The easy way is to get hold of an experienced financial adviser and follow his investment advice. The hard way is to take charge of your own financial future and do the investing on your own.
Many small investors skip the easy way because they think that investing for the long term is a trivial activity, and not worth the fees a good financial adviser will charge. No wonder they end up with poor returns or losses.
Common sense suggests that you follow the easy way first. Learn the ropes and gain experience about which investment instruments carry what types of risks and give what kind of returns over different time frames.
Once you have followed the advice of a financial adviser you can trust and built up a decent investment portfolio, then you may start thinking about managing your portfolio on your own.
Before you decide to march to the steps of Tagore's well-known song "Ekla Chalo Rey" ("tread your own path"), there are three things you need to remember:
1. You can't be an expert at everything - invest in what you know, and gradually broaden your 'Circle of Competence'
2. Be patient and disciplined - Rome wasn't built in a day. A good investment portfolio requires canny selection, disciplined approach to regular investing and monitoring, and patience to hold for the long term
3. Control your emotions - be dispassionate about the periodic ups and downs in the economy. Not investing when there is doom and gloom all around is just as bad as investing when there is euphoria and everyone is jumping into the stock market to buy.
What is your Circle of Competence?
How small investors can widen their Circle of Competence