first, investing can feel like gambling and many beginners want to learn how to play the stock market, but the real skill starts to come as an investor takes it more seriously.
2. Get some great investment management software. These days, a speedy internet connection and good money management and investment software costs virtually nothing. Why spend the time and effort trying to figure out the best ways to do things when solutions already exist.
Ideally, look to purchase two types of software. One will be for personal money management. This can be used for profit and loss and keeping track of the costs of subscriptions, stockbrokers and the like. The other will be used for tracking stock and fund prices, storing company news, technical and fundamental analysis and more.
3. Get an education. Warren Buffett has suggested in the past that every investor should be able to understand basic accountancy principles, an annual report and stock market history. You probably do not need to become an accountant, but being able to understand the scoring system of the game can only help.
4. Learn about money management. Every investor will have the occassional (at best) loser and it is vital that no individual holding can wipe out a portfolio. Understanding asset allocation is vital.
Years of talking to people about investments has taught me that there are fundamental differences between the way investors behave. New investors ask for 'a tip' and want to know, "What should I buy?".
In contrast, professionals do not want tips. They have dozens of good ideas of their own. They won't be sharing those ideas with you and they will not be expecting you to share yours. Instead, they ask about how you allocate money. "Which sectors and markets do you like and why?" The difference between these approaches is like night and day.
5. Read widely. Getting a wide ranging education in personal finance, corporate finance, taxation, economics and investment theories will help. However, finding areas of the world or business in which you can become relatively expert can help in the process of finding investments.
The reality is that in the modern world - especially with the power of the internet - there is very little information that is not in the public domain somewhere. However, the world now has information overload. Whilst the information might be available, few people now have the time to find or understand it. The people who know these things and can 'join the dots' have regular opportunities for stock market investment.
Once the basics have been covered and understood, it may be that just one or two hours of reading each week will be enough to keep knowledge up to date. But keeping up to date is vital.
___________________________________________________________Do you have any idea how cheap stocks are now? Wall Street is now being called Wal-Mart Street. - Jay Leno.