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Investing in Stock Markets: 4 Reasons People Get Stuck

The leading American entrepreneur, author and public speaker Seth Godin has had a great influence on my life as a writer and thinker.

His snappy blog posts and pithy remarks on the irrationality we see around us are worth a read.

I recently came across his post about being stuck.

In this, Seth described four reasons we run into problems when trying to tackle any kind of project:

  1. We don’t know what to do.
  2. We don’t know how to do it.
  3. We don’t have the authority or the resources to do it.
  4. We’re afraid.

Well, these are four deceptively simple reasons to explain any kind of impasse on whatever we are working on.

I decided to put this to the test and consider examples of each problem within the context of investing in stock markets.

As I go through each scenario, seriously consider how understanding where the problem comes from affects your ability to start searching for a solution.

Where are you stuck?
I have many friends and family members who are unwilling to start investing. Perhaps you are like them too. Perhaps:

1. You don’t know what to do
Many people simply don’t know where to start. I didn’t know it 10 years back. It’s not that people just starting out aren’t asking the right questions. The fact is that they don’t even know what questions to ask. This is true of investing in stock markets as well.

There are people who don’t know what to do before they start investing. And then there are people who are stuck with big losses that are a result of their own mistakes, and then don’t know what to do to get even again.

2. You don’t know how to do it
Even if you know what you would like to invest in, understanding how to do it can be a big challenge. But don’t you learn everything that you don’t know how to do? Like swimming, dancing, painting, or simply crossing the road?

Investing is like that. You just need proper guidance to know how to invest. And you can get that by reading books and other literature that talks about how successful investors did it. One starting resource that I recommend to all those who are just starting out on their investment journey is this – Read ‘The Intelligent Investor’ written by the father of value investing Benjamin Graham. Plus, read all the letters to shareholders written by Warren Buffett, among the most successful investors the world has ever seen.

Of course, we at Safal Niveshak are also there to help you out, but it’s upon you take the first step and be willing to learn how to do it.

3. You don’t have the authority or resources to do it
See, if you don’t have the resources of time and money to invest in stock markets, simply stay out of stocks. Instead, invest small amounts by way of mutual funds.

However, when it comes to authority, this is one issue that faces most small investors. They believe they need some kind of a permission (authority) to start investing in the stock markets, and they also believe that they would be better off going by what the authorities (stock market experts) suggest.

They also believe that they need to be financially educated to make money from stocks, and the absence of the same is considered a big obstacle when they want to start investing.

But if financial education was what was required to make money from stocks, the stock market experts would’ve become rich by investing their own money and not selling worthless stock advice to gullible small investors.

See, it doesn’t happen that way.

One problem with financial education is that it leads you to one overall inaccurate belief – You start to think that you’re smarter than you are.

“But then, isn’t some knowledge about finance important before investing in the stock markets?” you may ask.

Of course, it is! But financial education alone won’t be of any help to you.

What you also need is emotional intelligence, which is simply the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself.

If you think you possess the emotional intelligence and basic financial intelligence, there’s nothing that should stop you from taking your own independent investing decisions.

4. You’re afraid
“I don’t invest in stocks. I find investing too risky!”

This is a common statement I have heard from many of my college friends who are yet to start investing. They feel better off without investing in stock market, and staying with the safety of bonds, and (mis-sold) insurance cum investment products like ULIPs.

It really amazes me when such educated people think that investing in stock markets is risky.

This is especially when they are already taking much bigger risks by listening to their greedy advisors and wasting their money on financial products that are never going to make them any money!

What I tell them is that if investing is risky, so is swimming, crossing the road, riding a bike, and driving a car.

With proper training and guidance from our parents, we learn to do these things fairly early in our lives.

But the sad part is that, parents rarely teach their children how to treat money – how to save and how to invest. And that is what makes the grown-up children believe that ‘investing is risky’!

The legendary investor Warren Buffett once said – “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” By educating yourself in investing, you will know what you’re doing. And that will take away a lot of risk from your investment decisions.

So, investing in stocks isn’t risky if you know how to do it the right way.

It’s taking advice from people who don’t know what they are talking about all the time…that’s risky.

And the biggest risk is…not investing at all.

Just write it out
I don’t know about you, but when I have a problem that’s proving difficult to solve, I write it down and then apply critical analysis to solving it. It helps me in coming up with solutions.

Just by identifying the exact pain point can help us to take positive steps in our investing life. This is because knowing where it hurts the most enables us to look for targeted solutions.

What other investing related issues do you face? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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About the Author

Vishal Khandelwal is the founder of Safal Niveshak. He works with small investors to help them become smart and independent in their stock market investing decisions. He is a SEBI registered Research Analyst. Connect with Vishal on Twitter.


  1. I am an NRI, I have invested in mutual fund using SIP in good mutual funds for the past 6 years and today my returns stand somewehre at 10% per annnum (on total portfolio of mutual fund). Today SBI NRI deposit offer me 9.25% P.A Compounded Quaterly for 10year time which gives a much higher net returns on a 10Year basis which is is also tax free (similiar to my Equity MF). Now the dilemma is should I opt for such FD’s or to continue to invest in equity fund.

    • Hi Ajay, I’m sorry but I do not offer personalized advice on investments at this point in time. You can get the same from a financial advisor. But overall, it’s good to have a mix of both types of investments for growth and stability in the long run. Regards.

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