Beginning investors are sometimes stymied by the sheer volume of investment options. When it comes to putting new money to work, should they go with stocks or funds? International or domestic? Growth or value? French fries or onion rings?

Truth be told, it's not just newbies who face this problem. But if you've already made a start in the market, you've at least got some moola that's already working for you -- and some experience under your belt that can help guide future decisions. If you're just looking to get going, though, having a gazillion possible paths can be the next worst thing to having none at all.

For a solution, let's consult William Shakespeare, who once famously advised that we should "keep it simple, Fool."

Sound advice
OK, so Shakespeare didn't really say that. It's sound investment advice, though, as is something the Bard actually did write: "To thine own self be true."

To get going in the right direction, you need to take your temperature as an investor. Are you a go-go type with a stomach for volatility and many years before you'll need to tap your nest egg? If so, consider tilting your portfolio toward growth-oriented fare. Companies like SiRF Technology Holdings (NASDAQ:SIRF), Red Hat (NASDAQ:RHAT), and CNET Networks (NASDAQ:CNET) fit that bill, matching oversized price-to-earnings ratios with similarly plump earnings-growth estimates.

If, on the other hand, you're more of a buttoned-down type, it probably makes more sense to lean toward discounted large caps such as Alcoa (NYSE:AA), Capital One (NYSE:COF), and Countrywide Financial (NYSE:CFC). Tried-and-true big boys should give you a smoother ride over the long haul and, at their current prices, they offer plenty of upside potential, too.

The simple solution
Notice, however, that above that I said "tilting" and "leaning." Whether you're a grizzled investing vet or a stock market toe-dipper, you'll want to spread your bets around. That way, when one area of your portfolio takes a tumble, another will be there to give it a lift.

With that in mind, one option that makes a great first step is a large-cap mutual fund such as Vanguard 500 Index (FUND:VFINX) or a low-cost actively managed pick run by a talented team with a track record of success. With that kind of centerpiece in place, you'll be in a good position to start leaning and tilting in the direction of your temperament as you go about the business of building your portfolio.

The Foolish bottom line
If you're new to investing and would like some help on that front, consider giving the Fool's new GreenLight service a look. It's designed to help you get going in terms of both investing and personal finance, and every issue aims to deliver advice you can put to use right away.

Indeed, our first three issues are chock-full of "action-oriented" tips, and in the installment that's currently in the works, we zero in on three hedging techniques that can help dial down your portfolio's risk.

If you think you might be interested, click here to give GreenLight a go -- for free. You'll have a full 30 days to explore our service (back issues and feature-rich website included) and see whether the service suits your needs. If you find it's not for you, there's no obligation to stick around.

Shannon Zimmerman runs point on the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service and co-advises GreenLight with his pal Dayana Yochim. At the time of publication, Shannon didn't own any of the securities mentioned above. CNET is a Rule Breakers pick. You can check out the Fool's strictdisclosure policy by clicking righthere.