Today, I'm going to single out the pitfalls of acting rashly instead of rationally as you consider your very next investment.

You see, today is the third Wednesday of the month, which means that the next issue of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers growth stock newsletter goes out tonight with two brand-new picks. But I don't want to create a sense of anticipation if you are already a subscriber, or a sense of urgency if you're not.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's important to spot emerging trends early and invest accordingly. I write the Early Adopters Roundup column, which has run monthly in the newsletter since its inception two years ago. I've seen some pretty amazing things happen to portfolios that capitalize on ground-floor opportunities.

Then again, sometimes what appears to be a ground-floor opportunity is actually an elevator heading down into the mineshaft. In other words, you don't need to rush the due-diligence process. No stock out there is going to explode at the open tomorrow and leave you behind if you decide to commit to a little more research, even if you ultimately buy in days, weeks, or even months down the road.

Failure is not an option, though sometimes it's inevitable
If you don't believe me, let's take a closer look at some slam-dunk early-bird specials that proved to be buzzard bait.

Ballard Power (NASDAQ:BLDP): Some of the more lively discussions around Fooldom in the 1990s focused on a company by the name of Ballard. Fuel-cell technology was all the rage as a cleaner and more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Even automakers were buying into Ballard. Nowadays, all hope isn't lost for the company. The technology is still sound and even more in vogue than ever. However, if political strife in oil-rich countries and $3 gallons of gasoline didn't manage to awaken Ballard's stock out of its single-digit slumber and keep it buoyant, it's hard to imagine what will do the trick.

Audible (NASDAQ:ADBL): Pioneers often find themselves singing the blues. Audible's model for streaming audiobooks was ahead of its time. Its subscription model predated that of music-streaming services, and its 1997 introduction of a digital media player came four years before the iPod validated the niche. Unfortunately, the term "audio visionary" is flawed on different levels. Audible has been able to grow, but it's been a red-ink magnet. Analysts expect the losses to continue until at least 2008.

Sirius Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI): How can a company be in a fast-growing niche, swiping market share from its only other rival for four consecutive quarters, and still trade for the equivalent of a fast-food value meal? Sirius investors may be asking themselves that very question. The shares have been more than halved since peaking two years ago, after announcing that Howard Stern was coming over. He showed up. He's rocked the house. It hasn't mattered. Perhaps it's because Sirius's fully diluted shares keep ballooning (now totaling 1.4 billion). Perhaps it's that it took the company this long to finally post a quarter in which its reported loss was less than its total revenue. If the company can contain its costs, the sky's the limit, but it has clearly been a disappointment over the past two years.

TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) -- Speaking of innovators that don't capitalize on their first-mover advantage, TiVo much these days? I do. I'm a walking, talking endorsement for the life-enhancing ways of TiVo's revolutionary digital video recorder (DVR), and I recently became a shareholder. TiVo for roughly $6 a share? That was too tempting. I realize that the company put itself in this unloved position. It relied too much on a single satellite television provider to serve as its ambassador. It has counted on deep hits in subsidized hardware for too long. I wouldn't be buying in last month if I didn't think that TiVo's future was brighter, but I also accept that TiVo failed in revolutionizing its platform, even as the company itself has been immortalized as a verb.

The difference between being early and being too early
Some of the market's biggest winners have periods of surging activity, but it's not as if they became overnight successes. If a stock is truly destined for greatness, you don't need to draw lines in the sand between intraday trading ticks that separate long-term losers from long-term winners.

Even as I look through some of the biggest winners in the Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service, I see that investors didn't have to move in right away to get the best price.

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Intuitive Surgical












Intuitive Surgical has reinvented the operating table with its da Vinci surgical robotic arm, but you didn't need rock-steady hands to hop on to this lucrative market beater. Twenty-four trading days after it was singled out, the stock bottomed out at $40.15.

Akamai has been the big winner in digital delivery. The need to deliver chunky files quickly and securely has made Akamai a speed demon in business practice and the stock market alike. Yes, $12.47 is a great price, but the stock went on to trade as low as $11.14 just 18 trading days later.

Vertex has been a biotech shooting star, yet it, too, wasn't singled out at its rock-bottom price. Nearly three months later, the shares had fallen by 18% to trade for as little as $8.61 a share.

Dead by 3:59 pm?
So where does that leave you? Hopefully, a bit calmer and a little less trigger-finger-happy. The new issue of Rule Breakers may offer up a pair of scintillating winners -- or more failure fodder for future retrospectives -- but history has proven that "if you act now" is a pretty lame infomercial pitch.

You are more than welcome to check out the newsletter with a free trial pass for the next 30 days, but even that generous window shouldn't instill a sense of urgency in your stock-buying process. I'd even be willing to wager that you will find more value in browsing through the archives of dozens of past issues than concentrating exclusively on tonight's new edition.

Due diligence is all about giving yourself enough time to be confident in every buy or sell decision you make as an investor. Losers can happen at any time. Winners will wait.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz actually does enjoy early-bird specials, as long as he's given enough time to analyze the menu. He owns shares in TiVo, a Stock Advisor recommended stock. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.TheFool has a disclosure policy.