There’s not that much mystery about the way that the stock market works. But there might be some mystery about how to get started in some investments.

People who are just starting out as retail investors get a lot of advice from a lot of sources. Much of this advice is good, while some of it is garbage. But a lot of independent investors long to generate their own ideas about where to put their money. They want to find large and small investment ideas on their own. Where do they start?

The most successful investors in the world get their ideas in different ways. There’s no single road map to surefire financial gain — it’s more like a road atlas. But there are few sources, tactics, and mental approaches that can help you come up with several ideas for investment. Here are just a few.

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Study the Strategies of Successful Investors

Successful investors all had to start somewhere. Many of them started with nothing. Some of them have shared the strategies that made them extremely rich.

Most of these superstar investors out there take the long-term view. They focus on strategies that build wealth over time. Their stances usually avoid the “get rich quick” mentality. While that makes them a little too cautious to more active investors, their philosophies and approaches are always good to learn.

Books are the best places to start when you’re looking for investing ideas that have paid off in the past. Some of the most notable are:

  • The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
  • The Little Book That Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt
  • A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton G. Malkiel
  • The Essays of Warren Buffett
  • The Most Important Thing by Howard Marks
  • A Wealth of Common Sense by Ben Carlson
  • One Up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch

These books don’t necessarily name specific investment ideas for you to pursue. But they’re volumes that investors still read and rely on when they want to look for great opportunities today.

Using the News to Find Investing Ideas

Experts disagree about the ways that current events and news cycles affect the stock market.

Some say every news item has at least some influence on certain commodities or sectors. Others say that current events get blown out of proportion and result in overspeculation.

As you might have guessed, both views have some elements of truth.

Major events always have wide-sweeping financial effects. It’s reasonable to look for companies that may find financial success in the wake of these events. When scientists try to cure a pandemic, it’s logical that investors might seek the companies that will produce a vaccine.

The problem is that many such stocks are so tied to current events that their growth may not last for long. Once the impact of the event dies down, those companies may recede. It’s not easy to figure out which businesses those might be.

Still, keeping an eye on news events can be a great way to generate investing ideas. Just look for companies that are positioned to succeed long after the events have passed.

Find Investment Ideas in the newspaper

Use Financial News to Find Investment Ideas

Financial news, on the other hand, always has a major impact on the stock market. We hope this is at least a little obvious.

It’s easy to get financial news. If you have an online brokerage account, it likely has a news feed for every commodity the brokerage offers. You just click on a link in the feed and read the article. Brokerages screen these feeds, so there’s little risk of running into “fake news” or unreliable sources.

Keeping up with financial news is a great way to find investment opportunities. Sites that cater to financial news show which long-term trends are most likely to emerge. They can reveal promising stocks that are flying below the radar. Or they can inspire you to look for unusual opportunities on your own.

But it’s vital to rely on the right sources. Good financial news sites are fiercely objective. Their opinion pieces are data-informed and free of hysterics. Financing is a field in which hot takes are rarely useful.

Some of the best sources for financial news are:

Having the right financial news is a great way to understand the trends of the marketplace.

Find Investment Ideas with Exchange-Traded Funds

One especially effective way to find investment ideas is to learn from the pros. Finding out which stocks institutional investors are banking on will give you a peek at which futures the market believes in. And it’s surprisingly easy to do with exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

These are basically professionally managed stock portfolios. Fund managers set them up and investors buy into them. Each fund has holdings in multiple companies.

ETFs are organized around a certain “theme.” This is a characterization all the companies in the fund have in common. It could be all large-caps, all mid-caps, all small-caps, or a blend. It could be a business sector: All tech stocks, all health care stocks, all communications, and so on. It could be stocks in foreign markets or emerging markets. It could be tech disruptors or leisure services.

Most ETFs make their main holdings — at least the top 15 or 20 — available to the public. The stock symbols that show up in more ETFs are the ones fund managers believe in more. But you may also find a few niche stocks in certain specialized ETFs that are worth investigating as small investment ideas, too.

You can search for ETFs on the internet. ETF Database is a helpful tool for sorting through them all. And you can also buy shares in an ETF yourself, rather than just scanning it for new ideas. It’s an easy way to diversify your portfolio.

Filter Investment Ideas with Stock Screeners

Brokerage and financial news websites present you with a mass of information. Technically, these places have got all of the information you need on every company in the stock market. All of it. At once. Right in your face.

It’s great if you know what to look for. But it’s intimidating if you don’t. Not only that, but it doesn’t give investors a lot of context. Pages for small-cap companies are set up in the same way as large-cap businesses are. A flat-out information dump doesn’t take everything into consideration.

Stock screeners have that information, too — but it’s far easier to navigate.

A stock screener works as a filter. You choose the parameters that you like before you view a list of commodities. You can look at all securities within a certain market value range, organized from large to small. You can look for stocks in a certain business sector. You can view stocks currently experiencing high trading volumes. You can sort by share price, target price, countries of incorporation, or shares outstanding. Some even let you sort based on analysts’ advice on whether to buy, sell, or hold.

Using multiple filters is the key to working with stock screeners. For example, you may look for U.S. medium-cap health care companies that are currently trading at 5% above the target price that analysts list as “strong buys.”

We tried that on a stock screener just now. It returned 12 results. That’s much more manageable than wading through all 1,100-plus health care stocks. It’s certainly more convenient than viewing all of the nearly 8,000 stocks in the world.

Stock screeners come in free and paid versions. You get what you pay for. Finviz is a good, basic, free screener that will do for many retail investors, but it has its limits. Trade Ideas has amazing features, but it has a steep subscription fee, even with a promo code. Stock Rover has both free and paid tiers (most screeners do, in fact).

But no matter which screener you choose, you’ll find it far preferable to staring at a million lines of data.

Look Around for Small Investment Ideas

Finally, one of the most effective tips for finding small investment ideas is this: Look up.

The hugely successful investor Peter Lynch once remarked that he got a lot of stock ideas by talking to his family. His wife or daughters would buy certain products or services that piqued his interest.

Just taking a walk can inspire a thousand ideas for investment. See which products are flying off of the shelves at the mall. Learn which kinds of materials that construction truck in your neighborhood uses. Find out who makes the stemware they have at that fancy restaurant you like.

Investment ideas are like every other kind of creative idea. They come from looking at the world and following trains of thought. The inspiration can come from anywhere — but you still have to put yourself in the path of inspiration.

So the next time you want to seek investing ideas, try walking the dog.

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Gorilla Trades: Your Partner in Investing Ideas

Gorilla Trades helps investors like you to find the investing ideas with the most potential. We do all the work and research necessary to make those ideas pay off. To find out more, get started with a free trial.